Friday, June 3, 2011

Reese's Minis Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake!

I don't know about you all, but, when Hershey's came out with their new Reese's Minis.  I instantly thought about how awesome they would be for baking!  I make A LOT of cheesecakes, so, naturally I had to try them that way first!  They go great together (as long as you have enough self-control to stop from eating the bag of easily-attainable, cute little Reese's cups)!  

Making cheesecake is easier than most people think.  I added a few tips throughout the recipe below.  

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (I use a combo of oreos and nutterbutters).
1/2 stick of unsalted butter (4 tbsp). (melted)

24 ounces (3 8-ounce packages) of Cream Cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp corn starch (keeps the cheesecake from cracking, if you have no corn starch,  all –purpose flour works)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 bag (8 ounce bag) of Reese’s Minis (save 12-16 for topping, to decorate each slice)
3 eggs

To make crust:
Prepare cheesecake pan (a springform pan works best) – spray with non-stick cooking spray or grease with butter.
Melt butter in microwave safe bowl or on stove top.  Mix in with cookie crumbs (if it’s too wet, you can add more cookie crumbs).  Pat down in the bottom (and up the sides if you like) of the cheesecake pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes.  Remove and let cool while making cheesecake batter.

To make cheesecake batter: 
Mix cream cheese on high speed in mixer, add sugar, salt, and corn starch and mix until smooth and shiny (2 minutes or so). 
Add heavy cream and vanilla and mix until incorporated. 
Add Reese’s minis and mix until incorporated.
Scrape down sides of bowl and beater(s).
Add eggs, one at a time, just until incorporated. 
Scrape down sides of bowl again and mix again for about 15 seconds (to make sure everything is incorporated.
Tap bowl on counter to remove any air bubbles (air bubbles can cause cracks).
Pour batter in prepared cheesecake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn oven temperature down to 250 degrees and bake another 25-30 minutes (or until the center of the cheesecake is 150 degrees on a instant read thermometer – this step isn’t necessary, but if you have the probe thermometer, why not check it – that way you don’t’ overcook it).  When the cheesecake is done, it will have a ‘jiggle’ to the center, but the outer 2 inches of the cheesecake will be set.  Turn the oven off and let cheesecake sit inside for about 10 minutes.  Remove and cool on cooling rack for an hour.  Run a sharp knife around edges of cheesecake to make sure it’s not stuck to the sides of the pan (another way to stop possible cracking).
Then move to refrigerator for at least a few hours or overnight, if possible.  Remove cheesecake from pan and serve with the extra Reese’s Minis on top for garnish (if ya want)!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cardamom Rose Water Scones!

I know all two of you guys think I forgot about this blog, but I didn't!  I've been 10 kinds of busy!

Last week I had to bake a ton of things for a wedding.  The bride and groom had a wedding day brunch, so I had to come up with some interesting scone flavor for them.  They had a garden-themed wedding, so I wanted a hint of flower in the flavor.  Having tried a delicious combination of Rosewater and Cardamom at a Persian friend's house and LOVING it, I decided on that combination.

I used the biscuit ratio from Michael Ruhlman's book "Ratio", to come up with my recipe.  I highly suggest this book, as it teaches you to make your own recipes and not rely on others!  Amazing!  I'm learning SO much.  The biscuit ratio is 3/1/2.  3 parts flour, 1 part fat, 2 parts liquid.  Some will say a scone ratio is 3/1/1 (using less liquid).  I think this is up to you, depending on how you like your scones. If you want them more dry and crumbly, 3/1/1 will be great, but I like them a touch more moist, so I don't NEED to have them with tea unless I want to!

I decided to do this recipe by hand.  It's relaxing for some reason and sometimes it's fun to get your hands dirty!  But, you can use a food processor if you want to speed it up and not get your hands all doughy. ;)  The cardamom and rosewater amounts are a guideline, and you are certainly welcome to add more or take away, depending on your taste buds.  I like alot, so I might even add more next batch. ;)  Also, I use freshly ground cardamom, versus already ground cardamom from the grocery store (this may make a difference on the amount you need - fresher=stronger.

Ok, I won't make you wait any longer!  Here's the recipe!

Cardamom Rosewater Scones

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Dry ingredients:
12 ounces all purpose flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
6 tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp of ground cardamom
pinch of salt

1 stick of cold butter (cut in 1 inch pieces)

Mix together:
4 ounces of cold heavy cream
2 ounces of milk
1 to 1 1/2 tsp of Rosewater (depending on your taste)
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 egg (beaten)

-Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl, or food processor, add cut butter to dry ingredients and pulse a few times until incorporated into pea-sized chunks.  If mixing by hand, use a pastry cutter to incorporate.  Then, add enough of the liquid mixture for it to come together (not too sticky, not too crumbly).

-Roll or pat out to about 1 inch thick and cut into scone shape of choice and add to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper about 1/2 to 1 inch apart.  Bake in oven for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until done and lightly browned.

Optional Glaze Topping: (I didn’t measure this, I just added the things below until the consistency & flavor was right).

Powdered sugar

-Mix together to taste and till the glaze is thick enough not to be too runny (so it will set).
If you don't like winging it on the glaze, this is a good recipe for basic powdered sugar glaze, play with the flavors!

Enjoy!  Let me know what you think!  I can't wait to play with other flavor combinations now!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fabio Viviani's Nutella Biscuits...

The other day, I was reading my twitter feed and Fabio Viviani posts a recipe for Nutella Biscuits on the Recipeasy section of his website.  I stopped in my "twacks" (twitter tracks, hehe) and knew I had to make these ASAP!  Any "Nutella Slave" in their right mind (or not) should make these!

So, make them, I did!  The recipe calls for some pretty normal biscuit ingredients with the exception of Nutella!  As I started to make them, I read the recipe and it asks for 3 teaspoons of butter.  It didn't seem like enough, so I questioned @fabioviviani on Twitter, assuming he meant to type 3 tablespoons.  He had to check and get back to me.  But the Nutella was just staring at me there on the counter along with the butter, salt, flour, and baking powder.  I couldn't wait.  I decided to go with my gut and try 3 tablespoons.  Mixing it up by hand was easy and quick!  I found my heart shaped biscuit cutter I purchased last year (found a use for it!!) and decided to make some of my biscuits heart shaped - since Fabio is a lover, not a fighter! Haha!

I put them in my new Breville Smart Oven and baked them right away!  Had a learning curve with the Smart Oven and I almost over-cooked the poor things!

At first, I thought I thought I wanted them sweeter, but what I discovered was, when you re-heat them and put butter on top, it really brings out the Nutella flavor much more.  I highly recommend eating them this way.

I also want to put things like Marshmallow Fluff, Peanut Butter, or Jelly on them and try them - but they really are delicious on their own!

As I sit here eating these delicious biscuits for lunch (Hey, don't judge!  I'm pretty sure Nutella is healthy!), I'm thinking you guys probably want to make them, too!
Here's the recipe!  Is it just me, or can you just hear Fabio giving the instructions as you read the recipe.  I can actually see his accent!  :) Enjoy!!!

Nutella Biscuits (from Fabio Viviani's Recipeasy)
(My edit is italicized in parentheses)

Pre-Heat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit

2 cup of Flour
2 tsp of Baking Powder
1 tsp of Salt
3 tsp of Butter at room temperature (I used 3 tablespoons, but Fabio says 3 teaspoons is the right amount!)
4 tbsp of Nutella
3/4 cup of Milk
1. Starting by combined all the dry ingredients
2. Add Butter and Nutella
3. Blend, then add Milk
4. Mix and place the Dough on top of a floured board and knead few times
5. Pat to 1 inch thickness and cut with Biscuits cutter
6. Place them in a oven tray Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes

I promise I haven't forgotten about this blog!

I've been super busy with my day job as well as baking!  I'll post more original recipes soon!



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pear Caramel Tea Infused Cheesecake

Sometimes my dessert inspiration comes from tea. I'm a huge fan of tea and have used it in my baking *numerous* times! It opens up a world of new flavors! I have such a great time making Tea Infused Cheesecakes and it's so exciting when I walk into a store like Spice and Tea Exchange and discover a new flavor (this excitement is also over the spices in the store!). On a recent trip to the Spice and Tea Exchange here in Tampa, I found Pear Caramel Tea - ONE sniff and I knew I had to make dessert with it!
Without further ado, here is the recipe for my most recent cheesecake creation!

Pear Caramel Tea Infused Cheesecake by Melisa Taylor.

Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan.

1 to 1 1/4 cups ground Graham Cracker Crumbs
4-5 tablespoons of butter (melted)
2-3 tsp of tea (ground to a powder in magic bullet)

Pear Caramel Tea Simple Syrup:
1 tbsp loose tea (wrap up in a cheesecloth bundle, or throw in the water and strain out after boiling and steeping)
16 ounces water
1 cup of sugar

-bring to boil until sugar dissolves and the syrup starts to coat the back of the spoon. Take off heat, let cool. Syrup will thicken. Depending on how long you cook the syrup, it will get really thick!

3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
dash of salt
1/4 cup room temp Pear Caramel Tea simple syrup
1 tsp powdered tea (approximate) - not totally necessary, but I like to add it for extra flavor.
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Add powdered earl grey tea to graham cracker crumbs, melt butter, add butter to crumbs. Mix up and press into bottom of prepared springform pan. I like to use a cup to press crumbs to the bottom of the pan.
Bake crust for about 7 minutes. Take out of oven and let cool.

Mix cream cheese, sugar and salt on high speed until it becomes shiny and well combined. Add powdered tea and mix to combine. Add Tea Simple Syrup and vanilla extract, mix to combine. Add eggs one at a time and mix to combine on low speed (so you don’t incorporate too much air in to mix).

Tap bowl of cheesecake batter on counter to release air bubbles. Pour batter into pan with cooled crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Lower oven temp to 300 degrees. Continue to bake for another 15-30 minutes, or until cheesecake is set a couple inches along the outside edge and slightly jiggly in center. Also, batter should be at least 150 degrees fahrenheit. Remove from oven. Slide flexible knife along edges of pan to release cheesecake from sides of pan. Let cool on rack about an hour or more, until it comes to room temp. Put in fridge, let cool 6-8 hours or overnight. Remove edge of pan and serve!
You can use some of the simple syrup for serving with the cheesecake!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One of my favorite cheesecakes I made in 2010.

A year ago I started making Pumpkin Infused Vodka. A bartender friend and I discovered how deliciously it went with Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur!
This year I decided to use that combination in Cheesecake & it came out great!

Pumpkin Bailey’s Cheesecake

1 to 1 & 1/4 cup graham cracker & ginger snap crumbs mixture
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter, melted

24 oz cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
dash of salt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place cookies in a blender or food processor; process with on/off pulse until finely crushed.
Add to melted butter; stir. Press crumb mixture onto bottom of 9" springform pan; bake for 5 minutes, remove and let cool.

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add sugar, salt and cornstarch; beat until blended. Beat in pumpkin, spices, & Bailey’s. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared crust. Place pan on cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 200°F (DO NOT forget - very important) and continue baking until it’s 150 degrees or until center is almost set up (about another 45-60 minutes) – the edges will be more firm and the center will be a bit wobbly. Let cool in warm oven about 15 minutes. Loosen edge of cheesecake; cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate cheesecake, uncovered, 6 hours or overnight. Remove rim from pan and serve!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

me, and my first recipe post....

I have been enjoying making yummy desserts for years and now I make desserts for a restaurant in my neighborhood called "Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe".  I do Bourbon Peach Cobblers (several a week), and 2 different "Cheesecake Specials" per week.
I love the challenge of coming up with new cheesecake flavors every week.  I try my best to come up with something you can't buy anywhere else.  I get inspiration from all over - sometimes it's the hot tea I'm drinking, sometimes it's the weather, the season, shopping trips, etc.
This week, the inspiration is seasonal fruit.  If you haven't tried a Blood Orange, you are missing out.  Not only are they pretty on the inside, they are delicious and rich.  So, I decided to make a Spiced Blood Orange Cheesecake.  Although I have a normal go-to recipe for citrus cheesecakes, I wanted to try out different recipes and a quick search brought up this recipe.  I, decided to make some changes, though.  I prefer warm spices with my blood oranges.  I couldn't find the actual blood orange, but was able to find Blood Orange juice, so I made a simple syrup from it and infused the flavor into the cheesecake that way.  I'm happy to report the cheesecake is delish!  :)

I apologize for the crappy iphone picture of the cheesecake.  I need to break out the actual camera for this, now that I plan to blog about it. :)

Here is the recipe, with my changes bolded in parentheses:

Blood Orange Cheesecake - adapted from Aimée's recipe recipe
makes a 10-inch round, serves between 8 and 16, depending on how generous you are.

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
(1-2 tbsp cinnamon orange spice - loose tea (ground to a powder with a magic bullet).)1/3 cup butter

675 grams cream cheese (I used 3 - 8 ounce packages = 24 ounces, slightly over 680 grams)
3/4 cup sugar (I used a tad over 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup sour cream
(pinch of salt)
(1 tsp ground cinnamon)
(1/2 tsp ground cardamom)
(1/4 tsp ground cloves)
zest and juice of one lemon (I skipped this)
zest and juice of one blood orange (or regular orange) (used 1/4 cup Blood Orange Simple Syrup instead)
5 large eggs, room temperature

Blood Orange Simple Syrup:
2 cups blood orange juice
3/4 cup sugar

bring blood orange juice to a boil and reduce to 1 to 1 1/2 cups and add sugar - stir, remove from heat when it starts to become a syrup consistency.  let cool before using in recipe.

1 1/2 cups sour cream 
juice and zest of one blood orange (1 tablespoon blood orange simple syrup)
1/4 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup and also added a tsp of vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350F.
For the crust, melt butter and add to crumbs. Mix well and press into a ten-inch springform pan. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until slightly golden. Cool.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add citrus zest and juice (or blood orange simple syrup). Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition, but not too vigorously.  Pour over crumb crust and bake for about 40 minutes (or until internal temperature is 150 degrees). Middle will still be slightly jiggly.

Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring. Cool 15 minutes on the counter.

(my cheesecake cracked after it started to cool a little... it may need to stay in the oven with the oven off and oven door ajar for about 15 minutes - so it cools slowly).

Meanwhile, prepare topping.  Pour over slightly cooled cheesecake and let stand for half an hour at room temperature. 
Chill completely. Remove ring and serve.