S’more Cheesecake

I’ve been meaning to make a S’more cheesecake for some time, but I haven’t been experimenting with them as much as I used to. So when I had a chance to make one as payment to some friends to renting their guestroom for a weekend, I thought I’d take my chance.

The plan was pretty simple.

  • Graham cracker crust, unmodified, as I use in a lot of my recipes
  • Marshmallow melted into the cake itself, using the candied mixture
  • Milk Chocolate cover

Learning to melt marshmallows was the new aspect of this recipe, and it was pretty simple. Use a double boiler, with marshmallows and a few spoonfuls of water or cream. I used half the bag with water, boiled into goo and mixed in with the cake. Once the pans were full I decided to melt the other half, this time using cream, and create a layer of marshmallow, over which I would pour the chocolate.

I did all this in one night, and when I got to the chocolate part, I was tired and ready to go to bed, so I didn’t give the marshmallow enough time to set before I poured on the chocolate. The result:

Started S’more, came out Rocky Road.

The chocolate and the marshmallow toppings mixed, creating some sort of rocky road mixture. Luckily, it still tasted great. I brought in the three mini-cheesecakes to work for my co-workers / test subjects to try out. Some tasted more marshmallow than others, but they all enjoyed the final product. As did the family I made the large cake for. When I left after two nights, less than a quarter of the cake was left. By now, it may be all gone.

I was one of those who did not taste as much marshmallow as I’d have liked. Perhaps in the future I can mix more into the cake, or let the top set. I suppose I could even get some marshmallow flavoring, but honestly, where’s the fun in that.

If you want the actual recipe I used (not including the extra materials added to make three mini-cakes), let me know and I will post it.

Mini-Cheesecake

I’ve been meaning to try out my mini-cheesecake pans for a while.  It wasn’t until this weekend I took my chance.

I offered to make a cheesecake for an gathering at a friend’s house.  Since most of the ingredients come in enough quantities that I don’t use all of them for a single cheesecake, I only needed to get one extra brick of cream cheese to do this.

four pans

Given the size differences between the large and small pans, I estimated I would only need 1/3 of the ingredients for all three mini-cheesecake pans.  Or two, if I wanted a thick cake.  I went for three.

I made both the big and small sets side by side.  Except for running out of vanilla, I didn’t run into any issues.

Baking was where I was most worried.  I was pretty sure if I tossed everything in for the 50 minutes the big cake needs, the small ones would be crispy.  So I checked on them at 15 or 10 minutes intervals.  One of the small ones came out at thirty minutes, the other two at forty.  I stuck them in the fridge immediately.

The topping was blueberry, which I made the next night.  I had more than enough for all four cakes.

mini cheesecake

So how did it turn out?  I don’t want to say great, but it turned out.  Comparable to the big cheesecake.

This opens up a lot of options for me.  Since most of the ingredients are things I usually have around my kitchen, I can make three small cheesecakes for the cost of the cream cheese and any flavoring or toppings I might want.

Secondly, I can make the cheesecakes as a dessert option without the risk of throwing away a bunch of left overs.  I’ve discovered that I start to get bored with a meal after three or four meals in a row (not just dessert, any meal), and this opens up some options for late afternoon snacks.

Third, I can experiment with new cheesecake recipes without the risk of a whole cake being ruined.

Glad I finally got around to this one.  Lots of new possibilities to consider.

Recipe: TARTS!

Lemon A tart is, according to some definitions I found on the internet, basically a pie without a pastry cover.  It does not have to have a tart taste.

I started with a pretty simple recipe.  I made a few of these, then switched up the fruits and sugars.  By the end I had tried:

-Apple: switching brown sugar for regular sugar and adding slices of apple.  For a few pieces I added walnuts.

-Raspberry: heating the raspberry with corn starch to make a dessert topping, before mixing that with 20160327_103019the filling.

-Cherry: same as the raspberry.

The tarts taste pretty good, though the cherry ones went sour quickly enough, and the apple slices sometimes come out in one bit and take most of the filling with them.  What I most like about these recipes are how easy and cheap they are to make a decent amount of food.

I can even use my broader pans instead of my tart tin, but I have to increase the recipe (x1.5 for the smaller, x2 for the larger) to get a decent consistency.  My usual test group of friends and co-workers all enjoyed them.

Got to remember these ones.

Danish Braids

First post this month?  Man, time flies when you’re baking danishes.

I found this two part recipe for a danish braid, one for the dough and one for the filling and topping.   It seemed the best of the recipes I found.  I was a little worried about working with yeast, it’s not something that works out for me all the time.

I managed three attempts at this recipe combo, changing the fruit filling.

20160208_194835 Attempt One: Black Cherry

I made a number of mistakes with this one, but luckily none of them made the resulting braid inedible.

For starters, I mixed up the butter in the blender, adding all the ingredients at once.  This was a mistake, as the butter all stayed at the bottom and didn’t let the flower mix in at all.  I had to spoon it out a little bit at a time into my smaller food processor and work it in batches.

The second mistake was adding the frosting before the braid had cooled down enough.  The frosting melted and flowed right off the braid.

What was left was ugly and tasted pretty good, but I felt I could do better.

20160214_141847Attempt Two: Apple

I made a point of clearing off the biggest part of my small kitchen counter space so I could work the dough properly.  I mixed the butter and flour in batches.  I still couldn’t get the braid exactly like the pictures, so instead of two medium sized braids I got two small braids and five miscellaneous shapes (circles, triangles, squares).  I also cooled it in the fridge before adding the frosting; it stayed on much better.

If there was an error with this one, it was the filling.  The apple did not turn out well.  Next time I’ll use an apple pie filling recipe.

Attempt Three: Raspberry

Raspberry is normally a very strong flavor, so I was worried about it overpowering the braid’s natural flavor.  Much like the Apple, I ended up with smaller braids and a bunch of odds and ends.  The raspberry turned out well, not as strong as I worried.  Lots of friends got to enjoy it.

(and some how, I didn’t get a picture of it).

Result

The dough is surprisingly good and buttery.  I need to work on how I handle it more, but that may be my inexperience with dough in general.

Cinnamon Rolls

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Yummy.

I gave this recipe two attempts this month, both because the ingredients were pretty simple, and because my first attempt looked less like rolls than taquitos.

I used this recipe here, without the vegan constraints.  For the first batch I added the cream cheese / confectioner sugar frosting I learned to make from the Cinnebon  cheesecake, but I decided to skip it on the second.

I had some issues with the dough, again that my apartment is not warm enough for yeast to rise unaided.  I kept this in my oven on the lowest warmth, but I don’t think it rose as well as it should have.  I’ll need to find some solution to that particular problem.

Rising problems aside, the rolls at least taste good, with or without frosting.  Yes, one looks a bit odd (the tower one was an end piece), but they are of decent size and one makes a good breakfast.

For future attempts, I might try this but using honey instead of butter and cinnamon sugar.  Or jam?  Something else sweet.  I also want to try and solve my rising problem.  But a batch of these should be me through a week’s worth of breakfasts.  And simple enough

Making Sushi

A number of friends are doing their own challenges this year, and one asked me if it was allowed to change out challenges when you know you can’t get to them.  Since I had one I knew I was going to have to push back to February, I said sure.

20160115_200237For my challenges, I pushed ‘Start a batch of Port’ to February and replaced it with ‘Home Made Sushi’, which some friends had as dinner during a game night.

The process itself is pretty simple: take a wrap, layer with wet rice, arrange fillings (crab, shrimp, cream cheese, avocado, cucumber), roll, cut into smaller rolls, dip in soy sauce and enjoy.

This was obviously my first attempt at sushi. My rice was too thick.  The first roll didn’t keep its shape, becoming more of a sushi salad.  The second one ripped on the back.  I manage to keep it still in a roll shape, but next time I need to work on my rice.20160115_200611

If I do this again at home, I’m going to mix up the meats and veggies.  See if there are any awesome combinations out there I could try.

Red Velvet Cheesecake

20160105_202659True, this was a December goal, but I had all the ingredients, and who doesn’t like cheesecake regardless of month.

I chose a Red Velvet cheesecake after a coworker (who gets to enjoy all my experiments) asked me to make one.  She loves Red Velvet, so I agreed.  I did not, at the time, really know what Red Velvet was.  Some research indicated it was a light chocolate flavor with red food coloring.

The chocolate was easy enough, with two tablespoons of baking chocolate mixed into the batter.  I added in the red food coloring in an attempt to make it a rich red color: but as I have little experience with coloring food, it turned out looking like a multi-berry smoothie.

Taste?  Well, I like it, but I don’t find it to be distinct from other cheesecake.  I would add more baking chocolate next time, try to bring out that flavor.  That being said, the coworker who requested it did love it, so I’ll chock that one up as a win.

This was the last of the 2015 Cheesecake challenges.  I’ll do more cheesecakes in 2016, but expect more experimentation with other types of food.  For example, I got a tart pan for my birthday.  At some point, there will be tart.

Mmm…tart.

Birthday Cheesecake

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Cheesecake, now with pretty, pretty sprinkles.

I enjoy the birthday cake/ cake batter taste.  It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine.  I’ve tried flavored cookies, ice cream, vodka, among others.  So, November being my birth month, I wanted to try to make a Birthday (or Cake Batter) flavored cheesecake.

The biggest issue was finding out what that flavor is.  A lot of recipes I looked at either used Cake Batter flavoring (which I couldn’t find in my grocery store) or used cake mix from a box.  I did not want to use the cake mix because I didn’t know how it would change the consistency or baking time of the case.

A number of recipes indicated the flavor was a mix of vanilla and almond extracts, so I went with that.  The issue then was one of ratio, as vanilla is already used in the cheesecake.  How much almond should I use in relation to vanilla?  I started with a one to one ratio, but after tasting I shifted to about 1.5 almond: 1 vanilla.  Also, I added sprinkles and reduced the amount of sugar by 1/3.  Hoping everything would balance out.

The result?

It doesn’t taste like Birthday Cake or Cake batter, which was disappointing, but it turned out to be an amazing cake anyway.  It has a strong almond taste, but not so overpowering the cake isn’t tasty.  And it looks pretty with the sprinkles.

I’ll have to experiment with the flavors to try and get that birthday balance before I try making the cheesecake again.  But if I can get it right, I expect I’ll be a happy camper.

If anyone reading this has any ideas on how to make that Birthday / Cake Batter taste, please let me know.  Thank you! 🙂

Recipes: Three Cakes in Three Days

It was a busy weekend, with lots of dishes and oven time, enough for three cakes: two new ones and one second attempt.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake (2nd Attempt)

The first attempt was not bad.  In fact, it was good enough that a co-worker bought the ingredients for me to make the cake again.  My only problem with the first attempt was that the caramel covering flowed freely, draining off the top of the cake to make a very messy looking lake on the plate (not to mention re-distributing the salt).

This second attempt, I used the cream cheese frosting from the Cinnabon cheesecake and mixed it with the caramel.  It took a bit of experimentation to get it right (caramel melts differently than chocolate), but the result was a must more solid caramel covering that did not drain off the cake.

At least not that I noticed.  I brought it in to work and it was gone by the end of lunch.

I’m going to remember this cream cheese frosting.  Very useful.

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Pre-baked

Apple Coffee Cake

Using the Betty Crocker binder, I decided to try the Apple Coffee cake variation; remove the brown sugar and Cinnamon streusel and add apples sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  I made a double batch, as shown.

It…doesn’t suck.  The apples turned out well enough, but without the sterusel the rest of the cake doesn’t benefit from much, and tastes just ‘okay.’  If it didn’t crumble so much I’d probably use jam on it.

Next time, I’ll add some flavoring.  Make it taste like something.

20151028_205001Candy Corn Cheesecake

This one wasn’t supposed to taste like candy corn because candy corn doesn’t actually taste like anything.  This was supposed to look like candy corn.  It really was just a chocolate cheesecake base with white chocolate and food coloring, and the chocolate shell replaced with the cream cheese frosting.

The yellow Oreo crust browned when baking, turning it into a rather ugly looking brown.  And the orange wasn’t quite as bright as I hoped.  But it tasted fine, went over well at a Halloween party, and now my coworkers at getting their second slice of cheesecake in a week.

Now if I can get to those sweet potatoes I’ve had on my counter for a week, I’d be able to knock that goal off my list.

Recipe: Streusel Coffee Cake

20151011_211452Taken from the pages of my Betty Crocker recipe binder, the Streusel Coffee cake is meant to be breakfast for a few days.  I followed the instructions pretty well, though it turned out I did not have the right kind of pan. I had to use my cheese cake pan instead.

The dough is a bit difficult to handle, so I could not do the half the batch in, a layer of streusel, and then another layer.  But for something that started out so thin, the cake certainly puffed up.  It tastes pretty good, not too sweet.  Maybe I’ll make it sometime with the cream cheese frosting from the cinnabon cheese cake.  The recipe binder includes fruit options (instead of streusel) which I’ll also experiment with, probably later this month.

But this one is definitely a win for Betty Crocker.