Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daring Bakers- Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. I was excited to try this as I'm always up for a good cheesecake recipe. The receipe is very simple and straightforward. There are suggestions on how to modify the cake- various additions of liquers and other flavors but I'm a big fan of plain cheesecake when it's homemade (the Cheesecake Factory is another story), so I kept mine pretty simple.
I cut the recipe to a 1/3- with all the baking I've been doing lately (and being pregnant), that last thing I needed was a giant cheesecake in my house. I made little cheesecakes in a muffin pan, and swirled raspberry preserves in the batter before baking.This cheesecake was really good. I didn't bake it in a waterbath since I didn't use a springform. But the cheesecake is really moist and rich. I would say it's not my most favorite recipe- the crust was a little dry and I like my cheesecake a little more dense. Definitely worth a try, though, as it's pretty low maintenance!

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Julius Cake

Last weekend was Jeremy's birthday. Last year, we made him a Yo Gabba Gabba! cake. This year, we opted for a surfing Julius cake. The cake is chocolate with chocolate italian meringue buttercream.It's so fun to celebrate Jer's birthday, we wish he had one every month! Happy Birthday, Jer!

Monday, April 27, 2009

TWD- Chocolate Cream Pie

This week's TWD recipe for Chocolate Cream Tart was chosen by Scrumptious Photography. I actually made this about a month ago, but didn't have any pictures so I made it again. I don't have a tart pan so I made it into a pie. The custard is simple- whisking egg yolks and sugar, and adding hot milk. Bring to a boil and cook for a couple minutes: Then add melted chocolate and butter to create a (REALLY) chocolatey, rich, smooth custard:
The first time I made this, I used the chocolate crust as in the recipe, but I remember thinking that 7 oz. of chocolate seemed like a lot, so I used 5 oz. instead. This time, I used a regular crust, but forgot that 7 oz of chocolate seemed like a lot so I used the entire 7 oz.Normally, I would say there's no such thing as too much chocolate, but the size of the slice in this picture was too big. This was RICH! I can't imagine how chocolatey this was with the chocolate crust, too. I also omitted the whipped cream since we didn't have any. Next time, I would cut back on the chocolate again and include the whipped cream since that would probably tone it down. Check out Kim's blog for the recipe!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easy Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

This is something my mom has made since I was younger and I've always loved it. It only requires three ingredients and about 5 minutes prep time. It's flavorful and delicious comfort food, but most importantly, quick and easy!
Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
Serves 4-6
2-2 1/2 lbs beef roast (I've also used London Broil and it's fabulous)
1 packet onion soup mix

French or hoagie rolls
, for serving

Place meat in the pot of a slow cooker. add soup mix and 1-1 1/2 cups of water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high 3-4 hours. Add more water if you need for dipping. Shred meat with forks. Serve on rolls with juice for dipping.

Monday, April 20, 2009

TWD- Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is kinda weird. Some people don't like it because it has a different consistency. I never liked it when I was younger- mushy bread in some eggy, jelly stuff? No thanks! Then I tried some when I was older. It was just plain vanilla bread pudding, warm with some vanilla ice cream and I was sold.
I was excited that this week's recipe, chosen by Upper East Side Chronicles, was for chocolate bread pudding. I made chocolate bread pudding once before, a Paula Deen recipe that I absolutely love. Dorie's requires you to boil the milk and temper the eggs beforehand, and bake in a waterbath (which I admit, I skipped). Soaking the bread for 30 minutes before baking is a must- the bread soaks up all the milk/egg/sugar mixture, making it yummy and moist. Here's mine before it went in the oven:
I may have baked mine a little too long because the bread got a little dark on top. No matter, it was still wonderfully moist and delicious. I added about a 1/4t cinnamon, which added a nice flavor. I do have to admit I like Paula Deen's recipe a little more- although I don't use the sauce she makes, hers is more decadent and chocolatey. Thanks to Lauren for the great pick!
Side note- my Cake Slice Bakers cake is coming! I just haven't had time to buy the tea!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TWD- Banana Cream Pie

I was with my family for the past couple weeks in Utah and we celebrated my dad's birthday. His favorite dessert ever is banana cream pie so I made it for dessert after our dinner here. Amy of Sing for Your Supper was this week's host. I am sad to say that all pictures taken that night were on my mom's and brother's camera so I don't have any pictures, but the pie was so yummy. The filling was rich and creamy and Dorie's pie crust is about the best I've ever had. Check out Amy's blog for the recipe!