Dessert


I am a creme brulee fiend.  If its on the menu for dessert–you can bet I’ll order it.  I love the stuff.  I love the tapping noise before you break into the sugar shell…I know, but sometimes you just have to find joy in the simple things.

Creme brulee is simply one of the easiest desserts to put together. Just a few short steps–and you’re on your way.  I had a few recipes bookmarked–and decided to use Alton Brown’s methodology while varying up the proportions just a tad.  Not because Alton Brown isn’t awesome–but because I simply didn’t have enough cream on hand.

End result?  Sooooooo good.  Creamy and rich custard with great hints of vanilla.  Mike was very happy. So happy–that he had three.


Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

Makes 5 Servings

2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4  cup vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I added a tad more vanilla since my vanilla bean was on the punier side)
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
2 quarts hot water
additional sugar for browning (a little under a tbsp per ramekin)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp, and salt into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.  Allow cream to sit for 15 minutes to maximize the the vanilla flavor.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color.  About 5 minutes.  Add vanilla extract and whisk until blended.  Now,  add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Alton’s recipe suggests you remove the creme brulee from the fridge at least 30 minutes before torching the sugar on top.  I imagine this is to allow the custard to warm up a bit…but i did not do this.  We just couldn’t wait a second longer.  Top each ramekin evenly with a little under a tbsp of sugar.  Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow creme brulee to sit for a minute or 2 before eating (allows shell to harden).

Enjoy!

Adapted from Alton Brown and Allrecipes.com

I’m well again! No coughing, no sniffling, no congestion–and best of all–no wandering around the apartment like a mindless zombie.   After 2 months of wondering what it feels like to be normal again, I am indeed myself again. With renewed energy, I’ve been excited to head back into the kitchen and start up the baking again.  This post? Involves absolutely no baking–just a wonderfully fast and easy way to whip up some deliciousness.

Before I get into the Cheesecake stuffed strawberries–I just want to give you guys a look at THE BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT (EVER)!  Every so often, I tinker with the idea about getting a DSLR…but I always end up chickening out of making such a huge purchase.  But it was time…and I decided I was going to do it.  Leave it to  Mike (aka best fiance in the world) to rush out and get me one before my designated April 1st purchase.  So, I am now the proud owner of the Canon Rebel T1i (and a Canon Rebel T1i for Dummies book I’ve yet to read).  It’s beautiful!

Okay, onward with the recipe!  Mike’s cousin sent me a link to this recipe a few months back and now that we’re back in strawberry season, I was excited about giving it a try.  Strawberries stuffed with cheesecake? Ingenious!  I had a baby shower to attend this weekend, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give these guys a shot.  And–they were DELICIOUS!  To top it off, they’re super easy!  And to answer your question–yes, they taste just as you’d expect them to.

Make them…make them now!

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Original Recipe from Indigo’s Sugar Spectrum

Good for about 20 servings ( 2 green baskets of strawberries)

INGREDIENTS

2 green baskets of Strawberries, washed and dried.
1 8oz package of Cream Cheese, softened
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
¾ cup Powdered Sugar
6-8 Graham Crackers, crushed
Semisweet chocolate, melted (optional)

  1. Once the strawberries are dry, slice off a bit of one side.
  2. Take a melon baller and spoon out the center of the strawberry, being careful to keep the walls of the strawberry intact.
  3. To make the cheesecake filling: With a mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth and fluffy.
  4. Now, take the strawberry and fill the center with the cheesecake filling.
  5. Spoon the graham cracker crumbs over the stuffed strawberries.  Take a spoon and gently pat the graham crackers into the filling until crumbs “stick.”
  6. Drizzle strawberries with melted chocolate*.
  7. Place strawberries in refrigerator until ready to be enjoyed.

*Whenever I plan to drizzle desserts with melted chocolate/candy melts–I use Wilton squeeze bottles.  Fill the bottles with your choice of chocolate and carefully place bottle in a small pot with hot water to melt.  Super easy and a super neat way to enhance any dessert.  You can easily find them at your local Michael’s Craft Store.

 

 

We’ve all ordered it–that hot, soft centered individual sized chocolate cake.  Its decadent and amazing. Served with confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream, and a few scoops of vanilla ice cream–and is there really anything better?

Okay–so i’ll stop short of calling these Godiva cakes or Molten Lava Cakes as you’ve all become accustomed to ordering at your everyday American Restaurant.  This version isn’t quite as liquid-y with the chocolate center.  The filling in these Individual Soft Centered Cakes may not be quite as runny–but rest assured, the center is delicious.  Cut into the cake, and you’ll find a warm, chocolate syrup filling.  This cake is no consolation prize!

So it pains me a little bit to share this recipe–not because it’s not AMAZING–but I like basking in the “ooohing” and “ahhing” I get every time I serve this dessert.  People naturally assumed I meticulously crafted the dessert or exerted myself doing so.  Ummm…not so much.

This is soooooooooooooooooooo easy!  It barely takes anytime and in my opinion?  It’s almost fool proof.  Try it.  Your guests will be left stunned at how amazing these are…and you’ll be left with energy to actually enjoy their company.

As a side note, I did make some Chocolate Lava/Godiva Cakes this Christmas for my boss (it was his Secret Santa Gift!) that were out of this world.  Recipe will come soon!

Individual Soft Centered Chocolate Cake (Molten Chocolate Cake)

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
  • 8 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks only
  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cake flour

Directions

  1. Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler. Preheat oven to 450°F.  Whip eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla with a mixer for 10 minutes on high speed.
  2. Fold melted chocolate and butter into the egg mixture. Fold in flour just until combined.
  3. Butter and sugar four 6-ounce ramekins, then spoon mixture into ramekins.
  4. Bake for about 9–10 min or just until the top and sides are set.   The center will be quite soft.
  5. Let cake sit out of the oven for about 2 minutes, then unmold onto a plate.
  6. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, fruit–or whatever you please.
  7. Enjoy!
Original Recipe from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook

Oh, everyone brings along pumpkin pie to every holiday outing.  So, for Thanksgiving I decided to do something a little different.  Nothing too crazy–but how can you resist a pumpkin cheesecake?  Apparently, you don’t.  Mike and I had a few cups before we even headed over to his family’s.  These cheesecake cups were not only delicious–but they were highly addictive.  Everything you love about cheesecake with great pumpkin flavor.   Bonus points?  Top it off with spiced cream cheese frosting.   And yes, I’m painfully aware that I try to weasel cream cheese frosting in when applicable. What can I say, it’s so delicious and versatile.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter

Filling:

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prep your cupcake pan with liners.  In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Add a tablespoon of crumbs into each cupcake liner.  Press down crumbs to form a firm crust.  Place in oven for 7-9 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Carefully remove cups from pan and allow to cool on rack.

In a bowl attached to stand mixer, Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined. Replace cups into cupcake pans.   Now, pour batter into cups.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheesecake sets.  Take out of oven before cheesecake cracks.   Allow cheesecake to sit for 10 minutes. Then gently and carefully remove cups from pan and allow cheesecakes to cool on rack.  When cool, place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours (at the least) before serving.   Before serving, top off cheesecake with spiced cream cheese frosting.

Adapted from Food Network

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick of butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese
1- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add and beat  vanilla extract, cinnamon, and all spice until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until smooth and fluffy.

I LOVE pumpkin anything…because really, the holidays just aren’t the same without it.  So, since the season of thoughtless indulgence is here before us, I decided to find something new.  Traditional pumpkin pie is great and pops up at every holiday meal and I was sure that someone would pop by Marie Callendar’s or Costco and bring by a pie.  Yum!  So, I thought I’d look around and offer up a more  unique dish.  Step in the Pioneer woman with a drool worthy recipe. Pumpkin Cream Pie?  How can you go wrong if you pair pumpkin with decadent cream?  You don’t.  It’s fabulous! Now I won’t lie–I’ll take a helping of traditional pie over cream pie 8 out of 10 times.  I’m a Thanksgiving purist. I love all the traditional dishes. BUT–if you’re not big on the pumpkin (these people exist.  My sister for one, can’t stand pumpkin pie), then give this a shot.  It’s definitely delicious and I will definitely make this again!

Oh…and one of the best things about this dessert?  It’s rich, but not overly sweet.  So you can sit back and truly enjoy a slice without a sugar high fifteen minutes later.  Bonus?  Turn it into a Ice cream cake by throwing it in the freezer for an hour or two!  Now we’re talking…

Pumpkin Cream Pie

FOR THE CRUST:
1-½ package Graham Crackers (about 15 Cookie Sheets)
½ cups Powdered Sugar
1 stick Butter, Melted

FOR THE FILLING:
1 box (3 Oz. Box) Vanilla Pudding (Cook And Serve Variety)
1 cup Half-and-half
½ cups Heavy Cream
Pinch Of Cinnamon (1/4 tsp)
Pinch Of Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
Pinch Of Ground Cloves (1/4 tsp)
2 Tablespoons Whiskey (optional–I omitted this from my pie)
½ cups (plus 3 Tablespoons) Pumpkin Puree
½ cups (additional) Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Extra Graham Cracker Crumbs, For Garnish

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Grind graham crackers in a food processor (or, if you don’t have a food processor, place them in a large ziploc and pound ‘em with a rolling pin.) Add powdered sugar and melted butter and process until totally combined. Press into the bottom and sides of a pie pan until nice and firm. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until warm and “set.” Remove from oven and allow crust to cool completely.

In a medium saucepan, mix dry pudding mix with half-and-half and cream. Add spices. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly and thick. Remove from heat and stir in whiskey, if using. Add pumpkin and stir to combine. Place lid on pot and set aside to cool. When cool enough, place pot in the fridge to cool completely.

When mixture is cool, remove from the fridge. In a mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup heavy cream and brown sugar. Beat until very light and fluffy. Fold in pumpkin cream mixture until combined. Pour into cooled crust.

Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Serve with graham crackers crumbled on top.

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Even though the wedding is two years away, I can’t help myself.  I’m all over Style Me Pretty and Oncewed looking for ideas and hoping to find a way to put together a wedding that speaks to who Mike and I are—without having to financially handicap ourselves.  DIY projects? Yes please.  I wish I could bake up all the cookies and cupcakes needed for such a fête, but I’m sure  I’ll end up being the most stressed out and mean spirited woman on the planet should I be responsible for such a feat.

Vanilla Cupake

Anyhow, as I scour these sights, I’ve noticed that my local bakery—Sweet & Saucy—is quite the hotspot.  Melody’s work is not just scrumptious—it’s breathtaking.  I love that she’s able to create elaborate and unique cakes and I love it 10 times more that she’s also able to make impressive understated cakes.  I love, I love, I love!

So I know exactly where she’s located and I also know that by the time I get off work she’s always closed.  So while her bakery is only 6 minutes away from where I live, I’ve been there only twice in the last 3 years.  I love her shop nonetheless.   Her shop is incredibly chic and all to fun.

Her most popular cupcake?  The Candy Bar cupcake.  Yes, my friend.  Think of your typical candy bar—caramel, peanuts/peanut butter, and chocolate.  Yeah, it’s decadent and yeah, it’s not on my “Get crazy skinny, but keep my boobs wedding diet,” but neither has anything I’ve been eating the last two months.  Yeah, I’m kinda screwed…but I’ll make it work.  I will. :/

Moving on, I’ve only had this cupcake once.  Why? Outside of her hours, it’s simply always sold out by the time I get there.   Boo! But, I do remember how fantastic they were and how great it was to have something so different.

So, after coming across her famous cupcakes at yet another featured wedding, I decided—why the heck not?  I’ll make those suckers.  And I did.  And you know what?  They were pretty darn tootin’ good.  If you have time and you’re looking to impress, I would definitely give these a shot.

How do you accomplish such a feat?  Make a batch of your favorite vanilla cupcakes, some chocolate ganache, peanut butter cream cheese frosting, and some salted caramel syrup.  Yeah, that’s badass alright.  It’s also time consuming. Be forewarned.

I’m still on the hunt for the perfect vanilla cupcake by the way, so pass some recipes my way if you have something awesome.

Candy Bar Cupcake

Part 1: Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (original calls for just 1 tsp.)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
  2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 14 to 18 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Part 2: Whipped Chocolate Ganache

  • 5 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 5 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. To make the ganache, break chocolate into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. In a sauce pan, heat the heavy cream on medium high until it comes up to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Let sit for about 2 minutes to warm up the chocolate. Now stir mixture until completely melted and glossy. Allow ganach to cool completely.
  3. To achieve a lighter texture for whipped ganache, whip mixture on medium low with a hand mixture.  If you like the ganache a bit denser, just let it cool and spoon.

 

Part 3: Peanut Butter Frosting

Adapted from Annie’s Eats
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2-2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup cool whip
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until smooth.
  2. Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and well blended.  Mix in the whipped topping until smooth and fluffy.

Part 4: Salted Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Chow
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Stir together sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Let boil until amber in color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Immediately add butter and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat, add cream and salt, and mix well. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate.
  3. Will keep for 7 days in fridge.

AND–FINALLY…to the last part…yeah, did I mention this is a bit time consuming?

Part 5: Assembly

  1. Once cupcakes have cooled completely, use the cone method to remove cupcake tops.
  2. Pipe or spoon chocolate ganache into the cavity of the cupcake.  Replace cupcake top.  It won’t look perfect, but you’ll be covering the cupcake with frosting anyhow.  You can elect to not replace cupcake top as well, if you want the whole cupcake to be less “cake-ish.”
  3. Pipe frosting onto cupcake.
  4. Top off with some caramel.  Would also taste delicious if have some fleur de sel to sprinkle on top.

Red Velvet–the celebrated cupcake flavor that will likely define you as a baker.  And I say that with reservation, because before I found this recipe, I was never 100% happy with any red velvet cupcake I had baked in the past.  Simply put, there always seemed to be something missing.  That is, until i found this recipe.  This recipe is pure gold.  It’s perfect.  So perfect, my sister had three without frosting.  It’s so wonderfully moist and the flavor was just so distinctively red velvet.

oh-so-perfect crumb

I love this recipe.  I’ve found the one.

Oh! I also want to share this tidbit.  For the most part, I get my vanilla extract from Costco.  You get a huge bottle for about six dollars.  And to be honest, I’ve been happy with the results.  The vanilla is affordable and everything has always been tasty.  One day, I came across of bottle of vanilla from Williams Sonoma–at $20 for about 2/3 of the size.  The kicker? The vanilla extract was loaded with the actual vanilla beans.  I lost all will power.  I bought it…and regretted it the whole way home. $20?!?!  But I have to be honest.  The vanilla has truly made all the difference.  Without a doubt, the Williams Sonoma vanilla was far superior to the Kirkland brand.  It’s so wonderfully fragrant and the vanilla really comes through–even in a cupcake with so many complicated flavors.  While I may not use the WS vanilla in all my baked goods, it will definitely be my go to vanilla for all special baking occasions.

Favorite Red Velvet Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes

For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cocoa powder (Not dutch-processed)
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Beat on medium speed until well blended.  Add in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth.  This will take about 2 minutes–make sure to not over beat mixture.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.  Let cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

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