Patty’s raspberry cheesecake bites

What’s tart and rich, and filled with raspberry goodness? The other day my sister told me about raspberry cheesecake, and I could think of nothing else until I had some too. “It’s delicious,” she assured me, and I was eager to see for myself.

Good to know before you start:

I intended to add cream to this but forgot about it, and in the end I’m glad I didn’t, it would have been too much liquid combined with the juice from the berries. Recommend you don’t use frozen berries for the same reason.

I was also going to crush the graham crackers but after I took this picture discovered I had just enough graham cracker crumbs in the pantry to use instead. Huzzah!

Time required: 2 days (overnight chilling)

Yields: 64 pieces

Cost per slice: $0.50

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $32.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • baking pans: 9″ x 13″ nestled inside 14.5″ by 10.5″
  • heavy tin foil & plastic wrap

Crust ingredients:

  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¾ C honey graham cracker crumbs

Filling ingredients:

  • 1¼ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 4 blocks of cream cheese, softened (32 oz or 1,000 g)
  • 5 large eggs, room temp
  • 3 containers of raspberries

Topping ingredients:

  • 1½ C sour cream
  • 3 TBSP granulated white sugar

1. Using centre rack, preheat oven to 176°C / 350°F.  Fill kettle and boil. After water boils, leave on Low for use later.

2. Line 9″ x 13″ baking pan with foil, and grease.

3. Melt butter in sauce pan on Low. Remove from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs.

4. Pat crumbs into prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes and cool on wire rack.

5. Rise and dry berries. Sample! Set aside.

6. In a small bowl whisk sugar and cornstarch together, set aside.

7. In mixer, on Medium speed, beat cream cheese for 5 minutes.  Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl every 60 seconds.

8. Gradually beat in sugar mixture, then add eggs one at a time. Mix until thoroughly blended, but don’t overbeat and remember to scrape down the sides.

9. Add about half of the berries and beat on High until you see swirls of red. Dodge that stuff like The Matrix as you remember why putting a KitchenAid on the highest speed can be a bad idea.

10. Pour half of the filling onto the crust. Sprinkle with remaining berries, then remaining filling.

Get annoyed when your berries, which may or may not have been meticulously spaced, are displaced by the weigh of the rest of the filling as it is poured. Frown repeatedly.

11. Create the hot water bath. Bake 50 minutes until just centre jiggles, then remove from oven and place on rack (turn off oven). Flip out when you remember you forgot to add the heavy cream, and obsessively wonder what will happen when it’s time to slice it.

12. While the cake was baking I made up the topping, see small bowl to the right? It’s just sour cream and white sugar mixed together. Chill it until the cake is removed from the oven, then spoon mixture onto hot cake, use soft spatula to spread it evenly, and return cake to oven for 5 minutes (oven is off).

14. Remove from oven and carefully remove the smaller pan (which holds the cake) from the large pan. Cool cheesecake for at least 2 hours.

15. Cover in plastic wrap and chill overnight. Is this your first time making a cheesecake? Read my notes on how to slice a cheesecake correctly.

Verdict: Be still my stomach. This is delicious, but cheesecake for breakfast has to stop. I am dying. I plan to donate some of this to my partying neighbours across the hall.

Ah, raspberry cheesecake is sumptuous. Thanks Chocoholic!

Playlist: Tchaikovsky – Sleeping Beauty

Gooey cheesecake brownies

A rich chocolate brownie with a cream cheese topping.  #winning.

I made these for spite.  I was planning to avoid cheesecake-type desserts for awhile but my resolve shattered after flipping through my cook book.  I had intended to make these brownies last month but didn’t get around to it, so last night just seemed like as good a time as any.

This recipe is also from Good Housekeeping Brownies: favourite recipes for Blondies, Bars & Brownies, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Mine don’t look quite as nice as the book, but they tasty really good, and that’s mostly what counts!

Time required: (3 hours: 1 hr prep, 1 hr baking, 1 hr cooling)

Yields: 36 pieces

Cost per brownie: $1.05

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: between $27.00 and $38.00 depending on what type of vanilla extract you like, I am using pure Tahitian vanilla extract at the moment.

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • baking pan: 9″ x 13″
  • tin foil
  • KitchenAid mixer!

Brownie ingredients:

  • 1¼ C flour
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ¾ C butter (one and a half sticks, room temp)
  • 6 oz unsweetened chocolate (6 squares)
  • 2 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, room temp

Topping ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened (1 block)
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 2 C icing sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract

Instructions:

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 177°C / 350°F.  Line baking pan with tinfoil and grease.

Step 2 – Prepare brownie: whisk together flour and salt.

Step 3 – In a sauce pan melt the baking chocolate, and stir in the butter until smooth.

Step 4 – Remove from heat, stir in sugar and vanilla.

Step 5 – Beat in eggs until just combined.

Step 6 – Stir in flour mixture, then spread into prepared pan.

Step 7 – Prepare topping: beat cream cheese.  Add the eggs, icing sugar, and vanilla.

I wasn’t paying attention at this point because one of my parental units called and I got distracted, so I didn’t blend the cream cheese as well as I should have before adding the rest of the ingredients. Oops.

Step 8 – “Use a metal spatula to spread topping gently over the brownie.”

Hmmm. I didn’t have to use a spatula at all, my topping was very runny and poured easily from the pan onto the brownie.  Hurrah, one less dish to clean!

I tilted the baking pan and it spread out on its own. Hope that is okay…

Step 9 – Bake 55 minutes, a toothpick inserted will come out cleanly when done.  Cool completely in pan, on wire rack. Looks good so far, and smells amazing.

Step 10 – Use tinfoil to lift brownie from pan, and slice lengthwise into 6 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 6 pieces.

Verdict: Wow – I’m in heaven. These are pretty good.

I will definitely make this again but will change three things:

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave in a big glass bowl instead of on the stove, because stirring dry ingredients into my small sauce pans sucks.

2. Avoid answering the phone while preparing the topping.

3. Lower the baking time by 5 minutes.  My oven runs 2 degrees cold, and you would think that by following recipe times exactly my results would always be good – but not so!

It seems every time I used the exact time listed in a cook book it’s overdone.  The bottom of the brownie was slightly crispy, and the topping was a wee bit overdone.  Still tastes good, but next time will be flawless.

Playlist: Schubert – Der Erlkönig

Patty’s apple caramel honey cheesecake

The other night I polled my readers, to find out what people thought would taste best with an apple dessert; and honey won. So here is my apple caramel honey cheesecake.

Whew.  Try saying that 3 times fast.  This sweet number is made from a bed of spiced honey graham crackers, covered in fresh tart apples, homemade caramel sauce, and a cream cheese filling made with honey and applesauce.

I was planning to post this the day after the poll, but hit a minor snag.  Well…okay, more of a giant snag. More on that later.

Good to know before you start:

There is a significant time gap between baking the crust, and baking the entire cake, so once the crust is done, shut off the oven, and remember when you turn the oven back on, a lower temperature is used.

Because the crust is chilled before the filling is added, you don’t want to put a cold pan into a hot oven.  You will need to either chill the crust and caramel, then let it sit until it reaches room temperature, or transfer the crust into a new pan already at room temp.

Notice anything new? Or blue? 😀

Time required: 2 days (4 hrs + overnight chilling)

Yields: 40 pieces

Cost per portion: $1.20

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $48.00 (sheesh, glad I just needed apples)

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • electric mixer
  • baking pans: 9″ x 13″ nestled inside a 14.5″ x 10.5″
  • tinfoil & plastic wrap

Crust ingredients:

  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1¾ C honey graham cracker crumbs
  • ⅛ TSP ground nutmeg
  • smidgen of ground cloves
  • 2 tart apples, (peeled, cored, minced) ADD AFTER CRUST IS BAKED

Caramel ingredients:

  • ¾ C dark brown sugar
  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter
  • ½ TSP ground cinnamon
  • ½ C heavy cream

Filling ingredients:

  • 4 blocks of cream cheese, softened
  • 1¼ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP powdered corn starch
  • ¼ C unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 TBSP Billy Bee honey
  • ¼ C heavy cream
  • 5 eggs, room temp

Crust instructions:

Step 1 – Use centre rack.  Pre-heat oven to 175°C / 350°F.

Step 2 – Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with tinfoil, and grease it.  If you turn the pan upside down and wrap the foil around the outside to get the shape this is easier.

Step 3 – In sauce pan on Low, melt butter.

Step 4 – Combine graham cracker crumbs with nutmeg and cloves, and stir into butter.

Step 5 – remove from heat and press into prepared pan.

Bake 10 min AND TURN OFF THE OVEN.

Step 6 – shred or mince the apples

Step 7 – while crust is cooling, mince 2 apples, and spread this directly over the crust.  Leave on cooling rack.  (There are two different colours here because I did not mince the apples at the same time and one browned a bit.)


CARAMEL INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 8 – in a sauce pan on Medium, melt sugar and butter, whisking often.

Step 9 – When it starts to boil, stir in the cinnamon and remove from heat.

Step 10 – Stir in cream, return to heat until bubbly.

Step 11 – Carefully pour this onto crust, use spoon to spread it to the edges.

Step 12 – Refrigerate at least one hour.  (Before this can go in the oven later with the filling, this pan needs to be room temperature so you’ll need to let it sit or transfer to a new pan.)

FILLING INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 13 – now pre-heat oven to 150°C / 300°F.  Fill kettle and turn on Low, now.

Step 14 – Beat cream cheese on Medium until smooth.

Step 15 – One by one, beat in (and ensure each ingredient is thoroughly blended before adding the next) add: sugar, corn starch, apple sauce honey, and heavy cream.

Go magic mixer, go go go!!!

Step 16 – On Low speed, beat in eggs, one at time, until just blended.

Step 17 – Pour filling onto crust.

Step 18 – Place the pan containing your cake into a larger pan, and fill the large pan with boiling water to form a bain marie.

Step 19 – Bake 65 minutes, it is done when edges are set but centre jiggles.  (Do you see that odd colour in the centre?  That’s what happens when you scrape the bowl of cream cheese and get the pieces that weren’t properly beaten into your cake. Grrrr.)

Step 20 – Cool on rack at least one hour, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight, before using a hot knife to slice into pieces.  (I blotted the top with paper towel as some condensation had developed.)

Verdict:  Surely a piece of cheesecake made with real apples must have some tiny health benefit, yes? Loved this.

You know, I am totally over the idea of making cheesecake in a round springform pan.  Never again. I get consistently better results when I use a rectangular baking pan.

To create my recipe, I planned a small, round cheesecake, and cut out as much of the eggs and cream cheese as I could, reasoning that since the filling is always quite high, I could probably get rid of 50% of it and still have a tasty cheesecake.  Um, no.

The first attempt ended in total disaster.  It literally disintegrated in my hands; cracking, deflating, and sliding apart.

This was particularly disappointing because it was the first dessert I made in my new KitchenAid mixer.  (Which is a cobalt blue Artisan tilt-head beauty!)

I consulted my cheesecake guru, and she thought the problem might be too much liquid, not enough cream cheese, and not enough time in the oven. I want to be clear: the mixer was not to blame!!

So I went back to the drawing board, played around with my ingredient ratios,  tried a different pan, and baked it a little longer. Success, how sweet it is!

I have arrived at a strange point in my life, where kitchen appliances excite me to a level I thought was gone past all recall. Eh.  Excuse me, I have to go stare at my beautiful blue mixer for awhile.

Playlist: Labyrinth soundtrack

Patty’s pumpkin cheesecake bites

This idea has been percolating in my brain for awhile. I like pumpkins. I like cheesecake. Could they combine into something cool like Voltron? Turns out yes, yes they can.

The pumpkin is a native squash of North America and harvested in autumn. Being Canadian and born in October, this pleases me greatly. How many other types of produce can be used as doorstops and in competitive sports? I’m dying to go pumpkin chucking now.

Good to know before you start:

  1. The proportions that I used yielded a cheesecake with a subtle flavour. If you like the bold taste of pumpkin and want that punch-out flavour you’ll need to increase the amount of pumpkin and spices used.
  2. Let the cream cheese sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

Time required: 2 days (overnight chilling)

Yields: between 40-64 pieces

Cost per slice: $1.42

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $57.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • electric beaters
  • baking pans: 9″ x 13″ nestled inside a 14.5″ x 10.5″ pan
  • tinfoil & plastic wrap
  • flour sifter (for the sugar)

Crust ingredients:

  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¾ C graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 TSP ginger

Filling ingredients:

  • 4 blocks of cream cheese, softened (32 oz or 1,000 g)
  • 1¼ C dark brown sugar
  • ½ TSP cinnamon
  • ⅛ TSP cloves
  • ⅛ TSP pumpkin spice
  • ⅛ TSP allspice
  • ⅛ TSP nutmeg
  • pinch of ginger
  • 2 TBSP powdered cornstarch
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • ½ TSP vanilla bean paste
  • 5 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 C pumpkin filling

Topping ingredients:

  • 1½ C sour cream
  • 3 TBSP granulated white sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla bean paste

Step 1 – using centre rack, preheat oven to 176°C / 350°F.  Fill kettle and boil. After water boils, leave on Low for use later.

Step 2 – line 9″ x 13″ baking pan with foil, and grease the foil.

Step 3 – melt butter in sauce pan on Low.

Step 4 – measure out the graham cracker crumbs and mix in the ginger.

Step 5 – stir graham crumbs into butter and remove from heat.

Step 6 – press the crumbs into the prepared pan by hand and bake 10 min, then cool on rack.

Step 7 – in a medium bowl, combine: brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin spice, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and cornstarch.

Stir them together, and since brown sugar tends to clump I ran it through a flour sifter.  (This picture is before sifting.)

Step 8 –  in mix master on Medium speed, beat cream cheese for 5 minutes. Use a  rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl constantly.

Step 9 – once the cream cheese is beaten up, stir in the sugar mixture, one third at a time.

Step 10 – beat in the eggs, one at a time, don’t over beat.

Step 11 – beat in pumpkin filling.

Step 12 – stir vanilla bean paste into heavy cream, the add to cream cheese.

Step 13  – pour into prepared pan, and place that pan inside the large baking pan. Using the hot water from the kettle, pour water into the outside pan so it rises about halfway up the side of the pan containing the cheesecake.

Bake in oven 50 minutes. When you remove cake from oven, turn oven off.

Step 14 – in a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste to create topping.

Pour this onto the cheesecake and carefully spread it with a soft spatula.

See the little black flecks? Those are the pods from the vanilla bean.

Step 15 – place this back into the oven for 5 minutes (oven is off).

Step 16 – cool on rack for 2 hours, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Step 17 – in the morning use the tinfoil to lift the cake out of the pan. Use a hot knife and cut it into 8 or 9 strips, and then cut each strip into 5 or 6 pieces.

Step 18 – let pieces sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before consuming.

Verdict: I’m very happy with this. Initially I worried that the spices and pumpkin would be overpowering, so went easy on those amounts, but next time I’d increase it to 2 cups of pumpkin filling, and at least half a teaspoon for each spice. This particular cheesecake had a subtle yet distinctive pumpkin flavour. I garnished them with blueberries and fired up the espresso machine to make cinnamon dolce lattes for two. Boyfriend said, “Yum.”

I’m famous! SpatulaGoddess in a restaurant near you!

My citrus cheesecake is the featured dessert at The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse this week in Moncton!!

The restaurant is located at 751 Main Street, downtown Moncton, NB, E1C 1E5, and opens at 11am daily. If you’re in the area check it out!

I found out a few minutes ago. So cool. I love the Maritimes!

Citrus cheesecake bites

Last night marked my 2nd venture into Cheesecake Territory, to make a creamy filling with tangy citrus fruits, on a bed of vanilla crumbs, topped with a hint of sour cream. I ate a piece this morning with my cup of tea, and oh my!!

Food for thought: did you know that cheesecake originated in Ancient Greece over 4,000 years ago, and that the citrus fruit comes from Southeast Asia?

I found a recipe for “lemony cheesecake bites ” in Good Housekeeping Brownies: favourite recipes for Blondies, Bars & Brownies, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

The recipe title is misleading since it contains lemon, lime, and orange, hence the rename above.

I love citrus fruits. Everything about them appeals to me as an artist; the pleasing round shapes, the colourful peels, the juicy fruits inside, the range of flavours from sweet to tart, and the scent that rises as you open them. The possibilities;  lemon tarts, lemonade, lemon gin, lime Thai, freshly squeezed orange juice….  and they ward off scurvy, too! Let’s hear it for citrus.

Good to know before you start:

  1. remove cream cheese from fridge at least 2 hours before starting
  2. remove the other dairy (butter, cream, eggs) 30 min before starting
  3. do NOT remove the sour cream from the fridge before you need it
  4. you could probably get away with using 1  lemon, and less sour cream
  5. invest in a juicer, they are cheap, they are great
  6. you make the crust first, and while it’s cooling make the filling, and while it’s baking make the topping, which is chilled until needed

Time required: 2 days (overnight chilling)

Yields: 64 pieces

Cost per slice: $0.31

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $32.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • juicer
  • grater / zester
  • rolling pin
  • electric beaters
  • baking pans: 9″ x 13″ nestled inside 14.5″ by 10.5″
  • tin foil, plastic wrap,  & plastic freezer bag

Crust ingredients:

  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 lime (need ¾ TSP freshly grated peel)
  • 1¾ C vanilla wafer crumbs (Mr. Christie’s Nilla vanilla flavoured wafers)

Filling ingredients:

  • 2 lemons, large (need ¼ C juice and 1 TBSP freshly grated peel)
  • 1¼ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 4 blocks of cream cheese, softened (32 oz or 1,000 g)
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • 5 large eggs, room temp

Topping ingredients:

  • 1½ C sour cream
  • 3 TBSP granulated white sugar
  • 1 orange (need 1 TSP freshly grated peel)

Step 1 – using centre rack, preheat oven to 176°C / 350°F.  Fill kettle and boil. After water boils, leave on Low for use later.

Step 2 – line 9″ x 13″ baking pan with foil, and grease

Step 3 – place cookies in freezer bag and crush with rolling pin, set crumbs aside  (forgot to count how many cookies this requires)

Step 4 – melt butter in sauce pan on Low

Step 5 – grate lime peel, stir into butter, and remove from heat

Step 6 – stir cookie crumbs into butter

Step 7 – spoon crumbs into foil-lined pan, and press down by hand (note: pressing down crumbs with spoon failed, use hand)

Step 9 – bake 10 minutes and cool on wire rack

Step 10 – from lemons, grate peel and set aside, then squeeze juice and set aside.

Step 11 – in a small bowl whisk sugar and cornstarch together

Step 12 – in mix master or large bowl, on Medium speed, beat cream cheese for 5 minutes.  Use a flexible rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl constantly. Already I am impressed with the texture, looking much better than the previous attempt.

Step 13: one by one, beat in the sugar mix (adding a third at a time), followed by heavy cream, lemon juice, and lemon peel.  It is important to make sure each ingredient is blended well before adding the next. Keep scraping down the sides.

Step 14 – on Low speed, beat in eggs one at a time until just blended, do not over beat

Step 15 – pour filling onto crust, and place 9″ x 13″ pan inside 14.5″ x 10″ baking pan, to form water bath. Carefully pour hot water from the kettle into the larger pan, it should rise about halfway up the side of the small pan.

Step 16 – carefully lift large pan and place in oven, bake 50 minutes until just centre jiggles, then remove from oven and place on rack (turn off oven)

Step 17 – while cake is baking, make topping; in a small bowl stir in sour cream, sugar, and orange peel, cover and return to fridge

Step 18 – immediately after removing cake from oven, spoon sour cream mix onto hot cake, use soft spatula to spread it evenly

Step 19 – return cake to oven for 5 minutes (oven is off)

Step 20 – remove from oven and carefully remove the smaller pan (which holds the cake) from the large pan

Step 21 – place smaller pan on cooling rack until completely cooled, at least 2 hours

Step 22 – cover pan tightly with plastic wrap, chill in fridge overnight

Step 23 – in the morning, use edges of tinfoil to carefully lift the cake out of the baking pan, and use a hot knife to cut a few pieces, return remainder to fridge

Step 24 – let pieces sit at room temp for 10 minutes before consuming

Verdict: citrus cheesecake is delicious. I am really pleased with how this turned out. It smells (and tastes) amazing. Although the lemon is the first flavour you notice, after taking a bite and letting it sit in your mouth, you’ll taste the lime and orange, set off perfectly by the sour cream. I think I’m in love.

Glad I opted to use freshly squeezed fruits instead of bottled juice. It took longer to make than anticipated but I forgot to time myself.

I’ve learned a few things since making my first cheesecake:

  1. cream cheese takes a long time to reach room temperature (2 hours+)
  2. yes, it is important to continually scrape down the sides of the bowl
  3. grating the zest from citrus fruits sucks
  4. yes, the hot knife really should be cleaned and re-heated after each cut
  5. yes, a water bath actually can be too high
  6. always read the instructions with appliances that Mom gives you

Current playlist: Gothic metal

Untitled post is untitled

Tonight I’ll be making a cheesecake bar dessert, but in the meantime, I read a fantastic book recently; Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

It’s a personal account of the disastrous Mt. Everest climb of 1996. The first IMAX movie I saw was  Everest, which (unbeknownst to me) was filmed during the same time that the events of the novel occurred. I will definitely watch the film again soon.

Today I’m on the hunt for a specific item, a 10.5″ x 15.5″ baking pan deep enough to hold a 9″ x 13″ pan, for a water bath, for tonight’s dessert.

However, I sort of overslept and Boyfriend was kind enough to nag me out of bed before he left for the day, and I’m cold. Brrrr. Before venturing outside I am waiting for A) my hair to dry and B) the store to open.

I had a good weekend, finally completed the first Super Mario Galaxy with 120 stars (mad skills!), and a good friend dropped by to visit. Also made a lasagna. The only low point was accidentally updating my BlackBerry to OS 6 – I intended to update the desktop manager and back up my phone, but instead upgraded my OS, and now my RAM is almost gone. Oops.

Just the other day something wonderful happened. I became an aunt, again! Older Sister # 2 had a baby girl, named Sherbert!

Older Sisters # 1 and # 3 have gotten to visit the bebe and to my surprise, I’m very jealous. Overall I do not like children, and that includes infants, but all the same I’m really excited about my niece. I guess because she’s MY niece.

I also intend to find a super-awesome present, so as this bebe grows up I’ll retain my title of favourite aunt who gives cool presents.  Although my older sisters have the home field advantage of being geographically closer to Sherbert, I have the Big City Shopping advantage. If they think that online shopping will even the field, they couldn’t be more wrong.

I’m not competitive, not at all. Boyfriend thinks I’ve lost my mind and laughs at my recent behavior because normally, the only thing baby-related that piques my interest is Baby Smasher. So yes, I’m quite thrilled to be an aunt again!!

Current playlist: 80’s