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

S’mores Cupcakes

Happy National S’mores Day! The day to celebrate the summer and campfire sweet treat. This year to honor the day I decided to make a S’mores Cupcake. It starts off with a graham cracker crust, followed by a chocolate cupcake and topped with a marshmallow whipped cream… YUM!

After lining a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners I made the graham cracker crust. I crushed a few graham crackers into crumbs by placing them in a resealable bag and rolled them with a rolling pin. I then combined the crumbs with melted butter and sugar. I placed a tablespoon of the crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner and then pressed them down with the bottom of a cup. I then baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for 6 minutes. Once they were done, I set the pan aside so the graham cracker crust could cool.

Next, I made the batter for the cupcakes. Now, you could make your cupcakes from scratch, but I decided to go the easy route and use a box mix of chocolate cake. I prepped the batter per the box directions and then filled each cupcake liner with a quarter cup of the batter. With the leftover batter I made a 6-inch chocolate cake so it wouldn’t go to waste. If you would like to make 24 cupcakes, you can easily double the ingredients for the graham cracker crust and use the leftover frosting to frost additional cupcakes. I baked the cupcakes for about 18 minutes and let them cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes were cooled, I made the marshmallow whipped cream frosting. Using a handheld mixer, I whipped heavy cream and vanilla extract together until soft peaks formed and then added in a 7oz. jar of marshmallow fluff (also known as marshmallow cream). I continued mixing until everything was well incorporated and the whipped cream was smooth. It was a bit lumpy at first, but, as I continued to mix it the lumps smoothed out.

I transferred the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a round tip and piped the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and then topped them with graham cracker crumbs and shaved chocolate. The consistency of the frosting was a bit thin and I was concerned that it would be runny on the cupcakes, but it held up quite well. Definitely keep these in the refrigerator if making them on warm days.

And here is a pic of each layer of this delicious cupcake…

Looking for some more S’more inspired treats…

S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

S’mores Brownies

Malted S’mores Ice Cream

S’mores Icebox Cake

S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

S’mores Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 Cupcakes
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Ingredients:

Graham Cracker Crust

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

 

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 box chocolate cake mix along with the ingredients necessary to make the batter

 

Marshmallow Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipped cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

7 oz. jar marshmallow cream

 

Graham cracker crumbs and shaved chocolate for topping

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Make the graham cracker crust: Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar in a medium bowl until well combined. Place a tablespoon of the mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down with the bottom of a cup. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 – 7 minutes, until set, and then let cool while making the cupcake batter.

Cupcakes: Prepare the cake mix per the instructions and pour 1/4 cup of batter over the graham cracker crust. Use the remaining batter to make a small cake. Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting: Using a handheld mixer, beat the heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add in the marshmallow cream and continue beating the mixture until it’s smooth. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe dollops of the frosting onto each cupcake.

Top each cupcake with graham cracker crumbs and shaved chocolate and enjoy!

Lime Pudding Cups

The best desserts in the summer are of course no-bakes ones. No one wants to turn on their oven when it’s 90+ degrees outside, but, sometimes you can make a slight exception and light up your stove for a quick delicious treat like these Lime Pudding Cups. These came up on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago and I knew instantly that I wanted to make them – partially because it meant using up the last of some heavy whipping cream I had in my refrigerator that was expiring soon and more importantly because they reminded me of one of my favorite desserts… Key Lime Pie.

The prep and cooking time for these is less than an hour. That includes juicing and zesting the limes, cooking the pudding on the stove and then letting it cool before straining and dividing it. (Okay, maybe it’s more like less than 45 minutes). Once all that is done you place them in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours so the pudding can set. While they are in the refrigerator you whip up some homemade whipped cream to top them and refrigerate it until they are ready.

Once the pudding has set top each one with a dollop of whipped cream, crushed graham crackers (to crush, I placed 1 graham cracker in a Ziploc bag and then rolled with a rolling pin) and lime zest.

And as simple as that you have a refreshing summer dessert that’s sweet and citrusy!

Lime Pudding Cups

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon grated lime zest, plus more for topping

Pinch of kosher salt

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 4 medium-sized limes)

Crushed graham crackers, for topping

Sweetened whipped cream, for topping (use store-bought or follow recipe below to make your own)

 

Directions:

In a medium saucepan combine the heavy cream, sugar, lime zest and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir the mixture often until it is reduced to 2 cups. About 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Let cool for 20 minutes and then strain the mixture through a sieve into a measuring cup, discarding the solids. Divide evenly (about 1/3 cup in each) among 6 ramekins. Place in the refrigerator until set, at least 2 hours.

To make the whipped cream: Combine 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a chilled bowl. Beat on low speed until the mixture thickens and then beat on medium speed until soft peaks form.

Once the pudding is set, top each one with a dollop of whipped cream, some of the crushed graham cracker and lime zest.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy National S’mores Day! This year to commemorate the day I decided to make S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies. Now quite a few years ago I made a S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie – this was before I was aware of this celebratory day for this campfire staple – and it was exactly as the name suggests, an actual s’more (marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker) baked into the center of a chocolate chip cookie. For these cookies today the ingredients for a s’more are incorporated into the cookie. The graham crackers are crushed and whisked together with the flour and cocoa powder while the marshmallows and milk chocolate chips are folded into the cookie dough once all of the other ingredients have been mixed and combined.

The resulting cookie is one that’s perfectly chocolatey, a little gooey thanks to the marshmallows and has a hint of graham cracker.

S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 30 cookies
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Ingredients:

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup flour

1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Prep baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

The night before you make the cookies place the marshmallows in a bowl and leave on the counter uncovered. This will “age” the marshmallows and help them keep their shape while baking.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy.

Slowly add the flour mixtures, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once the ingredients are full incorporate stop mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips and the marshmallows.

Using a cookie scoop form the dough into balls and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving room for spreading. Chill the dough on the cookie sheets in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and baking the cookies for 12-15 minutes. The cookies will be set on the outside and soft in the middle.

Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe modified from Food52

S’more Brownie Bites

Happy National S’mores Day! Will you be enjoying the campfire treat today? Truth be told, I had my first actual s’more last year and I must admit it was pretty good. I am not a big marshmallow fan so I think that’s why I never tried one, also, I’ve never been camping. Although you don’t have to go camping to have a s’more. Last year friends and I made them for dessert after a BBQ by roasting the marshmallows over sterno gel chafing fuel. Believe it or not, it actually worked! For today’s s’more treat I made S’more Brownie Bites.

I started by making the brownie batter. I melted a stick of butter in a small saucepan and then added in mini chocolate chips and whisked it until it was melted and smooth. I transferred this a medium bowl and stirred in sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Using a hand mixer I then beat in all-purpose flour. And finally I stirred in mini chocolate chips. Now, the recipe called for quinoa flour along with all-purpose flour. I decided to omit the quinoa flour and just used all-purpose flour. I honestly didn’t want to spend money on quinoa flour which I probably wouldn’t use again and it didn’t seem necessary to the outcome of the recipe. I even researched making my own quinoa flour, but, it just didn’t seem worth the time and effort. Sorry if I sound so negative, but, I’ve finally learned that tweaking a recipe to the ingredients you have on hand is obviously much easier but also builds one’s confidence in the kitchen and you truly learn what works and doesn’t work. Back in the day, I would avoid a recipe if it included an ingredient not readily available or a bit on the pricier side, but, now I look for ways to make the recipe work with what I have on hand.

Once the batter was ready, using a small cookie scoop, I filled a mini cupcake pan, which I lined with liners, with the batter. Next, I pressed three mini marshmallows into each of the brownie bites and then topped them with crushed graham crackers. Here’s my simple trick for crushing graham crackers… Break them up a little and add them to a quart-size Ziploc bag. Seal the bag, removing the air, and then using a rolling pin, roll the graham crackers to crush them to your desired consistency. I opted to leave the graham crackers with little pieces to give the tops of the brownie bites a little texture to them.

After baking in a 350 F preheated oven for about 12 minutes they were ready! One downfall of baking marshmallows is that they melt considerably, so removing the brownie bites from the pan wasn’t as easy as just removing basic cupcakes. I let them cool for a few minutes before removing them so that could have been part of the problem, but, I also didn’t want to remove them right out of the oven since I wanted the brownies to settle a little before removing them. Removing them too soon could have resulted in smooshed brownie bites. Regardless, they still tasted yummy! The extra mini chocolate chips in the batter really added another level chocolate goodness to the brownie part and the marshmallows were perfectly melted into the brownies.

 

S’more Brownie Bites

  • Servings: 24 Brownie Bites
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Ingredients:

3-4 large graham crackers, finely crushed

1 stick unsalted butter

1 ¼ cups mini chocolate chips

½ cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour*

Mini Marshmallows

*Original recipe called ½ cup all-purpose flour & ½ cup quinoa flour

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a mini cupcake pan with papers liners and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and add in ¾ cup of the mini chocolate chips. Whisk until the chocolate chips have melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Using a handheld mixer, gradually beat in the flour until the mixture is smooth and thick. Finally, whisk in the remaining ½ cup of mini chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop, fill each paper line with the batter. Press 3 mini marshmallows into the center of the batter and then sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, the marshmallows will be puffed and lightly golden. Let cool for 20 minutes and enjoy!

Recipe From Food Network

Lemon Ricotta Bars

So, even after I made the Ricotta Orange Pound Cake I posted about last week, I still had ricotta cheese left-over and I didn’t want to toss it. So, I decided to make Lemon Ricotta Bars. Lemon & ricotta go together so well… If you don’t believe me try making these bars, these pancakes I posted about a few years ago or these cookies I posted right before the holidays last year. All were delish!

Lemon Ricotta Bars

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (15 crackers)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

1 cup whole-milk ricotta

4 large eggs, beaten

1 1/3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons lemon zest

2/3 cup lemon juice, from 3 to 4 large lemons

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9x13x2 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

For the crust: Combine the ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl and mix until moistened. Press the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and about 1/4 inch up the sides of the dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until set, and then set aside to cool.

Reduce the oven to 325F.

For the filling: Whisk the ricotta, eggs, sugar and flour in a bowl until well combined. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and blend well. Pour the filling into the crust and bake until filling is firm, about 30 minutes.

Let the pan cool on a wire rack, at least 2 hours. Cut into desired sized bars with a knife, wiping the knife between cuts.

Recipe adapted from Food Network and Food52

S’mores Icebox Cake

Happy National S’mores Day! Isn’t it insane how there’s a day for everything?!?! Today is also National Lazy Day so if you feel like doing nothing you have a decent excuse. And if you want to prepare yourself for tomorrow… August 11th is National Son’s and Daughter’s Day, National President Joke Day and National Raspberry Bombe Day. And if you are so incline to go further than that check out the National Day Calendar website. So, would you believe that even though I have been sharing s’mores related desserts on my blog for the past couple of years I had never had a s’more until this past weekend? I can’t really say why, maybe it’s because I have never been camping, but, that’s not a good excuse. Truth is, I don’t care for marshmallows that much. But, after making this cake I realized that I like toasted marshmallows! I guess it’s like toasting bread, somehow it just tastes better that way.

Before assembling the cake I made ganache, chocolate whipped cream and marshmallow whipped cream. In case you are wondering at the moment and you can’t wait to get to the directions, to make the marshmallow whipped cream I roasted marshmallows in the oven under the broiler, let them cool and then whipped them with heavy cream. I am beginning to learn that you can make any type of whipped cream. I recently came across a recipe with coconut whipped cream using just the coconut solids from a refrigerated can of coconut milk. It’s essentially a vegan version of whipped cream, but, nonetheless I really want to try it.

Next, I assembled the cake. After lining a 9×5 loaf pan with plastic wrap – leaving an overhang on the long sides – I placed a single layer of chocolate graham crackers along the bottom. Breaking the pieces as necessary. Now, I am sure if you want more of an “authentic” s’mores flavor you could swap out the chocolate graham crackers for honey (or cinnamon) flavored ones. Truth be told, these chocolate graham crackers aren’t available everywhere. And did know they make vanilla ones now? I am really hoping this isn’t going to become like M&M’s or Oreos where there are more flavors than you can name or remember. Back to the cake though… Once I had a layer of graham crackers I then spread half of the marshmallow whipped cream over them and drizzled it with a few tablespoons of the chocolate ganache.

I repeated the layers again this time with the chocolate whipped cream, and then another with the marshmallow whipped cream and one last one with the chocolate whipped cream. Finally, I topped it with a layer of the graham crackers. I folded the overhanging plastic wrap over the cake and refrigerated it overnight. I also placed the remaining ganache in the fridge as well. And, I placed 2 whole graham crackers in a Ziploc bag and crushed them with a rolling pin until they were fine crumbs.

The next day, before removing the cake from the fridge, I heated the ganache in the microwave until it was pourable and let it cool for an hour. I also cut 9 marshmallows in half and placed them on a greased baking sheet in a tight 3-by-6 rectangle and broiled them until they were toasted and bubbling. I also let this cool for an hour.

To finish the cake, I inverted it onto a platter and then pressed the chocolate crumbs onto the sides of it. I poured the leftover ganache over the top and spread it into a thin layer – allowing the excess to fall over the sides of the cake. And finally, I removed the marshmallow rectangle from the baking sheet and placed it on top of the cake. And there you have it, a S’mores Icebox Cake.

And you can see after slicing it the layers were distinct. This cake was a hit… especially those roasted marshmallows. My favorite part! I think if I make this again I will opt to use the honey or cinnamon graham crackers just so that the chocolate isn’t the focal point of the cake.

Here are some more s’mores related desserts:

S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

S’mores Brownies 

Malted S’mores Ice Cream

 

S'mores Icebox Cake

Ingredients:

4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

24 marshmallows

3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

16-18 whole chocolate graham crackers

unsalted butter, for the baking sheet

 

Directions:

Preheat the broiler.

Make the ganache: Put the chocolate in a small bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes until stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Butter a baking sheet, then arrange 15 marshmallows on the baking sheet. Broil until toasted and bubbling, 30 second to 1 minute. Set aside to cool.

Combine 1 cup heavy cream, the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

Combine the remaining 1 cup heavy cream and the broiled marshmallows in another medium and beat with a mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Don’t worry if bits of marshmallow remain.

Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 4-inch overhang on the long sides. Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of chocolate graham crackers, break the crackers to fit as needed. Spread half of the marshmallow mixture over the graham crackers and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the chocolate ganache. Repeat this step, but using the chocolate whipped cream instead of the marshmallow one.  Repeat again using the marshmallow whipped cream and then finally the chocolate whipped cream. Top with a layer of graham crackers and then wrap the overhanging plastic wrap over the cake and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Crush the remaining graham crackers into finely ground crumbs by placing them in a resealable plastic bag and rolling them with a rolling pin, set aside. Place the remaining ganache in the refrigerator.

About an hour before serving preheat the broiler. Warm the reserved ganache in the microwave until pourable and set aside for an hour to cool. Butter a baking sheet and cut the remaining 9 marshmallows in half and arrange them on the baking sheet in a tight 3 x 6 rectangle – the marshmallows should be touching. Broil until toasted and bubbling and then let cool for an hour.

Invert the cake onto a platter, discard the plastic wrap and press the graham cracker crumbs onto the sides of the cake. Pour the ganache over the cake and spread into a thin layer letting the it drip down the sides. Finally, remove the toasted marshmallow rectangle in one piece and place on top of the cake.

Recipe from Food Network

Malted S’mores Ice Cream

Happy National S’mores Day! In honor of the day I am sharing with you a Malted S’mores Ice Cream recipe that I came across in a recent issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine. And best of all… you don’t need an ice cream maker to make it.

To begin, I softened a pint of vanilla ice cream by letting it sit uncovered on my kitchen counter for a few minutes. Meanwhile, I roasted (in actuality lightly toasted, but we gotta go with roasted since this is a s’mores ice  cream) 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows in a 425 F preheated oven by spreading them on parchment lined baking sheet and popping them in for a minute or two. Don’t worry if they stick together while roasting, once they cool just pull them apart.

Once the ice cream is softened, mix it along with a 1/4 cup of malted milk power. Once the two were well blended I folded in the cooled marshmallows and 3 crumbled graham crackers. I used cinnamon graham crackers, but, I am sure that honey graham crackers would be just as good. Once all of the ingredients are incorporated transfer the ice cream to a metal loaf pan (or any other freezer safe container) and freeze until firm, at least an hour.

And you may be wondering, “How is this s’mores ice cream without chocolate?” No need to worry, the chocolate comes in the form of chocolate syrup as a topping. Add as little or as much as you like!

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And there you have it… A quick, easy and delicious way to enjoy your own version of a s’more on this National S’mores Day or any other day!

 

Malted S'mores Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened

1/4 cup malted milk powder

1/2 cup mini marshmallows

3 graham crackers, crumbled

Chocolate syrup, for topping

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425 F. On a parchment lined baking sheet spread marshmallows and bake until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.  Let cool.

In a large bowl mix softened ice cream with the malted milk powder.

Using a rubber spatula gently fold in the graham cracker crumbles and marshmallows.

Transfer to a freezer-safe containers and freeze until firm, at least an hour.

Serve topped with chocolate syrup.

 

Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine

S’mores Brownies

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer thus far! Today I have a treat for you that is perfect for these summer days, a spin on a favorite campfire treat… S’mores Brownies.

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I began by spraying a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray and lining it with graham crackers.

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Next, I made my brownie batter and poured it right over the graham crackers…

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And then baked it in a pre-heated 325 F oven for 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle came out almost clean.

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I then switched my oven to the broiler setting and topped the brownie with mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and crushed graham crackers and placed it back in the oven for just about a minute until the marshmallows began to brown.

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I let the brownie cool on a wire rack and then transferred it to a cutting board to slice it. The key is to make sure the brownies have completely cooled before slicing into them, if you slice them too soon you will have a marshmallow mess as they will still be warm and gooey and the brownies will fall apart as they won’t have had enough time to set. I speak from experience on the latter.

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These brownies were perfect! The texture was spot-on… Not cakelike or too dense. And while you may think that the addition of the marshmallows and chocolate chips on top would make them too sweet, the opposite is true, it enhanced the flavor of the chocolate in the brownies. And let’s not forget the graham crackers on the bottom, they incorporated nicely into the brownie and while you may think they would get crispier when baked they actually provided a soft base to the brownies, sort of like a built-in plate. Overall, all of these flavors and textures worked together perfectly; just like your regular S’mores does.

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S’mores Brownies

Makes 12 Brownies

 Ingredients:

10 graham crackers

3 cups mini marshmallows

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus an additional 1/2 cup for the topping

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray and line it with graham crackers.

In a medium saucepan melt 2 cups of the chocolate chips with the stick of butter over low heat, stirring frequently.

Once the chocolate chips and butter have melted remove from the heat and whisk in the granulate sugar and light brown sugar, cool slightly.

Whisk in the eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla extract.

Stir in the flour and salt and pour the batter over the graham crackers.

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle come out almost clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and set the oven to the broiler setting. Top the brownie with the mini marshmallows, and the remaining chocolate chips and graham crackers – crush the graham crackers. Place the pan back in the oven for 30 – 60 seconds, until the marshmallows begin to brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled transfer the brownie to a cutting board and slice into 12 pieces.

 

Cheesecake… Is it a Pie or a Cake?

Well, for today the answer to that question is going to be pie in honor of Pi Day! Yes, it’s the day that Math lovers around the world celebrate in honor of Pi, the irrational number (meaning it cannot be written as the ratio of two integers) that begins with 3.14 and goes on infinitely. This year’s Pi Day is extra special though because it only comes around once every 100 years… The first five numbers of Pi Day is the date (3/14/15) and to go even further at the time 9:26:53 you will have the first ten numbers of Pi in sequence, i.e. 3.141592653. Okay, I’ll stop being a Math geek now and go back to the pie. The idea of cheesecake falling under the pie category isn’t too much a stretch, especially for this cheesecake. Pies tend to have a crust and this one has a graham cracker crust and they also have a filling, the cheesecake part. Okay, maybe it is a tad bit of a stretch, but, I really couldn’t think of a pie I wanted to make but I have wanted to make a cheesecake.

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I began by making the crust… Using a food processor I ground up 18 graham crackers until they were fine crumbs. I then added in a stick of melted butter, sugar and salt and pulse to combine them. Following that I pressed the crumbs into the bottom and approximately 2-inches up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.

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Next I moved on to make the actual cheesecake. Using a stand mixer I beat three 8-oz. bars of cream cheese with a cup of sugar until it was smooth. It’s important to use room temperature cream cheese to ensure you won’t have any lumps in the mixture.

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I then added in a cup of room temperature sour cream and a teaspoon of vanilla extract; beating until these two ingredients were well incorporated.

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And finally I added in three eggs, one at a time.

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Before pouring it into the crust, I gave the cream cheese mixture a few stirs with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the ingredients were blended together well. I tend to find that sometimes ingredients are left on the bottom of the bowl of the stand mixer untouched since the paddle attachment doesn’t fully hit the bottom of the bowl.

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After pouring the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust I baked it in a preheated 325 F oven for about an hour; until it was set but still wobbly in the center.

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A few minutes before removing the cheesecake from the oven I combined a cup of sour cream, a few tablespoons of sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl. I was happy that the cheesecake didn’t have any cracks in it – that normally happens when I bake cheesecakes.

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I then spread this sour cream mixture over the cheesecake and then placed the cheesecake back in the oven for about five minutes.

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The cheesecake right out of the oven… I let it cool for a few hours before covering it and placing it in the refrigerator.

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I ended up leaving it in the refrigerator overnight and then added some sliced strawberries on top of it the following morning in the shape of the Greek letter used to represent “Pi.” I had to validate this being a Pi Day pie somehow!

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And how did it taste… It was perfectly creamy and not overly sweet! A winning combination for the perfect cheesecake!

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Classic Cheesecake

Ingredients:

18 graham crackers (2 sleeves)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar

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

2 cups sour cream, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. In a food processor pulse the graham crackers until fine crumbs form. Add the butter, salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and pulse to combine. Press the mixture on the bottom and 2-inches up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sour cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract and continue beating until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake until just set (the center will be slightly wobbly), 50 to 60 minutes.

3. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Spread over the hot cheesecake, then bake until set, 3 to 5 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature in pan, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Run a knife around the edge of cheesecake before unmolding.