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dessert

Strawberry Cheesecake Pie

(My goodness it’s taken me way too long to write this post.) Easter weekend was also Steve’s birthday and his favourite dessert is Strawberry cheesecake. But last year we ended up throwing the cake out because there was just too much and after a day or so the topping got yucky. So my mission was to find something more manageable. I was inspired by Junior’s restaurant recipe from “Junior’s Desserts” cookbook but I used a graham crust instead of the vanilla wafer crust, ditched the macaroon crumbs, and I made the topping separately so that I could easily refrigerate the cake without the topping going soft. I cut them into individual portions and popped them in the freezer for whenever I have a craving for cheesecake. Taste wise, I did  like it a lot but I think it was a touch too sweet. Next time I will leave out about 1/4 of a cup and see what happens. And as it states in the recipe, it really does puff up quite a bit but settles down fine. Mine had cracks but I have  feeling I left it in a little too long. It was still nice and creamy though. I don’t know if I will bother making cheesecake in a spring form again!

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Cheesecake pie at top left, veg, and then C.I. Scalloped Potatoes

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The filling cracked quite a bit but it doesn’t really matter as you’re going to top it anyway.

Junior’s fresh strawberry cream cheese pie

1 recipe vanilla wafer crumb crust (I used graham crust)

For the Cream Cheese Filling:
4 8-ounce pkgs cream cheese at room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 extra large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream (35% m.f.)

For the Topping:
1 recipe Macaroon crunch (I didn’t bother making this)
1 1/2 – 2 quarts ripe strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup strawberry jam, melted and kept warm

Makes one 9-inch deep-dish pie

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. butter a 9 inch pie plate. Make the crust, adding 1 tsp baking powder in step 1. Press the mixture over the bottom and all the way up the side of the pie plate. Freeze for 15 minutes. Bake just until set, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

Make the cream cheese filling. In a large bowl with an electric mix (using paddle attachment if you have it) on low, beat one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch together for about 3 minutes. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. This will take about another 3 minutes.

Increase the mixer speed to medium (no faster!) and beat in the remaining 1/1/3 cups of sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the cream just until completely blended. The batter will look light, creamy, and airy. Be careful not to overmix! Spoon the filling into the cooled crust. Bake the pie until puffed, 30-35 minutes. The filling will rise in the oven, then settle as it cools. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the macaroon crunch and cool. [Bake 2/3 cup of chopped mixed nuts and 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut for 10-15 minutes at 350F until golden.]

5. Arrange the whole berries, on their sides with the pointed ends out, in concentric circles on top of the pie, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Spoon the melted jelly over the berries, covering the top of the pie. Place the macaroon crunch around the edge of the pie, forming a 1-1 1/2 inch border. Immediately refrigerate for at least 2 hours (3 is better). The pie is best served the same day. [I sliced the strawberries and combined with the jelly to spoon over individual pieces instead so that the filling would stay good for longer.]

Basic Graham Cracker Crust

1 ½ cups finely crushed regular or cinnamon graham crackers (24 squares)
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, stir all ingredients until well mixed. Reserve 3 tablespoons crumb mixture for garnishing top of pie before serving, if desired. Press remaining mixture firmly and evenly against bottom and side of pie plate. Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown; cool on cooling rack. Fill as directed in pie recipe.

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Small Batch Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Sometimes you just want a baked treat without having to go to some expensive bakery downtown, or make a large batch of something sweet that will be tempting you for days afterwards. Hence, the convenience of small batch baking! I have tried a few red velvet recipes over the past few years and this one is my go to. I adapted it for my mug cake recipe but this small batch version is great if you’re making dessert for a small group or want to make a treat for your vegan BFF. But let’s be honest – I basically ate these myself over the span of 24 hours! lol

Tip: I used reduced fat cream cheese and my icing turned out way to soft. Taste wise it was fine, but it was so soft it was oozing down over the edges of the cupcakes. If you add too much icing sugar it becomes too sweet and you lose the cream cheese flavour. Add more butter and you risk it feeling too greasy or tasting too buttery. I tried chilling the icing and it was helped but it was difficult to get it out of the piping bag. I suggest using regular cream cheese. And the cupcakes aren’t terribly red because I try to avoid using large amounts of food colouring.

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red velvet cupcake

That’s basically my daughters craft table in the background. 🙂 Nail polish is “Wined Up” by Sally Hansen topped with Graffiti by Revlon.

Small Batch Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp oil
1 Tbsp red food colouring
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/8 tsp almond extract or extra vanilla

Directions
Preheat the oven at 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with 6-7 paper liners and grease it lightly.
In a medium size bowl, mix together the milk and vinegar allowing it to curdle. This will take about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar too.
Once the milk has curdled, stir in the oil, food color and the extracts. Whisk it well to combine.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly add the wet ingredients to it, stirring it until all the ingredients come together. Small lumps are okay. Take care to see that you do not over mix it otherwise you will not get fluffy cupcakes.
Fill each muffin tin 3/4ths full of the batter.
Bake it for about 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean or with very little crumbs is okay too. Mine were done after 17 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it remain there for 5 minutes. After that remove the cupcakes from the pan and let it cool completely before you can frost it.

I used regular cream cheese icing to decorate them but feel free to use your own favourite vegan version.

F.N. Vanilla Cupcakes + Icing Rose

I was so excited this summer when I found the May 2015 issue of the Food Network Magazine at the thrift shop. It features 50 cupcake recipes! I thought I’d give the basic vanilla cupcake recipe a try as I’m always trying to find that perfect balance of vanilla flavour and moist but light cake. I followed the recipe to a ‘t’ and used all of the batter to fill the muffin tins. Big mistake. It was way too much and the cupcakes overflowed in the pan. The edges got to crispy and the middles sank a little. I also found the cupcakes a bit to salty. The buttercream recipe was pretty basic, but I did take the opportunity to try making an icing rose. The tip I used was the next size down I believe but it still turned out fairly well. Despite the problems I still ate them up. I might try the recipe again but reduce the salt and use the extra batter to make a little cake in a ramekin or one of Miss M’s silicone bake pans. That would be really cute!

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Vanilla Cupcakes

Whisk 1 1/3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Beat 1 stick softened butter in a separate bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, 1 minute. Add 1 cup sugar and beat until creamy, 4 more minutes. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, then 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture in three batches on low speed, alternating with 1/2 cup milk total. Beat on medium-high speed until just combined.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until the tops spring back, 20 to 25 minutes for vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, and 18 to 20 minutes for spice cupcakes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove the cupcakes to the rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream

Beat 1 1/2 sticks softened butter, 3 cups confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt with a mixer on medium speed until just combined. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until creamy, 3 minutes. Beat in 2 tablespoons milk until fluffy, 1 more minute.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/50-cupcakes.html?oc=linkback

Video on how to make an icing rose:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4o6g29mh5Q

Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes

Friday was my last day teaching Inuit stencil printing to the youth at the after school program and I’m really going to miss them. 😦 As a special treat I made cupcakes for everyone.  Miss S. was the only one that wanted vanilla so I made a small batch just for her!

I love small batch cupcake recipes, not only because it encourages portion control, but also because you can offer a variety of treats to sample at a party or get together. And because many don’t have eggs they are either vegan or are easily converted for vegans. I honestly cannot tell that these recipes do not have eggs or dairy. They’re also great for anyone with food allergies. For these vanilla cupcakes you can try using an egg substitute and almond milk or other milk alternative.

I also wanted to try out a new vanilla buttercream recipe that I found in the cookbook Junior’s Desserts. I was hoping it would be more pipeable than my regular icing recipe as it tends to fluff to much and forms air pockets that don’t look that nice when making cupcake swirls. This new recipe calls for the addition of corn syrup and shortening. I think it did help make it more smooth and the shortening didn’t interfere with the flavour of the butter. I’ll definitely use this recipe again.

Other recipes to try:

Small Batch Vegan Banana Muffins
Small Batch Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Small Batch Sugar Cookies (includes eggs and dairy)

I was in a rush and forgot to take pics, so here’s one from a while back.

Vanilla Cupcake

Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes

(Makes 6-7)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup + 2 tsp milk
3 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp baking powder ( rounded)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cooking Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line 6-7 muffin tins with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add flour, milk, oil, baking powder, and vanilla and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy. Don’t overbeat. Pour batter into the prepared tins.
Bake in preheated oven for 18-21 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before covering with frosting, if desired.

Flax egg: To substitute one egg, mix a tablespoon of ground flax seeds into a 2.5 tablespoons of water and let sit for 5 minutes or so until a gel starts to form.

For other vegan egg replaces visit the kitchn website: http://www.thekitchn.com/5-vegan-substitutes-for-eggs-in-baking-tips-from-the-kitchn-136591 

 

Note: I used roughly a third of this recipe for the small batch of cupcakes. 

Junior’s Restaurant Vanilla Buttercream

2 lbs. (8 cups) of confectioners’ sugar, well sifted

1/2 tsp. salt

1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup margarine or high-ratio shortening, room temperature

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

1 Tbsp. and 2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 scant tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup heavy cream, not too cold

Onto a parchment sheet, or into a large bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and the salt, being sure to break up out any stubborn sugar lumps. In the large bowl of your electric mixer, using the paddle attachment on high speed, cream together the butter and margarine/shortening; beat for about three minutes, until light yellow. Still on high speed, add in the corn syrup and vanilla. Stop and scrape the beaters and bowl. Now on low speed, add the sugar in two additions, beating well after each one. Pour in the cream and blend until the frosting seems of reasonable spreading consistency; if it seems too thick, add in more cream as needed, a teaspoon or so at a time. Keep the frosting tightly covered until you’re ready to use it. If you won’t be using it within a couple of hours, cover and refrigerate it.

Chocolate Banana Muffins w/ Choc. Peanut Butter Icing

My 4 year old has decided that she no longer likes bananas so I had a couple lying around that didn’t get eaten. I poked around in Pinterest and found this recipe that I thought would be a nice change from plain banana bread. I was about 3 spoonfuls shy of 1.5 cups of mashed banana so I topped it up with apple sauce and it worked really well. The muffins are very soft and moist with a hint of banana and lots of chocolate flavour, especially with the icing. To make them a little more decadent I added Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing from Chocolate Covered Katie. So freakin’ good! And a bonus – my daughter likes them! I highly recommend these.

Tip: a whisk makes for quick banana mashing.

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Chocolate Banana Muffins

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 large)
⅓ cup oil
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1½ cups flour
¼ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Sugar for sprinkling on tops

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine bananas, oil, egg large mixing bowl.
In a separate large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder. Add to banana mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. (Mine took 21 minutes)

Makes about 16-17 muffins if measuring with an ice cream scoop.

Source: http://www.chef-in-training.com

2 Minute Chocolate Chip Cookie (no egg)

I had the worst craving for chocolate chip cookies last week – the kind of cookies that are still soft and gooey on the inside but crispy/crackly on the outside. I skimmed through Pinterest and found this recipe for an eggless chocolate chip cookie you can make in the microwave. It’s so simple to make that I have since memorized the recipe. It turns out a little uneven in the microwave and it took longer than a minute to make. I kept zapping it for an extra 15 seconds or so until I thought the edges were cooked but the centre got a little too crispy on one occasion. The taste was still great. If you can wait an extra 18 minutes, this recipe bakes up beautifully in a 6-8 oz ramekin the oven at 350F degrees. Totally worth it!

(I added two pinches of baking soda to the mix).

Microwave version

Microwave version

deep dish chocolate chip cookie

Oven baked deep dish version

Individual Chocolate Chip Cookie

3 Tbsp All-purpose flour
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 pinch salt
2 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp whole milk

2 pinches of baking soda

In a cup add in light brown sugar and melted unsalted butter and whisk to combine. Then add in pure vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and whole milk and stir to combine.
Add all-purpose flour and fold until homogeneous. Finally fold in semi-sweet chocolate chips. Also dark or special dark chocolate chips are wonderful for this recipe.
Transfer to a microwavable plate and form one big round cookie. For successful microwaving, the center should be thicker than the edges.
Now microwave the cookie for 30 seconds at 700W. And again microwave for 20 seconds. Finally microwave for 10 seconds. The power of individual microwave oven varies, so take a look and stop microwaving when the center is set and the edges look still uncooked. The cookie should continue being cooked and get firmer out of the microwave oven.

Source:http://eugeniekitchen.com/microwave-chocolate-chip-cooki/  Thanks for sharing!

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwiches

I was cooking up a storm on Valentine’s Day, starting with eggs benedict for breakfast, then I tempered some chocolate for the second time in my life and made these little hearts and lips in these silicone ice cube trays I found at the dollar store. I was inspired by Martha Stewart to make these teeny-tiny little arrows to go in the centres. She made arrows out of pens but I adopted the technique to toothpicks. I think they’re adorable and used them again in my mini caramel and chocolate covered marshmallows. Too cute!

And for my official Valentine’s dessert I combined two recipes to make these ice cream sandwiches thinking Steve would love them. He couldn’t warm up to the idea of the frankenrecipe of ice cream and strawberry cheesecake. I think it’s delicious! The cookies didn’t have quite enough graham flavour so I’ll keep working on those. This sandwich recipe would be great to save for spring/summer as well.

HrtsArrows mmallows SBsandwich

Strawberry Cheesecake Sandwiches

Graham Cookies:

Ingredients:

2 1/2 (11.25 ounces) cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and frozen
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) milk chocolate chips (I omitted these)

Directions:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Pulse one or two times to combine. Add the cubes of butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. You can also use a hand held pastry blender.

In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla. Add the mixture to the food processor and pulse until a soft dough begins to form. Remove to a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Using a 1 1/2-tablespoon scoop, drop balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart. Flatten dough balls with the bottom of a measuring cup.

Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the edges are browned. Let the cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: http://www.handletheheat.com (I omitted the chocolate chips)

Strawberry Cheesecake No Churn Ice Cream:

Ingredients:

One 8 oz. bar of cream cheese (light or regular) softened

One 14.5 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk (regular or fat free)

1 tsp vanilla

One pint (500ml) heavy cream, well chilled (35%)

1 21 oz can of strawberry pie filling (540ml)

Instructions:

Place a large glass or metal bowl in the refrigerator or freezer for whipping the cream.
Using an electric mixer or whisk attachment, beat together the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Set aside.
In the chilled bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the heavy cream to soft peaks.
Gently fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream.
Mix in the strawberry pie filling.
Pour the mixture into a container that you can freeze and has an airtight lid, cover, and place in the freezer until frozen.

To make the sandwiches: Smoosh a scoop of ice cream between two cookies and serve! 🙂

 

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