The hard thing about recipes sometimes is that you don’t know exactly how much it will make. With cookies it’s never a big deal and entirely depends on the size of your scoop. But for cheesecakes when the ingredients are a bit expensive, it’s a slightly different story.
I had an order for a cheesecake for my neighbor. My memory can be super bad so not remembering which recipe I liked for cheesecake I went with my oldie but trusty Baking Handbook by Martha Stewart. I’ve only been steered the wrong way once with it… soon to be twice though.
I should have known looking at the ingredients- seven 8 ounce packages of cream cheese?! … I should have halved it, but… I wanted to make sure I had enough especially since it was for an order.
The recipe yielded enough for a 9″ cheesecake and there was a TON left over, enough for me to make 24 individual sized cupcakes… the original yield: one 10″ cheesecake. hmm… My book is now covered with notes and things crossed out. But lucky for my coworkers, they got a valentine’s day surprise. :-D
Half I topped with sprinkles. The other had hearts made from a raspberry coulis. For the crust, I ended up making three kinds, a chocolate cookie crust for the 9″ cake, a traditional graham cracker crust for 1 dozen mini cheesecakes, and a vanilla cookie crust for the other dozen. My favorite (well I think it was, I didn’t get to try the chocolate) was the vanilla cookie crust. The cheesecake infuses it with flavor and its not crumbly but instead this great complement to the custard.
The cheesecake itself- Amazing. Creamy and just plain delicious. I loved the cupcake size since they are perfect for one person. I’m setting this one aside as my go-to for a plain cheesecake, just in a reduced amount.
To make the hearts put round drops of the coulis on the surface then run a toothpick through it, top to bottom. (See upper right in the above pictures for an example of the dots). I used a squeeze bottle, but you could use a pastry bag or Ziploc bag to make the dots.
A lot of people are afraid of making cheesecakes- I definitely raise my hand to this statement… but I think I’ve got the hang of it now. Over the holidays I made many a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving orders and nailed down the steps to what has helped me produce the perfect cheesecake. One cheesecake in particular I was so nervous about turning out that I woke up at 2am after allowing it to cool on the counter top for several hours before putting it in the fridge. The next morning was like Christmas- no Grand Canyons!! I promptly posted the achievement to Facebook while grinning like a crazy person.
My Cheesecake Tips and Tricks:
– When you put the cheesecake in the oven, put a dish filled with boiling water on the rack below it. This creates steam in the oven and helps prevent cracks. I used a glass pie dish that I placed in the oven while it was preheating then filled it with water I’d previously boiled in a teapot right after I put in the cheesecake. It’s a little easier than carrying a dish filled with hot water around the kitchen.
– Once done baking, let the cheesecake cool- either in the oven with the door cracked or on the counter on a cooling rack.
– After about 10-15 minutes, run a sharp paring knife around the edges. This releases them to keep the cheesecake from pulling and cracking when it retracts while it’s cooling.
– Let cool completely at room temperature before placing in the fridge. This might take 2 hours or more.
– I sometimes don’t cover the top of the springform pan with plastic wrap or foil once it’s in the fridge because I don’t want condensation forming and then dripping on the top of the cake. I’ll wait until I know it’s cool for sure- an hour or so and then wrap it up.
I’ve had absolutely no cracks since taking these steps (hopefully I didn’t jinx it). Cheesecakes can be finicky! But hopefully this takes some of the guesswork out of it- because man are they delicious!!
Happy Valentine’s Day :-)
New York Style Cheesecake
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.
Notes: This recipe makes one 9″ cheesecake, or 24 individual sized cheesecakes made in a paper lined cupcake tin. Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature before starting the recipe. This can take up to 1-2 hours with the packages sitting at room temperature. Follow above instructions when cooking the cheesecake.
For the cheesecake:
3.5 eight ounce packages of cream cheese (full fat), at room temperature
1 1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream (full fat), room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the vanilla cookie crust:
2 stick of butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
For the raspberry coulis:
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter a 9″ springform pan or line 24 cupcake tins.
Make the crust: Cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla. Then the flour and pinch of salt. Press in as thin a layer as possible in the bottom of the springform pan. The easiest way to do this is with wet fingers so the dough doesn’t stick to them. For the cupcakes, make a ball and then press it in to the bottom.
Bake crust 15-18 minutes at 350 or until golden. Let cool.
For the cheesecake, in the bowl of an electric mixer paddle the cream cheese until light and creamy with no visible lumps. If you have a torch (like what you would use for creme brulee you can torch the side of the mixing bowl just a bit while it’s beating to warm up the cream cheese and help smooth it faster). In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and flour. Gradually beat into the cream cheese.
Add the sour cream and vanilla, and then the eggs. Beat until just combined scraping down the bowl frequently.
Pour into the prepared springform pan or fill cupcake tins 3/4 full using a cookie scoop, pouring it from the bowl, or spooning it.
If you are making the raspberry coulis, place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring frequently until the raspberries start to break down, and the mixture thickens slightly. Puree and strain for a smooth texture. Make a marbled tip effect on the top, or dots to make hearts, or just a big dab will do. Then you’re ready to bake!
For the cupcake sized cheesecake, reduce the temperature of the oven to 325 degrees. If you can, place the tin on a jelly roll pan, put in the oven and pour boiling water into the pan so it comes up the edges of the cupcake tin. Bake until the sides are set, about 20 minutes rotating halfway through.
For the 9″ cheesecake, follow the above cheesecake tips. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake an additional 30 minutes or so, until the sides are set but the middle is slightly wobbly.
Let cool completely before refrigerating.
A couple months ago we had a wedding shower for my friend Amanda. The set up was ridiculously cute with everyone pitching in different dishes. There were cookies as favors, fun games, and a crazy cute chalkboard sign! OMG we had so much fun celebrating!
The debate was a short one for figuring out what I would make. With the bride being from Vermont I knew I had to do something with maple syrup. And it just so happened that I’d seen a cake recipe on Pastry Affair just a couple days before that looked perfect! It turned out beautifully with good flavor from the maple syrup and nuts in the batter. The icing was an Italian Meringue maple syrup frosting that was light and spread on smooth. It was then garnished with toasted pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup around the edges.
The super cute couple saying hello to the bride’s mom. :-D
This recipe is from Pastry Affair, a fantastic blog by a fellow pastry lover. This is the first recipe of hers I’ve tried and I’ll certainly be going back for more! The original recipe has been doubled to make enough batter for two 8 inch layers. For the nuts in the recipe, I used half pecans and half almonds sense that’s what I had on hand. You are making a flour from the nuts so you can absolutely substitute almond or pecan meal to speed up the process.
1.5 cups (212g) whole almonds and pecans
12 tablespoons (170g) unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar
12 tablespoons (120g) maple syrup
2 large eggs
2.5 cups (312g) all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1.5 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two 8 inch cake tins with Baker’s Spray (spray with flour) or liberally butter and flour. Set aside.
If using whole nuts, spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 minutes. Once cool, process in a food processor until they resemble a coarse flour.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup, beat to combine and then the eggs being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
In a medium sized bowl combine the processed nuts (or almond/pecan meal), flour, spices, salt, and baking powder. Whisk and add to the liquid ingredients beating until just incorporated. Add the milk and beat on low until smooth.
Divide the batter between the pans and bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set on a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
*The cakes can be made in advance and frozen until you’re ready to ice them.
Maple Syrup Italian Meringue
6 large egg whites
12 tablespoons (152g)granulated sugar
1/2 cup (180g) brown sugar, not packed
8 tablespoons (80g) maple syrup
1.5-2 cups (340g to 454g) butter (very soft room temperature)
Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment.
In a small saucepan combine the sugars and cover with enough water to where the sugars have a sandy texture. Heat on medium to high heat to 238 degrees. Meanwhile beat the egg whites to soft peak.
Once the sugar/water is at 238 degrees, take it off the heat and pour it into the beaten egg whites with the mixer on low. Try to avoid the whisk and the sides of the bowl pouring it directly into the egg whites.
Beat on high until the bowl is no longer hot but just a little warm (body temp). Add the butter is small pieces constantly beating the mixture on medium to high speed. The mixture will start to resemble a buttercream with the last couple of additions. Keep adding butter until it reaches this point.
If it breaks, remove the bowl from the mixture and heat over the stove top for 2 seconds, take off and beat either manually with a whisk or on the mixer. This melts some of the butter and brings it back together. Once it’s the right consistency, whisk in the maple syrup and ice!
*If this sounds a little complicated, do a simple buttercream. Beat two room temperature sticks of butter, add enough powdered sugar until the mixture looks super thick. Thin it out maple syrup adding it a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a spreadable consistency.
Ho Ho Ho! One of my favorite things about Christmas is the.. cookies! This weekend we made 2 batches of cookies, 1 batch of brownies, and 3 kinds of candy! Check out the Ugly Christmas Sweater Gingerbread men I decorated last night. I love this Gingerbread Cookie Recipe! It’s chewy, takes only 15 minutes to make, and has a wonderful amount of spice. And here’s a great idea from the pastry shop I used to work at in Paris: decorate stars as snowflakes!
The Buche de Noel is a traditional French cake served around Christmas. Sponge cake rolled up and decorated like a log, it’s delicious and a lot of fun to make as a family. My favorite part… the meringue mushrooms. This recipe has an espresso mascarpone cream on the inside… yum!
Fudge is a classic around the holidays. How about trying this Salted Nutella Fudge… what??! For those of you who have a nutella problem- you know the one where the jar of nutella happens to disappear approximately a day after you bought it- well this one is for you!
And then there’s these cookies: Chocolate Crinkles. We’ve been making them in our family for YEARS. The worst (or maybe the best part) is that the dough has to chill for at least an hour before rolling it in balls and then in powdered sugar. The wait makes for a perfect time to just you know ensure that it’s being chilled properly. It can’t be too soft and the only way to tell uh hum is by tasting it!
This is a fun neat trick. Pick up some Jolly Ranchers at the store to make Stained Glass Christmas Tree Cookies. Place crushed up pieces inside cut outs in cookie dough. These will melt to form stained glass when baked!
I do love Gingerbread- so much that it’s on here twice. Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. They’re so tasty and look beautiful.
A few more that can’t be missed:
– Candy Bar Cookies (Chocolate, Caramel, Pecans, Shortbread!)
Merry Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! and Happy Baking!
It’s two sweet potato recipes in a row! This one because of an amazing breakfast in Kansas City I had last weekend and the fresh eggs and mushrooms I got from the market yesterday. This recipe is for one lucky person for breakfast, lunch, or dinner- and great to throw in the oven while you’re doing other things. Just don’t forget to stir it every once and awhile.
It’s delicious, savory, and healthy!
Sweet Potato Hash (for 1~)
1/4 cup sliced onion, then cut in large chunks
3 cremini mushrooms, de-stemmed and cut in fourths
1 spring thyme, chopped
2 sage leaves, chopped
1/2 medium sweet potato, cut in sticks
1 garlic clove, minced
Preheat oven to 425F degrees. In a cast iron skillet, saute the onion in olive oil. Stir in all other ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to the oven. Bake 30 minutes, stirring ever so often. Hash is done when sweet potatoes are cooked through and crispy on the edges.
Top with a fried or poached egg!
Risotto is one of those dishes you make with love. It takes a little time, you have to be attentive, and when it comes together it’s so comforting and delicious on a cold day. This one is pretty simple, it’s your typical risotto but vamped up with bacon, herbs and pureed sweet potato!
Risotto is pretty easy to make on a whim if you have the basic ingredients. You want a short grained rice (Arborio is best), chicken or vegetable broth, your seasonings and some Parmesan. It’s also a great recipe to get used to the “a little of this, a little of that” cooking style which is incredibly hard for me since I’m so used to working with exact measurements in baking. The process is the same for all risottos. Start by putting your chicken broth over heat on the stove. I’ll usually work with about 4 cups, which is the large container sold in stores. Then, saute chopped onions or shallots in melted butter, add a little garlic (if you’d like), then the rice, stirring to toast it. The grains will turn translucent. A easy rule of thumb is a handful of rice per person. We’re going freestyle here, so get a little crazy and grab that wine bottle. A good splash or two or three is all you need. White wine is best. You can do red wine- but you’ll end up with purple risotto, eh which might be fun at a monster mash.
Now you get to the arm exercise portion of this recipe. Add a ladle of chicken broth and start stirring. Don’t stop! When it has been absorbed by the rice, add another. Keep going until you’re about 4-5 ladles in. At this point give it a quick taste test. If the rice is still hard, keep adding more liquid. If it’s soft, you’re ready to move on!
I found this recipe on How Sweet Eats and made it one cold night with an Audrey Hepburn movie on TV. I roasted cubed sweet potatoes in the oven and pushed them through a ricer to make a puree which was stirred into the cooked risotto. I also finely chopped a small handful of a mixture of herbs- basil, thyme, oregano, and sage. And I might have thrown some chopped bacon on the stove and crisped it up as a garnish. :-D
You can also add cooked chicken, shrimp, a mixture of spring veggies, mushrooms or all sorts of things. Usually the add ins are cooked and then added once the risotto is creamy. A drizzle of truffle oil on top is always amazing. :-)
Sweet Potato & Bacon Risotto
Adapted from How Sweet Eats.
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot or 1/4 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 1/3 cups dry white wine (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay)
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons brown butter
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs: sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil (use a mixture of what you have)
Preheat oven to 400F. Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl and add the nutmeg, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Stir to coat then pour out onto a baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes (or until potatoes are fork tender) tossing every 10 minutes or so. Allow to cool slightly the mash with a fork or in a ricer.
Let’s get the other things ready that you’ll need. For the browned butter, place 2 tablespoons in a small saucepan and heat over medium to high until brown bits start to form on the bottom. It will sputter then foam and you’ll start to see the brown bites in the foam. As soon as that happens take it off the heat and set aside. For the bacon, chop uncooked bacon into small stripes, saute until very brown and crispy (almost all of the fat will cook away). Drain and pour on top of a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
Put the chicken or vegetable stock in a small sauce pan on the stove and heat over medium.
In a medium saucepan, saute the shallot in 2 tablespoons of butter. Once translucent add the garlic cooking for 30 seconds or so. Stir in the rice, toasting it in the butter. It will turn slightly translucent (2-3 minutes). Pour in the wine and stir until it’s absorbed. Then start adding the broth one ladle at a time continuously stirring and waiting for the rice to completely absorb it before adding the next ladle.
Taste test the rice after 4 or so broth additions when it starts to look creamier. The rice should not be crunchy at all. If it is, keep adding broth and trying it to get to the right texture. Next, stir in the sweet potato puree, brown butter, and herbs (I reserved some herbs for to garnish). Spoon into bowls and top with the bacon, maybe a little extra parmesan, and herbs. :-)
I’m totally on a root vegetable kick. Pumpkin tarts, sweet potato risotto, and a butternut squash just waiting to be roasted and made into soup. Fall is in the air!