Sunday, November 21, 2010

White Chocolate Cheesecake

I made this cheesecake last week because I wanted some chocolate cheesecake. Then, I thought, why not make one a chocolate cheesecake, and another one a white chocolate cheesecake? Upon completion of my little experiment, I realized that this was an amazing cheesecake! So, I repeated the recipe last night. Yes, I did make 1 chocolate and 1 white chocolate, but let's focus on the white chocolate cheesecake, since this is an uncommon cheesecake that we do not share often.


*Recipe modified from The Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition. Btw, during the first endeavor of this recipe, I managed to be a klutz and spill 2 sticks of hot butter all over my book now some of my pages smell and feel like butter. "That means the book is being used, no?", is what my niece told me once.





Moving on!

Hardware:
1 - 9" spring-form pan 

Prepare the melted chocolate first before beginning anything! It needs to cool.
Oh! And be sure to have all your ingredients at room temp. It'll be easier to handle if it's all slightly warmed up.

8 oz (by weight please) white chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup boiled hot water

Place the white chocolate into a heat proof bowl. Pour the hot water over the it. Wait 2-3 minutes and stir until fully mixed and incorporated. Let cool. 

Software:
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups ground graham crumbs (yes, the stuff out of the box is ok to, find it in the baking isle)
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (I used the 1/4 cup, depending on your sweet tooth)
6 tablespoons (3/4 sticks) melted butter (and cooled!!)

In the mean time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, mix the crumbs with the sugar, then add the melted butter. Mix until coarse crumbs stick together. You may need to add more butter in this if you think it's too crumbly. I didn't like the extra fat in mine, so I opted for the more crumbly crust. Dump the crumbs into the spring-form pan. Spread out the crumbs until the bottom and the sides have crumbs around them. Press the crumbs down to flatten. The sides will not have the crumbs going all the way up so don't worry. Plus, your sides do not have to be perfect unless you want them to be perfectly even, but good luck. Place the crust into the oven for 10 minutes. Next!

 For the cheesecake:

1 pound (2 - 8 oz packages) cream cheese
2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
2 cups sour cream

In a bowl of an electric mixer (it can be done by hand but it'll be a little harder), place the cream cheese and mix with a paddle until creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl then add the sugar and vanilla. Cream together for about 1 to 2 minutes.  Scrape the bowl again. Next, incorporate 1 egg at a time. Add the next egg when you do not see the previous egg anymore. After the eggs are incorporated, add the 2 cups of sour cream. Mix the ingredients together until smooth. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to get everything together.

Pour the contents into the crust of the spring-form pan. Don't worry about going over the crust that you made. It will all harden when finished and it will be great! Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.

When you're done baking the cheesecake, open the door slightly and leave it ajar for about 1 hour. Turn off the oven. Let the cheesecake cool for the hour and then place in the fridge to cool completely, preferably over night, or 24 hours if time permits.

Variations:
Chocolate cheesecake: minus the melted white chocolate, instead add 8 oz (yes, by weight!)  of melted semi-sweet chocolate.


Upon refrigeration, I got a chocolate square and shaved some chocolate over the top. 


I hope you enjoyed reading, and try the recipe! It's so EASY to make and it's delicious. Why spend $15 - $20 on something you can make yourself? It won't contain all the extra gelatin and preservatives as the store bought kind. Give it a try and post below about it! I would love to hear how yours came out.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

I decided to make Oatmeal Raisin Muffins. Why? Because I needed a healthier muffin on the go when I run off to school in the morning. Recipe is from, as most of the time, from the Joy of Cooking (75th edition) book under the Muffin section, with, as always, healthier tweeks by me. The recipe in the Joy of Cooking book has the basic muffin recipe. I added the oats, raisins, cinnamon, and flaxseed in my variation.




Recipe:
     Makes 12 small muffins, or 6 Jumbo muffins.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 cup freshly ground flaxseed (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the muffin tins with either spray oil or line with paper liners. 

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and flaxseed. 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar or packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup (1/2 to 1 stick) butter, melted, or vegetable oil 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk (or cream), sugar (or light brown sugar), vanilla, and butter (or oil). 
Add to the flour mixture and fold the ingredients together until just mixed. Do not over beat!
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raisins
Put in the oats and raisins and fold until just mixed. Again, do it in the fewest strokes possible. You don't want tough muffins. Bake at 400 degrees F for 17 minutes. Mine took 23 minutes because I made the jumbo. It might take about 20 minutes for this variation for the smaller muffins.  Check with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean and fully baked. Enjoy!






Pros:
A nice and healthier alternative to the greasy muffins sold everywhere else. They weren't greasy with oil upon touch. 
Also, it was a great breakfast muffin with some coffee. 

Cons:
It felt a little dense for me when I made them.  I doubled the recipe to make more jumbo muffins, since I have a large family to feed and they eat more than 1 muffin per person. I also put in double the amount of oats, which I think took away the moisture out of the muffins. I changed the recipe above to lower the cups of oats and raisins added to hopefully have your muffins come out more moist than mine. 

Enjoy! Feel free to comment how yours came out!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Classic Apple Pie!

Since it's the beginning of the wonderful season of fall, I decided to go with a classic, and make Apple Pie!
-Recipe courtesy of the Joy of Baking (75th edition), with some tweeks by me.





The recipe for the dough of the crust and lattice is dedicated to Iris, whom I met last night. She questioned how to make a good crust because her store-bought crusts always burn. Iris, buying crusts ends today! 

Dough for crust and top:
*this makes a 9-inch double crust, if you do not want a top (such as a cover or lattice), cut the recipe in half.
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons good quality cinnamon (optional)
Mix the flour, salt together. Add ground flaxseed and cinnamon if you opted for it and mix. Put in the shortening and butter into the flour mixture and "cut" the shortening and butter into the mixture. You can either use a pastry blender or 2 forks, but I prefer to use my hands and mix the mixture until pea-sized balls come together. (I squeeze the butter and shortening in my hands as I mix it thoroughly.) When the dough has reached pea-sized balls, sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of ice water. Blend gently until the dough comes together into a ball. If you're doing the double crusts, cut the dough in half. If necessary, add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of ice water into the dough. If it's too crumbly and won't stick together, add a bit of ice water and knead. Cover each piece of dough in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 


While the dough is resting in the refrigerator, prep the filling.
  • 2 1/2 pounds pounds apples (5 to 6 large)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Prep the apples by peeling, coring, and slicing and put into a large bowl. Place the sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt into the bowl with the apples. Toss to coat the apple slices evenly. Let stand for 15 minutes for the apples to soften.

Preheat oven at 425 degrees. After 30 minutes of resting, unwrap the dough and place on a flat, clean surface. You may place some flour on the surface to keep the dough from sticking. (Use a pastry mat, if you have it.) Roll out to a 10-inches circle. Place the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Poke holes on the bottom of the dough with a fork and place either another pie pan on top or a bag of beans to keep the dough from rising up. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes.  Cool completely after baking. 

After the crust has cooled, put the apple filling into the pie pan. Level the top with a spoon. Place the cubed unsalted butter (and cinnamon, if you want to) on top of the apple filling. If you opted for the top crust, design as you may like! I used an egg wash over the top of the lattice to brown it. If not, place the pie into the oven at 425 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and place a baking sheet below the pie to catch any spill-overs. Bake for another 30 minutes. Cool completely after baking. Your patient will be rewarded! Enjoy!


Pros:
My husband is not an apple-pie fan, but he loved it! It's not too sweet and a prefect combination with vanilla ice cream. I really liked this pie. I was very happy that it came out! The one I made last year was way too runny. 


Cons:
None! 


-Feel free to comment below! Enjoy making the recipe!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blueberry Tart

Today, as promised to my husband, I made him a Blueberry Tart. My inspiration was from the Joy of Cooking (75th edition) book, but I changed some ingredients around. I made a chocolate cheesecake on sunday but it was eaten before I had a chance to take pictures of it so that will have to wait again.





Let's get started!

The dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks) softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour and sugar until mixed. Add the softened butter until the dough resembles little crumbs of dough (about 2 minutes of mixing by electric mixer). Place the dough into a tart pan and spread it out to the sides and up the sides of the pan. Poke holes in the dough so that steam may escape during baking. Bake the pan at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool after baking. Turn your oven down to 325 degrees F.

The filling:
2 cups fresh blueberries (you can used thawed drained blueberries too)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cream cheese, cut into pieces

In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs until combined. Place the sugar and cream with the eggs. Add the cream cheese and combine. Finally, add the blueberries. Place the filling into the prepared tart pan. Do not overfill. Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour. Watch your crust!! It could start to burn towards the end. Also, watch the top of your tart as it might burn as well. If that is the case, simply bake for 45 to 50 minutes instead of the 1 hour. Let cool before serving and enjoy with some vanilla ice cream.

Verdict:

I think I should have used the sour cream like the original recipe asked. I did not have any sour cream and had cream cheese instead. It made the tart have a creamy filling but it wasn't sweet like I expected it to be. I would like to have put fresh blueberries on top if I had some. That is an option for the future. The crust was thick around the edges, so it made it a little hard to cut through. All in all, my husband gave it a 9. I, myself, give it a 7. I was a little disappointed with the way it looked in the end, but that's something else to strive for with round 2. Enjoy!

-Joanna

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oatmeal Banana Bread

When you're bored, baking is therapeutic. Well, at least for me it is.
So, to cure my boredom, I made Oatmeal Banana Bread. The recipe I used was a variation from the famous Joy of Cooking cookbook.



Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups sugar
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 large ( or 2 small) eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 bananas)

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch loaf pan.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and salt.
In a bowl of an electric mixer (or a handheld one), cream the butter and sugar until lighter in color. Then, add the beaten eggs, and after incorporated, ass the mashed bananas. Mix well.
Finally, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, adding the next part after the incorporation of the previous part. Do not over beat!
Transfer the batter into the greased pan and into the middle rack of the oven.
Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then depan, and cool completely before slicing.

Verdict:
My husband gave this bread an 8 out of 10 points, but then again he hadn't had too many banana breads thus far. I would say that the crumb was soft, not hard, but still slightly crumbly, as all breads are. The softness of the bread made it appealing to the taste buds and not too dry. The banana flavor was distinct in the bread, which I loved. I hate banana breads that don't even taste like bananas. The top browned perfectly to the point where it gave that slightly crunch as you bit into it. It wasn't very sweet, but still slightly sweet enough from the sugar and the bananas in the batter. Finally, the oatmeal it always a good thing!

I liked this recipe overall. I would most likely change the all-purpose flour to whole wheat flour in the future. I would also make this recipe vegan at one point by using soy margarine instead of butter and substituting the eggs or just getting rid of them all together, which in turn would make it low-fat, but wouldn't give it the nice rise that the bread had.

Ah, the versatility of eggs.

I hoped you enjoyed this recipe and will make it in the future. The Joy of Cooking version uses lemon zest and omits the oatmeal. I love oatmeal, but if you don't omit it in the batter. Enjoy! Let me know how yours turns out!

Also, if you have any requests for recipes, comment, please!

-Joanna

Saturday, May 22, 2010

S'more Brownies



Cupcakes are coming soon, but not quite yet.

I did this recipe for my husband when he wanted some brownies. Now, I didn't want to go the traditional way, and decided to look for a recipe that spiced it up. What I found was a recipe by Food Network's Kitchens. The picture on their website it much prettier than mine, but I could not get around the stickiness of those marshmallows, which ruined a lot of the shots!


Ingredients:
Crust:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of fine salt
Brownie:
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (+2 tablespoons if needed extra for crumb bottom, see recipe)
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (or 4 oz unsweetened chocolate morsels)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
Topping:
  • 4 cups large marshmallows

Put an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 by-8-inch square baking pan with foil so that it can hang over the edges by 1 inch. This will help you lift the brownie goodness out of the baking pan.
Next, make the crust. Butter the foil with some of the melted butter lightly. Stir the rest of the butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a bowl and combine well. Make sure that the crumbs stick together lightly so that they may be able to be pressed into the pan bottom. If you think you need more butter, add 2 more tablespoons of melted butter, and mix. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes.
While the crumb is baking, place the butter and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave for 1.45 minutes. Stir to melt. If the chocolate is not completely melted, place in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir gently to incorporate the melted butter and chocolate into a homogenous mixture. Stir the light brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs and beat to make a batter. Add the flour and stir until just incorporated. Do not over-beat.
When your crumb bottom is done, pour the batter into the pan. Bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and carefully position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat on low. Layer marshmallows across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, (keep an eye on it, it can go quick), about 2 minutes. Cool on a rack, gently removing the brownies from the pan using the aluminum flaps. Carefully separate any marshmallow from the foil and fold away. Cut into 12 (2-inch) squares.
(Copyright 2007 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved)
I modified the recipe from the original just a bit, but not by much. Those Food Network Kitchen know how to put a twist on brownies.
Review: The brownies came out great! They were a bit on the sweet side, but I think that was because I used semi-sweet morsels rather than unsweetened. The marshmallows came out very sticky, so it was hard to cut through for nice pieces, because it would pull and stick to the other marshmallows, ruining the "prettiness" of it all, but hey, it's brownies. My batter did not rise as much as I would have liked to be have risen. But, overall. I loved this recipe. I would probably change a few of the ingredients next time. Maybe change the marshmallows to either smaller marshmallows or that marshmallows whipped topping, but don't put it under the broiler. I would also like to try it with whole wheat flour. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blackberry Coffee Cake

So, I decided to cheat and bake before finals as a way to relax. I know I was supposed to make cupcakes but those take too long and I didn't have much time today. Cupcakes on monday or tuesday.

Not the prettiest thing in the world, but still looks good!

For the coffee cake, I decided to tweak the recipe because I didn't have blueberry filling, but it worked out just the same. I've made this recipe before for a Pot-Luck before but with fresh blueberries and raspberry topping. This recipe was from my KitchenAid cookbook: Great Baking and More.

Recipe:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cups (1&1/2 sticks) butter, chilled, and cup into small pieces
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
18 oz (2 1/4 cups) blackberries

Optional:
  • instead of milk, you can use buttermilk
  • add macadamia nuts to the crumbly topping
  • use margarine instead of butter
  • use 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1 3/4 cups all purpose. I didn't have whole wheat today so I used all all-purpose.
  • any fruit topping you want, you can add any fruit you want and/or pie filling
  • for the crumb topping, use 3/4 cup of the reserve flour, not 1/2 cup like the recipe says. I felt that it wasn't enough. Or just make a little more.
Instructions:

Put in the all-purpose flour, brown sugar, and butter in a bowl of an electric mixer. Using the flat beater attachment, turn the speed to stir (low) and mix until the butter is about the size of peas, which is about 3 minutes. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Remove 1/2 cup (see optional above) of the flour mixture and set aside to be used as a crumb topping. Next, add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the flour mixture. Turn the speed to stir (low), and mix for 30 seconds. Add the milk and the egg. Continue to mix on stir (low) just until moistened, about 30 seconds. Don't over-beat! (If you over-beat, there will be too much gluten formation and the cake will come out tougher.)
Spoon the batter into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. (Remember, it you're using a glass container, lower the oven temperature down by 4 degrees. Glass bakes things faster than aluminum pans.) Drop filling by tablespoons in top of batter. Swirl the filling into the batter. Sprinkle the top with the crumb topping of the reserved flour mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and delicious (sorry, Alton).

Nutritional Facts:

Now for the nutritional assessment! Those of you who rather not know how much fat and calories is in the piece of blackberry coffee cake, I do not suggest you read the next portion!

Serving Size: 1/16 of a cake *see note below
Calories: 242 calories
Protein: 3 grams
Carbohydrate: 29 grams
Fat: 13 grams
Cholesterol: 37 milligrams
Sodium: 198 milligrams

Overall, I really liked this coffee cake. It was the right balance of sweetness and tart from the berries. It was slightly moist, crumbly, but not too dry. What I probably would change for next time, though, is the height of the cake. It was smaller than I anticipated, so maybe tweaking the recipe so that the chemical balance of the ingredients create a higher rising cake. I would definitely make this coffee cake again, and perhaps even use a crumb cake topping instead of just the flour mixture to give it more crunch to the top. The blackberries made the top squishy, which, I thought, was good anyway. A little crunch would have been nice.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this recipe and will try to make it. Feel free to comment with questions or advice. It's a basic coffee cake recipe. I've made ones before with sour cream or cream cheese added too. Gotta love food science. Thanks for reading!

-Joanna

*Note about serving size. A serving size means that all of the nutritional information listed corresponds to the 1/16 piece of cake that you made. It doesn't apply to the entire cake. Multiply the grams and calories by 16, and then see how many calories and grams there are in the entire cake. Whenever you see serving size, be cautious of the things that are in the product. This applies to all food nutritional labels that are used in the USA. They all have serving sizes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sneak Peak!

College has me busy with finals, but don't worry, new recipes are on the way after May 17th. My next recipe will be a white cupcakes per request of Amelia. I hope this will be the "great" recipe she's looking for. 'Til then, happy experimental baking!

-Joanna

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes Version #1


Easy enough, right? It takes the right recipe to get the perfect chocol
ate cupcakes. They have to be moist, not too crumbly, not too hard, but just the right texture and consistency. This recipe wasn't it.

Recipe - courtesy of Baking by Love Food.

Cupcakes:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
confectioners sugar

Frosting:
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Makes 12 cupcakes.
Frosts 20 cupcakes.

Pros:
  • Good chocolaty flavor.
Cons:
  • Batter was too thick.
  • Too crumbly - I had to keep my hand under the wrapper to keep the crumbs from falling onto the ground.
  • Didn't rise as well as they should have. I did fill the cups 3/4 of the way up, but still, hardly a rise.
  • Frosting was too sweet. - Maybe less powdered sugar?
  • Frosting was too soft. - Need to find a new recipe for cream cheese frosting. This wasn't it either.
Next time, I would probably not use this recipe. If you decide to make these cupcakes, let me know how yours come out!

*April 25, 201o

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Introduction

Hi there.

I decided to start a blog because it seems like every time I make a recipe from one of my many baking books, I forget what I thought of it or what I wanted to change about it.

So, here is the beginning.

The beginning of a recipe journal that will hopefully aid in developing my own recipes and improving others through first person experience. I will also try to post pictures of the baked goodies. This will also give you, the reader, an opportunity to share your comments and your wisdoms of food science or food speciality.

Feel free to comment. Both good and bad reviews and/or advice welcome, especially if you've recreated my posted recipe - *see note below*

Thank you, and Enjoy!

*Special Note*
Some of these recipes may have allergies/allergy ingredients associated with them. Try at your own risk! I am not responsible for anyone getting sick or having an allergic reaction from trying a recipe.