My weekend trip to Portland was fantastic! And the cupcakes have a new descriptor to add in their title, as they won the coconut category.
We rode up quickly Saturday morning with a stop in Albany to buy new riding gear (Happy Birthday to me!) from Mr. Ed’s Moto. The new jacket and pants made the rest of the journey great! This was yet another reminder of the importance of having the correct gear for riding on a motorcycle. I was ok with my previous get up, but as I add on to my collection with more appropriate gear, I now realize what I had been missing! I’ve never been so comfortable on the bike.
On our way back we drove 18, through McMinnville, to the coast and then took 101 down south for a beautiful sunset over the ocean. The waves were really choppy, reminding us to make sure to get back to the coast this coming season to watch the winter storms. On our way into Eugene we enountered drizzles and light rain, but because of my new gear, I could hardly tell it was raining! And that is the beauty of a weatherproof set up.
The CookOff was Saturday night and featured dishes that fit into the following categories:
- Non-chocolate Dessert
- Real Food (savory)
I entered my Khoresht-E-Fesenjan, made with lamb. It turns out the pomegranate judge is mildly allergic to walnuts (!!), so I also entered my dish in the real food category. I should also mention that I used one of my Sweet Pussy Cakes as a bribe on the real food judge. I won runner up with this dish!
The X-rated Cupcakes made the motorcycle journey entact, and had a lovely time at the party. I brought up one blond, and two brunettes (actually one is a redhead… ). The coconut judge enjoyed the blond, and the chocolate judge enjoyed walking one of the cakes around to show off to everyone. The coconut judge was hoping someone would enter a coconut recipe resembling a long lost childhood treat from her years in Antigua (If anyone knows of a coconut pudding that resembles pecan pie filling please let me know. Our judge would be most joyous!). Fortunatley for my cakes, this didn’t come to fruition, so they won the category.
A feature of the CookOff is that the winning entries get to call the theme ingredients for next year. Oddly, my suggestion was over-ruled by the judges! Instead of my suggested beets, which I suspect will still have a number of rouge entries, the ingredient I get to judge next year: pork.
The pomegranate winner was a most excellent cheesecake. The winner has graciously provided his recipe for all to enjoy. And knowing him, I don’t think he left out any secret ingredient either!
Pomegranate Hazelnut Cheesecake
Winner of the WetLeather 2005 Cookoff, “Pomegranate” category
Recipe by Steve Daggett
Hazelnut Cookie Crust:
2 ounces hazelnuts (generous 1/3 cup)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 ounces Nabisco Barnum’s Animal Crackers
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 pounds cream cheese
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons Pomegranate Paste (sauce)
16 ounces Pomegranate juice (Pom Wonderful)
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1. The Crust:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust rack to middle position.
In a food processor, process hazelnuts with sugar until finely ground
and mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add Nabisco Animal Crackers,
process until mixture is evenly ground. Add melted butter. Mix until
Transfer mixture to 9-inch spring-form pan. Using the bottom of a dry
glass, press firmly into the pan bottom. Bake until fragrant and
golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room
Wrap outside of the spring-form with two layers of heavy-duty foil.
Prepare a roasting pan with one inch of water.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. The Filling:
Beat cream cheese in bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Gradually
add sugar and beat on medium speed until sugar dissolves. Add vanilla.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping
down after each addition. Add heavy cream and pomegranate paste.
Pour batter into the spring-form pan. Set roasting pan on oven rack.
Place the foil wrapped pan in the water bath. Bake at 500 degrees for
10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees, leave the oven
door ajar until oven temperature reduces. Bake until perimeter of cake
is set, but center jiggles when pan is tapped. Approximately 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Remove spring form
pan when cooled. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
3. The Candy Glaze:
Have on hand:
bowl of ice water
In a large non-reactive sauce pan, boil pomegranate juice on medium
heat until reduced by half. Reduce heat, add sugar and cream of
tartar. Stir until dissolved.
Bring up to medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue cooking
until the mixture reads 234 degrees on the candy thermometer. The
mixture should be at the “soft ball” stage when tested in the ice
Remove from heat, continue stirring until the mixture has cooled and
thickened. Pour the cooling mixture over the chilled cheesecake.