No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

No bake cheesecakes can either be a hit or a total miss. It all depends on whether the filling firms up enough while refrigerated. Unfortunately, they don’t sometimes and instead turn into a total mess when slicing into them. It’s happened to me! But since I am not one to give up, I am always willing try something again, just not the same recipe if it failed the first time, I decided to try my hands at a no bake cheesecake again. And I’m happy to say this recipe I tried for a No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake was a winner in all regards. The strawberry flavor was spot on, the texture was perfect and the crust was a combination of pretzels and graham crackers.

First up, I made the crust. In the bowl of my food processor I processed mini pretzels and graham crackers into crumbs. I then transferred the mixture to a medium bowl and stirred in sugar and melted butter. Once it was well incorporated I pressed the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. You could opt to use a 9-inch baking dish instead. I then baked the crust in a 350 F preheated oven for 15 minutes. And then placed it on a wire rack to cool completely.  

While the crust was in the oven and then cooling I prepped the strawberry puree. In the bowl of my food processor I added in 1 1/2 pounds of strawberries that I rinsed, hulled and sliced in half. Quick tip, I processed the pretzels and graham crackers first so I could give my bowl a quick rinse before using it for the strawberries.

I processed them for about a minute or so to turn the strawberries into a puree.

Next, I transferred the puree to a medium saucepan and simmered it on medium-low heat until it was reduced to about a 1/2 cup. I initially started this in a small saucepan, but, once it started to simmer I was scared that it was going to turn into a complete mess on my stovetop so I transferred it to a larger saucepan. This step took the longest, about a half hour. At one point, I thought I had reduced the mixture enough but when I transferred it to a measuring cup I had about 3/4 of a cup so I returned it to the saucepan for a few more minutes and it was finally reduced to a 1/2 cup. I then let it cool to room temperature.

Once the crust and puree was cooled it was time to make the filling. In a medium bowl I beat heavy cream using a hand mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks formed. In a large bowl I beat room temperature cream cheese on medium speed until it was smooth and creamy. I then added in the strawberry puree, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract and beat it on medium-high speed until everything was well incorporated and the mixture was once again smooth and creamy.

Using a rubber spatula, I folded the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. I was careful to do this slowly as I didn’t want to deflate the air in the whipped cream. Once the two were mixed together I then spread the filling into the crust and smoothed the top with a small offset spatula. I then covered it tightly with a piece of plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and refrigerated it overnight.

The following day I sliced up strawberries and tossed them with sugar and whipped up another batch of whipped cream, this time sweetened with confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract, and topped the cheesecake. Since I opted to make mine in a springform pan I carefully removed the ring from it before spreading the strawberries in the center of the cheesecake and then piped dollops of whipped cream around the edge using a Wilton 1M tip. Since I was taking this cheesecake over to a friends’ house for dessert I carefully placed the ring back on the cake before covering again.

Final verdict… It was delicious. The strawberry flavor was spot on without being overly sweet. Also, the texture was perfect. Sometimes with cheesecakes they can be a bit dense, but the texture of this cheesecake was more smooth and fluffy. This was definitely attributed to gently folding the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

1 cup salted mini pretzels crumbs (from 1/2 cup whole mini pretzels)

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (6 full sheets of graham crackers)

3 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

1 1/2 lbs. fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 8oz. blocks of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup confectioner’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup heavy whupping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

For the Crust:

Combine the ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl and mix together until well combined. Press the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan or a 9-inch pie dish. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan/dish you use. Make sure it’s in an even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-16 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before filling.

For the Filling:

Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender. You should have between 1 1/2 – 2 cups of puree. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Transfer the puree to a medium saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat until you are left with a 1/2 cup (or slightly more) of puree. This can take between 25-35 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Using a hand mixer beat the whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese using a hand mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the cooled strawberry puree, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Make sure the mixture is creamy and smooth, if there are any lumps in the mixture continue to beat until they incorporate into the mixture.

Using a rubber spatula fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Do this slowly as you don’t want to deflate the air from the whipped cream.

Spread the filling into the cooled crust and use a small offset spatula to smooth the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. The longer it stays in the refrigerator the better it will firm up.

For the Topping:

Before serving, prep the toppings and decorate. In a medium bowl stir the sliced strawberries with the sugar. Set aside. In another medium bowl combine the heavy whipping cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract and beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (I used Wilton 1M). Remove the cheesecake from the fridge. If you made it in a springform pan, carefully remove the ring. Spread the strawberries in the center of the cheesecake and then pipe dollops of the whipped cream around the outer edge of the cheesecake. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Tiramisu Cheesecake

I attempted to make Tiramisu Cheesecake before but the recipe I had just wasn’t a good one. The cheesecake filling didn’t have that classic coffee flavor that traditional Tiramisu has and with the two times I tried making it, neither time produced a cheesecake that firmed up. I was determined though. I had a tub of mascarpone cheese in my refrigerator that was quickly approaching its expiration date and I wanted to make something with it besides a traditional Tiramisu. So, I did a Google search for “desserts using mascarpone cheese” and what came up was nothing too exciting. Then I did a search for Tiramisu Cheesecake and came across a recipe that I decided to slightly tweak in hopes of finally making a cheesecake that sliced well and had the coffee flavor I am used to when it comes to Tiramisu.

I began by making the crust. In my food processor I processed about 20 ladyfingers into fine crumbs and then added in melted butter and Kahlua and processed it for a few more seconds to combine everything. I then transferred the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and pressed it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. I baked it on a baking sheet in a 350 F preheated oven for 6 minutes and let it cool on a wire rack while I made the cheesecake filling.

One thing I like about making cheesecakes is that it is a one-bowl dessert. Which means it’s quick and there’s not a lot of clean-up afterwards. In a large bowl I beat cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, flour and salt with a hand mixer on medium speed until it was combined and smooth. I then added in sugar, Kahlua, vanilla extract and espresso granules. Finally, I added 4 eggs, one at a time, and beat everything until it was just combined.

I then poured the cheesecake filling into the cooled crust and placed it on a baking sheet and baked at 325 F for about an hour.

After letting it cool completely on a wire rack, I refrigerated it overnight. Unfortunately, it did end up with a small crack in it.

Using a fine mesh sieve, I dusted the top of the cheesecake with cocoa powder. I then carefully removed the ring from the pan.

I made a small batch of whipped cream which I used as a “glue” to place ladyfingers I cut in half around the cheesecake. I used 13 ladyfingers.

I filled a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the remaining whipped cream and pipped dollops of it around the cheesecake. I thought about dusting the top of the whipped cream with more cocoa powder, but I decided that what was already on the cheesecake was enough. I didn’t want the cheesecake to be overpowered by it.

And while the ladyfingers around the cheesecake gave it a pretty look, they were a bit of a pain when it came to slicing it. I ended up removing them as I sliced. And while the decorative ladyfingers may have been a bit of a fail the flavor wasn’t. It had the perfect amount of coffee flavor. If you want to reduce the coffee flavor in your cheesecake, I suggest omitting the instant espresso and/or reducing the amount of Kahlua you use in the cheesecake filling.

Tiramisu Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

18 ladyfingers

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons coffee liqueur*

 

For the Cheesecake:

3 8oz. bricks cream cheese, at room temperature

8oz mascarpone cheese (1 cup)

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons coffee liqueur*

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons instant espresso**

4 large eggs, at room temperature

 

For Topping:

Cocoa Powder

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

13 ladyfingers, cut in half

 

*I used Kahlua

**I used Café Bustelo

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

To Make the Crust: In a food processor, process the ladyfingers into fine crumbs. Add in the melted butter and coffee liqueur until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making the cheesecake filling and lower the oven temperature to 325 F.

For the Cheesecake: In a large bowl beat the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, flour and salt with a hand mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until incorporated. Add in the coffee liqueur, vanilla extract and espresso granules and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating until just blended. Pour into the prepared crust.

Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 50 – 60 minutes, until the sides of the cheesecake are set but the center is still jiggly.

Cool on a wire rack and then refrigerate overnight.

To decorate: Make whipped cream by beating together the whipping cream, vanilla extract and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form.

Using a fine mesh sieve, dust the top of the cheesecake with the cocoa powder. Carefully remove the ring from the pan and using some of whipped cream place the halved ladyfingers around the cheesecake. Transfer the remaining whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe dollops of the whipped cream around the cheesecake.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe for Tiramisu Cheesecake filling slightly modified from Spruce Eats

Mini Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecakes

Mini desserts are the perfect-sized treats. You can satisfy your sweet tooth and not feel guilty that you may have served yourself too much of your desired dessert. For today’s pumpkin recipe I am bringing you a Mini Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake. And the title says it all, you have pumpkin, cream cheese and a hint of coffee. I made a few slight changes to the original recipe to use up items I currently had in my pantry… Instead of speculoos cookies (a spiced shortbread cookie) I used graham crackers and instead of regular instant coffee I used Bustelo Instant Espresso. While I am not a coffee drinker, I always have this in my pantry to make tiramisu and to make coffee to use in lieu of water for box chocolate cake mix. If you didn’t know, coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate cake.

To begin I made the crust. After rolling graham crackers with a rolling pin to make crumbs, I combined them with sugar. I then placed a tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of cupcake liners I placed in a muffin tin.

Next, after making the cheesecake batter, I spooned about 1/4 cup of the batter over the graham cracker crumb mixture.

I then baked the cheesecakes in a 325 F preheated oven for about 30 minutes. I ended up leaving the cheesecakes in the oven for a minute or two too long and they ended up cracking on top…

But once they cooled the cheesecakes deflated a bit and the cracks were gone. After letting them cool in the pan for a few minutes I removed them and transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely before refrigerating them.

I ended up leaving them in the refrigerator for about a day before topping them with a dollop of homemade whipped cream and sprinkling them with pumpkin pie spice.

Final verdict… YUM!!! They were super creamy and overbaking them had no effect on the texture whatsoever. The combination of coffee and pumpkin is delicious and the dollop of whipped cream on top was the perfect topping.

Looking for another recipe that combines coffee and pumpkin?  Then check out my Pumpkin Tiramisu recipe from a few years ago.

 

Mini Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecakes

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (12 graham crackers)

3/4 plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3 8oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon instant coffee

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 325 F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of the mixture to the bottom of each of the cupcake liners.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and the remaining 3/4 cup sugar with a hand mixer on medium until well blended. Add the pumpkin, 2 teaspoons of the pumpkin spice and vanilla extract, mix well. Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition. Mix until just blended. Stir in the coffee granules until completely dissolved. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the centers are just set. Cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Beat the whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar together until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large piping tip and pipe the whipped cream over the cheesecakes. Sprinkle with the remaining pumpkin spice.

Recipe slightly modified from Kraft Foods

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.

 

An Ombre Cake, the Fall and A Few Other Things

With Labor Day weekend over summer has unofficially ended. The weather is also signaling the end of summer as well. Looking at the extended forecast there doesn’t seem to a day in the 80’s in sight. I am not complaining though. Fall is my favorite season and I very rarely complain about the cold temps the winter brings. While I am not a fan of hazy, hot & humid days of the summer I will rarely complain about them as well. Truthfully, I love being able to enjoy the 4 seasons in my neck of the wood. Although, it seems like Spring happens in the blink of an eye. It’ll start off super cold, then a few rainy days (possibly even snow) and then finally a few Spring-like days and then bam, there will be days of crazy heat before the Summer has truly began.

Labor Day was a rainy one by me. The weekend was beautiful, although, I spent half of it in the kitchen baking, decorating a cake and making floral centerpieces for a bridal shower. The alternative would have probably been yardwork so it’s all good.

I started the day by making Cheesecake Brownie Bites. I’ve been making these for years and while they are always a hit, I probably have tried them once of twice. Crazy I know. Well, I had extra brownie and cheesecake batter so I made a few extra that I ended up snacking on throughout the day and I will definitely be eating them the next time I make them.

After running a few errands I came back home and got to work on the cake. The plan was a two-tier blue ombre buttercream cake decorated with fresh sunflowers. To save myself time (and stress) I baked the cake layers a few days before, let them cool and then wrapped them in plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator. I started by making my short-cut chocolate mousse and then refrigerated it while I whipped up a batch of vanilla frosting. Once the frosting was done I then torte, filled and crumb coated the two tiers. Each tier was a three-layer cake – chocolate cake sandwiched between two yellow caked. Once 6-inch, the other a 9-inch.

I then placed the cakes in the refrigerator and whipped up two more batches of vanilla frosting. Yes, this cake took about 12 cups of frosting to complete. I’ve learned that it’s best to have left-over frosting as opposed to barely enough, especially when tinting the frosting. One time I was decorating a cake with a ruffle design in pink frosting. Well, by the time I got to the top of the cake I had run out of the pink frosting so I ended up having to frost the top of the cake with white frosting. It didn’t look bad, but, I was definitely kicking myself. Once I was done making the frosting it was time to tint it. I used three Wilton colors to create the ombre effect – Royal Blue, Cornflower Blue & Sky Blue. Once the frosting was ready I started by frosting the top of each of the cake. The smaller tier with while frosting and larger tier with the cornflower blue frosting. I filled piping bags with the remaining frosting and snipped the ends off the bag.

I began by piping the bottom of the larger tier with the royal blue frosting. I then switched to the cornflower blue frosting to finish piping the sides of the cake. Next I used a straight edge icing spatula to smooth the sides of the cake. And finally I used a small spoon to create stripes on the cake by dragging it along the frosting while spinning the turntable.

After placing the smaller tiered cake on the larger one and securing it with a wooden dowel I repeated the frosting and decorating process using the sky blue and white frosting. At this point I popped the cake in the refrigerator overnight so the frosting could set (and I could take a break).

After resting and taking a dinner break I got to work on the centerpieces.

The next morning it was back to the cake. Here’s a pic of the cake before adding the sunflowers…

And with the flowers added…

And finally on display at the bridal shower.

So, now that Fall is right around the corner it’s, dare I say, time to think about the holidays, especially if you are planning on doing any crafting for it. Earlier this year I started crocheting hexagons to make a Christmas tree skirt. I completed about 2/3 of the hexagons but I put the project on hold as I couldn’t find 4 skeins of the same dye lot of the green yarn I wanted to use. I finally got them so that project is back on. Fingers crossed I will get it done. I started working on the hexagons again and for some reason the size is not matching up to the ones I made earlier. I keep ending up with an extra side, so instead of hexagons I am making heptagons. Not sure what I am doing wrong. I made so many hexagons already that I thought making them would utilize muscle memory but something is off. Ugh! I also started looking at Christmas card designs on Pinterest during some downtime. I think I know what I am making this year. I always wait until the last minute to make my cards and I am doing by best this year to start early so I am not scrambling in mid-December. If all this talk about the holidays has you stressing out, I apologize. At least I haven’t started shopping. Back to Fall though, I started decorating with some pumpkins around the house, nothing outside though. I will wait until it’s actually Fall to do that. I was almost tempted to put up my scarecrows but I held off. And of course there is baking… I’ve got some ideas for Fall treats and I am already looking ahead to Christmas cookies. Sorry, I brought it up again. But, my fellow crafters and bakers know where I am coming from. You’ve got to be a season ahead with these things, especially when you are blogging about them. For now… Happy Fall Y’all (albeit a few weeks early!)

Chocolate Cheesecake with a Mint Cookie Crust

I got the idea for this cheesecake after watching a So Yummy video post on Instagram. It had a layer of melted chocolate mint cookies serving as the crust to a chocolate cheesecake. After searching for their recipe I decided it might be a little too sweet for my taste – it involved 4 cans of sweetened condensed milk. Yikes! So, I decided to improvise a bit.

I began by processing about 25 thin mint cookies (I used Keebler’s Grasshopper Cookies) in my food processor into fine crumbs. I then added in 3 tablespoons of melted butter and pulsed the mixture until it was combined. Next, I pressed the crumbs into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

In a microwave safe bowl I combined a 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips with milk and microwaved it until the chocolate chips began melting. I heated the mixture two times at 40 seconds. I stirred the mixture until the chocolate chips had completed melted and the mixture was smooth.

Next I made the cream cheese mixture. In a large bowl I beat together cream cheese and sugar using a handheld mixer on low speed. Once the two ingredients were thoroughly combined I added in 4 large eggs, one at a time. Beating well after each addition. Finally, I stirred in vanilla extract and flour.

After combining the cooled chocolate and cream cheese mixture I then poured it into my prepared crust. I placed the pan on a baking sheet and then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about an hour. Once the cheesecake was done I turned off the oven and open the door a bit and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for an additional hour. After the hour, I removed the cheesecake from the oven and let it cool completely before covering it and placing it in the refrigerator overnight.

I topped it with a few mint leaves…

And then sliced myself a piece. The cheesecake was perfectly creamy and not overly sweet and the crust had the perfect hint of mint.

Chocolate Cheesecake with a Mint Chocolate Crust

Ingredients:

Crust:

25 chocolate mint cookies

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 

Cheesecake:

1/2 cup milk*

1 12oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 8oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons flour

 

*I used whole milk, but, you could use 2% or skim

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Make the crust: Using a food processor process the cookies until they become fine crumbs. Add in the melted butter and continue mixing until the mixture is combined. Press the crumbs along the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Place the pan on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a microwave proof bowl combine the chocolate chips and the milk. Heat in the microwave in 30-second intervals. Stirring between each time. Once the chocolate chips have begun to melt continue to stir until the chocolate chips are completed melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar together using a handheld mixer on low speed until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and flour.

Stir the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. Stir the mixture well so that the two are well incorporated.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pie crust and place in the oven on top of the baking sheet.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the cake 1-inch from the edge comes out clean. The center of the cheesecake may not look set, but that is okay.

Turn the oven off and open the door a few inches and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour to cool. After the hour, transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, cover the cheesecake and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

 

Margarita Cheesecake

Instead of drinking a margarita this past Sunday for Cinco de Mayo I opted to bake one instead in the form of a cheesecake. While this was a great dessert to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the light lime flavor also makes it perfect for the upcoming warmer months of the summer.

I began by making the crust. I crushed Nilla Wafers into crumbs and then combined it with melted butter and then pressed it into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. I then placed it in the refrigerator until the cheesecake mixture was ready. While I used Nilla Wafers for my crust, you could opt to get the salty rim of a traditional margarita in the form of a crust made with crushed pretzels instead.

Using a hand mixer I bet three room temperature 8oz. blocks of cream cheese until it was light and fluffy. I then added in sour cream, sugar, Grand Marnier, tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice and lime zest. I continued beating everything on medium speed until it was well combined. I then added in four eggs one at a time. On the off chance you taste the filling and think that it’s too much alcohol don’t worry, the alcohol flavor will burn off while the cheesecake is baking. On the converse side, if you feel like it’s not enough now would be the time to add in more.

I poured the filling into the prepared pan and then placed it on a baking sheet and baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until the center was just set.

A few minutes before removing the cheesecake from the oven I combined sugar, lime juice and sour cream in a small bowl. After removing the cheesecake from the oven I spread this sour cream mixture over the cheesecake and then placed it back in the oven for an additional five minutes.  This gives the cheesecake a nice topping and one other thing I like about it, it hides any cracks.

I then placed the cheesecake on a wire rack to cool and then placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours for it to chill.

Before serving, I removed the ring from the pan and garnished the cheesecake with thin slices of lime.

Margarita Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs*

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

3 8oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups sour cream, divided

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier**

3 tablespoons gold tequila**

4 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

2 teaspoons lime zest

4 large eggs

Thin lime slices, for garnish

 

*I used Nilla Wafers

**I used the 5cl/50ml sized bottles. Each had exactly 3 tablespoons. For the tequila, I used Jose Cuervo Gold.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the cookie crumbs and butter in a medium bowl until well blended. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and 1-inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.  Refrigerate.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in 1 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of sugar, Grand Marnier, tequila, 3 tablespoons of the lime juice and the lime zest and beat until well combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended after each addition.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and pour the filling into the crust. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the center is just set, about 50 minutes. In a small bowl combine the remaining sour cream, sugar and lime juice and stir well to combine. Pour this over of the cheesecake and smooth with an offset spatula. Return the cheesecake to oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack to cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours prior to serving.

Before serving, remove the ring from the pan and garnish the cheesecake with the lime slices.

Recipe from Food Network

5-Layer Brownie Cookie Cheesecake

A couple of things you’re going to need to make this cake… Patience, patience and more patience. You bake a layer, then you refrigerate it, you bake another layer and then you freeze it and finally you bake the last layer and then you place it back in the refrigerator so it can chill before enjoying a slice. But don’t worry, the first bite is worth the time and patience!

To make things a little easy for myself I followed the directions and used store bought chocolate chip cookie dough and boxed brownie mix.

I began by lining a 10-inch springform pan with 2 pieces of plastic wrap long enough to hang over the sides. After bringing the chocolate chip cookie dough to room temperature I pressed it into an even layer on the bottom of the pan, folded the plastic wrap over it and then placed it in the freezer.

I prepared the brownie mix per the directions on the box and then poured it into the 10-inch springform pan that I sprayed with baking spray after removing the cookie dough. I then sprayed the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan and pressed it in the center of the brownie mix until the batter reached about halfway up the springform pan. I baked this for about 45 minutes. I removed it from the oven after 35 minutes, per the directions, but felt that the brownie was a little too underdone so I placed it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. While the middle was still a bit undercooked, the outside was cooked. I think that if I make this again I will either cook it for 40 minutes, or reduce the oven temperature to 325 F and bake it for 45 minutes. While the brownie was still warm, I rotated the 8-inch pan into the brownie while carefully pressing it down to push the brownie further up the sides of the springform pan. I then refrigerated it for 30 minutes. I left the 8-inch pan in the brownie while it was in the refrigerator.

While the brownie was cooling I made the cheesecake batter by mixing together 3 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese with sugar, vanilla extract and an egg until it was smooth and no lumps remained. I set this aside. Once the brownie had cooled I removed it from the refrigerator and lined the bottom with Oreos.

And then poured the cheesecake mixture over it and baked it in the oven for 40 minutes and then placed it in the freezer, yes, the freezer, for 30 minutes.

Next, I arranged another layer of Oreos over the cheesecake…

And finally topped the whole thing with the frozen disc of chocolate chip cookie dough and placed it back in the oven for 20 minutes.

After letting it cool for a few minutes I placed it back in the refrigerator so it could chill.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a pretty picture of what the layers looked like when it was sliced (I made this for a birthday dinner and really couldn’t stop to take the all-important blog picture once we started slicing it) but I can tell you that it did get RAVE reviews. You might be thinking it would be overly sweet with all of the different layers, but, it actually wasn’t. It was more decadent than anything else and something you don’t need a huge slice of. I won’t lie, I was apprehensive to slice it because I had no clue if all of the layers had cooked properly, especially that brownie layer that seemed undercooked in the beginning, but, I needn’t worry. It probably would have been better if I had left the brownie a bit more undercooked in the beginning. I knew that I didn’t want to overcook it since it was going back in the oven 2 more times, but, I was just worried about putting a half cooked brownie in the refrigerator. I never know what can and cannot grow dangerous bacteria.

5-Layer Cookie Brownie Cheesecake

Ingredients:

16-ounce tube of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough, at room temperature

2 18-ounce boxed of brownie mix, prepared according to box directions

3 8-ounce cream cheese blocks, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 package of Oreos

Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line a 10-inch springform pan with 2 pieces of plastic wrap long enough to hang over the sides. Place the chocolate chip cookie dough into the pan and press it evenly into the bottom of the pan. Wrap it with the plastic wrap and place it in the freezer.

Spray the 10-inch pan with baking spray and pour in the brownie batter. Spray the sides and bottom of a deep (at least 5-inches) 8-inch round cake pan with baking spray and then press it into the brownie batter until the batter reaches halfway up the sides of the 10-inch pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes and then let cool for 5 minutes. While rotating the 8-inch pan press it into the brownie so the brownie can come up higher on the sides of the 10-inch pan. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Reduce the oven to 300 F.

In a large bowl beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and the egg with a hand mixer on medium speed until it’s smooth. Set aside.

After the 30 minutes, remove the brownie from the refrigerator and line the bottom with a single-layer of Oreos. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the cookies and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the cheesecake is set, but slightly jiggles in the center. Let cool for a few minutes and then place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

After these 30 minutes are up, place a single-layer of Oreos on top of the cheesecake layer and then place the frozen chocolate chip cookie dough disk on top. Tucking in any edges and bake for 20 minutes.

Let it cool for a few minutes and then refrigerate for 2-3 hours before removing the ring and slicing. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and an Oreo on top.

**A quick tip… Instead of placing the Oreos in a single-layer, crush them. It would definitely make slicing the cake easier and less likely to fall apart.

Recipe from Tasty

Slow Cooker Sunday: Sour Cream Cheesecake

So, last week I brought you a Chocolate Chip Cheesecake made in my slow cooker and this week I am bringing you a Sour Cream Cheesecake. The recipes are quite similar, but, I actually preferred this cheesecake a little more. As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t too keen on the chocolate chips in the cheesecake.

I began by making a graham cracker crust. I pressed the crumbs onto the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan. Next I made the filling by beating together the ingredients for the cheesecake. Quick not, the recipe called for almond extract, but, if you are not a fan of almond extract feel free to substitute vanilla extract in its place. After making the batter I poured it into my prepared pan and then placed the pan in my slow cooker on top of a rack and filled it with a 1/2 inch of water. After cooking it on high for 2 hours I turned my slow cooker off and let the cheesecake stay in the slow cooker covered for an hour.

Afterwards, I let the cheesecake cool completely on wire rack before placing in the refrigerator to chill before slicing and enjoying.

Slow Cooker Sour Cream Cheesecake

Ingredients:

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Salt

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon flour

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract*

1 cup sour cream

*Can substitute vanilla extract if you prefer

Directions:

In a medium bowl mix the graham cracker crumbs, the melted butter, cinnamon, a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Press the crumbs over the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan.

Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer beat the cream cheese with the flour, remaining sugar, and a 1/4 teaspoon salt on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and almond extract and beat at medium speed until blended. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan.

Place a rack inside the insert of your slow cooker and fill with a 1/2 inch of water. Place the pan on top of the rack and cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and keeping the lid on let the cheesecake cool inside of the slow cooker.

After an hour, remove the cheesecake and cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled refrigerate at least four hours before serving.

Recipe from Food & Wine

Slow Cooker Sunday: Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

I’ve tried baking in my slow cooker a few times and I’ve had a few fails that didn’t make it to my blog and there have been a few that did make it, but, I’ll admit weren’t all that perfect – the cakes were a bit unevenly cooked or they fell apart. But, baking a cheesecake in my slow cooker seems to be a winner – thanks to two items, a 6-inch springform pan and a mini rack to place the pan on in the insert of my slow cooker.

I began by making the graham cracker crust and pressing into the bottom and up the sides of my springform pan.

I placed the rack inside the insert of my slow cooker and filled it with a 1/2 inch of water. FYI…It’s an OXO Good Grips Silicone Rack. I found it at my local Sur La Table, but, it’s also available at Williams-Sonoma and Amazon.

After making the batter I poured it into the springform pan and placed the pan on top of the rack. I covered the slow cooker and cooked the cheesecake on high for 2 hours. After 2 hours I turned the slow cooker off and let the cheesecake sit inside for an additional hour without uncovering it. I then removed it, let it cool completely and refrigerated it for at least 4 hours before serving.

One thing I did like about making a cheesecake in the slow cooker… it didn’t crack. I have yet to make a cheesecake in the oven that didn’t crack. And while this cheesecake was good I learned something about myself, I love texture in most foods but cheesecake. I prefer my cheesecake to be smooth and not have any crunch to it

 

Slow Cooker Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Ingredients:

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (for 6-7 graham crackers)

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder and half of the salt and then stir in the butter.

Press the crumbs in the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, flour and the remaining salt. Using a handheld mixer beat the mixture on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the vanilla and finally the sour cream. Make sure to beat the mixture well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Place a rack in the insert of the slow cooker and fill with a 1/2-inch of water. Place the pan on the rack, cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and let stand, covered for an additional hour. Remove the cheesecake from the slow cooker and allow to cool completely and then refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites