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.

 

 

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It was Mike’s younger cousin’s birthday and I was asked to make some fruit based cheesecake. I know…how many9 year-old’s actually ask for cheesecake?  As it turns out, not many because the cheesecake was really for the adults.   They were wild about the strawberry cheesecake cups I made last time, but I thought I’d change it up a bit, and take advantage of all the wonderful berries I had on hand after my catering gig.  So, I adapted my strawberry cheesecake recipe a bit to make these.  I wouldn’t say that they taste a drastically different…but the other berries add a wonderful tartness to the dessert.

Blackberries

Raspberries baked in

Use this recipe here, but make modifications to the amount of fruit.  I did decide to keep the strawberries (gives the cheesecake such beautiful color and adds a nice sweetness to the otherwise very tart berries).  I cut the strawberries down to just 1/2 cup and to this added 1 cup raspberries and 1/2 cup blackberries.  Go ahead and toss them in sugar and heat up the syrup.  You can then puree all berries for the cheesecake, but I found it more interesting to have small bits of the blackberries and raspberries. I chose to puree the strawberries and about a 1/3 of the other berries. I expected the berry combination to be a bit more on the tart side, but  I bought the berries from the farmer’s market–so they were super sweet. I had my heart set on something a bit more tart, so I used an additional 2 tsp of lemon juice.  With the remaining raspberries and blackberries, I thought it would it be a great idea to just chop them up.  As you can see in the pictures, the chopped berries are then visible in the actual cheesecake once baked.  Taking that idea a bit further, I decided to drop a whole raspberry/blackberry in the middle of each cheesecake cup prior to baking.  The raspberries cook thoroughly, since they are a bit more fragile.  The blackberries tenderize a bit, don’t cook all the way through.  Tasty either way, but if you want everything cooked through, make sure to cut the blackberries in half.

These were great as is, but I couldn’t help myself from making a dollop of berry enhanced cream cheese frosting to top them off.  The berries were just beautiful in this dessert, so i wasn’t too concerned with making a traditional cream cheese frosting.  I used quite a bit of the berry puree, rendering more of a sauce than a frosting.  I thought it was fantastic–it wasn’t too sweet and it didn’t overwhelm these wonderful cheesecake cups.

Again, this recipe is super versatile.  I will likely give this a go with fresh ripe peaches…or even mangoes! I’ll keep  you guys posted!

Enjoy!

Some desserts from my last catering gig.

So, I must say…I’m pretty psyched.  I’ve been booked for a gig for a 4th of July bash!  I’m super excited!  They are looking for some rather basic cupcake flavors (yellow cake and chocolate),  but I really want to spruce them up.  To me, yellow cake should eternally be paired with chocolate frosting.  It’s blasphemy to do otherwise.  I’m going to have to think of something great to fill these cupcakes with.   Pastry cream?  Raspberry sauce?  This is going to be a challenge.   As far as the chocolate cake goes, Valhrona is going to be the way to go.  I love the deep chocolate flavor…so heavenly.  I’ll likely pair it with cream cheese frosting (his favorite and obviously mine as well).  The funny thing is, I’m always asked to make desserts that are a bit more labor intensive than just simply cupcakes, that I feel strange making these.   I’m a week away from baking and I’m totally wracking my brain for something fun and creative to do to these cupcakes, without overwhelming them.   aaaaaaahhh!  To be honest, these cupcakes will be filled.  With what, I’m not yet sure…but filled they will be.

Hmm…and cupcakes are one thing…but I’m not much of a decorator.  So that’s going to be tough.  I have a few ideas running around in my head, but I really need to find a way to make these fit into the 4th of July theme.  I can obviously add food coloring, but I’d love to something special.  I’m toying with the idea of using royal frosting to create some edible toppings…but I’m a bit inexperienced.

I guess we’ll just have to see how things go. Wish me luck!

Oh!  Outside of the 50 cupcakes, I’ve just been asked to make a fruit based birthday cake!  FOR THE SAME DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Pray for me.


I’ve perfected the cheesecake cup.  (Applause).   I’m all about taking advantage of how amazing the strawberries are this year.  So off I was to the farmer’s market to pick up three huge baskets.  Truth be told, I had no idea what I was going to do with them just yet.   But, it was Mother’s Day that weekend, and I knew I would figure it out by then.    On Friday, someone brought in a huge cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory at work and a light bulb when off.  What’s  better than a Strawberry Strawberry Cheesecake?  And…I’m soooooooooo glad that I did, because these things were absolutely delicious!  They were definitely a huge hit and everyone raved about them.  The strawberry syrup really adds a lightness to the cheesecake.  There’s no mistaking, this dessert is bound to impress anyone and everyone.  I can’t wait to make these again.  I wish I had set some aside for myself, but I was so worried about having enough for everyone, I packed each and every single one.  I guess that’s a good thing, considering I’ve been so busy that I’ve made no time for the gym.  Back to the dessert…

The strawberries are fantastic!  The flavor really comes through in this dessert–from the strawberries in the batter, the dollop of strawberry cream cheese frosting, and even the strawberry itself on top.  Come to think of it, this isn’t a double strawberry cheesecake , it’s a triple!  With strawberries at their peak, how can you not showcase them?  I was actually a tad worried that people would be put off by the additional layer of frosting on the cheesecake.  You can’t imagine my surprise when some mentioned they wished there were more of it.

Well, I really hope that you guys get the chance to make these while this dish.  Making it for a gathering? Spruce it up with some Oreo crumbs and you’ve got yourself a jaw dropping crowd pleaser.

Double Strawberry Cheesecake Cups

Makes approximately 26 cups (or one whole cheesecake)

For the strawberry puree:
1 1/2  baskets of fresh strawberries (approx. 12 oz)
2 tbsp. sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

Graham Cracker Crust:
8 oz package of graham crackers (1/2 of a standard box of graham crackers)
3 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. melted unsalted butter

Cheesecake filling:
16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup vanilla sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
12 oz. sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup strawberry puree

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cupof unsalted butter, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 cup strawberry puree


Directions:
To prepare the strawberry puree, hull and slice the strawberries.  Toss the berries with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and set in the strainer placed over a bowl.  Let the mixture sit for 1-2 hours to extract the juices.  After than time frame, take a spatula and press down on the berries to expel as much juice as possible.   Transfer the juice to a small sauce pan over medium-high heat and simmer until liquid reduces to about 3 0z.   Remove from heat.  Take strawberry sauce, lemon juice, and strawberries and throw into a blender.  Blend until smooth.

To prepare the graham cracker crust, preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Place the crackers and sugar into a food processor and pulse.  When mixture is finely ground, add in the melted butter and pulse until the mixture is evenly combined.  Mixture should be damp to the touch.   Take a cupcake tray and prepare with liners. Add 1 tablespoon of crumbs to each cupcake.  Pack the crumbs down and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown.  Set aside to cool.  (Word to wise–keep an eye on the crust.  My oven gets quite hot, and I always have to keep a watchful eye on everything.  You only want the crust to be golden.  Once cooled, it should harden.  If not, you didn’t bake them long enough the first time)

To make the cheesecake filling, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla and salt.  Mix in the sour cream until well incorporated.  Blend in the strawberry puree (I know you I shouldn’t do this bc of the raw eggs, but I do a quick taste test to see if I’m happy with the amount of strawberry.).  Fill cups with 3/4 of the way up and place in oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes–just until the cheesecake is set.  Edges will be firm to the touch, but the center will still be slightly jiggly.

Allow to sit in tray for a few minutes.  Using a large spoon (or if you have any handling room, pick up the cheesecake using the liner), remove from the tray and transfer to a wire cooling rack.  Once cool, place cheesecakes in refrigerator.  Cheesecake cups will be ready to eat in 4 hours (but best overnight).

To prepare strawberry cream cheese frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add lemon juice, vanilla and strawberry puree.  Adjust the amount of puree to achieve your desired consistency and preference. I make this frosting a tad thinner than I would with anything I’d frost a cupcake with.  That being said, I don’t mind using more strawberry puree in the frosting.

When ready to serve, pipe on some frosting and garnish with strawberries and even Oreo crumbs.

Enjoy!

Oh yeah, baby.  Yes, I made it and you better believe I ate the bulk of it.  There simply isn’t anything more perfect than this little slugger.  To think, just 6 months ago I didn’t know that any combination of ingredients could give birth to this outrageously decadent dessert.  Just some time ago, everyone on facebook was raving about Cheesecake Factory’s Red Velvet Cheesecake.  Red Velvet Cheesecake–I don’t think any other combination of words could trigger my salivary glands (well…except for maybe “Ryan Reynolds naked”).  I digress.

To my disappointment, Cheesecake Factory had taken the easy way out.  True Cheesecake? I think not.  I was not looking for a layering of new york cheesecake and red velvet cake.  I was looking for a red velvet flavored cheesecake.

Aside from the richly red color, red velvet has two key ingredients you may otherwise not find in cakes–chocolate and vinegar. While I knew I was going to incorporate those ingredients into a cheesecake recipe, I was a bit weary of doing it blindly.  After some research, I came across a fantastic recipe.

I opted to make little cheesecake cups, but you can certainly make a traditional size using a spring-form pan.

And…well…oh my goodness…oh my goodness…and the recipe makes approximately 24 of these bad boys.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cups

Crust:
1 1/2 cups of finely ground Oreos
1/4 cup of butter, melted
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Cheesecake:
3- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs lightly beaten
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
enough red dye to turn batter red–I personally wasn’t too keen on using that much food  coloring, so I eyeballed it.
Frosting:
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened.
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4-1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Topping (optional):
1 1/2 cup diced strawberries
2-3 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet your strawberries are)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Crust: Stir together oreo crumbs, melted butter, and 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar.  Crumb mixture should be moist to the touch.  Add about 1 tbsp of mixture into lined cupcake pan.  Press down mixture until firm.

Prepare filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium-low speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add eggs, cocoa, sour cream, vanilla extract, buttermilk, vinegar, and food coloring, mixing on low speed just until fully combined. Pour batter into prepared crust.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the center is set.  While most of edge should be firm, the middle should have a should have a slight jiggle.  Remove from oven and let sit in muffin pans for 5 minutes.  Using a large spoon, carefully remove cheesecake from muffin pan and let cool on a rack until the cheesecake becomes close to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours (or overnight).

Prepare frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly on top of cheesecake.

Topping: Combine diced strawberries and sugar in a bowl.  Cover until ready to serve cheesecake.  Once ready to serve, top cheesecake with spoonful of diced strawberries.  Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Adapted from Southern Living

–Some Tips–

You do not want the cheesecake to crack–you’ll end up with a denser, drier cheesecake if this happens. Use a large spoon to remove cheesecake out of the muffin pan carefully; otherwise, you’ll get dents in the side of your cheesecake.

***Please note that I have modified the original baking directions since I am not making a full sized cheesecake.  Baking times and directions will be different if you choose to do it that way, sheerly due to the volume.  If you choose to do a full sized one, please refer to the original recipe.  Also, adjust baking times for your particular oven.