My family is crazy…..big.
There are 7 kids, one add on and two parents plus you know, those strays that are always showing up!
Today we are going to talk about #3. Brendan. He is really unusual.
No really he is just really odd. Totally different, crazy, spontaneous, loving life kid. He called the other day (Saturday) and said he decided he wanted to come home for Thanksgiving. This is very exciting news. We do not see him too much, he is always off finding new adventures on his snowboard. He is really stubborn, an amazing augury, a human monkey, always positive and so much fun. But my favorite thing about Bren is that he will try anything I throw at him! His favorites are coffee (like the fancy stuff that I totally can not spell) peanut butter, chocolate, pumpkin and cheesecake.
I had to make him cheesecake. But not just any cheesecake. Cheesecake filled with his favorites. English toffee bits, topped with a chocolate mocha whipped cream and garnished with mini Reese’s and holiday M&M’s. The christmas M&M’s were really just for me, mainly because I cannot pass up making anything look like christmas exploded all over it!
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 5 ounces graham crackers)
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Heath Bars, chopped or Heath Bits
- 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 8 ounces chocolate-covered Heath bars, chopped or Heath Bits
- Mocha Whipped Cream:
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch processed)
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder or espresso powder
- 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup Mini Reeses, chopped
- 3/4 cup Holiday M&M's, crushed
For crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter; stir until moist clumps form. Press mixture over bottom and 1 inch up sides of 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake crust until just set, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
For filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in both extracts. Pour half of mixture into prepared crust; sprinkle with toffee pieces. Pour remaining mixture over.
Bring a few cups of water to a boil.
Wrap aluminum foil completely around the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan. Place the cheesecake into a jellyroll pan (or any baking pan with sides) and place into the oven. Pour enough hot water to fill the outer pan. Bake until edges are puffed but center is barely set, about 1 hour to an hour and 15 minutes.
Cool cake and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
For Mocha Whipped Cream: Place your mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes. Place the vanilla extract, 3 tablespoons of sugar, cocoa powder, and instant coffee powder in the cold bowl. Stir in about 2 tablespoons of the cream to form a thick paste (this will dissolve the cocoa and coffee powder). Then add the rest of the cream and beat just until stiff peaks form.
To assemble: Run knife between cake and pan sides.
Remove pan sides and place cake on platter. Frost the top of the cake with the mocha whipped cream.
Garnish top with candies.