A Quick, Easy & Creamy Cheesecake

Happy Memorial Day! The unofficial kickoff to the summer. Albeit, this summer will definitely look and feel different than summer’s past. One thing remains certain though, the days will be getting warmer. And with warmer days you’ll be wanting to spend less time in the kitchen but will probably still want something sweet that’s quick and easy to make, and this cheesecake is just that. Topped with some fresh berries that are soon to be in season it’s the perfect treat for the warmer days ahead.

Instead of using a springform pan and graham crackers crumbs for the crust you simple use a store-bought graham cracker crust. For the cheesecake filling beat room temperature cream cheese with sugar, vanilla extract and sour cream until well blended. Then add two room temperature eggs to the mixture and continue beating until all the ingredients are well combined and then pour the batter into the crust and bake for 40 – 45 minutes in a 325 F preheated oven.

After removing it from the oven I let it cool on a wire rack for an hour before refrigerating it overnight. I then topped it with sliced strawberries and blueberries. And to add a little extra sweetness and to ensure that the berries wouldn’t slide off the cheesecake I brushed them with an apricot glaze. To make the glaze I warmed apricot preserves with water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the preserves had melted. I then strained the mixture through a strainer.

And after letting the glaze cool for a few minutes I gently brushed it over the berries.

An as the title says, the cheesecake was super creamy and delicious!

 

Quick Easy & Creamy Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For The Cheesecake:

2 8oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

9-inch graham cracker crust

For The Topping:

1 cup blueberries

1 cup strawberries, quartered

1/2 cup apricot preserves

1 tablespoon water

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add the eggs and continue beating until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake in the preheated oven for 40 – 45 minutes, or until the center is almost set.

Let cool on a wire rack for an hour and then refrigerate for at least three hours.

To make the glaze combine the apricot preserves and water in a small saucepan and whisk together over medium heat until the preserves have melted. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and let cool for a few minutes.

Arrange the sliced strawberries and blueberries on the chilled cheesecake and then brush the warm apricot glaze over them.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Hershey’s Deep Dish Brownies

I love brownies, but, truth be told, they are not one of my favorite things to bake. Not because they are difficult to prepare, but, because I always have an issue with either removing them from the pan and/or slicing them. They always seem to stick the pan, even though I prep the pan, and/or crumble when I slice them, even though I wait until they are completely cooled before doing so. And I will point out that I have used parchment paper sometimes to make brownies, but, I still run into some issue with them, usually it’s them falling apart when I slice them.

Recently I tried a very simple recipe that resulted in perfect brownies… They didn’t stick to the pan when I flipped it over and I was able to slice them without any crumbly pieces. Who knew it was actually possible!?!? This great recipe is from Hershey’s, it’s their Deep Dish Brownie Recipe. I will tell you though that these brownies are more cake-like than fudgy, but, if you want a fudgier brownie you can reduce the egg count in the recipe from 3 to 2. I will admit I haven’t tried it with this recipe, but, I do know that eggs are one of the ingredients that changes the texture of brownies from cake-like to fudgy. One other thing I liked about these brownies was that they had some height to them as well. Great for topping them with ice cream after warming them up for a few seconds in the microwave.

Hershey’s Deep Dish Brownies

  • Servings: 12-16 Brownies (depending on how you slice them)
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Ingredients:

3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 eggs

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease an 8×8 pan.

In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt – and set aside.

In another bowl whisk together the melted butter, sugar and vanilla extract until combined. Add in the eggs and whisk everything together until well incorporated. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and when a cake tester inserted about one inch from the edge comes out clean.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before inverting and slicing.

Recipe from Hershey’s

DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies

Truth be told there’s nothing like a perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie! It’s comforting and familiar. And if you’ve ever stayed at a DoubleTree Hotel you more than likely have been welcomed by their signature chocolate chip cookie, I know I have. Last month they finally made the recipe for their iconic cookie available so at-home bakers can bake up a batch themselves to find some comfort in these crazy & unfortunate times.

There are quite a few reasons to love these cookies. First and foremost they are delicious. They only require 1 bowl (no need for mixing the dry ingredients separately and then incorporating it into the dough) and they have walnuts! I love chocolate chip cookies with walnuts!

As I mentioned they only require 1 bowl. So, I began by creaming together the butter with the sugars and then adding in the eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. Yes, you read that right. Lemon juice in a chocolate chip cookie. Don’t worry, the cookies will not have a lemon flavor whatsoever, what the lemon does do is brighten the flavor of the cookie. I continued mixing until the dough was light and fluffy. Next, I added in the dry ingredients – flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. After mixing the dough on low to incorporate these ingredients I then used a rubber spatula to fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Now, these cookies aren’t your typical chocolate chip cookies that use about a tablespoon of dough, these require about 3 tablespoons of dough. I ended up using an ice cream scoop to scoop the dough. Since my ice cream scoop is slightly more than 3 tablespoons I ended up with less cookies than the recipe indicated; 20 as opposed to 26. I placed the mounds of cookie dough on parchment lined baking sheets 2 inches apart.

I then baked them for 20 minutes in a 300 F preheated oven and once I removed them from the oven I placed the baking sheet on a wire rack for an hour so the cookies could cool right on the sheets. The cookies were golden brown around the edges and quite soft in the middle when I removed them from the oven, but, as they cooled they firmed up nicely.

Once cooled it was time to enjoy them. And they definitely did not disappoint. I know I will be baking these cookies up for years to come. Also, they are sturdy and large enough that they could be the base for the perfect ice cream sandwich.

 

DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 26 Cookies
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Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup rolled oats*

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt**

Pinch of cinnamon

2 2/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips***

1 3/4 cups chopped walnuts

 

*These are the old-fashioned oats, not the quick-cooking ones

**I used kosher salt

***This is about 16 oz. of chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and both sugars using a handheld mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs, vanilla and lemon juice to the butter mixture and mix on low for 30 seconds and then on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon to the mixture and beat on low speed for 45 seconds. Don’t overmix.

Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.

Portion the dough with a scoop (about 3 tablespoons) onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 23 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown and the center of the cookie is still soft.

Remove the cookies from the oven and place the sheet on a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.

Recipe from Hilton

 

Dalgona Chocolate

Have you tried the new coffee craze all over social media? In case you didn’t know it’s called Whipped Coffee, or more formally Dalgona Coffee. It’s made by whipping together equal parts of instant coffee powder, sugar and hot water until it becomes creamy and then adding to cold or hot milk.

Since I’m not a coffee drinker I decided to make the chocolate counterpart. For the chocolate version, besides swapping the chocolate for coffee, you use heavy whipping cream in place of the water.

First, I tried it with warm milk and some Starbuck’s Peppermint Cocoa mix that I had in my pantry. I buy a canister of this every holiday season. It’s my favorite drink from Starbucks and I order it pretty much any time of the year.  In a medium bowl I combined the cocoa mix with heavy cream and using my handheld mixer I whipped the two ingredients together on high speed for about 4 minutes, until stiff peaks formed.

Next, I warmed milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just started boiling. After pouring it into my mug I topped it with my whipped peppermint cocoa.

After trying the trend with warm milk and peppermint cocoa, I decided to try again with cocoa powder and cold milk to make a kicked-up version of cold chocolate milk. In a medium bowl I combined unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar and heavy whipping cream and once again I beat the ingredients until stiff peaks formed. I tried to get a little fancy this time and used an ice cream scoop to scoop the whipped chocolate on top of the milk. It didn’t come out exactly how I was imagining, but, it worked anyway. And, I must say that the whipped chocolate mixture tasted exactly like chocolate ice cream… YUM!

With both of these versions, I stirred the whipped mixture into the milk before drinking so the chocolate flavor could blend into it. And while both were good, and it was a nice treat, I just don’t think this will be my go-to way of enjoying chocolate milk going forward. Truthfully, for me it wasn’t worth the extra time or the dishes!

 

Dalgona Chocolate

Ingredients:

With Chocolate Powder Mix:

1 Tablespoon chocolate mix (flavor of your choice; peppermint, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, etc.)

4 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

 

With Unsweetened Cocoa Powder:

3/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

 

6oz. Milk (any type of milk will work)

 

Directions: Add your ingredients to a medium bowl and using a handheld mixer on high, beat the ingredients together until stiff peaks form.

Spoon the whipped chocolate over warmed or cold milk. Stir together and enjoy.

Key Lime Bundt Cake

Happy Cinco de Mayo! How perfect that this year it lands on a Tuesday so you can make it a “Taco Tuesday” to celebrate!

Originally I was planning on making Coconut Lime Crumble Bars to celebrate the day, but, one of the necessary ingredients was macadamia nuts. I normally have walnuts and almonds in my fridge but neither seemed to be a good substitute. And since my grocery shopping hasn’t been as frequent as before and I’m sticking to the things I really need and with the prices of certain things currently inflated, macadamia nuts just didn’t make the list. So, I opted to make this Key Lime Bundt Cake instead. Not really festive for the day, but, the flavor does make up for it and I have all of the necessary ingredients on hand.

After baking and letting the cake cool…

I made the key lime glaze for it. I’ll admit, whenever I saw cake recipes that included a glaze I would normally omit them thinking that the cake would just be overly sweet with them, but, I have to come to realize that the glazes enhance or complement the flavor of the cake. After drizzling the glaze on the cake I popped it in the refrigerator for a few minutes so it could set.

And then it was time to enjoy a slice! The cake itself isn’t overly sweet and the lime flavor isn’t overpowering by any means. The glaze didn’t add any extra sweetness, if anything, it added to the lime flavor.

Key Lime Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 sugar

2 tablespoons key lime zest (or lime zest)

3 eggs, at room temperature

1/4 key lime juice*

3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups buttermilk**

 

Glaze***:

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons key lime juice

1 tablespoon milk

 

*Use can use freshly squeezed juice or use store-bought

**Make your own buttermilk by combining 1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole milk) with 7-8 teaspoons of white vinegar in a measuring cup. Stir together and let sit until thickened and slightly curdled.

***This makes more glaze than you will need for the cake, you can easily cut the ingredients in half and will still have enough glaze to drizzle over the cake.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 12-cup Bundt cake with baking spray, or grease the pan and lightly dust with flour.

In a medium bowl combine the flour and baking soda and set aside.

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer beat the butter, sugar and lime zest together on medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add in the lime juice. Continue beating until everything is well combined.

Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it out evenly. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake rest 10 minutes in the pan and then invert on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake has cooled you can pour the glaze over it.

In a medium bowl combine the powdered sugar, key lime juice and milk and whisk together until the glaze is smooth and there are no lumps remaining. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and refrigerate a few minutes so it can set and then slice and serve.

Recipe from Life In The Lofthouse

Disney Park Churros

How have you been spending your extra time at home? I have done my fair share of crafting and of course some baking and cooking. Granted, some of my baking and cooking has been limited to what I have on hand. I am definitely not running to the store to pick up any missing ingredients for recipes I want to try like I used to. Thankfully I always have a few bags of flour and sugar on hand as well as some other baking basics. There have been a few recipes that have made it to the top of my baking to-do lists. Specifically those from companies that are releasing recipes to their signature treats. With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, I decided to make Disney’s Churro Bites that they recently released the recipe to on their blog.

I began by prepping the dough. In a medium saucepan I combined water, butter, salt and cinnamon and brought the mixture to a boil over medium heat. I then reduced the heat to low and added in flour and stirred it until the mixture formed into a ball. Next, I removed the pot from the heat and let it cool for about 7 minutes. Once the dough was cooled I added in three eggs one at a time. It’s important to let the dough cool before adding the eggs so the eggs don’t cook.

After the eggs were well incorporated into the dough I transferred it to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip – I used a Wilton 1M Tip.

Finally it was time to fry the churros. I heated oil in a cast iron skillet and once it reached 350 F I began piping the dough into the hot oil and used a knife to cut the dough. Once they were golden brown I removed them from the oil using a slotted spoon and drained them on a baking sheet I lined with paper towels. After letting them drain for a few minutes I then tossed them in a cinnamon sugar mixture.

And while the churros can be enjoyed on their own thanks to their cinnamon sugar coating, they are even better with dipping sauces. I made a quick and easy raspberry sauce (I simply melted raspberry jam with fresh lemon juice) and a milk chocolate sauce to dip them in.

Disney Park Churros

Ingredients:

1 cup water

8 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

1 1/4 cups flour

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

Vegetable or canola oil, for frying

 

Directions:

Prep a large baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and set aside.

Combine the water, butter, salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Heat the ingredients over medium heat, bringing the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and add in the flour and stir until the mixture forms a ball. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5-7 minutes.

While the dough is cooling, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until it reaches 350 F.

Add the eggs one at a time to the dough and stir until combined.

Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the dough into 1-inch strips into the hot oil. Cutting the dough with a knife. Repeat this until the churros have filled the pot, but, they still have enough room to fry in the oil. The churros will be done once they are a golden brown. Remove the churros from the hot oil using a slotted spoon and drain on the prepared baking sheet.

While the churros are still warm toss them in the cinnamon sugar.

Enjoy the churros on their own or dipped in your favorite sauce.

Recipe from Disney

 

 

Raspberry Sauce

  • Servings: About 1 cup
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Ingredients:

1 cup seedless raspberry jam

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Combine the jam and lemon juice in small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir to combine and continue stirring until the jam has melted and the two ingredients have combined.

 

 

Milk Chocolate Sauce

  • Servings: About 2 Cups
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Ingredients:

3/4 cups milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 cups sugar

2/3 cups evaporated milk

Directions:

Place the chocolate chips, butter and cinnamon in small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the chocolate chips and butter has melted. Stir in the sugar.

Slowly add in the evaporated milk and then bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer the chocolate sauce for about 8-10 minutes, constantly stirring. The sauce will thicken as it simmers.

Black & White Cookies

Black & White Cookies… The perfect cookie for those individuals who cannot decide between vanilla and chocolate. And also for those who prefer a cakey cookie instead of crunchy or crispy one. I attempted to make Black & White Cookies a few years ago and it was a fail. Granted, I decided to be a bit adventurous and instead of making traditional ones I opted to make a red velvet version. But, once the cookies were done baking and cooled I decided to try one before going through the trouble of making the icing and it tasted horrible. Needless to say those cookies got tossed in the trash and the icing wasn’t made. And since I am not a big fan of icing on cookies I never thought again of attempting to make them. A few months ago while spending the day with my oldest niece we saw Black & White Cookies at a bakery and she casually mentioned to me that she liked those cookies. Being the auntie that I am I told her that I would make her some. I just needed to find a recipe that wouldn’t be a fail again. Before turning to Google to do a search for a decent recipe I decided to scour some of my cookbooks. There was one book in particular that I was sure I would find a no-fail traditional Black & White Cookie recipe, Martha Stewart’s Cookies Cookbook . And I was right. In there was a recipe for a mini version of this classic bakery cookie.

The cookie itself doesn’t require any special ingredients, well, unless you count buttermilk, but, since it’s so easy to make your own at home with just milk (I use whole milk) and white vinegar the ingredient list is filled with things you more than likely already have in your pantry. Back to the buttermilk for a second, if your skeptical about making it at home and think it’s best to buy the real deal I can assure you that after making my own for quite some time now and using it in recipes that I used to buy buttermilk for I haven’t noticed any difference with the finished product.

The dough for the cookies came together pretty quickly and while the recipe I was following stated to roll the cookies into balls before dropping them onto the prepared cookie sheets, the dough was just too sticky to do so. Instead I used a cookie scoop to scoop and drop the dough onto the sheets. I then baked them for about 10 minutes until the bottoms were a golden brown.

Once the cookies were cooled – and I tried one to make sure it tasted good – I made the icing. In a medium bowl I combined the ingredients to make the icing and then transferred half of it to a small bowl to add cocoa powder to it. While the consistency for the white icing was spot on, once I added cocoa powder to the other half it was much too thick to be able to spread onto the cookies so I added a few teaspoons of water to it to thin it out. Working on the flat sides of the cookies, I spread the white icing on half of each of the cookies.

I waited a minute or two for the icing to set and then I spread the chocolate icing on the other side of each of the cookies.

And while my cookies didn’t come out looking perfectly they tasted awesome!

Mini Black & White Cookies

  • Servings: About 24 Cookies
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Ingredients:

Cookies:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup buttermilk*

 

Icing:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup

2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

 

*I made my own buttermilk by combining 1/3 cup whole milk with 2 teaspoons white vinegar in a measuring cup. I stirred to combine the two and then let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes. The buttermilk will be ready when mixture begins to curdle.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In medium bowl sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda salt) and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, mix the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy. Add in the egg and the 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and continue mixing until well incorporated. Mix in the flour in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough and place it on the prepared cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until the bottom of the cookies turn golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies cool make the icing. In a medium bowl combine the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and the tablespoon of water. Mix together until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick add more water, a little at a time (the icing should be a bit thicker than the consistency of honey). Transfer half of the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the unsweetened cocoa powder. Once again, if the mixture is too thick thin with water.

Once the cookies are completely cooled, spread the white icing on half of the flat side of each cookie and the spread the cocoa icing on the other half. Let the cookies rest for 30 minutes so the icing can set and then enjoy!

Recipe from Martha Stewart