White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients:

Raspberry Sauce:

2 teaspoons water, divided

1 teaspoon cornstarch

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

2 tablespoons sugar

 

Crust:

20 Oreos

5 tablespoons unsalte butter, melted

 

Cheesecake Filling:

6oz. white chocolate chopped**

2 8oz. bar cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

 

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

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

 

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover and store leftover bars in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Key Lime Pie Thumbprints

Thumbprint cookies… A versatile cookie that traditionally has a shortbread base and an indent in the center filled with jam, chocolate, dulce de leche, or for today’s cookie, a key lime chocolate filling. Don’t worry its white chocolate, not semi or milk chocolate. I definitely don’t think these cookies would be as appetizing if key lime juice was mixed in with either of those chocolates. Somehow I think the key lime flavor would be lost. Now, as a filling for a truffle I think it would be perfect. I may have had one or two of those before so I am speaking from experience.

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I have a friend who has all of a sudden fallen in love with Key Lime Pie. I’ve been making it for a few years now but all of a sudden when I made it last year it was like he was eating it for the first time. And when I asked some friends what cookies they wanted for Christmas last year (just over a month ago sounds so much better to say this early in the year) he suggested rugelach and a key lime pie. Which got me thinking of a key lime pie cookie since I wasn’t in the mood to make a pie (which I ultimately ended up making anyway.) So, I initially made the Key Lime Crinkles that were part of Cookie Palooza. While they were delicious, they lacked the key lime filling he enjoys so I knew I would have to try these thumbprints instead and I am happy to say that these were a hit with everyone who tried them. A cookie that will definitely be in my cookie rotation. Thanks to the graham cracker crumbs in the base of the cookie this is almost like enjoying a piece of key lime pie, but, in a bite size grab and go form. And while the key lime flavor is apparent in the filling I could imagine adding another tablespoon or so would kick it up even more.

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Key Lime Pie Thumbprints

  • Servings: 40 cookies
  • Print

Ingredients:

Cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk

2 cups flour

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (4 graham crackers)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Filling:

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

3 tablespoons key lime juice

2 teaspoons lime zest (1 lime)

 

Directions:

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until creamy.

Switch the mixer to low and add in the egg yolk and vanilla extract and continue mixing until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

In a separate bowl which together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, cornstarch and salt.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until the ingredients are incorporated. Scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Scoop 2 teaspoons of the dough and roll into a smooth ball and place on the prepared cookie sheets about an inch apart. (Using a standard cookie scoop I scooped the dough and then divided the dough in half to get the 2 teaspoon amount)

Using the back of a rounded teaspoon gently press an indent in the center of each ball. I have tried using my thumb for this step, but, have found that a teaspoon produces a much better circular shape.

Chill the dough in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Freezing the dough prevents the cookie from spreading too much while baking giving you more room for your filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes. Immediately after removing the cookie from the oven press the teaspoon into the indent once again to redefine it. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheets before filling them.

To make the filling… Combine the chocolate chips, condensed milk and key lime juice in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until the chocolate chips have melted and the ingredients are well combined. Stir in the lime zest and continue stirring until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and using a teaspoon spoon the filling into the cookies.

Allow the filling to cool and set before serving. When storing the cookies, keep in mind that the filling may remain a bit tacky. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from Sugar Spun Run

Pink Hot Chocolate

An all-natural Pink Hot Chocolate just in time for Valentine’s Day! How you may ask, well, instead of using red or pink food coloring to get the pink hue, you use a few tablespoons of beet juice. And before you cringe your face because beets are not your favorite vegetable or something you are willing to try once or again, just know that you will not be able to taste the beet flavor whatsoever. But, if you are still intrigued by the idea of making Pink Hot Chocolate for your Valentine this week (or for yourself) but are completely against the beet juice, I will give you a few options to get the pink color that might sound more appealing.

The base of this hot chocolate is white hot chocolate. You start off by bringing milk (I used whole milk) and salt to a simmer over medium heat. Then remove it from the heat and add in grated white chocolate and vanilla extract. Grating the chocolate allows it to melt easier and quicker. Once the chocolate has melted then stir in a few tablespoons of beet juice. But, if you are not inclined to use beet juice, you could substitute it with cherry juice or the juice from maraschino cherries. Just be aware that either of those options could make your hot chocolate a tad bit sweeter. Now, if none of those options work for you, you could tint the hot chocolate with a few drops of either pink or red food coloring. And finally, top the hot chocolate with a healthy topping of whipped cream and then sprinkle with cinnamon. YUM!

Pink Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

2 cups milk

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ounces white chocolate, grated*

2 tablespoons beet juice**

Whipped cream, for topping

Cinnamon, for topping

 

*I used Baker’s White Chocolate

**substitute with cherry juice, maraschino cherry juice, food coloring

 

Directions:

In a small saucepan combine the milk and a pinch of the kosher salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Remove the saucepan from heat and add in the vanilla extract and grated chocolate, stirring until the chocolate has completely melted. Stir in the beet juice.

Diving among mugs and top with whipped cream and cinnamon.

 

Recipe from Real Simple

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

You may be wondering why I would take the time to make hot chocolate in a slow cooker when I could easily just make it on the stove. Well, I saw a video on Instagram one day for it and thought it would be a nice treat, which it was. It was also a good excuse to use some white chocolate chips I had and to use leftover pumpkin puree I had from making Pumpkin Cannoli. All pretty good excuses in my book!

In my slow cooker I added whole milk, white chocolate chips, pumpkin puree, cinnamon sticks, vanilla extract, ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg. Trust me, it’s worth using freshly grated nutmeg as opposed to the powder form. Ground nutmeg can sometimes leave a pungent flavor, but, using freshly grated nutmeg eliminates that. After giving all of my ingredients a good stir, I set my slow cooker to low and let it cook for 2-3 hours. For the first hour, I gave the mixture a good stir every 10 minutes to make sure the chocolate was melting and to evenly distribute all of the ingredients. As an aside, is it still right to say cook when it comes to making hot chocolate? Or, maybe I should say simmer? Hmmmm???

I enjoyed it topped with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick as a garnish/stirrer. I actually used one of the cinnamon sticks that I added to the slow cooker. This is the perfect autumn warm-me-up beverage. Or, thinking ahead, an ideal complement to your Thanksgiving desserts. You could easily double or triple the recipe for a large group of people.

If you’re curious about the Pumpkin Cannoli recipe check back tomorrow!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

4 cups whole milk

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

4 cinnamon sticks, additional sticks for garnish

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for topping

Whipped cream

Directions:

Combine the milk, chocolate chips, pumpkin, cinnamon sticks, vanilla, ginger and nutmeg in a slow cooker and stir together.

Heat on low for 2-3 hours, stirring every 10 minutes for the first hour to stir in the melted chocolate. And occasionally after that.

Serve in mugs, topped with topped whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg. Add a cinnamon stick that can be used as a stirrer in case the pumpkin settles.

White Chocolate Blackberry Tiramisu

Out of all the desserts I’ve made I think Tiramisu has been my favorite. In all honesty though, it’s always been one of my favorite desserts. Today, I’m bringing you a twist on the classic Tiramisu, a White Chocolate Blackberry Tiramisu. And now is the perfect time to make it with berries, including blackberries, being in-season.

To begin I soaked ladyfingers in a mixture of orange juice and blackberry liqueur and arranged them in a 11×7 inch baking dish. Don’t let the ladyfingers soak up too much of the liquid, you don’t want them to become mushy.

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Next, I melted white chocolate in a double boiler. I don’t own an actual double boiler, so, I created my own by simmering water in a pot and then placing a heat-proof bowl over the water without touching it. Once the chocolate had melted I let it cool slightly and in another bowl I beat cream cheese, vanilla extract and confectioners’ sugar until creamy. I then stirred in the melted white chocolate. In another bowl, I beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks formed and took 1 cup of the whipped cream and folded it into the cream cheese mixture. And finally, I spread half of this mixture over the ladyfingers.

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On top of the cream cheese mixture I laid an even layer of fresh blackberries which I pressed lightly into the cream cheese. I then dipped the remaining ladyfingers into the orange juice / liqueur mixture and placed them on top of the blackberries.

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With the remaining cream cheese mixture I added in more confectioners’ sugar and then folded in the remaining whipped cream and spread this over the second layer of ladyfingers. To top it off, I melted a few tablespoons of blackberry preserves and combined it with a tablespoon of the blackberry liqueur and then drizzled it over the tiramisu and then topped it with some fresh blackberries.

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And after chilling for a few hours it was time to dive in…

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And it was delish… Sweet, but just sweet enough!

 

White Chocolate Blackberry Tiramisu

Ingredients:

2/3 cup orange juice

1 tbsp. blackberry liqueur

24 ladyfingers

6oz. white chocolate, chopped*

8oz. brick cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup Confectioners’ sugar, divided use

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

2 cups fresh blackberries, divided use

 Garnish

3 tbsp. melted blackberry preserves

1 tbsp. blackberry liqueur

*I used 3/4 cup of white chocolate chips

Directions:

Combine orange juice and liqueur in a shallow bowl. Dip half of the ladyfingers in the orange juice mixture – a quick dip will suffice – and line the bottom of an 11×7 inch baking dish.

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler you can create one yourself by simmering water in a pot and placing a heat-proof bowl over the water without allowing it to touch the water. Once melted let the chocolate cool for a few minutes.

In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese along with the vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of the Confectioners’ sugar until creamy. Stir in the melted chocolate and let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes.

In another bowl beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold 1 cup of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and spread half of it over the ladyfingers. Lay about 1 1/2 cups of the fresh blackberries over the cream cheese mixture, pressing down slightly.

Dip the remaining ladyfingers into the orange juice mixture and arrange them over the blackberries.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup of Confectioners’ sugar to the remaining cream cheese mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spread this mixture over the second layer of ladyfingers.

In a small bow mix together the melted preserves and liqueur and drizzle over the top of the tiramisu. And finally, top the entire thing with the remaining blackberries.

Chill 3-5 hours and Enjoy!

Recipe from Better Recipes.

Triple Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies

There are many perks to living on Long Island – being readily close to a beach (although I am not a beach person per se I more so enjoy going to a nearby marina and watching the water, it’s quite calming,) I can be in NYC in about an hour and I can also visit some great wineries an hour in the opposite direction. A group of friends and I make it a point at least once a year – especially when the weather starts to get warmer – to visit the wineries. Although it’s not always the Long Island ones, Hudson Valley also has some great ones that are within driving distance as well. We usually do a potluck of sorts in terms of bringing things to eat and I usually volunteer to bring dessert. Last weekend we had our wine outing and I decided to make a batch of Triple Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies. These could also be coined “Death by Chocolate Cookies.” They are incredible chocolaty thanks to the three chocolates used: Bittersweet (the base of the cookie which prevents it from being overly sweet), white and milk chocolate.

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My weekdays are usually split into three parts: Errands in the morning, midday, errands in the afternoon. I was squeezing baking these cookies into that midday part so I was pretty focused on getting my measurements for my ingredients ready prior to mixing. Not to say that I am usually a scatter brain baker, but, I usually assemble my ingredients together and then measure as I go along.

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I began by melting chopped bittersweet chocolate with unsalted butter in the microwave in 30-second intervals. You may be tempted to up the time for melting chocolate, but, it really is important to do so in shorter increments and whisking the chocolate between each of the intervals. By upping the time you may end up scorching the chocolate… I speak from experience. Once the chocolate and butter were melted I added in vanilla extract and whisked the mixture until it was smooth.

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Next, I beat two large eggs on medium speed with my stand mixer until they were foamy. Following that I gradually added in sugar until the mixture was thick and pale yellow.

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I then added in the melted chocolate mixture and then a flour mixture (flour, baking powder and salt) and continued mixing until it was just combined.

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And finally I folded in the hazelnuts (which I had blanched & toasted) and white and milk chocolate chips.

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My batter was then ready…

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I dropped the batter by tablespoonful onto parchment lined baking sheets. One thing I did notice was that as the batter sat it became thicker so next time I make these cookies I’ll let the batter sit for a few minutes before dropping them onto the cookie sheets.

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I baked the cookies in a preheated 350 F oven for about 12 minutes and then let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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After they were cooled I packed them up for the following day’s adventure.

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Overall, these cookies are winning recipe that I will be making again. As for the wine tasting, it was a great day as always. Some of the wine we tried was good, some, I don’t ever need to try again, but what makes the day great is being with wonderful friends and enjoying views like these!

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And seeing cute signs like this…

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Triple Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies

Makes: 24 Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched hazelnuts, chopped

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and baked then until golden, about 7 minutes. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, whisking, until melted. Add the vanilla and continue whisking until smooth, set aside.

3. Beat the eggs in a large with a mixer on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 6 minutes. Gradually add the melted chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer to speed to low and add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

4. Drop the batter by tablespoonful 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are slightly puffed and crackly, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the sheets, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.