Saturday, May 30, 2009

Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake

I haven't baked a cheesecake for about three and a half years, so I figured it was time. Raspberry and chocolate are a classic flavor combination and work very well in this cheesecake. I don't think I've ever used a true water bath before. I was worried it would be a huge mess, but it actually worked out okay and kept the cheesecake from cracking horribly.
THE PROCESS: First I scraped the cream filling out of a bunch of chocolate sandwich cookies and then made crumbs with the chocolate wafers.
The crumbs are mixed with butter and pressed into the pan with a drinking glass.
The cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and sour cream are mixed until smooth and fluffy.
Eggs are added and mixed just until incorporated.
Half of the mixture is poured into the prepared pan.
The raspberry jam is spread over the cream cheese mixture and swirled in with a butter knife.
The remaining cheesecake mixture is poured over the swirl, then the whole pan is placed in a water bath in the oven.
The water bath kept the cheesecake from forming major cracks.
The ganache is poured over the cooled cheesecake and fresh raspberries are used for decoration.
Here is the inside.

From Hannah's Kitchen

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 eggs

2/3 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
fresh raspberries (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

2. Prepare a water bath by placing a large pan filled with about 1/2 inch of water into the oven while it preheats.

3. Microwave the raspberry jam for 30 seconds and stir until until smooth. Set aside to cool.

4. Measure 1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs into a medium bowl. Mix in the melted butter. Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been sprayed lightly with non-stick spray. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the crumb mixture flat into the bottom of the pan and about an inch up the sides.

5. Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom of the pan to keep the cheesecake in the water bath. Put the crust in the freezer.

6. In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix for a couple of minutes or until the ingredients are smooth and creamy. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and then add them to the cream cheese mixture. Blend the mixture just enough to incorporate the eggs.

7. Remove the crust from the freezer.

8. 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. Pour the other half of the filling into the crust.

9. Carefully place the cheesecake into the water bath in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes at 475 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake turns a light brown or tan color.

10. Remove the cheesecake from the oven to cool. When the cheesecake is cool, cover with foil and chill for at least 4 hours.

11. For the topping, place the chocolate into a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream until it nearly boils and pour over the chocolate. Let mixture sit for about a minute, then whisk together until shiny and dark brown. Pour over cheesecake and decorate with fresh raspberries, if desired. Chill at least 2 more hours before serving.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Peanut Butter Candy Cookies

These cookies combine creamy peanut butter, Reese's peanut butter cups, and Reese's pieces. Now that's what I call a peanut butter triple threat!

From Hannah's Kitchen

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter cups, roughly chopped
1/2 cup mini Reese's pieces baking bits

1. Roughly chop peanut butter cups and put in the freezer for at least an hour. This will keep them from falling apart when mixed into the cookie dough.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until just combined. Fold in mini chocolate chips and peanut butter cups. Chill dough for at least an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and sprinkle tops with Reese's pieces baking bits. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pineapple Coconut Bars

I haven't made these bars since law school, when I made them for my friend Wynn's birthday. He absolutely loves these sweet little treats and still talks about them. I found this recipe somewhere on the internet, and adapted it to suit my tastes. These bars are super simple to make and require just a handful of ingredients. If you're short on time (or just feeling lazy) these are a must do!

From Hannah's Kitchen

1 box butter recipe yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, well drained
1 1/3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together dry cake mix, butter, and cinnamon until crumbly. Press evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle pineapple mixture over crust. Sprinkle with coconut. Pour sweetened condensed milk over coconut. Top with almonds.

3. Bake 25-27 minutes or until set and almonds are light golden brown. Cool completely before cutting.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans and Dried Cherries

My parents are coming down to visit this coming week so I decided to start doing some baking in preparation for their arrival. My dad always keeps bags of dried cherries in his pantry for snacking on, so I think he will enjoy these chewy cookies.
From Hannah's Kitchen

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 cup (5 ounces) dried cherries, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, shortening, brown sugar, and sugar at medium speed for about a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla; beat until fully incorporated. Beat in flour mixture on low speed just until combined. Then add oats, pecans, cherries, and chocolate, beating until just incorporated.

4. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until edges have begun to set. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes to take to the office along with the coconut cupcakes posted previously. Matt also took half of this batch to work, and one of the women there requested that I send a diet plan next time.
I had to dissect one to show the peanut butter filling.
Here are both kinds of cupcakes in my snazzy new cupcake carrier.
From Hannah's Kitchen

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons hot water
6 tablespoons milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

1. For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a heavy mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; add sugar.

3. Turn the mixer on low and add, in order, water, milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium, briefly, to achieve a smooth batter.

4. Scoop the batter into muffin tins lined with baking cups; each cup should be about half full. Bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

5. For the filling, put the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla in a small bowl. With an electric mixer, beat the ingredients until they are creamy. Add heavy cream and beat until the mixture is soft and creamy. Use to fill cooled cupcakes.

6. For the icing, melt the chocolate with the cream in a heavy saucepan and cook over very low heat until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until cooled but not to firm, 30 to 45 minutes. Using a mixer, beat on high speed until thick and creamy. Pipe or spread onto filled cupcakes.

Coconut Cupcakes

My boss celebrated his birthday earlier this week so I made two batches of cupcakes. Since we only have three people in our office, I sent half of the cupcakes with Matt to the lab and brought the other half to the office. They were yummy!
Adapted From the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

YIELD - 12 to 15 cupcakes

12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
7 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 3 1/2 ounces of coconut.

4. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner nearly to the top with batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

5. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze

I had a lot of apples in the fridge and I really wanted a coffee cake, so it seemed like a good idea to made a coffee cake with apples. I wasn't feeling creative so I followed this Emeril recipe exactly. The cake doesn't look too pretty (it's really brown), but it tasted delicious!
This is the cake before I put the glaze on.
Here is the inside of the glazed cake. Look at all those yummy apples!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwiches

I've been eying this recipe for a while so I decided to give it a try this afternoon. They turned out pretty well, although I would prefer if the chocolate in the cookies shined through more.
The dough is scooped onto cookie sheets and flattened with a sugar-dipped glass.
The baked cookies are set aside to cool.
The filing is whipped until fluffy.
Filling is spread on the bottoms of half of the cookies.
The remaining cookies are placed on top to complete the sandwich.

From Martha Stewart's Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for flattening cookies
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Into a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat to combine. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; continue beating until dough is well combined.

3. Using a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Dip bottom of a glass in sugar; press to flatten cookies to about 1/8 inch thick.

4. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are firm, 8-10 minutes. Remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

5. To make filling, combine butter and shortening with an electric mixer. On low speed, gradually add confectioners' sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine.

6. To assemble, place cream filing in a pastry bag and pipe about 1 tablespoon filling onto the flat side of half the cookies. Place remaining cookies on top, and gently press on each to squeeze filling to edges. Filled cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.