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July 2, 2010 at 8:16 AM

Hey, y’all: Paula Deen crowns Seattle’s cream cheese queen (and I share my chocolate cheesecake recipe)

Say hello — and congratulations! — to Seattle’s own Mandy Heaston, who’s not a real “Real Woman of Philadelphia” (like yours truly) but thanks to Southern comfort-food maven Paula Deen, plays one on the small screen.

This week, the vivacious mother of three joined her Food Network hero on stage in Savannah, Georgia and landed herself a big win in a Kraft-sponsored on-line cooking contest thanks to this recipe for Asparagus and Parmesan Cream Pastry, that video (one of 5000 entries) and America’s favorite brand-name schmear.

After a whirlwind weekend down South, Mandy and 15 other finalists flown in for the occasion got to say “(cream) cheese!” at a cook-off where they prepared their entries for Paula, among other judges. Four winners (for appetizer, side dish, entree and dessert) were announced Wednesday night at a simultaneously-Webcast shindig and the recipe-savvy home-cooks each received a $25,000 “talent contract” — some of which translates to cash.

That news got me thinking about my favorite recipe involving cream cheese, and lots of it: the one I’d have entered if I wasn’t already a real woman of Philadelphia. Had I won, I’d have had the opportunity to visit my mother, who’s now drinking “wood-er” and rooting for the “Iggles” from one of those golf-carty residential villages near Savannah where I — and her only grandson — have yet to visit, don’t get her started.

Hey, hey Paula: look what was on display yesterday at my neighborhood Top Food supermarket.

Long after I first tasted my buddy Joe Britton’s prized chocolate cheesecake, I wowed friends with my own version of the recipe he graciously shared: a Paula Deen-worthy dessert if ever there was one, with at least 10, 000 calories per slice. And if you like chocolate and cheesecake — or know someone who does — I insist, “Hey, y’all! Give this a trah!”

Alaska Joe Britton’s Chocolate Cheesecake

For the crust

1 1/2 packages chocolate wafer cookies, ground into crumbs in a food processor (or by hand in a Zip-Loc bag using a rolling pin)

1 cube (8 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled

Prepare crust by mixing cookie-crumbles with melted butter and pressing into a springform pan. (I’ve used a 9-inch and 10-inch pan for this, both work well.)


12 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce bricks) Philadelphia Cream Cheese

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup strong brewed coffee

(note: cream cheese and eggs should be brought to room temperature before preparing)

Melt chocolate and butter together, and incorporate.

Using an electric mixer: beat cream cheese in a deep bowl till smooth; slowly add melted chocolate/butter mixture; then whipping cream and vanilla extract; slowly add sugar; add eggs one at a time and incorporate each well before adding the next one; add coffee.

Carefully pour into the cookie-crusted pan. Turn the pan several times to settle.

Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 325-degrees and continue baking 30 minutes more for a total of 1 hour. Turn off oven, partially open the oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven until the cake cools. Remove from oven, cover and chill for at least four hours.

Comments | More in Awards and Contests, Recipes | Topics: Baking


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