Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Fresh Spiced Whipped Cream

Happy Thanksgiving!  This year our group was even smaller than usual - just my mom, dad, grandma, grandma, and me. Caroline was in Oregon spending Thanksgiving with her roommate, Sarah.  BUT they were able to go to this bridge that was in the Twilight movie.  Along with the other two pies on the table (pecan and pumpkin, made by my mom), my mom requested that I make this cheesecake.  Of course I didn't complain because, one, I love cooking.  And two, it's more material for the blog because I know I've been lacking posting an material lately. What can I say?  It's my senior year of college right at the beginning of finals and term papers… I've been eating one too many cans of soup and peanut butter sandwiches that I'd like to admit.

I must say, I really did love this cheesecake.  In fact, I am eating the last little bit as I type (now there is some of the filling on the keys of my keyboard…).  The pumpkin flavor wasn't overwhelming, but was just enough.  It also gave the cheesecake a wonderful golden color.  While I did use a a graham cracker crust, I think a gingersnap crust would compliment the cheesecake well.  Just substitute the same amount of ginger snaps as graham crackers. 

I also did use homemade spiced whipped cream to top the pies with.  Just a general rule of thumb for making whipped cream: start of slow (for about 3 to 5 minutes) and work up to beating at a higher speed.  Only whip until the peaks hold their shape, no longer, or the cream will begin to curdle.  Also, while I used a hand-mixer, if you are whipping by hand, make sure that you incorporate air into the cream by lifting the whisk out of the cream as you are beating… otherwise it will take forever to transform into whipped cream.

And as a side note, sorry for the awkward color and quality of the photo.  For obvious reasons, I didn't take my light box home to my parents house and had to shoot at 800 ISO under compact fluorescent lights; not really a winning combination for food photography.

Pumpkin Cheesecake


  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 stick melted salted butter

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
      For crust:

      1. In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

      For filling:

      1. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.
      2. Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

      Spiced Whipped Cream

      • 1 cup whipping cream
      • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
      • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 1/4 teaspoon nutmet 
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

        1. Add all ingredients and whip until peaks hold their form.

        Sunday, November 22, 2009

        Crockpot Applesauce

        I had a bunch of apples sitting around from my trip to the farmers market last Saturday.  I bought (and used in this applesauce) Empire Apples.  The reason?  They are a good apple for eating & for cooking with, and when I bought the apples I wasn't totally sure what I wanted to use them for.  If you've never had homemade applesauce and own a crockpot, I really recommend you try making this.  You can either have your crockpot on high for 4 hours (what I did) or on low for 8 to 10 hours.


        • 1 peck of apples (about 10 to 12 apples)
        • 1/3 cup brown sugar
        • dash of nutmeg
        • 2 TBPS (more or less to taste) of ground cinnamon
        • 1/3 cup of water
        • 1/3 cup apple cider
        • a dash of salt


        1. Peel and core the apples, cut into quarter inch slices.  Put in crockpot.
        2. Pour sugar, water, apple cider, and spices over top of the apples and combine with a spoon.
        3. Let cook for desired amount of time (3-4 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low).
        4. After done cooking, mash with a potato masher if you want to have a "chunkier" texture or mash the apples, wait for them to cool, and puree in your food processor or blender (I just did this).
        5. ENJOY!

        Wednesday, November 18, 2009

        Irish Car Bomb Cake

        HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY, ZENKA!  This past Tuesday, "the day of Zenka's birth, she FINALLY turned 21.  Now, if you know Zenka, she loves chocolate.  In fact, she swore off chocolate until her birthday - what a better way to hop back on the chocoholic train than to eat this cake!?  Also - Irish Car Bomb = a type of shot.  Zenka = can legally drink.  And I am Irish, and no, I don't take offense to name of the shot/cake.

        The cake itself is very dense and has a strong, deep flavor.  I did use dark chocolate cocoa, so next time I may just use "regular" cocoa.  The buttercream though… was amazing.  I think I will make it again to frost other cakes.  It had a nice coffee flavor with a hint of vanilla and was so creamy.  However good this cake tasted… the decorating didn't go as planned.  I frosted the cake with a beautiful layer of the buttercream and did some nice piping along the bottom and top of the cake, and I was going to pipe some delicate strands of the ganache.  Oh, if only I were more graceful.  I was piping the ganache and it exploded…everywhere.  So I had to resort to having a layer of ganache OVER the buttercream.  Next time, I will be more careful.  But i really did love this cake and hope to make it again soon.  So… if you have a birthday coming up… let me know (wink wink).

        Irish Car Bomb Cake

        For the Guinness chocolate cake:
        • 1 cup stout beer/ Guinness
        • 2 sticks unsalted butter
        • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
        • 2 cups flour
        • 2 cups sugar
        • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
        • 3/4 tsp. salt
        • 2 large eggs
        • 2/3 cup sour cream

        For the Bailey's ganache:
        • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
        • 2/3 cup heavy cream
        • 2 tbsn. butter, room temperature
        • 2 tsp.  Bailey's Irish cream

        For the Bailey's buttercream frosting:
        • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
        • 6-8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
        • 1/3 cup Bailey's Irish cream, then keep adding until desired consistency is reached (I used about…eh… 3/4 of a cup)
        1. To make the cake, preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two cake pans and line with a circle of parchment paper on the bottom. Combine stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. Add stout mixture and beat to combine. Mix in dry ingredients on low until incorporated. Divide batter among cake pans and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes (for me it took a little longer, but again, blame the oven). Cool completely.
        2. To make the ganache, place chocolate in heatproof bowl. Heat cream in saucepan until simmering, then pour over chocolate, let sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Add butter and Bailey's and stir until combined. Set aside until cool and thick enough to be piped (you can use the refrigerator to speed the process but stir every 10 minutes to ensure even cooling). 
        3. To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium high until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar until incorporated. Mix in Bailey's until smooth. Add more if necessary until frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading. Frost the cakes as desired and enjoy!

        Monday, November 16, 2009

        Zucchini & Pepper Enchilada's with Red Sauce

        I made these for dinner Sunday night thinking that I'd have enough to feed Zenka, Zach, and myself, and maybe have enough left over for lunch the next day.  I was sorely mistaken.  I now have two sizable tupperware in my fridge full on Enchilada's that will probably feed me through the week.  Now, don't take this as me complaining, I am kinda glad I won't have to cook as much this week, but I was surprised at how much I made.  I this the reason I made so many enchilada's is because the zucchini I bought wouldn't be considered "small" by most people… So, if you do use small zucchini's, you may get a more reasonable (and manageable) amount of filling.

        BUT, these enchilada's were soooo good.  I loved the texture of the zucchini and the flavor was bold enough without being overwhelming.  While Mollie Katzen's thinks the whole assembly should only take an hour… it took me a little longer.

        How to Assemble an Enchilada:
        Step 1: Prepare filling & sauce
        Step 2: Moisten the corn tortillas by sauteing them briefly in a little hot oil (and when I say briefly, I mean 10 seconds total)
        Step 3: Assemble the enchiladas by planing a few spoonfuls of filling (see recipe below) on one side of the tortilla and rolling it up. Pour a small amount of the sauce (see recipe below) into a shallow baking dish, add the enchiladas, and pour the remaining sauce over the top.  Cover with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes in an oven heated to 325 degrees.  Serve hot (over beans and rice, if you feel like making it… I didn't).

        Zucchini & Pepper Enchilada's with Red Sauce
        Adapted from Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen

        Red Sauce:

        • 5 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
        • 1 large red bell pepper, minced
        • 1 tsp. salt
        • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
        • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (I probably added a little more than this)
        • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin


        1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, partially cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
        2. Mash a little bit with a fork, and you're done.  (I guess could could also puree it, but I have a very small kitchen that was filling up with dishes and I couldn't find a place on the counter for my food processor)

        Zucchini & Pepper Enchilada Filling

        • 2 TBSP olive oil
        • 1 1/2 cups minced onion
        • 6 medium cloves of garlic, minced
        • 3/4 tsp. salt
        • 1 large bell pepper (I used red, but you can use any color), minced
        • 5 small zucchini, diced
        • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
        • 1 TBSP dried basil
        • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
        • cayenne & black pepper to taste
        • 1 1/3 cups of packed grated jack cheese


        1. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet.  Add onion, garlic, and salt, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onion is quite soft.
        2. Add the bell pepper, zucchini, and seasonings.  Stir and cook over medium heat for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until the zucchini is just tender.
        3. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before filling the tortillas.

        Saturday, November 14, 2009

        Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

        Congratulations to all the recent initiates into the Les Voyageurs (i.e. Katie, Jill, Donald, & Brian)!!  I made these cookies for them Thursday night when they were down at The Cabin.  Everyone freaked out over how good they were.  Nate said, “What are these delicious globs of gooey-ness in the cookies?” (the chocolate chunks), Megan declared that these are now her favorite cookies, & I think the true proof of their deliciousness is that fact that they were all eaten in less than an hour.
        What I really like about these cookies is that the chocolate chunks go well with the texture & flavor of the chewy gingerbread.  If you must, you can use chocolate chips, but chocolate chunks melt & ‘reform’ differently, complimenting the cookie.  I can tell you that these will now be a staple in my holiday cookie plate.  Also, this is a small-ish batch of cookies, so it's very easy to double.

        Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
        Adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Cookies”
        (makes 2 dozen)

        • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
        • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
        • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
        • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
        • 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa Power… what can I say?  Go dark chocolate or go home.)
        • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (I rarely actually have my butter at room temperature when a recipe calls for it – pop in the microwave for 15 seconds if you need to)
        • 1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger
        • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
        • 1/2 cup unsulfered molasses (I used blackstrap unsulfered)
        • 1 teaspoon baking soda
        • 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water
        • 7 ounces best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
        • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (I rolled mine in some powdered sugar, next time I make these I might try raw sugar)


        1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
        2. In a bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and fresh ginger on medium speed until lightened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined
        3. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn onto plastic wrap. Pat out to a 1-inch thickness; seal with wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight.
        4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Chill 20 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar. Bake until surfaces just begin to crack, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Cookies are best the day they are made, but can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 5 days.


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