When I was at the grocery store last week, I spied the first eggnog of the season. It still seems a little early to me, but since everyone now also has out all their Christmas decorations, it must be time to begin! I’ve been bouncing different cheesecake ideas in my head, and this was the idea my husband liked the most. The great thing about a cheesecake is that it’s basically a blank canvas, and you can add whatever flavor you like. Right now I have a list of about 10 that I want to experiment with. I’m pretty sure I won’t get them all done any time soon!
I love the idea of a slightly spiced cheesecake. Eggnog is something most people love or hate, but I think that has a lot to do with texture. If you’re not into drinking heavy cream, you’re not going to like it, no matter the flavor. Cheesecake is a pretty heavy dessert, so everything matches perfectly. I used a store bought ginger snap cookie for the crust. Because I made cupcake sized cheesecakes, I had to use a biscuit cutter to size the cookies to fit in the pan. Next time I might try a snickerdoodle, just because they’re softer to start. The gingersnaps softened up with the cake, but they were a pain to cut. I had to use my rolling pin to hammer the biscuit cutter!
Eggnog Mini Cheesecakes with a Gingersnap Crust
3 x 8oz cream cheese
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. eggnog
Fill two cupcake tins with liners and place a cookie in each opening. You may have to cut down cookies to size using a small biscuit cutter.
Mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg.
Add vanilla and eggnog and mix until smooth.
Fill each cupcake opening 3/4 full
Place in a 425º oven for 5 minutes, and then lower the heat to 250º and continue baking for 15 more minutes
When the baking time is finished, turn off the oven and open the oven door, and leave the cheesecakes in the oven for an hour.
Place the cheesecakes to chill in the fridge. Serve with whipped cream and grated nutmeg
I’ve written about Nanaimo Bars before, but it’s been a while, and I thought I could tweak the recipe a little for the holiday season. Am I the only one who has trouble believing that it’s already November?
So, now that the holidays are upon us, it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes. I decided to go with a pumpkin Nanaimo bar because I had never seen one before, and I love to find uses for the instant pumpkin pudding that’s available this time of year. Pumpkin flavor fits this dessert perfectly. If you haven’t tried the original recipe for some crazy reason, make sure to try this one!
Just a word of warning about the pudding powder, here in San Antonio you can only buy it at WalMart. I’m not sure if that’s the same everywhere though. Do me a favor, if you live somewhere else, let me know if you see the Jello brand pumpkin pudding at any other grocery store. Another heads up, pumpkin pudding is only available from October until December.
If you looked at the picture and thought how amazing my skills have gotten recently, don’t be too jealous, Candice and I had another food photo shoot last week. Basically I made a bunch of food and held the reflector while she made everything look amazing! I’m hoping she does a couple of tutorials with this, because she had some pretty genius ideas for putting it together.
I have two more shots from her that I’ll post over the next couple of weeks. Trust me, you’re going to want to come back and see these pictures, and try the recipes!
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
3/4 c. coconut
1/2 c. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. instant pumpkin pudding mix powder
2 1/4 c. icing sugar
1 1/4 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. butter
Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in a heavy saucepan.
Add the egg. Stir to cook and thicken. Remove the pan from heat.
Stir in crumbs and coconut and press into a 9×9 ungreased pan.
In a separate bowl, beat together milk, custard powder and powdered sugar until light and creamy.
Spread over graham crumb layer.
Place pan in freezer while making the top layer.
Melt chocolate chips and butter together over low heat, or in the microwave. Cool for about ten minutes.
Pour chocolate over the frosting layer and spread to cover the entire pan.
So, the question is, how much citrus deliciousness can you handle? Usually I think anything with fruit is an affront to the very idea of dessert, but I have made an exception today. This is the dessert that puts the pound cake and the grapefruit chantilly together. Right now you’re probably thinking, big deal, cake and a frozen cream dessert… yawn! You have to have faith is how amazing this is!
To put this whole thing together, you have your lemon pound cake and your grapefruit chantilly. While the chantilly is in the freezer you melt some butter in your cast iron skillet. Place slices of pound cake into the hot pan and let it get nice and toasty. Ideally it will be warm, buttery and slightly crisp around the edges. Serve it with a scoop of the chantilly. I cannot adequately describe how amazing grilled pound cake is, but I can say that grilled pound cake is made even better paired with grapefruit chantilly.
Please, please make this and then come back and tell me how much you love it. You can also tell me if you don’t love it, but I’m pretty positive you’re going to love it!
This is the second part of the citrus dessert that I put together based on my experience at Bin 555. This isn’t an exact copy, but I just wanted a delicious mix of citrus flavors, and this was how I incorporated. This is actually a version of a recipe that my mom used to make when we were having company. She would make with orange, and serve it with warm chocolate sauce.
I decided to try this with grapefruit because I love the smell of grapefruit. It always makes me feel energized and happy. What better way to end a meal?!
This is a great make ahead dessert since everything needs to chill in the freezer. In fact, you need to make this ahead of time. The meringue needs lots of time in the oven, plus the whole thing needs time in the freezer. Make it a day or two before your dinner party, and you’ll have one less stress the day of. If you keep cream in your fridge, you can go make this right now. Go ahead, you’ll thank me!
So here’s the general idea, a meringue mixed with whipped cream and then put in the freezer. It’s like a frozen crunchy ice cream. The texture is amazing.
Come back tomorrow and you can see how I put it all together!
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. grapefruit zest
1 tsp. grapefruit juice
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. grapefruit zest
1 tsp grapefruit juice
Pre-heat oven to 350º.
Beat egg whites until foamy.
Mix the 2 tsp. of zest in with the sugar.
Add 2/3 c. sugar gradually, while continuing to beat the egg whites.
Add grapefruit juice and mix.
Place meringue mixture on a lined cookie sheet.
Place cookie sheet in the pre-heated oven and then turn the oven off. Leave in the oven for at least 2 hours.
For the cream, whip heavy cream along with the 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp of zest, and 1 tsp. of juice.
Beat until you have stiff peaks.
When the meringue is done and cool, break it into mite sized pieces.
Fold the meringue into the whipped cream.
Place in the freezer for at least two hours.
Scoop out and serve with raspberry or chocolate sauce.
A few weeks ago, Doug and I went for dinner at Bin 555 for restaurant week here in San Antonio. I think the best part of the meal was the citrus dessert. As soon as I tried it I knew I wanted to create my own version for you guys. I’ll post the completed dessert next week, but today I’m starting with phase one: the lemon pound cake.
This recipe is a variation of a recipe that came in one of the free Cook’s Illustrated mailers (you know, the mini versions of Cook’s Illustrated that you get in the mail). They have a few recipes and hints and try to tempt you to subscribe to the magazine. I’m a huge fan of Cook’s Illustrated. They’re like the Consumers Digest of food magazines. There is no advertising, and they give the best explanations. My friend, Amy F. is the one who introduced me to the greatness of the America’s Test Kitchen (definitely check I them out on PBS), and Cook’s Illustrated is part of that whole family.
I first made this recipe for a meal that I brought to Amy F. when she had a baby, which means that I’ve been making it for about 8 years. I love a good pound cake, and this is one of my favorites! The thing that makes this cake is the lemon glaze and how it’s applied.
Try this and let me know what you think. I know it seems like this recipe has a ton of steps, but trust me, it’s worth it!
p.s. If any of you have any connections with the ATK, hook me up! I want to go on a tour in Vermont!
p.p.s. ATK had nothing to do with this post, I just love them!
Lemon Pound Cake
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
Melt butter and whisk to make sure nothing is separated.
In a food processor, combine sugar and the zest from two of the lemons.
Add eggs, vanilla and the juice from two lemons to the sugar mixture, and mix until combined.
With the food processor on, add the melted butter.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until everything is thoroughly combined and fluffy.
Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. This is an extremely thick batter.
Put batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350º for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 325º for 35 minutes.
Cool cake for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan.
To make the glaze, while the cake is baking, bring the 1/2 c. sugar and 1/4 c. lemon juice to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened (2 or 3 minutes).
Use a bamboo skewer to poke holes all around the cake, and then bush the glaze on the cake while it’s still warm.
When my mom was here helping out with the baby she told me about a dessert that they had at the Cabot Links resort. She said that she thought it was the most expensive dessert that she had ever ordered (I think she might be forgetting the flaming desserts in San Diego!). She said the squares were similar to others that she tried, but what made these stand out is that they were flecked in real gold! I haven’t tried the Cabot Links dessert; I’m just using my imagination based on the menu description!
You might be asking yourself who in their right mind would add real gold to a dessert … well, let me introduce myself. My name is Sarah, and I happen to possess some edible gold leaf, because that’s just how I roll! Sur la Table had edible gold leaf in their clearance bin ages ago, and I knew I would eventually find a use for it. (Don’t tell my husband that I bought it with no purpose in mind, because apparently that’s considered impractical!) Besides using it for a lesson for my kids, I hadn’t used the gold leaf until last week when I decided to replicate the recipe from Cabot Links.
To say that these bars are decadent is an understatement. I think it’s the sweetened condensed milk, it always seems to make things over the top. Back in high school, my prom date drank a whole can of sweetened condensed milk, but that’s a story for another day! When you make these, cut them into tiny squares, or you’ll be overwhelmed with the awesomeness that is shortbread, caramel and chocolate! I don’t care what the Duchess of Windsor said, some things can be too rich!
I will also say that I think this is the recipe that dirties the most dishes. If you’re nice enough to make these, someone else should be nice enough to clean up!
When you add the salt to the caramel, use a light hand, and don’t use regular salt. If you don’t have the light sea salt flakes, then just leave the salt out. You want the salt to enhance the caramel, you don’t want to crunch into something that belongs on a french fry.
I’m curious, what’s the most decadent dessert that you’ve ever ordered?
Salted Toffee Squares
1 1/4 c. Flour
1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp sea salt (I like Maldon Flakes)
2 c. chocolate chips
edible gold leaf! (this is obviously not necessary!)
For the bottom layer, crumble all four ingredients well. Press into an ungreased 9″ x 9″ pan, and bake at 350º for 20 minutes.
While the crust is baking, combine the first four ingredients for the second layer into a heavy saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, and boil for 5 minutes. You need to be stirring this constantly. After the 5 minutes, remove from heat and stir, until thickened, with a wooden spoon.
Pour toffee mixture over the bottom layer.
sprinkle the salt over the caramel. Fight the urge to add more salt. This just needs a hint.
Place the pan in the fridge while you melt the chocolate.
Melt chocolate chips over low heat, stirring often.
Spread over toffee layer.
Cut into tiny squares. If you’ve invested in the gold leaf, add it here.
Apparently baby 6 is having more of an impact on my blogging than I anticipated. This is actually a recipe that I made right after I had the baby, but somehow, I’m only just writing about it now! Baby Camilla is officially a one month old, so I think it’s time to get back to the routine! I hope I’m not the only one who’s counting down the days until school starts!
We ordered extra strawberries in our Bountiful Baskets last month, and we had to find something to do with all the berries very quickly. We made strawberry ice cream, strawberry pie, and a strawberry sweet roll concoction that my husband came up with. I think the most versatile and simple project that week-end was the strawberry syrup.
I was looking for something to go with the strawberry ice cream, but I also think it would be amazing served with chocolate cake. There is something so fresh and Summer-y about strawberries, and the syrup takes all that is wonderful about the strawberry, and puts it in a jar to be served with cake! You could also use it to make a pretty amazing Italian Soda!
Let me know if you can think of any other uses for Strawberry Syrup.
4 c. strawberries
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
Process berries in a mixer (I used my Vita-Mix and could process all the berries at once. If you’re using a smaller mixer, you may have to divide the berries into two batches).
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add berries and cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly, and then cook for two more minutes.
With everything that’s been going on around here lately, my daughter’s birthday sort of caught me by surprise this year. We don’t usually go too crazy for birthdays when the kids are little, so I was a bit torn. My little girl turned four this year, and she actually has a friend that she plays with fairly often. I knew I didn’t want to go to a theme restaurant, but I knew that she should have something fun.
I came up with the idea of a Tea Party for Two. It was basically a glorified play date, but the girls dressed up, and there were lots of treats! There are lots of wonderful things about having only two guests at a child’s party:
It’s super easy to prepare food (2 cupcakes, 2 sandwiches….)
You can go all out on the goody bag!
You don’t have to worry about party games because they just want to play with toys!
The costs are extremely low because there’s only one guest!
The best part of the whole thing is that it was, “The bestest tea party ever!” That’s a direct quote from a four year old, and I’m inclined to take her seriously!
Since there were only two guests, I decided to move the craft table down from the play room (my husband actually moved it, I just decided that I wanted it moved!), and we put it in the front entryway. The only thing that I wish I had done differently was add a perimeter of balloons around the table. I should have taped about 25 balloons on the floor all around the table. I think that would have put the whole thing over the top!
As for what we served. here’s the menu:
peanut butter marshmallow sandwiches
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
glitter marshmallows on a stick
I would love to hear about your most successful birthday parties. Is there something you do every year, or maybe something you’d never do again?
Well, I don’t know about you, but Easter sort of crept up on me this year. I’m so glad that Candice and I did the little photo shoot beforehand, because otherwise I don’t know what I’d have to share with you today (p.s. Check out Candice’s newly designed site!)! We’ve had family in town (actually three separate families). I love having family visit, and I love that my kids get to play with their cousins, but when it happens, everything else takes a back seat (which, I think, is how it should be!).
These are mini lemon pound cakes, and I just topped them with a buttercream frosting and a blackberry. I adapted this from one of my Nan’s recipes, and I think they look like Spring in a carton, which is why they are perfect for Easter! I’m going to give you the recipe for these mini cupcakes, but is it wrong that I think one of the best things about this is the packaging?! I’m not going to lie, there is a local bakery in town, Bird Bakery, and this is how they package a dozen of their mini cupcakes. I had never seen anything like it, and I thought it was the best idea. If you live in San Antonio, head over to Bird to try their delicious flavors, but if you want to try this at home, there are a few sources that I have found for egg cartons. I got these mini cartons at Bath and Body Works after Christmas, but right now World Market is selling adorable cupcake kits with cartons, and I found some others on Bake it Pretty. If you think you’ll be needing hundreds because you have that many friends, then you can also go to a farm supplier.
I think this is the perfect hostess gift for someone having you over for Easter dinner, or for an Easter Egg Hunt. We are looking forward to even more cousin time this week-end!What are your week-end plans?
Extremely Easy Lemon Cupcakes
1 box yellow cake mix
1 package instant lemon pudding
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. water
1/2 c. oil
Combine all ingredients and beat for 5 minutes. The time here is important, because it’s what gives the cake it’s amazing texture.
Fill lined mini muffin tins 3/4 full and bake in a 350º oven for 8-10 minutes.
Top them with frosting, whipped cream, a glaze, or they’re equally delicious plain!
St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on Sunday, so I thought I’d post a couple of green ideas this week. Actually, I think this is the only recipe that’s green, but this week will definitely have a theme!
First up: Lime Floats! I don’t know many people who don’t enjoy an ice cream float. What’s not to love?! The twist with this float is that we used lime sherbet with the lime soda. If you want to make a version that’s also delicious for those who have egg and dairy allergies, you can use lime sorbet.
This image came from last week’s photo session with Candice. I am always completely blown away by the way she puts things together. Hopefully we’ll bet to do some more of these food/photo sessions. I learn so much from them.
If you’re planning a St. Patrick’s Day feast, this would make a wonderful dessert. Stay tuned for some more Irish ideas as the week goes on.
Lime Sherbet or sorbet
Put two scoops of sherbet in a tall class and fill with soda.