Friday, July 31, 2009

Fixation Friday.....Chocolate Cheesecake

Jason left today for NTC, a lovely training center in the middle of the Californian desert. He will be gone for the entire month of August and probably the first week of Sept. BOO! But before he left I wanted to make some yummy food for him. This week we have had Greek Steak with Orzo and Feta, Pad Thai, Chicken Pasta, a Lasagna kind of dish....and some sweets of course! I decided that he needed a treat, so I made him one of his favorite desserts - cheesecake....more
specifically Chocolate Cheesecake! I was scrounging through the cupboards for some oreo crumbs but couldn't find any (must have used them and don't remember!) so I used plain old graham crackers for the crust (my fav!) and of course used Dorie's recipe for her uber creamy cheesecake. I love making mini cheesecakes. The little four inch springforms that I bought months ago have been getting a lot of use! I love them. And Dorie's recipe is so easy to quarter and it makes two perfect little cheesecakes.
Here is the cutest slice of cheesecake ever...

For reference....the plate fits in the palm of my hand!!
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking, From My Home to Yours
For the Crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Butter (Melted)
Mix all the ingredients together until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. Divide the crumbs between two 4 inch springform pans that you have already buttered. Press the crumbs up the sides and evenly over the bottom. Wrap the pans in double layers of aluminum foil. Then put the pans in the freezer while your oven preheats to 350 F. Bake the crusts for about 8 minutes - keep an eye on them so they don't over bake. Set aside the crusts while you make the cheesecake batter.
For the Cheesecake Batter
1 four ounce box of cream cheese - at room temp.
1/3 c Sugar
1 tsp vanilla (I like a lot)
1 large egg
1/3 c sour cream or heavy cream (I like using sour cream for a bit of extra zip)
Beat the cream cheese for a couple of minutes in your stand mixer until soft and creamy. With the mixer running, add the sugar and continue to beat for a few more minutes. Beat in the vanilla. And then the egg. Let it get nice and aerated...makes for a light fluffy cheesecake. Then on low, blend in the sour cream or heavy cream.
To make it a chocolate cheesecake I melted 3 oz of semi sweet chocolate and added it to the batter after the sour cream.
Divide the batter between the two pans. Put the pans in a baking dish that is big enough to hold them both and then surround them with boiling water - up about half way up the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake at 350 F for about an hour. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon, leaving the cheesecakes in their water bath.
After the hour pull them out of the oven, remove the foil carefully, and let them come to room temperature on a cooling rack. When cooled to room temp, cover with wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours - the longer the better - the more the flavours meld. them with someone you love!
So this Chocolate Cheesecake kills two birds with one stone - my two favs - in one amazing dish!
Make them, you will love them!
Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Taste and create - very very late

I cannot believe that I am so late with this. Well....actually I can. The deadline snuck up on me and then I had one hell of a weekend that provided me no time to be blogging. But all of that is my creation. I was paired up with Poor Nima's Tasty Treats. And I am quite bummed that I didn't make any of the Indian dishes on her blog. I saw Caramel Bread Pudding and I was hooked - it looked like the thick dense bread pudding that I love. So I made it. The caramel taste was very yummy, but the bread pudding didn't quite have the taste I was looking for.... :(

So I decided to make something else on her blog...and made the Penne in Cheese Sauce. Loved it! But have no pictures of it! We gobbled it up so fast when I remembered to take pictures it was way to late! I made it with wagon wheel pasta and asparagus. Jason LOVED it. We will be making that again for sure.
I have bookmarked several of her recipes to make in the future. Jason and I love Indian and since we don't get out on dates much making it at home will have to do!
Check out all the other match ups at Taste and Create!
Again, I am sorry for the lateness of this post - wont happen again!
Take Care,
Love Big, Bake Often

TWD - Vanilla Ice Cream

In the past couple of months I have made a few different ice creams, different bases, etc....and I have to say...I love a custard base ice cream. It is so rich and sticks to your tongue. It may be a bit more work, but it is so worth it. I didn't realize how easy it is to make ice cream without a maker - believe me, I wish I had one, and hope to get one soon - but you can make these delicious treats without one. Just check out how to here.

Dorie's Vanilla Ice Cream is yummy. She gives options of either using vanilla extract or a vanilla bean. GO WITH THE BEAN. Scrape out the seeds and boil the bean - get that flavour out. It makes a difference. Seeing all those little specks makes me smile too!

Be sure to check out the TWD blog roll and see what other's made with this week's recipe. And check out Lynne's blog, Cafe Lynnylu, for this week's recipe.

Take Care,

Love Big, Bake Often

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monkey Monday CAKE!

When I was living in CT and participating in weekly playgroups, I was always making something fun for the kids for snacks....this is one of the special cakes I's a red velvet!

Take Care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sundae Sunday.....Cherry Lime

I love Cherry and Lime together. Sonic does it right - they made a mean Cherry Limeade....but I don't get there often enough (which is probably a good thing!). I think it is a great combination.

So today when I was thinking about what to make to go with my TWD Vanilla Ice Cream, I looked in the fridge and found a lot of limes and some dark cherries. So when the fridge gives you limes, what do you do? You make Lime Curd! And I thought about mixing it directly into the vanilla ice cream but I wanted to keep it pure. And then with the cherries I decided to just chop them up and cook them into a sauce with some sugar and is so dark and rich. I hope I please my Twitter friends who said they would like to see something with fruit!

When I served it up I decided to just pour the warmed cherries over the ice cream and dolloped the lime curd on the side. Delish. I have already posted Dorie's recipe for Lemon Curd, and just changed the juice to can find it here.

And you will not be getting the recipe for the Vanilla Ice Cream - though I know you want it! I mean, LOOK AT THOSE VANILLA SPECKS! It's for Tuesdays with Dorie this week and I will be sure to link you to the host with the recipe.

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fixation Friday

I use to think my life would be a constant search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe...but I think I may have found it, tweaked it, and perfected it. I am not quite ready to share the recipe with you all just are going to have to wait for it. I want to make them a couple more times before I decide if the recipe is perfect to my specs for the perfect chocolate chip cookie....nice and crispy buttery edges, a slight chewy center....and just the right amount of chocolate chips. I can't decide if I prefer them with semi-sweet or milk chocolate...I am SO torn on that dilemma .

Here is a pic of what I might think are the perfect chocolate chip cookies.

Tell me...what makes a perfect chocolate chip cookie for YOU? Chewy? Crispy? Buttery? Semi-Sweet? Bitter? Milk? White?

Hope you all had a great week....Happy Fixation Friday!

Take Care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monkey Monday - School Shopping

Jason and Jakob did some school shopping this weekend. Jason will be leaving for NTC (training) before Jakob starts he and Jakob had some bonding time getting all he needed for school. Way to go Daddy! You did good!

Take Care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sundae Sunday

Chocolate is my favourite food in the whole wide world. I would take chocolate to any deserted island any time! But after chocolate, when it comes to ice cream comes CARAMEL. I love it....the luscious richness of it and that sweetness gets me every time.

Oh - did I mention that today is National Ice Cream day? So I made some ice cream to go with the salted caramel sauce I made. I still don't have an ice cream maker so I made it the old fashioned way like I did here....
Today I made David Lebovitz's Philly Style Vanilla Ice Cream. I had heard good things about it via I gave it a whirl. It is delicious. I love all the little specks of vanilla running through's awesome. A great way to use a vanilla bean! Can you see those specks?
Salted Caramel Sauce
I used Dorie Greenspan's recipe and added some fleur de sel....
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp light corn syrup
3/4 heavy cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 - 2 tbsp fleur de sel
Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir just to combine. Heat over medium-high heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns deep amber, 5 - 10 minutes, depending on the size of your saucepan and the intensity of the heat. As the sugar is caramelizing, wipe down any splatters on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. To test the colour of the caramel, drop a bit on a white plate. Don't be timid about the colour - if it's too pale, it won't have much taste.
Lower the heat, stand back from the saucepan - because the caramel will bubble and spatter - and add the cream and butter. When the spatters are less vehement, stir to smooth and calm down the caramel. Remove the pan from the heat.
Pour the caramel into a heatproof jar and cool until it is slightly warm and still pourable before using, about 1 hour.
I added the salt after the cream and butter....I should have let it dissolve a little I was pouring it out I had some salt sitting at the bottom of the pan.
This caramel sauce will keep in a covered container for about a week...if it lasts that long. The recipe says that it makes 1 cup - I ended up with more than 1 cup!
I hope that everyone is enjoying their summer....and eating lots of ice cream...especially today!
Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TWD - Brioche Tart!

I wasn't going to participate this week as I have developed quite a summer cold! I am all congested and icky feeling the past couple of days. But I forged on and twisted it up a bit. Instead of using plums like Dorie's recipe calls for I used diced apple and blueberries.
So since I am not feeling so great and anxious to take a hot bath and go to bed, all you are going to get from me this week is pictures! Sorry....but they are great pics, in my opinion!
Before going in the oven....
A little slice....
The complete tart! Look at those shriveled blueberries....all that juice is in the tart...mmmmm
Take Care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Military Monkey Monday

My boys love to put on parts of Jason's uniform. Jakob puts on his jacket, boots, etc.... But the one thing that both the boys love to put on and wear is Jason's soft cap. Like he did here....

Pretty cute eh?
Take a moment to think about all those that serve and have served, and those we have lost. Thank a soldier.
Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sundae Sunday

It's summer. It's hot in Georgia. Ice Cream always makes the heat so much more bearable. And what better way to eat ice cream than in a sundae?? We haven't been eating too much ice cream around here. We have always made it a special treat for all of us. When the boys get ice cream they always make such a big deal about it and ooohhh and awwww and there is always a "Thank You Mama" after eating it.
Alot of my blogging friends have been making their own ice cream and I have been drooling over their blogs lately! We don't own and ice cream maker. (boo hoo) And I recently made it without one, but I really really want one.

So for the rest of the summer I am planning on featuring a homemade ice cream and some kind of sundae topping. This week is store bought ice cream....I could have waited til next week to launch this idea, but I really really wanted to make some Hot Fudge Sauce! So we had Edy's French Vanilla in the freezer and went with that! Next week....who knows....leave me a comment and suggest an ice cream for me to make (I might have a new maker by then!!)

But in the meantime look at this Hot Fudge Sauce!

It is lush, rich, thick, shiny, and absolutely delicious! Thank you Dorie Greenspan!
I made her recipe from her book "Baking, From my home to yours".

Here is the recipe,
Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter cut into pieces
6 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used choc chips!)
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, put the butter in the bowl, top with the chocolate and heat, stirring once or twice, until the ingredients are melted. Keep the heat very low - you don't want the mixture to get so hot that the butter and chocolate separate. Transfer the bowl to the counter when the mixture is smooth.

In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together the cream, corn syrup, sugar and salt, then bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and remove the pan from the heat.

Pour about one quarter of the hot cream over the chocolate and, with a rubber spatula and starting in the center of the bowl, stir the two mixtures together in ever-widening concentric circles. When it is smooth, pour over the remainder of the cream in 2 additions, stirring gently until the sauce is shiny and smooth again.

Allow the sauce to cool for about 10 minutes.

Store the sauce in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Warm it gently in the microwave to bring to pourable consistency.

Ok...I have to say that I will never by jarred hot fudge sauce again. Why? When in ten minutes you can have this?!?!? I'm hooked.

I have lots of sundae toppings in my head. Need to write them out so that I can get them out of my head and onto recipe cards. For next week I am thinking caramel...but caramel ice cream or sauce? hmmmmm.....

Hope everyone had a good weekend...and that you were able to end yours with a sundae too!

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fixation Friday is back!

It has been a very long time since I have posted a Fixation Friday post....sorry chocolate lovers! But it is back. Tonight I am featuring an all time fave of mine....Chocolate Chip Cookies. I am always on the search for a great chocolate chip cookie, isn't everyone? So awhile back I had seen How to Eat a Cupcake make Martha Stewart's Chocolate Chip Cookies....and so I decided (after much deliberation) to give them a try...
Look at that dough.....isn't it gorgeous...

I was shocked and dismayed when I started to add the flour and didn't have enough all purpose flour for the recipe! How does a baker run out of flour? By baking too much! So I had bread flour and self rising flour....decisions, decisions... I went with self rising. Not a good choice to get a good feel for these cookies. Instead of crisping up and being chewy like the recipe said they would...they puffed up a little. But I will say this...the flavour is great! They are great cookies. I will definitely make these again with only all purpose flour so I can get the chewiness that I love!

Here is the recipe. Thank you Martha Stewart for a darn good Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, I love it!
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted but­ter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips, or a combi­nation (about 12 ounces)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour and baking soda in a bowl. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add salt, vanilla, and eggs; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Mix in flour mix­ture. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, ro­tating sheets halfway through until edges turn golden but centers are still soft, 10 to 12 minutes (14-16 for refrigerated cookies). Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored between layers ­of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week.­
I waited too late in the day to get a great shot of the cookies before the sun went down. But I will take some tomorrow and share it with you all.
Make wont be disappointed - and I can say that even though I used the wrong kind of flour! HA!
Take Care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monkey Monday

Happy Belated 4th of July readers! I hope you all had a great holiday weekend. We were lucky enough to celebrate with some new friends at their house for a BBQ. I, of course, brought dessert....brownies, sugar cookies and s'mores on a stick. Here are a couple of pic of the boys enjoying their treats! Recipes and food pics to follow (hopefully later today)!

Take Care,
Love Big, Bake Often