Preserving Joy in a Jar

IMG_3567 - Version 2Let’s face it. Nobody wants cheesecake in January. Except me. In order to satisfy my craving, I found a way to justify delighting in a small treat especially while nursing my post Christmas blues.

With one week left in Berlin before heading back to school, Sheldon opted to stay clear from shopping and visited museum after museum. Day after day, I tagged along. Museums from Copenhagen, Britain and Berlin teamed up to create this exhibit and we were fortunate to catch the “The Vikings” on its last exhibition day in Berlin.

DSC00912 - Version 2Preparations were made to build a Viking Museum in Denmark. As they began digging at the site, they coincidentally found a real Viking Ship from 1025 AD. A section of the ship was recovered and restored to the best of their ability then reconstructed to what it would have looked like with a steel frame. It’s hard to tell but the ship was enormous, 37 meters long, the largest Viking ship discovered.

DSC00913 - Version 2Danish shipbuilders from Roskilde used Viking techniques to build a model. True artisans at work. IMG_1136 - Version 2At The Altes Museum (The Old Museum), built around 1830, we admired Roman and Greek antiquities and learned about offerings made. For example, Olympia, built in 500 BC, best known for athletic games, was actually a sanctuary in dedication to Zeus. In 600 BC, large animal-like votive offerings and bronze cauldrons lined the path to the stadium to represent gratitude for the healthy herds in the area.

IMG_1162 - Version 2Here stands Nike, Goddess of Strength, Speed and Victory, companion of Zeus.

IMG_4249 - Version 2Artistic collections of the Teotihuacán civilization at The Ethnology Museum in Dahlem greeted us at the door. This exhibit covers Non-European cultures.

IMG_4272 - Version 2

In the same building, was another exhibition to help identify European cultures.
IMG_1349 - Version 2We were reminded of the vast universe we live in and acknowledged larger than life pre-historic beings like the Kentrosaur that once roamed Earth at the Naturkunde Museum (Museum of Natural History). DSC00935 - Version 2We also made a visit to The Topography of Terror, HQ of the Secret State Police, SS and Reich Security. Overwhelmingly dismal.IMG_1476 - Version 2Photographs and stories line every wall at Checkpoint Charlie Museum to give us a better understanding of the desperate and radical escapes from East Berlin.

IMG_1255 - Version 2The Technology Museum, a great interactive museum, had us mesmerized as they showcased model ships from all over the world in circular lit display cases.

History is powerful, educational…and exhausting. I think we traveled through thousands, if not millions, of years worth of collections, examined hundreds of cultures and saw thousands of species across the universe in one week. So between museum hopping, as time was critical, I managed to make Nigella Lawson’s Nutella Cheesecake in jars.

It’s not as deeply moving or mysterious as ancient civilizations, but it is simple to make. No baking required – love that idea! And the pack & go factor makes it easily sharable with others. Think picnic.

Taking a bite or two, let’s say with post-breakfast or mid-afternoon coffee (see how the jar makes sense now), justifies “a guilt-free bite size treat”. And if you decide to serve it to guests, if there are any leftovers, they can take it home in the jar and indulge at their own leisure too. Practical and delicious.

DSC01085Easy No Bake Nutella Cheesecake adapted from Nigella Lawson

Makes 8 jars (bring out your scales I forgot to measure in ounces/cups – sorry)

250 grams digestive cookies

75 grams unsalted butter, melted/softened

500 grams cream cheese, room temperature

40 grams icing sugar, sifted

400 grams Nutella

100 grams hazelnuts, toasted and chopped roughlyDSC00940Break cookies and process in a food processor until crumbly. Add butter and process until combined. DSC00943Divide equally and press into jars. (I used different jar sizes). DSC00946In a bowl, mix cream cheese and icing sugar. DSC00948Mix in Nutella. DSC00956Pipe mixture over cookie crust. DSC00957Use an offset spatula to smooth tops. Cover and refrigerate. DSC01086When ready to serve, top with toasted hazelnuts. Serve cold. DSC01082It’s joy in a jar. Enjoy.

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