Chocolate Dessert Cups with Strawberry Cheesecake filling
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!! Do all of you celebrate Valentine’s day?? Well, I don’t know if I do 😛 I don’t really believe in being extra loving and romantic on this day. It is fun though! I like to cook Ve1nkat a nice meal. Last year I even managed to surprise him! I made him a fancy dinner, with candle light and all!! It was nice to see him surprised. I can very rarely surprise him, he can read my face and judge my voice so clearly that it is very very difficult to surprise him I have managed that only twice. Last year Valentine’s was one and before that, I hid his birthday cake in my closet and brought it out at 12 am, hoping the frosting was still intact!!
Valentine’s Day somehow reminds me of strawberries and chocolates. Guess its all because of the marketing gimmicks and the chocolate covered strawberries I see everywhere during this time of the year. So this year I made a treat inspired from chocolate covered strawberries. I made some cute chocolate cups and filled them with a no bake strawberry cheesecake filling. Its pretty easy to make but it’ll look like you have put in a lot of hard work!! This makes for a really sophisticated dessert. You can make the basic chocolate cups with tempered chocolate and fill them with anything!! Though this is very simple, a lot of people experience burnt chocolate or seized chocolate issues. Why do we need to temper chocolate?? You might have sometimes seen chocolate that has grey streaks or spots on the surface. That is because of the separation of fat. The cocoa butter in the chocolate separates from the solids and rises to the surface. This is usually due to extreme heat, the chocolate can lose its temper. Perfectly tempered chocolate is smooth and shiny and sets very well. You have to temper your chocolate before you make chocolate decorations, or use it for dipping or coating somethings, like truffles.
Here are a few things to keep in mind for tempering the chocolate:
- Use good quality baking chocolate. Chocolate chips will not work for such applications, they do not contain enough cocoa butter and will not melt properly. That’s why the chips are always intact in a cookie. You don’t really have to go for cery expesive brands of chocolate, BAKER’S baking chocolates are very easy to find and work very well. They have several options to choose from. I usually like to keep my pantry stocked with their white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate.
- Chocolate can be tempered in two ways. Over a double boiler and in a microwave. Microwave is a very easy and fast way of tempering chocolates in small quantities (less than 1 pound).
- To temper the chocolate over a double boiler: Take about 1 inch of water in a small sauce pan and bring it to a simmer. Add 2/3 of your finely chopped chocolate to a glass bowl, which can fit over the sauce pan, but not touch the water directly. Place the glass bowl over the simmering water and gently stir the chocolate, using a rubber spatula. The water should be on simmer ALL the time. Steam in high temperature also can burn your chocolate. Chocolate can burn if heated over 200°F (95°C). Keep stirring often and gently to move the melted chocolate away from the bottom of the bowl. One the chocolate is melted, remove it to the counter and add the remaining 1/3 of the chopped chocolate. The heat from the melted chocolate will melt this newly added chocolate ans also help to bring down the temperature. I like to add a little (1/2 tsp to 1 tsp) of butter or cooking oil to the melted chocolate to give it some shine.
- Make sure that no water or steam comes in contact with the chocolate. That can cause the chocolate to clump up or have a seizure and the chocolate cannot be rescued after that.
- To temper in a microwave: Reduce the power level of your microwave to medium. Add the chopped chocolate to a microwave safe bowl and heat and stir in intervals of 30 seconds, until the chocolate is almost melted. You may or may not follow the 2/3 and 1/3 rule in a microwave. Then remove the bowl and stir vigorously to completely melt the chocolate. Add a 1/2 t0 1 tsp of butter and stir to combine.
- To check if your chocolate has been tempered properly, spread some chocolate on a wax/parchment paper and wait for it to set. If it is shiny and smooth, you are good to go. If the chocolate starts to set before you have used it, reheat in a microwave or a double boiler, for a very short time, stirring often. Always remove from heat source before all of the chocolate is melted.
There are many uses for tempered chocolate, today lets see how to make chocolate cups. I love using my silicone cupcake molds to make these chocolate cups. But you can also use cupcake liners or white foam/party cups. If you are not using the silicone cupes, simple tear away the cup you are using after the chocolate has set.
Makes 4 regular cupcake size cups
For the Chocolate cups:
Semi-Sweet/Milk baking chocolate – 2 1/2 oz
White Chocolate – 1 oz (optional)
Liquid Red food coloring – 1 drop (optional)
Butter/Oil – 1/2 tsp plus 1/4 tsp
For the Strawberry Cheesecake filling:
Strawberries (sliced) – 3 cups (about 8 oz)
Sugar – 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp
Powdered Gelatin – 1 1/2 tsp
Water – 2 Tbsp
Cream cheese (softened) – 8 oz
Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp
Strawberries – a few, for garnishing
For the chocolate cups:
- Temper the white chocolate. Follow the double boiler or microwave method mentioned above. I use a microwave for such small quantities of chocolate.
- If you want to make the hearts on the cups as I’ve done, fill the tempered chocolate in a ziploc/pastry bag. Cut the edge, about 1 mm wide. Working quickly, draw and fill hearts or whatever shapes you want to do (you can even write names or I love you, I miss you, etc etc etc, get the point!) on the sides of the cups. This drawing will be on the inner side of the cup. If you are writing letters, remember to write as mirror images (you should not be able to read the letters when you write them, you should be able to read them once you peel off the external cup). Immediately freeze the cup until the chocolate is set. If required take breaks and freeze multiple times during this process.
Tip: I like to freeze the cups in a muffin pan, so that the cups don’t lose their shape because of the weight of the chocolate.
- When your inscriptions are ready and set, temper the semi sweet chocolate. Using a spoon or pastry brush, apply a thick coat of the melted chocolate to cover the insides of the cup (also the inscriptions). Apply a fairly thick coat, or the cups will be too fragile. Immediately freeze.
- Once the chocolate cups have set, gently peel off the silicone cup/cupcake liner. Or gently tear off the foam/paper cup. If the chocolate is sticky, let it freeze for some more time.
Keep the cups frozen until ready to serve.
To make the Strawberry Cheesecake Filling:
- Wash and slice the strawberries. Combine the strawberries and sugar in a pan and cook until the strawberries are sift and the sugar is dissolved completely, about 8-10 minutes.
- About 5 minutes before the strawberry-sugar mixture is cooked, take the 2 Tbsp of water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it soften for 2 minutes.
- When the strawberries have cooked, turn off the stove. Add some hot liquid from the strawberries to the gelatin bowl and stir to combine. The mix this gelatin mixture into the strawberries and stir to make sure there are no lumps.
- Pass the mixture through a strainer into a bowl and let cool. Discard the strawberries left over in the strainer. Let this mixture cool to room temperature.
- Combine the softened cream cheese, vanilla extract and the strawberry syrup and whisk to mix uniformly. Pour into a container and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Alternately, you can also pour this mixture into the set chocolate cups and let them set.
Assembling the chocolate cups:
- Remove the cheesecake filling and scoop it into a pastry bag filled with a star tip.
- Remove the chocolate cups, pipe the cheesecake filling into the cups and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Garnish with a fresh fanned strawberry on the top, just before serving.
Aren’t those hearts cute??