Extremely Chocolatey Cheesecake

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Happy Easter!

We had our big family Easter dinner on Good Friday.  It is great to get family together over the holidays, I just wish everyone could have been there!  We had a wonderful dinner, not typical of an Easter dinner but delicious!  Mom cooked a huge pork loin and a large roast beef, both on the bbq.  She also made baked beans, broccoli cauliflower salad and coleslaw.  My aunts and uncles brought potato salad and macaroni salad, along with pickled beets and buns.  Everything was excellent, right down to the table set for 17!

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Another reason to love holiday meals with family is I get to bake!  This year Easter weekend fell on my Gramma’s birthday.  She requested lemon birthday cake, it turned out pretty good, you can see it here.  Now deciding on a cheesecake flavour! You would think everyone would get sick of cheesecake, but when asked it seems to still be the main request.  This time, I went with a simple flavour that I knew everyone would like (it is hard to please that many people with a flavour), chocolate.

I was feeling very confident in my cheesecake making, I have made quite a few and 99% have been successful.  I thought I would mix it up a little and try something different.  Aspects of  two different cheesecakes intrigued me.  I liked how The Brown Eyed Baker put cocoa powder in the base of her Chocolate Lover’s Cheesecake and how at Fine Cooking they whipped with melted chocolate right into the cream cheese at the beginning of the mixing process of their Extreme Chocolate Cheesecake.  They were both different as they used 4 eggs and no cream.  I incorporated all of these ideas into my Extremely Chocolatey Cheesecake!

 

Extremely Chocolatey Cheesecake

Filling

3 pkg cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
10 oz semi sweet chocolate
4 eggs
3/4 cup cream
1 tbsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Chocolate for shaving

Crust

1 1/4 cups Oreo Cookie crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp melted butter

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºC and start boiling water for your water bath

2. In a spring form pan combine cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter – press to form even crust

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3. Bake for 8 minutes and set aside to cool

Filling

1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and set aside to cool

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2. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder.  Whipping until smooth

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3. Slowly add the, room temperature, melted chocolate

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

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5. Add cream, vanilla and pinch of salt

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6. Cover spring form pan with parchment paper and heavy foil wrap to keep water out

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7. Place in a large roasting pan and fill half way up the sides of the spring form pan with the hot water

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8.  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.

** and this is when things went terribly wrong….

ACK!  It cracked! What the heck?!? my cheesecakes don’t crack!  I was furious and shocked all at the same time.  And this was DURING the cooking, not even on the cool down!

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It didn’t just crack, this is a crater of epic proportions.  Seemed like you could lose a Smart Car in there.

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At this point I need to turn to plan B.  I can not nicely shave chocolate around the edges and serve this!  Thankfully, I had some chocolate left over and had to resort to a chocolate ganache

As I cover the edges in Milk Chocolate Chips I start preparing the ganache…

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Ganache

3 1/2 oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tbsp light corn syrup
3 tbsp cream

1. Melt chocolate and corn syrup in a double boiler

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2. Add cream and stir until smooth – I am still flustered at this point and forgot some pictures of the completed ganache

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3. Pour over top of cheesecake to hide the massive cracks!

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Done! Not at all how I had envisioned it, but it looks ok.

I did fill a few people in on the ‘secret crater’, they only laughed at me.  I was seriously stressed wondering how it was going to taste!

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Thankfully, it was delicious!  It got rave reviews.  It was so rich and chocolatey, sinfully delicious.  Now, if I could only figure out what made it crack? The flavour was there, but the presentation was not!

Any suggestions as to what happened????

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Death by Chocolate

Happy Thanksgiving!!  I love Thanksgiving weekend.  Each year we have a big family meal with everyone who can attend, usually anywhere from 15 -25 people.  It is only about 3 times a year, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, where we are able to all get together, this year it is at Mom and Dad’s  and we all sit around a huge table, its wonderful!  I just love when we all sit down together.  This year I was asked to bring dessert.  I usually end up bringing some sort of cheesecake, but this year I wanted to do something different.  I did end up going with the traditional Pumpkin Pie, which is a standard with Thanksgiving, kinda like turkey and dressing(which we are not having!!!).  For the second dessert I went with Death by Chocolate.  It is a nice light dessert after a big meal.  Now when I say ‘light’ I mean oppose to a heavy cheesecake, not ‘light’ as in healthy (that would just be silly!).  This dessert is so easy and such a delicious treat.  It is a great item to take to a dinner or potluck.

Death By Chocolate

1 batch of your favourite Chocolate cake or Brownies
2 boxes of mousse or chocolate pudding
1 tub of Cool Whip
4 Skor Bars
Caramel sauce (optional)

Directions

1. Prepare cake or brownies according to package or use your own recipe.  Allow cake to cool and cut into cubes

2. Prepare Mousse or Pudding according to package.  If you are really ambitious you could make it from scratch!

3. Chop Skor bars into small pieces

4. Thaw Cool Whip.  Again, if you were ambitious you could make your own whipped cream

5.  Begin layering all ingredients – there is not a specific order to follow. Just go with it.

Cake

Mousse and Skor

Half the Cool Whip and Caramel Sauce

Remainder of Mousse, Skor and Caramel Sauce

Remainder of the cake and Cool Whip, top with Skor

Delicious!

This was a huge hit! There was only 2 servings left.  This is a nice ‘light’ dessert after a big meal.  The mousse and Cool Whip really complement the rich chocolate cake and Skor. Highly recommend this one!

German Chocolate Cake

Up until a few years ago I had never heard of German Chocolate Cake.  I think the first time I saw one was on the Food Network, I believe it was Bobby Fley’s Throwdown.  I knew, right then, it was something I was going to have to make.  If you will notice, it is #1 on my “Bucket List of Baking”.  Over the past few years I have done much research on this cake.  At first I thought that the Germans must have been some pretty spectacular people to come up with a dessert like this!  Chocolate, coconut, walnuts need I say more?  As I researched I found out it was not the Germans at all!  It was an American, Sam German, who created a brand of dark baking chocolate that was used for the cake.  Now a days very few recipes actually call for the German’s Chocolate (I didn’t use it).  It is more the process and final outcome that we refer to as German Chocolate Cake.  Quite frankly, I don’t care who created it, or what it is called, all I know is that it is FABULOUS!!

This Easter I decided I was going to make it for dessert. For those crazy coconut haters (I know eh, who doesn’t like coconut?) and someone with an allergy (who knew?) I made an apple crisp.  That is the last you will hear of the apple crisp, it was very dull and boring compared to this wonderful German Chocolate Cake!

While researching the cake I found literally thousands of recipes!  Which one do I choose? I mixed and matched a few to come up with my own version.

German Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

For the Chocolate cake I used the recipe I have perfected.  I used the cake recipe from The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, with a few tweaks that I choose not to share (can’t give away all my secrets;)). Please check it out it is a fabulous chocolate cake!!

Follow Chocolate Cake recipe from my previous post here or use your favourite chocolate cake recipe.  Just make sure the recipe is big enough to have 3 layers.

Frosting

This is where I had the most difficulty, there were several different recipes.  The big difference in them was the use of evaporated milk, cream, whipping cream or sweetened condensed milk.  After much debate I went with the sweetened condensed milk version, because really, it has Eagle Brand Milk in it, it has to be good!

I am a firm believer in saving where you can, but with somethings you just have to go with the Brand name, simply put, it is just better.  When ever sweetened condensed milk is called for I ONLY use Eagel Brand Milk.  Honestly I could eat it right from the can!

COCONUT PECAN FROSTING

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups Sweetened Coconut Flakes
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

1. Stir together sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and butter in a medium saucepan.

2. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. (This took approx 40 minutes of constant stirring.  Next time I would not take it as far, it stiffened up a little too much when cooled)

3. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, coconut and pecans.

I could not resist tasting it while it was still warm. OMG! Delicious! It was one of those moments when you stop chewing and close your eyes because you think it was the best thing you have ever eaten.  This would be good on a lot of desserts, I can definitely see adding this to a few creations. Enough of that tangent on with the cake…

4. Cool to room temperature.

Assembly

1. Place your first layer of chocolate cake on your cake plate and top with approx 2/3 cup of coconut pecan frosting.  Mine was a little thick, had to pull it apart with 2 forks.

2. Repeat with the next 2 layers, spreading remaning frosting on top layer

Look at that!!!

As delicious as it looks, to me, it just doesn’t look finished, something else is needed! If you look at most German Chocolate Cake recipes they do not have a chocolate frosting on them.  It will usually just have the coconut pecan frosting between they layers and on top, occasionally you will see it around the outside as well.  I had to take it a step further and add a delicious chocolate frosting to the outside.

That looks better!

It is a thing of beauty!

A few pecans to spruce it up a little

I have had a lot of cake in my day but this, by far, was the best!  The chocolate cake was moist and fudgy.  The pecan coconut frosting was sweet and had a nice texture, you didn’t really taste the nuts just the coconut.  The chocolate frosting, probably the best I have ever had.  The 3 aspects together were spectacular!!! Normally I can pick apart most things I make saying I would do this and that different next time, not this one, it was perfect!  It was well worth the wait and lived up to every expectation I had.  Definitely will be making this again.  I think I will even make German Chocolate Cupcakes! I hope everyone at Easter dinner enjoyed it as much as I did 🙂

I must also mention the delicious dinner Mom made for Easter.  She outdid herself once again.  The entire dinner was cooked out on the bbq’s.  We had roast beef, ham with pineapples and sweet sauce, corn, beans, veggie casserole, coleslaw and buns. Was delicious!

Even re-heated the apple crisp on the bbq

There was 20 of us and we all sat down at the table to enjoy a wonderful Easter Dinner.  Thanks Mom!

My Top 10 of 2011!

Wow! Where did 2011 go?  Seems as I get older the years just fly by.  This year  I did a lot of baking, most were good, some were amazing and a few were total flops!  There were some  new recipes and others were tried and true favourites.  The Daring Bakers took me way out of my comfort zone as I was truly dared with some amazing recipes.  As for the “flops” I posted them too, not everything can turn out well.  I thought I would end the year with a “top 10” list of my favourite recipes of the year.

 10. Perogi Day

Perogi Day was a day I will never forget! Mom, Etta, Jen and myself were at it for almost 12 hours.  We made 9 different flavours, used 25 pounds of potatoes, 7 tubs of sour cream, almost 2 bags of flour and a lot of bacon, cheese and onions.  We ended up with, get ready for it……471 perogies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They were delicious, not sure I will be able to go back to the frozen ones from the store.  It was a great day and the results were amazing! We all agreed that we would definitely do it again, just not anytime soon…

9.  Apple Sauce Muffins

These Apple Sauce Muffins were something I stumbled across when visiting Gramma one afternoon.  They were hot and fresh and delicious!  You can’t really taste the apple sauce, they are a little bit sweet and have an amazing texture.  I think I have made them at least 6 times since then.  A wonderful recipe with simple ingredients, Thanks Gramma! 🙂

8.  Baklava

This one was special for me.  I was asked to be the host of the June Daring Bakers Challenge!  Being host meant that I was able to pick any recipe and have all the members make their variations. I had always said, way back when I joined, that if I ever got the chance to host I was going to pick Baklava.  It was amazing to see the different variety of baklava that were made.  I was a little daring (mean) and had everyone make their own phyllo dough.  Some people enjoyed the process, a lot did not, but all in all it was a wonderful experience.  It was a true honour to be picked to be the June 2011 host.  My baklava was delicious.  I will definitely be making it again but, like many other members, I will probably use pre-made phyllo!

7.  Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow was new for me, I had never even heard of it.  Jen had come over to do some Christmas baking and she brought all the ingredients for Puppy Chow…hmmm.  I was pleasantly surprised!  Unlike the name this is a wonderful treat!!!  Very simple, cereal, chocolate, butter, peanut butter and icing sugar.  It is very addicting!  It was a great gift to give away in little Christmas sacks.  Thanks Jen for a great recipe that I will be using for many years to come.  I may have to come up with a more appealing name….

6. Cupcakes, Cupcakes and more Cupcakes!

This was a scary one! Making 130 cupcakes for Kris and Selena’s Wedding!  I had never done anything like this before.  I mean I had made cupcakes but never 130 in one day!  I was a nervous wreck, as I think the wedding cakes is a huge deal.  Sadly it’s the food aspects that people remember more at a wedding then the actual ceremony.  I thought if they don’t turn out I’d have people thinking “god, their cake was horrible”.  Thank goodness everything went smoothly and the cupcakes were a hit!  So much so that there was not near enough 😦 If there is a next time, I will know people will eat more than one! Thanks Kris and Selena!

5. Bachlorette Cake

When Coralee asked me to make Chrissy’s Bachlorette Party cake I was thrilled!  I had just recently taken the Wilton Fondant course and figured this would be the perfect opportunity to give my new skills a try.  For my first try at creating a formed fondant covered cake, I think it turned out pretty good.  I hope to make more in the future.  Unfortunately I fell ill that night and was unable to make the party, so I didn’t get to try it.  Hope it was good!

4. Wedding CakeS!

No, I did not make a typo in the title I meant for the ‘S’ to be big!  This was by far my biggest baking event ever, let alone in 2011.  I was asked to make the cakes for Jen and Martin’s Wedding.  At first I was terrified and think I even tried to talk her out of it, as I mentioned above, the wedding cake is a huge deal!  When I calmed down I was truly honoured and accepted the challenge.  Jen had a wonderful idea of having a cake on each table.  The cake would then be “the wedding cake”, centre piece and dessert.  It really was a good idea.  It was a ton of work but I enjoyed every minute of it and would do it again in a heart beat!  Thanks Jen!!

3. Povitica

This recipe was from the October Daring Bakers Challenge hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk.  She introduced me to something I had never heard of.  Povitica?? I could barely say it let alone make it.  As it was a bread recipe I was very hesitant in even trying it, bread and I do not get along well.  I was pleasantly surprised, it was an amazing dough and so versatile.  I was able to make both savory and sweet loaves out of the recipe.  They were delicious!! This one rang in on my top 3!  I will be making this a lot more in years to come.  Thank you Jenni!!

2. Whoopie Pies!

I was a little late jumping on the Whoopie Pie ban wagon.  Not sure what rock I had been living under but I just heard about these in July.  Apparently they were quite the craze a while ago.  There is even a “Whoopie Pie War” with two States as they both say they are the founder of the Whoopie Pie.  Well, I don’t care who came up with the idea, I’m just glad they did!!  These are little pieces of heaven!  Surprisingly they are not sweet, they have a lovely light texture and a wonderful marshmallow filling.  I have only made the “Classic Whoopie” but I have a book and plan on making many different kinds.  What a wonderful find!

Drum roooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllll…………………….

1. Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

Without question this was my favourite recipe of the year!  I mean look at at…it’s not only the best tasting dessert bar ever, it’s also a thing of beauty!  This recipe was not even intended for me, haha.  When Jen came over to do some Christmas baking, it was for her to take to her baking exchange.  I had one bite and almost had to sit down.  It is one of those treats that after your first bite you have to stop before you start chewing and your eyes grow twice their normal size as you cant believe this piece of magic in your mouth.  It then turns into an eyes closed slow chew as you take in all the textures and tastes, and then it hits you…the salt!  Your taste buds jump into high gear.  It is like no other dessert experience I have ever had.  Don’t believe me, Try them!!!  Thank you Jen for my FAVOURITE treat of the year!  This recipe will remain at the front of my recipe book to be made time and time again!

I would like to thank my many followers for stopping by throughout the year to see whats up in my kitchen. When I first started this whole blogging thing, I really didn’t think anyone other then family would read.  I was shocked and so happy to see when I had over 20,000 hits!

Thanks again and Happy New Year!  Please come back to see what’s baking in 2012

Salted Caramel Chocoate Shortbread Bars

First off, I must start by introducing a guest baker!  This evening I had the pleasure of baking with Jen, I think she likes baking and baking blogs almost as much as me!  The next three posts were recipes she chose (and wow were they wonderful!).  One was for a baking exchange she was going to (that group is extremely lucky to be getting the Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bar), the other two recipes, chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies and Puppy chow, well… they were just to make and enjoy!

The first recipe of the day was the Salted Caramel Shortbread Bar, (another wonderful item from Annie’s Eats) the name is pretty self explanatory but does not do any justice to the dessert.  After tasting it, I think it deserves a much more exciting name!   I love the taste of salt and sweet together, they complement each other so well.  I have had chocolate covered pretzels, trail mixes with nuts and chocolate but I had never made a dessert where salt was the star ingredient.  To be honest I was a little leary of trying them, not really sure why as I love the flavour combination.  When I heard of what Jen picked for her exchange I was quite intrigued and when she sent the recipe entitled “deliciousness” I nearly drowned in drool.  It looked amazing!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

For the shortbread layer:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.

2. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  We would recommend bringing the parchment paper right up the sides of your dish, as it was a bit of a challenge getting the first section out)

3. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork to blend, and set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended, about 1-2 minutes.

5.  With the mixer on low-speed blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.

6. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press in an even layer over the bottom of the pan.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden.  (If the crust puffs up a bit while baking, just gently press it down while it is cooling.)  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the caramel layer:

This layer seems to be quite time-consuming and labor intensive (Even with taking turns stirring, I got 2, yes 2 blisters from stirring it for so long!) So, start this as soon as the shortbread is out of the oven.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

1. Combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

2. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring constantly.  Continue simmering and stirring until the mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly.

3. Pour the mixture over the shortbread layer, smooth the top, and allow to cool completely and set.  (I chilled at this stage to ensure that the caramel layer would not melt when the warm chocolate was added.)

For the chocolate layer:
8 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Fleur de sel or sea salt, for sprinkling


Directions:

1. Combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. (Somehow I missed getting photos of this step)

2. Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.

3. Allow to cool for a minute or two and then sprinkle with fleur de sel.

4. Chill, covered, until ready to slice and serve.

Just look at that! It is a thing of beauty! But not only does it look amazing it tastes even better!  The combination of the sweet and the salt on top is delicious.  The shortbread had a lovely texture, strong enough to hold the square but was mild enough not to over power the treat.  The caramel layer was so smooth and creamy yet firm enough to hold up. The chocolate layer with salt was the finishing touch.  There was just the right amount of sweet and salt.  Upon taking a bite my mouth just came alive!  The salt and sweet made my taste buds jump, even after eating it you could still taste the salt finish.  WOW!!

We figured that one tray would not be enough for 5 dozen so we ended up making two trays of this, which meant I got to keep some 🙂 This is a definite keeper, I can see making this many more times. I hope the baking exchange group enjoys!

I had such a great time baking, especially with someone who shares my passion.  Hopefully there will be more additions to the”Guest Baker”.  Thanks Jen!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

These delights were the third recipe of the day.  We started off with just making one thing and it snowballed from there, it was GREAT!   This recipe is from a wonderful food blog Jen introduced me to, Annie’s Eats.  She has a huge selection of fabulous looked deserts most of which I would love to try, and just may very well do!

When Jen suggested these I promptly went to the computer to check them out.  I was sold by the photo alone!!  I mean really, a chocolate cookie with huge chunks of peanut butter cups, how could you go wrong?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. coarse salt
¾ stick (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. milk
2 cups coarsely chopped peanut butter cups, divided*
*Note: it was suggested to freeze the peanut butter cups for at least 30 minutes before chopping.  It makes them easier to unwrap, easier to cut, and helps them stay intact while you mix them into the dough.

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

2. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, peanut butter, and sugars.

5. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.  Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk.  Blend until smooth.

6. With the mixer on low-speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.

7. Add in 1½ cups of the chopped peanut butter cups and fold in gently with a spatula.

8. Use a large dough scoop (we used a tablespoon and over filled it, it was recommended to use a 3 tablespoon scoop, but that seemed too big) to drop rounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing 2-3 inches apart.  Gently press a few pieces of the reserved peanut butter cups into the top of each of the dough balls.

9. Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  (The cookies may seem too soft immediately after coming out of the oven but they will set as they cool.  You don’t want to over bake them.)  Let cool on the baking sheets about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container

These were quite good! I loved the hint of peanut butter right in the cookie as well ask the chunks of peanut putter cups.  As good as they were, I was not fussy about the texture, kind of chewy (not in a good way).  I will just have to make them again (that’s a shame I know! lol) to play with the texture.

Puppy Chow

No, I have not lost my mind entirely and bought a dog!  I’m talking about Human Puppy Chow.  I am sure you are thinking the same thing I was, ewwwww!  When Jen first told me she thought we should make Puppy Chow I was less than impressed, then she started listing off the ingredients.  With each item it sounded better and better.  I slowly started to lose the image of smelly chewy dog food.

This was one for the many things we made on our baking day.  It comes together so quick and easy, a perfect thing to make as we were waiting for another recipe to finish in the oven.

Puppy Chow

9 cups Chex or Chrispix Cereal

1 cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

1/2 cup Peanut butter

1/4 cup Butter

1 tsp Vanilla

1 1/2 cups Icing Sugar

Directions: 

1. In a large bowl (bigger the better, If you have a large plastic bowl with a lid it will save you time later) measure your cereal and set aside

2. In a double boiler melt chocolate, peanut butter and butter

3. Stir in vanilla and pour over cereal, stir

*Photos are so much easier with anothe baker 🙂

4. Add icing sugar, place lid on and SHAKE! (if you don’t have a big bowl with a lid, now you will need to transfer to large freezer bags to shake.

5. Spread out on a parchment lined cookie sheet to cool

6. Store in an air tight container (recipe says in the fridge, not sure why.  I just stored mine on the counter)

This was delicious!  The crunch of the cereal was not compromised in any way by the hot mixture.  Each bite was very crunchy and quite tasty.  You just get a hint of peanut butter and the sweetness of the icing sugar.  This was a definite hit.  I can see making this again in the future.  Not too often though as I could not stop eating it!!!!

Thanks Jen!

*later in the evening as I was snacking on the puppy chow we were thinking of other varieties.  Thought about replacing the peanut butter with Fluff and adding some grahm crumbs to the icing sugar.  Almost like a smores mix!

Daring Bakers make Sans Rival

I love it when the Daring host challenges us with something I have never heard of.  It is a little intimidating  not having any idea what to expect, but also very exciting to try something new.   The challenge this month  was presented to us as a Filipino dessert.   To my knowledge, I have not had anything Filipino  so I was excited for this challenge!

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

Sans Rival:

Ingredients
10 large egg whites, room temp
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa (optional and not traditional)
2 cups  chopped, toasted cashews

Directions:
Note: You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.

1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.

2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.

3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.). Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high-speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)  For some reason I forgot to take pictures of all this 😦

I added the cocoa powder when I had soft peaks

4. Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.

(Note the more finely ground for folding into meringue. The coarsely ground for is decoration of finished cake.)

5. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.  **I wanted to make a different shape so I just piped my batter on parchment paper**

6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.

7. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Butter Cream


Ingredients
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1¼ cup (300 ml) (2½ sticks) (285 gm) (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
Optional Flavorings: 2 oz (55 gm) unsweetened chocolate, melted, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) almond extract, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) vanilla extract, or any flavor you like

Directions:

1. Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high-speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.


2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235°F/112°C (or thread stage).

3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins). Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time. Add flavoring after you beat in the butter. Refrigerate the butter cream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.

I melted the chocolate in a double boiler and added it to the frosting.  It seemed quite dull, not very chocolatly at all.

I ended up melting 4 more oz of chocolate and added it.  Turned out much better

Assembly:

Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a
thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of
buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and
sides. Decorate with reserved nuts.

This desert was delicious!  Everyone loved it! I have already had requests for a repeat!  A few things went wrong, mine was not “crispy” it was fairly chewy, but I have to say I loved the chewy texture.  Next time I would put it in the fridge before cutting because it does not look very nice, but to be quite honest we couldn’t wait to try it.  The texture of this cake was amazing.  Mine was chewy, yet had the crunch from the chopped nuts.  The frosting was to die for,so silky and buttery.

Thank you Catherine for such a wonderful challenge and introducing me to Sans Rival!

Red Velvet Cake

I have only recently learned about red velvet cake, maybe about 3 years ago.  It really intrigued me, a beautiful red cake with white icing.  It was immediately added to my Bucket List of Baking.  This year at Thanksgiving I thought I would give it a try.  The trick was to find a good recipe because I had never had one or knew of anyone that had made one.  I search and searched and finally chose this one…

Easy Red Velvet Cake

Yield: 3 cake layers

3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Butter and flour the 3 cake pans and line bottoms with parchment.

3. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

4. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended.

5. Beat in eggs one at a time.

6. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Next time I would use more colour, I didn’t think it was red enough

7. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

8 . Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

9. Divide batter among pans.

10. Place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese , softened
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar (about 2 lbs.)
  • 1 tablespoon milk

In large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar and milk. Beat on high until smooth (30 – 60 seconds). If icing seems too thin, add confectioners’ sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. If it seems too thick, add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time until icing reaches desired consistency.

I wanted to leave it like this but it didn’t seem red enough so I decided to cover the whole thing

**NOTE**

Take the cake out of the fridge a few hours before you eat it!  I did not because I thought the cream cheese icing should remain in the fridge.  I was dead wrong!!!  when the cake was cold it was totally flavourless and a crumbly mess!  The next day we took it out before we started eating dinner and it was perfect for dessert, not crumbly and had much more flavour.

The cake was ok.  I will be on the hunt for another recipe  to make in the future.  I don’t think I will make this one again.  So if anyone has a Fantastic Red Velvet Cake Recipe PLEASE let me know!

Chocolate Cheesecake

This week Mom was having company for dinner and asked if I would make her a cheesecake.  Her only request was that it be a chocolate base and after that I had free range of flavours.

I knew for sure that I would be using my go to base cheesecake recipe Abby’s Infamous Cheesecake, a recipe I used in a Daring Baker’s Challenge.

Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust

2 1/2 cups Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted

    Combine crumbs and melted butter and press into a spring-form pan, I like to bring it up the sides a ways.  If you only like crust on the bottom of our Cheesecake only use 1 1/4 cup of crumbs and 1/4 cup of butter

    Bake the crust at 350 degrees for approx 10 minutes.  Cool.

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

    I have found that just because foil is just not wide enough and I can’t seem to fold 2 pieces well enough to make it seal, I like to put a layer of parchment paper on first. Then the foil.  This keeps the water out every time!

    I added a few pecan pieces on the bottom

    Cheesecake:

    3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
    1 cup / 210 g sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
    1 tbsp. lemon juice (When using chocolate I omit)
    1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
    8 oz of Semi sweet Chocolate

      DIRECTIONS:
      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

      2. Using a double boiler melt the chocolate and set aside to cool.

      3. 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.

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

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

      6. Add the cooled chocolate and stir

      7. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.

      8. 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.

      Final touches were Chocolate butter cream rosettes, a caramel drizzle and a rim of pecan pieces.

      Another Cheesecake success.  A lot of people don’t make cheesecake because they thing it’s too difficult.  They could not be more wrong.  Cheesecake is a simple dessert give it a try.  But when people tell you how good it is that is when you can tell them how you slaved over it in the kitchen ALL DAY! lol