How Murray Saved Christmas

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

South of the North Pole in the U.S. of A., my family’s been prepping for the big holiday. We’ve decked the halls and trimmed the tree, and watched every special on our TV. You can’t knock the classics ’cause they’re all works of art, but I’m thinking more modern and funny and smart. It’s How Murray Saved Christmas that we’ve come to hold dear and we take bets on how often we’ll watch it each year. That’s it. I’m done with the rhyming. Hey, it’s tough stuff and I shouldn’t be doing it without a poetic license. But that doesn’t stop the residents of Stinky Cigars. (I know, doesn’t that just sound like the perfect place to live?) The town honors a banner with two smelly (cigar) butts on it. Oh, and it just gets better. Turns out, Stinky Cigars is home to many holiday stars with so much pride, they’ll kill half the day singing their town anthem. I’m pretty sure that place was made for me. Actually, my siblings and I feel that everything about How Murray Saved Christmas was made for us. It’s over the top and hilariously odd, but it means well. (Wow. That does kind of describe us.) I love how it turns the typical holiday stuff on its head. Santa isn’t the hero, he’s a likeable jerk. (“He’s a great guy outside the office.”) Then an elf causes him to get a concussion which leaves a grumpy diner owner as the only person qualified to be a St. Nick Substitute. (I feel bad for Santa, but I’m a big fan of Queen Hannah of Bananaland.) I think it’s safe to say that this special is one of a kind.

With Murray Weiner being the owner of a bustling holiday diner, we see a lot of his handy work in this special, from chili and roast beef to a lean pastrami sandwich with coleslaw and a triple-thick chocolate milkshake. Murray may have Antisocial claustrophobic paranoid neurosis, (I can’t help but sing that like Doc Holiday!) but he can sure cook. Even when The April Fool orders compact discs on rye, Murray doesn’t disappoint. I wasn’t allowed to make that. My sister also banned me from making Edison Elf’s pizza and spaghetti racket. (“It’s wasteful and dirty and terribly rude.”) That’s fine because I got to try making Murray’s chocolate chip cheesecake. It looks incredible and if anyone knows his dairy products, it’s Murray.

Recipe makes one 9-inch cheesecake.

Ingredients

Crust:

25 Oreo cookies (About 2 cups)

5 tablespoons butter, melted

 

Filling

2 ½ pounds cream cheese, room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup sour cream, room temperature

5 large eggs, room temperature

2 egg yolks, room temperature

1 cup roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate chips or mini chips

Boiling water for water bath

 

Ganache

8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup heavy cream

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack positioned in the lower third of the oven.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Cut two large pieces of foil and crisscross them. Place the springform pan in the center of the foil and wrap the edges around the sides of the pan.

Crust:

In a food processor, pulse the cookies until they form fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse until the mixture holds together when pressed. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and press evenly into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust until it is fragrant and set, 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Filling:

In a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is light and smooth. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips

Ganache:

Place the dark chocolate into a food processor. Pour the heavy cream into a microwave-safe bowl and heat until it begins to simmer, 3-4 minutes. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Pulse until the chocolate mixture is smooth.

Putting It All Together:

Pour the cheesecake filling over the cooled crust and evenly spread. Place the springform pan into a roasting pan or large baking dish. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform and place in the oven.

Bake the cheesecake until the edges are set and the center slightly jiggles, 55-60 minutes. Turn off the oven and crack open the door. Let the cheesecake cool for one hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath and unwrap the foil. Cool completely on a wire rack. Chill the cheesecake, uncovered, in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Prepare the ganache and allow it to cool slightly before evenly pouring over the cheesecake. Allow the ganache to spill over and cover the sides as well. Chill the cheesecake, uncovered, until the ganache is set, about 4 hours. Now it’s finally ready to be sliced and served!

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Santa gives Murray’s chocolate chip cheesecake credit for making him fat. Yep, I’m pretty sure the same thing’s going to happen to me. Whether it’s making cheesecakes or deliveries, The Milkman’s still got it. Murray proves that when he’s giving out presents. And he has such a good time, his curmudgeonly shell melts away and he delivers gifts to everyone in the world, regardless of behavior or religion. See, there’s some warm and fuzzy holiday feels in this too. And Murray wraps up with an ending that’s sweet. I’d love to type more, but I’ve got cheesecake to eat.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

 

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Witch’s Night Out

Garlic Taffy Apples

Just when I think I’ve watched every animated Halloween episode or special in existence, one more pops up out of nowhere. I’m actually quite happy about that because there really aren’t enough Halloween cartoons out there. The last special to catch my eye is Witch’s Night Out. It originally aired before my time, but I read that it used to be played on The Disney Channel back in the 80’s and 90’s. Let me tell you something. I was practically raised on that channel and I don’t remember seeing it even once. I wish I had watched it years ago because now I feel like I’m late to the Halloween Party. Well, better late than never.

The Witch is kind of in the same boat, even though the big Halloween party takes place in HER mansion. Hey, Goodly didn’t know anyone lived there. He was wary of the place anyway because he feared it was haunted. If he knew about the Witch, he’d never go anywhere near there. As for myself, I’d never throw a party anywhere without the witch. Hands down, the Witch (The Godmother) is my favorite character. She’s so dramatic and the faces and movements she makes are just priceless. If she wants to come to my house to grant me a Halloween wish, my window’s open. (I really don’t want her crashing through it and getting glass everywhere.) Anyway, back to the party. The adults want to make Halloween a meaningful experience, which I stand behind 100%. Kids have it pretty sweet being able to go trick-or-treating, but adults don’t have anything unless they plan it themselves. (It’s an insult to Halloween to say it’s just for children.) So Goodly and the others come up with the idea of having a big party, complete with a ton of guests and food. But maybe he shouldn’t have assigned food duty to Malicious. I can’t deny that she’s got some serious cooking skills. It’s just that her tastes are a bit funky, so she makes the most interesting party hors d’oeuvres. Sardine meringues, pepperoni peppermints, peanut butter corned beef balls, and chocolate gefilte fish all sound absolutely delicious, but nothing gets me more into the Halloween spirit than garlic taffy apples.

Recipe makes 6 taffy apples.

Ingredients

6 large apples

6 sturdy skewers, chopsticks, or craft sticks

Caramel:

2 cups sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

½ cup water

1 cup heavy cream, room temperature

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature- cut into chunks

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Red food coloring

 

Directions

Thoroughly wash apples and dry completely. Insert the skewers down to the apple cores through the stem ends. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Place over high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 230 degrees F. Reduce heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup mixture is golden. When the syrup reaches close to 300 degrees F, gently stir. Continue to cook until the syrup turns dark amber and closes in on 350 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir, and let sit for a couple minutes. Gradually stir in heavy cream, butter, salt, garlic powder, and food coloring. The mixture will bubble, so be careful. Return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and stir until the butter is completely melted and the caramel is smooth. Remove from the heat and allow the caramel to cool to 200 degrees F.

Dip the apples, one at a time, into the caramel and swirl around so the apple is completely coated. Allow the excess caramel to drip back into the saucepan and move the apples to the baking sheet. The caramel will drip down the apple and form “feet.” If the caramel begins to stiffen before you’ve finished dipping apples, return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and warm until smooth again. Chill the apples until the caramel has fully set, 30-60 minutes. Now they’re ready to eat!

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I just couldn’t resist trying garlic taffy apples, and since I’m a garlic lover, I’m actually really into these. They could easily have been a hit at the party. But no matter how well the party was going before the Witch and her monsters (Small, Tender, and Bazooey.) crashed it, it would never’ve become a true Halloween party without them. Not a single guest was in costume. (They think that dressing up is silly and immature, but it’s okay to form an angry mob and chase down monsters.) The Witch was kind enough to point out that every day we go about our lives the same old way, but Halloween is the one day a year we can pretend to be whoever or whatever we want. That may have been an eye opener for the townsfolk, but that’s old news to me. And with witch’s magic on your side, you don’t even have to pretend. I don’t have that luxury, so instead of just “poofing” into whatever I want to be for the night, I’m stuck wrestling with a wig and a dress.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!