Crepes

Please Please do NOT judge this recipe by the photos. I think we can all appreciate that light yellow/tan foods do not photograph well unless you play around with retouching the picture. Let’s face it, I have better things to do than retouch my pictures. Like baking. And eating.

On to the recipe. My Taste Tester and I recently went to Europe and fell in love with the Crepes in France. I had been terrified of making them for years but decided after much begging and pleading on the part of my Taste Tester I would give them a go (though I gave no promises as to the end result. I mean I was competing with Paris!). Let’s just say that I had nothing to fear! These were so super simple and a breeze to whip up, no special Crepe pan needed!

A Crepe is basically a very very thin pancake (at least as I see them). They have a mild taste and are not sweet at all on their own. They are really best for filling with a variety of goodies like fresh fruit, peanut butter, etc. Think of them like a tortilla, except not.

Now, I will admit, that I did not follow the directions for making the crepes exactly. I prefer my crepes with a bit of a crispness (not much, but a bit) to the outside so I cooked mine a bit longer than stated. Also, this made them so easy to flip (I used my fingers and it worked perfectly. If you are sensitive to heat you may want to use tongs). We also played around with filling them with a variety of goodies but Nutella was our favorite followed closely by ham and cheese.

We have even had these for dinner some nights, ham and cheese for the meal and Nutella for dessert! YUM. The only downside is that you can really only make 1 at a time so be prepared to keep them in a low heated oven until all are made. Or you will be eating alone :(  These remind us so much of wandering the streets of Paris and are much cheaper than hoping on a plane!

I rate this recipe a 9

Crepes
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen cookbook

1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sift flour and powdered sugar into a mixing bowl.  Add eggs, milk, butter, vanilla, and salt; beat until smooth.  (can chill covered for up to 1 hour at this point)

Heat a lightly greased 6-inch skillet. 

Add about 3 tablespoons batter and tilt skillet so that batter spreads to almost cover the bottom of skillet.  (I did not do this as I used a NON-stick pan, SO easy, and saves calories)

Cook until lightly browned; turn and brown the other side. (after I flip it I then add the fillings like Nutella etc.Then I fold it over in half and let it get nice and melted. I fold one more time, so it is now if fourths before serving. I like to sprinkle the sweet versions with powdered sugar)

Repeat process with remaining batter, grease skillet as needed.


 

Serendipity Deluxe Bars

Do you ever see a recipe and just know that you need to make it ASAP? That is what happened when I saw these over at A Southern Grace. My oh my. These bars are great!

They came together in no time and though there are a few components to the recipe (a pattern with recipes I have been making lately) overall they are a cinch to make.

You start with a shortbread type crust that is then topped by what I can only describe as a fudgey-gooey chocolate layer and lastly topped off with an oatmeal/brown sugar/nut mixture that turns into a caramel like top layer after baking. Each layer of these bars tastes great but together they create a dessert that you will find yourself craving until the pan is gone (which around here was about 2 days).

My Taste Tester loved these bars and could not get enough. He enjoyed them warm, room temperature, with ice cream, plan, with hot fudge, I can’t even name how many times I came into the room to see him eating another bar. That is when you know they are good. 

Next time I may add some walnuts as well, as I actually prefer those to pecans.

Take some time this weekend and make these to enjoy with friends and family. They will thank you.

I rate this recipe a 9

Serendipity Deluxe Bars
as seen here
Crust:
1 cup butter, cold and diced
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Truffle Filling:
1 cup corn syrup
1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Caramel:
1/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1 cup oats
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely ground
3/4 cup (6 oz) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13×9-inch pan.
To prepare the crust, combine all four ingredients in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs are created. Press into the prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling by microwaving together the corn syrup and chocolate chips, stopping to stir occasionally until the chips have melted. Let cool, then add the remaining filling ingredients and beat to combine. Pour over the hot crust and bake for 27 minutes, or until the outer edges are firm and the center is only slightly jiggly.
While the filling bakes, prepare the caramel layer by stirring together all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. When the pan is deemed ready to remove from the oven, let it sit for 10 minutes before dolloping on the caramel layer and spreading it evenly over the chocolate layer. Then return the pan to the oven for another 25-35 minutes, or until the bars are just set. Let cool completely before cutting. 

Taste Tested Lemon Bars

As you know, my Taste Tester loves a good lemon dessert. Instead of whipping up my tried and true cheesecake, I decided to use another blogger’s detailed taste-tested research and recipe reviews to whip up a great pan of lemon bars.

As Bridget suggested I used the crust recipe from Tartine and the filling recipe from Cooks Illustrated. The end results were great.

We do prefer the lemon cheesecake over these bars, but they were great none-the-less. The crust was slightly sweet, a bit crumbly and a tad buttery (just the way I like it). The filling was tart with a lovely lemon flavor. It was a bit overpowering with tartness at first but with a bit of powdered sugar sprinkled on top the flavor mellowed out a bit. Overall these are a great desert to take to a summer picnic or potluck. They were easy to make and scream ‘summer’.

I would recommend keeping them chilled and would advise not layering them as they will stick together and the crust will become a bit soft. They will still be good but just not ‘as good’ ya know?

I rate these an 8

Taste Tested Lemon Bars
as seen here

Crust (from Tartine)
½ cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1½ cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (2 ounces) pine nuts (optional) (I USED ALMONDS)

Lemon filling (from Cooks Illustrated)
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1⅓ cups (9.33 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons
⅔ cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained
⅓ cup whole milk
⅛ teaspoon table salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

To make the crust: Sift the confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir in the flour. Add the butter and pine nuts (if using) and beat on low speed just until a smooth dough forms.

Press the dough evenly into the pan and allow it to come up about a ½ inch up the sides of the pan. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. (I chilled mine in the freezer for 10 minutes) Bake the crust until it is a deep golden brown, about 25-35 minutes. (I baked mine for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned)

For the filling: Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, sugar, and flour in a medium bowl, then stir in the lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt to blend well.

To finish the bars: Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir the filling mixture to reblend; pour into the warm crust. Bake until the filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes.

Transfer to a cutting board, fold the paper down, and cut into serving-size bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts, as necessary.

Sieve confectioners’ sugar over bars, if desired.

Peanut Butter Torte

Once again, I turned to Dorie’s book for a no-bake sweet to satisfy my summer dessert cravings. I just hate using the oven and heating up the house when it is over 90 degrees outside! After paging through, I knew I had found gold when I read the words “Peanut Butter’. Yes please!

If you love peanut butter and want a rich, creamy dessert but either don’t want to bake a cheesecake or are scared to try. You must make this recipe!

Don’t be scared by the (once again) LONG recipe. This dessert has a few steps but none are difficult at all! I will warn you though, the torte is best after chilling for a few hours so plan ahead.

I adapted the recipe slightly as typed below to suit our personal tastes. Instead of an Oreo crust I used Nutter Butters (as you know my Taste Tester does NOT like Oreos). I also omitted the peanuts in the filling as I don’t like chunks in what I feel should be smooth and creamy desserts. Since I am not a fan of cinnamon with peanut butter, I left that out as well. For the topping I tossed some peanuts in melted butter and then in brown sugar. I baked unitl they were golden and allowed them to cool before garnishing the top with the ganache and nuts.

With my modifications I must say that this was a hit! It was perfectly smooth and creamy, much like a cheesecake but a bit lighter and not so dense. The crust paired perfectly with the filling and the candied nuts really rounded out this recipe.

I love taking a great recipe and with a few tweaks making it suit our preferences. Feel free to play around with the recipe and make it your own. I bet Reese’s Peanut Butter cups chopped up would be perfect on top of this great treat!

I rate this recipe a 9

Peanut Butter Torte
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1-1/4 c finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (I DID NOT USE)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (I DID NOT USE
1/2 cups mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semisweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender (I USED NUTTER BUTTERS)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2-1/2 cups heavy cream
1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (I USED 1/3 LESS FAT)
1-1/2 cup salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural)
2 tbsp whole milk
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I USED SEMI-SWEET)

Getting ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9″ Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Toss 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside. (I USED SOME CANDIED PEANUTS I MADE AS MENTIONED ABOVE)

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the Springform pan (they should go up about 2″ on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment) or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment (if you have one), or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms

To Finish The Torte:
Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan (I heated my chocolate in the microwave in 30 sec. intervals).

Bring the remaining 1/2 cup of cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan. It’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel dampened with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds.

Refrigerate until ready to serve

Quick Berry Tart

A quick post today as we are going to enjoy the warm, rain-free day!

This recipe has been featured on many many blogs and is originally from Dorie Greenspan. Please do not see the LONG recipe below and be scared. This is one easy dessert to make with very common ingredients you probably already have. This is not actually that ‘quick’ of a recipe unless you have the components ready to assemble so plan ahead by a day if you want to serve this. This dessert has been our ‘go to’ dessert for entertaining this summer. We can’t get enough.

The great thing about this recipe is that there only 3 components: the tart shell, the pastry cream and the berries. You can easily make the first two components a day or so in advance and then assemble when you are ready to serve. Like I said, that is where the “quick” comes in. Assemble and serve!

The Taste Tester is in love with this recipe. Quite literally, he has begged and pleaded for me to make this again, even though we just had this last week. He at the entire tart (well, all except for 1 piece  that I ate) in one day. I prefer if it is assembled about 3-5 hours before serving as the pastry cream softens the crust ever so much and makes it easier to eat with a fork.

I would not change a thing about this tart, it is easy to make, easy to assemble and such a great way to highlight fresh berries. Each component really does compliment the others and comes together to make this amazing dessert that is sure to impress your family and friends. The crust is light in texture with a slightly sweet flavor. The cream is rich and smooth with a slight vanilla flavor. The berries hold their own and make you thankful for summer.

I rate this recipe a 10

Summer Berry Tart
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan 

About 1 1/2 cups Pastry Cream, cooled or chilled (Recipe Below) (I used the entire recipe of pastry cream)
1 9″ tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough or Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts (Recipes Below)
2 pints fresh berries (for example: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries)
1/3 cup red currant jelly mixed with 1 tsp of water, for glazing (I did NOT use)

Smooth the pastry cream by giving it a couple of strong turns with a whisk. Spoon enough pastry cream into the tart crust to come almost to the rim, then even the surfact with a rubber spatula. Carefully lay the berries on the cream, arranging them in any pattern that pleases you. If you are using strawberries, either halve them from top to bottom or slice them, depending on the size of the berries and your whim.

*I did NOT do the step below
Bring the jelly and the water to a boil in a microwave oven or on the stovetop. Working with a pastry brush or a pastry feather, dab each berry with a spot of jelly. Or, if you like, you can glaze the entire surface of the tart, including the bit of pastry cream that peeks through the berries.

Pastry Cream
Makes about 2 cups
Storing: The pastry cream can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get into the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold, or, if you want to cool it quickly – as I always do- put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Sweet Tart Dough
Makes 1 9″ Crust

Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer – it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 TBSP (9 TBSP) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in – you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses – about 10 seconds each- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change- heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Butter a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removeable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.

Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the oven just a little longer. If you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust’s progress- it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

Neiman Marcus Cookies

I have been making this recipe since I was 10 years old. It is one of the first cookie recipes I ever made on my own.  I never knew the controversy behind it (we are talking pre-internet days in the rural Midwest). I never knew the story behind this recipe and thought it was just another cookie recipe in my mom’s church cookbook. I loved trying recipes out of those books! It was so neat to make recipes submitted by our neighbors and family, heck they were celebrities in my mind. I wanted to get a recipe into that cookbook so bad. Ah, dreams as a child.
I must have been living under a rock (or the MIdwest) because it wasn’t until recently that I realized the cookies I enjoyed making as a child are actually quite famous. I know there are a few variations of the recipe but this is the one I am most familiar with and used to make.

These cookies were a favorite in my family. I enjoyed using the blender to whirl the oatmeal, it made this recipe a bit more special than others I made. The blended oatmeal creates a chewy texture and a bit of nuttiness that takes this cookie to another level flavor wise. Over the years I have modified the recipe a bit but the original I used to make is the same as the one in the link below.

I have found that a tad less butter does not sacrifice flavor or texture and a larger ratio of brown to white sugar gives a creates a chewier texture and a deeper flavor profile. I also don’t blend the oatmeal to a flour but instead allow a bit of the texture to remain, sort of in between flour and oatmeal. I have also found I much prefer the mix of semisweet and milk chocolate chips, they play off of each other so well! I also highly recommend the walnuts (toasted preferably). They really compliment this cookie. If you have never made these before, go ahead and try the original (from the link) and adapt to your own preferences.

Overall these are a great cookie when you want a chocolate chip cookie but something a little bit out of the ordinary (not totally crazy). My Taste Tester enjoyed these but not as much as I do. He suggested next time to add a bit more flour to make them a bit “thicker” to suit his preferences. I also would like to brown half the butter next time to further develop the nutty undertones.

I rate these cookies an 8

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe
adapted from here

2½ cups rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature or slightly softer
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract6

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces milk chocolate chips
1½ cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 . Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Blend the oats in a food processor or blender to a course powder. In a medium bowl whisk together the blended oats with the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. On low speed gradually mix in the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated. With a rubber spatula fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Roll the dough into 2-ounce balls  and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cookies should be lightly brown and set on the outside but still look a little undone in the middle. (this will keep them soft after cooling). Store in an airtight container.

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

With summer in full swing we have been enjoying several weekend visitors which of course means entertaining! Yay! While my Taste Tester sticks to grilling up new reicpes, I take the opportunity to try new dessert recipes!

With my mom and aunt in town last weekend I knew I wanted to make a cheesecake. Each time they visit I always whip one up and we more than enjoy it all weekend long! This time was no exception. I knew I wanted to use fruit but wasn’t feeling strawberries. My Taste Tester smiled and said “yes please” when I was brainstorming a white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry swirls. Sold.

This recipe is based on other cheesecakes I have made over the years. I cheated and used seedless organic raspberry jam instead of making my own. I just didn’t have the time and to be honest, it was great even with the store-bought stuff. If you have time or super ambitious, feel free to whip up your own. If not; welcome to my life and just buy some (good quality of course).

The cheesecake itself was creamy and dense (just the way I like it). The white chocolate flavor was subtle but good. I originally wanted to have a chocolate crust (um, hello, chocolate-addict here) but I used a graham cracker crust because the Taste Tester doesn’t care for Oreos. What??? I know. It is the burden I must live with. I was surprised, however, and really enjoyed the graham cracker crust and would  not use a chocolate  crust in the future unless it was requested.

Because I used jarred jam I was able to whip this up and get it in the oven in about 15 minutes, can’t beat that! I also love the fact that cheesecake needs to set in the fridge for a couple days to reach the desired flavor and texture so I made this on Wednesday to enjoy over the weekend. I love not having to rush around last minute when I could be cleaning (yeah right).

I would highly recommend this cheesecake, play around with the filling a bit and try another fruit flavor. I do feel that the white chocolate flavor could be a bit more complex so I would like to either add more next time or pick a brand with a more dominant flavor.  Let me know if you find a winner!

I rate this an 8.5

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
16-18 graham crackers crushed
2 TBS sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

6 oz white chocolate bars (not chips)
24 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 TBS flour
1 jar seedless Raspberry Jam

Fresh Raspberries for Garnish
White chocolate for garnish (melted) when ready to use

*TIP: I like to line the bottom of my pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with PAM.

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 325F.
In a food processor, process the graham crackers until you have fine crumbs. . Add in the sugar and pulse. Stir in melted butter. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly into the bottom and slightly up the sides. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack to room temperature.
Place a baking pan filled half way with water on the bottom oven rack (this will help keep cheesecake moist while baking to help prevent a crack. I like this method better than a traditional water bath) Just make sure there is always water in it while the cheesecake is baking.
Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 15 second intervals stirring after every interval until smooth. Do NOT over cook, you can stir lumps out wihtout reheating toward the end. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese to break it up and soften it slightly, about 5 seconds. Continue mixing and add the sugar, sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl before each addition. Add the flour and beat just til combined. Add the melted white chocolate and mix until blended. Do NOT overmix.

Pour 1/2 the cheesecake mixture into pan.
Heat jam in microwave just until easily pourable but not too runny.
Spoon 1/2 the jam over the cheesecake batter and swirl with a knife. Pour the remaining batter over the jam carefully. Drop spoonsfull of the rest of the jam over the cheesecake. Carefully swirl but do not go through to second layer or it will not be swirled (just pink).

Bake until the center jiggles slightly, the sides start to puff, and the surface is no longer shiny, about 55 to 60 minutes. The center should read about 150 degrees F. Turn off the oven and prop the door of the oven open with a potholder or wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool in the oven for about an hour. Transfer the springform pan to a wire rack and run a small paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Let it sit to room temperature for 2 hours.

Before serving top with raspberries and drizzle with melted white chocolate

And the Winner is………………..

STEPHANIE!

Here is her comment:

 

I have been eyeing the G. Cooper dress for work for so long. I just can’t pull the trigger!!

 

I used my trusty Taste Tester (my husband) to randomly select a (comment number) winner of this giveaway. Since it was my first I wanted to get him involved in the process.

*Stephanie, please email me by midnight Friday July 1, 2011 to claim your prize:

I will need:
Your name
Your address
Your email
Your dress size

Congratulations!!

Email me at: bakingblonde at yahoo dot com

Shabby Apple Giveaway!

CLOSED, 
Winner announced Wednesday!

If you are a long time reader you will know that this is a first for me. I am super excited to announce that Shabby Apple is wanting to give one of my readers a brand spankin new dress just in time for all of those fun summer events that I am sure you have planned! If you don’t know me, know this. I will never host a giveaway of a product that I, myself, would not use.

Let me tell you, I have been trying to whittle down a dress to buy from their site ever since I popped over there before deciding to host this giveaway. I have a list at least 10 items long!

If you haven’t visited their site Shabby Apple, please do! You will find not only fun yet sophisticated dresses but aprons, swimwear and clothing for kids.  Oh, and did I mention they also have accessories, sportswear, and even maternity items? Seriously, stop on over and check them out. I mean, look at some of these items

The Jack and Jill dress (perfect for bridesmaids or other special events). How elegant is this dress?  And the color?? Amazing!

Check out this Venezia Swimsuit! LOVE IT! The stripes on this suit would flatter just about any body type. This suit manages to be flirty, sporty and modest yet sexy all at the same time!

Oh, and check out the Lost at Sea Skirt. Makes me want to rent a boat for the weekend. Aren’t those stripes fun?

After much deliberation, I decided on the Lighthouse Dress! It is casual yet feminine and oh so fun! This dress is perfect for a summer wedding, date nights on the town, wandering around your local farmer’s market on a Saturday morning or while making and baking some wonderful tasty summer treats! (this is a baking blog afterall).

And a plus? It is machine washable! Um, hello low maintenance! Feel totally confident in the kitchen sans apron with this perfect little number! Get it dirty? Who cares, in the wash she goes!

So, are you hooked yet? How do you get your hands on this little dress? Easy Peasy!

*Go to Shabby Apple and leave a comment on my blog telling me what item you like the most and where you would where it. Easy as that!

For a second chance to win, pop over to ShabbyApple on Facebook, share the love and “Like” them. After you do, leave another comment on my blog telling me you did so.

Giveaway will close at 12am Central Standard Time on Sunday June 26 2011.
Winner will be announced on this blog on Wednesday June 29, 2011.
One winner will be chosen at random.

WAIT a sec. You didnt’ think that was all did you? The fun folks at Shabby Apple are also offering a 10% discount to my readers, all you have to do is enter the code bakingblonde10off when checking out to receive the discount. Not too shabby (pardon the pun)

Product Crush

I get quite a few emails inquiring about what products I like and if I have any recommendations. Here  is a new product I am crushing on right now.  I, in no way, have been paid for or asked to complete this review.

Fiber One 80 Calorie Honey Squares.


Wow, what a mouthful for a name, seriously, who names a cereal by using a calorie count?!
Let me tell you, I purchased these on a whim while strolling around the grocery store. Yep, love to stroll and eat samples. I am that person.
Those end-caps always seem to suck me in and I end up with the most random items in my cart some times. Well, this time I hit the jackpot! I am a self proclaimed cereal addict. Have been since I was the age of 2 and addicted to Alphabet Cereal, remember those? I have no will power around cereal and have far too often eaten an entire box in one setting. I don’t discriminate, I eat pretty much any cereal including Raisin Bran and Grape Nuts, as well as Cookie Crisp and Cap’n Crunch and EVERYTHING in between.
I rarely purchase cereal unless I know my taste-tester (aka my husband) will be eating it as well (keeps me from snarfing it down the first day!).

Back to the topic at hand. This cereal reminds me of a love child between Oat Bran and Golden Grahams, in a good way. They mini squares (these are about 1/2 the size of a Golden Graham square) are slightly sweet and taste a bit like graham crackers but healthy, you know? Not only do they taste great but they only have 80 calories per 3/4 cup (i hate when serving sizes are only 1/2 cup, come on, who eats 1/2 cup of cereal?) and 10 grams of fiber! Yes please!  Even if you up the serving size to 1 cup you don’t need to feel guilty.

What I am most excited about is I can’t wait to try these in some recipes! I may crush some and use in a crust for a tart or some other baked goods, can not wait (I will probably buy another box for that since this one is 1/2 gone and I just bought it 2 days ago).

Some recipes I would love to try these in (will probably use both cereal and graham cracker crumbs):

Smore’s Bars
Key Lime Cheesecake
Strawberry Cream Pie
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Magic Bars