Peanut Butter Brownie Dump Cake

Dump cakes… One of the simplest ways to make a quick and delicious dessert. I’ve made them using canned fruit with a box cake mix and fresh fruit with a homemade cake mix. So, when I came across a recipe for a Peanut Butter Brownie Dump Cake I knew I had to try it.

When I read the reviews for these brownies I had some reservations about making them, but, I realized that the issue most people were having was that they weren’t reading the directions properly. They kept saying that they added eggs to the mixture, but, nowhere in the ingredient list were eggs mentioned. After a few more seconds of thought I realized what most people were doing wrong. They were preparing the batter for the brownies as the directions on the box instructed them as opposed to just using the flour mixture itself. That’s the key to dump cakes. You are not preparing the batter for the box mix, but, just using the flour mixture from it.

I began by melting together semi-sweet chocolate, peanut butter and milk in the microwave. I heated it for about 2 minutes and then whisked the mixture until it was smooth.

I then poured the mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish that I sprayed with cooking spray. Next, I sprinkled the brownie mix over the melted chocolate.

Finally, I drizzled melted butter and milk over the brownie mix. I also used a fork to smooth down the top of the brownie mix to level it off.

I then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about an hour.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any pics of the brownies once I had sliced up. I’ll admit that the picture above doesn’t make them look too appetizing, but, trust me, they were delicious. Everyone who tried them said the same thing as well. One thing though, I decided to use a chewy fudge brownie mix, next time I make these I will use a milk chocolate mix. I think using the chewy fudge mix increased my baking time and I ended up brownies that were too soft. When I sliced these I honestly thought that were going to fall apart, even though I waited for them to cool before doing so. After slicing them though they did firm up a little more. They tasted great warmed-up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

 

Peanut Butter Brownie Dump Cake

Ingredients:

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate baking bar*

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 1/4 cups milk, divided**

1 pkg. brownie mix (18 to 20 oz. size / 13×9-inch pan size)

3/4 cup butter, melted

Whipped cream or ice cream for topping

 

*I used 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips in lieu of the 8oz. chocolate

**I used whole milk

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 13×9-inch with cooking spray and set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate, peanut butter and 1 1/2 cups of milk. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted. Stir the contents together until they are melted and smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the dry brownie mix over the chocolate mixture. Drizzle the top of the brownie mix with the melted butter and then the remaining milk.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out with fudgy crumbs.

Let cool completely and then slice into pieces.

Recipe from Betty Crocker

Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach

Quick and easy dinners… Something we can all appreciate and are always in search of. This pasta dish is ready in about 30 minutes and you can switch up some of the ingredients to change the flavors. Instead of using regular canned diced tomatoes you can try one that is seasoned with different spices and instead of orecchiette pasta you can easily substitute small shells. And maybe instead of spinach try arugula. As you can see the possibilities are endless.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach

Ingredients:

16 ounces sweet Italian sausage

1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and green parts separated)

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

16 ounces orecchiette

5 ounce bag of baby spinach, roughly chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

 

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage meat and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add the scallion white and rosemary and cook until the scallions have wilted. Add the tomatoes with their juices and 1/2 cup of the boiling water. Let simmer while the pasta cooks.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the directions on the box for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water then drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the tomato sauce along with the spinach and half of the scallion green. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted. Gradually add the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and remove from the heat.

Sprinkle the cheese and remaining scallions over the pasta when serving.

Recipe slightly modified from Food Network

Staying Home and Crafting

How have you been spending all this extra time at home? Cleaning crevices of your home you never thought of cleaning? Finally clearing out your closets to discover items you had long forgotten? Constantly searching the internet for recipes to use up obscure items found in your pantry? Or simply catching up on television shows or discovering new ones? And of course, there are those things on your to do list that you know you should get to, but, just don’t seem to have the motivation to do so. One of those things for me is raking the leaves in my backyard. A task I am never fond of doing, but, once done I am so happy to have done. Sometimes too we put so many things on our to-do lists that we become overwhelmed with what to do first. I know that happens with me often. Especially on my list of crafts I want to do.

For quite some time I had a small pile of beadweaving projects that I wanted to get to. I even organized the beads I wanted to use for the projects so all I had to was actually sit down and make them. Well, I finally started working on some of those projects and soon discovered that I didn’t like how a few of them were turning out or I just didn’t have the patience so I gave up and moved on to the next one. I did find one project that I liked and I ended up making two pairs of earrings.

I’m in the middle of making this bracelet. So far so good, I just need to figure out how to put a knot in the end of the bracelet without destroying the braid or making it look wonky.

I also attempted to make a new Easter wreath. I picked up the supplies in late February after coming across the directions and they sounded simple enough. Decoupage plastic Easter eggs with small pieces of paper napkins and then glue them to a straw wreath adorned with Spanish moss. I’ve made quite a few wreaths so I thought I would have no problem with this one. I started, well, I should say I tried to decoupage the eggs and it was a mess. The paper wasn’t flat on the eggs regardless of how small I cut the napkin and I couldn’t stand the smell of the decoupage glue. Oh well. Thankfully the supplies weren’t that expensive and they are all things I can use for other projects so it wasn’t a total loss.

Before things got really bad with the virus and places were still open I was taking crocheting/knitting classes at my local library. I had just finished a series of three classes where we made crocheted tote bags and was starting another series of three classes to make a knitted keyhole scarf. I actually made a crocheted version last year. We got through one class before the library decided to cancel all classes and then ultimately closed. Thankfully in that one class I got the gist of how to make the scarf – it involved splitting stitches and using double-pointed needles, neither of which I had done nor used before in knitting – so, I was able to complete it on my own.

And then I started another scarf (my neck is ready for next winter). Initially, using Lion Brand’s Homespun yarn, I was knitting a scarf in garter stitch (knitting every stitch in each row) and once completed I was going to weave ribbon through the scarf in a basketweave pattern. I got to a certain point and tested out weaving the ribbon through and just didn’t like how it was looking so I decided to go with a pattern (Flights of Fancy) I had in a folder and I am liking this much better. I’ve thought about going through my yarn stash and putting all my remnant yarns together to make a blanket. For now though, I’ll just add that to my to-do list.

So, I’ve definitely been trying to keep myself busy at home as you can see. And yes, I have cleaned corners of my house I never thought of cleaning all while avoiding those leaves. As for television, I don’t subscribe to any streaming services so I split my time between watching actual television and listening to music. I am always amazed how there are so many channels and still nothing to watch at times. As for cooking and baking, I haven’t gotten too creative yet. I did make this Banana Cake with Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting last week as a means to use up some bananas and mascarpone cheese. I do have a pasta dish that I have yet to hit publish on that I give quite a few ideas to customize with what you have in your pantry. The main thing right now though is to stay home, stay safe and stay healthy!

 

 

 

Whipped Cream Dyed Easter Eggs

While we may not be able to celebrate Easter as we normally do this year there is one activity that can still be fun and remain the same… Dyeing Easter Eggs.

There are plenty of creative ways to dye Easter eggs… The traditional way of using water, vinegar and food coloring, the all-natural method of using vegetables and spices or the fancy way of using silk ties.  And then there are bunch of different methods in between. One of those, the shaving cream method. With this method you swirl food coloring into a dish of shaving cream and then set the eggs in the cream so they can absorb the color swirl. The only problem with this method is that the shaving cream makes the eggs inedible since egg shells are porous. I definitely don’t think it’s safe to eat a hard-boiled egg that may have traces of shaving cream on it. So, instead of shaving cream you can use whipped topping to achieve the same results and also have eggs that are still safe to eat after decorating.

After boiling your eggs let them cool completely. I suggest saving the carton from your eggs so you can store them in there once they have been dyed. Pour vinegar into a medium bowl and submerge the eggs in the vinegar for about two minutes. Remove the eggs and pat them dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

Now, you can make your own whipped cream if you choose, but, I opted to buy frozen whipped topping, aka Cool Whip. I placed it in the refrigerator overnight so that it could defrost. Once defrosted, I emptied the contents of 2 8oz. tubs of whipped topping into a 9×9-inch baking dish. Next, I dotted the top with gel food coloring. I opted to use three colors, I wouldn’t suggest using more colors than three as the colors can get really muddled together then. I would also try avoid using colors that when blended together make a new color, i.e. red and yellow (orange), blue and yellow (green), red and blue (purple), and so forth.  Using a toothpick I swirled the colors into the topping, making sure to get the color into the bottom of the dish as well so that when I submerged the eggs they would be completely covered with the dyed whipped topping. I then placed the eggs in the whipped topping. I fit about 9 eggs in the 9×9-inch dish. I covered the top of the eggs with the whipped topping and I let the eggs sit there for about 15-20 minutes. The longer the eggs sit, the more vibrant the colors will be.

Next, I removed the eggs from the whipped topping and placed them in a bowl of water to clean them off. You don’t want to wipe the whipped topping off with a napkin as this could rub the colors off as well. After rinsing the eggs off I placed them on paper towels so they could dry off and then placed them back in the egg carton.

Overall I was happy with how these eggs came out. My nieces were especially happy. I think it was the first time that we dyed eggs and the eggs actually had a nice color to them.

 

Supplies:

18 hardboiled eggs

Vinegar

4 8oz. tubs of whipped topping

Food Coloring – preferably gel

2 9×9-inch (or 8×8-inch) baking dishes

2 Bowls

Toothpicks

Paper towels

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Cake with a Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

Has your cooking and baking gotten a tad bit creative in these crazy times? As we all try to adhere to social distancing our runs to the grocery store may have become non-existent or minimal. On those times we do go our selections may be slim pickings or restricted. So, what are we to do? We have to make do with what we have at home or get creative with what we can get on our grocery runs.

I recently picked up a bunch of bunch of bananas on one of my runs and I always make the mistake of getting a few too many or not eating them fast enough. I prefer my bananas to not have any spots on them. So, with three overripe bananas staring at me I decided to make a banana cake. And initially I was thinking of making a whipped cream frosting to top it, but, then I remembered I had a slightly used container of mascarpone cheese in my fridge that was quickly approaching its expiration date, so I decided to make a Mascarpone Whipped Cream frosting instead. Now, I wasn’t all that sure how the two flavors would go together, but, since mascarpone is closely related to cream cheese (both are essentially the same but mascarpone has a higher fat content than cream cheese, hence it having a richer and creamier taste) and a lot of banana cakes do have a cream cheese frosting I figured they would work together. So, if you don’t have either mascarpone or whipped cream on hand but you do have cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar you could easily just make a cream cheese frosting to top the cake. Or, to make things even easier, and just as delicious, you can enjoy the cake on its own without frosting. Hopefully that wasn’t too much information or rambling.

Once I had baked the cakes I let them cool completely before refrigerating them overnight before frosting them.

I wasn’t sure if I had enough frosting to fill and cover the cake so I decided to just lightly frost the cake and use the remaining frosting to pipe a few swirls on it.

Final verdict… The two flavors worked well together.

 

Banana Cake

  • Servings: 10 to 12 people
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Ingredients:

3 overripe bananas, mashed

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature*

*To make your own buttermilk combine 7 teaspoons of white vinegae with 1 1/2 cups whole milk in a measuring cup. Stir to combine and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. The buttermilk is ready when the mixture begins to curdle.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray (or coat with butter and flour) and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on high speed until creamy. Add both sugars and continue beating until creamed together. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs and vanilla extract and continue beating until well combined. Add the mashed bananas and beat until just combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three parts alternating with the buttermilk. Do not overmix the batter, a few lumps is okay.

Divide the batter amongst the two pans (about 3 cups each) and bake in the preheated oven for 35 – 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

 

Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

3/4 cups confecitioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8oz. mascarpone cheese*

*You can substitute cream cheese for the mascarpone cheese, or just make a cream cheese frosting with the addition of the heavt cream

Directions:

Remove the mascarpone cheese (cream cheese) from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to making the frosting. You want the cheese to be softened but still cold.

In a medium bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat together the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla exract on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add in the cheese and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

 

 

 

Mix & Match Shepherd’s Pie

I’ve had a subscription to Food Network magazine for quite a few years now. They always have a good mixture of recipes in each issue. Including snacks, appetizers, side dishes, main dishes, desserts and anything else that may be in between. One thing they have sometimes is a Mix & Match recipe option. They give you a foolproof formula for a recipe and you get to pick the mix-ins. So you can customize it for your tastes or if it’s a last minute meal for whatever you currently have in your fridge and pantry. In last month’s issue they had a Mix & Match option for Shepherd’s Pie. A delicious dish that is filling and gives you a good amount of vegetables in each serving. While there a numerous ways you can customize it I pretty much went the easy and basic route. Below are the ingredients I used, but, I have included the link to the recipe where you can get options to customize your own version of this dish. It’s the perfect dish for these days when you may rummaging through your fridge and/or pantry to use up the last of something or to be creative in making a good meal.

Mix & Match Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:

2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef*

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 large carrots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup red wine**

1 cup low-sodium broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)

1 cup frozen peas

4 tablespoons salted butter

2/3 cup milk***

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 

*I used an 80/20 mix

**I used Merlot

***I used whole milk

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Season with salt and then bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking cook the meat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the onions and carrots and season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium high and add the ground beef to the skillet. Break the meat up and cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper and add in the garlic cloves and fresh thyme. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Make a space the center of the skillet and add in the tomato paste, stir until darkened and then stir into the meat along with the Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the wine and then simmer until almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and simmer until the mixture becomes saucy, 4 to 5 minutes, then add in the frozen peas. Spread the meat into a 3-quart baking dish and set aside.

Once the potatoes are ready drain them and return them to the pot. Add the butter and the milk and mash the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and add in the shredded cheese. Spread the potatoes over the meat using the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying.

Recipe from Food Network

Spring Striped Cake

Happy first day of Spring! I hope you are all safe and healthy. I am sure Coronavirus / Covid-19 has changed the way you do a lot of things these days. I started working from home this week and while the first day was a bit of a challenge using my desktop and laptop in tandem, the second day was much better since I had my desktop and two monitors from work set-up at my kitchen table. Which also means I can enjoy some sunlight during the day… There’s no sunlight to be seen at my job. I must say, and I am sure most (if not all) of you would agree, it’s so surreal how many things have closed, been cancelled, rescheduled and so forth. It’s the best choice though if we want to contain this virus.

Back to Spring though, to welcome the season I decided to make a Spring themed cake. Spring themed because I used Spring colors. I decided to gives stripes another try. I tried them for the first time back in October for a Halloween themed cake. They were not pretty though! But, I figured since it was a Halloween cake the smudged stripes went with the holiday.

I decided to keep the cake small so I made a two-tier 6-inch cake. I made a cookies and cream cake by preparing a box of white cake mix – instead of using just egg whites though I used the whole egg – and then folded in a cup of Oreo cookie crumbs. To make the crumbs, I placed about 15 Oreos in a Ziploc bag and then used a rolling pin to crush the cookies. I actually have a whole post dedicated to making a Cookies and Cream Cake if you want the specific directions. After baking, cooling and filling (with additional Oreo crumbs) the cake I crumb coated it and then finished frosting it. Then using a cake comb I created stripes on the cake. I then placed it in the refrigerator overnight so the frosting could set (i.e. harden). You cannot create stripes on a cake that has just been frosted. You need the base frosting to be hard so you don’t scrape it completely off when smoothing the stripes.

Once my cake was ready I divided my remaining frosting into three and tinted them – one pink, another yellow and the last one a teal color (I combined green and blue to make this color).

And then I started filling in the stripes. You need to fill them in generously to get a smooth look when smoothing the cake with a flat edge.

After smoothing the cake a few times and filling in any gaps in the frosting my stripes didn’t look that bad. I definitely need to practice them a few more times though.

I used the remaining tinted frosting to create a swirl border on top of the cake. I wasn’t too happy with the way it came out though because I forgot colors 101, mixing certain colors together will create new ones. So I had hints of orange and purple in the border. Oh well!

Be safe, stay healthy, stay home and bake!

Passion Fruit Pie

Happy Pi Day! That wonderful day on the calendar, 3/14, were we celebrate the irrational number Pi. Irrational because it cannot be expressed exactly as a simple fraction and therefore is an infinite decimal. What it is exactly though is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and regardless of the size of the circle, it will always be the same number. So, due to this fun math themed day I bring you a new recipe for pie. I am always stumped to come up with a new pie recipe for today. When I start searching for a recipe most of the ones I come across are some sort of variation of an apple or pumpkin pie. Both of which I prefer baking during the Fall months. And of course there are the berry pies, but, I think those are better in the summer months when berries are in season. So I run out of options quickly. This year I started to think about pies I’ve made and flavors that I haven’t come across and I thought to myself what about a Passion Fruit Pie.

I decided to follow the recipe for my go-to Key Lime Pie but switch out the key lime juice for passion fruit pulp. I purchased frozen passion fruit pulp and let it defrost in my refrigerator overnight. I also switched up the crust I use. Normally I make Key Lime Pie with a store bought graham cracker crust, but for this pie I decided to make a shortbread cookie crust. And that was my first step in making this pie.

Using my food processor I pulsed shortbread cookies, I used Keebler Sandies Classic Shortbread Cookies, into fine crumbs and then combined the crumbs with melted unsalted butter. Next, I pressed the crumbs into the bottom and along the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. After baking it in a preheated 350 F oven for 10 minutes I let it cool while I made the filling. While baking the crust beforehand isn’t completely necessary I decided to do so so that the crust would be firmer once the pie was done. This would minimize the chances of it crumbling when cutting a piece of the pie.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, I beat egg yolks until they were light and fluffy. I continued beating the eggs while gradually adding in sweetened condensed milk. And finally, I added in the defrosted passion fruit pulp. Once the mixture was combined I poured it into the shortbread cookie crust and returned the dish to the oven for an additional 20 minutes. When done, the pie filling will be set.

I let the pie cool completely on a wire rack before transferring it to the refrigerator to chill before serving.

Before serving I whipped up a small batch of homemade whipped cream and decorated the top of the pie. To create the swirls I used a Wilton 6B piping tip.

This pie was delicious… It was the perfect texture and a wonderful combination of sweet and tart! And yes, pre-baking the crust did help in preventing it from falling apart when slicing into the pie.

Passion Fruit Pie

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 3/4 cups shortbread cookie crumbs*

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

4 egg yolks

14oz. can condensed milk

1/2 cup passion fruit pulp**

Whipped cream for decorating and/or serving

 

* I used about 15 Keebler Sandies Classic Shortbread Cookies. You could also purchase a 9-inch shortbread pie crust. If using a store bought pie crust there is no need to pre-bake it. Just fill it with the pie filling and bake as directed below.

** I purchased a frozen 14oz. package from Goya and left it in the refrigerator overnight to defrost.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine the shortbread cookie crumbs and the butter in a medium bowl and mix them together. Once mixed, transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and press the crumbs in an even layer along the bottom and sides of the dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the crust is cooling make the filling. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium, beat the egg yolks until they are light and fluffy. Gradually add in the condensed milk and continue beating until combined. Finally, add in the passion fruit pulp and continue beating until combined.

Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 20 minutes. The filling will be set.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and then refrigerate for a few hours before serving and/or decorating with whipped cream.

 

Whipped Cream

  • Servings: About 2 cups
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Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar and beat with a handheld mixer until soft peaks form. Add in the vanilla extract and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

If you’ve ever been to The Cheesecake Factory you know that they have a cheesecake to fit everyone’s taste buds. Even a few that combine cheesecake with other favorite desserts – Red Velvet Cake, Carrot Cake, Funfetti Cake and Tiramisu just to name a few. While I have tasted my fair share of them, my go-to is the White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle – a creamy cheesecake swirled with white chocolate and raspberry. YUM! So, when I came across a recipe for White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars I knew I had to try it. It had all of the flavors of my favorite cheesecake but the ease of baking it in a pan to slice as bars as opposed to a traditional cheesecake.

Since the raspberry sauce needs to be completely cooled before using it, I opted to make it the night before making the bars and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. In a small bowl I combined a teaspoon each of water and cornstarch. I stirred the two together and then set it aside. In a small saucepan I combined 9oz. of raspberries (1 1/2 cups) along with a teaspoon of water and 2 tablespoons of sugar over medium heat. As the raspberries began to cook I stirred them and began to mash them up. Once the mixture began to simmer I added in the cornstarch mixture. I continued to stir the mixture while it simmered. After the mixture had been simmering for a few minutes and it appeared as though the raspberries had completely broken down I removed it from the heat and passed it through a sieve over a small container to remove the pulp and the seeds. I was left with about 6 tablespoons of raspberry sauce.

The following morning I began by melting the white chocolate. I chopped up 6oz. of white chocolate and placed it in a heatproof bowl. I placed this bowl over a medium pot of water over medium heat. As the chocolate began to melt I stirred it until it was completely melted. I opted to use Lindt’s White Chocolate Bars found in the candy aisle as opposed to the white chocolate baking bars from either Baker’s or Ghirardelli found in the baking aisle since I was having a hard time finding them. There were plenty of the unsweetened, milk and semi-sweet chocolate bars but no white chocolate ones. The Lindt ones are 4.4oz. each so I used one whole bar and half of another one. I ended up with a little more melted chocolate than the recipe called for but it didn’t alter the final outcome. Once the chocolate was melted I set it aside. I kept an eye on it though because I didn’t want it to solidify, it needed to remain melted.

Next I got to work on making the crust for the bars. I lined a 9×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to make it easier to remove the bars once they were done for slicing. In my food processor I pulsed 20 Oreo cookies into fine crumbs and then combined them with melted butter. I then pressed the crumbs into the bottom of my prepared ban and baked in a 350 F preheated oven for about 10 minutes. I removed it from the oven and set it aside while I got to work on the cheesecake filling.

In a large bowl I combined cream cheese and sugar and using a handheld mixer beat the two together until the cream cheese was smooth and creamy. I then added in flour, fresh lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt and continued beating the mixture until the additional ingredients were fully combined. Next I added in 2 eggs 1 at a time, beating until the eggs were just combined into the cream cheese mixture. And finally I added in the melted white chocolate. I beat the mixture on low for a few seconds and then gave it a few good stirs with a rubber spatula.

Now it was time to assemble. I poured half of the cream cheese mixture into the center of the pre-baked crust and then using a small offset spatula I spread the mixture evenly over the crust, making sure that I got it into the corners. I drizzled half of the raspberry sauce (about 3 tablespoons) over the cream cheese and then poured the remaining cream cheese mixture over the sauce. Once again using the small off-set spatula to spread the mixture. Finally, I drizzled the remaining sauce over this second layer of cream cheese and then using a knife I gently swirled everything together.

I baked it for 40 minutes in a 350 F preheated oven. The center was set and the edges were just beginning to brown. I let it cool for an hour on a wire rack and then transferred it to the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours.

After the 3 hours I carefully removed it from the pan using the parchment paper overhang and placed it on a cutting board to slice. To create clean slices I cleaned my knife between each slice.

In the end, I ended up with 16 cheesecake bars that were just as good (if not better) as my favorite cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients:

Raspberry Sauce:

2 teaspoons water, divided

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries*, about 9oz.

2 tablespoons sugar

 

Crust:

20 Oreos

5 tablespoons unsalte butter, melted

 

Cheesecake Filling:

6oz. white chocolate chopped**

2 8oz. bar cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

 

*You can also use frozen strawberries (do not thaw)

**Do not substitute white chocolate chips for the white chocolate. They are not the same thing. White chocolate chips do not contain cocoa butter but do contain a form of oil that may prevent it from melting smoothly further preventing it from incorporating well into the cream cheese filling. If you cannot find white chocolate baking bars in the baking aisle use white chocolate bars found in the candy aisle.

 

Directions:

Raspberry Sauce: Stir together 1 teaspoon of the water with the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan combine the raspberries, sugar and the remaining teaspoon of water. Set the saucepan over medium heat and begin stirring the contents together mashing the raspberries as you stir. Once the mixture begins to simmer add in the cornstarch mixture and allow the mixture to continue simmering for a few more minutes. Set a sieve over a small bowl and press the raspberry mixture through the sieve to remove the seeds and pulp from the sauce. Allow the sauce to cool completely before using.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a 9×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the bars out once done.

Using a double boiler or microwave melt the chocolate. If using the microwave, melt in 20 second increments, stirring after each one until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. If using a double boiler, once you see the chocolate is beginning to melt begin stirring it to smooth it out. Once the chocolate is melted set it aside so it can cool while preparing the remaining components of the bars. Do not allow the chocolate to harden though.

In a food processor pulse the Oreos into fine crumbs. Combine the Oreo crumbs and the melted butter in a bowl and stir together until combined. Transfer the crumbs to the prepared baking pan and press them into the bottom of the pan and then bake the crust for 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven and set aside while making the filling.

In a large bowl combine the cream cheese and sugar and using a handheld mixer (you could also use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) on medium beat the two together until the cream cheese is smooth and creamy. Add in the flour, lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt and continue beating until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until just combined. Finally, add in the melted chocolate and beat on low until just combined.

Pour half of the cheesecake batter onto the prepared crust. Smooth with a small offset spatula and then drizzle with half of the raspberry sauce. Pour the remaining filling over the sauce and once again smooth with the spatula and then drizzle the remaining sauce on top of the cheesecake filling. Using a toothpick or knife swirl everything together.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, the cheesecake will be set on top and the edges will just be beginning to brown. Place on a wire rack to cool for about an hour and then transfer to the refrigerator to cool for 3 hours.

After the 3 hours remove the bars from the refrigerator and using the paper overhang remove them from the pan and transfer them to a cutting board to slice. To get clean slices wipe your knife between each slice.

Cover and store leftover bars in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Slow Cooker Sunday: Triple Chocolate Brownies

Sometimes baking in my slow cooker is a hit or miss situation. I recently made a Banana Bread Pudding in it and that was a definite hit and I once made a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake that was more burnt than cake. I don’t let those mishaps discourage me though. I recently tried making brownies in my slow cooker and while they tasted good, there were a few pieces along the edge that were burnt. But, I believe I know what the problem was. The recipe called for a 5 quart slow cooker and I used a 5.5 quart slow cooker. You wouldn’t think it would make a difference, but, having a slightly larger slow cooker means that my brownies were probably slightly thinner than the recipe intended, hence the baking time I followed was too long which resulted in slightly burnt brownies.

I prepped my slow cooker by spraying the insert with non-stick cooking spray and then lining the bottom with parchment paper that I then sprayed with the spray as well.

After making the batter for the brownies I poured it into my slow cooker and smoothed the top with a small offset spatula.

And while I let the brownies cook for 3.5 hours, I really should have let them cook for only 3 hours and then uncovered the slow cooker for the final 30 minutes of cooking. Truth be told, I am not greatest at gauging when I should take my brownies out of the oven. I know they are supposed to be slightly underdone when you take them out, but, I inevitably leave them in a minute or two too long because I don’t want them to be too underdone. I should learn by now. So, while I had a feeling my brownies were done at 3 hours, I ended up leaving them in too long and I ended up with burnt edges, but, I was able to salvage most of them and they were delicious.

You may be wondering why I don’t have any pics of those brownies I did salvage…. Well, by the time the brownies cooled and I sliced them it was too dark in my house to get a good picture. It’s so much easier to take pictures during the summer months! I debated whether or not to share the recipe since there were so many mishaps, but, they were good nonetheless and worth another try at perfecting. Or maybe just baking them in the oven instead!

Slow Cooker Triple Chocolate Brownies

  • Servings: 14 brownies
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Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces*

1 cup sugar

3 large egss, lightly beaten

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Non-stick cooking spray

 

*I used 1 1/3 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Spray the insert of a 5-quart slow cooker with the cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and then spray the paper with the spray as well.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Place the butter and the bittersweet chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate and butter has melted. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Stir in the eggs, then add in the flour mixture, the walnuts and chocolate chips. Stirring everything together until just combined, be sure not to overmix. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker insert and smooth the top.

Cover and cook on low for 3.5 hours*. Uncover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the insert from the slow cooker and run a knife around the edges to loosen the brownies. Place the insert on a wire rack and allow the brownies to cool completely, at least 2 hours. Turn the brownies out onto a cutting board / work surface and slice into 14 brownies. Store in an airtight container.

*If using a larger slow cooker your cooking time will be less. I used a 5.5 quart slow cooker and I probably should have uncovered them for the last 30 minutes at around the 3 hour mark.

Recipe from Martha Stewart