Tall and Creamy Cheesecake (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mini Cheesecakes
Cheesecake! Four ways!

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Anne of AnneStrawberry chose Tall and Creamy Cheesecake on pages 235-237 of Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Thanks Anne!!!

Mini Cheesecakes Mini Cheesecakes
Mini Cheesecakes Mini Cheesecakes
I decided to try different flavors and made 4 mini cheesecakes. The original crust recipe was enough for the 4-inch springforms, but I ended up with a ton of extra batter (probably enough for 1 1/2 or 2 more minis...I still have some in the fridge and need to figure out what to do with it.)

Mini Cheesecakes
I made four different flavors:

1. Meyer lemon juice, zest and lemon extract
2. Mini chocolate chips (1/4 cup) - folded into batter
3. Blueberries (1/4 cup) - folded into batter
4. Raspberries (1/4 cup) - placed between two layers of batter

Mini Cheesecakes
This one is the mini chocolate chips. I baked them for 50 minutes in a water bath, and then let them sit in the water bath for 1 hour (with the oven door slightly ajar).

Mini Cheesecakes

Happy Almost New Year! I hope everyone had a great Christmas and Hanukkah. I spent last Saturday making mochi with my family for the Japanese celebration of New Year...that'll be my next post!

And don't forget to donate to Menu for Hope V by purchasing $10 raffle tickets. You can win great prizes and support a worthy cause. Last day is Dec 31st! There are amazing bloggers and foodies who donated great stuff. So far, they are almost up to $50,000 - and your dollars can send them over the top!

Be sure to check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers to see their creations. Dorie encouraged playing around with her cheesecake and I know my fellow bakers won't disappoint!!
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Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas!
May you have a wonderful holiday season with friends and family!
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Happy Hanukkah! Noodle Kugel

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Noodle Kugel
Noodle Kugel

Let's celebrate those eight crazy nights with some kugel!

My friend Jami has a lovely mom who can cook. Oh vey! She's the best! Her brisket is out of this world, mandel bread, Matzah brei, and Matzo ball soup...so yum! She's definitely my adopted Jewish mom.

Although most celebrate Hanukkah with latkes (potato pancakes), those are best eaten straight out of the hot oil. I decided to make kugel so I could bring it into work!

Note: I baked the kugel last night and these photos are of a cold kugel. The warm kugel will have a different consistency. I like it hot, warm, cool and cold! :) You can make kugel sweet or savory and add all sorts of goodies such as pineapple, raisins and even more dairy products. However, I love Mrs. S recipe and can't imagine it any other way!

Noodle Kugel

"Mrs. S" Special Noodle Kugel Recipe
8 oz. medium noodles
6 eggs
1 lb. (16 oz.) carton cottage cheese, small curd
3 oz. small cream cheese [FYI: A regular brick is 8 oz.]
1/2 pint = 1 cup = 8 oz. container sour cream
1/4 lb. = 1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Handful of cornflake crumbs to thicken the noodle-egg mixture a bit

Cook and drain noodles. Beat eggs well, add rest of the ingredients and beat well. By hand, mix in the drained noodles.

Noodle Kugel

Topping
Mix together:
1 cup corn flake crumbs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Grease a 9 x 13 pan well and add mixture. Sprinkle topping on. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, uncovered.

Noodle Kugel
And there is even more to celebrate! It's Jami's birthday AND her parent's anniversary today! Happy Birthday Jami!
Happy Anniversary Cyndi and Perry!

Noodle Kugel
Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays!
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Butterscotch Pudding (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Butterscotch Pudding
Real Butterscotch Pudding
(Sorta)

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases chose Real Butterscotch Pudding on page 386 of Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

I made 1/2 the recipe, omitted the scotch, and doubled the vanilla.

I made it by hand with lots of whisking, and it was pretty easy. Dorie suggests using a food processor but a few people had difficulties with this technique in our last pudding adventure. I double sifted the cornstarch and salt before adding it to the egg mixture to make sure it was smooth.

Butterscotch Pudding
Topped with a scoop of whipped cream, this is a nice dessert! You can really taste the lightly caramelized light brown sugar mixture.

And the best news this week? Santa came to visit my librarian friend, Shannon and her husband Mike! Introducing Katherine Louise! She arrived December 21 and weighed almost 9 pounds!

Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! May you have a wonderful time with your friends and family this holiday season.

And check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers to see their butterscotch creations!
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Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin"
Apple Cake "Tatin"

Apples.
Carmel.
Cake.

Sign me up!

I made Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa's Apple "Tatin" Cake (recipe here on the FoodNetwork website). It's like the traditional Apple Tartine/Tartin/Tatin (seen all sorts of spellings) but substitutes cake for puff pastry.

Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin" Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin"
I cut two medium-large gala apples and one small granny smith apple, and placed them into a glass 9 1/2" pie plate.

Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin"
Sugar is caramelized and poured over the apples. Ina's instruction say to take it to 360 degrees (which seems really really high), but I judged it by smell and color instead. Carmel always makes the kitchen smell sooooo delicious.

Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin" Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin"
The cake is a very basic and easy to make - flour, butter, sour cream, eggs and sugar. Meyer lemon zest and vanilla is also added.

Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin"
This came together very quickly (I made it in the morning before work), and I baked it for 42 minutes. After removal from the oven, wait 15 minutes and then invert onto a serving tray.

Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin"
This is great with apples! I'd also like to try it with pears...and stone fruits like apricots in the summer.

Barefoot Contessa's Apple Cake "Tatin"
I prefer cake to puff pastry, so I loved this apple cake "tatin". Another home run by Ina!
Recipe here.

P.S. Today, Sunday, Dec 21, fellow librarian Shannon is scheduled to deliver her little ladybug! Her first child is breech and never turned around (I think she liked having her head hit mom's ribs all the time ;) Best of luck and congratulations Shannon and Mike! I can't wait to meet your little girl! (Also so excited she'll be a Sagittarius like me too!)
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Sky High Cakes - Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake (Cake Slice Bakers)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake

For this month's Cake Slice Bakers selection, we voted for the Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake in the great book, Sky High Cakes: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman (page 51).

You need to make this cake.

No, really. You need to make this cake.

Okay, you don't believe me? Let me show you why...

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
The recipe calls for skinned hazelnuts but I couldn't find any. So, I toasted them and then furiously rubbed them in my hands to skin them! Not everything came off but I figured the extra fiber wouldn't hurt anyone. :)

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
Grated unsweetened chocolate was a great addition to the chopped nuts. Hint: freeze or chill the chocolate to make the grating easier (I think this was the hardest part of the recipe...my arm was tired!). The hazelnuts are ground up...

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
...and a graham cracker crumb, hazelnut, chocolate, and sugar mixture is created!

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
The yolks are beaten with sugar and some oil, nut mixture, flour, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder are added. The batter is lightened with whipped egg whites.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
I made half the recipe and used a 9 x 13 pan (original recipe is for 3 x 9 inch rounds). As you can see, I didn't level out the batter very nicely and my edges were a bit thin. I just put the smallest layer on top.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
I used a 2 1/2 inch circle and cut 12. And don't think the leftover cake went into the trash...it didn't go to "waste" - it went to my "waist."

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
A simple syrup mixture with added rum is brushed on each layer. Because I was bringing it into work, I didn't want to use real rum and used a bit of rum extract. After last month's cake, the author wrote to me inquiring about this new baking group, and I took the opportunity to ask her about options. She suggested those coffeehouse non-alcohol syrups used to flavor coffee. I went searching but couldn't find a rum flavored one in my local stores so I went the rum extract route.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
The filling is a heavenly Creme Chantilly: heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Directions say to make this cake about 6 hours before you serve it to allow everything to set up.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
The cake is light and yet rich with texture and flavor. It's not too sweet and I could probably eat five pieces in one sitting. My co-worker said it is one of her favorite items I've ever brought into work.

Three layers of yum! Please, please make this cake! Alisa's book Sky High Cakes would be great under any baker's tree this season.

Check out the other Cake Slice Bakers - I know my fellow bakers were really creative with this cake!
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French Apple Puff Pastry Tart (Inspired by Barefoot Contessa)

Friday, December 19, 2008

French Apple Tart
French Apple Tart

I was inspired by Ina Garten's recipe for French Apple Tart in her new book, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. She has an interview here and describes the tart. She presents a pastry dough recipe...but there is also a note that says you can use frozen puff pastry instead! I went that route!

French Apple Tart
Here is one sheet of Trader Joe's all-butter Puff Pastry (thawed) with sliced granny smith apples. Ina lays the apples in a different pattern, but it is close to this.

French Apple Tart
After layering the apples, I dotted the top with butter, sugar and some orange zest.

French Apple Tart
After baking at 425 for 30-40 minutes, I brushed on some warmed apricot jam. Next time, I'll strain the jam so it isn't so thick. Easy and delicious.

Trader Joe's Puff Pastry (one sheet)
4 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut thin
1/4 c sugar
3 T butter (cold), cut into little pieces
2-3 T apricot jam with a little water to thin out
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Martha Stewart's Cherry-Streusel Coffee Cake

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cherry Coffee Cake
Cherry-Streusel Coffee Cake

Sorry for my crummy photo...I usually take my photos outside in the backyard, but because of the horrible weather here in Los Angeles (yes, when it rains in LA it is all about "storm watch" - don't laugh) I was stuck inside with some bad photos! Look at Martha Stewart's book, Baking Handbook (page 55) for a beautiful photo of this yummy coffee cake!

The Seattle Times has the recipe here. And Katherine Heigl and Martha make it here on her website. Seattle's recipe has the scaled down version of the streusel (only 1 cup needed), while the website and book offer the 4 cup recipe and you will have lots extra.

Cherry Coffee Cake Cherry Coffee Cake
I used frozen (thawed) Dark Sweet Cherries from Trader Joe's (I prefer Sweet over Sour when it comes to cherries). Half the batter is spread on the bottom - at first, I thought I wouldn't have enough batter, the layer was kinda thin.

Cherry Coffee Cake
The thawed and drained cherries are added to the center of the cake. Stay away from the edges.

Cherry Coffee Cake Cherry Coffee Cake
The rest of the batter is added and then the cold streusel topping (1 cup).

Cherry Coffee Cake
It rose up very nicely and those worries about "not enough batter" were unfounded. When cooled, a quick glaze of powdered sugar and milk is drizzled on top.

Cherry Coffee Cake
Soft, moist with deep cherry flavor. Yum. Oh yeah, the topping rocks!

Find Martha's recipe here on her website or with the Seattle Times!
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