Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Kitchen Challenge.....

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I love cheesecake and this challenge was to take a basic recipe and put your own creative twist on it. I decided to make a White Chocolate Lemon Curd Cheesecake, yummy!!!

Here is our starting recipe:

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
I made my crust from 15 lemon sandwich cookies and 1/4 cup melted butter. To the basic cheesecake recipe I added the zest of 2 lemons and used lemon extract instead of vanilla. I melted 10 oz. of white chocolate, let it cool and added to the final batter. I swirled about 3/4 cup of lemon curd in the batter and then poured into the prepared pan. My cheesecake was done in 45 minutes, the center still jiggled a bit; happily it did not crack! I let it chill for 2 days, then poured lemon curd on top and finished with some whipped cream!!! Loved this challenge, so did DH, we are having seconds as I post, LOL. This challenge was really fun, you can tailor the recipe to what ever your tastes desire; very adaptable. If you would like to see more variations on a cheesecake check out the blog roll at the Daring Kitchen!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chocolate Bread Pudding...

OK, not my favorite and I like bread pudding. I think it was the bread I used, couldn't find brioche or challah; besides I only wanted to make a 1/3 recipe. I used Texas Toast bread because it is sliced thick, about 1"; but I feel it would have been better with the suggested bread. The chocolate didn't do it for me, I like a more traditional bread pudding. DH said it was OK and finished the bowl, LOL. I only get a taste (very small) of everything I have been making lately; I have a competition next Saturday and my eating has to be perfect, damn. But, on Sunday look out!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

15 Minute Ginger Snap Torte.....

Kara from Karacooks had suggested using ginger snaps and pecans for a different flavor, so of course I had to make the torte again. I used Nyakers Ginger Snaps and Green & Black's Ginger Bittersweet chocolate, both from Cost Plus World Market. The chocolate has bits of candied ginger in it, yummy! This torte was great, DH really liked it and all I would change is to add some powdered ginger. I really think you could change this recipe to fit what cookies you have on hand.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Caramel Apple Turnovers with Sweet Ricotta Filling.....

This is my first Sweet Melissa Sundays post and I couldn't have started with anything better! This weeks recipe was chosen by Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures. Sweet Melissa Sundays is similar to Tuesdays with Dorie except you are required to post once a month; you can post every week if you like, just make the recipe of the week and post. The book The Sweet Melissa Baking Book has about 100 recipes and with taking 2 weeks off at Christmas (which is much appreciated), we will be done with the book in two years!!!
I used Trader Joe's puff pastry because, unlike Pepperidge Farms (they use shortening), TJ's uses flour, butter, salt, sugar, and water; I think it is a much better product. You get 2 9"x9" sheets for about $4.99. Instead of cinnamon I used a new spice blend from Penzeys called Cake Spice, it is a combination of cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cloves. The taste of the spice, out of the jar, is very good; can't wait for DH to give his opinion. Waiting for them to cool..........

These were very good, DH said he would like more apple in it but that was all; the cake spice was delicious, I may put some inside next time. This was a very good and easy recipe; the filling elements can be made up to 3 days in advance and the turnovers can be frozen for several weeks before baking. Would definitely make again!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chocolate Amaretti Torte.....

This torte was incredible, no kidding, everyone liked it and had seconds! Will definitely make again; DH said it was a keeper. This went together easily and the glaze was a perfect finish. I made the almond whipped cream, it was delicious, but there wasn't any left for the picture. I loved the taste and texture of this torte, and would like to try it with other flavors of cookies.

Holly from Phe/mom/enon picked a winner for this weeks TWD recipe.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Banana Cream Pie.....

This weeks pick was by Amy of Sing for your Supper and this was a great pick! I have always wanted to make a banana cream pie and here was my chance. I read the comments about how fast the custard thickened, so I was ready, very happy I did not let it boil, can you say glue. I made a half recipe and did individual tarts, no left overs. I put a layer of custard, then bananas and more custard, then topped them with whipped cream. DH liked the tart but did not love it and I have to agree, it was good but not my cup of tea. I have a few bananas left so I will be making some banana bread this week, yummy! Looking forward to next weeks Chocolate Amaretti Torte chosen by Holly of Phe/MOM/enon .