Cherries are in season again! YAYA! My favorite variety are the Brook Cherries. They are a beautiful dark red in color, slightly bigger, super juicy and super sweet! It feels like you are eating candy cause they are just so sweet! They are expensive though, but totally worth it. One of the reason’s I never made cherry jam is, cause firstly they are so expensive, and secondly they are so tedious to pit, and the quantity after pitting is so little. To make bottles of jam, you require atleast 4-5 pounds of fruit! I do love making cherry compote though, which is similar to jam, just that the fruit content is more, and sugar content is lesser than a regular jam. I love cherry compotes, cause you can have them over toast, or ice cream, or you can even make crumble cherry bars with them!
I have been making a cherry compote since a few years, and I love to flavor with fennel or star anise, cause the pairing goes so well together. Last year, I made these Chocolate Cookies with a Cherry Ameretto Ice cream, to make an ice cream sandwich and they were a huge hit with my family, even my husband who lapped it down like no other! 😉 The ice cream is addictive, but the ice cream sandwich is just divine!
This year, I wanted to make these bars, where the base is a chocolate chip cookie, with a cherry and star anise cheesecake layer, and then a chocolate ganache layer with the ameretto liqueur. I made the bar in a square pan, and a round cheesecake pan. I do love how it turned out in the round cheesecake pan, and it would be so perfect to take to a summer party too! I made a cherry and star anise compote to blend into the cheesecake layer, and it turns out wonderful!! It is slightly tart from the cream cheese and very sweet from the juicy cherries. I decorated the bars with a dollop of whipped cream with a cherry on the top! 😉 The way I get clean slices, is I wipe the knife after each cut to keep the slices clean. Another tip to keep the sides of the slice clean is to use an icing spatula and run it across the sides of each slice to keep it clean.
My family really enjoyed this dessert, especially my husband, which is a great sign cause he loves the simple traditional desserts, and this was somewhat close to simple ;). This would make such a great dessert for Father’s Day as well, that the entire family can enjoy!
I wanted to take a moment to talk about Father’s Day – about my dad, my father in law and my husband. My dad has been an my pillar, an immense source of positivity in my life, and without him, I would not have been able to do so many things that I do now. His behavior towards us(my brother and I) has shaped who we are as people. His calm demeanor, positive thinking, and to always take failures in stride, and rise above them, has taught us a lot about life, and how to behave in different situations. Life is hard, life is tough, but it is how you behave in all different situations, and how you tackle them, shapes you. He taught us to always think through things, do not react, he taught us how to think logically, and through our heads. He taught us that there will be many failures you will face in life, but the only way after you have gone down is go UP! He taught us that life is short, and to travel, and to enjoy people, enjoy conversations, laugh, and don’t take life too seriously. I still go to him for advice and I miss him a lot, he lives in Mumbai, and is still running his business, cause he wants to work till he cannot work any longer! He is our pillar of strength! He loves my kids so much, and is always excited to spend time with them and talk to them.
My father in law, is a sweetheart to the core! He has always treated me like his daughter from day 1, and he appreciates me for all that I do, which is very kind of him. He is one of my biggest fans of my cooking and baking, and that makes me very happy! So when he comes to stay with us, I make sure to make some of his favorite foods! He always gains a few pounds when he goes back home! Haha. He has always been very calm, helpful, and he is fantastic with my kids as well and has baby sat for us many a times. He is a good sport and very easy going, which makes it easy to gell with him too!
My husband – he is my right arm(since I am left handed 🙂 ). We have been married for 13 years now, and I feel each year we have grown together in ways that I would have never imagined. I cannot imagine having a family with anyone else, and he is such a good father to our kids! I sometimes feel the kids want him more than me! He has that effect on us! His kindness, fun persona, and just and fair attitude towards life, reflects in his behavior towards the kids, and they definitely miss him a lot when he is out of town, to the point where my daughter will not even eat her dinner cause she is not hungry. He being from the creative field, has taught me a lot about food, photography, styling, and I have a lot to be thankful for, for all that I have learnt from his vast knowledge! I still have a LONG way to go, but every bit of knowledge is something new learned. In other ways, he has brought out the confidence in me, and to believe in myself, and that I am capable of much more.
Happy Father’s Day to my dads, and my husband and to all the wonderful dads out there, who make our lives and hearts full!
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Base:
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate cut into small pieces.
- Cherry Star Anise Cheesecake layer:
- 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- ½ cup crème fraiche
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 whole eggs at room temperature
- 2 egg yolks at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup cherry-star anise compote
- Cherry Star anise Compote:
- 2 cups pitted cherries
- 1/3 cup organic cane sugar or granulated sugar
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 5-6 whole star anise or 1 tsp star anise powder(freshly ground)
- Chocolate Ganache Layer:
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp almond liquer
- Cherry Compote:
- Wash and pit the cherries(remove the seeds from the cherries). Cut then into quarters.
- In a medium bowl, add the cherries, sugar, star anise, lemon juice. Mix to incorporate. Let it sit for half an hour.
- In a small saucepan, add in the mixture, stir it to mix any sugar that is still there, at high heat, let it start boiling. It will start foaming as well, do not mix it. Let it boil for about 10-15 minutes. At this point, reduce the temperature to medium heat. Stir the remaining mixture for about 5 more minutes. It will be jammy. Store it in an air tight glass container in the fridge to let it cool and thicken slightly.
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Base:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, add in the all purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt and whisk to blend. In a large bowl of an artisan mixer, cream butter and sugar together for 2 minutes. Add an egg and beat well for a minute. Add vanilla extract and mix for a few seconds.
- Add in the flour mixture and whisk for a minute till well incorporated. Add in the chocolate chips and mix well.
- Spray a 9 inch springform pan with vegetable spray. Lay out parchment paper fitted to size. Spray vegetable spray again on the parchment paper. Press dough evenly into it with the palm of your hand and even it out smoothly.
- Cherry Star Anise Cheesecake Layer:
- The oven is still preheating.
- In a food processor, add the cream cheese, and crème fraiche. Mix it for 15 seconds to soften and blend. Add in the granulated sugar and mix again for 10 seconds. Add in the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla extract, cherry compote and mix again for 40 seconds to a minute until well blended. Use a spatula to clear any white cream cheese from the food processor. With a spatula, pour the content into the baking tray, and even it out with the spatula.
- Cover the base of the pan with aluminum foil to keep it intact.
- Now with the baking pan in the middle or lower rack, bake the cheesecake bar for about 45 minutes, until top is slightly golden brown in color. Once baked, switch off the oven, open the oven door and let the heat out slightly, and close it again and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
- Gently remove the baking pan and let cool completely for an hour. Let it set in the fridge for an hour. Remove the springform pan, and place the cheesecake cookie bar on a plate or a cake stand.
- Chocolate Ganache Layer:
- In a small saucepan, on medium heat, add the heavy cream and let it heat till it is hot. Do not let it boil.
- In a small bowl, add the chocolate chips. Add the heavy cream on top of the chips, cover and let it sit for 3-4 minutes. Gently whisk with a spatula until smooth. If it is not smooth, add in the microwave for about 15 seconds to melt it until smooth. Add in the almond liquer and stir again with the spatula.
- Now gently pour it in the center of the cheesecake, and using an icing spatula, smoothen out the top layer until shiny.
- Let it set in the fridge for about 2 hours. Using a sharp chefs knife, cut clean layers of the cheesecake into slices. Whip on a paper towel after each cut. To get clean lines, I used a small cake spatula to gently swipe around the edge of each slice to make it look clean.
- You could use whipped cream to decorate the top, along with cherries, or leave it as is!
- Store in the fridge in an air tight container for a week.