Tag Archives: Baked Barter

A Taxpayer’s Salvation in the Form of Chocolate & PB!

[That dreaded time in] April 2012 

After last year’s tax debacle (scorn you 1099!), my tax savior told me, “This year, I’ll just do them for you.”  Friends, if you want to know what magic sounds like in my ears, let the following statement resonate, “I’ll do your taxes for you.”  Of course, no good tax deed should go unrewarded.  My tax savior is a cheesecake man, so this recipe began with Neufchatel intentions.  In the end, it tasted a lot more like an oversized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup than a cheesecake, but full mouths do not argue semantics [they do, however, manage to fight for more dessert).  Call this decadent dessert whatever you like!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tax Relief

This recipe is for a 9×13 version, from which I made some smaller fancies.  The beauty of cutting away smaller fancies is you’re left with plenty of dessert for yourself and further sharing.  Unlike taxes, this dessert was a gift that kept giving.

Crust Ingredients

2 cups unsalted almonds, chopped
1 cup butter, browned
3/4 cup almond meal
4 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon organic almond extract

Filling Ingredients

4 8-ounce packages Neufchatel cheese, softened
2 cups organic creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
6 eggs (local/free-range)
3 cups organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup organic whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Grease and line a glass 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.

Combine chopped almonds, browned butter, almond meal, turbinado sugar and almond extract.

Press mixture into the bottom of baking dish; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat 2 packages of Neufchatel cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in peanut butter and ½ cup honey until combined. Fold in 2 lightly beaten eggs; set aside.

In a saucepan stir chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Cube remaining cream cheese; add to chocolate. Stir to combine.

Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth.

Fold in 4 lightly beaten eggs. Spread half the chocolate mixture into pan. Carefully spread all the peanut butter mixture over layer. Evenly spread remaining chocolate mixture.

Bake 60-70 minutes or until top is set when lightly shaken. Outer 2 inches of the top will be slightly puffed and dry-looking; center will look darker and wet.

Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Use a small sharp knife to loosen crust from sides; cool completely on rack. Cover and chill for 4 hours.

Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Garnish with almonds, and give not a care to the government.  

You don’t have to think about taxes for an entire year!


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.