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

Festive Fun!

We recently hosted a Christmas party and had about 100 guests.  I LOVE this party!  It is a lot of prep, but I just love that so many families gather together.

Here are some fun desserts (you all know I enjoy making desserts!)

rice krispy trees

 

pumpkin cakes and cookies, chocolate covered oreos, peppermint white chocolate brownies, Happy Birthday Jesus cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decorating

I had so much fun preparing for our family Christmas this year!  One twist I did for place settings was to make a favor with the guests name on it and place it on the plate.  So each person had a favor and a “place card”, so to speak.  The favor was a jar of cookie mix.  Cowboy chocolate chip for the guys and either M&M or pecan muffin mix for the ladies.  I ran out of jars and WalMart did as well, but they had cute Christmas tree ones, so some people had those instead.  I liked them all and really enjoyed making them.  🙂

I also wanted to post a picture of Joshua’s park since I told you we would make it festive.  🙂

 

 

Fun festive Christmas treats

cake balls with skinny candy cane sticks

beginning to set up

chocolate chip walnut cups and sugar cookies

red and green tortilla chips

Christmas pound cake…inside is red and white

peppermint bark is so much fun to make!

traditional black and white cookies Christmasfied!

chocolate dipped pretzels with sprinkles

egg nog bites

preparing some more

Paula Deen quiche

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/spinach-and-bacon-quiche-recipe/index.html

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.

4 and 40

We celebrated the Fourth of July with friends and then again with family.  On the day of our family celebration we also celebrated my parents’ FORTIETH wedding anniversary (a little bit early, but it was a surprise).  🙂  Here are some festive treats we had in honor of both occasions.

My kids refer to this as the donut cake.  Version 1 above, version 2 below

Version 1 is white cake made in a bundt pan and covered with icing and sprinkles, while version 2 is a traditional pound cake with bolder color icing.  The best part is you divide the batter in 2 sections and layer them so that when you cut the cake the inside is red, white and blue.

 

 

 

4 and 40 cookies

This cake was a 2 layer red velvet cake made with buttermilk…I think anything baked with buttermilk is fantastic!  my first try at red velvet and I loved it!  It was fortunate the batter made it to the oven.

Red White Blueberry Trifle

Assembly:

Layer of pound cake or angel food cake

Layer of pudding mixture

Layer of berries

Layer of whipped cream

Repeat

Top layer of whipped cream top with cherries

Pound cake recipe:

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter or margarine softened

3 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/4 cups milk

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 egg yolks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 10-inch Bundt pan or two 9″ by 5″ loaf pans.
    2. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar and butter or margarine just until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and remaining ingredients; beat until well mixed, constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high; beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl.
    3. Spoon batter into pan. Bake in Bundt pan 1 hour or in loaf pans 45 to 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan; cool completely on rack.

Pudding layer:

8 ounces cream cheese
I packet lemon instant pudding mix

1/3 cup powdered sugar
16 ounces Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream

Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Fold in half the Cool Whip. . Refrigerate.

Berries: sprinkle with sugar and let sit at least 2 hours in refrigerator before adding to trifle

 

 

 

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!