Chocolate + Strawberries = Tax Redemption + Heat

May 2011

Two Barters, One Chocolate Cheesecake

Dear Quelcy,

We don’t really care if you’re cold.  Please deal with the lacking heating system accordingly.  


Your Landlord

*       *      *       *

Dear Miss Kogel,

You owe us a s$%*t ton of money.



Bill & John,




I work with incredibly supportive and generous people who I consider to be friends and family.  Two of them really proved their loyalty to me this year when I …

1.  … [Cold Pittsburgh Winter Months] was avoiding using an ancient looking gas heater and racking up quite the electric bill using space heaters.

[Enter Bill, to whom I refer as “Billiam” and consider my Pittsburgh father figure]
Bill swapped the ancient, death machine looking gas heater with the newer one from the room I use as a studio and laundry mess.  Ahhhh… a gas fireplace warming my life and making my apartment seem tripled in size, since I could finally emerge from the slightly warm cove of my bedroom.

2.  … missed some key lines on my tax returns, received a belated 1099 and consequently, received a letter from the government kindly requesting another $2,000.

[Enter John or “John G.” or “Gula” who cheers me with flowers and country songs and more pertinent to this issue, used to be a taxman]
John took my slew of tax papers home over the weekend and prepared a magical return that not only circumvented the $2,000 but claimed more money for me!  Woooooohooooo!

Thus, these fine gents deserved a sweet reward, and they both have been known to like cheesecake.  I have been known to like chocolate.  Accordingly, one large pan of chocolate cheesecake paid some of my karma debt to these fine fellas.  Their eyes were so wide with chocolaty cheesecake wander they became pretty warm and fuzzy with each other.  We all knew they were bffs, so the ensuing photos didn’t come as a surprise.


1-2 cups Chopped walnuts (enough to cover a 9”x13” pan)


2 9.7-ounce bar Ghirardelli 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
8 (8-ounce) packages Neufchâtel cheese, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups organic evaporated cane juice sugar
1 ¼ cups Agave syrup
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
8 large, local, free-range eggs

Chocolate Topping

1 bar of Ghirardelli’s 70% cocoa chocolate
1 Tablespoon organic, heavy whipping cream

Fresh Strawberries

For The Filling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add a layer of chopped walnuts to a glass 9”x13” pan.

Melt the chopped chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove the saucepan from heat, and cool the chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable.

Combine the Neufchâtel cheese, sugar, agave syrup and cocoa powder using an electric mixer.

Blend in the eggs one at a time.

Mix in lukewarm chocolate.

Pour filling over the walnuts; smooth top.

Place a pan of water on the lower rack of the oven, and position the cheesecake on the lower-center rack.

Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour.

Turn off the oven.  Keep the cheesecake in the oven until it cools or overnight.

Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Run knife around sides of cake to loosen.  Cut into squares and transfer to a plate.

For the Chocolate Topping & Garnish

Melt the bar of chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Turn off the heat, and stir in the heavy cream.

Drizzle and spread the chocolate over the cheesecake squares.

Garnish with fresh strawberries.

Leave a Reply