January 24, 2012

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

I love clam chowder. I've always loved this lovely soup. I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't enjoy this fabulous little creation. It is to me the epitome of comfort food.

Want to know the secret a really good clam chowder? Bacon drippings! Obviously you could skip this and just use olive oil, but the flavor of the bacon really enhances the soup. What's comfort food without a little naughty? And bacon drippings are definitely naughty. Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone! ;oP

Clam chowder can be made many different ways, and I've made various types over the years, but this version is hearty, chunky, and just perfect for a cold winter day! If soup is for dinner, and you like clams, this is the soup for you!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped (Note: I used a yellow onion this go around, but I usually use red onions instead.)
8 stalks of celery, chopped
4 potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes
2 large carrots, shredded
A generous pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 a teaspoon of dried thyme
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
4 cups of water
3 bay leaves
6 - 6.5 ounce cans of clams in juice, undrained
1 - 8 ounce bottle of clam juice
1/2 a quart of half and half (Note: I usually use the fat free variety, but regular will work as well. If you want to go really crazy you can use heavy cream!)

Add a little olive oil to the bottom of a very large stock pot and place chopped bacon in the pot and saute until crisp. Remove bacon, leave the bacon drippings.

Add onion, celery and potatoes and cook until the onions and celery are just tender.

Add carrots and stir to mix. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Next add flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for another 2 minutes, but do not let the flour brown.

Next add thyme, salt, pepper and bay leafs, along with the water and stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered until potatoes are fork tender, usually about 30 minutes.

Add clams, clam juice and half and half and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes until soup is heated through and slightly thickened.

Remove bay leafs and serve immediately.

You can also store this soup in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a year.

Notes: You could add in corn too if you liked, for an even chunkier chowder. Leeks would also be a good addition to this soup.

Posted by Dianne at 2:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 8, 2011

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Cheesecake.....

Even the name makes me daydream. There is just something about a creamy, cold cheesecake that makes it the ultimate dessert for me. Give me cheesecake, Mexican food, goat cheese, Vodka and some good bread and I'd be perfectly happy on a deserted island. Oh and a cute cabana boy to wait on me hand and foot...Sounds like my kind of life! ;oP

What? Never mind! Where was I?

Those of you who have been readers of Dianne's Dishes know I have somewhat of an obsession with Cheesecake. I mean cheesecake has an entire category on my blog all to itself! Cheesecake should be a food group, I've said it before, I'll say it again!

This cheesecake takes the best of two worlds, cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies and marries them together to make a fabulous overall dessert. Top the cake with some chocolate ganache and you have rich sin on a plate! A little slice of this cheesecake is more than enough at one sitting, but oh what a slice it is!

What You'll Need for the Crust:
10-12 Back to Nature Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 F with the rack in the middle of the oven.

Now let's talk about the chocolate chip cookie crust. For this crust you need a hard variety of chocolate chip cookie. A soft cookie will not work. I like the Back to Nature cookies because they are natural.

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chop the cookies until roughly the size of peas:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Chocolate Chip Cookies Crumbled

Stir in butter until mixed:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Crust Ready to be Pressed in to the Springform Pan

Press cookie mixture in to an 8 inch spring form pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Crust

Set aside.

Notes for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: When I make a graham cracker crust from scratch I usually add a little bit of sugar to the crust. When using the chocolate chip cookies that isn't necessary unless you really just like things sweet. You could add in 1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar if you wanted.

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Baked

What You'll Need for the Cheesecake Batter:
2 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons of vanilla
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

When making a cheesecake it is ESSENTIAL to make sure that your oven is preheated BEFORE you begin baking your cake so make sure your oven has preheated before you put in the cheesecake.

I like to bake my cheesecakes in a water bath, which helps keep the cheesecake from cracking that much (if at all) as it bakes. I usually just fill up my tea kettle with water and set it to boil as I'm making the crust and the filling of the cheesecake. You want enough water to come up the pan about half way when you place it in a baking dish.

In a large bowl beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and beat until incorporated.

Next add eggs and vanilla and beat on medium for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes slowly add flour and mix until smooth.

Wrap the outside of your spring form pan that has the crust pressed in to the bottom with aluminum foil to keep water from seeping in to your cheesecake as you bake.

Pour batter in to prepared pan:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Ready to Bake

Place pan in a deep baking dish and pour boiling water in to the dish being sure not to get any water in the cheesecake itself.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and crack the door of your oven (Some call this the broil position) and let the cheesecake sit untouched for another hour.

Take the cheesecake from the water bath and set on a towel to absorb moisture. Next remove the aluminum foil:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Baked

As you can see as the cake baked it pulled away from the sides of the pan a bit. Doesn't it look great already?

Store cheesecake covered in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Notes on the Cheesecake Batter: At this point, once it's chilled you could dig in to the cheesecake right then as is, but who wouldn't want a bit more chocolate? There's no such thing as too much chocolate despite what Jamison might say! ;oP

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Ganache

What You'll Need for the Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of butter
1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Remove the ring of the springform pan and place chilled cheesecake on a plate that is big enough to catch any overflow of the ganache. Place back in the fridge until ganache is ready.

In a medium sized sauce pan melt butter in heavy cream and then bring to a simmer. Stir in chocolate chips and stir constantly until they are melted and the mixture is smooth. This takes 1-3 minutes to melt.

Once the ganache is smooth pour the mixture over the chilled cheesecake:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: With Ganache

Chill cake for at least another hour before serving.

Notes for the Ganache: You could use milk chocolate or dark chocolate instead of the semi-sweet chips.

And as always this cheesecake is sous chef approved!

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Sous Chef Approved!

Notes Overall: This a very versatile cheesecake and you can change things here or there to your liking. Adding mini chocolate chips to the batter would be a great addition, or adding in 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cocoa to make a chocolate cheesecake would be fabulous too!

Posted by Dianne at 1:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 19, 2009

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Sometimes simple is best and what's more simple than peanut butter and milk chocolate? These cups makes the perfect little treat pairing the traditional combo, all while being gluten free! What's better than that?

What You'll Need:
1 cup of heavy cream
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of peanut butter
1 cup of super fine sugar
6 ounces of milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup of heavy cream
Whipped cream

In the bowl of your mixer whip heavy cream on medium to high until whipped cream forms and then scrape out into another bowl.

In the bowl of your mixer (no need to wash it or anything) cream together creamed cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Slowly add sugar. (Note: It might seem a bit grainy at first, but it will come together.) Once the sugar is mixed in add whipped cream back to the bowl and mix until smooth.

Once peanut butter mixture is mixed pipe or spoon into a glass or bowl:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Chill covered for at least 3 hours.

Once cheesecake cups are chilled melt your milk chocolate chips with heavy cream over low heat until smooth. Then drizzle or scoop on to the top of your cups:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Then top with a little whipped cream and another drizzle of chocolate:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

And then serve!

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Makes 4 servings.

Notes: These are really rich so a little goes a long way. You can store leftovers in the fridge. You could use chocolates other than milk chocolate if you preferred, but there is something about the milk chocolate/peanut butter combo that just can't be beat!

Posted by Dianne at 10:30 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 25, 2008

Blueberry Cheesecake

Blueberry Cheesecake

On Saturday a dear friend of mine (Hi Cookie!) came over for lunch/the day. We ate lunch, talked, played Scene It Harry Potter and just generally enjoyed spending time with one another! Earlier in the week I had e-mailed Cookie and asked if she liked blueberries as I had a bunch of blueberries in the freezer that I froze when they were in season and I've been wanting to make something with them ever since! It turns out Cookie likes blueberries too so we were in business!

So now I knew we were dealing with blueberries, but what to make? I could have made some sort of blueberry pie or blueberry cobbler or something with a blue berry sauce or a cake or blueberry muffins or even one my all time favorites Blueberry Ice Cream! But I've done all those already...I wanted something new...Something different! But what?

Then it hit me...Cheesecake! Yes I had already made a cheesecake for our dinner guests earlier in the week, but I had always wanted to see if you could make a cheesecake with actual blueberries in the cake and not just as a topping and this was the perfect chance! And I must say I really loved how this turned out! The flavor was really fabulous and the color was just marvelous! Topped with a little whipped cream this was the perfect, cool, creamy, summery dessert!

Now if you'll excuse me I think I need to go get myself upon the treadmill and/or elliptical machine! ;oP

Blueberry Cheesecake: Crust

What You'll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick of butter, melted

(Note: I like to leave my graham crackers a bit chunky instead of processing them to complete crumbs, but which ever version you prefer will work fine.)

Crush graham crackers and place in a medium sized bowl. Add sugar and stir to mix. Pour in melted butter and stir until it all comes together. Press into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been generously sprayed with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Note: As I've mentioned before in terms of cheesecake the most important part of making a cheesecake is making sure that you preheat your oven first! Preheat your oven to 325 F and don't try to skip this step. It's essential! Do NOT skip the preheat stage!

Blueberry Cheesecake: Blueberries

What You'll Need for the Blueberry Portion:
2 cups of blueberries (Note: I used some I had frozen earlier this summer)
The zest of 1 lemon
The juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar

In a medium sized pot add blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar and cook over medium heat stirring often until blueberries form sauce and become soft. This takes roughly 3-8 minutes depending on the heat.

Remove from heat and set aside and let cool to at least lukewarm or cool completely.

Blueberry Cheesecake: Ready to Bake

What You'll Need for the Cheesecake:
Blueberries as prepared above
4 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened (Note: I used regular cream cheese, but I've used low-fat and fat free in the past when making cheesecake and they both have worked.)
1 cup ricotta (Note: I used part skim this time because the store was out of fat free, but any variety will work.)
4 eggs
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

As I mentioned above preheat your oven to 325 F.

In the bowl of your mixer cream together cream cheese, eggs, ricotta and sugar until completely smooth. Add cooked blueberry mixture and mix until the blueberries are completely incorporated into the batter. You may need to scrape down the bowl several times. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be a lovely purple color:

Blueberry Cheesecake: Up Close Before Baking

I mean how gorgeous is that color??

Pour batter into the pan with the crust and spread it out evenly. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to make sure there are no air pockets. Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil and place the pan into a baking dish. Pour warm water into the dish until it comes at least half of the way up the side of the pan. (Note: The aluminum foil keeps the water from ruining the cheesecake, while allowing you to bake it in a water bath.)

Blueberry Cheesecake: Ready to Bake

Bake for 1 hour.

At the end of 1 hour turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake where it is. Open the oven door to the broil position and let the cheesecake sit in the turned off oven for an additional hour. Once that hour is over remove from oven and place in the fridge. You want to chill the cheesecake for at least 8 hours. Overnight is best.

Blueberry Cheesecake

Once the cheesecake has cooled completely, just before serving, remove the outer ring of the springform pan, slice and serve.

Trust me if you're a blueberry lover you are going to LOVE this one!

Blueberry Cheesecake

Notes: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say if this worked for blueberries, any berry would work with this same method. Or perhaps peaches...Oh my...I may just have to make that one day! ;oP

Posted by Dianne at 7:03 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 21, 2008

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Hot Fudge and Whipped Cream

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

I adore cheesecake and if you've been around Dianne's Dishes for a while you've probably heard me say that before! Seriously a cheesecake food group? Anyone??

Essentially I have a basic cheesecake recipe base that I tweak to make different varieties. The base is the most important part of a cheesecake to begin with. You want something that is creamy, yet firm, but not so firm that you have to really push your fork through it to eat it. You want firm, yet soft...Confused yet? ;oP But trust me this cake base never fails! You get a perfect cheese cake every time and after all that's exactly what you want!

A peanut butter cheesecake has been on my list of things to play around with for a while. So when we had dinner guests on Tuesday night (With whom we had a fabulous time I might add!) I decided it was the perfect time to see what I could come with! I must say I was really pleased. The peanut butter is there, but not overpowering and the chocolate crust, along with the hot fudge drizzle and whipped cream just all came together so well! I even made Jamison a crustless, gluten-free version (see below) that was pretty good too! What's not to like about that?

Peanut Butter Cheesecake: Crust

What You'll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve chocolate graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick of butter, melted

Crush graham crackers and place in a medium sized bowl. Add sugar and stir to mix. Pour in melted butter and stir until it all comes together. Press into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been generously sprayed with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Note: The most important part of making a cheesecake, other than getting everything blended well, is making sure that you preheat your oven first! Preheat your oven to 325 F and don't try to skip this step. It's essential!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake: Baked and Ready to Serve

What You'll Need for the Cheesecake:
4 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened (Note: This go around I used regular cream cheese, but I've used low-fat and fat free in the past when making cheesecake and they both have worked.)
1 cup ricotta (Note: I use fat free, but any variety will work.)
4 eggs
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup peanut butter powder
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

As I mentioned above preheat your oven to 325 F.

In the bowl of your mixer cream together cream cheese, eggs, ricotta and sugar until completely smooth. Add peanut butter powder and beat until completely mixed. On low speed add flour and mix until just incorporated.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake:Ready to Bake

Pour batter into the pan with the crust and spread it out evenly. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to make sure there are no air pockets. Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil and place the pan into a baking dish. Pour warm water into the dish until it comes at least half of the way up the side of the pan. (Note: The aluminum foil keeps the water from ruining the cheesecake, while allowing you to bake it in a water bath.) Bake for 1 hour.

At the end of 1 hour turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake where it is. Open the oven door to the broil position and let the cheesecake sit in the turned off oven for an additional hour. Once that hour is over remove from oven and place in the fridge. You want to chill the cheesecake for at least 8 hours. Overnight is best.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake

What You'll Need for a Gluten Free Alternative:
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1/3 cup ricotta (Note: Again I used fat free, but any variety will work fine.)
2/3 cup peanut butter powder
1/3 cup sweet potato flour

Cream together cream cheese, eggs, ricotta and sugar until smooth. Add peanut butter powder and beat until it is completely mixed. Add sweet potato flour on low and mix until just incorporated. Pour into two small 6 inch glass dishes that have been sprayed with non-stick spray. Follow the same directions for baking as above.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecakes: Ready to Bake

(Note: With the glass dishes you don't need to wrap the bottoms of the dishes in aluminum foil since the water can not penetrate them.)

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake

After the hour of sitting in the oven that is turned off turn cheesecake out of their dish and put in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 8 hours before serving.

Now let's talk a little hot fudge shall we?

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Hot Fudge Sauce and Whipped Cream

What You'll Need for the Hot Fudge Sauce:
8 ounces of baking chocolate (Note: I used 60%.)
1 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter
2 cups of half and half
1 tablespoon of vanilla

Melt everything together in a medium sized pot. Bring to a quick boil. Boil for three minutes and then remove from heat. Add vanilla and stir to mix. Let cool and serve.

Note: You can store the hot fudge in the fridge when you're done. When you put the hot fudge in the fridge it turns to a fudge like consistency. Simply take out a few scoops, put it into a glass dish and microwave for 20-30 seconds to melt again.

Posted by Dianne at 7:25 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 10, 2008

Not Tuesdays With Dorie, But No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake Instead!

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake

It's Tuesday! And that should mean Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was La Palette’s Strawberry Tart and was chosen by Marie of A Year in Oak Cottage and as you can see I don't have a tart and I had big plans for this tart! I had planned to make a cheesecake layer to go along with the strawberries, because well cheesecake and strawberries, what's not to like? But alas life got in the way.

Last week was a long week! Seriously it was jam packed busy. I had planned to make the Tart on Friday to serve on Saturday when our friends came over for an early dinner/ play date, but my sister called me to come help her out so she could pack for their trip to Tennessee and well baby cuddles won out! By Saturday it was too hot to bake and I didn't have time after we finished putting in the garden in Saturday morning anyway! So I ended up making a No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake instead!

The Strawberry tart looked heavenly and I'll probably make it in the future, envisioned cheesecake layer and all, but I ultimately went with the much cooler, no oven required cheesecake instead and just because I like you all so much I'll share that recipe with you now! I mean seriously how cool and creamy does this look?

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake: Jumping In

This really hit the spot on Saturday when the temperature topped out somewhere in the hundreds with a heat index of who knows what and humidity in the twelvety two billion range! Let's get a little closer look at that shall we?

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake: A Bite

Doesn't that just look cool and creamy? Yum!

Be sure and stop over at the Tuesdays With Dorie blog and take the links to see what everyone else came up with...I'm sure it was a fabulous dessert! After Alexis' dance/gymnastics show today things should settle down considerably and it's supposed to cool down later in the week too so I'll catch you all next week. Until then enjoy some No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake, because you all know how I am about both Key Lime and Cheesecake...Why not put the two together? Oh wait I've done that already! Well why not put them together again? ;oP

What You'll Need:
1 sleeve of graham crackers
1/4 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 - 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (Note: I used fat free.)
1/2 cup Nellie and Joe's Double Strength Key Lime Juice

(Note: This recipe involves "cooking" your crust in the microwave oven so you must use a glass pie dish. If you want to use metal or use a springform pan you'll have to bake the crust in the oven until golden. If you wanted to you could buy a pre-made crust.)

Crush graham crackers and a medium sized bowl. Add sugar and butter and stir to mix. Set aside.

Spray a glass pie dish with non-stick spray and press the crust into the dish. Place in the microwave for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until the crust hardens slightly. Set aside to cool while making the filling.

In the bowl of your mixer cream together cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until completely smooth. Add key lime juice and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pie shell an spread out to cover the entire crust.

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake: Ready For The Fridge

Place pie dish in the fridge for at least 3 hours (overnight is better). When ready to serve cut into slices (sometimes the first slice is a bit of a mess) and serve with whipped cream if desired.

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake: Sliced

Note: You could do this with either lemon or orange juice instead if Key Lime isn't your thing.

Posted by Dianne at 7:34 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

April 27, 2008

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops

It's that time of month again...Time for the Daring Bakers April Reveal! And this month's recipe was Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor and was chosen by Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah from Taste and Tell.

So cheesecake...As many of you know I'm all about cheesecake! In fact I think cheesecake should be an additional food group! ;o) When I saw that this month's recipe was cheesecake pops I was thrilled. I mean chocolate and cheesecake how much better can life get? And taste wise this recipe did not disappoint, but I, like several others that I saw in the Daring Baker's forums, had a bit of a problem getting the cheesecake to set. The edges set, but the center just refused. I baked it for close to an hour and it felt firm on top and I though I had averted a mushy middle, but not so much.

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Ready to Make Cheesecake Pops

I mean seriously doesn't that look like a perfectly baked cheesecake? I sure thought so!

But in reality the center looked more like this:

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Mush Which Wasn't Conducive for Cheesecake Pop Making

I tried freezing it, but couldn't get that to work either. I ended up making a few pops with what I could salvage and then using the unset portion to make some Blueberry Cheesecake Parfaits, because seriously did I mention how good this cheesecake tasted?

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops Failed So Lets Make a Blueberry Cheesecake Parfait

I mean look at that...Even the failed middle looks fabulous! Let's get a little closer look shall we?

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops Failed So Lets Make a Blueberry Cheesecake Parfait

Sometimes when something doesn't work that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing! ;o)

I did end up with about 14 Cheesecake Pops though and oh my goodness...To die for! I used milk chocolate as a covering and it just melded so well with the cheesecake! Alexis really liked them too, but hey my child liking cheesecake...What are the odds? ;o)

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops in the Fridge

We left them all lined up on the tray in the fridge until we finished them. I had intended to send these with Jamison to work as a treat, but 14 wasn't quite enough to share with everyone. The pops themselves really were just to die for. I think it might be nice to bake the cheesecake and simply pour the chocolate mixture on top as a top layer and just serve it that way.

Overall my pops might not have been perfect, but hey I made the best out of what I could and I have to say it tasted good anyway! This recipe most definitely was sticky, messy and gooey, but it also tasted absolutely delicious! And that my friends is always a very good thing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dessert that gets a little messy! ;oP

Be sure and stop over at the Daring Baker's Blogroll and see how everyone else's Cheesecake Pops turned out! I can't wait to see what May brings!

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops

What You'll Need:
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it's shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

Posted by Dianne at 6:59 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

February 12, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

Tuesday's With Dorie: Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

Last week I found out that there was a group that was baking their way through Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home Yours and I was ready to jump on board! The group is called "Tuesday's With Dorie" and what's not to like? I immediately sent an e-mail and joined up!

This week's recipe was chosen by Jaime of Good Eats n’ Sweet Treats and is the Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake and those of you who have read Dianne's Dishes before know that cheesecake is one of my all time favorite foods ever so I was more than thrilled that this was the first recipe after joining the group and let me tell you this cheesecake did not disappoint! I actually baked the recipe in a 13 X 9 inch baking dish making cheesecake bars instead of using a springform pan as the recipe called for because it made it much easier for Jamison to take to work with him and share with his co-workers. I was a bit worried that it might not work out, but it did and the end result was delicious!

This cake utilizes actual apples, along with apple cider and the flavors meld together so well. The apples throughout the cake were also a very nice element, in both taste and overall visual appeal. This is most definitely a cheesecake I will make again! The directions below are for the springform pan, but if you want to bake it in a 13 X 9 inch dish use the same directions. I followed them to the letter just using the different pan and not using a water bath.

What You'll Need for the Crust:
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

What You'll Need for the Apples:
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (Note: Since I made the cake in a 13 X 9 dish instead of a springform pan I cut the apples into a few more pieces so they would be throughout the dish.)
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

What You'll Need for the Filling:
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream

Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)

To Make the Crust: Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you're using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they'll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To Make the Apples: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake: Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

To Make the Filling: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center--if the center shimmies, that's just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.

Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan's latch and release and remove the sides.

Notes: I topped the piece of cheesecake that I ate with Apple Cider Whipped Cream. To make this add 1/4 of a cup of apple cider to 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with a few tablespoons of sugar. This cheesecake would also be very good topped with a caramel sauce.

Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids in the Kitchen!

P.S. Don't forget Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids In The Kitchen for your chance to win one Pampered Chef "My Safe Cutter" along with one Pampered Chef "Kid's Apron and Chef's Hat Set"! Just leave a comment on this thread with a valid e-mail address (and don't worry, no one will see your e-mail address but me!) before 5:00 PM EST, Thursday, February 14, 2008. I'll print out the participants and my little sous chef will pull a name out of the hat. I'll e-mail that person for their address and announce the winner on Friday, February 15, 2008! Anyone anywhere on our little planet earth is eligible to enter so what are you waiting for?

Good luck! Oh and tell your friends! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:41 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

January 22, 2008

Key Lime Cheesecake

Mini Key Lime Cheesecake

I'm a big fan of key lime. I like key lime yogurt, pie, ice cream, pound cake, muffins and of course key lime cheesecake! The key lime flavor is so versatile and fresh. It's fun to play around with new ideas and see what you can come up with. This treat was another creation for Jamison to share with his coworkers.

Key Lime Cheesecake is creamy and cool with just the right hint of key lime. Top it with some candied lime peel and/or whipped cream and you've got a fantastic dessert!

What You'll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve of graham crackers (Note: Any type will work, even the chocolate version. Sometimes I use regular, sometimes I use the chocolate. The chocolate really makes the key lime flavor pop, though the regular graham crackers have their own charm as well.)
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar

Spray a 9 inch springform pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Crush graham crackers (the food processor is a very good way to do this), add in butter and sugar and mix or process until sticky crumbs form. Press into the bottom of the prepared spring form pan. Use the sides and bottom of a glass or measuring cup to ensure that the crust is really presses into the corners and the bottom. Set aside.

What You'll Need for the Cheesecake:
4 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup of ricotta cheese (Note: Whole milk, part skim or fat free will work. I used part skim.)
1 cup of organic cane sugar
4 eggs
1/2-1 cup of key lime juice (Note: Use more if you want a really limey taste. Use less if you just want a hint. If you use the full cup increase flour by 1/4 a cup.)
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

Key Lime Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 325 F. (Note: This is very important in making cheesecakes. You MUST preheat your oven!)

In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese until creamy and smooth. Add ricotta, sugar and eggs and beat until smooth. Add lime juice and mix until incorporated. Slowly add flour until just mixed. Pour batter into the prepared shell and wrap the bottom of the springform pan securely with aluminum foil.

Place cheesecake with foil into a large baking dish and pour hot water into the dish until it reaches 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the pan. Be careful not to get any water into the cheesecake itself. Bake for 60 minutes. Turn off oven and place the oven door in the broil position and let the cheesecake sit for an additional 60 minutes in the oven after it has been turned off without moving the cake. Once it has cooled store in the fridge for at least 3 or 4 hours before serving.

Mini Key Lime Cheesecake

To Make Mini Cheesecakes:

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Mix batter as you would for the big cheesecake. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners and place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cup. Add enough batter to fill the cup 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15-30 minutes until cheesecakes have set.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

To Make Candied Citrus Peel:

Remove strips of citrus peel (orange, lemon, lime, etc.) from the fruit with as little pith as possible. Boil the strips until tender in 1-2 cups of water. Remove from water. Add in sugar. (Use equal amounts sugar and water. If you started out with one cup of water, then use one cup of sugar.) Let sugar dissolve and then add peels back into the pot. Bring to a slow boil and cook until peels are transparent. Drain in a single layer with peels not touching. Once dried use as a garnish.

Notes: If you leave out the key lime juice you have a basic cheesecake. You could substitute lemon juice for the key lime juice if key lime isn't your thing. If you want a green key lime you can add in a few drops of green food color, but key lime juice doesn't really turn anything green and most likely the best key lime you've had in the past was not colored. Also even when using a water bath cracks sometimes happen in making a cheesecake. If they do don't sweat it...The cheesecake still tastes delicious and that's what whipped cream is there for...To cover up those cracks! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 9:17 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Dessert Yummy: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This week let's delve into some Thanksgiving dessert yummies! They are a bit harder to freeze so I make them the week of Thanksgiving! On Wednesday I'm going to go all out and post a dessert recipe and my version of brining a turkey! How's that for crazy???!?!? ;o)

Up first Pumpkin Cheesecake!

Within my circle of friends and family I'm somewhat known for my cheesecakes. I've got a ton of different scrumptious variations and people ask for them often! Key Lime, Chocolate, Peppermint, Caramel Irish Cream, Turtle, Peanut Butter, Regular, among many others and one of my favorites is my Pumpkin Cheesecake! Every Thanksgiving I whip one of these gems up and I look forward to it all year! It's a different twist on the standard pumpkin pie, but it will draw raves! Try is and see.

What You'll Need for the Crust:
2 1/2 cups of gingersnap cookies
1/4 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter, melted

Measure 2 1/2 cups of ginger snap cookies and then process them in the food processor until smooth. (Note: If you don't have a food processor then place them in a plastic bag and have fun smashing them! ;o)) Process in sugar and melted butter until a crumbly mixture forms. Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil to the very edges of the pan, without covering the opening. Set aside.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Gingersnap Crust

What You'll Need for the Filling:
3 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened (Note: You can use regular, light or even fat free cream cheese.)
1 - 15 ounce can of mashed pumpkin or 1 and 3/4 cups of freshly mashed pumpkin
1 cup of ricotta cheese (Note: You can use the whole milk, part skim or fat free version.)
1 cup of natural brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 F. (Note: This is very important when baking a cheesecake! The oven must be preheated! Do NOT skip this step!!)

Put a pot or kettle on to boil with enough water to cover 1/2-3/4 of the cheesecake pan with water.

Cream together cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, ricotta and eggs until well blended. Mix in pumpkin pie spice and flour until just blended. Pour into prepared crust.

Pumpkin Cheesecake "Help"

Place cheesecake pan into a baking dish. Pour hot water into the dish or pan being careful not to get any water on or in the cake itself. The water depth should be at least 1/2 the way up the side of the spring form pan, but no more than 3/4ths of the way up the side.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ready to Bake

Bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off and open oven door to the broil position and let the cake sit unmoved for 1 more hour.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Resting

After the cheesecake sits for 1 hour carefully remove from the oven and take out of its water bath. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Notes: The water bath helps the cheesecake top to not split as much. If you're making this on a cold day (like today for example), you might have trouble getting the cream cheese to cream completely smooth. Don't worry about this as it will not affect the taste of the cheesecake. You can also use graham cracker crumbs instead of gingersnaps, though I think the gingersnaps give it that extra omph. If you want you can decorate the top of the cheesecake with seasonal shaped cookies (such as leaves, acorns, pumpkins, etc.) and I recommend serving it with a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top.

Posted by Dianne at 1:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 17, 2007

Mini Caramel Irish Cream Cheesecakes

Caramel Irish Cream Mini Cheesecake

When I sent Jamison to get me a bottle of Irish Cream on Friday he called me with the wonderful news that there was a Bailey's Irish Cream with a hint of caramel flavor. I hadn't bought any Irish Cream in years and given I love both caramel and Irish Cream I just had to try the new Bailey's! It's delicious to drink (every good cook worth their salt knows that tasting is essential to the final product! ;o)) and it made a scrumptious cheesecake to boot!

Irish Spirits

What You'll Need For The Crust:
3/4 of a sleeve of chocolate graham crackers
1/2 a stick of butter melted
1/4 a cup of sugar

Crush graham crackers. (I use my food processor.) Stir in butter and sugar. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners (14-15) and place crust in the bottom of each liner and press firmly into place. Set aside.

What You'll Need For The Cheesecake:
2 - 8 ounce packages of light cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of Bailey's Irish Cream with a hint of caramel (or just plain Bailey's...It's completely up to you)
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
Shaved chocolate (optional)
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Cream together cream cheese, eggs, ricotta, sugar and Bailey's. Add flour and mix until just blended. Fill each muffin liner 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheesecake are set.

Once cooled top with shaved chocolate and homemade whipped cream if desired. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 14-15 mini cheesecakes.

Posted by Dianne at 10:43 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 11, 2007

Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate Cheesecake

I LOVE cheesecake! I have a basic cheesecake recipe that I tweak depending on what type of cheesecake I'm in the mood for. I make pumpkin cheesecakes (one of my favorites), turtle cheesecake (probably my most favorite), peppermint cheesecake, key lime cheesecake, peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake, strawberry cheesecake, cookie dough cheesecake, and so many more!

Last night I made a chocolate cheesecake since we are having some friends over for dinner. It's rich, creamy and oh so good! Cheesecake AND chocolate...What's not to like!??!?!?

What You'll Need For The Crust:
1 sleeve of chocolate graham crackers, crushed
3/4 a stick of butter, melted
1/4 cup of sugar (optional)

In a food processor process graham crackers until crushed. Add butter and sugar (optional) and pulse until combined. Press into a spring form pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Sit aside.

What You'll Need For the Cheesecake Batter:
4 -8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of ricotta cheese, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup of cocoa (I'll say this every time I use chocolate. I recommend Ghirardelli or Green and Black's! I've also heard Dagoba is excellent, but I haven't tried it because it's a bit pricey, but I'll let you know if I ever do!)
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 F. IMPORTANT!! DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

Cream together cream cheese, ricotta, sugar and eggs until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowls to ensure everything incorporates properly. Add cocoa and mix until completely incorporated. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Pour batter into pan with crust and spread out evenly. Tap a few times on the counter top to ensure you remove any air bubbles.

Wrap the bottom and sides of the the springform pan with aluminum foil making sure you have an airtight seal. Place pan into a baking dish. Add enough warm water to come up to 1/2 way up the springform pan. You want it to come up at least 1/4 of the way minimum. This helps keep the cheesecake from cracking.

Chocolate Cheesecake Ready To Bake

Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off and leave cheesecake in the oven with the oven door in the broil position for 1 more hour. Remove cake from the oven and refrigerate. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Posted by Dianne at 4:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack