Death by Chocolate, the Cheesecake Version

 

 

 

 

When you live in Morocco, it’s handy to have a few super powers.  Driving stick shift…is not a super power. It’s a plain old power.  Driving stick shift, during rush hour, behind a mule cart and right up next to a flashy 4×4, a guy trying to sell you box of tissue while the light is red, while tuning out the arguments of 3 or 4 kids (is it pronounced pokemon or pokeman?  No!  It’s not a man, it’s a monster)… is a super power, one that few give credit to.

Another, much less vital super power I’ve discovered I possess is the ability to bake any American dessert with Moroccan ingredients.  I have cracked the code on many classics, such as Chocolate Chip cookies, for which I have sourced actual chocolate chips in both dark, milk and white chocolate (you can only find them in the deep recesses of the medina, at a professional baker supply store).  I’ve also discovered a decent substitute to brown sugar, which is cane sugar (Marjane) mixed with a few spoons of sugar honey (Miel de glucose).  Works like a charm to give that must-have butterscotch flavored chewiness to the cookies.  No need to thank me, frustrated fellow bakers, it’s just what I do.  I find this super power useful when my American friends complain about the food here.  I just say, man up and make it yourself!  If you’re gonna make it around these parts, you better crack the code too.  That’s my PSA for y’all.

One strange thing about my super power is that I can never outpower my sister.   Just when I’ve reached a new level, she’ll show up with like, oh, Cinnamon Rolls from scratch (I’m not gonna write from scratch anymore during this post, because there’s no other way to bake around here).  Funny story about that, once my sister was over and we made brownies.  That day my husband had a guest from the states and we served the brownies for dessert.  The guest said “so you guys brought the box of brownie mix over from the states?”.  And we were like “are you kidding me?”.   There’s like 5 ingredients in brownies, all available from the local store and they take about 10 minutes to mix.  Box mix is for sissies🙂

That said, there are some things that I like to have from the states.  One is a set of measuring cups, since most American recipes are measured in cups, not grams (there are ways to convert between the two, some websites, don’t get me started).  Anyway, I have my measuring cups.  Another is some good quality vanilla extract.  I like the Trader Joe’s brand that is alchohol-free.   That’s about it, seriously.  2 things.  As far as cooking in general, I like spice mixes like Mrs Dash.  I stock up on those if I get to the states, or my family and friends bring them over.

Everything else I can either make, find or do without.

So, this past Eid, I decided to put a new twist on my Moroccan-made cheesecake.  (My sister did, and since I can’t get ahead of her, I have to at least keep up).  Chocolate Cheesecake!

1.  I think the ingredients speak for themselves here, but just in case not, let me introduce them.  Sable are our Graham Crackers, Carre creme (the squares) is our cream cheese, Perly is our sour cream/yogurt, Nestle is sweetened condensed milk.  That Choco Pasty stuff is dark chocolate, the real kind, don’t go for “Sucre Chocolate” which only has 5% cocoa.  Eggs and butter are, naturally, universal.

2. Put the Sable biscuits in the food processor.  My food processor is about 13 years old.  Every time a new piece breaks of and I think about springing for a new one, I’m like, nah, just superglue it:

3.  Process till they look like sand.  Add about 50-100 grams of melted butter (1/4 to 1/2 cup):

 

 

4. Pat the crust into the pan like so.  It’s classier to just cover the bottom and not try to go up the sides:

5.  Food process the rest: the Kiri, Perly, Nestle, eggs.

 

6.  This is how chocolate looks when you’ve done absolutely nothing to it:

 

7.  Now melt it.  I ended up using 200g, almost the whole pack but not quite.  I wanted it chocolaty enough to overpower the cream cheese, but not so chocolaty that it’s bitter.  This is where you gotta love microwaves.  Sure we don’t know what the long-term effects are… but you make it up in clean dishes!

 

8.  Let the chocolate cool for a minute and blend it into the cream cheese mixture.  I love that this whole recipe take place in the food processor and you hardly have to do any work.  When you pour it over your crust it should look like this and very liquidy:

 

9.  It takes a good hour to cook on low heat.  Once it’s set, don’t let it overcook or it will dry out.  I went ahead and made a lemon cheesecake too.  I was interested to see that they behaved very differently in the oven, the lemon one really puffed up and the chocolate one stayed low.  I realized that the lemon juice I used to flavor the lemon cheesecake actually curdled the milk ingredients and gave a whole other texture, it was grainier.  The chocolate one tasted smooth as mousse.  Of course when I mentioned this to my sister, she’d already encountered the same phenomenon and solved it by using only lemon zest (not juine) to flavor it, and it didn’t curdle.  She’s so Obiwan to my Luke.  Yeah, yeah, we watched Star Wars and now every metaphor or simile is Yoda this, Darth Vader that.  

 

 

10.  Ta da!

11.  My attempts at food styling.  Couldn’t think of anything to top this with except for a blue morning glory.  The teapot is a bit of a show-stealer, all shiny and symbolic of Morocco.  Enjoy and remember, I’m not legally responsible for the 5 pounds you gained while reading this post.  

18 thoughts on “Death by Chocolate, the Cheesecake Version

  1. Annette says:

    MashaAllah, they look delicious:) It was funny to read this post as I’ve had some problems baking in Morocco myself:p I’m a Norwegian married to a Moroccan and the first thing I tried to bake for my in-laws was chocolate chip cookies. I tried to be smart so I brought the brown sugar and baking soda with me from Norway. I figured the baking measurements wouldn’t be a problem since my recipe is in deciliters and grams. I didn’t bother to bring dark chocolate as I thought that would be easy to find, at least in Marjane. But I was wrong, the selection of chocolate for baking was not really the best:( And as I was about to start I was surprised to find that my mother in law didn’t have a measuring cup… Of course, she’s old school- she don’t need that:) Then it was time to bake the cookies…in the bread oven… I completely forget the important fact that they don’t have an electric oven (or gas oven for that matter)! When I took the cookies out they had spread out like pancakes-.- it was so embarrassing:( They were asking me if it was the first time I’ve made them, maybe I forgot to add something… I wish I could’ve said yes, but the truth is I’ve been baking them for over 10 years and am “famous” for them. This was 5 years ago and probably so embarrassing because I was just getting to know the in-laws and this didn’t exactly leave them a good impression about my baking skills:) when we were in Morocco this summer, I wanted to prove to them once and for all that I can bake and the problem was not with me, but the oven. So I baked cookies and a big chocolate cake the night before traveling and took it all with me. From now on, I will bake here in Norway and take it to Morocco and try to cook Norwegian food for them instead inshaAllah

  2. Nora both cheesecakes were delish and I admire all ur Moroccan super powers. I only just learned how to make the mint tea so I’m way behind. inshallah my super powers will develop soon.

  3. It’s a Marrakesh Miracle!! Wow, they look lipsmacking, and your piece was so funny – thankyou for making me laughing AND salivate simultaneously! I feel rather awed, my kitchen is even more unAmerican – the oven doesn’t work properly, it pours out black smoke and the alarm goes off relentlessly whenever we try! My husband is even looking at building a clay/earth oven, which on second thoughts would be useless (re. Annette’s point above) as we couldn’t regulate the temperature. I do know someone here who does an amazingly moist chocolate cake, steam-cooking it on the hob. As for cookies though, I might just have to long for the real deal…until we come and visit you there! Hehe…lots of love xxxx

  4. Molly says:

    Wonderful! You know, I gave the original recipe to my neighbor and she told me that her daughter-in-law got to it before everyone and about ate the whole thing! I am definitely going to try this one with chocolate. The kids and I just made devil’s food cupcake with marshmallow filling and chocolate icing! It was great! I really like your point that anything can be made here in Morocco and I say if it can’t be made then…….blej! Take care and hope to see you soon.

  5. cain says:

    You write with such effortless grace and can make any experience into a Indiana Jones adventure to the readers. Thank you and much continued success.

  6. Aishah says:

    Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmat’Allah
    jazak’Allahu khair for your new cheesecake recipe………We love the original recipe(made it for Ëid the other week,mash’Allah)and look forward to trying this one,insh’Allah.
    Any more baking super-tips and recipes that you (and your sister!) could pass on will be most gratefully received!

  7. Catherine says:

    Ha, but can you do Couscous in California?🙂 Seriously, read with much enjoyment and admiration (particularly for the photos – Nora and the Art of Mixer Maintenance) as usual.

  8. amy says:

    Assalam Allikoum,
    I have been enjoying your site for a while now, keep it up! We have been going to morocco the past few summers and ran into the same issue trying to make our “famous peanut butter cookies” (otherwise known as the martha stewart’s recipe found online – my daughter made me disclose).
    Any way, we were using a brownish cane sugar that worked ok. When we got back, i had the thought that it must be possible to make your own brown sugar as br sugars ingred. are sugar and molasses. So after a quick check, the recipe is as follows:
    1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon molasses, mix well and keep mixing until it looks like brown sugar. I haven’t tried but think i will next time we go. Also, I believe molasses is well known and easy/possible to find in morocco. Keep going super girl!

  9. That looks delicious!

    Making American food in Morocco used to be one of my specialties, back in the day. How many hours did I spend pounding peanuts in a mortar so I could enjoy a peanut butter and strawberry Aisha sandwich on bread from the hanut? Many, many hours. And the lasagna we used to put together by making the ricotta cheese from heated milk + vinegar, then straining the curds through the top part of the couscoussiere, then making pasta dough and rolling it out into noodles with a bottle…good times.

  10. Meriem (sis) says:

    You’re giving me waaaaayy too much credit here. Figuring out how to make chewy chocolate chip cookies without real brown sugar by far surpasses anything I’ve attempted so far. Plus, you still actually bake. ‘Nuff said.

  11. Delicious!
    Now I’m back in the US, I have discovered an ideal sugar for choc chip cookies.
    Called “Sugar in the Raw” it is a really crunchy light brown sugar.
    Sending love and warm wishes to all your family.
    It has been very odd round here with with the hurricane and all.
    Much has been lost and much learned!

  12. Nora, you have given me hope! I only attempted to bake something once since we moved to Mauritania and it was enjoyed by everyone but I was thoroughly disappointed with my tried and true Mexican wedding cake cookie recipe. I am going to give his a shot especially since I know all these ingredients are available here! Except the chocolate, I haven’t seen this kind before. Is it sweetened?

    • Yes Habeeba, there is hope for American bakers abroad, lol. The chocolate is like a semi-sweet baking chocolate, it has something like 50% cocoa. I suppose you could also use cocoa powder and just check if you need to add any more sweetener.

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