Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Cheesecake

Another flavor combination that I’ve been dying to try. Of course apples and cinnamon were made for each other but knowing me, I have to add cheesecake. How can you go wrong with cheesecake? This dessert is just right for this time of year. Your kitchen will be filled with a sweet, spicy aroma.

The three components of this cake are all superb. The crust was a new concept to me but it’s a wonderful idea. It’s the perfect cross between a classic graham cracker crust and a pie shell. It goes perfectly with the apples. Consider using it for any fruit topped/filled cheesecake- especially pear. The cheesecake filling surprised me. It is much more luscious and creamy than expected and reminds me of the cheesecake factory’s cheesecake texture. The flavor is more on the vanilla side- I really couldn’t taste the apple juice concentrate. However, the spiced apple topping made up for that and was divine.         

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

Your sister will come home with a new cookbook-Taste of Home's “Cheesecakes and more” magazine. At first, you’ll be offended because everyone knows you don't need a cookbook for cheesecake. What are you trying to say? But you’ll change your mind as you flip through the pages with the sight of new flavor combinations, a photo with every recipe, and other desserts including this one.

When you make this recipe, it’ll be on Christmas day. You don't celebrate the holiday, but the family is home and its cold outside- so you want something that’ll warm the house with an aroma that just hugs you. So you’ll narrow it down to three options- Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake, Eggnog cheesecake, and Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake. You’ll decide on the eggnog cheesecake and you’ll go to HEB, Walgreens, and Walmart only to find that everyone is sold out of eggnog. Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake it is.

For me, cakes are hard to make just right. This one comes out awesome: moist and only gets better the next day. The denseness is perfect- not too light and airy but not too heavy either. It’s the pumpkin.

But the flavor doesn’t scream pumpkin at all. In fact, it’s more of a spice cake with a slight chocolate undertone that’s only intensified when your taste buds are surprised by a chocolate chip.   

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gigi's Cupcakes

So this might be a bit of a problem. A new cupcake shop has just opened- and it’s conveniently located on the way home from work. And they have a lot of flavor combinations to try. Uh oh.

Wedding Cake, Midnight Magic Chocolate Chip, and Peanut Butter Cup are shown below.

These are fabulous for the first three bites but then the frosting becomes sickeningly sweet and will leave you buzzed for about 15 minutes. But the texture of the frosting makes me wish I had the recipe! It still tastes gourmet, aside from the feeling that you just added a pound of sugar into your blood.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake

One of the best cheesecakes at the cheesecake factory. I had been meaning to recreate it for quite sometime, hoping to stumble across an exact recipe from online. With Yousra’s upcoming party and no luck from google- had to improvise.

Vanilla cake topped with raspberry sauce, light lemon cheesecake, lemon mousse, and whipped cream. Tart, Sweet, Creamy, Luscious, Silky, Smooth, and Dreamy. Pretty much sums it up.

On a test run, I used a french vanilla cake mix but added 1 cup of sour cream to the batter. I’ve heard this makes the batter more moist and dense. I don’t know why it came out soggy- especially the next day - so don’t do that. Also, there is no crust on the cheesecake, but don’t worry, the batter does not leak out of the springform nor does it stick to the pan after its baked. You don’t need to grease the sides of a springform pan because it can detach- and if you do, the grease will just burn and give your cake an awful flavor on the sides.
Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake

1 french vanilla boxed cake mix (plus ingredients to make the cake)
4  (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 
2  (14-ounce) cans EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk) 
4  eggs 
1  cup lemon juice

Lemon mousse recipe

Raspberry sauce recipe
Whipped Cream recipe

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease the bottom only of a 10 inch springform pan. 
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in EAGLE BRAND® until smooth. Add eggs; beat until just blended. Beat in lemon juice. Pour into springform pan.
Bake about 40 minutes or until center of the cheesecake is dry but still jiggles like jello. Cool on wire rack 1 hour. Chill in refrigerator until ready for assembly.  

Next, make the lemon mousse recipe.

Next, bake the boxed cake mix in a 10 inch round pan. You only need to use half of the batter in order to make a thinner cake. You can make cupcakes with the other half! Cool the cake and set aside until ready for assembly.

Next, make the raspberry sauce and whipped cream recipes.

If your vanilla cake is not flat, cut off the rounded top with a serrated knife. Keep the cut top facing up so it will absorb the sauce better. Pour 2/3 cup of the raspberry sauce on top of the vanilla cake. Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and place it on top of the vanilla raspberry cake. Finally, top it with the lemon mousse and garnish with piped whipped cream. 

Lemon Mousse

I made this mousse to top off my lemon raspberry cream cheesecake. The first try I followed the recipe exactly- and it was very good. When making mousse, you have to hope it’s going to set up, keep its shape, but still be smooth and soft. It was. The lemon was perfect too- not too tart, great balance of sweetness and flavor. The second try, I wanted to omit the whipped egg whites. Because they are raw and I was sharing this with guests so I didn’t want anyone to get a tummy ache. So I replaced the whipped egg whites with sweetened whipped cream. I have to say it made it even better. The texture went from smooth to velvet. Absolutely luscious. Thanks Ina!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gingerbread Men Cookies

It's winter time which means I have to make those aromatic, warm desserts that I only make once a year. I look forward to this season to take advantage of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, pumpkin, eggnog, pears, and of course hot chocolate.

Biting into these gingerbread cookies wouldn't be the same if you didn't use a gingerbread man cookie cutter and you have to pipe at least one with a smile and buttons.

I have tried this recipe and its very good as well. I love the balance of spices. The following recipe is courtesy of Gourmet Magazine and is just a bit easier to roll out and tastes great too. I make just a simple powdered sugar icing with milk and vanilla extract just to avoid using egg whites whenever possible.

Gingerbread Men

5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoons ground cloves
½ teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 cup dark molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Sugar Icing

2 egg whites
2 teaspoons water
1 pinch cream of tartar
1 pinch salt
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Sift and combine together the first 6 dry ingredients listed above. You can do this by adding them all to the bowl of an electric mixer and combine with the whisk attachment. Transfer to another bowl.

Now place softened butter in the bowl of the electric mixer with the beater attachment and cream the butter. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg, molasses, and vinegar. Slowly add the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. The dough will be soft.

Divide the dough into fourths, and wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten the dough slightly. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick and cut with 3 or 4 inch cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until no imprint remains when touched. Cool, then frost.

Icing: beat egg whites with water, cream of tartar and salt until frothy. Add the sugar slowly and then beat until it holds stiff peaks. Add food coloring if desired.
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