Thursday, June 27, 2013

Caramel Toffee Crunch Cheesecake

After a much needed vacation in beautiful San Diego, I came home, looked through my pinterest and made this.

My whipped cream started to melt because my caramel wasn't completely cooled. I loved the chocolate chip toffee crust, and as the name suggests, it adds a perfect little crunch. 

Caramel Toffee Crunch Cheesecake
Adapted from Yammie's Noshery

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup toffee bits or crushed Heath candy bar (I used Heath)
pinch of salt
4-5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. Crush the Heath candy bar in the blender. Combine everything except the chocolate chips. Press into a springform pan. Push crumbs up the sides and press in firmly. Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of crust. Set the springform pan on a baking sheet (just in case it drips). Bake for about 3-5 minutes or until the chocolate chips are melted. Smooth them out with an offset spatula. Set aside and prepare the filling. Keep oven at 350.  

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel (recipe below)
4 eggs

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla and caramel and beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat just until combined. Pour into crust. Bake for 55 minutes. The center will still be jiggly, but never fear, it shall set in the end. Turn the oven off and open the door about 4 inches, but leave the cheesecake in for about 30 more minutes (this helps the cheesecake to cool more slowly and evenly to prevent cracking). Remove from the oven and cool for about 30 more minutes. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream

In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar and syrup. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Once it is caramel colored, add the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Add the cream and stir until it's all combined. Bring it back to the heat if you get clumps and stir it until they're dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Makes about 3/4 cup.

1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup caramel, or more to taste
1/2 cup chopped Heath bar, or more to taste

Beat the whipping cream and sugar in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form.
Spread caramel over the top of cheesecake. Sprinkle with Heath candy. 
Pipe the whipped cream along the edge if caramel is cooled. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013


We've visited Barnes and Nobles twice now just to get their huge chocolate chunk cookie. About to go again last night, but instead made these. You have to let them cool so they aren't a gooey mess, but they are yummy when warm with ice cream. They are much better the next day though, when completely cooled off.

I've seen them on Pinterest and their picture (not mine) looks mouth watering. I love caramel.

I like how easy these were to make. I LOVE oats in chocolate chip cookies. And I like the crumbly texture, but I think I prefer to cream the butter and sugar first to get a more soft, chewy cookie texture.


32 caramel squares, unwrapped or 1 1/4 cups caramel bits (in baking section)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Cookie Crisp
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8x8" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Filling, Candied Pecans, and Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Sweetapolita has so many beautiful cakes, you really should see her pictures. She calls this Autumn Delight Cake, and it really is. I was going to save this recipe for the fall but I knew this one would make Maryam happy. This is her second celebratory cake. She landed her first job, only two days after her interview. I figured sweet potato cake would make this soon-to-be dietitian jump for joy. 

The recipe calls for 3 large sweet potatoes, weighing 900 grams total. I went ahead and weighed my potatoes to find I only needed two large sweet potatoes. If you don't have a scale to weight them, my first potato was 8 inches long x 2 inches wide and the other was 7 inches long x 3 inches wide. Good thing Maryam was around to help cook those sweet potatoes in the microwave. I'll write all the adaptions in the recipe below.

I was excited for the toasted marshmallow filling. It was my favorite component of the cake.

At first I was disappointed that the toasted marshmallows hinder the creaminess of the filling, but don't worry. You don't even notice the little brown bits when you eat it with cake.

The recipe says to cook the pecans for 15 minutes. That is ridiculous. After 4 minutes (on low heat!) I nearly burnt my pecans. Cook them on low just until the sugar dissolves, literally 2-3 minutes and remove from the pan. Nuts cook quickly when heated, and they taste much better when they aren't too browned.

After my cake was stacked, I put it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. It's easier to frost because the cake is alittle firmer and the crumbs don't get everywhere. 

I appreciate how the buttercream recipe made plenty to frost the sides and bottom. Plenty. To the point that I put too much.

The recipe calls for alot of crystalized ginger in the cake, and I know that stuff is strong. So I decided not to add it and just used a tad bit more ground ginger. The spices in the cake all came out great.

Overall, I would make this cake again, except I was not expecting it to be so sweet. Even though it was delicious, I have to recommend to half the marshmallow filling. I love the beautiful white stripe which makes the cake stand out, but it just came out too sweet! 

Also, I would half the amount of nuts. I think less is more. It's more delightful to get a nut every now and then, rather than with each bite.

Lastly, the buttercream. TOO. MUCH. BUTTER. I adore swiss meringue buttercream and I loved the brown sugar flavor of this one, but that third stick of butter just ruined it. I should have known. Its been a while since I made it. I'm thinking half the amount of butter and it would have been great.

Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Filling, Candied Pecans, and Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Buttercream
Adapted from Sweetapolita

Sweet Potato Cake
2 large sweet potatoes (about 900 g)
2 cups (400 g) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups (315 ml) sunflower oil (or vegetable, safflower, canola oil)
2 cups (230 g) cake flour
1 tablespoon (7 g) ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
1 teaspoon (3 g) ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon (3 g) ground ginger
1 tablespoon (15 ml) rum extract
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans, dust with flour, tap out excess and set aside.

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into cubes and place in a microwave-safe bowl and cover. Microwave until they are tender (about 8-10 minutes). Mash with a fork into a coarse puree.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together (cake flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and ground ginger) and mix until blended. Transfer to another bowl and set aside. 

Beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and beat on medium until combined. Add the cooled sweet potato puree and mix until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix in rum extract and vanilla. 

Evenly distribute batter into the prepared pans (weigh them if possible with digital kitchen scale), smooth with a small offset palette knife and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven, about 2 inches apart. Bake until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack and cool them completely.

Candied Pecans
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (24 g) brown sugar
1 cup (100 g) pecan pieces

Melt the butter in a small pan. Mix in brown sugar, and add the pecans. Toss to coat.
Cook on low heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be sure to watch carefully so they don’t burn. Do not brown nuts, remove from heat as soon as sugar looks dissolved. Turn out onto parchment paper or aluminum foil and let cool for 5 minutes; break apart into smaller pieces.

Toasted Marshmallow Filling
16 large white marshmallows
1 cup (125 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
1 cup butter (227 g)(2 sticks), at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
1 jar (213 g) marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff)

Turn on oven broiler and allow to come to full heat. Make sure the oven rack is placed at the top shelf, near the top heating element. Place marshmallows on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place on top rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until nice and brown on top, about 60 seconds. Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until they are golden brown. (Be sure to keep an eye on them--they burn very quickly.)

In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and icing sugar on low until blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and mix on med-high for about 3 minutes. Add marshmallow cream and toasted marshmallows, and mix on lowest setting for about 1 minute.

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites (150 g)
1-1/4 cups (250 g) light brown sugar
3/4 cups (1.5 sticks)(170 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
a few pinches of cinnamon, to taste

Clean the bowl of your electric mixer very well, with plenty of soap suds, to be sure to remove any trace of grease. When clean and dry, add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take 5-10 minutes). Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.

Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Add cinnamon to taste and blend.

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