I moved to Santa Barbara, California to be a graduate student. The title “graduate student” is vague and hoity-toity. It is both a job and a personal + scholarly endeavor. My schedule is very flexible and changes every quarter. I end up having a lot of alone time and “free” time in which I am supposed to be reading or thinking or intellectualizing (lol). Now that I have taken all the classes to fulfill my requirements as a student, and I am now on to performing my own research, I am only required to hold office hours each week for 2 hours and attend the lectures I am a Teaching Assistant for (in addition to answering emails from students). I’m not going to deny that it is a pretty privileged lifestyle (although I am not paid very much). What this means is that every day in my life looks pretty different.
My day always starts out with Panza waking me up around 6:30/7 am for her breakfast. I make and drink my coffee and start to wake up by looking at my email and answering some of them. Then Panza and I will go on a walk. Depending on the day (and Panza’s mood) we may go play in a field or go on a “real” walk. Today we ran into our friend and her dog out on a walk so we tagged along with them. I had therapy downtown at 10 so that was my next stop. Then home for reading, answering more emails, and cleaning up. Panza and I leave to go on another short walk before lunch. Home for a lunch of tomato soup and grilled cheese while thinking and making notes about my dissertation proposal. I took some photos of a cake I made and hung out with my friend for a bit. A bit more work and off for an afternoon walk. And now back to write this post while Panza naps on the couch next to me. And then more work on my proposal, eating dinner, and relaxing for the night.
This is all to say that when I moved to Santa Barbara to be a graduate student, my life changed a lot AND I had once again moved to a town/city very far from an Old Spaghetti Factory. I really love the Old Spaghetti Factory. You get like a 3 course meal for $12 including a drink and bread. It’s the small things in life I tell ya! And the Spumoni ice cream for dessert! Spumoni is an Italian gelato/ice cream usually made with three different flavors of chocolate, cherry, and pistachio. That combination really sings if you ask me. I’ve been mulling over the idea of transferring those flavors to something like cake or cheesecake!
This is a recipe for cheesecake bars swirled with the flavors of Spumoni on top of a chocolate cookie crust. I think this is one of my best recipes. It might take a bit of effort to make the pistachio paste, melt the chocolate, and chop the cherries but it is 100% worth it. I have also made these with graham cracker crust and they are darn good too.
Spumoni Cheesecake Bars
- 2 1/4 cup ground chocolate wafer cookies
- 10 tablespoons butter
- 3 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped moreno cherries
- 1/2 cup unshelled pistachios
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Blend or crush chocolate cookies to measure 2 and 1/4 cup of crumbs.
- Melt butter in saucepan over low heat and drizzle over chocolate crumbs. Stir till butter is incorporated.
- Line 8x8 inch pan with foil or parchment paper. Press cookie crumbs into the bottom of the pan, creating an even layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
For the filling(s)
- In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed. After a few minutes, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Keep doing this every few minutes.
- Slowly add sugar while cream cheese is beating.
- Add eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Separate cream cheese filling into three separate bowl, placing the same amount in each bowl.
- For the chocolate filling, melt the chocolate in a clean dry bowl placed over a pot of slightly simmering water. Mix with spoon until chocolate is melted. Let cool for a few minutes then stir into one of the bowls of filling.
- For the pistachio filling, process pistachios in food processor or high powered blender. Slowly drizzle in olive oil. Add pistachio paste to one of the other bowls of filling.
- Add chopped cherries with juices into the last bowl of cheesecake filling.
- Pour all three fillings over the crust. Swirl with toothpick or knife. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour.