Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

april-09-121

Let me start by saying how much I missed you guys while taking the month of March off from blogging. I received so many emails with recipes while I was gone that it was hard to decide. So many people suggested I make another cheesecake and offered up several recipes. Being the lover of cheesecake that I am, I decided to take them up on their suggestion. After careful consideration and looking at several recipes sent to me, I decided to make Dorie’s Tall and Creamy Cheesecake. I have had my eye on this cheesecake for months, ever since the Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers made it.

I  already have a tried and true cheesecake recipe that I love but wanting to step out of my comfort zone, I was excited to try Dorie’s recipe.  The batter comes together in less than 10 minutes but it does require over two hours bake and cooling time, in addition to that, it is best to allow the cheesecake to chill overnight before serving. I feel the taste and texture of a cheesecake only improves over time.  I baked it in the afternoon and allowed to chill for a day and a half before trying a slice.

Wow, the name describes this cheesecake perfectly. With 2lbs of cream cheese, heavy cream, sour cream and sugar, this dessert is not for the calorie-conscious, but let me tell you, it is so worth the time on the treadmill and a little slice is more than satisfying. The texture is creamy, smooth and rich. It is just what you would want in a cheesecake. The flavor, oh my that flavor!  I love the addition of sour cream (which my stand-by recipe does not have) to add a suble tang that excites your tastebuds and pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the crust (and any toppings you may add).

I used a water bath and had no problems with cracks except for a few minor ones around the edges. The edges also got a little more brown than what I would have liked for a clean presentation of the plain cheesecake. I was serving this by the slice so I added the toppings before serving which eliminated the presentation problem.

I would make this again, however I don’t know if this will be my go-to recipe. I really do love my old stand-by  and have never had problems with overbrowning or cracking of the edges with that one. Overall, I enjoyed this recipe and encourage you to try it, or at the very least check out the Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers who made it and drool over their pictures and descriptions.

I rate this recipe an 8

Tall and Creamy Cheesecake
 Dorie Greenspan

For the crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two*
               *I used 1 cup heavy cream and 1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.

Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn’t have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

Place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the cheesecake:
Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the spapril-09-116ringform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

Serving:
Remove the sides of the springform pan— I use a hairdryer to do this (use the dryer to warm the sides of the pan and ever so slightly melt the edges of the cake)—and set the cake, still on the pan’s base, on a serving platter. The easiest way to cut cheesecake is to use a long, thin knife that has been run under hot water and lightly wiped. Keep warming the knife as you cut slices of the cake.

Storing:
Wrapped well, the cake will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or for up to 2 months in the freezer. It’s best to defrost the still-wrapped cheesecake overnight in the refrigerator.

Outrageous Brownies

january-086

These were outrageous indeed! I have had this recipe saved on my computer for over a year. The past few times when I have been craving brownies I fall into my comfort zone and use a recipe that has yet to fail me. However, this time I decided to pull out Ina’s recipe as it has been calling my name, begging to be made since Christmas. When I needed a dessert to bring to work last week I jumped at the opportunity to whip these up.

These came together so easily and quickly. I was actually suprised that they only took me about 15 minutes to prepare.  I cut the recipe amount in half (reflected below with my changes in parenthesis) and baked in a 9×13 pan.  I did adapt the recipe a bit, I subbed some milk chocoalte chips for semi sweet chips to stir into the batter. I only sprinkled nuts on top and did not mix them into the batter because I did half the pan with nuts and half without. I much prefer them with the nuts! I baked mine for about 23-24 minutes and they came out perfectly. Watch carefully not to overbake. You should remove when there are a few crumbs stuck to the tester when inserted in the center of the brownies.

These are deep, rich, flavorfull and definatly live up to their “Outrageous” title. They have a light and crisp exterior. The interior of the brownies is dense, with their texture teatering on the border between brownie and fudge. Usually I don’t care for brownies that are too fudge-like but these really did it for me. Oh, Ina, how you have captured my heart.
While good warm, I do prefer them cool from the fridge rather than room temperature. I think chilling them definatly compliments and enhances the texture and flavor of the brownie.  While I think kids would like these brownies,  I feel the target audience for these brownies is the adult palate.

If you are looking for a brownie that eats more like a dessert then look no further. These will be great with a scoop of icecream, cool whip or with some fudge sauce  served as dessert.

I rate these brownies a 9

Ina’s Outrageous Brownies
Ina Garten 
2 sticks  unsalted butter (I used salted)
2 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I subbed 1/2 cup Milk Chocolate to stir into batter)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 extra-large eggs (I used large)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee powder  (I used 1 TBS)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup +2 TBS cups sugar
1/2 cup + 2TBS  all-purpose flour (1/2 cup for the batter and 2 TBS for the chips and nuts) (I did not toss the nuts with flour because I sprinkled them on top)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups diced walnut pieces (I used 1 cup and just sprinkled on top before baking)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 9×13-inch pan.
Melt together the butter, 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler.
Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Mix in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1/2 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture.
Toss 1 cup chocolate chips with 2 TBS flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts.

Bake for about 30 minutes (mine were finished in 24), or until tester just comes out clean.

Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough (I did not do this). Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into bars.

Top 10 Recipes

cork

I hope that 2008 was a good year for you and that 2009 brings with it the  joy and happiness we all strive for in our lives. Here is a list of some of my favorite sweet recipes I think you need to make this year and why.  I can’t wait to begin baking in 2009!

I am interested in hearing from you! Which recipes from my site have you tried and what have you thought about them?

10. Frosted Marshmallow Bars
WHY: A family favorite for years that is sure to please. I love the subtle chocolate flavor the brownie has, making it the perfect base for marshmallow and chocolate frosting layers.  Trust me, if you like chocolate, these bars will be sure to please.

9. Blondies
WHY: So simple, so easy, so quick, so good. With endless varieties (check out my ‘blondie’ category) these are the perfect dessert. You can really take the base recipe and make them your own, I can’t wait to try more combinations of add-ins this year!

8. Intense Chocolate Shock Cookies
WHY: Usually I am not a fan of chocolate cookies but these grabbed my tastebuds and my heart. So rich and full of possibilities. I have added chopped PB cups, white chocolate, nuts etc. to them and they have turned out rich and fabulous every time.  Don’t trust me? How about Anna?

7. Oatmeal Carmelitas
WHY? These bars are so gooey with layers of chocolate and caramel sandwiched between an oatmeal base and topping. I have been making this recipe for years and years. It has always been one of my favorite dessert recipes.

6. The Best Peanut Butter Cookies
WHY: These are the best PB cookies I have had. They are soft, chewy, peanut buttery and I love that they have PB and Chocolate chips in them. The roll in sugar before baking really takes them over the top.

5. Chewy Ginger Cookies with Cinnamon Chips
WHY: These are perfect for the holiday season with their flavor combination of ginger and cinnamon.  I absolutely loved these cookies, they remained chewy for days and the little bursts of cinnamon chips through out the cookie made these stand out from the ordinary ginger cookie.

4. Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oat Bars
WHY? These don’t require baking, making them perfect for days when you don’t want to use the oven. Their combination of peanut butter, chocolate and oatmeal is one of my all time favorites, a sure winner!

3. Oreo Fudge Bars
WHY: If the title alone doesn’t tell you, I am not sure what else to say.  These have been requested by my friends and co-workers alike. The best part is they are so simple to make, require few ingredients yet can be ‘dressed’ up to look like a fancy dessert if needed.

2. Double Butterscotch Cookies
WHY: These have turned out to be one of my all time favorite cookies ever. I am in LOVE the flavor of these cookies. The dough can either be dropped and baked or formed into logs and frozen for slice and bake cookies later.  I prefer the drop method but either way these did not last long. 

1. Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirled Brownies
WHY: My all time favorite and most requested brownie recipe. If you are a fan of PB and chocolate, look no further than this recipe. Make them soon and make them often. These are worth cheating on your New Years resolution to diet. Trust me.

Oreo Fudge Bars

baked-goods-0021

After a disappointing cookie recipe last week, I decided to hunt down a recipe that sounded like a winner. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and tweaked it a bit based on my own preferences and the reviews of those who have made them.

I changed the name of these bars to better reflect their goodness. These bars are rich, fudgey and full of Oreo goodness! Trust me when I say to cut these bars small as a little goes a long way! Despite being so rich and fudgey, they are not overly sweet in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, they are definately sweet and will satisfy a craving in no time but not so much so that your teeth hurt just eating one.

If you are not a chocolate lover (I know there are a few of you weirdos out there) do not make these as you will be highly disappointed! However, if you need an easy recipe that is rich and fudgey these are for you. These bars will be perfect for the holidays and I can’t wait t make them with the Winter Red Oreos or the Peppermint Oreos. I may substitue the Andes Peppermint baking chips on top instead of using the mini chocolate chips to enhance the Peppermint flavor for the holidays. The only downside is they will not ship well and should really be kept chilled until a few hours before serving.  When serving for dessert I recommend cutting into squares and drizzling melted white chocolate over the bars, as I have done in the picture below. What a pretty presentation for such a simple recipe. MMMM good.

I rate this recipe a 9

Oreo Fudge Bars
adapted from allrecipes.com
1 16oz. package of Oreo cookies 
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 tsp satl
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I used Fat Free)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (could use another 1/2 cup  semi-sweet chips if you like)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
 

Preheat the oven to 325. baked-goods-015
Line a 9×13 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.
Set aside 6 Oreo cookies for the toppings.
In a small food processor grind the rest of the cookies. If you don’t have a food processor, just pound with a rolling pin until the cookies are fine crumbs. Add the salt to the crumbs and stir to combine.
Melt butter and gently stir together with the cookie crumb mixutre. 
Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  
Coarsely chop the remaining cookies into chunks and set aside.
Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt 3/4 cup semi-sweet and 1/2 cup milk chocoalte chips together with the condensed milk and vanilla.
Stir frequently until smooth.
Spread evenly over the prepared cookie crust.
Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips and the Oreo cookies chunks over the top of the filling. Press down gently into the chocolate topping. 
Bake for 20-22 minutes oven.
Allow to cool on counter for 1 hour. Chill in fridge until completely cold and set before cutting into bars or it will make a big mess.
*These are not too great hot from the oven but are great after chilling and the filling has set!

Oreo Cheesecake

One of my all-time favorite desserts as a child was Cheesecake. It was always a treat because while my mom and grandmothers baked an abundance of cookies, cakes and brownies they RARELY ever baked cheesecakes. Now that I have my own kitchen, I find myself following in their footsteps and often only bake cookies and brownies. It is not because cheesecakes are hard to make, they are actaully quite easy. It is not because they don’t store well. They freeze (and thaw) beautifully! I am not sure why I don’t make these delicious treats more often.  Perhaps I like that the rare occasion that I do make one makes it all the more special and a real treat!

This is the same recipe I use for my plain cheesecakes. This time I decided to bake in an Oreo crust and fold in some quartered Oreo cookies for a kid friendly dessert! Everyone loved it and it was gone in no time.  Feel free to make it your own by baking in a traditional graham cracker crust and folding in ingredients of your choice (chocolate chips, chunks of brownies, cookie dough, etc). Any way you make it, I am sure it will be a hit.

Cheesecakes make a beautiful presentation and their thick creamy texture makes them the perfect dessert. There are millions of cheesecake recipes and this is a combination of several that I have tried over the years and tweaked to my liking. I like my cheesecake to have a creamy texture and hold up well so I can pile on toppings when garnishing if I so desire. The secret to achieving the perfect texture (in my opinion) is the Sweetened Condensed Milk. It creates a silky, smooth, creamy texture that holds its shape well. 

To prevent cracking, I like to cool my cheesecake in the oven for several hours before transfering to the fridge to chill overnight.  I also bake with a pan of warm water on the bottom rack while baking to help keep the cheesecake moist and not crack. This usually works for me, but don’t worry if your cheesecake cracks, just hide them with garnishes such as fresh fruit, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, chopped cookies, etc.

I rate this recipe a 9

Oreo Cheesecake
2 cups Oreo Cookie crumbs
3 TBS butter, melted

3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz.)  Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS flour
3 large eggs
1 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
15 Oreo Cookies, quartered
Oreo cookies for garnish if desired

Preheat oven to 300° F. Grease 9-inch springform pan.
Fill an oven safe cake pan (I use a 9×9) 3/4 full with warm water. Set on bottom oven rack while oven is preheating.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine Oreo crumbs and butter, stir to combine.  Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and increase oven temperature to 350.

In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese until creamy. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until smooth. Add sugar and flour, beat to combine. Add  eggs one at a time beating only to combine after each addition. When adding the third egg, also add the lime juice and vanilla extract; beat until combined.

Using a spatula, gently fold in the quartered Oreo cookies. Gently pour batter evenly into prebaked crust.
*You can arrange Oreo cookie pieces over top of batter for a pretty presentation if desired.

Bake in preheated oven for 50-65 minutes or until edge is set and center moves slightly. Watch carefully and do  not overbake.
Shut oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven for 1-4  hours. Run a warm knife around edge of cheesecake after 1 hour.
Place in fridge to cool completely. (Remove the pan of water)
Allow to chill at least 24 hours before serving for best flavor and texture.

Strawberry Cheesecake Swirled Blondies

They sound great don’t they!
I rarely bake using fruit (not sure why because I LOVE fruit!!) and have been playing around with this dessert idea in my head for some time. I wanted to make a blondie that utilized one of my favorite fruits and decided to try and make a Strawberry Cheesecake Swirled Blondie.

These did  not come out as I had pictured in my head. While good, they did not have as strong as strawberry flavor as I had hoped and the cheesecake swirl was kind of sticky and gummy (not the smooth and creamy consistency I was envisioning). I think the cheesecake portion was gummy because I had added a large amount of preserves to the mixture in an attempt to create a real strawberry flavor. I ended up with cheesecake batter that was thinner than I had wanted but I did not want to add more cream cheese to dilute the strawberry flavor.
Next time I may try Strawberry flavored Cream Cheese along with a few preserves. I did not use the flavored cream cheese this go around because I think it can taste artificial and I wanted to keep the recipe as ‘pure’ as possible.

I also did not add a lot of ‘extras’ to the batter since this was my first attempt and really wanted to test out the flavor of the strawberry cheesecake swirl. I did add a few white chocolate chunks which complimented the flavors nicely and added a bit of textural interest to the bars. I bet toasted pecans would be wonderful as well. As is these were best after cooling in the fridge for 24 hours and served cold with a scoop of Strawberry Icecream!

All in all this is a good bar but could use some improvements to live up to what I have pictured in my head. Like I said, next time I will try flavored cream cheese and less preserves in order to keep the cheesecake swirl nice and creamy. I would suggest trying these out and adding your own twist! If you have a successful recipe be sure to let me know!!

I rate these bars a 6 (but they have potential to be much better!)
I would give these a 7 after chilling 24 hours and served with Strawberry Icecream

Blondies
6 TBS butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coarsley chopped White Baking Chocolate

Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl
5 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup Seedless Strawberry Preserves
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBS flour
1 tsp pure Vanilla
1 egg yolk
1-3 drops Red food coloring (optional but I used)

In bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla beat until smooth. Add egg yolk and food coloring if using and beat just until combined. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.
Line an 8×8 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.
In a large microwave safe mixing bowl melt the butter. Allow to cool for 5 mintues.

Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour baking powder.
Mix in chopped white chocolate and nuts (if using)

Pour 2/3 batter into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top. Dollup strawberry cream cheese mixture and remaining blondie batter over blondie batter in pan.
Run a knife through the blondie and cheesecake layers to create a pattern or swirls.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until set in the middle. (I baked for 32 minutes)
Cool on rack before cutting.

Coconut Dream Bars

I love coconut, almost as much as I love Peanut Butter. I like how coconut provides a depth of flavor and hearty texture to baked goods. The picture may look familiar to those who frequent my blog, but I assure you these are new, but very similar to the Blonde Magic bars I made a while ago.
I whipped these up Saturday night as I was asked to make a dessert for a friend’s wedding shower this past weekend. Knowing she loves everything coconut I decided to try a recipe I have had saved for quite a while.

These bars are so quick and easy to throw together and they use ingredients you usually have on hand. They are a good basic recipe but you could jazz them up by adding toasted nuts, chopped Toffee pieces or chocolate chips (I did not add the chocolate chips as called for in the original recipe because I was asked to bring a non-chocolate dessert.)
A warning however, these bars are really really sweet so you may want to reduce some of the sugar in the filling if you are adding a fairl amount of chocolate or candy. After tasting these I wonder how a little lemon/lime juice in the coconut topping (along with some toasted pecans) would have been, I may try that the next time if I don’t add chocolate or candy.

Needless to say, my friend loved these bars and I enjoyed them as well. What I enjoyed the most about these bars, however, was the brown sugar shortbread like crust. It was so yummy and light and a welcomed change from the usual graham cracker crust of the other dessert bars at the shower. I felt the ratio of crust to topping was too small and not sturdy enough for the topping unless the bars were cut small (maybe not a bad things since they were so sweet, but with the addition of chips/candy/nuts I don’t know if they would have held up even cut small).
Next time I think I will make 1 1/2 times the crust mixture and bake a few minutes longer before adding the coconut topping which may pair down the sweetness of the coconut mixture, especially if adding chips or candy.
All in all, a good recipe that can get better with a few tweaks so feel free to make them your own. I am excited to play around with the recipe a bit because I think it has potential to be a quick go-to versitile dessert.

I rate these bars a 7

Coconut Dream Bars
adapted from Recipezaar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed (divided)
1/2 cup butter, softened slightly
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional) or milk chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a 9×13 pan with foil. Spray lightly with PAM.
Using low speed on mixer, combine flour, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and butter until mixture resembles sand.
Using lightly greased finger tips, press the mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
While crust is baking, mix together the remaining brown sugar with eggs until just blended.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Remove crust from oven when time is up and evenly spread coconut mixture over partially baked crust.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool completely and cut into squares. (Do this or they will be messy!!)