Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentine Cheesecake!


  I have been making this cheesecake forever! I like to write in the margins of my cookbooks, and I usually write down the date I made the recipe and what it was for.  I also try to include my thoughts on the recipe, like changes I want to make, or if it was successful or not. From my notes I see that I made this recipe for the first time when my now 22 year old son graduated from kindergarten. I can't count how many other times I have made this. I even made this when I worked as the chef in a gourmet restaurant. This cheesecake is the ultimate cheesecake. It is not dry. It is so creamy and rich. For Valentines Day, I made individual little cakes, topped with chocolate ganache and covered with cherries.          You're gonna fall in love!!
Ingredients:
3/4 cup finely crushed Vanilla Wafers
a short 1/4 cup of melted Butter
12 ounces softened Cream Cheese
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Whipping Cream
2 1/2 teaspoons Cornstarch
2 Eggs
1 Egg Yolk
a short  1/4 cup of Vanilla Syrup
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put about 15 or so Vanilla Wafers  in a plastic bag.
Take a rolling pin and crush the wafers until they are
very fine. You can also use a food processor.
Pour crushed wafers into a bowl.
Add melted butter, and mix together thoroughly.
Distribute evenly between the 3 pans.
Using your fingers, smooth the wafers over the bottom
of the pan, making it as evenly as possible.
Set pans aside while you make the filling!
In your bowl, combine together the softened cream cheese
and the sugar.
Add the whipping cream and the cornstarch. 
Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
To get the smoothest possible mix, your cream cheese
should be very soft when you begin.
Add the eggs and the egg yolk, one at a time, beating
after each addition.
Add the vanilla bean paste and the vanilla syrup.
If vanilla bean paste is not available, use vanilla extract.
I like to use this paste because the flavor is so intense.
It especially comes out in this recipe.
You can see the little flecks of bean in the picture!
Pour the cheesecake mix into the pans.
This recipe makes three individual cakes!
Place all three in the oven.
Cook at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Turn down the temperature 
to 200 degrees and bake for approximately 50 minutes.
To check to see if they are done, stick a toothpick in the
center like you would a cake. Also make sure the center
of the cakes do not look wet or shiny.
When you take the cakes out of the oven, let them sit
on a cooling rack. Take a knife or offset spatula around the 
edge to loosen the cake. Don't release the pans right now.
Wait at least 30 minutes, so they have a chance to cool.
Then you can release the pans, but let the bottoms stay on for a while.
When the  cakes are completely cooled,
wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to chill. Still keep the bottoms on,
or transfer them to some other type of base.
Chocolate Ganache
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Whipping Cream
Place the chocolate chips and the whipping cream
into a saucepan and heat on low.
Stir the entire time, to melt the chocolate,
until it is beautiful and smooth.
Place chocolate on top of the cake,
covering the entire top.
Cover the top with the chilled cherries!

Enjoy!
Happy Valentine's Day!!

This recipe comes from a cookbook called
Cheesecake Extraordinaire by Mary Crownover.
I have changed the recipe some. If you would like to make
a large(9" springform pan) cheesecake, double all of the ingredients,
except for the egg yolk. Still only use one!
You can also use vanilla liquor in place of the vanilla syrup.






Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chocolate Cake w/ Cherry Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting

It's time again for the Crazy Cooking Challenge! This is such a fun challenge. Each month we are assigned a featured food. This month it is chocolate cake! Yum! Our job is to go out into blog land and find a chocolate cake made on a fellow bloggers blog. Then make the cake, and post it on your blog. There are some rules, of course, so once you join, you'll have to read the fine print. But you are going to join, right? It easy, fun, tasty, and really interesting! You will love it!! You should join!
I found my chocolate cake on a blog called Chef in Training. This blog is so incredible! I love it. It is authored by Nikki, who has the most incredible recipes ever! Her chocolate cake is the BEST! EVER! I am in love with her Copycat Wingers Sticky Fingers recipe. I love Wingers, so I can't wait to make them.  Her Navajo Tacos recipe looks incredible and honestly, I never met a Navajo Taco that I didn't devour! But wait until you try the chocolate cake!! Here it is:
THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE EVER!

1 box Devil's Food cake mix 
1 small pkg Jello instant chocolate pudding mix 
1 cup sour cream 
1 cup vegetable oil 
4 eggs, beaten 
1/2 cup milk 
1 tsp vanilla 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
The batter will be thick.
Pour the batter into your prepared pans.
Let cook until done, about 20-30 minutes.
Let cool on a cooling rack.
  Cream Cheese Icing
2  8 ounce Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cup Confectioners Sugar

Make your icing by creaming the cream cheese 
and the butter together. Add the vanilla.
Slowly add the confectioners sugar.
Make sure it incorporates and mix well.


Cut the two layers in half, widthwise.
Cover each inside half with a thin layer
of cream cheese frosting.
Then on top of the bottom cream cheese
frosting, place a layer of cherry filling.
Put the top on the cake.
Frost bottom layer.
Do the same thing to the top layer. 
Add top layer to cake before frosting. 
Frost top.
Decorate how you wish. 
Because it is the season of love I 
thought this cake was begging to be decorated with a heart!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Some changes:
I changed a couple things from the original recipe.
Nikki used chocolate chips in her cake. I omitted them.
In Nikki's recipe she decorated with chocolate icing and
Skor candy bars. It looked beautiful, and I'm sure it 
tastes heavenly. But when my husband discovered that I was 
baking a chocolate cake, he asked if I would make cream cheese
icing and add cherries to the layers.
Because I can't say no to him, I honored his request.
It was delicious!
My husband swears that this cake is 
the moistest, unbelievably best chocolate cake he has ever had!!
He is right! You will love this!
Here is the original recipe.

Thanks Nikki for making this such a great
Crazy Cooking Challenge!



Photobucket

Valentine's Cherry Pie for 2!

  My husbands favorite pie is cherry. He absolutely loves it. So whenever I want to make him something special, I make cherry pie! During the summer months when fresh cherries are plentiful, I love using them in everything. However during the winter months, he loves the canned cherries. So that is what I use.

Down Home Cherry Pie

Pie Dough for Lattice-Top Pie
(adapted from: The New Best Recipe)
3 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons Sugar
7 tablespoons chilled Shortening, cut into 1/4" pieces
10 tablespoons cold, unsalted Butter
10 tablespoons Ice Water
Add flour, salt, and sugar in to 
your food processor.
Add shortening and process until the 
mix has the texture of coarse sand.

Add butter pieces and cut in until it resembles 
coarse crumbs. Butter pieces should be 
no larger than peas. 
 Empty dough into a bowl.
Sprinkle the dough with 5 tablespoons of ice water.
Mix the water into the dough with a spatula. 
We are looking for the dough to come together.
Add more ice water, a tablespoon at a time until you get it
to come together. 
 Divide the dough into two pieces and flatten into disks.
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour,
or up to two days.
When the dough is chilled, you will need sugar and cherries.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
After the dough has been chilled, flour a surface. 
I use large sheets of parchment paper or my cutting board.
Roll one of the dough packs out to 1/4 " circle.
Place the dough on to the top of the skillet.
Fit the dough into the skillet, and using your knife,
trim around the top of the pan.
Fill with cherries.
Set aside.
Make a floured surface.
Roll out your second piece of dough to 1/4" thick.
Cut a straight line with a pizza cutter.
Mark a line 1/2" in from the edge. This means that 
your lattice top strips will be 1/2" wide.
Cut along the 1/2" mark with the pizza cutter.
Continue to make strips.
You should end up with strips that look like this.
Cut these in half.
Start fitting the strips over the cherries.
Press the ends of the strips into the dough of the shell.
Cove the pie like this.
Weave other pieces, going the opposite way,
until your pie looks like this.
Remember to gently press the edges of each
strip into the bottom dough.
Sprinkle the top of the lattice work with sugar.
Bake pie for about 50 minutes.

Remove and cool on rack.
Serve warm,  ala mode with vanilla bean ice cream.

Happy Valentine's Day for 2!!


I am getting behind with my 14 Days of Valentine's posts, but I will try to be caught up by Wednesday evening.(cross my fingers).!!

See you tomorrow!