Are you familiar with the orange- and licorice-striped mess that is tiger stripe ice cream? Well I am. Intimately so, despite all my best efforts.
If you’re an October baby or have ever attended an October baby’s birthday, you’ll be quick to note some common themes: a penchant for all things black and orange; excessive cobwebs (not simply the result of poor housekeeping); pumpkins giving you the evil eye at every turn; and the sudden proliferation of black cats, witches and ghosts.
Growing up, my birthday parties were no exception. One of my earliest birthday memories is of painting pictures of horned monsters and warty goblins with my kindergarten friends around the kitchen table. In Grade 4 or 5, my girlfriends and I giggled, elbow-deep in pumpkin innards, as we carved jack o’ lanterns on the backyard patio. Even the chocolate-making birthday party a few years later had a Hallowe’en twist, with molded chocolate pumpkins, witches and cats in amongst our chocolate-covered cherries and peanut butter cups.
And let’s not forget the themed birthday cakes: a giant orange jack o’ lantern with black cutout eyes and mouth, a witch atop a broomstick jetting across a night sky, or – my personal favourite – a black cat, its back arched against a pale full moon. To complete the picture, serve with a scoop of tiger stripe ice cream (even if your child despises licorice and annually begs for a different flavour).
Fact #1: Black icing and licorice ice cream taste disgusting and should be avoided at all costs.
Fact #2: Your child does not appreciate the value of a consistent Hallowe’en theme at her party, and nor do any of her friends. They just want the goodie bags.
Now that I call the birthday shots, I’m keeping the black and orange tradition alive and even throwing in some pumpkin for good measure, but avoiding black icing and tiger stripe ice cream in the process.
This cat’s older and wiser.
Tiger Stripe Cheesecake Bars
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhand on all sides. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix Oreo cookie crumbs and sugar with a spoon. Add melted butter and mix until combined. Press mixture gently and evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Bake until fragrant and slightly firm (about 12 minutes). Set aside to cool.
2 packages (16 ounces) cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin purée
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons flour
2/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Blend cream cheese in food processor or using an electric mixer. Add sugar, pumpkin, eggs, flour, spices and salt and mix until combined. Set aside.
Melt chocolate on low heat in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Once melted, add 1 cup of the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.
Pour remaining pumpkin mixture on top of crumb base. Drop dollops of the chocolate mixture on top of the pumpkin mixture. Drag the blade of a paring knife through the chocolate mixture to create swirly patterns.
Bake until the cheesecake is set but jiggles slightly when gently shaken (about 40 minutes). Cool in pan. Cover and chill until firm (at least 2 hours and up to 2 days).
Using parchment paper overhang, remove cake from pan. With a knife dipped in water cut into squares.
Yields 16 squares.
Source: Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars in Everyday Food, Issue 37, November 2006, p. 136.