Toffee Cheesecake

July 25, 2014

20140724_134737

 

This cheesecake was supposed to be made when I had the baking day with my cousin Amy, but we ran out of time because of a couple of baking disasters!  I was going to wait to make it when she came back, but my Mom was having company for supper and needed a dessert.  Such a shame I will have to make another!  I love making cheesecake!

I often struggle coming up with ideas for desserts.  If someone tells me what to make no problem, but coming up on my own I draw a blank.  I am about as creative as a stick.

For this cheesecake I decided to make it Toffee!

Toffee Cheesecake

Graham Crust

2 cups Graham Crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

1. Combine sugar and Graham crumbs

20140723_133921

2. Add melted butter and stir until combine

20140723_134450

3. Pour into spring form pan and firmly press.  I put some crust up the edges this time, just for something different

20140723_134940

4. Bake at 350ºF  for 10 minutes and set aside

Cheesecake

I have made some small changes (not noted, somethings just have to be a secret) over the years to make it just right for me, but I still basically follow the recipe I got way back when I started with the Daring Bakers

Directions

1. Preheat oven 350ºF

2. Start boiling water for water bath

3.  Before starting the cheesecake prepare the Toffee.  I used the Toffee that I make, but the recipe is top secret!   I wanted to have different textures so I cut up the Toffee a few different ways.

20140723_135448

I wanted to have some Toffee throughout the cheesecake but I wasn’t sure if it would ‘stay afloat” as the chocolate chips all sunk to the crust of my  Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, so I put some in the mini chopper.  I wasn’t even sure if it would break it up, but I gave it a go!

20140723_135506

Not too bad – kind of looked like the Graham Crumbs

20140723_135552

I also just roughly chopped some of the Toffee

20140723_140817

5.  Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer – beat until smooth

20140723_140126

6. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg.

20140723_140304

 

7. Add heavy cream and vanilla, blend until smooth and creamy.

20140723_141005

 

8. Stir in Toffee crumbs

20140723_141132

9. I placed bigger chunks of Toffee on the crust

20140723_140908

10. Pour batter onto crust

20140723_141236

At this point I remembered I should have prepared the pan, wrapping it in parchment paper and foil – harder to do with the batter in the pan.  Try to remember BEFORE you start the batter

The Toffee seems to be afloat!

20140723_141721

11. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan

12. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Looks like the Toffee didn’t sink!

20140723_190715

The next day

20140724_133928

I tried to spruce it up a little with pieces of Toffee, I failed miserably, looks awful….

20140724_134737

At this point I deliver the cheesecake to my Mom and Dad’s.  It is killing me not being able to try it!  Guess I will have to wait ANOTHER day for the verdict and try it myself.

The following day

20140725_160302

Oh my…

20140725_160246

It was worth the wait!

20140725_160202

Toffee cheesecake is amazing!  It was rich and creamy and a subtle sweetness. There was a little crunch of the candy amongst the smooth creamy cheesecake.  I was afraid it might be to sweet (for some) but it was not, just right.  The caramel sauce put it over the top!

It got rave reviews from Mom, Dad and their company.  This was definitely a success


Snickers Popcorn

July 23, 2014

20140717_192129

* Please excuse the look of this post!  Not sure what is wrong, but the spacing is not cooperating, everything looks crammed together*

Another recipe with Guest Baker Amy!  I love when my cousin Amy comes out to bake!  As mentioned in previous posts this days main focus was 2 cheesecakes but only one was accomplished, check it out here. We also attempted a caramel sauce, what a disaster you can see it here.

We decided on this recipe while we were in the grocery store buying the cheesecake ingredients.  We were going back to Amy’s place to have a nice dinner with both of our families.  We needed dessert, but it had to be something that was ‘no bake’ or stove top as the oven was busy with cheesecake!    Amy found this one on Six Sisters’ Stuff, it sounded delicious!

* Unless you are feeding a crowd (10+ people) I would half this recipe, it makes a lot!

Snickers Popcorn

4 quarts popped corn (about 1 cup kernels)
1 cup salted butter
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup salted peanuts
30 fun size Snickers bars chopped up
3 oz melted chocolate chips
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2. Chop up Snickers bars into bite size pieces
20140717_160730
3.Pop your popcorn and put popcorn and peanuts in a big brown paper grocery bag. We didn’t have a paper bag, so we went with a big bowl and a pot
I had to go up to the attic to get the popcorn popper, had not used it in forever!  Popping the popcorn was a whole new adventure in itself, haha!
20140717_153953
It was like we were back in 1999 when I was babysitting her, we always had popcorn watching movies.  We were both watching it for the first kernel to pop!
20140717_153945
There it is! But do you notice a problem?
20140717_154044
As the popcorn started to shoot out the top of the popper we had kernels and popcorn all over, it was snowing popcorn!  No idea where the little lid/butter melter is.  We had to improvise ….
20140717_154131
4.  Seperate into bowls big enough to stir and add nuts
20140717_161918
5. Over medium heat boil butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup for 5 minutes (stirring constantly).
20140717_160101
20140717_160634
6. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.
20140717_161928
7. Pour over popcorn and stir
20140717_162023
We gave it a try – it was a little soggy, yikes!
20140717_162321
8. After the popcorn is coated well, spread onto a cookie sheet. Spread chopped Snickers over top of popcorn and put in oven for 5 minutes.
20140717_162818
9. Remove from oven and drizzle melted chocolate over top of popcorn.
20140717_164426
Look at that!!!
20140717_164621
When it cake out of the oven it was nice and crunchy, way better than any caramel corn I had ever had.  In fact I don’t even like caramel corn.  This was amazing!
20140717_192120
The crunch of the baked caramel sauce and the sweet of nut chocolate were an excellent combination.  It wasn’t overpowering sweet at all (others mentioned as I never thing anything is too sweet).  It was a huge hit for dessert, not much left of the tray.  It was so addicting, we seriously couldn’t stop, had to move away from the table.
20140717_192139
I would definitely make this again.  The only thing I would change is the addition of salt.  My Uncle suggested as we were eating that it would be awesome with some salt.  He was right!  We put a few shakes on and it got even better!  The salt really enhanced the flavours and who doesn’t love sweet and salty things?  I would put it on just before the bake so it stuck to the popcorn.
Thanks for picking an awesome recipe, this one will definitely be a redo!
*If not eaten immediately…can be stored in an airtight container.

Caramel Sauce

July 21, 2014

Another recipe with Guest Baker Amy!  Amy was out making cheesecakes.  As the first one was in the oven, check it out here, we started the caramel sauce needed for the second cheesecake.

Being in an adventurous mood I thought we would try making homemade caramel sauce.  I read many recipes and watched several videos, it looked really easy.  Very few ingredients and very little work.  All the recipes seemed to be quite similar, but I decided to go with one from ‘A Teaspoon and A Pinch‘.

When purchasing all of our ingredients, I did get a jar or caramel sauce ‘just in case’ things went terribly wrong.  We were optimistic we wouldn’t need it though.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

1 c. sugar
1¼ c. heavy cream
¼ tsp. coarse salt or sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, optional

1. Measure out the heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup and add vanilla bean paste.  Microwave for one minute and set aside.

20140717_144931

2. Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully.

We both watched the pot of sugar quite curiously as we did not believe it would melt down.

20140717_144751

 

3. When the sugar begins to liquify around the edges, use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to gently stir it towards the center. Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted, taking care not to over stir or allow sugar to clump up

I will admit we got very excited at the sight of liquid forming, we didn’t believe it would happen.

20140717_145238

Mine did not liquify around the edge, it did so in the centre, then clumped.  This didn’t happen in any of the videos I watched!  I am thinking I am glad we bought the jar of sauce!

20140717_145612

It stayed like this for quite some time before all the sugar melted

20140717_145952

4. Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat.  We were optimistic, it was looking and smelling wonderful!

20140717_150454

5. Carefully and quickly, stir in half of the heavy cream.

20140717_150458

6. The mixture will steam and bubble violently. Stir until the cream is well incorporated

*this is when things start to go down hill rather quickly!

In the original recipe the author posts pictures and comments about what to do if the caramel hardens…

20140717_150500

Of course mine did!! A giant clump of candy in a discoloured milky soup, mmmmm delicious!  Blah!

20140717_150553

I followed the disaster directions which basically said to bring back to the heat and stir until the clump dissolved, which it did.  We are optimistic once again!

20140717_150627

7. Stir in the remaining cream. Stir in the salt and optional butter. If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If needed, it can be rewarmed in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.  Makes 1 1/2 cups.

20140717_151020

This looks nothing like the original recipe (or any other that I looked at)

 

20140717_165417

It is grainy and gloopy,not runny at all.  IT was like lava, so we allow it to cool

 

20140717_165432

When it had cooled enough to taste, I grabbed to spoons and we dug right in.

As I am tasting mine I glance over at Amy, she was wincing in pure disgust! It was quite funny.  It was horrible!  This time it is not just me being hard on myself wanting it to be perfect, it was awful!  Amy agreed.  Amy made a good point, she said usually you can eat a dessert maybe a comment about it being too dry, not sweet enough, but this is disgusting and inedible! (something to that effect anyway)

It went directly into the garbage! Ewww

Thank goodness I bought the backup jar of sauce ;)


Oreo Cheesecake

July 21, 2014

20140717_140628

 

The weather has been fantastic for baking the past 2 weeks, low 20’s Celsius and no humidity!

On Thursday my cousin Amy came out to bake, I love having someone to bake with.  Our plan was to make 2 different cheesecakes and share them, we each picked a flavour.  We started with Amy’s selection, Oreo Cheesecake.  This is one I had been wanting to try for a very long time.  We went with the original base I always use and just added to it.

20140717_140518

We both commented on how we really don’t like Oreo’s, but liked them in things.  I would never buy a bag of Oreo’s just to eat, I find them very boring, but put them in something like, cheesecake or ice cream and they are great!    Well, to be fair I don’t buy any cookies, if I want a cookie I make them.

Oreo Cheesecake

 

Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust

1 1/4 cups Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tbsp sugar

Combine crumbs, sugar and melted butter and press into a spring-form pan.

Bake the crust at 350º F for approx 10 minutes.   Set aside to cool.

*** Now is a good time to waterproof your spring from pan for the water bath.

img_2518

This picture is from a previous cheesecake.  This time I bought heavy duty wide foil, leak proof!

I have made some small changes (not noted, somethings just have to be a secret) over the years to make it just right for me, but I still basically follow the recipe I got way back when I started with the Daring Bakers

 

Cheesecake:

I did not take pictures of the first part of the recipe, kind of forgot.  For step by step photos please see steps 4-7 here (sorry!)

3 sticks of cream cheese,  room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 bag Oreo Cookies
4 oz semi sweet chocolate

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF . Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. In a double boiler slowly melt chocolate – set aside to cool

img_2864

3. Before you start on the cheesecake batter prepare your Oreo Cookies.  We smashed them with a meat wacker in a large baggie. Careful, the teeth on the meat wacker (I am sure there is a better name for it?) will pierce the bag!

20140717_140722

4. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

5. Add the cooled chocolate and stir to combine

20140717_141004

20140717_141648

6. Stir in Oreo’s

20140717_141731

 

7. Pour into prepared spring form pan

20140717_141950

20140717_142033

8. Place in a large roasting pan and fill with boiling water 3/4 the way up the cheesecake pan

20140717_142239

9. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve

*****First time EVER mine cracked!!!!

20140718_142537

I was furious!  Amy was trying to tell me it was ok, but seriously I was angry!  Why would it crack It has never happened before.  I stuck a knife down the crack to see what was going on and it was like soup! Raw!  NOOOOOOO!  Now I really start to panic.  Is it ruined? Did we waste all those ingredients? God help me if this has to go in the garbage!

Started boiling the water again and back into the oven it went for another hour!  Not even sure if it was possible to recook, especially after it had cooled in the oven for over an hour, but at this point it was our only option!

At this point we abandon the second cheesecake as we just didn’t have time.  We were heading back to Amy’s for a lovely dinner with our families.  If we would have done the second cheesecake dinner would have been about 9pm.

Because we were so far behind, as soon as ‘we thought’ the cheesecake was done we turned it off and headed in to dinner.  It would cool down in the oven and be fine until i got back home.  I was still furious and worried that it was not going to turn out.

When I got home I took it out of the oven and did the knife test again, in the giant crevasse (still annoys me that it cracked!) it was firm but still not completely solid.  I put it in the fridge and would deal with it in the morning.

The day got busy and plans changed, I did not get to it until later in the evening.  I took it out of the spring form pan, strictly to see if it held it shape.  It did!

 

20140718_142911

I quickly put it back on and went to deliver it.  When I got there, I was going to leave the whole thing, but they insisted I take half.

I took the ring off again and started to cut it, praying that it was not a soupy centre…I must have looked very concerned, my Aunt and Uncle were laughing at me, saying it would be fine that I set my standards too high.  I said at this point my standards are “cooked!” As it was raw the first time.   I cautiously cut into it….

Success!

It was firm and cooked!

YAAAY!!

I completely forgot about pictures I was just so excited it turned out!  We all had a forkful and agreed it was a success! Whew!  What a relief, I would have gone crazy if I had to put that in the garbage!

When I got home I did remember to take a picture

20140718_193313

 

It was quite delicious.  I would make an Oreo Cheesecake again.  I was really impressed how the Oreo pieces stayed throughout the cheesecake, unlike the chocolate chip one I made where they all sank.

Despite the near disaster, I had a great day baking with Amy, we will have to do it again to do the second cheesecake….stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Cherry Pie

July 14, 2014

20140712_155603

 

Another pie, this is the 3rd in 3 weeks!  I know, I have went on and on, in the past, about how I hated making pies.  Since then I have learned how to make a good crust, that seems to work out every time!  Everyone else in my family loves pie so they are always eager to try something new.

20140712_155625

This time I wanted to make a cherry pie.  The cherries are amazing this year and I figured I would give it a try.  After buying and extra basket of cherries everyone told me, ‘you can’t make cherry pie with those cherries!’ What?!?! To me a cherry is a cherry, beyond the fresh ones at the market and the maraschino ones you get in the jar I really didn’t know there were more.  Apparently there are.  Rumor is that you can ONLY make a pie with sour cherries.  At this point I am a little flustered as I have no idea what I am going to do with all of these cherries!

When I got home I take to the web in search of some baking answers, “can you make a pie with sweet cherries?”  YES, YES you can!!! There were tones of recipes out there, also tones for the sour cherries.  I’ll show them!….I hope….

This one I did follow a recipe, with so many people rooting against me I figure I better follow something!

Sweet Cherry Pie

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Sweet cherries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3  cup caster sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoons cream
Your favourite pie dough

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425ºF

2. I never know how much fruit to use and many of my pie dishes are different sizes.  This is how I measure how many cherries to use.  This many!

20140714_074609

3. Thoroughly wash and dry cherries

20140714_074719

4. Using your favourite pie dough, roll out and prepare your crust (I forgot to get a picture of this step)

5. Stem and pit the cherries.  This was something I had never done before.  When I eat cherries I always just spit them in a cup (classy I know).  As there were so many of them I looked up different ways of going about it.  I was quite surprised to learn there is an actual cherry pitter! It’s quite the tool. As a gadget freak like myself I may look into it.  I settled on these 3, a knife, a piping tip and an orange peeler.  They made it look so easy.

20140714_075154

The piping tip seemed like the best option to me, made total sense.

Using a very small tip (I used #2) place tip up and insert into stem hole

20140714_075236

Press down until pit pops out the top…..Not quite! I felt the tip slip off

20140714_075303

Tried a bigger one #5

20140714_075400

Not much better

20140714_075428

On to Plan B – the end of an orange peeler.  Just dig it out

20140714_075637

It worked, but was very time consuming and messy

20140714_075647

Plan C – My idea, a knife.  I treated it like an avocado.

Slice around the edges

20140714_081410

Twist and pull apart

20140714_081430

Pick out the pit

Prefect!

20140714_081440

I thought I would be an hour doing this – with this method – max 15 minutes

20140714_081821

6. In a large bowl combine cherries, almond extract, lemon, salt, sugar and corn starch

20140714_085154

7. Pour into your prepared pie shell

20140714_085546

8. Create a vented top, lattice or other

9. Lightly beat egg and cream. Bush over the crust

20140714_090306

 

10. Bake at 400ºF for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350ºF continue baking until golden brown and centre is bubbling.

It’s far from pretty

20140714_154316

 

11. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting.  I am praying that the pie has set and I don’t end up with cherry soup!

20140714_154519

YAAAY!  No soup!

20140714_154653

Look at that!

20140714_154857

I would like to say YES you can make a pie with sweet cherries!  This pie was delicious!  I’ll be honest, I have nothing to compare it to because I have never had cherry pie but I can’t imagine it any better.

20140714_154956

The crust was rich and flaky and the filling was delightful.  Even though they were sweet cherries there was still quite a bit of tang, but not too much it was the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  The pie set perfectly, a slight run but not soupy.

I think I am getting the hang of this pie thing.  I may, and that is a big may be converted to a pie person.  I ate the entire piece!

20140714_155259

 

 

 


Squished Potatoes

July 12, 2014

20140706_181249

 

Hold on to your hats! This is not a desserts! It is a rare occasion that I post something that is not sweet, but in my defense my Mom made them.

I have seen photos of potatoes like these everywhere, Pinterest, Food Blogs, magazines, etc.  They looked delicious and easy, and in order for me to cook something it has to be easy or I don’t want it.  Weird, as I wold spend an entire day in the kitchen baking something…

The ‘new’ potatoes are starting to arrive on the market, you know the little wee ones with tones of dirt still on them.  My Mom, who is a big of a potato freak, gets very excited when they first arrive.  I was invited to my parents for dinner last week and when she said we were having little new potatoes I told her about this idea.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do love a good potato, but boiled potatoes are just boring!  Much to my surprise Mom loved the idea and we made a batch for dinner.  She was much less thrilled when I announced I would be taking pictures for a post, haha.  It slows things down and I make her stop and wait till i get the right picture.

I never read any of the recipes, just looked at the pictures, so we made this up as we went along.  I called them Smashed Potatoes.

Smashed Potatoes

very small potatoes, preferably new
toppings of your choice! We used bacon and Cheese

1. Wash your potatoes ensuring all dirt is removed

2. Boil potatoes until just cooked, don’t over cook

20140706_172928

3. Drain potatoes and place on a baking sheet

20140706_173033

4. With a potato masher, squish each potato to desired thickness

20140706_173238

5. Top with toppings of your choice.  The possibilities are endless! We used bacon and cheese.  You could use onions, BBQ sauces, spices, herbs, butters, different cheeses, WHAT EVER!

20140706_174007

20140706_174045

6. Bake in oven or broil until cheese is melted, or your toppings are done.

20140706_181244

20140706_181304

These were delicious!  It was like a cross between a potato skin and a loaded baked potato.  I can’t wait to make them again!

 


Scones

July 9, 2014

20140706_103815

 

Sometimes I need someone to remind me that more is not always better.   Usually when I make something I go for rich, decadent, ooey and gooey and over the top.  When my Mom asked me to make her scones I immediately asked “What kind?” With every attempt to persuade her into a flavoured scone, she still wanted plain!  Ok, Ok!  We all love the scones I have made in the past so I stuck with the recipe, I just omitted all the extras.

Scones

Adapted from

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Barefoot Contessa, Episode: Big Breakfast, from Food Network

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 extra-large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk or water, for egg wash

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Combine 4 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder and salt  in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

20140706_094444

3.Blend in the cold butter at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.

20140706_094856

20140706_095423

4. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add to the flour/butter mixture.

20140706_095556

5. Combine until just blended. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and be sure it is well combined.

20140706_100052

6. Flour your hands and separate into 3 discs (usually I do 2 discs, but I get complaints that they are too big!) and cut into triangles

20140706_100233

 

7. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment

20140706_100845

8.  Brush with egg wash and bake 20-30 minutes or until the edges are golden and the centres are done.

20140706_103221

20140706_104020

These were delicious!  I will admit, as much as I love having extras in my scones these were fantastic.  They were, dare I say, so flavourful! I could taste the buttery goodness.  The texture was amazing, a little lighter than the flavoured ones.

I usually don’t put anything on my scones, I like to enjoy the flavour that they are, but because these were plain I thought I would give it a try.

Butter – was a little too much as there is already 3/4 of a pound in the recipe!

20140706_104214

Jam – too sweet

20140706_104415

Honey – not a fan

20140706_104309

I still prefer to eat them plain and enjoy their natural flavour.  Thank you Mom for bringing me back to the basics.  I will be making these again!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers

%d bloggers like this: