Quick & Easy Cheese Danish

After finishing the Blackberry Lemon Cake I made for Easter last month I had about 2 cups of cream cheese frosting left. I didn’t want to toss it or put it in the refrigerator, since that meant I would have to use it within a few days and I had no clue what I would use it for, so I decided to freeze it. I know a lot of people freeze anything and everything, but I always have reservations when it comes to freezing baked goods and frosting. Slowly but surely though those reservations are going away.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to use the frosting for at first. It crossed my mind that I could make a mini carrot cake. But then I remembered that I had puff pastry in my freezer as well so I decided that I would try to make Cheese Danishes with it.

To defrost the frosting I put it in the refrigerator overnight. Since it only consisted of cream cheese, butter and sugar I decided to stir in an egg yolk to help thicken the mixture.

After defrosting a sheet of puff pastry I sliced it into 4 squares and brushed the outer edges of each with an egg wash.

I then folded the corners of each square and then folded the sides to form an octagon.

Next I placed two tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture into the center of each square. I brushed the puff pastry with the remaining egg wash and sprinkled sugar on each.

I baked them in a 400 F preheated oven for 14 minutes. Right out of the oven the cream cheese mixture was quite puffy…

But, within 30 seconds the pastries had deflated. Considering that the cream cheese mixture browned considerably in the oven I could have probably taken them out a minute or so sooner, or, lowered the oven temperature. Regardless though, they were quite good and a good way to use the leftover frosting. I had enough frosting that I could have made 8 of these, but I decided to stick with 4 since I was testing the recipe out. The recipe below is for 8 Danishes, but, if you only have a cup of frosting left you can make 4 like I did.  

Quick & Easy Cheese Danishes

Ingredients:

2 sheets frozen puff pastry

2 cups cream cheese frosting

1 egg yolk

1 egg whisked with a teaspoon of water, for egg wash

Sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Defrost the puff pastry per the instructions on the package. Slice each sheet into 4 squares and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Brush the outer edges with the egg wash. Fold the corners of each square and then the sides to form an octagon.

When the puff pastry is just about defrosted stir together the frosting and egg yolk.

Place 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture into the center of the formed puff pastry.

Brush the puff pastry with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, or until the cream cheese is set and the puff pastry is a golden brown.

Let rest for a few minutes before enjoying.

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

Blackberry Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Today I am sharing the cake I made for Easter. I wanted to make something Spring-y this year and something that wasn’t the typical yellow or chocolate cake. Not that there is anything wrong with those. You can never go wrong with a classic! After searching around the internet for some ideas I settled on a Lemon cake with a Blackberry filling and Cream Cheese Frosting. I used to love lemon flavored desserts and then I went thru a phase where I just didn’t care for them. I must have eaten a lemon dessert that rubbed my taste buds the wrong way. Thankfully this lemon cake was just the right amount of lemon without being overpowering or sweet.

Now, this cake was almost a complete failure!  I made my blackberry filling a few days before and I followed a recipe I found online that seemed good but turned out to be overly sweet and was more syrup-like than a cake filling. I soon realized that the amount of sugar that the recipe called for was more so for a pie filling that also required a lot more blackberries than I was using. Now some people have that much of a sweet tooth but not me. Thankfully I bought two packages of blackberries in case of a mishap. The second time I added less sugar and I didn’t strain the blackberry mixture to remove the seeds. I did that the first time and I think that contributed to it being more of a syrup as well.  And once I refrigerated the mixture it was the perfect consistency to fill my cake.

And the first cake I made was a fail as well. I followed a recipe that called for altering a box cake mix and I have done this before with no issues. Well, this time my cake looked more like a pancake. Or an inflated pancake I should say. And even though I added in a good amount of lemon zest and fresh lemon juice my cake just tasted sweet with barely any lemon flavor. Granted the recipe I was following did call for a lemon box cake and I used a white box cake because I was concerned that the lemon would taste a bit artificial but that doesn’t explain why my cake had no height. As it was cooling on my kitchen counter, I was staring at it from my couch in my living room and I was trying to figure out how to get more height out of it. Ultimately, I decided to toss it and just bake a lemon cake from scratch.

After baking and cooking the cake, I wrapped the layers in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight. After whipping up a batch of cream cheese frosting it was time to assemble the cake. I spread a thin layer of frosting over one of the layers of the cake and then piped a dam around the cake and filled it with the blackberry filling.

Next, I topped it with the other lemon cake layer, crumb coated it and finally frosted and decorated the cake.

The components of this cake worked well together. If you are not a fan of blackberries you could use raspberries instead and if you want to up the lemon flavor you can add lemon extract to the frosting as well.

Blackberry Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

For the lemon cake:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 3/4 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 1/2 cup sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Zest from 1 lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup whole milk

For the blackberry filling:

6oz. fresh blackberries

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

For the cream cheese frosting:

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

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray or coat with butter and lightly dust with flour. Set aside.

In a medium bowl stir together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.

Using a hand mixer or electric stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. The batter may appear to break apart at this point. It will come together once the flour is added in. With the mixer on low, add the flour in three parts, alternating with the milk. Continue mixing until the ingredients are just incorporated.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then remove from the pan and let cool completely on wire racks.

For the blackberry Filling:

In a small bowl combine the water and cornstarch and set aside.

In a small saucepan combine the blackberries and sugar over medium heat. Stir until the blackberries begin to breakdown and the sugar has melted and it turns into a sauce and begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and add in the cornstarch mixture. Stir to combine.

Transfer to a small container, with a lid, and stir in the lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the cream cheese frosting:

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until well incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract and beat for another 30 seconds.

To assemble the cake:

If necessary, torte the lemon cake layers. Spread a thin layer of the cream cheese frosting over one of the layers. Transfer about a cup of the frosting to a piping bag and snip off the end and pipe a ring of frosting around the outer edge of the layer with the frosting. Fill in with the blackberry filling. Top with the other cake and spread a thin layer of frosting on the cake (crumb coat). Refrigerate for 15 minutes and then finish frosting the cake as desired.

Recipe for the Lemon Cake from Food Network

Gingerbread Cake

While peppermint gets all the glory as the flavor of the holiday season there is another flavor that is just as popular… Gingerbread. And while you may only think of houses and cookies when it comes to gingerbread, it’s also a great flavor for a holiday themed cake.

So, what exactly is gingerbread flavor? Well, it’s a combination of spices – ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon – and usually sweetened with molasses. I honestly think it’s the molasses that gives gingerbread it’s distinct flavor more so than the spices.

To make things a little easy I used a spice cake mix as the base for my cake and then added in some additional spices, molasses and other ingredients to doctor it up. I got the recipe from fellow blogger Baking with Blondie. She made cupcakes with her recipe whereas I opted to use the recipe to make 2 6-inch cake layers. Once they were cooled, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and refrigerated them overnight before frosting. Frosting cold cakes is a lot easier than frosting cooled, but still room temperature ones.

I left the cakes in the refrigerator overnight and before removing them I made a Spiced Almond Cream Cheese Frosting. This frosting is so good I could eat spoonful’s as dessert!

Once the frosting was ready I torte the cakes and filled and frosted them with the frosting.

And finally, I decorated the cake with gingerbread men (you could bake them or, do as I did and use store-bought ones), fresh rosemary and sugared cranberries.

Gingerbread Cake with Spiced Almond Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup sour cream

2/3 cup buttermilk*

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup molasses

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 box spiced cake mix

For the Frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 8oz. block cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup heavy cream

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Gingerbread Men, Fresh Rosemary Sprigs, Sugared Cranberries for decoration

*I made my own by combining 2/3 cup whole milk with 3 teaspoons of white vinegar. Stir together and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. It will begin to curdle when ready.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 6-inch pans with baking spray and set aside.

To make the cake: In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the cake, except the spiced cake mix, and stir together until well combined. Sift the cake mix into the mixture and stir all the ingredients together until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing them and transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Using a hand mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and heavy cream. Continue mixing and gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly combined.

Torte the cooled cakes and then frost about a cup of the frosting on one of the cakes. Stack the other cake on top and crumb coat the cake. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes and then use the remaining frosting to finish frosting the cake. Decorate with gingerbread men, sugared cranberries and fresh rosemary.

Recipe from Baking with Blondie

Sugared Cranberries

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups sugar

12oz. bag fresh cranberries

Directions:

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the cranberries until well coated. You will want to work fast as the cranberries may begin to burst.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cranberries to a parchment lined wire rack to dry for at least an hour.

Pour the remaining sugar into a bowl. Once the cranberries are dry work in batches to coat the cranberries in the sugar. Transfer to a clean piece of parchment paper and let the cranberries dry for at least an hour.

Carrot Cake Swirled Cheesecake Bars

Carrot Cake is one of my favorite desserts. Well, let me add a slight disclaimer to that. It must be frosted with cream cheese frosting and not buttercream and the cake has to be strictly carrots. Walnuts or pecans are okay but, I am not a fan of adding coconut or pineapple to the batter. That being said, when I came across a recipe for a Carrot Cake Swirled Cheesecake Bar I knew I had to try it.

I started by making the carrot cake batter and pouring half of it into the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish that I sprayed with baking spray. I set the remaining carrot cake batter aside and then made the cream cheese mixture.

Once the cream cheese mixture was done, I dropped spoonfuls of it along with spoonfuls of the remaining carrot cake batter over the batter in the dish.

Next, I used a knife to swirl the two batters together. I then baked it in a 325 F preheated oven for about 45 minutes.

After cooling completely on a wire rack, I sliced the bars.

And while these aren’t a substitute for carrot cake and its delicious cream cheese frosting, they are delicious nonetheless and require less time and fuss.

 

Carrot Cake Swirled Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided

2 cups sugar, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs, divided

3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1 1/2 cups grated carrots

3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup milk

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray a 13×9 baking dish with baking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl mix 1 cup of the flour and sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Add the oil, 2 of the eggs, 2 teaspoons of the vanilla extract and carrots and mix well. Spread half of the batter in the prepared baking dish. Set aside the remaining batter.

In another large bowl beat together the cream cheese and the remaining 1 cup sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add the milk, remaining 2 tablespoons flour and the remaining teaspoon of vanilla extract, beat until well blended. Add the remaining 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until just blended.

Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture and reserved cake batter over the carrot cake batter in the pan. Once all the batter is used up, cut through it several times with a knife for a marble effect.

Bake 40 – 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack then slice into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe from McCormick

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.

 

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 raspberries (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

Stars and Stripes Cake

The unofficial kick-off to the summer is upon us… Memorial Day. And thankfully it’s shaping up to be a great weekend where I am. Lately every weekend seems to have at least one day of rain or unseasonably low temperatures. Not good for the yard work I have to get done. My lawn is so high that my dog seems to be avoiding walking on the grass when I let him out. Not that I can blame him, certain parts of the lawn seem to be taller than him, he’s a Chihuahua. And he’s a not teacup sized one, he’s pretty average so that should give you an idea of just how high my lawn is. But, my goal this weekend is to get out there and clean things up. Wish me luck! After I am done with the front yard I have to then tackle the backyard. So, are you planning on firing up your grill this weekend and having a BBQ or are you just going to be taking it easy and enjoy that extra day to the weekend? If it’s the former have you thought about dessert? Today I am sharing with you a fun twist on a stars and stripes themed cake that would be perfect. I will say that this cake takes some patience and the ability to forge on when (and if) it doesn’t seem like it’s going to come together. See, the stipes on this cake are vertical as opposed to horizontal. Huh? Yes, the cake layers are rolled together to form the stripes. Are you still scratching your head?

I began by preheating my oven to 350 F. I sprayed a half sheet pan (13 x 18 inches) with baking spray and then placed a piece of parchment paper in the pan and sprayed it with baking spray as well. Now, I do have a cookie sheet this size that I was tempted to use, but, opted not to because sometimes the sheet twists while it’s in the oven and I was concerned that my cake would then spill over or I would end up with a twisted cake. I ended up using this pan. Which I did purchase at my local Target.

After making the batter for the cake I poured it into my prepared pan and baked it for about 18 minutes. A couple of notes on making the batter. Make sure you use a whisk attachment when making the meringue with. I have made meringue before and I have always used my whisk attachment on my stand mixer, but, I was absentmindedly following the recipe and I used my beater attachment and my eggs whites never became meringue no matter the speed or time my mixer was going. Also, while the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of red food coloring, I ended up using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of McCormick’s Red Food Coloring. I started with the tablespoon, but, the cake was looking a little pink and while I knew that the color would gets darker as it sits and as the cake baked I wanted to be sure I ended up with a vibrant red in the end.

Immediately after taking the cake out of the oven I sprinkled it with confectioners’ sugar and placed a cotton towel over the cake. I placed a baking sheet over the towel, bottom side to the towel, and then flipped the cake onto the towel. I carefully removed the pan and parchment paper from the cake. Starting on one of the short ends of the cake I began rolling the cake and towel together into a log.

I then placed it on a wire rack to let the cake cool completely.

While the cake was cooling I made the frosting. I would liken the frosting to a whipped cream cheese frosting. I began by beating three 8oz. bars of cream cheese with confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until it was smooth. With the mixer on low, I then added in vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream. Once the whipping cream was incorporated I increased the speed to high until the frosting was smooth.

Once the cake was cooled I placed it in an extra-large baking sheet to unroll it so I would have room to work. I unrolled it and this is where my patience and perseverance were tested. As is common with rolled cakes, my cake cracked in certain spots. I cut the cake into three long strips, about 4 inches wide each, and then spread frosting on each of the strips. I should have spread more, but since my cake had cracked I was concerned that if I used too much frosting I would have ended up with a big mess.

And now, the fun part. Rolling the cake together. I started by rolling one of the strips together, from short end to short end. I placed that piece on another strip, making sure to line up where the first strip ended with the start of the next strip. I repeated this for the final strip and then turned the cake flat side down on a cardboard cake round to frost.

I frosted the cake with a thin layer of frosting and then refrigerated it for 30 minutes. Unfortunately my cake wasn’t perfectly round due to the seam on the cake. I did my best to fill that seam with extra frosting to make the cake round, ultimately I decided that would be the back of the cake.

After the half hour I finished frosting the cake and used a small offset spatula to give the cake a slightly striped design. Next, I placed three different sized star cookie cutters on top of cake and sprinkled blue sanding sugar into them and I used a straw to spread the sprinkles into the corners of the cookie cutter. I carefully removed the cookie cutters and my stars and stripes cake was done.

And here’s a look inside the cake once sliced.

Overall this cake was delicious. Even though it’s red, it’s not quite a red velvet cake. This cake is much lighter and has a stronger chocolate flavor.

 

Stars and Stripes Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

8 large eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup canola oil

1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

 

For the Frosting:

3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 cups heavy whipping cream, cold

Blue sanding sugar, for decorating

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 13 x 18 inch baking sheet with baking spray, line with parchment paper and then spray the parchment paper with baking spray.

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

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar and salt. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in 1/2 cup of sugar. Increase the speed to high and continues whisking until stiff shiny peak form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the meringue to a bowl and set aside.

Using the beater attachment on your stand mixer, beat the egg yolks, vanilla extract and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in the same bowl you used for the meringue (no need to clean) on high speed until double in volume. Beat in the water and canola oil.

Sift the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and then stir together until just combined.

Add in the food coloring and beat on high speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Stir a dollop of the meringue mixture into the batter and fold in using a rubber spatula. Add the remaining meringue and continue folding together the two until no white streaks remain.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and using an offset spatula spread the batter evenly in the pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Once out of the oven, loosed the edges of the cake with a knife and dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Place a cotton kitchen towel over the cake and then place another baking sheet on top of the towel.

Flip the cake onto the towel and remove the pan and parchment paper. Starting on the short end roll the cake and the towel together into a log. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake cools make the frosting. In a bowl beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth. With the mixer on low add in the vanilla extract and whipping cream. Once incorporated, slowly increase the speed to high and continue beating until smooth.

Once the cake is cool, unroll the cake on a large baking sheet. Divide the cake into three long strips, about 4 inches each. Spread an even layer of frosting on each of the strips, use about 1/3 of the frosting. Be sure to frost under the curled ends as well.

Roll one of the strips into a tight spiral. Move the spiral over to the next strip. Make sure to line up the ends, and then roll the cake into a fatter spiral. Move this piece over to the last strip, once again lining up the ends, and roll the cake into a large spiral.

Turn the cake flat side down onto a cake cardboard or a cake platter. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the cake. You will need to use more frosting to cover up the seams. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Finish frosting the cake with the remaining frosting.

Place different sized star shaped cookie cutters on top of the cake and sprinkle blue sanding sugar inside the cookie cutter. Use a small brush (or straw as I did) to spread the sugar into the cookie cutter. Carefully remove the cookie cutters and refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Recipe from Food Network

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

Bunny Ear Cupcakes

Earlier this week I showed you how quick and easy it is to create Sprouting Carrot Cupcakes and today I am showing you a fun companion cupcake to go with them, Bunny Ear Cupcakes.

For these cupcakes I decided to make coconut cupcakes, since it is a popular flavor for Easter, topped with cream cheese frosting (my favorite frosting flavor). I then sprinkled the top of the frosting with sweetened shredded coconut.  If you are not a fan of coconut, or, just want to make something a bit quicker and simpler you could opt to make a white or yellow box cake mix into cupcakes and then top it with store bought vanilla frosting and instead of topping the cupcakes with coconut opt for white sprinkles.

Using kitchen shears I cut large marshmallows in half on the diagonal. I then dipped the cut side in a small bowl I filled with pink sanding sugar. And voila, bunny ears.

Next, I placed the marshmallow bunny ears on to the cupcakes.

And there you have it, Bunny Ear Cupcakes. While I decided to stop with the ears, sometimes less is more, you could decorate these cupcakes further by using chocolate chips for the eyes and rolling a small ball of marshmallow in the pink sanding sugar for a nose.

Coconut Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 Cupcakes
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Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract*

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk**

7 ounces sweetened shredded coconut***, plus more for topping cupcakes

*If you want a stronger coconut flavor, substitute the almond extract with coconut extrac

**I’ve gotten into the habit of making my own buttermilk. To do so, add 4 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar to a measuring cup, then fill it with enough milk (I’ve used 2% and whole milk) to reach 1 cup. Stir it a few times then let it sit for 10-15 minutes. The buttermilk is ready when it begins to curdle. For this recipe since I only needed 1/2 cup of buttermilk, I used 2 1/4 teaspoons of vinegar and added enough milk to my measuring cup to reach 1/2 cup.

***I used about a 1 1/2 cups of coconut

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a 12-cup cupcake tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer beat the butter and sugar together on high spend until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, 1 at a time. Scraping the bowl as needed between each addition. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and continue mixing until everything is well incorporated.

In a separate medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined and then fold in the shredded coconut.

Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake tin, filling the batter to the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once completely cooled top with frosting.

Recipe modified from Food Network

 

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 8oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add in the sugar until well combined. Add in the vanilla extract and continue beating until the mixture is smooth and creamy.