Recipe: Frozen Mocha Cheesecake

My mom discovered the recipe for Frozen Mocha Cheesecake several decades ago and it has become a family favorite. We whip it up every year, particularly during special occasions and clan get-togethers. I decided to make it in time for our New Year’s Eve celebration tonight.

The original recipe is closer to this, but over the years, we have changed some ingredients depending on what is easily available or cheaper to buy.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 30 pcs Hi-Ro chocolate biscuits, crushed (remove white filling prior to pounding with mortar and pestle) (Note: You can buy pre-crushed chocolate biscuits in some baking supply stores but these are usually available per kilo.)
  • 1 100g stick Dari Creme butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp white sugar

For the filling:

  • 2 225g packs Magnolia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 300ml can Alaska sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup Clara Ole chocolate syrup
  • 1 tbsp Blend 45 instant coffee dissolved in 1 tsp hot water
  • 1 250ml Alaska Crema All Purpose Cream (you can use whipping cream as a more indulgent – or expensive – alternative)

Procedure:

  • Combine all crust ingredients and press into the bottom of a 9-in spring form pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in condensed milk, chocolate syrup and dissolved coffee.
  • In another bowl, whip all purpose cream until fluffy. Fold into the cream cheese mixture until evenly distributed.
  • Pour the mixture into the crust. Sprinkle some crushed chocolate biscuits on top as garnish.
  • Put into the freezer for 6 hours until set.

Enjoy!

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DIY Gift: Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Every holiday season brings the same struggle: what to give to all of the family’s relatives, friends and co-workers for Christmas that will be unique, can be useful to or enjoyed by the recipient, and won’t go over the family’s gift budget?

Last year, we gave out over 100 bags of Chocolate Chip Cookies which my daughter and I baked and packed as our gifts. Thankfully, I know a baking supplies store nearby so I was able to save considerably on ingredients.

This year, while surfing through Pinterest, I discovered a new gift idea: Hot Chocolate on a Stick!

The recipe below is further simplified from the one I found on Pinterest, but still quite yummy! Best of all, ingredients and tools are easy and cheap to come by, thanks the nearby baking supplies store.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint oit
  • 15 large marshmallows
  • additional milk chocolate chips and candy sprinkles as garnish

You will also need:

  • Coffee stirrers or plastic straws to serve as sticks
  • Individual plastic wrappers
  • Gift ribbons
  • Gift labels

Procedure:

  • Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave. (Medium high power for 30 secs and High power for 15 secs; resulting melted chocolate should be thick and have a nice sheen)
  • Mix in the the peppermint oil.
  • Pour the mixture into 2 tbsp chocolate molds (I used a small ice cream scoop to measure out and pour the mixture into small puto molds)
  • Spear each marshmallow with a plastic straw then placed it in the middle of each mold
  • Place in the refrigerator for 5 hours or until set.

I wrapped these with individual food-grade plastic wrappers decorated with red satin ribbons. I included a tbsp of milk chocolate chips and 1/8tbsp of candy sprinkles per package as garnishes. The label should indicate that the hot chocolate on a stick should be stirred into a cup of hot milk until the chocolate is melted.

This recipe yields 15 sticks.

Why you should watch Outlander

Historical romance received some flak a few years back, with the genre often dubbed as “bodice-rippers” by some of its critics. However, the genre has produced several notable oeuvres, one of which is Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander which has been adapted into a TV series by Starz starring Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.

Outlander begins in 1945, when Claire Beauchamp Randall, a British World War II nurse, is on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank in Scotland to reconnect with each other after being separated by the war. While exploring the mystical standing stones in Inverness, she is taken back to 1743 where she meets her husband’s dastardly ancestor Black Jack Randall, the series’ main villain, and the dashing Jamie Fraser, the young heir to the Scottish estate Lallybroch who is in hiding among his MacKenzie relatives following some misadventures involving the British forces occupying Scotland at the time. Circumstances forced Claire and Jamie to marry each other (despite Claire’s prior marriage to Frank in the 20th century), and the two found themselves falling in love amidst the challenges brought about by witchcraft accusations against Claire, Black Jack’s wicked intrusions in their lives and the upcoming Jacobite rebellion.

Outlander is a highly complex and engaging show which deserves your binge-watching hours due to the following reasons:

  • A complicated love story. Claire and Jamie come from very different time periods which shaped their very different points of view. Things are further complicated by Claire’s conflicted feelings for Frank whose existence she must protect by ensuring that his ancestor Black Jack Randall does not meet his demise until he has already fathered a child.
  • A strong and smart female lead. Claire uses her wits, her knowledge of history and her medical background to navigate and survive 18th century Scotland. She is outspoken (sometimes to her detriment) but she stands by her principles and has an overwhelming drive to help others.
  • A hunky and “woke” male lead. Jamie Fraser is a product of his time, with a strong inclination to protect his loved ones, particularly the women in his life. He even took a flogging to protect his sister from rape. However, as he gets to know Claire, he grows to appreciate her independent nature and even believes her when she confesses her time traveling.
  • Sex scenes that are hot but not lascivious. Outlander’s sex scenes are often said to be made for the female gaze as opposed to the male’s. The camera lingers on Jamie’s physique as it does on Claire and the on-screen love-making are in turns hot, tender and funny.
  • Writing that does not shy away from and builds on the shock value. Black Jack Randall is among the darkest characters on TV and his dealings with Jamie, particularly in the episode “To Ransom a Man’s Soul,” is riveting yet almost painful to watch.

Outlander episodes are available on Amazon Prime.  Not yet on Amazon Prime? Start your 30-day free trial today!

Check out my blog posts about other TV shows:

 

Sweetly Snacking at J. CO Donuts

One of the latest stores to open in SM City East Ortigas is J. CO Donuts and Coffee. You won’t be able to miss it; it’s facade will greet you as soon as you get through the main entrance. The resto is quite spacious with both high tables suitable for working and comfy sofas for talking with friends. Aside from the seats inside the store, additional seats are also available outside near the escalator. You will also find some merchandise for sale such as branded mugs and tumblers if you’re inclined to bring home a souvenir.

The donut variant I usually end up ordering is the AlCapone (see that clever wordplay? That happens a lot with J. CO). The soft-bite donut is dipped into creamy Belgian white chocolate then topped with roasted almond slices.

My daughter (and my usual companion during my snacking expeditions) prefers Heaven Berry: a donut dipped into strawberry cream with a garnish of white chocolate swirl.

I love the relaxing atmosphere of this resto, perfect for desserts and snacking.

J.CO Donuts & Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Laid-back vibe and tasty burgers at Charlie’s Grind and Grill

Craving for some nice juicy and meaty burgers? Head over to Charlie’s Grind and Grill, a newly opened burger joint along Sgt. Esguerra Avenue.

I’ve already eaten at its Legaspi Village branch (which is sadly, already closed) and its Kapitolyo branch but my coworkers and I were particularly excited to eat at this newest branch that opened near my office.

The resto is situated in a converted house along Esguerra Avenue, right next door to Lola Ote and Sugar Fix.  The place has limited parking and its dining area is quite small.  Our group of nine people took up nearly half the space.

The wait staff are laid-back and friendly as well, regaling us about the difference in flavor and texture between Angus and Wagyu burgers.

I ordered a Wagyu Cheeseburger; in my previous forays in the other Charlie’s branches, I find that I favor its flavor and texture more than the Angus version.  It is served with ginormous wedges of fries which we dipped into our choices among several sauces presented to us.

I wouldn’t mind returning to Charlie’s Grind and Grill to further explore my love affair with burgers.

Charlie's Grind & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Steak indulgence at Melo’s

My love for steak is well-known.  Well-documented, even. Consider the steak escapes I blogged about here: Mad Mark’s in Glorietta, Mad Mark’s in BGC, Artsy Cafe and the steak spread at Marriott Cafe buffet.  I even ask my relatives coming home from the States to bring home slabs of Stateside beef to be grilled here.

You can definitely consider me a carnivore.  This is why I was over the moon when a credit card promo entitled me to up to 67% discount on selected steak sets at Melo’s.

And wouldn’t you know it: the stars aligned.  I have officemates who are also certified steak fanatics and a Melo’s branch is right across the street from our office!

So I made a quick call to reserve our table (originally for just four but grew to seven), then we all trooped to Melo’s for lunch.  We all ordered the Angus Lunch Set (regularly priced at Php1,500 but promotionally priced at only Php599; more than half off the price!).

The meal started with the bread, butter and soup. We all chose a creamy soup to go with our meal but the real star of the pre-steak lunching were those freshly-baked bread rolls!   (And there we were, singing praises about bread.)  We just had to request for some more. (And it’s a good thing our requests for seconds were granted).

Then came our steak plates which consisted of a thick slice of juicy and flavorful Angus beef, grilled medium-well, served with small servings of vegetables which let us savor our steaks with minimal distractions to our palates.

I heard that the promo is ongoing until end of December this year.  Looks like I’ll be going back there!

Melo’s branches participating in the promo are:

  • Melo’s Quezon City: #58 Sgt. Esguerra Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City (Tel. Nos: 924-9194 or 924-9168)
  • Melo’s Burgos Circle: Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global, City Taguig (Tel. Nos.: 403-5968 or 403-5969)
  • Carmelo’s Greenbelt: Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City (Tel. Nos: 625-5954 or 625-5986)

Advanced booking is required so be sure to call before you go there.

Melo's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Want tips on how to cook mouth-watering steaks at home? Check out these books at Amazon.com.


The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book: The Game-Changing Guide That Teaches You How to Cook Meat and Poultry with 425 Bulletproof Recipes


The Book of Steak


Steak a Fork in It: Mouthwatering Steak Recipes for the Carnivore in All of Us

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Lunch Stopover at Pancake House

Driving home from our getaway at La Luz Beach Resort over the All Saints Day break, we stopped by at the Total Gas Station for lunch. We decided on Pancake House because its offerings are safe bets, especially when your picky eater son with you.

The resto features Pancake House’s signature orange-themed furniture and decor, with cute Halloween accents adding a more fun and festive air to the place.

The wait staff were quick to assist us with our dripping umbrella (it was raining pretty hard when we arrived) and usher us to a table.

We took advantage of an SM Advantage promo that entitles us to FREE two-piece Classic Pancakes (Php146) when our bill reaches Php700.

To reach this amount, we ordered:

  • Almondigas Soup (Php112). Many Pinoys grew up with this soup of steaming flavorful broth with miswa (rice noodles) and pork meatballs. Perfect for a rainy day!
  • Best Taco in Town (Php120). And it probably is! A crispy taco shell houses ground beef, lettuce, onions, tomato and cheese until they all find their way to your mouth.
  • Classic Pan Chicken (Php255 for 3 pieces) that Hubby split with little boy. My baby especially likes the buttery gravy that comes with the chicken and douses his rice with it.
  • Pan-Grilled Pork Belly (Php260). A thick piece of Cajun spice-marinated pork belly served with mashed potatoes and corn and carrots.

Together with the free pancakes, we had a filling meal that fueled us for the journey home.

This branch of Pancake House is located at the Total SLT, South Luzon Expressway, Malitlit, Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Pancake House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato