Archive for February, 2011

Longing for some sun

While Gavin was up here we were listening to Tyrone Well’s newest CD “Metal and Wood”. It is so good! Seriously SO GOOD! But it is making me long for some of the sunny weather that he sings about in his songs.

Thankfully I will be getting to enjoy some (hopefully) beautiful weather in San Luis Obispo over spring break!! I am really excited. But, before I make my way down to sunny San Luis Obispo, I am going to be heading down to Tahoe to hang out with some amazing people who I am so so so looking forward to spending time with!!

Then the first weekend of spring quarter I am going to be down in SLO again! My parents are road tripping down with a few other family friends for another family friend’s wedding in Santa Barbara so they are going to drop me off on the way down! We are going to leave early Thursday morning so that we will be in SLO in time for farmers and then line dancing!!! I can hardly hold my excitement for spring break and the beginning of spring quarter in!!

On top of that I might be able to come down for memorial day weekend and possibly for stagecoach (if Gavin and I go, which by the way babe we need to decide 🙂 )! Overall I am really excited to be able to visit so much in the months coming up!!

I can’t wait to be back in SLO even if it is for a few short visits! I’m also looking forward to being able to hang out with friends that I haven’t seen in almost 6 months!! Oh my goodness I can’t believe it has been that long! Time sure does fly!

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Yummmy Chocolate Cheesecake

Gavin came up this last weekend and we celebrated Valentine’s day late. I knew I wanted to bake him something really special. I was searching around the food network website for something to make and found a recipe for new york style chocolate cheesecake.

Yummy right?

The recipe was surprisingly straight forward and easy to follow, which was a big relief compared to the cake pops! Also Gavin and I made it together so that made it 100 times better! The cheesecake came out really rich, but SO GOOD! To garnish it besides the strawberries I made some fresh whipped cream and I will put the recipe for that after the cheesecake recipe.

 

New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake

Original recipe found here

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (I used chocolate graham crackers)
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake

  • 20 ounces of cream cheese (2 1/2 packages), softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside of pod and reserved
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 8 ounces melted semisweet chocolate, cooled slightly
  • 3 eggs

Garnishes

  • Fresh strawberries
  • Whipped cream
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  • Whatever else you can think of!

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F for silver spring-form pan, or 325 degrees F for dark nonstick spring-form pan
  2. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the chocolate wafer crumbs, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and the butter and mix well. Press onto the bottom of springform pan and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, remaining cup of sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and beat until light and creamy.
  5. Add the flour to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth.
  6. Add the melted chocolate and sour cream and mix well.
  7. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended.
  8. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the center is almost set.
  9. Run a sharp knife around the rim of the pan and allow cake to cool on a wire rack before removing rim of pan.
  10. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Cheesecake may be made up to 2 days in advance before serving and will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Note on the baking: Emeril’s recipe didn’t say to use a water bath to bake the cheesecake, but all of the other recipes I looked at and the comments said to use a water bath so the cheesecake won’t crack and have a nice looking top.  I found another recipe from the food network, this one from Nigella Lawson. Here are her directions for a water bath:

  1. Line the outside of the tin with a good layer of cling wrap, and then another layer of strong foil over that. This will protect it from the water bath.
  2. Sit the springform tin in a roasting pan and pour in the cheesecake filling. Fill the roasting pan with just boiled water to come about half way up the cake tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

The water bath worked really well and I was so happy with how the cheesecake turned out!

Whipped Cream!

Whipped cream is so yummy! And so easy to make!! And delicious on top of the cheesecake!

Basically for every cup of whipped cream add 2 tablespoons of sugar and then whip! BUT, don’t whip too much otherwise you could end up with butter!

 

This was such a good cheesecake and I think I will be making it again in the future! I’m also thinking about trying another yummy sounding cheesecake! I hope some of you give this cheesecake or another cheesecake a try! Let me know how it turns out!

Happy (late) Valentine’s Day! Part 2

Now that I wrote about Gavin’s and my cute duck cupcakes I can move onto what I actually made for Valentine’s Day!

CAKE POPS!! Yummmm

I came across the cake pop idea somewhere while strolling through the blog world. I finally found Bakerella’s blog. Let me tell you – she is amazing and one of the most creative bakers ever! Don’t believe me? Go take a look at her blog and look at all the different cute designs of cake pops that she has made. Too lazy to go over and look through her blog? I will just give you a little taste of what she has made.

So cute right? She posted these yesterday

a-dor-able

I can’t even handle the cuteness!!

Amazing right?! She has published a book that you can get from Amazon and I’m sure other bookstores too. I don’t have it, but you best believe I have my eye on it!

So onto the Valentine’s Day cake balls! I decided I wanted to make heart shaped cake balls. Here is the original cake ball recipe on Bakerella. The basic idea is bake a cake, crumble it, mix a can of frosting in, form them into balls (or another shape), chill, put them on a stick and then dip them in chocolate or candy melts.

Well, that turned out to be a little more challenging then I first thought they would be. (Sound familiar?) In the end they turned out ok, but I think I was a little ambitious. First, I was making two batches of cake. Now this might not seem ambitious, but each batch of cake makes 45-55 cake balls. So that would be 90-110 cake balls to make when I hadn’t even made 1 before. I decided I am going to give you some tips so you can learn from my mistakes 🙂

  1. Make sure you completely cool the cake. I mean totally cooled. Yes this does take time, but it is necessary. If the cake isn’t completely cooled then the cake balls will turn out more gooey rather than cakey.
  2. Completely chill the cakes after you roll them into balls or shape them. This will help the cake stay together when you dip it. Also I found it easier to shape the cake into balls and then hearts if the cake mixture had chilled in the fridge for a little as well.
  3. Make sure the cake balls aren’t too big otherwise the will be too heavy and fall off the stick when you try to dip the cake pops.
  4. At least for me melting the chocolate in the double boiler was way easier and worked much better than use the microwave to melt it. Part of the microwave failure was probably that I was using a bowl that is not recommended for microwave use. So the microwave would probably work when you have a bowl that is made for use in the microwave (go figure, right?).  So the bowl got really hot, but the chocolate didn’t melt all the way.  Sidenote: Even if you don’t have a double boiler per se you can have a makeshift one with nesting pots like I did.
  5. Don’t overheat the chocolate or candy melts, especially the candy melts. On the package it does say you can add some kind of shortening to get the candy melts back to the original consistency. I didn’t have that and I didn’t feel like going to the store.
  6. Bakerella on her site stands up the cake pops to harden and when I tried that my cake pops kind of fell over and got droopy. Sad droopy cake pop:
    So I put wax paper down and just let them harden on that and I think they turned out fine.
  7. If you run out of chocolate or candy melts (which I did) don’t try and dip them in frosting (like for the duck cupcakes). It was a total FAILURE!
  8. Make sure the chocolate is completely melted before you try to dip them. If the chocolate is still thick it will make the cake even heavier and make the cake pops fall apart. This combined with #3 and #4 leads to this: f-a-i-lI never was able to get the chocolate as runny as I would have liked (maybe what I was aiming for isn’t possible), but the chocolate was melted enough to (somewhat) successfully dip the cake pops.
  9. Make them with a friend! Things like this are way more fun to do with a friend. Plus it makes it easier to laugh at yourself when you totally mess up (because you probably will) when you are doing it with a friend. Also I think it would help to have another set of hands!
  10. Have fun and be creative! (ok really I just wanted to have a #10 because 10 is a nicer number than 9)

I used sugar pearls from Wilton (I got them at Michael’s) in white and pink to decorate the hearts before the coating was hardened. So now my Valentine’s Day cake pops:

I really liked the tags and it was what made the cake pops especially cute (at least in my opinion). While I was at Michael’s they had tag punches like this one half off. That made it way easier rather than trying to cut all of those out. Then I stamped “Happy Valentine’s Day” on one side. I wanted to put a verse on the other side because truly God is the greatest love any of us will ever know. I decided to put Psalm 63:3 on the back, which says:

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

I feel like this verse succinctly sums up God’s love and our responsive love back towards Him. My hope is that it was an encouragement and reminder about God’s love for every person who got one (and I hope the verse is an encouragement for anyone reading this 🙂 ).

Overall I was happy how they turned out and would definitely be willing to make them again, especially knowing what I do now. You know what they say: practice makes perfect!

Happy (late) Valentine’s Day!!

This post is a baking heavy post, but I think you all will enjoy it and hopefully be inspired to go bake something and use your creativity!

First off is the ducks that Gavin and I made while he was up here before the BCS game.

We didn’t come up with this clever design on our own, but got the instructions from the book What’s New Cupcake? Gavin (and my mom) got me this book for Christmas and my mom also got me the book that the authors wrote first Hello Cupcake. (Great minds think alike with the Christmas presents huh?)

The first book Hello Cupcake

Their second book What’s New, Cupcake?

So as you can see from the cover the ducks were from What’s New, Cupcake? First off let me say that the pictures in the book are made by professionals who probably make quite a few to get just some that are photo worthy. So, if yours don’t turn out as perfect or beautiful as the picture it is OK. Once I realized this it was a lot more fun to make them.  Although it didn’t take long to realize that Gavin’s and mine were not going to look quite as nice as the ones in the book! The instructions make it seem so easy: bake cupcakes, attach donut hole and marshmallow with frosting, chill, dip in melted frosting, add eyes and bill and voila! Well it was way more difficult then I was imagining, but what made it such a fun experience was doing it with Gavin and having fun together!

The authors use candy and other things like donut holes, marshmallows, graham crackers, different cookies and other sweets.  I figured I would give you guys a little diagram of the make up of the cute little ducks!

So overall they were somewhat hard to make, but so worth it! All of the cupcakes in the books are SO CUTE! I can’t wait to find reasons or holidays to make more of them! They are so cute I figured I would share some of the other super adorable cupcake designs from the books.

This one would have been so cute to make for a superbowl party! There is always next year though!

How perfect for Christmas time?!

They have quite a few food look-a-like cupcake designs that would be perfect for april fools!

You could make a pretty bouquet of spring flowers for Easter! These are actually fairly simple marshmallows cut in half on the diagonal then the sticky side dipped in colored sugar and then mini m&m’s, chocolate chips or other candies as the middle!

All of the images are from their blog Hello, Cupcake! The Cupcaker’s Place To Blog

 

I originally planed to write about the cake pops I made for Valentine’s Day as well in this post, but it got a little long so I will split it up and write about the cake pops in my next post! (I promise it won’t take me almost a month to put it up, like this one did!!)

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