Posts Tagged ‘ Baking ’

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!

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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!!)

Care packages are wonderful things!

So I wrote this post a few days ago, but waited until the care package arrived at its destination to post it. It was to Gavin, but there were some goodies in there for some other special people in SLO : ) Isn’t getting mail the greatest?! I LOVE getting mail. The effort the other person has to put in just makes it all the more special. I am always so excited when I see something in my mail box that isn’t one of those generic mailers! Do any of you get excited over mail like me??

I love making things and have always enjoyed making cards. I was going to post a few pictures of the cards I made, but then I realized I didn’t take any before I mailed them! Oh well! They were Halloween cards, only because it was the next holiday coming up, not because I normally think of Halloween as a card giving holiday and I wanted to write to people : )

BUT Christmas is coming up and I already have Christmas card ideas brewing. I made Christmas cards for two years in High School, but I didn’t have my crafting stuff down in SLO, and there isn’t that much time over winter break before Christmas to make cards. However, I have been reunited with my stamps, ink pads and paper and this year I am making Christmas cards! I’m pretty darn excited! Making cards is somewhat soothing and relaxing, plus I get to be creative AND then I get to send them to people and let them know I am thinking about them and wish them a Merry Christmas! How great, right?! Can you believe there are 74 days until Christmas?! It keeps creeping up! But we still have Halloween and Thanksgiving! Speaking of Halloween, I have no idea what to dress up as! Any suggestions??

On to the main topic of what I wanted to post about: the yummy recipe for the bars I baked for Gavin

The recipe came from the Cookshelf cookbook on Baking. It is a cute little cookbook and I got it along with ones on Italian, Mexican, Chocolate, and Vegetarian for my birthday. This is the first recipe I have made out of any of them and I think it turned out pretty good! So here is the recipe:

MILLIONAIRE’S SHORTBREAD

Shortbread Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tbsp light brown sugar

Carmel Topping

  • 14 ounce can condensed milk
  • 4 Tbps light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter

Chocolate Topping

  • 5 1/2 ounces milk chocolate (I used more like 6 or 6 1/2, the more chocolate the better right?!)

Directions

  1. Thoroughly grease a 9-inch square cake pan. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Sift flour into a bowl (I just whisked it to get the lumps out) and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix to form a firm dough. (I wouldn’t have called my dough a “firm” dough, but when I pressed the dough together it held. It was fine because of the next step.)
  3. Press the dough into the prepared pan and prick with a fork. (See why it didn’t need to be a “firm” dough?)
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for 20 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool completely in the pan.
  5. To make the carmel topping, place the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a nonstick saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the carmel is pale golden and tick and is coming away from the sides of the pan. Pour over the shortbread base and let cool. (I re-greased the pan before I did this just to help the carmel not stick to the side. I figured a few more calories from the butter wouldn’t make that much of a difference in the long run)
  7. When the carmel topping is firm, melt the milk chocolate in a double boiler (I just used a smaller saucepan inside of a bigger one). Spread the the melted chocolate over the topping, set aside in a cool place, then cut the shortbread into squares or bars to serve.

Overall it is a pretty straight forward recipe. However, there is a lot of down time waiting for things to set up and/or cool. So just be prepared to do one layer at a time and wait 30 minutes to an hour between each one. Here is the final product!

Lastly, OREGON FOOTBALL #2 IN THE NATION!!! I love how into football people are here! I am really hoping I will be able to get tickets!!! Watch out Ohio State, we are right on your tail!

Everything but the kitchen sink

It has been forever since I have updated and there is much to update about!! So lets get going!

The rest of summer

First off, my mom and I went on a road trip to look at schools for grad school. I want to do a school counselor program. It was fun to take a road trip and spend time with my mom. I went to Sac State, San Jose State and St. Mary’s. Of the three I liked St. Mary’s, but for $25,000+ a year it should be the program that was most appealing! Honestly Sac State was the least impressive, and I would want to try my hardest to not go there. The campus and feel of the school just didn’t stand out to me. Did that happen to any of you while looking at colleges?? Did you like the school that cost the most? I’m still not sure whether I want to do grad school right away. Right now I am leaning more towards taking a year off, but we will see how everything ends up. Honestly I need to pray about it a LOT more because I really don’t know what the Lord has in store for me next year. It is slightly crazy to me that I am already thinking about plans for next year when I have literally just started fall team.

Other then looking at schools my mom and I visited SLO Saturday night until Wednesday morning. It was really great to hang out and get to spend time there and see so many wonderful people! My mom and I stayed at Apple Farm which was so much fun! We got to do a lot of things that I love in SLO including going to Avila! It was super windy, but still great just to be at the ocean! I picked up some rocks and stuff for another little project in my living room : ) It was great getting to spend some quality time with Gavin before being apart for almost 2 months, which will be our longest time apart so far. Also I loved getting to go to Crusade and seeing everyone there! I also got to go to Jesus burgers for a little and the slack street party. All of it was so great to go to! Being away makes me realize how unique and special the community is there. Seriously that many college students who are seeking, on fire for and loving Jesus is amazing! It makes me want that kind of community here in Eugene. I feel so blessed to have been able to spent 2 years in that amazing transformational community. SLO, Crusade and the people there have made a lasting impact on my life and it was really great to be able to experience that one more time before coming up here for the year. Also I loved getting to catch up on life with people and I truly wish I had the time to get to talk more in depth with more people to hear about their summers and how God was working in their lives this summer. But, that is why there is skype right?  ; ) It was so great to see so many people that I care about, it made me miss you all less!! I had been hearing about people’s lives from Gavin, but it was great to actually talk to people and hear from them, not that I don’t appreciate the updates Gavin : )

So then I came back and I was home for a day then I came down to Eugene to get settled in before school started. Friday night I was bored so I baked cupcakes for the UO game Saturday. I had seen the cook books Hello Cupcake and Whats New Cupcake at the Jelly Belly factory (where my mom and I got belly flops SO GREAT!) and was inspired. So I was ambitious and decided to make Oregon O decorations for my cupcakes. My yellow Os set up nicely, but I didn’t make them as thick as I should have, so some broke. However my green Os did not set up very well. I think it was because I was working on the counter that is above my dishwasher so the heat from that made the chocolate set up funny. I got the colored melting chocolate from Michael’s and it tasted just like white chocolate and wasn’t too pricey!  Here is the finished product:The basic idea with the melted chocolate is to have a design or pattern under a piece of parchment paper and then pipe the chocolate in the design and let it set. To make it easier to put the decorations on the cupcakes I made a point to stick into the cupcake. I don’t have a picture, but you get the idea. Overall pretty easy to make plain cupcakes a little more fun! Not to mention the Ducks won Saturday against Arizona State!! WOOOOO!!! Saturday we play Stanford it is going to be a close game, but hopefully a good one with a Oregon W! I am hoping to get a ticket to be able to experience a Pac-10 game as a student, but we will see. It is really hard to get tickets because they only have around 4,000 student tickets. Anyway, Sunday I went back to Salem for Ashley and Matt’s engagement party. It was a great BBQ and nice to see family friends. Then I came back to Eugene to get ready for school Monday!

School

School started Monday and it felt really weird starting, but also like we should have started a while ago. For the most part I am excited for my classes this quarter. I am taking SOC 330: Sociology of Family, SOC 345: Race, Class and Ethnicity, GEOG 142: Human Geography, SOC 491: Sociology of Education (Online class) and last but not least DANC 199: Salsa. Geography seems like it could be a really cool class, it is a lot of freshmen, but other then that it seems good. The teacher seems really interesting so hopefully that class will be a good one. I am taking Salsa and my roommate is actually taking the same class! I’m pretty excited to learn Salsa and get to take it with my roommate and a few of her friends!

Garden

My plants are all back in Eugene with me! I planted some parsley and cilantro in a pot that I had had flowers in. But I think I am more excited to have more herbs!! I will post pictures once they have sprouted and start to grow. My green beans grew beans again and I was so excited to find beans when I came back from CA most recently. Also once I had harvested the main head of broccoli there were other side heads that started growing that I harvested yesterday and had in a stir fry with my green beans! Also I have now ate 5, yes that is right 5 cucumbers that I have grown! Plus there are more on the vine still! I must say that from now on I will be growing cucumbers I love them soooo much and there is just something rewarding about eating produce that you have grown!

These are the broccoli, green beans and cucumber I picked the other day!

Projects/finishing my room

So I haven’t actually finished my quote/painting project, but I plan to do that this weekend! However I have finished my room for the most part. There are some mirrors that I want to put up over my dresser, but other then that done and organized!! Now my goal is to just keep it this way throughout the quarter! If you know me at all you know this is an ambitious goal, but one that I would really like to achieve. So here are some pictures:

My bed and bedside table

Close up of the wall decal. It was a labor of love that took f-o-r-e-v-e-r! I think that was mainly because my walls are textured and the letters didn’t stick very easily to it. But it is up and I’m lovin’ it so far!

My desk area

A little reading nook/area. Plus the ottoman/seat is storage! So great!!

My desk, pictures of people I care about and words of encouragement!

Calendar & cards!

My huge closet, door to my room & pictures of my lovely roomies : )

That is all for now! Thanks for sticking with me through the long post!! I am really going to try to update more often (then I will also have less to write about, hence shorter posts)! As always I would love to skype and catch up on life more! Hope everyone has a good rest of the week and a fantastic weekend!!

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