Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Cheesecake

I know, I know. I'm a sucky blogger. I can't seem to keep up with this any more. Not really sure why either. Not like I'm doing anything else really.

This was another relatively easy challenge. I've made cheesecake before. Though actually, this is the first time I've done it with my stand mixer. Usually I've done it all by hand in a bowl.

Once again, probably the hardest part was deciding what flavors I wanted to go with. I was thinking about entering a blackberry recipe contest but 1. blackberries were really expensive so I didn't want to spend $5/container and 2. I didnt' really have a recipe worked out.

Well I went to the grocery store and they had blackberries on sale. $1/container. That's so doable. So I bought 5 containers. Which was all the ones they had on sale. Then it was figuring out what I was going to do with them..... Well I had this cheesecake recipe sitting there waiting for me to figure out what I was going to do with it so they went into that.

I used two 8-1/2" round cake pans.

This was probably my most popular creation I've brought to work. And that says something because I bring some form of baked goods usually 2-3 times a week. It's also possible that they liked it because I was out of town and this was the first item I'd brought in in over a week and they were suffering withdrawal. Either way.....

Edit: Here's the pic

1 pack graham crackers, crushed

3/4 cup slivered almonds, finely chopped or ground
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 container blackberries, pureed and strained

1 orange, zested and juiced

1/4 cup each, orange marmalade and seedless blackberry jam

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

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. Split the batter evenly between 2 bowls. Mix the blackberry puree into one and the orange zest and juice into the other.

4. Pour blackberry batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Then pour the orange batter over and tap on the counter again. 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.

6. When they have chilled, heat the blackberry jam and orange marmalade together and stir until well combined. Pour over the cheesecakes. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.

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

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Croque Monsieur

This is a perfect leisurely weekend lunch where you eat this and take a nice afternoon nap. I halved the recipe so it made 4 sandwiches. I ate 2 and fell asleep in about an hour.

I used Asiago instead of Gruyere because they had pregated Asiago and I was feeling lazy and didn't feel like grating up a hunk of cheese.

Here's the recipe. Pics to come. Eventually. Maybe.

Edit: Here's the pics

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Chinese Chicken Salad

I know, I know, I'm late. And it's been almost 2 weeks since I've posted anything on here. It's not that I died or anything. Just been busy. I have made a few things, I just haven't blogged about them. Here's a hint. I took a pastry making class a couple weeks ago. Since then I've attempted to remake and tweak recipes I got from the class. I didn't take any pics. But the coffee cake came out really good. One day I"ll blog about it.

Anyway, I did make the Chinese Chicken Salad. Well a half recipe. It wasn't bad. I left almost all of the salt out. And I added some sweet chili sauce to give it a little bit of a kick. Possibly because I left out the pepper and just realized it as I'm writing this.

I made quite a few adjustments, 4 chicken tenders instead of 2 breasts for a half recipe. Left out the bell peppers and garlic because I didn't have them and didn't feel like running out for them. Besides which, bell peppers have become ridiculously expensive.

It was decent. Lots of people thought there was too much peanut butter but I was OK with it. I like peanut butter. Maybe not the most authentic chinese food but still good.

Hit up one of the other barefoot bloggers or food network for the recipe. I'm lazy.

Edit: Here's the pic that has sat on my camera for a month or so now...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Heart Attack Biscuits

I had a rough day. My allergies started going strong, which resulted in a massive headache for the last few days, which resulted in me popping motrin like candy so that I could function and tolerate sound and light.

Then I got home and wanted to finish up another blog post. Only to find out my card reader does not seem to work any more. It looks like it's the card reader because chunks of plastic are coming off of it. I can get it to read if I hold it together but rejects when I try to delete anything off of the card. The gist of which is that there are no pics and I needed to make something to make me feel better.

Well I kinda made a mess making these. I don't know how to make biscuits without flinging flour all over my kitchen. And that's if I'm lucky and it's just flour not dough that gets caked on everything. One day I'll figure it out.....

Oh and don't take my approach and jump between recipes. It does not work well. You end up forgetting to add leavening and only realize it after you have scooped all the dough into the pan so you have to scoop it all back out and clean the pan which means you have also over worked the dough.

So here's the recipe. Don't blame me if you end up in the hospital with a heart attack if you make these.

Heart Attack Biscuits
based on Touch of Grace Biscuits in Bakewise, by Shirley O Corriher

1/2 lb bacon, cut into small chunks
2 cups cheddar, shredded
a few branches of parsley, finely chopped
green onion, finely chopped
2 cups White Lily AP flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup AP flour, for shaping
3 tbsp butter, melted

Cook the bacon. Remove the bacon bits and allow the remaining fat to cool in the pan until solified.
Sift together the White Lily, salt and baking powder.
Scoop up 1/4 cup of the solidified bacon drippings and cut into the flour until you have small pieces the size of peas.
Stir in the cheese, bacon pieces and herbs.
Pour in the cream and about 3/4 of the buttermilk.
Stir just to combine.
Add more buttermilk as necessary until it looks like cottage cheese, at least in texture.
Put the flour in a very large bowl.
Pour the dough on top of the flour.
Dust your hands with flour.
Pull off chunks and toss in your hands to coat in flour.
Place in a greased pan.
Repeat until you run out of dough, pressing the balls up against each other in the pan.
Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Brush with melted butter once they come out.
Call a doctor ahead of time so that they are ready for you once you start eating and have a heart attack.