Carrot Cake Cheesecake

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I am very behind on my posts, but I am back at it!  Let’s back up to Easter…yes that long ago.

This years Easter cheesecake I went with something I had seen before, but was very hesitant to try.  Carrot Cake Cheesecake combines both the cheesecake and real cake. It looked amazing but I was very nervous about how the 2 would bake together.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Cheesecake:

2 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

For the cheesecake

  1. In a medium bowl using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and flour until smooth.20160326_142440

    2. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix just until blended. Set aside.

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Carrot Cake:

3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound finely grated carrots (1 cup or so)

  1. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth.

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  2. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until the mixture is light creamy and light.

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    3. Stir in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt until just combined.

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  3. Mix in the carrots.

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5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
6. Lightly grease a 9- or 10-inch spring-form pan with cooking spray.
7. Spread half of the carrot cake batter into the bottom of the prepared pan.

**I did add a Graham Cracker crust, I can’t imagine a cheesecake without that crust!

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8. Dollop half of the cheesecake batter on top of the carrot cake layer in large spoonfuls. Don’t spread or swirl together. Just dollop.
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9. Dollop the rest of the carrot cake batter on and around the spoonfuls of cheesecake batter. Again, don’t spread it out. If the lumpiness is stressing you out.
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10. Spread the last half of the cheesecake batter on top of all the layers and spread with an offset spatula into an even layer. Tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to get rid of any air bubbles.
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**I baked mine in a water bath, as I usually do.  Bake yours as you wish
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11. Bake the cheesecake for 60-70 minutes (check earlier if using a 10-inch springform pan; it won’t bake as long as a 9-inch pan), tenting the top of the cheesecake with foil the last 20 -30 minutes of baking if it is browning too quickly. The cheesecake will puff a great deal in the oven thanks to the leavening in the carrot cake and it might even crack. That’s ok. It will settle after it cools and will be covered with frosting so the cracks won’t matter. Take care not to overbake the cheesecake or the carrot cake bottom and sides will be dry. It’s a fine balance between taking it out before it’s overbaked but not so early that the cake batter is still raw. Keep in mind that each oven can vary in temperature so watch closely as it gets to the 60 minute mark. The top center part of the cheesecake (just about a 2- or 3-inch diameter circle) should still be slightly soft and jiggly when you take it out.
Let the cheesecake cool completely on a wire rack in the pan.
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Cream Cheese Frosting:
**I did not use this Cream Cheese Frosting, I used my own

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sour cream

12. While it cools, make the frosting by whipping together the cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth. Mix in the powdered sugar a little at a time until the frosting is well-combined with no lumps. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix well.

13. When the cheesecake has cooled, spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Cover with tin foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled before serving. The cheesecake can be made up to two days in advance.

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Look at that!

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This cheesecake tastes every bit as good as it looked

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Huge success!  Everyone loved it!  I thought the cake part was a little under-cooked or too moist, it seemed a little wet.  Everyone disagreed.

It really tasted like a carrot cake.  All the spices came through.  The tang of the cream cheese blended perfectly. I am glad I added the Graham Crust layer, the crunch really gave a nice contracting texture.

I will definitely be making this again!

 

Thank you for sharing Mel, from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

 

 

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Eva’s Original Chimney’s

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Just take a moment and look at that….

Eva’s Chimneys, ever hear of them? Check out their website Eva’s Chimneys here

I had heard of them because I like to keep somewhat up to date on food trucks, I am enthralled by them! Canada is starting to jump on board with food trucks, but we have a long way to go.  There are no food trucks near where I live (besides the odd chip truck, which are also delightful!), so I have not had a chance to try much, but I ogle over them online as I inspire to get to them one day!

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I tend to plan trips around food, sad I know!  I was heading in to Toronto for an appointment, which I, conveniently, booked just before lunch.  To be honest, I really didn’t care about lunch, I was more concerned about dessert!  Just a few days before I found out that Eva’s Chimney’s were located just outside of Union Station for the entire summer, along with numerous other food venues as part of the Union Summer.

After my appointment and lunch we headed back to Union Station. We had a look around at all of the other food vendors and really regretted going to a restaurant for lunch.  There was a huge variety of delicious looking food.  I guess we will have to go back!

I got a little too excited and completely forgot to get pictures of the venue and all the deliciousness.

I went with the Dream Cone – Seen Above

– cone coated in cinnamon sugar
– coated with Nutella
– soft serve ice cream
– chocolate
– toffee bits
– more ice cream
– caramel drizzle
– chocolate drizzle
– 2 brownies- in the bottle so it does not leak, a Lindt truffle!

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The way the make them, you can just pull the ‘cone’ apart.  It comes apart in perfect ribbons.

 

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and the Lindt to hold in all in…

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I ate it all, minus 2 bites that I shared. Every bit of it was amazing!

The cone was light, and sturdy, but not too sweet at all.  In fact the whole thing wasn’t really that sweet.  Maybe the cone cut the sweetness? I was afraid it would get soggy as the ice cream melted (it was 35ºC), but it didn’t.

The crunch of the cinnamon sugar was a nice contrast to the soft dough and filling.

Every bite was amazing!

Mom and Dad shared one, they are not big dessert people.  They got the Eva’s Apple Pie

– cone
– soft serve ice cream
– home made apple pie filling
– more ice cream
– caramel drizzle
– Lindt Truffle

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Dad, who ate too much lunch only had a few bites but love it!

Mom, who really doesn’t eat dessert ate the rest!  She loved it! She also agreed that it was not sweet at all and quite light.  You don’t get that heavy, full feeling after eating one, and it is big!

We have been raving about Eva’s Chimney’s ever since and agree that we need to go back before Labour Day when the Food Vendors shut down.  Only this time, we will go for lunch and dessert!

To be perfectly honest, I would go to Toronto just for the cone!

Greek Appetizer

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Yesterday was our Annual Poker Run Party! Everyone brings an appetizer and we pick at them throughout the day.   I have my usual ‘go tos’, but I wanted to switch it up a bit.  I needed something that could be made a head, didn’t need to be heated and could please a crowd.  While searching Pinterest, I stumbled across this ‘A Crowd Favorite: Feta Dip’ from Clover Lane .  It looked Delicious!  I had to adapt it a tad as I could not find one of the ingredients and I really didn’t measure.

Greek Appetizer

Olive Oil
Tomatoes – seeded and diced
Green onion – thinly sliced
Feta – crumbled
Garlic, fresh
Oregano
Pepper

1. Select a tray for the amount you want to make.  Drizzle with olive oil.

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2. Add pepper, oregano and garlic

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3. Top with tomatoes, green onions, and feta

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 At this point there was a bit of a kerfuffle, unrelated to the dish, so I forgot to get pictures until it has half eaten! Trust me, it was a lot nice looking when it arrived.

4. Toss together and serve with a baguette or pita

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This was delicious!  Many people referred to it as bruschetta , It really was a crowd favourite. Everyone commented on how good it was and it was devoured!  This may be my new ‘go to’ app.   Thanks Sarah, from Clover Lane, for sharing this recipe.

 

Popcorn Cake

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It may not be pretty but it is delicious!  It was my birthday this past weekend and I made my request for Popcorn Cake.  Everyone asks me, “what kind of cake are you making for yourself?” NONE!  I would not have a cake if I had to make it for myself!  I love to bake and I would make anyone a cake, but I refuse to make my own birthday cake!  I often hear that people do not want to bake for me because I am bake.  So silly!  I don’t expect a big and wildly fancy cake, anything that anyone makes for me is wonderful!

I posted last years Birthday Popcorn Cake, but this year I was there for the making!  It was ridiculously humid on my birthday so Mom held off making the cake for as long as she could before family arrived.  If you are not from a humid climate let me tell you, popcorn and humidity do not mix well.  The moisture makes the popcorn very chewy, almost like gum.

Mom was not overly impressed that I wanted to take pictures but oh well, it’s my Birthday! haha

Mom’s Version of Popcorn Cake

*nothing is measured – hence why Mom does not bake!

Marshmallows
Butter
Popcorn
Mini Eggs

Directions

1. Put this much butter in a large pot and melt on low

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2. Pour this much marshmallows on top of the melted butter.  Melt on low, stirring occasionally

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3.  When marshmallows are almost melted, start popping popcorn. Mom popped 3 bags

Pour the popcorn in a medium bowl and pick though, making sure no kernels make it though to the big bowl

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4. Pour marshmallows over top

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5. Add Mini Eggs and stir

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6. Ditch the spoon and get your hands in there!  haha, Mom was struggling with the spoon, she buttered up her hands and started ‘mixing by hand’.  Though this is not suggested as the marshmallows are HOT!

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7. Press into a well greased bundt pan

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8. Wrap in and let set

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9. Enjoy the ‘extra’ that didn’t fit in the pan

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This is the best part! Just like when you are making Rice Krispy Squares, the warm marshmallows make it so gooey and delicious!  When it is warm it just seems so much sweeter! I like to sit down with the bowl and a fork…

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10. When the cake has set, turn it onto a cake tray.  It will probably stick, you will need to ease it out with something that will not scratch your bundt pan

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Slice with a serrated knife and enjoy!

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This was delicious! Mom did an awesome job, once again!  Thank you so much!

Cinnamon Raisin Beer Bread

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My first attempt at Beer Bread went so well, I decided to be adventurous!  I initially wanted to make cheddar, but I didn’t have cheese in the house.  After a short search through the baking cupboard I decided on Cinnamon Raisin!

When I say I was being adventurous, I mean it.  I never (very rarely) stray from a recipe.  I love how baking is such a precise science, follow a good recipe to a ‘tee’ and it will turn out.  I was a litte nervous about how it would turn out, but hoped for the best

 

Cinnamon Raisin Beer Bread

3 cups self rising flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 can beer
3 tbsp brown sugar + extra for sprinkling
1   tbsp cinnamon- divided
1 cup raisin
1/4 cup melted butter

Directions

1. Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar and 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

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2.  Add raisins

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3. Pour in beer

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4. Stir to combine.  Put half of the batter in a loaf pan

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5. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon

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6. Top with remaining dough and sprinkle more brown sugar and cinnamon

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7.  Top with melted butter – bake at 375º F for approximately 1 hour

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Fresh from the oven

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Success! My goodness this was delicious!

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I think I am onto something with this beer bread.  Next I plan to do one with cheese!  Give it a try, so easy and so tasty!

Top 10 of 2014!

It’s cliché, but it is hard to believe another year is over.  I’m happy to say I met my goal and did a lot more baking this year than last year.  This year I tried many new things.  There were some amazing results and some horrendous flops!  I like to post about them all, because not everything turns out and that’s ok, frustrating, but ok.

Here are what I think to be my best of 2014 as well as a few honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

I have 2 honorable mentions this year.  The first being, I was a judge at a Butter Tart Taste off!  It was an amazing day and I was so honored to be part of it.

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Second honorable mention is for my favourite cake this year.  I really liked how the Camera Cake turned out

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Here is a list of what I picked as my favourites of 2014

10.   S’mores Cups

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These little delights are so easy and very so tasty.  I first had S’mores Cups at the Relay for Life.  One of our team members brought them and I was hooked.  I searched the recipe and made them as soon as possible.  I am not a fan of real S’mores, but these are great!

9. Snickers Popcorn

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This is something I wasn’t entirely sure I would like.  Amy and I were having a baking day, cheesecake was our main delight of the day.  We needed something that didn’t need to be cooked for a family dessert.  Amy picked Snickers Popcorn. Unreal!  It was delicious, and so addicting!  I could not stop. 3 days later when the humidity had got to it I was still wolfing it into me. Excellent and will make again!  It always helps to have someone else to bring you out of your baking comfort zone.  I would have never tried this, but love it!  Thanks Amy!

8. Toffee Cheesecake

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This Toffee Cheesecake was made with the toffee candy I make, kinda like a Skor bar.  This was really good.  I’d definitely make this one again.

7.  Strawberry Pie

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I am starting to get the hang of this pie thing, my crust is improving.  This was my first Strawberry Pie.  It was good.  It got rave reviews from the pie fans of the family, and I admit, I liked it too.

6. OCC #6

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I have been slacking on my Oatmeal Cookie Challenge.  I have been searching for a very long time for ‘my favourite’ cookie. This Oatmeal Cookie is definitely in the running.  It has a great texture, holds its height and had great flavour. The best part? This recipe makes one cookie! Give it a try.

5. Cherry Pie

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This pie was amazing! Hard to believe 2 pies made the list this year.  I’d say this was the perfect Cherry Pie. Hope I can duplicated it next year.

4. Pumpkin Cake

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I am not normally a fan of pumpkin stuff but this Pumpkin Cake was good!  What made it was the cinnamon cream cheese icing. Amazing combination.  It was a huge hit at Thanksgiving.

3. Toffee Chocolate Bars

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These were amazing! I found these Toffee Chocolate Bars on Pinterest.  The picture caught my eye and I knew I had to make it.  They were a huge success.  I loved them.  The gooey middle layer was fantastic and I loved the sugary base.  Definitely worth a try.

2. Pecan Pie Cheesecake

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This Pecan Pie Cheesecake was by far the best Cheesecake I have ever made! The sweet pecan filling went perfect with the creamy cheesecake top.  This got rave reviews and topped everyone’s list as their favourite cheesecake.  You must try it!

1. Christmas Pudding with White Sauce

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Even though I just made this a few days ago, it was by far the best thing I made this year.  Not only was the Christmas Pudding absolutely delicious, but it brought back a family tradition that I can to carry on for many years to come.

I hope everyone had a great year and here’s to a wonderful 2015 filled with many delicious sweet treats!

 

Nana’s Christmas Pudding

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As far back as I can remember, when we had Christmas dinner at my Nana and Pop’s (Dad’s side) one of many desserts would be a Christmas Pudding with White Sauce.  Nana liked her sweets as much or more than I did, if that is even possible!   Dad said growing up they always had dessert and he always found out what dessert was going to be before he ate dinner, as it would determine how much dinner he ate. haha!

A normal dinner at Nana and Pop’s there would be at least one, maybe 2 different desserts, but come holiday time I would not be exaggerating to say there would be at least 5 different desserts.  When I say desserts I mean a full on fancy cake or something to that extent not like just cookies and squares, though they were there as well.  So, I do get my sweet tooth honestly.

Nana died 14 years ago and we have not had a Christmas Pudding since.  For the past 3 years or so I have bought all the ingredients to make the Pudding and then threw them out in about April.  I would get busy for one reason or another and I just didn’t get made.

This year I was determined! I was going to make the Pudding!

I didn’t tell anyone I was making it, especially Dad.  I wanted it to be a surprise for Christmas.

I got this recipe from my Aunt who got all Nana’s recipes.  I don’t know where Nana got it from, it was just typed on a page.

This will be one of the few recipes I just show through pictures.  This recipe is special to me and I want to keep it a family secret.

Nana’s Christmas Pudding

The Pudding is not at all difficult to make, just time consuming.  It is cooked with steam.  If you do not have a steamer, you need a large pot that your bowl will fit into.   I did not have a rack to keep the bowl out of the water, so I made a tinfoil raiser.

 

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I got these bowls from Nana ass well.  This is what she made her puddings in.

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Prepare the bowl with shortening and flour

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The only instructions were ‘combine all ingredients’ so that is what I did

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Cover with parchment and tie with string

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I accidentally deleted the pictures of the putting in the steaming pot.

7 hours later…

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I made it a week before Christmas, because that is when I had the time.  I wasn’t sure how it would last so I froze it for the week.  I have since learned these things last for EVER, so in the fridge would have been fine.

White Sauce

I know no other name for this sauce only that Nana called it White Sauce.  It is amazing, well how I remember it when Nana made it at least.  It has a texture and taste of nothing I have had before. To be honest, I could just use a spoon to eat it, forget the cake!

I started to take pictures then there was a quick change in our plans.  Half was made at home and half at Gramma and Poppa’s.  The part at Gramma and Poppa’s I forgot to take pictures

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Annnnnd complete! haha

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When I was finished making the white sauce I had to try it.  There is a picture of me when I was about 6 with the whole bowl of sauce and me with a big spoon full in my mouth, I was caught!  That is how good it is!!  I just hoped it was as good as I remembered.

It was PERFECT!  I nailed it! It tasted just like Nana’s! I was thrilled.  At this point if the Pudding didn’t turn out at least we had bowls of sauce.  Into the fridge for a few hours until dessert.

Now time to re steam the Pudding. Yes, back in the pot (which I forgot to take pictures of again!) for 2 hours to heat and moisten.

We are full of an amazing turkey dinner – Gramma outdid herself.

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18 pound turkey for 7 people = lots of leftovers for me!!

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Dessert time!

I am very nervous about getting the Pudding out of the bowl. Even though I prepared my bowl, I fear it will stick.

It worked! A huge sigh of relief.

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Now to put it all together.

Mom, Dad, Gramma and Poppa had eaten Nana’s Pudding all those years ago, so they new what it was going to be compared to.  That’s a high standard!

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Look at that! It looks perfect

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One word- WOW

This WAS Nana’s Pudding! I could hardly believe it. It was perfect!

The looks on Mom, Dad, Gramma and Poppa’s faces said it all.  They loved it and said it tasted EXACTLY like Nana’s.

The warm moist Pudding combine with the cold creamy White sauce was amazing!

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Not everyone likes Pudding, but we love it. I am so glad it worked and I will definitely be making it again.  Poppa said, ‘we won’t have to wait til next Christmas for another one will we?’  I guess that means he liked it.

Most importantly, I am glad Dad liked it.  A wonderful way to carry on his tradition and keep Nana’s spirit alive at Christmas.

I will admit, just like when I was little, I sat down with a bowl of sauce and a spoon 😉

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