Just a moment while I try to make up a likely story about a "party" for which I made these Kahlua Fudge Cheesecake Brownies, so I don't look like a total loser when everyone figures out that I baked a whole pan of these and ate the entire batch all myself dressed in an outdated-by-two-years Juicy jumpsuit on the kitchen floor.
Crap. Did I blog that last part out loud?
*blush* I’m so embarassed! Juicy jumpsuits are soooo 2001.
The Happy Sorceress is hosting her monthly blog party, so technically, I don’t really have to “make up” a party. During this Holiday season, Stephanie’s theme is Vegas Baby! It’s all about Vegas-style, decadent debauchery, which means cooking and baking luxurious, extravagant party foods for 50 of your closest BFFs who are dressed to impress with their Bucci bags and Pradski dresses. The part I do have to explain is what I did with an entire batch of brownies and the rest of the Kahlua, since the Blog Party is a virtual party. And even if it were a real party, Stephanie is in Tennessee.
You see, it’s tough to actively pursue a passion for cooking and baking when you live alone. The problem of cooking when living alone needs no detailed explanation, but I’m going to expound anyway. I dream of cooking all these big, glorious things, but there is an underwhelming dearth of people to eat the foods I cook. What the hell are you supposed to do with an entire herb-crusted beef tenderloin?!? It ends up progressing in a downward spiral into beef tenderloin sandwiches, then beef stew, then...at the end of very long leftover week, it just ends up plunging down the trash chute at the end of the hallway into your apartment building’s community dumpster down in the parking garage.
The same is true for baking. If you live Brady Bunch style with your entire extended family, or have a houseful of roommates, you don’t need a reason to bake. If the spirit moves you, you can go ahead and make that fresh fig and honey mascarpone tart or those two dozen red velvet cupcakes, and someone will eat them. More than likely, though, with lots of other people in the house, the occassion to bake will come up – birthdays, DVD nights, etc. But if you live alone, well, please see first paragraph.
There are a few solutions to the problem of cooking when living alone: throw elaborate dinner parties every other night, bake sweets and give them away as gifts, or screw it all and eat it all yourself anyway.
If I were a real hostess like my idol Ina Garten, or even a semi-ho-stess like that cotton candy pink Barbie doll Sandra Lee, the Kahlua Fudge Cheesecake brownies would have been baked the day before a giant party, one in a series of Holiday parties at my house. The path to my front door would be lined with poinsettias, my garden would be strung with tiny white lights, and as soon as you walked through my giant double front doors, I would hand you a Christmas Cosmo (not eggnog) garnished with frozen cranberries. There would garlands made of real evergreen branches intertwined with thick red velvet ribbon wrapped around the banister. There’d be an enormous fifteen foot tall Christamas tree dripping with more glittery gold baubles and bangles than Beyonce Knowles. There’d be mistletoe and roasting chestnuts and boughs of holly, and everyone would be fa la la la ooh and ah-ing all around a “tablescape” surrounded with every amazing food I’ve ever wanted to cook and bake.
Or, I could go ahead and bake a batch of cranberry white chocolate chunk cookies, save just one for myself, stack them up in a perfect pyramid, wrap it up in cellophane with enough to create the pretty pouf on top, tie it with a fat ribbon in whatever color matches the current holiday, and generously deliver it to my neighbors on either side of me.
Or, I could say screw it all, bake a creamy cheesecake, eat half of it tonight for dinner and the other half for breakfast tomorrow because we all know that cheesecake is basically your morning bagel with cream cheese, minus the bagel.
What the heck is the big deal, oh Sarah who loves to make big deals?!?! Problem of cooking whenst living alone is solved, right? No, because I live alone in LA. Herein lies the big fat complication: In Ell Ay.
I’m not Ina Garten, and I’m certainly not a Barbie doll. (Now about the semi-ho part, though...;) ) but even if I wanted to be a semi ho-stess, the fact is, throwing dinner parties every night is not an option for lone ranger resident in La La Land. Living in LA means that unless I’m an actress or an heiress or both, I live in an extreme high-density population neighborhood, in a teeny tiny apartment that’s just a tad too small to comfortably fit more than oh, about, two people. Five people is a dinner party. Even a mere three is an intimate gathering of friends. Two people is a *gag* date. *shudders* I don’t need to go into how I feel about the kind of dates that don’t grow on trees. And I’ll tell you what kind of hell my dinner guests have to go through to find parking on my street when they get here.
So can I just bake individual chocolate souffles and give them away to neighbors? No, because duh, souffles don’t travel. Plus, Angelenos do not know their apartment neighbors. At least, not where I live. Rich next door might be weirded out when I run across the hall and knock on his door with a tray full of fluffy coconut cupcakes. Gawd, he might think I’m hitting on him. Then again, probably not because if I’ve been baking, I’m wearing my totally hot Coke-bottle glasses, very sexy fuzzy pink slippers and mismatched flannel pajamas. I only know my neighbor’s name is Rich because it’s on the mail that sometimes accidentally gets tossed into my mailbox. LOL! And I highly doubt that people who live in actual single family houses know each other, even though their houses are not more than the fire-hazard-prevention two feet apart.
Leftover white chocolate ricotta cheesecakes used to go to the office. Um, okay?
That basically leaves but the last option of baking
and eating the whole thing myself, which I just can’t ever do because as much as I eschew “life-style changes,” and couldn’t effin’ wait to get off the summer W diet, again, I live in LA. I am barraged every minute from every angle with the holy message that I should be eating tofu and brown rice and feverishly praying to the metabolism gods if I plan to fit into my True Religions. Lemme hear you say “Amen!”
I love cooking. I love baking (even though I suck at baking). A-fawking-men.
*sigh* I guess there's no better way to ensure that I’ll have an option when I lock myself out of my apartment for the third time this year. My on-site building manager just got an entire box of Kahlua Fudge Cheesecake Brownies for Christmas.
Minus a couple to go with the Kahlua & Coffee I’m drinking here by the festive light of my open refrigerator door. ;)
Kahlua Fudge Cheesecake Brownies Recipe
Preheat oven to 350°F and butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
Sift together ¾ c. all purpose flour, ¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ t. baking powder, and ¼ t. salt.
Beat together 2 large eggs, 1¼ c. granulated sugar, 1 t. vanilla, 3 T. instant coffee crystals (or espresso powder), and 3 T. Kahlúa. Mix in ¾ c. melted butter (1½ sticks).
Blend flour mixture into Kahlua mixture until well blended.
Spread brownie batter evenly into bottom of pan.
Beat 8 oz. softened cream cheese and ⅔ c. sugar. Beat in 1 large egg, ¼ c. sour cream, 2 T. flour, 1 t. vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Spoon filling evenly over brownie batter.
Bake until the cheesecake center is set, about 35 minutes.
Cool completely on rack. Cover pan with foil and chill overnight.
Stir 8 oz. sour cream with ½ c. confectioner’s sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over cooled cheesecake brownies. Chill in fridge until sour cream topping is set.
Makes: 16 brownies, or fewer if you cut them bigger.