Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Raspberry Lemonade Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. Well, I love making cheesecake - more than I love eating it. Strange, right? But, I guess I could say that's the truth about anything I make. There is just something about the process of baking. It's the perfect combination of art and science. You have to know the math and the science, then you are free to explore.

It's probably like that with other arts, but I am just not artistically inclined...at all. Give me some numbers, or some technical document and I'm happy. My brain just doesn't think aesthetically...it's more practical than that. I guess that's why I made such a good project manager.

Anyway, on to better topics - this cheesecake. I've been experimenting with different sweeteners to cheesecake. Yes, there is a method to my madness...well, sometimes there is. I've been wanting to make cheesecakes based on concentrated juice ever since the Pink Lemonade cupcake craze more than 3 years ago. I thought the idea could open a whole new array of flavors for cheesecakes. This was the first attempt - raspberry lemonade. And, it's fantastic. The tart lemons and raspberries compliment the creamy cheesecake perfectly! This is a great dessert, and I encourage you to make it soon.

For a .pdf of the recipe, click here. And, enjoy!

Raspberry Lemonade Cheesecake

Makes one 8” cheesecake

For the Raspberry Sauce:

2 pints fresh raspberries, cleaned
½ cup raspberry lemonade concentrate
½ cup sugar
2 T. butter

For the crust:

1 ½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs
3 T. sugar
6 T. butter (3 ounces)

For the cheesecake:

24 oz. cream cheese, softened (3 8 oz packages)
½ c. raspberry lemonade concentrate
3 T. corn starch
1 cup raspberry sauce (made from above)
1 1/3 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ t. salt
2 t. vanilla extract or frambois
1 t. lemon zest

Make the raspberry sauce: Place ½ of the raspberries, sugar, and the juice concentrate in a medium sauce pan. Heat on medium/medium high until thick and bubbly. This may take a while, but it does need to be stirred frequently to prevent burning. Adjust for sweetness by adding additional sugar if needed (the recipe comes out a bit tart, but I preferred that to cut the richness of the cheesecake). Remove from heat, and add butter and remaining raspberries. Let cool

Preheat oven to 350. Make the crust: Combine all ingredients and mix until mixture resembles wet sand. Pat into cheesecake pan, gently patting up the edges of the springform pan. Set aside.

Prepare the cheesecake filling: In a large mixing bowl, whip cream cheese with a mixer 2-3 minutes, until a bit lighter. Add sugar, and whip an additional 2-3 minutes, scraping bottom of bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, until completely incorporated. Add cornstarch, salt, zest, and extract, until mixed into batter. Pour over prepared crust.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour – I like to put a cookie sheet under the pan, because sometimes the pans do leak - until middle of cheesecake only gently wiggles when pan is moved. Turn oven off, and leave cheesecake in oven for an additional 1-2 hours.

Store in refrigerator, allowing to set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ooey Gooey S'More Bars

These should come with a warning - they are highly addictive. I thought it was just me. I couldn't keep my hands out of them. Then my family came over, and they were gone in an instant. They are *that* good.

I struggled with this recipe for a while. It should really be simple. I mean, graham cereal, covered in marshmallow, topped with chocolate chips? Well, it's not that easy. Turns out, graham cereal doesn't really like to be covered in marshmallow. What I was initially expecting to be crunchy and gooey turned out to just be a soggy sweet mess.

Yes, that's right. The graham cereal turned soggy when added to marshmallow. So, I was a bit discouraged. Toasting the cereal in the oven helped a little, but not as much as you would think.

So, one day, while somewhere about 30 clicks through my original search (that I can't remember what I was looking for, actually), I came across a recipe for Momofuku's Corn Flake Crunch. This made me curious. I wasn't entirely sure about the recipe, because it seemed a little strange, but I was willing to give it a try. Not with corn flakes, with my hope of having an ooey gooey s'more bar made with those graham cereals that were sitting in my cupboard after my poor 1st attempt.

And, these babies are the result. I changed the method of baking them in the beginning. Mostly because I forgot the recipe, and couldn't find the page on search. But, I think this is a perfect result based on their inspiration. And, I can't wait to try it with Captain Crunch (stay tuned).

 For a .pdf, go here. And, beware, they will change your life (and the size of your waist).

Ooey Gooey S’More bars

1 14-16 oz box Graham cereal
6 T. butter, melted
½ c. powdered milk
2 T. sugar
40 large marshmallows, or 6 cups mini marshmallows
4 T. butter
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 250. In a small food processor or blender, blend powdered milk and sugar until a fine powder. Combine milk mixture and graham cereal in a large bowl. Pour melted butter over the mixture, and mix until very well combined.

Place on a large cookie sheet, in a single layer. Bake 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool while you prepare marshmallows. Once cool, put in large mixing bowl, gently breaking apart any clusters of cereal that have cooled together.

Spray or butter a 13x9x2 baking pan. In a medium sauce pan, melt marshmallows and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. After they have been melted, pour melted marshmallow mixture over cooled cereal. Mix until very well combined, and pat into 13x9x2 pan.

Let cool 10-15 minutes, and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Let set an additional 2-3 hours or overnight. Cut in small squares and enjoy.

Daring Bakers for July, 2012 - Crackers!

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

Yummy Crackers! I made the cheddar version - and added some parmesan and dried mustard for a little zing. And, I loved these. They were great.

Thanks again for such a great challenge, and I encourage all of you to visit the other daring bakers!

Daring Baker Crackers!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nutella S'More Cups

I like to think I'm a complex person, but in all honestly, I'm probably fairly simple. Of course, that is subject to interpretation. Sometimes that seem simple when you initially evaluate it, can be amazingly complex to put together. 

A perfect example of this is where I live. I live, well, in the sticks. A very rural area, but within reasonable driving distance to a medium size city, and fairly close to Seattle. Well, 100 miles away from Seattle, is still reasonable driving distance, as long as gas is under $4/gallon.

You would think, from where I live, that I'm an outdoorsy girl. You would be wrong. Dead wrong. I'm allergic to grass, and hate bugs. Oh, don't get me wrong - I love living in all this green, and adore the fact that I have so few neighbors. But it's more of a nice to look at type of thing. Outdoors and me - well, we get along better in a long distance relationship. 

I do have a point here, but may have forgotten it along the way. Nah, not really. S'more's are simple. But when you look at them, they can be a very complex thing to make. And, I'm not talking here about buying all the stuff, sticking the marshmallows on a stick, then in a camp fire. I'm talking if you wanted to make everything from scratch. It could take *hours*.

I've been experimenting with various s'more delivery systems, and this is the first one that I'm happy with. I have a few more stewing in my brain, but still need some tweaking. And, yes, one of those was to make everything from scratch. They weren't as good as these Nutella S'more cups.

These are a little nutella delivery system. I originally thought of this when I was making mini cheesecakes. I had some graham cups left over, so I ate them after I stuffed them with nutella. The marshmallows are just that little frosting on the cake to take it over the top.

I'm almost embarrassed about how easy this recipe is, but I think these are the perfect proportions - so I made you a .pdf too. So here it is, and enjoy!

Nutella S’more Cups
Makes approximately 24 mini cups, or 12 cupcake size

1 ½ c. graham cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve of graham crackers)
5 T. butter, melted
3 T. sugar
2/3 – 3/4 c. nutella
1 to 1 ½ c. marshmallows (I used the minis)

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers, butter, and sugar. Mix until well combined, and mixture looks like wet sand. Line your chosen cups with cupcake liners. For the regular cupcake size, add 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon graham cracker mix, and press down gently. For the mini size, use ½ to ¾ tablespoon graham cracker mix per cup.

Bake 5 minutes for the small, and 10 minutes for the large, until tops of graham crusts just start to brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Drop nutella in the cups over the cooled graham crackers, approximately 2 t. for mini cups, and 1 ½ tablespoon for large.

Top with mini marshmallows, 3 for mini, and 6-10 for large. Bake another 5-10 minutes, until marshmallows start to brown. Serve warm.