it’s not cheese… it’s cream

Did I mention that I’d like to start making a little money with my baked goods? Lucky me, my friends are being supportive. Especially Julie. She’s ordered pies from me and the cake I’m about to share with all of you.

There is always added pressure when baking for other people… I didn’t want to disappoint Julie or her guests – especially her sister since this was going to be her birthday cake. So I pestered Julie for information and was warned (1) chocolate – NOT important (2) cheese – VERY important. Yep, a cheesecake was the order of the day!

As you know, my cheesecake baking experience is pretty limited: I’ve baked 2. The Margarita Cheesecake (April DB Challenge) and then a Triple Chocolate Cheesecake. Both of which were hits, but I wanted to try another recipe just to see how using sour cream would change things… I know, I’m never happy with just the one recipe I have, I always have to try something new… but that’s the beauty of baking right? So many options!

I have to say, this is probably the easiest recipe ever: resulting in a fluffy, light and very creamy cake. As Julie’s nephew exclaimed, “this isn’t cheese, it’s cream!”

Sabra Cheesecake
1 1/2 c. graham crumbs
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp melted butter
2 x 8 oz pkgs of cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. sugar
5 eggs, divided and at room temperature
1/4 c. sabra liquor (or replace with 1 tsp each vanilla and lemon juice)
2 c. sour cream

Preheat your oven to 300 F. Grab a 10 inch springform pan and line the outside of it with tinfoil so that the base is sealed shut (I also sprayed the inside with non-stick spray). Set aside.

Mix the melted butter, crumbs and sugar together and then press evenly into the base of your pan (If you want a thicker base, use a smaller pan). Set aside in your fridge.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl at the lowest speed (kitchenaid speed 2) beat the cream cheese until smooth. Slowly incorporate the sugar.

Increase your speed just a little (Stir speed) and add each egg yolk individually. You just want everything to be incorporated. Add the sabra and the sour cream, 1 cup at a time. Remember to scrape the sides – I did that before incorporating each cup of sour cream.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff (high speed of your beaters). You’re then going to fold the egg whites into the batter (do it quickly so that the air isn’t lost) and then pour the batter over the graham crumb base.

Bake the cake for 1 hour in a bain marie (the cake pan is placed in a larger pan that has about 2 inches of warm water in it). This prevents the cake from cracking on the top.

Once it’s done baking, open the oven door and allow the cheesecake to sit for another 30 minutes. Once it’s cooled down, remove it from the oven and place in the fridge. I chilled mine over night.

I know I’d been told that chocolate wasn’t important, but I’d also been informed that fresh berries weren’t a popular option with the birthday girl – so I decided to make a chocolate ganche to spread
on top of the cake. I mean you can’t leave it plain!

Chocolate Ganache
100 g dark chocolate, melted
1/4 c. heavy cream

In a double boiler over simmering water melt the chocolate. Once the chocolate is completely melted, whisk in the cream and continue stirring it until you get a smooth consistency. If you need more cream, use more cream, make this ganache as thick or thin as you like.

Once you reach your preferred consistency, remove the chocolate from the heat and allow it to stand at room temperature for a minute or two.

Take the cheesecake out of the fridge and remove the sides from the pan. Now pour the ganche on top of the cake and use a flat blade (I used a large knife) to spread the ganche evenly over the surface.

The result is a super fluffy cake with a beautiful chocolate topping. A HUGE success. Thanks Julie for supporting my baking addiction. This is the continuation of a beautiful friendship ;0)

brownies… triple sigh….

My kitchenaid is being used and abused (not really abused… I’d never do that, but I am using it)…

One of the beauties to come out of my oven this week are these brownies. Seriously – remember how I swore my gluten free brownies were the best EVER... these ones are pretty top notch as well. The gluten free ones are fudgy and gooey… these brownies are a little more cake-like. BUT totally DELISH.

I had invited the girls over for some vino tonight – good company on a Friday night. Who could ask for a better way to end the work week and bring in the weekend? I had promised them a treat… and originally had hoped to bake them a pie, but I just didn’t have the time – so I figured it was time to bake some brownies. And I wanted to try a new recipe.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll know that I heart peanut butter. I heart chocolate. And I heart bananas. I combined this trio and the result – a pan full of yummy. Sigh. We all went back for seconds (and thirds) – brownies, wine and a good chat – that is the kind of stuff life is made up of!

Peanut butter and Banana Chocolate Brownies
1 c. pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla salt (or just regular salt)
1 c. brown sugar
2 ripe bananas
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/3 c. cocoa powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. milk
handful peanut butter chips and white chocolate chips

*don’t worry you aren’t missing anything – no eggs or butter in this recipe.

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Spray a square pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda and powder and the salt.

In your kitchenaid bowl (or a large mixing bowl) beat the sugar and bananas together until they become really creamy (setting 2 on the mixer, or a medium speed on your beater).

Add the peanut butter to the banana/sugar mix and combine (Stir setting). While the beaters are still going add the cocoa powder, the vegetable oil and the vanilla. Increase the speed of the beaters (setting 4) to really combine everything.

Now add the flour mixture to the batter and slowly incorporate. With the beaters going you’ll want to slowly add the milk. Once everything is combined turn off the beaters.

With a wooden spoon, scrape the sides and stir in the chocolate chips. The batter is going to be REALLY thick and sticky. But that’s what you want.

Now pour the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly. Bake in the oven for about 22 – 25 minutes (if you want it more fudgy bake it closer to the 22 minute mark).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. I actually threw the pan into the freezer for 7 minutes to cool down really quickly (since I baked them about half an hour before my guests arrived).

You can frost these if you want to, but I think they are perfect as is. Bliss.

i heart my sweetie pie… aka my KitchenAid

So… as you know, I bought my KitchenAid Accolade 400 on Tuesday. An event that brought a HUGE smile to my face. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… I’m not having a very good week. You know, sometimes things happen that make you take a step back and reevaluate what you’re doing and where you’re going… this week wasn’t one of those weeks. The events of this week just made me plain ol’ sad… life happens and we deal with it – but sometimes you just wish that it didn’t make you want to cry.

So buying this expensive (even @ sale price) new gadget and baking some goodies seemed like a good way to try and take my mind off of things and decompress. That’s exactly what I did last night – I decided to drown my sorrows in some butter, sugar and cocoa powder.

The recipe comes from the KitchenAid recipe book that was included in the box with the mixer… the cookies turned out great, but the best part is that they lifted my spirits just a little… Seriously, it’s incredible how simply turning the “stir” speed made me giddy… I am a true baking geek (and very proud of it)!

Oh yes – I meant to buy a new camera in order to take better pictures and impress everyone with a visually beautiful blog… but the KitchenAid came first :0) Please be patient friends… pictures will come (I promise).

Macadamia Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
225 g (1 pkg) dark chocolate chips
100g macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat your oven to 325 F. Spray two cookie sheets with nonstick spray and set aside.

Place the sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla in the mixer bowl. Attach the bowl and the flat beater to the mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the bowl – then increase to Speed 4 and beat for another 30 seconds. Scrape the sides with a spatula.

Turn to the Stir Speed (this is when I became giddy). Gradually add the baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa powder to the batter. Mix for 2 minutes. Scrape the side and beat at Speed 2 for another 30 seconds.

Add this point turn your mixer back to the Stir Speed and add the chocolate chips and the nuts and just blend – about 15 seconds.

Lift the flat paddle out of the batter and grab your little scooper.

You’ll want to scoop the dough onto your cookie sheet – about 2 inches apart – I was able to bake 8 cookies per sheet at a time (they do tend to spread out while baking).

Bake for 13 minutes – they’ll look a little undercooked but that’s ok. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or 2 and then remove them to completely cool on a wire rack.

The recipe said that you should get 48 cookies – I got 55 cookies out of the dough. Plenty to share (which I did) and plenty to indulge in as well (I did that too). I’m still sad, but at least now I know that I can get giddy just by turning on that “Stir” speed :0)