Christmas

The days surrounding Christmas had ups and downs this year, but one thing that NEVER changes is that Christ came down all those years ago to be born here on earth, leaving His perfect Kingdom, so that He could save our lives.  That is THE meaning of Christmas.  That is the unchanging good news.  That is why despite sadness we have joy!

Joshua’s birthday celebration:

Christmas Brunch, before eating commenced:

Some yummy recipes this year included banana cream cheese stuffed baked french toast, blueberry white chocolate coffeecake, scones, quiche and about a million other things.  😉

Here are a couple desserts after they were dug into…red velvet cheesecake and butterfinger bars:

The butterfinger bars were very good…a little difficult to cut and the recipe is surely for a small pan (I used a 9×13 and had to double and it was still a stretch!)

The red velvet cheesecake I couldn’t try, because of the red dye, so I am not sure how it turned out, but it looked good!  😉

BUTTERFINGER COOKIE DOUGH CHEESECAKE BARS

YIELD: Makes one 8×8 pan

Ingredients:

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips + 1/2 cup for top
  • 5 Butterfinger bars, king size

CHEESECAKE LAYER

  • 8oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

PREPARATION:

Create a sling by lining the pan with foil so that there is a one inch overhang on each side. Cover foil with bake spray. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

Melt butter and let cool to warm. Add in brown sugar and mix to combine. Add in egg and vanilla extract and mix to combine.  Add in flour and fold to combine. Add in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips and fold to combine. Pour mixture into pan; set aside.

TO MAKE CHEESECAKE

Add all ingredients in a bowl and beat until blended. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Press 3/4 of cookie mixture into pan. Place Butterfinger bars side-by-side on top of cookie dough. Pour cheesecake mixture on top. Crumble remaining cookie dough sprinkle on top of cheesecake layer along with remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips all over top.
  2. Transfer pan to oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven set on wire rack to cool.

 

RED VELVET CHEESECAKE

Yield: 12 to 14 servings

Prep Time: 1 hr + cooling and chill times

Cook Time: 1 hr, 15 min

CHEESECAKE:
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

RED VELVET CAKE:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.  In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake  and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. This can be done in several hours- or overnight.

2. Prepare the cake layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray with nonstick baking spray with flour). In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

3. Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).

4. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as your cake layers. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

5. Frost and decorate the cake

Speaking of sugar…

So the last 2 days with making and eating my mom’s birthday desserts were not fun in terms of sugar…sugar makes my body feel horrible and also makes me gain weight at insane speed.  It was fun, however, to eat the yummy treats…here they are:

Banana Split Cheesecake complete with homemade chocolate and strawberry sauces:

  • Crust:
  • 1 cup packaged chocolate cookie crumbs (such as Oreo)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, melted
  • Cooking spray
  • Filling:
  • 3 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) carton low-fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • Toppings:
  • 1/3 cup canned crushed pineapple in juice, drained
  • 1/3 cup strawberry sundae syrup
  • 1/3 cup chocolate syrup
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 16 maraschino cherries, drained

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. To prepare crust, combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl; toss with a fork until moist. Press into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray.
  3. To prepare filling, beat cheeses and sour cream at high speed of a mixer until smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar, banana, flour, and vanilla; beat well. Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition.
  4. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan; bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until almost set. Cheesecake is done when the center barely moves when pan is touched. Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around outside edge. Cool cheesecake to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon pineapple, 1 teaspoon strawberry syrup, 1 teaspoon chocolate syrup, 3/4 teaspoon pecans, and 1 cherry.

picture is without pecans, I added them right before serving:

 

 

Black Forest Cake

(This was the first time I made black forest cake and it was fun! :))

Ingredients

  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 (20 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch, round, cake pans; cover bottoms with waxed paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
  4. Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.
  5. Combine whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar in a chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.
  6. With long serrated knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs; set aside. Reserve 1 1/2 cups Frosting for decorating cake; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands. To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer. Frost side of cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake. Spoon reserved frosting into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.

 

German Chocolate Cheesecake

My dad loves German Chocolate cake.  I was in charge of dessert for his birthday, so made German Chocolate Cheesecake.  I am not a fan of coconut, but it was only on the top layer, so I tried the chocolate cake/cheesecake part and it was yummy!  In the future if I make it for me I may try it with raspberry or turtle type topping.

Here is the delicious recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

***Cheesecake***
24 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
***Chocolate Cake***
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
***Chocolate Glaze***
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons whipping cream
***German Chocolate Topping***
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
***Garnish***
whipping cream

DIRECTIONS:

For Cheesecake: In bowl of electric mixer or in food processor fitted with metal blade, blend cream cheese, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth. Set aside.

For Chocolate Cake: In large microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just melted. Cool slightly. With fork, beat in sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Add flour and mix until blended. Spoon into well-greased 9 1/2-inch springform pan, spreading evenly. Carefully, spread cheese mixture evenly over top of chocolate batter.

Bake in preheated 425 degrees F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 55 to 60 minutes. Turn oven off, open oven door and let cake cool completely to room temperature in oven. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Remove sides from springform. Invert cake onto serving plate, so cheesecake is on bottom and chocolate cake is on top. Spread sides with Chocolate Glaze. Spread top evenly with German Chocolate Topping. Refrigerate until serving time. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.

For Chocolate Glaze: In small microwave-safe bowl combine chocolate chips with whipping cream. Microwave on HIGH power for 45 to 60 seconds. Beat until smooth. Spread on sides of cheesecake.

For German Chocolate Topping: In small microwave-safe bowl, beat egg yolks. Stir in sugar, butter and whipping cream. Microwave on HIGH power 4 minutes, stirring every minute. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla extract. Stir in coconut and pecans until well blended. Refrigerate until mixture is of spreading consistency. Spread on top of the cheesecake.

****A couple things I learned…I turned the oven temp down to 350 degrees a few minutes early and then took the cheesecake completely out of the oven 12 minutes early and it still got a little tough on the outer rim of the cake.  I am considering baking it only on 350 next time and seeing what happens.  Also, I did not garnish with whipped cream…there was enough goop there already!  Phew!  It was somewhere around 900 calories a slice if you cut the cake in 12 slices.

Desserts

My grandma’s birthday is this week and her party is today.  For the event I made New York style cheesecake and a Minnie Mouse cake.  Cheesecake isn’t my favorite dessert, but it is still pretty good.  I often make gooey cheesecake with lots of additions like chocolate or caramel or some other yummy item.  But in terms of plain cheesecake…this recipe is superb!  My photo really does not do it justice….

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter

Filling:

  • 24 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (recommended: Meyer lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Topping:

  • 12 ounces creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and butter together in a mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and using a mixing cup press the crumbs into the base. Using your fingers gently press crumbs into the sides of the pan. Bake for 6 minutes. Let cool.

Filling:

In a food processor, cream the cream cheese and the sugar together. Add the zest and vanilla, Blend until smooth. Add 5 egg yolks and heavy cream, pulse until smooth. Pour into a large clean bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until a soft froth forms. Add 2 tablespoons sugar slowly to the egg whites and continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Fold into cream cheese, a little bit at a time until fully integrated. Pour into the prepared springform pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until firm. Let cool for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Topping:

Mix the creme fraiche and sugar together and gently spread over the top of the cooled cheesecake. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool until the topping is set or chill overnight and serve. Best served at room temperature.

I used a mold for Minnie (it was actually a Mickey mold) and had a lot of fun with it!