Sunday, January 20, 2013

Orange and Chocolate Cream Pie

Over the years, I've made it a tradition to come up with a new dessert to serve for my annual get together with the girls. This past holiday season was no exception!

Of course, it contains chocolate - both in the cookie crust and the filling. The bittersweet chocolate in the filling is also enhanced with the juice and zest of an orange and I added some Grand Marnier liqueur! I used light cream cheese and light whipped topping, but didn't add any sugar. Sugar would only distract from the sensational flavour combination of the chocolate and orange!

The result, is a decadent looking dessert that is a much lighter texture and less caloric version of a chocolate cheesecake. Despite all the chocolate and orange flavour it isn't overly rich or sweet either!

I've made this dessert a couple of times over the last few months and everyone who has tried it has thought it was delicious! 

The dessert I came up with isn't just for holidays or special occasions though. It is simple enough to make and enjoy at any time of the year!

That being said, with Valentine's Day just a few short weeks away, and the abundance of fresh oranges in stores right now, this pie would be a perfect way to finish off a meal! 

Orange and Chocolate Cream Pie
22 Fudgee-O* cookies (1/2 of 550g bag)
3 Tablespoons margarine, melted
8 ounce/250g light cream cheese, softened to room temperature
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 orange
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier**
1 Litre container light whipped topping

Break cookies into smaller pieces and place in food processor. Pulse to form crumbs. Add melted margarine and pulse to blend. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the crumb mixture for topping. Place the remaining crumb mixture into a very lightly greased 9 or 10 inch deep pie dish. Gently press onto bottom and up the sides to form an even crust - about 1/8 inch thick. Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.

Chop the bittersweet chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave safe bowl. Melt on medium power, stirring every minute until thoroughly melted - about 2 - 2 1/2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Zest the orange as thoroughly as possible without going into the really white pith. You should get about 2 Tablespoons from a good size orange. Set the orange zest aside and juice the orange. You will need a minimum of1/3 cup but can use up to1/2 cup of juice. (If you have more than that, either drink it or reserve for another use.)

Cream the softened cheese to make it really light and smooth. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and blend thoroughly. Add the orange juice, Grand Marnier and about 2/3 of the zest. Mix till well blended. Stir in about 2/3 of the 1 litre container of whipped topping. Combine till smooth and creamy.

Pour the chocolate cream cheese filling into the chilled chocolate crust and spread evenly to edge of crust. Top with the remaining 1/3 of the whipped topping.

Garnish with the reserved cookie crumbs and orange zest.

Chill at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.

* Fudgee-O's are pretty much the same as a Oreo with the major exception of a chocolate filling rather than a white cream. I have also found that the No Name version of this cookie sold by Canadian Superstore is a suitable substitute in flavour and texture - and a lot cheaper!
** This isn't a lot of liqueur, but if you prefer not to use it, then you can omit and just add the equivalent in orange juice. If you don't have Grand Marnier, you could also substitute Amaretto or Frangelico.



Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Year, A New Adventure!

Happy New Year!

We are just a few days into a brand new year. For most, the often hectic pace of the holiday season has pretty much settled back into normal routine. The decorations are put away, the turkey and holiday treats are gone from the fridge and the temptation!

Some have made resolutions - and a percentage have already broken them!

I used to make resolutions when I was younger, but I just never seemed to be able to follow through on most of them. The resolutions were made more out of good intentions rather than true desire to make changes.

I don't make resolutions anymore. Not that I am perfect! Not by any means am I perfect, I just choose to live every day as a gift and be the best person I can be.

As I grow older, I find it harder to make changes. I get used to doing things in certain ways. I make minor adjustments when I have to, but even those can sometimes be a challenge.

Yup, I am slowly turning into one of those "set in their ways" folks! Not that I'm really THAT old as I am only 55 - I'm just comfortable in my routine!

However, this year there will be a change!

This year is different. I will have an adventure.

I am about to go on my first ever winter trip!

Aside from a few medical related trips in the 1990's to Toronto and Calgary - for various eye treatments, I've never really had much of an opportunity to travel more than a couple hour's drive from my home. Okay, there were a handful of trips in my late teens and twenties to Alberta, Southern Ontario and Colorado - but those seem like a lifetime ago!

It has been just over 13 years since I've been on a plane and 30 years since I've crossed the border from Canada into the USA.

It's not that I never wanted to travel. There are lots of places that I'd love to visit. Lots of things I'd like to experience and places to explore. I've just never had the extra resources to make any of those journeys.

Now before, you go jumping to conclusions, this probably wouldn't qualify as an adventure to anyone who has done some traveling. I won't be going hang gliding or swimming with sharks or white water rafting! Nope nothing that outrageous. Well, outrageous for me anyways! Besides, I don't want to have to make use of the medical insurance I bought!

Nope, I am just headed south - out of our "Winterpeg" cold and snow for a few days! A few days of snow free, warm temperatures. It will be a shock to my system but I am prepared to make that sacrifice!

How did all this come about?

As a Christmas present, I received a trip to fly down and stay with my amazing, beyond generous, familial snowbirds for a week at their winter home in Arizona!

The idea of the trip first came up last September. To say I was shocked and overwhelmed is a bit of an understatement! It just never occurred to me that I would ever have the resources to take a trip given my limited finances and visual limitations! I didn't want to jinx my good fortune so I didn't tell too many people about it - in case it didn't work out. There was a lot to figure out and organize before any trip could happen.

But, it has all worked out. I applied for, and received my first ever passport. Some of my awesome friends contributed to my "new luggage" fund rather than buying me individual Christmas presents. I looked in quite a few stores and on several web sites to find the right luggage for me - and finally settled on a model by Samsonite from Bentley's online site. It arrived a few days ago.

The flight is booked. I've made a list of things to pack. I've made a list of things I'd like to shop for while I am in the states. I'm slowly crossing things off of the "to do" list before I go.

To be honest, I'm not looking forward to going through security as so much has changed since I last flew. I've been reading the do's and don'ts on the Canadian and US government and travel web sites. I've been talking to my more seasoned traveling friends for tips and advice. Hopefully it will all go well - both going and returning home.

All in all, I think I've pretty much got it all sorted out. I just have to pack and get to the airport.

It has been an adventure just getting to this point, but I know that once I get on that plane, that will be when the real adventure begins!