Friday, July 31, 2009

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake

Ever since I found out about National Cheesecake Day last year, I cannot imagine my life without it. I LOVE cheesecake. Love it. I always have cream cheese on hand in my fridge just in case I have a hankering. And what better excuse to make cheesecake than National Cheesecake day?

Last year I made a copycat recipe of the white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. I was sorely disappointed. The crust was soggy and it just didn't seem right. So I decided to try again. I looked at a few different recipes and created my own version of the cheesecake. The result? So delicious!

I love a nice, solid crust so I used 2 cups of crushed oreos. And when I make cheesecake, I always use 2 packages of original cream cheese, and 2 packages of 1/3 fat cream cheese. I think this is my attempt to bring some little piece of "healthy" to my cheesecake.

Oh, and about the crazy method of turning off the oven and leaving the cheesecake in until room temperature? Believe me, you will never have a crack down the middle of your cheesecake if you do this.

One last thing - if you want to be able to slice your cheesecake cleanly, freeze the cheesecake and slice it with a super sharp knife that has been dipped into hot water. wipe off the water then make your cuts.

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake

2 cups oreo cookies, crushed
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 c butter, melted
3.5 oz white chocolate, broken into small pieces

4 8 oz packages Philadelphia cream cheese at room temp
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs at room temp
¼ cup raspberry preserves

white chocolate, for garnish
whipping cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make the crust, combine the crushed oreos, melted butter, and sugar until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Set the crust aside.

Stir the raspberry preserves until a nice, smooth consistency and set aside. Break the white chocolate into small chunks and set aside.

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and mix until combined.

Sprinkle 3.5 ounces of white chocolate chunks onto the bottom of the crust. Pour half of the cream cheese filling into the crust. Drizzle the raspberry preserves over the entire surface of the filling. Use a butter knife to swirl the raspberry into the cream cheese. Just a couple passes is fine, you don't want to blend the raspberry and cream cheese together too much. Pour the other half of the filling into the crust.

Bake in middle of oven for 60 minutes. Wrap bottom of spring-form pan with foil, so if the butter leaks, it won’t drip and make smoke in the oven.

Test for doneness by jiggling the pan – done when center jiggles, but doesn’t wobble (across the whole cheesecake). When done, turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven until it all comes to room temperature (about 4-5 hours).

Best when served cold.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Margarita Pizza

Have I ever told you what an amazing chef my husband is? He is the master of breads and slow bbq. And his pizza is the most delicious pizza ever. I really think he may have missed his calling in life because he could sell this stuff, no problemo.

We happened to have some fresh tomatoes from the farmer's market, a ball of fresh mozzarella, and some basil growing in our herb garden - all of the ingredients you need for some margarita pizza. I suggested it to my husband and he happily agreed to it because he loves an excuse to pull out his pizza peel and Zyliss pizza wheel and start throwing some dough around in the air.

As always, the pizza was fabulous. He makes his dough from memory, but he's adapted it from a recipe of Alton Brown's, which I have posted below.

Pizza Dough

2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour (for bread machines)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil
Olive oil, for the pizza crust
Flour, for dusting the pizza peel


Place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, 1 cup of flour, yeast, and remaining cup of flour into the standing mixer's work bowl. Using the paddle attachment, start the mixer on low and mix until the dough just comes together, forming a ball. Lube the hook attachment with cooking spray. Attach the hook to the mixer and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed.

Tear off a small piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light and look to see if the baker's windowpane, or taut membrane, has formed. If the dough tears before it forms, knead the dough for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Roll the pizza dough into a smooth ball on the countertop. Place into a stainless steel or glass bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat.

Place the pizza stone or tile onto the bottom of a cold oven and turn the oven to its highest temperature, about 500 degrees F.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blueberry Boy Bait

With a name like that, don't you just want to try it? We had a bunch of fresh blueberries sitting in the fridge just waiting to be used. I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and thought I'd give it a go.

What really made this cake different from your ordinary coffee cake was that it was moist, buttery, and delicious! The texture was lighter than I was expecting. And, in my opinion, the cinnamon sugar topping made the cake. It was oh so good! My husband ate half of the pan. No, I am not exaggerating. I have never seen him eat that much dessert in one sitting. I guess that this cake really does act as "boy bait!"

Blueberry Boy Bait
Adapted from Cook’s Country, which adapted it from the original

Like any recipe with a great name, this also has a great story, which was that in 1954, a 15-year-old girl stole the show (but only won second prize) in the junior division of an early Pillbury Bake-Off with a variation of this recipe, named, she said, after the effect it had on boys.

Cook’s Country magazine dusted this recipe off from the Pillsbury Bake-Off Dessert Cookbook and made a few tweaks to bring it more deliciously into the modern age: butter was swapped for shortening, the quantity of blueberries was doubled and some plain sugar was replaced with brown sugar. The result? Let’s just say you don’t need to be a boy to be lured in.

Serves 12, generously

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (though buttermilk, which was all I had on hand, worked just great)
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Strawberry Ice Cream

The other day, my husband and I bought a freezer to go in our basement. The first thing that went into the freezer was my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, for obvious reasons. I sent my husband to buy me some blackberries, but sadly there were no blackberries to be found at the store. So, I decided to make strawberry ice cream instead.

This ice cream is SOOOOO rich and creamy. It's the good kind of homemade ice cream - made with heavy cream and half and half. You really can't go wrong if you make it, I promise. I gave my 1-year-old a few bites before bedtime, and she couldn't get enough. If that isn't a testament to the deliciousness of this ice cream, I don't know what is!

Pioneer Woman's Delicious Blackberry (or Strawberry) Ice Cream

2 pints fresh blackberries (I used strawberries)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar

5 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Add blackberries to a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice. Cook over low heat, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes. Drain using a fine mesh strainer, pressing berries to extract as much juice/puree as possible. Set aside.

Heat half-and-half and 1 cup sugar in a separate saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat when mixture is totally heated.

Add heavy cream to a separate bowl.

Beat egg yolks by hand or with an electric mixer until yolks are pale yellow and slightly thick.

Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling in 1 1/2 cups of hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly. After that, pour the egg yolk/half-and-half mixture into the pan containing the rest of the half-and-half mixture. Cook over low to medium-low heat (depending on how hot your stove gets) until quite thick, stirring constantly. Drain custard using a fine mesh strainer, then pour into the bowl with the cream. Stir to combine.

Add blackberry juice/puree to the cream/custard mixture and stir. Chill mixture completely, then freeze in an ice cream maker until thick. Place container in freezer to harden for an additional two hours.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

What a day! My arms are sore from playing volleyball, my stomach is full from good grillin', and I've seen enough fireworks to last me the year!

At the start of the day, I was feeling lazy and didn't have any plans for baking. But my sister was in town this year and together we came up with a very patriotic dessert. We decided to make Ina Garten's Flag Cake, and it turned out beautiful! It's more of a sponge cake, and together with the cream cheese icing and fruit, it's delicious. We used strawberries instead of raspberries (mostly because that's what we had in the fridge), and it worked out just fine. We also cut the sheet cake in half and made it into a double layer cake.

We cut into the cake while my brother-in-law, who is Irish, was taking a shower. We joked about how he wasn't even American so it was ok that he wasn't there to witness the cutting of the cake. We weren't even sure we were going to give him any, with him being Irish and all. Welcome to America!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Molasses Cookies

My friend, Sydney, brought me over some cookies one night. My husband and I devoured them. They were amazing. She was willing to share this fabulous recipe, and I think you all should go make a batch right now. I'm serious.

Molasses Cookies

Recipe from Sydney R's Great-Grandma Sydney Minnette

3/4 C shortening (not butter)
1 C sugar
1/4 C dark molasses
1 egg
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, extra if desired
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix shortening, sugar, molasses and egg in big bowl. Mix all dry
ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and
mix until well blended. Dough should be fairly stiff.

Separate dough into 1” balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet
with about an inch separating each ball of dough. Bake for 7-9
minutes until the top of the cookie is cracking and the cookie has
flattened out a bit. Leave cookies on cookie sheet for about 5
minutes. These cookies are delicious warm and fresh or later in the
cookie jar, but will also keep very well in a Ziploc bag in the

German Chocolate Cake

My husband turned 30 this week. Hard to believe we're entering that phase of life. The birthday card I gave him pretty much sums things up: "I think everything happens for a reason. For example, people turn 30 because the fun part of their life has ended." Happy birthday, hon!

I really enjoy making birthday cakes. The fancy kind. All from scratch and with multiple layers. This year my husband chose a German chocolate cake. Did you know that this cake isn't even German? The cake took its name from an American with the last name of "German." Sam German created the mild dark baking chocolate bar for Baker's Chocolate Company in 1852. The company name the chocolate in his honor - "Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate." In most recipes and products today, the apostrophe and the "s" have been dropped, thus giving the false hint as for the chocolate's origin.

Anyway, on to the recipe. These are the raw ingredients I used. I would have used a better chocolate, but my husband chose the cake around 11:30 pm the night before his birthday, and I started baking the next morning.

I used Martha Stewart's recipe, and I was a little disappointed. It wasn't as moist as I would have liked, and it didn't make enough frosting. So, if I had to do it over, I would have divided it up into 3 separate pans and cooked for a shorter amount of time. And, I would have doubled the frosting recipe. Here's the link to Martha Stewart's Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting (aka German Chocolate Cake).