Alright so this isn’t all that much of an experiment, but I’m doing this in a different way. But what I wanted to do is try to make some mini cheesecakes and clean out the pantry at the same time. I had a bunch of cream cheese in the fridge, but not enough to make a whole cheesecake; I had some raspberry coulis left over from the Marquis Roulade I made a few weeks ago; and there was some honey that I was just tired of looking at. Throw in some graham crackers and some frozen raspberries and it all made sense.
Actually there is a little bit of an experiment going on here. Instead of making the filling using a stand mixer, I tried to make everything in the blender. I was thinking to myself that this should work, in theory. It actually didn’t work out too bad. There was a little bit of work trying to get the blender going at first, but the batter was very smooth. Doubt that I could do this for a full cheesecake recipe though — my blender is too small.
It’s hard to figure out a recipe here. Like I’ve said before, I do have a specific formula for cheesecakes that I like to follow, so I just used that as a guide. I cut down a graham cracker crust recipe in half which I just sprinkled on the bottom of the tins or cupcake papers. My serious recommendation that I have for a recipe like this is to definitely use paper liners. One of the pans that I used is non-stick which I also generously sprayed with cooking spray — I still had to dig the cheesecakes out with a fork and spoon. Here’s what you need:
For the crust:
- 6 graham crackers
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. butter, melted
Pulse the crackers and sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs. Mix in butter and set aside.
For the filling:
- 3 8-oz. packages cream cheese
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 c. honey
- about 4 oz. frozen raspberries
- raspberry coulis
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard cupcake pans with liners.
2. Throw the cream cheese, eggs, and honey in a blender. Or you could beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth. Add the honey and combine. Then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. (See! Using the blender is easier).
3. Place a couple of tablespoons of the crust mixture on the bottom of each cupcake liner. Lightly press down and place 1-2 of the frozen raspberries on the bottom. Fill about halfway with the cheesecake batter. Add about 1 t. of the coulis and carefully fill the liner about 2/3 full.
4. Bake in the over for about 30 – 45 minutes, until the middle is set. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely.
Mental note — do not make pancakes while Hot Fuzz is on the tele. The concept itself wasn’t bad, and I am referring to the breakfast, not the movie, although I love the movie. Anyhoo. . . I wanted to make a nice anniversary breakfast and came up with some Apple-Pecan pancakes (since I had to use up an apple and had some pecans in the freezer). Plus I had an apple syrup / extract that was leftover from a pie that was made a couple of weeks ago.
Although a little charred, they didn’t taste bad. They just needed a little bit of extra syrup :) At least these pancakes are great makeshift doggie treats.
So here’s a recipe finally! I made this as a special birthday cake. What I didn’t realize at the time is that this makes a hefty cake. It didn’t even fit in my covered cake plate. And usually there’s no problems with finishing off a cake, but with this one — I had to cut it into quarters and freeze a couple of sections. This should really be no surprise since there are four layers of cake and eight layers of filling, plus frosting. And after thinking about it, I did go a little overboard with the non-cake aspects of the recipe.
This was adapted from bon appétit, with one change. Well, maybe a couple changes, and I did a couple different versions. The original recipe is a Devil’s Food Cake with a Peppermint Frosting and a double ganache filling. Well, I omitted the peppermint in the frosting (which was very much like a seven-minute frosting), and with the white chocolate filling, I added the zest of an orange, hence the name of my version. But keep in mind when you’re whisking the white chocolate, be sure to clean off the tines of the whisk (they’re called “tines”, right?), because the zest will get caught all up in ‘em. There’s a different version of the cake that I made for a friend as a “thank you” where I just used the orange / white chocolate cream alone. That’s the one with the rosettes on it. Of course, I also I made a chocolate frosting for that one and coated it with toasted cake crumbs.
Now this recipe can seem a little complicated, but that’s just because there are several components involved. So if you break it down in that way, it’s not too bad. Or you can just omit certain parts and make up something else. Here’s what you need:
For the cake:
- 2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 T. baking powder
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1 t. salt
- 2 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 c. ice water
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9 in. cake pans with 2 in. high sides. Dust pans with cocoa and tap out excess. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in yolk. Add cocoa and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with ice water in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until just blended and smooth after each addition. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks and cool completely. Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil; store at room temperature.
For the dark chocolate ganache:
- 1 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
- 2 T. light corn syrup
- 14 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 1 hour. Can be made 1 day ahead. Before using, let stand at room temperature until soft enough to spread, about 30 minutes.
For the orange / white chocolate cream:
- 12 oz. high-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 c. chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
- zest of 1 orange
Place white chocolate in large heatproof bowl. Bring 1 c. cream to simmer in a saucepan. Pour hot cream over white chocolate. Let stand 1 minute; whisk until smooth. Whisk in zest. Cover; chill until mixture thickens and is cold, at least 4 hours. Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.
Add 2 c. chilled cream to white chocolate cream and beat until smooth and peaks form. Can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk to thicken, if necessary, before using.
Assemble the cake:
Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake layer on platter, cut side up. Spread 1/3 of dark chocolate ganache over cake. Spoon 2 c. white chocolate cream in dollops over cake; spread evenly to edges. Top with second cake layer, cut side down; spread 1/3 of ganache over, then 2 cups white chocolate cream. Repeat with third cake layer, cut side up, remaining ganache, and remaining cream. Cover with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Chill while preparing frosting.
For the frosting:
- 2 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. water
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 T. light corn syrup
Combine sugar, 1/2 c. water, egg whites, and corn syrup in large bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer. Whisk by hand to blend well. Set bowl with mixture over saucepan of gently simmering water; whisk constantly with hand whisk until mixture resembles marshmallow creme and ribbons form when whisk is lifted, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove bowl from over water and attach bowl to heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high-speed until mixture is barely warm to touch and very thick, 7 to 8 minutes.
Using offset spatula and working quickly, spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill.
Notes — Alright so I made a common mistake with the ganache filling. I accidentally overheated the chocolate which causes the chocolate to separate. I’m sure this has happened to lots of folks. So how to fix this? There’s lots of things that you can do to get things come back together. First of all, transfer everything into a new bowl to help cool things down. One of the things you can do is to gradually add some additional chocolate. This helps to temper it. You could also add some additional cream or butter; adding fat helps smooth things out. Immersion blenders can also prove very useful as well at this stage. What I did was a combination of all these and I also added a brick of cream cheese to this batch. Problem solved!. . . If any seizing or separating occurs when you’re working with chocolate, keep in mind that you cannot use it to coat anything anymore. It doesn’t matter if you fix it and everything looks fine — it will not coat properly! You can still use it for frostings though, or in brownie recipes, or things along those lines. . . This Devil’s Food Cake recipe is different from other recipes that I have. Most recipes that I know of combine the cocoa and some hot water together, which you then add to the batter. This one, as you’ve read earlier, combines the cocoa into the batter and adding ice water separately.
So I’m having one of those days. Actually it’s been a couple of days. Last night, I had one of my worst games in recent memory (I play in a local volleyball league). And it’s now spilled over to today. I’m working on a couple of birthday cakes for the weekend and nothing ever looked quite the way they are supposed to. The ingredients weren’t mixing correctly, the batter looked weird, and then they weren’t baking right. And then it hit me halfway through the baking time — I never added any sugar! Nice. Ever wonder what cakes without sugar look like? Feast your eyes!
I just started a Facebook page for Jereme’s Kitchen so stop by and like my page because it’s just me so far! I added a widget at the bottom of the sidebar. It’s so sad — number of likes = 1 :)
So here’s a story of trying to turn a negative into a positive. I had this brilliant idea of making a pumpkin tres leches cake. Turns out not so brilliant. I found this recipe for a tres leches cake in one of my books and I wanted to autumnize it by adding some pumpkin. Now after looking the recipe over, I had my reservations about the recipe since it called for reducing the soaking milk mixture by half. I thought that would be extremely thick and would not get absorbed by the cake.
But let me backtrack a little bit for some folks that might be confused. For those who aren’t familiar with a pastel de tres leches, it is the “Three Milks Cake”. The cake used is a very dense sponge cake which is then soaked in a sweet mixture made of three milks. The three milks used would include: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk (I could eat this crap right out of the can!), and whole milk / heavy cream. Its origins can probably be traced to Latin America, either Nicaragua or Mexico. From what I can tell, the recipe was part of a promotional campaign by a canning company to help drive sales of their milk products. Clever marketing!
Fast forward now to a few days ago. . . The cake itself was perfect — very dense, the flavor was great, it should have done well maintaining its structural integrity despite the soaking liquid. As I feared, the soaking liquid turned very thick, almost like a béchamel or a gravy. But I soldiered on, thinking maybe it would work. Letting something soak overnight could work. . . maybe. . . right?. . . It didn’t. What I got was very dense, dry cake topped with a very wet frosting. So, what to do, what to do? Into the freezer it goes! If I can’t figure out how to use it, I can at least turn it into cake crumbs which I can use to decorate cakes (I should do a quick post on how to make that)
What about a trifle? It’s a nice way use up some cake that might not have turned out the way you wanted. Now here’s a recent post from a fellow blogger with her very tasty version of a Pumpkin Trifle. It sounds like this is the way to go. I did have a lot of higher aspirations involving fresh cinnamon whipped cream and pumpkin butter and candied pepitas, but as the day wore on and errands started piling up, I took the easy way out and Sandra Lee’ed it. I am so ashamed of myself, since I always seem to be on the “made-from-scratch-high-horse”. Hopefully I don’t start turning to Rachel Ray for culinary advice. Unless you like those two, then they’re lovely. But to make up for it, I made some lavender pepita croquant to garnish a marbled pumpkin cheesecake.
Again, this is not a specific recipe since this is just cobbled together. If you happen to have a spare cake lying around the kitchen, great! If not, just pick one up at the store. Here’s what you need:
- 2 9″-in. round pumpkin cakes
- 2 3.4-oz. packages pumpkin spice pudding, prepared
- 2 c. pepitas, raw and unsalted
- 1 16-oz. container whipped topping
- spiced rum, to taste
1. Cut the cake into about 1″ cubes. Toss the cubes with just enough rum to moisten the cake. You could omit this if you like.
2. Spread out a layer of the cake cubes. Top with a layer of the whipped topping, followed with a sprinkling of pepitas.
3. Now spread out another layer of cake cubes. Top with a layer of the pudding, and again sprinkle with the pepitas.
4. Alternate steps two and three until you get to the top of the dish. Garnish with a dollop of whipped topping and sprinkling of pepitas. You can serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Notes — I don’t have a dedicated trifle dish so I had to use my cake dish / punch bowl. When I do make trifles, I usually make individual ones so I have no need for a large dish. I think it did a sufficient job, but it was a little bit too wide. . . Since the cakes that I had used were dry, it was helpful in my case to let everything sit for a bit rather than serving immediately.
It’s been one of those “what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks do I have in the refrigerator / pantry today” kind of days. But this recipe started out as an inspiration; an “a-ha!” moment, if you will. For whatever reason, I was inspired to try to make gnocchi today (and by “today” I mean the same day that I’m writing this). No idea why. . . I’ve never made gnocchi before. . . I don’t have a wise old Italian grandmother who can teach the wonders of making my own dumplings. But I did have a bunch of leeks and a bushel of basil from the farmer’s (or is it farmers) market. And I had some leftover mashed potatoes from the night before, so it all made sense. I could make a shepherd’s pie, but I have the day off so why not try something new?
Now I know that you’re not supposed to use mashed potatoes when making gnocchi, but how different can it be? There’s just a little extra cream and butter, maybe some garlic. . . and there are probably some recipes out there that would add all that stuff in anyway. The only problem that I had was my lack of a ricer or a food mill, which I totally recommend that you have if you make gnocchi a lot. . . or even a little, because I had to pass all this through a mesh strainer, which was a pain!
Being a novice at this is rather evident — I could not roll it out right, mainly because I was working with a too-big piece of dough (I altered the recipe to accommodate). So that meant that the pieces I cut were huge, which also meant that I could not shape things right. But with all those things incorrect, it still tasted pretty good. Now I have gone to restaurants and had some bad gnocchi — too dense, too doughy, too bland. Much to my surprise, these were pretty light, but probably could have used a little bit more salt — I thought the mashed potatoes were salty enough.
This is another one of those things that doesn’t have as exact measurements as I would like. I kept on adding flour to the dough since it was too wet (I assume from the mashed potatoes). But something like that would probably happen if it’s too humid outside. This is as close as I could get it. Here’s what you need:
- 2 eggs
- 3 c. leftover mashed potatoes
- 1 1/2 c. flour, plus extra for the dough and rolling
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 leeks, thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs of fresh basil
- canola oil
- zest of a lemon
1. Into a large bowl, run the mashed potatoes through a ricer, food mill, or a sieve. Make a well in the middle and add your eggs, salt, & pepper. Mix the eggs with a fork, gradually adding some of the potatoes along the sides of the well.
2. Sprinkle the flour over the top and using the fork mix to combine, being careful not to overmix. The dough should be moist, but not wet or sticky. If it is still wet, sprinkle flour over the top 1/4 c. at a time and work in gently.
3. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out the dough into a thin log, about an inch wide. Cut the dough into 3/4 in pieces and dust with flour. Roll the pieces over the tines of a fork. Place the rolled pieces onto a sheet pan.
4. Bring some water to a boil in a large stock pot. When it comes to a boil, generously salt the water with about 1 T. salt. Drop the gnocchi into the water and cook for about 5 minutes; when they are done, they will float to the surface. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Prepare the crispy basil.
5. In a small pan, put about an inch of canola oil on medium-high. Pinch off the individual basil leaves. Working in small batches, fry the basil in the oil; it should only take a couple of seconds. Remove the leaves and place on a wire rack lined with paper towel.
6. Put a couple of tablespoons of the basil oil into the drained stock pot (I didn’t want to dirty another pan). Place on medium high and sauté the leeks. Add salt & pepper to taste. When tender, add the gnocchi and heat through. Toss with the lemon zest and serve.
Notes — Alright so here’s a little history for you, for which I know you’ve been chomping at the bit. Gnocchi is probably one of the oldest recipes out there, with some documentation dating back to the 1300s. There is debate on the origin of the word, but most agree that it has its roots in the Middle East. . . Traditionally, this is one of those meals that help extend your budget, since you can make it from simple ingredients. . . You can make these ahead of time and leave them in the refrigerator or maybe freeze them. . .