Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mini Nutella Cheesecakes

I've been wanting to buy a mini springform pan, maybe a 6 or 7 inch one from amazon but then came across these 4.75 inch springform pans at walmart. They are alot smaller, but they were too cute to pass up. So I made these little nutella cheesecakes with them. The cheesecake came out perfect, so creamy and smooth. I topped each one with a fluffy nutella mousse, which was my sister in law's favorite part. 

Mini Nutella Cheesecakes
Adapted from: The Baker Upstairs
Yield: 4 mini cheesecakes (4.75" springform pans) OR 20 regular sized cupcakes

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (process graham crackers in a blender)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix all ingredients together and press into the bottom of four 4.75 inch springform pans. Or line cupcake tins with 20 paper or foil liners and press about a teaspoon of crumbs into bottom of liners. Set aside.

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup Nutella (I used 1/2 cup but I would suggest adding alittle more for taste)
Fresh raspberries, optional, to garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then add heavy cream, sour cream, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Blend in nutella until just combined. 

Divide the filling evenly between the mini springform pans or cupcake liners, filling nearly to the top (about 1/2 inch to the top). Tap lightly on the counter to release any trapped air. Bake 30 minutes for mini spring form pans and 20 minutes for the cupcakes. Cheesecake will be just slightly jiggly in the center. Open oven door and turn off the oven. Allow to slowly cool inside oven. Then remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. When fully cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for several hours. Keep in the refrigerator.

Nutella Mousse
Adapted from: Pretty Simple Sweet

1/2 cup Nutella, soft at room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

In a stand mixer bowl with whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream just until stiff peaks form, do not over beat. Add 2 tablespoons of nutella and whisk. Add the rest of the nutella and gently whisk for a few seconds and then fold with a rubber spatula until combined and smooth.

Chill the mousse to set for at least 2 hours.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

What can I say? There are no words for Nadijah. She's one of the best people I've ever known, and my heart will fill a void when I realize we won't be hanging out on weekends anymore. We are so proud of her, tabarakAllah, and may she feel ease and happiness in this new chapter of her life. Congratulations!!!!

These were everything a good cookie cake should be. Chewy, soft, alittle under-baked in the middle, and golden brown crispy on top..

You can't have cookie cake without frosting. But better than artificial, sickeningly sweet canned frosting is this homemade chocolate buttercream. It was smooth and luscious and a perfect crown to this celebratory cake.

I'm planning to make this again for Yusif and Naven, thats how good it was. They love cookies so I'm sure they will enjoy this. And this was one the easiest recipes out there. I like how there's no extra wait for these. You don't have to wait to chill the cookie dough and you don't have to make them a day early.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (careful not to over measure)
2 teaspoons cornstarch (cornflour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (reserve 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease with shortening a 9-inch pie dish or cake pan or use a nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in eggs and vanilla on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Add 1 and 1/4 cups chocolate chips and mix for about 5 seconds until evenly disbursed.

Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle reserved 1/4 cup of chocolate chips on top and lightly press in. Cover with aluminum foil to avoid heavy browning of the cookie cake. Bake for 20 minutes. Then, remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, use a sharp knife or metal spatula to loosen the sides of the cookie cake from the pan and transfer to a serving dish. (Or use can serve directly from the pan.)

Milk Chocolate Buttercream
1 and 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 Tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Sift or whisk together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low speed after each addition. Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.

Decorate the cooled cookie cake with frosting with a Wilton 1M piping tip. Cookie cake remains fresh covered tightly at room temperature for up to 3 days.

*I prefer room temperature eggs for my cookie cake. Room temperature eggs incorporate evenly into your cookie dough – guaranteeing a uniform texture in each bite of the cookie cake. Simply set out the eggs when you set out the butter to come to room temperature. If you forget to set out your eggs, no worries. Place them into a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes, then use.

*For the frosting, heavy cream or half-and-half will give the creamiest texture. You may use milk instead, keeping in mind the frosting won't be as creamy or whipped.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Gooey Messy Brownies

I made these for Musa's first visit to our home. Welcome, baby!

We ate these with Breyer's tiramisu gelato and fresh strawberries. The slight coffee flavor from the gelato, the bittersweet chocolate from the brownies, and summerly sweet berries all paired so well together.

This brownie recipe is called, "The Best Brownies in the World." Which is a pretty big claim! They were delicious, but I'm still on the hunt for the very best. And the blogger said I would be if I want fudgy, cakey brownies, which is exactly what I'm looking for. These on the other hand, are gooey messy brownies. They're great with ice cream or gelato though!

Maybe I should stop using the same bittersweet chocolate (ghiradelli brand) when testing brownie recipes. Because I think maybe what my taste buds are looking for are brownies that are made with dark chocolate and dark cocoa and maybe dark semi-sweet chocolate chips. But I keep getting similar results in flavor and texture with the ghiradelli chocolate. Similar, but I would say Good Housekeeping's brownies were alittle better than these.

I like to store my brownies in a container with a lid as soon as they are cooled. This keeps them moist, chewy, and soft. 

Gooey Messy Brownies
Adapted from: Cravings of a Lunatic via Tasty Eats at Home
Yield: 12 brownies

8 tablespoons of butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs. beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini)
¼ cup flour¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together over low heat in a medium saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon or whisk. Remove from heat and add the sugar. Stir well. Add eggs and vanilla, stirring until it’s smooth. Add chocolate chips, flour, cocoa powder, and vanilla salt. Stir until well blended.

Pour into pan and place in oven. I always tap my pan to get out any bubbles and make it even.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, toothpick inserted should come out clean when done. Remove and cool on a rack.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blue Velvet Cake Pops - Baby Shower Favors!

Today I am the proud auntie of Musa, born at 10:45 AM, 7 pounds and 19 3/4 inches long. He already has so many that love him, mA. I brought these to the hospital to share. Ibraheem (18 months now!) doesn't usually like cake, but he devoured one. I think he just liked eating something off a stick. These are my first real cake pops. I have only made them with oreos before. 

Make sure you use chocolate bark that tastes good. I thought I didn't really like cake pops in the past, but actually I just don't like that artificial waxy candy coating. I used Wilton Candy Melts in Light Cocoa flavor, which tastes like real chocolate but this formula hardens beautifully.

I'm thinking I could make these for a friend's baby shower next month. She's expecting a boy and I love that vibrant blue color! These would be cute shower favors.

I was originally inspired by this recipe to make these cake pops. But I read a few blogs and most mentioned to just make a boxed cake mix. Make it easy on yourself since cake pops are time consuming, and you are just going to crumble it up anyway so you don't need a cake that comes out with a gorgeous texture.

Speaking of babies, I also wanted to share the blanket I crocheted for my nephew. Pinterest inspired, and made with love. The center grey color is a basket weave stitch and the edges have a cute shell border.

Four more tips: 1) Be sure to dip the sticks in the chocolate before inserting into the cake balls and then freeze until firm so they are secure. This helps prevent the stick from falling out when you dip them. 

2) Melt the chocolate bark in smaller portions, about 6-8 ounces at a time, since its easier to work with when its hot.

3) Don't add too much frosting to the cake! Less is more. It should still look alittle crumbly, but moist enough to roll. You want these to taste like you're eating fluffy cake when you bite into them, not like a soggy mess.

4) Lastly, don't make the cake pops so big. They get heavy and could fall off the stick when you are dipping them. Alittle larger than a tablespoon should be good.The picture above is a good size, it fits into the mini cupcake liner. The picture below shows a huge cake pop, flattening the mini cupcake liner.

Blue Velvet Cake Pops
Recipe adapted from Bakerella
Yield: about 40 cake pops

1 box blue velvet cake mix (or your favorite cake flavor)
1 can (16 oz.) cream cheese frosting 
24 oz. of chocolate bark (I used 2 packages of Wilton Candy Melts in Light Cocoa flavor) 
parchment or wax paper
40 lollipop sticks, optional (you could just do these as cake balls instead of pops)
40 mini cupcake liners, optional
Disposable rubber medical/exam gloves (non-powder)

Bake the cake as directed on box for a 13 X 9 cake. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Add 5 tablespoons of cream cheese frosting and while wearing gloves, mix thoroughly with your hands. Mixture should still look alittle crumbly but moist enough to roll into balls. You can add more frosting if needed, but don't add too much. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and freeze for 20-30 minutes until firm.

Melt 8 oz. of chocolate bark in microwave per directions on package. I melt the chocolate bark in three small portions at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot. Dip lollipop stick into chocolate and then insert into cake ball. Freeze for another 10 minutes so that the stick is firmly secure. 

Dip cake pops in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. You could use a spoon to roll cake pop in to tap off extra chocolate.

Friday, March 28, 2014

No Bake Peanut Butter Oreo Truffles

I made these for a great night with the girls to see our Zignat. Thanks for visiting us! Wish you were still in SA because we love seeing you!

I used Wilton Peanut Butter Candy melts which were really good. They taste natural and very peanut buttery. How can you go wrong with this flavor combination.

No Bake Peanut Butter Oreo Truffles

16 oz. Peanut Butter Oreos
5 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (use 3 oz. if making cake pops)
2 tbsp. peanut butter, optional (use if you buy regular oreos)

12 oz. bag of Wilton Peanut Butter Candy Melts
30 lollipop sticks, optional (you could just do these as cake balls instead of pops)
mini chocolate chips or chocolate sprinkles, optional

mini cupcake liners, optional

Dump the entire package of oreos in your food processor. Process until they are fine crumbs. This is optional but if you want, add the peanut butter. Then add the softened cream cheese and blend until its all mixed together. 

Roll into balls the size of a tablespoon and place on a plate lined with parchment paper. Stick them in the freezer for 20 minutes. 

Melt your candy coating in microwave according to instructions on bag. Take the end of the lolipop stick and dip it into the melted candy coating, about 1/4 inch up the stick. Insert stick into the center of a truffle, be careful not to go all the way through the other side. If not making into cake pops, simply dip them into the chocolate and use a spoon to tap off the extra. Return truffles to the freezer for about 5 more minutes so that the coating can firm up.

Put some of your melted candy coating in a short cup or mug and dip the truffle pop to coat all sides. Garnish with mini chocolate chips or sprinkles on top or on all sides and allow to set up on a plate lined with parchment paper or place onto mini cupcake liner.

Refrigerate left overs.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Softbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

 I was looking for a soft chocolate chip cookie recipe to sandwich between cookie dough frosting. I decided to try these off my pinterest board because they have a new ingredient which I have not tried in cookies. Cream cheese. They did bake up soft and fluffy, but I don't know if that had much to do with the cream cheese or more with the cake flour.

For some reason these weren't very sweet. I thought it would turn out well with the frosting I was planning to make. Unfortunately we forgot to buy corn syrup so I didn't get to make it. At least I added extra chocolate chips because without a bite of chocolate, I found these kind of plain. I prefer the New York Times recipe or this brown butter sea salt recipe.

On a side note, refrigerated place and bake Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies are really good sandwiched with Ben and Jerry's cheesecake ice cream. Ooh.

Softbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened (use cream cheese in a block or spreadable, don't use fat-free, light or whipped)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose cake flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used 1 cup chips and 1 1/4 cups chunks)

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-creamed, light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (or use an electric hand mixer and beat for at least 7 minutes).

Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, optional salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.

Add chocolate chips and chunks, and beat momentarily to incorporate, or fold in by hand.
Using a medium 2-inch cookie scoop, form heaping mounds (I made 28). Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds slightly with your palm, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.

Preheat oven to 350F, and place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet). Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center. Do not bake longer than 10 minutes as cookies will firm up as they cool. They have chewy edges with soft, pillowy centers. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Good Housekeeping's Fudgy Brownies

We were browsing through a half priced book store where I snapped a couple of pictures of recipes from cupcake and brownie cook books. That's where I got this recipe. 

These were some pretty good brownies, and I was amazed to hear my brother say they were the best brownies he ever eaten. He's been on a diet for the past few months though (haha). I think these would be the best brownies ever if I added about 1/3 cup cocoa powder to deepen the chocolate flavor and then maybe add some mini chocolate chips to make them sweeter and richer (to balance the cocoa). 

Though If you love bittersweet chocolate, these are the brownies for you. The flavor of the ghiradelli chocolate that I used really shines through. These are really good the next day as they get chewier.  

Good Housekeeping's Fudgy Brownies
Yield: 24 brownies

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter or margarine (1 ½ sticks)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease 13” by 9” baking pan with shortening or butter.

In small bowl, with wire whisk, stir flour and salt.

In heavy 4-quart saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened and semisweet chocolates over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat.

With wooden spoon, stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; stir until well mixed. Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture just until blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake until toothpick inserted 2 inch from edge comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. When cool, cut lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 6 pieces. Makes 24 brownies.
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