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

Sweets For Your Sweet

Are you thinking of making some homemade treats for your Valentine? Or, maybe something for yourself? Well, I have two quick and easy treats for just that… Matzo Crack & Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Truffles.

For the Matzo Crack, you start off by making a simple toffee using butter and brown sugar. Which you then spread over matzo crackers that have been arranged in a single layer on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes, remove and then spread a bag of chocolate chips – semi-sweet, milk or dark – over the bubbling toffee. Let it sit for a few minutes and then using an off-set spatula smooth the chocolate over the toffee. Sprinkle with seat salt (and nuts if you like) and refrigerate for about 45 minutes. Once the chocolate has hardened transfer to a cutting board and cut into pieces.

The truffles are just as easy… After making the filling – beat cream cheese, peanut butter, graham crumbs, sugar and peanuts together – roll it into 1-inch balls and freeze for about 10 minutes. Melt the chocolate and dip each of the balls in the chocolate, sprinkle with chopped peanuts and refrigerate until firm.

There you go… two quick, easy and delicious treats that you can enjoy this Valentine’s Day or any day!

Chocolate Toffee Matzo Crack

Ingredients:

4-5 lightly salted matzos

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

12 ounce bag of chocolate chips – milk, semi-sweet or dark

Sea Salt

Favorite nuts, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil – make sure the foil goes up and over the edges of the pan. Top the foil with parchment paper. Cover the paper with the matzo, cutting and piecing the pieces together.

Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil cook for a few more minutes until it becomes foamy and thickened. The mixture may look like its separating, continues whisking and it will come together. Pour the toffee over the matzo and spread it into an even layer using an off-set spatula. Pop it in the oven and bake it for about 10 minutes, until the toffee is bubbling. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack

Scatter the chocolate chips over the hot toffee, let it sit for a few minutes and then using an off-set spatula spread the chocolate in an even layer over the toffee. Sprinkle with the sea salt and nuts (if using) and place in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes. Don’t let it stay in the refrigerator too long or it will be more difficult to cut.

Using the overhang aluminum foil transfer the matzo crack to a cutting board and cut it into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe From Once Upon A Chef

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Truffles

  • Servings: About 28 Truffles
  • Print

Ingredients:

8oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons chopped peanuts, divided

8oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into pieces

Directions:

Beat cream cheese in a large bowl until creamy. Add in the remaining ingredients, except the sugar, and continue beating until all ingredients have mixed together.

Roll the cream cheese mixture into 28 balls, using about a tablespoon of the mixture for each ball. Place on a waxed covered baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. You can melt it in the microwave or using a double boiler. Dip the cream cheese balls into the chocolate and transfer them back to the wax-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped peanuts and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Kraft

Cheesecake Stuffed Pumpkin Bread

Another week, another pumpkin recipe. I originally saw this recipe on an Instagram video, but, it was with banana bread and I immediately thought to myself that it would taste even better with pumpkin bread. A quick search on Food Network’s website and I was able to find the pumpkin version.

To create the cheesecake swirl in the bread, I reserved 1 cup of the pumpkin batter and spread the remaining batter in the bottom of a loaf pan. I then spooned the cheesecake mixture over the batter and finally poured the reserved pumpkin batter down the center of the pan.

With the tip of paring knife I then swirled the two batters together.

After baking and cooling it was time to slice and enjoy.

And it’s no surprise that since pumpkin flavored desserts and cheesecake are two of my favorite treats this was a winner in my book!

 

Cheesecake-Stuffed Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

Cheesecake Swirl:

1 8oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sour cream

1 large egg

 

Pumpkin Bread:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 granulated sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 /3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F and spray a 9×5 loaf pan with baking spray.

For the cheesecake swirl: Combine the cream cheese, granulated sugar, sour cream and egg in a large bowl until well combined. Set aside.

For the pumpkin bread: Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. In another bowl whisk together the granulated sugar and pumpkin puree, then whisk in the oil, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and egg. Then whisk in the flour mixture until just combined.

Reserve 1 cup of the pumpkin batter and spread the remaining batter in the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the batter and then pour the reserved pumpkin batter in a line down the center of the pan. With the tip of a paring knife, swirl the batter together 5 to 6 times.

Bake until the top is cracked and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes then carefully invert the bread on a platter and then flip upright. Let cool completely before slicing.

Recipe from Food Network

Banana Ricotta Cheesecake

If necessity is the mother of invention is it safe to say then that random leftover ingredients are the building blocks to great recipes? Just a thought! And when I say leftover, I mean leftover, half finished, not wanting it to go bad, and somewhere in the middle of all that ingredients. That’s pretty much how this Banana Ricotta Cheesecake came about. I had a container of ricotta cheese in the fridge that was quickly approaching its expiration date and two bananas on the table that were quite ripe and I just didn’t feel like making pasta or a banana bread. After some Google searches I couldn’t find anything that I really wanted to make or I found recipes that required ingredients I just didn’t have on hand and didn’t want to buy. So, I figured since I bake enough it was about time that I tried going without a recipe, okay, not completely without one. I did some major tweaking to a Ricotta Cheesecake I had made before. But, I think this is still somewhat original.

Unfortunately, my cheesecake did crack in the middle. It wasn’t so bad when I first took it out of the oven, but, as it cooled it got bigger. Oh well!

But, after slicing it and plating it with chocolate sauce and whipped cream that unfortunate crack was nothing to be bothered by as I am happy to say I was quite pleased with how the cheesecake came out. The banana flavor was subtle but still detectable, not as strong as banana bread but not as faint as a hint. And no, in case you are wondering there were no traces of banana in the cheesecake itself since I was sure to blend the mashed banana, sugar and cream cheese until they were smooth.

Banana Ricotta Cheesecake

Ingredients:

18 graham crackers

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 ripe bananas, mashed

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups whole milk ricotta

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Process the graham crackers in a food processor until they become fine crumbs. Add the butter and process until blended. Pat the crumbs into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. All to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat the mashed bananas, cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the ricotta and vanilla extract and continue beat until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each one.

Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Until a cake tester inserted in the middle come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes, then refrigerate and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve at room temperature.