Peanut butter fudge cheesecake, can you say yum?

In an effort to satisfy my craving for all things chocolate peanut butter flavoured, I turned to my favourite dessert – cheesecake – last week for a combo that was more than just a little bit decadent.

Chocolate cookie crumbs layered with rich cheesecake, chocolate fudge and chopped peanut butter cups, only to be topped with more chocolate fudge is a combination that had me drooling, but dreading having an entire cake of it in my fridge.

Fortunately my skating team was having the end of year meeting, so 20 other lovely ladies were able to help eat up this indulgence. I hope they liked it as much as I did, ’cause I REALLY liked it.

And because there were many other desserts on the table at this meeting I was even able to bring some home to the husband to try, and a little bit to work for the folks there. This is a big cake, it gets around.

My version is a combination of several recipes. The crust is from my favourite triple chocolate cheesecake, with the filling and layered effect inspired from, you guessed it, Pinterest postings. Yup, I’m a sucker for Pinterest. Without further adieu, here it is.

 

 

Peanut butter fudge cheesecake

 

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 250 g packages of cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
20 peanut butter cups, chopped
1 lb semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream

Directions:

Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter then press firmly into the bottom of a 9″ spring form pan.

Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, add peanut butter, mixing until incorporated, then add eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth.

Heat the cream in the microwave until just about boiling, approximately one minute, add chocolate chips to heated cream and let sit 2-3 minutes. Mix until smooth.

Pour half of the cream cheese mixture over cookie crumb crust. Top with half the fudge and all of the chopped peanut butter cups. Pour remaining cream cheese mixture on top.

Bake in 350 degree oven , in a water bath, approximately one hour until centre is just a little jiggly. Let cool in pan then refrigerate overnight. Several hours before serving, reheat the remaining fudge to a pourable/spreadable consistency. Remove sides of pan and pour fudge overtop so it drips down the sides. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

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Cherry Coke Cupcakes Mimic Black Forest Cake Flavour

It’s been a long time since I visited this space. Though not for lack of doing anything, I’ll assure you! It’s amazing how time flies when you’re busy. Between preparing for Adult Synchro Nationals, going to Prince Edward Island for five days to compete, and coming home with a wicked cold that I’m sorry to say is still lingering, I’ve neglected my blogging duties.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating! I’m staying on top of trying new things and sticking with the tried, tested and true, and this weekend’s creation was the perfect way to satisfy the Black Forest Cake craving I’ve had for the last month.

A recent Pinterest find was the inspiration for Cherry Coke cupcakes, and made the perfect gift to bring to my cousin’s little girls when I went to visit. Of course I saved one for myself and enjoyed this guy before I hit the road.

I was expecting more coke flavour, which I may have gotten had I opted for the optional glaze. But in an effort to save time, and a little sugar, I simply topped these with the whipped cream and cherry instead.

I hope the girls liked them as much as I did!

Cherry Coke Cupcakes

Yield: 10-12 cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the cupcakes:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
¾ cup Coca-Cola
¼ tsp. maraschino cherry juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Maraschino cherries, stemless

For the glaze (optional):
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. Coca-Cola

For topping:
2/3 cup heavy cream
3-4 tbsp. powdered sugar
Maraschino cherries

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line  a muffin pan with foil or paper liners.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter.  Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.   Mix in the egg until incorporated.   In a bowl or large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, Coke, maraschino cherry juice, and vanilla extract; stir to combine.  (This mixture may look disgusting and/or curdled – it’s okay!)

Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture on low speed, alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.  Drop 4 or 5 stemless maraschino cherries into each cupcake well and push them down into the batter.  Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the optional glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and Coke in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Spoon or drizzle a small amount of the top of each cupcake.  Allow to set.

To make the whipped cream topping, add the heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Begin whipping on medium speed, slowly adding the confectioners’ sugar and gradually increasing the speed to high as the cream holds soft peaks.  Whip until the cream holds stiff peaks, being careful not to overbeat.  Spoon or pipe the whipped cream on top of the cupcakes and top each with a maraschino cherry.

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Tiramisu: it’s not that difficult to make!

Tiramisu is one of those desserts I’ve always enjoyed eating, particularly at authentic Italian restaurants, but have shied away from making myself. I’m not sure what my reason was for not trying it – would it be too difficult, would I not get the flavours right – but up until now I simply wouldn’t make it.

All that changed when I got the amazing Silver Spoon cookbook for my birthday. Filled with more than 2,000 recipes this thing is literally like the Bible of Italian cooking. Naturally, I flocked to the dessert section to check out the tiramisu recipe. It seemed so easy. Why couldn’t  I try that?

And try it I did.

This light dessert is so easy to make I can’t get over it. Yes, it takes a little time to whisk the egg whites and beat the yolks separately, and even more time to brush the lady fingers with coffee, but it was worth it.

Tiramisu

Ingredients:

2 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1 3/4 cups mascarpone cheese
7 ounces lady fingers
3/4 cup freshly brewed coffee, cooled
7 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Directions:

Stiffly whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in another bowl until pale and fluffy. Gently fold in the mascarpone, then the egg whites. Make a layer of lady fingers on the base of a deep, rectangular serving dish and brush them evenly with coffee. Cover with a layer of of the mascarpone cream and sprinkle with a little grated chocolate. Continue making layers until all the ingredients are used, ending with a layer of mascarpone cream. Dust with cocoa and chill in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.

Baker’s note: I don’t think the coffee I used was strong enough, or that I used enough as the flavour wasn’t prominent at all. Next time I would dip the lady fingers in the coffee instead of brushing to ensure they absorbed more liquid. I might also use as splash of Frangelico with the coffee to spice it up a bit. I also used just one ounce of grated chocolate. I don’t know where that number 7 comes from, it simply wouldn’t work in mine, even though I opted to omit the cocoa powder on top and just use more grated chocolate.

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Healthier homemade granola bars

Almost every day in our lunch we bring a granola bar. A relatively healthy snack, they also add a little sweetness to satisfy those craving, while filling your belly full.

Recently I found a recipe on Pinterest for homemade granola bars that sounded so easy I couldn’t resist trying them this weekend. The results are in and I’m so glad I did. Simple to make, I know exactly what is in these bars and without any ridiculous amount of sugar or preservatives, I feel happier eating them. The batch I made produced 10 granola bars, that’s one for each of us every day this week.

I stayed simple this time, just adding mini chocolate chips, but I’m a fan of cranberries and nuts in my granola bars so next weekend I will get a little more adventerous and add those as well.

Homemade granola bars

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup rice cereal
2 tbsp mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Lightly grease an 8×8 inch pan and set aside. Mix together oats and cereal, set aside.

Over medium high heat, melt the butter, honey and brown sugar. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat and  cook for two minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and pour over dry ingredients. Mix until evenly moistened.

Turn into prepared pan and firmly press the granola evenly into the pan. This is the part where you’ll make the bars stay together so it’s essential to press firmly. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, and lightly press those in.

Let the bars cool on the counter until they’ve reached room temperature, then cut into bars and wrap individually.

*Baker’s note: I added the chocolate chips too soon, mixing them into the warm batter as I thought pressing them in at the end wouldn’t give consistent chocolate bites throughout. This just caused the chips to melt. Follow the directions and add at the end. If your bars don’t stay together (mine did) you may have to press harder next time. For now, put them in the fridge to firm up, but don’t leave them there too long or they will be too hard to eat.

All my bars are individually wrapped and sitting beside the breadbox on the counter so they’re easy to grab on the go.

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Skate-themed sugar cookies

Skating is my passion and a big part of my life. I’ve started sewing skating accessories and last weekend, after getting a skate shaped cookie cutter, I tried icing sugar cookies for the first time.

In honour of my husband and his friends playing their annual Hockey Day in Canada hockey tournament out on the pond, I decided to make my first attempt at these Maple Leaf-inspired since the Leafs are their favourite hockey team.

I found the recipe for the best rolled cookies of all time on allrecipes.com. I cut it in half because I had no desire to ice, or eat, 60 plus cookies, and it truly was the best rolled cookie recipe ever. Very easy to make, I whipped up the cookie dough in less than 20 minutes and popped it in the fridge to firm up overnight.

The next night I rolled the dough, cut the shapes and baked the cookies. Only taking six minutes each to bake, I was really happy with the progress I was making. I let the cookies cool overnight and got up early on Saturday morning to ice them.

My friend Anja told me to first pipe the outline of the cookies in thicker royal icing, then thin it down a bit to spread the inside to a smooth, shiny surface. This was great information because I literally had no idea how I was going to do this. Looking for a good royal icing recipe, I also found this video tutorial from The Joy of Baking, which confirmed what Anja had told me, and let me see it for myself.

The end result, in my opinion, was pretty darn good for a first attempt. Next time I’ll be making figure skates, but with my skating team’s competition season ramping up, I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to devote to that!

The best rolled sugar cookie recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Baker’s Note: I cut this recipe in half and made at least 36 cookies of combined shapes including skates, stars, cats and dogs.

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I love leftovers

They make lunch easy and delicious. As the new year gets underway and things start to get busy in life again, I’m trying to make things as easy as possible on myself and make sure I’ve got a plan, and ingredients, for every meal I’ll need to prepare during the week.

I find that if I look at the planning in too broad a way I find it daunting and get put off wanting to do it. But if I start finding inspiration for meals I want to make instead, it can actually be a fun exercise.

I’ve said it before, but much of my inspiration comes from flipping through cookbooks and I also find other people’s blogs, twitter and even facebook to be great sources of food inspiration. This week, mine came from the local grocery store flyers where there were enough ingredients on sale to make me want to make some old favourites and try a few new things, too.

I started with a list of what was on sale. A combination of things that interested me, and things we need, I find that shopping the flyers can save a lot of money. From there, I looked at what items could make what dishes and combined the pieces to make meals that would be weekday and leftover friendly.

Last night we indulged in roasted chicken breasts, served with roast potatoes and carrots. An easy meal that requires little preparation, it was the perfect dinner after an intense skating practice. While it cooked in the oven I was able to sit down for an hour and watch a movie with the husband. Plus, it’s leftovers were perfect for today’s lunch.

A filling mid-day meal meant that tonight’s dinner could be a little lighter. I bought fresh broccoli yesterday and it’s the perfect base for a broccoli salad I’ve been meaning to try forever. Complete with a homemade dressing and cheddar cheese, I’m hoping there will enough of this salad left over to have with a sandwich for lunch tomorrow, too.

Broccoli and cheddar salad

Ingredients:

1 bunch fresh broccoli cut in bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 red onion, chopped
2/3 cup mayo
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

Directions:

Combine broccoli, cheese and onion in a bowl. Whisk all dressing ingredients together, drizzle over salad and mix to combine. Serve immediately.

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Cheesecake dreams

Do you ever dream about food? I think it’s a normal thing to do, but a few months ago I had a food dream unlike any I’d had before. It was about something I’d never had or made before and I woke up with the strongest inclination that I just had to figure out how to make it.

The dream was about a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Complete with a chocolate cookie crumb crust, it was the perfect combination for me as I love raspberries and chocolate together. I’d been trying to find an occasion to create this for as I wasn’t crazy enough to just make it randomly, and figured the Boxing Day dinner I was hosting was the perfect opportunity.

A few weeks before I had to get all the ingredients together. I bought fresh raspberries, which I froze immediately, stocked the cream cheese in the fridge and made sure my pantry had enough cookie crumbs and chocolate to make this thing work. I was going away to Florida, not arriving home until Christmas Eve, so I had to be prepared.

I spent one night going through my various cheesecake recipes, trying to find the best aspects of each, and fusing them together for my own perfect creation. The result? Not quite perfect, but pretty darn good. In my opinion it could have used more white chocolate and more raspberries. The funny thing is I’d intended to use more raspberries – the entire bag I’d frozen in fact, but for some reason on Christmas Day when I was making it I didn’t do that. Anyway, everyone seemed to like it so that makes me happy, and it’s the first time I’ve every created a recipe: so here it is, enjoy!

White chocolate raspberry cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
6 ounces which baking chocolate, melted and cooled
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup fresh raspberries.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Blend crumbs and butter with a fork until evenly moistened. Press firmly into the bottom on a 9-inch springform pan.

Combine cream cheese and white chocolate with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Beat in sugar, sour cream and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs all at once and beat on low speed until just combined.

Pour one third of the cheesecake mixture over the base, then spread raspberries evenly across and pour remaining cheesecake mixture on top, ensuring all raspberries are covered.

Wrap the bottom of the pan in two layers of foil and place in a shallow baking pan with water. This helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking ,while the foil prevents the dairy fat from getting all over your pan.

Bake for 45-55 minutes until edges are firm and centre is still slightly jiggly. Let it cool on  a wire rack, then place in fridge for 6-24 hours. When ready to serve, loosen cheesecake from side of pan before removing.

*Baker’s note: I’ve put a cup of raspberries in the ingredients because that’s what I should have used. I’ve left the white chocolate amount as I made it and will play with this a bit more next time.

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