Tuesday, August 26, 2008

S'Mores Cheesecake

I meet with a group of former colleagues each Tuesday for coffee and I've volunteered to bring treats.  It gives me a chance to make a dent in the 14,117 "to try" recipes I have sitting in various places around my house and they seem to appreciate it.  Well, this week it was canceled but only after I had made this weeks' treat: S'Mores Cheesecake.  So here I am with a whole cheesecake just waiting to be eaten.  

It's very tasty, if not a tad sweet.  I like the marshmallow topping but that's really where a big chunk of the sweetness is coming in so I may reduce the amount by half or so next time around.  And all though it's a very tasty topping I'm sure jarred Fluff would do if you don't want to make it yourself.  

Make sure you make the cheesecake portion the night before you need it so you can properly chill it overnight.


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

9 ounces milk chocolate (I had to use chips but it worked fine)
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whipping cream
3 eggs

1 cup sugar
2 egg whites
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 large or 120 mini marshmallows (if using large, cut into quarters)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For crust:
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Stir all ingredients together and press into a parchment lined springform pan.  I used my square one for no other reason than that I like it.
  • Bake 12 minutes. Cool.
For filling:
  • Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Cool to lukewarm.
  • Blend cream cheese, sugar, and salt until smooth.  Make sure not to go crazy here.  Over beating can cause a cheesecake to crack.  More on that later...
  • Add whipping cream and mix until incorporated.
  • Add melted chocolate then eggs one at a time.  
  • Pour over crust
  • Bake at 350 for 15 minutes then reduce oven to 200 and continue baking for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes.  Now, to that cracking issue.  I never, ever, ever crack cheesecakes. Well, except for that one time 5 years ago in a weird oven and the two other times that I've not listened to myself.   But seriously, no other time.  I don't use water baths or anything else "fancy" other than the above method - long, low heat.  I seriously think this is what helps me not crack them.  Any time I've used another method, they've cracked.  Just like this one did.  So, I'm altering the directions to my method.  And I'm never following any other baking directions for a cheesecake again.  Seriously.  
  • Once done (check for a wiggle by shaking the pan.  It shouldn't be set at this point, the center should shimmy nicely), turn off oven, crack the door and leave the cheesecake in until the oven is cool, about an hour or so.  
  • Remove and place in refrigerator overnight.  

For topping:
  • Whisk sugar, egg whites, water, cream of tartar, and salt in a large metal bowl.  Set over saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
  • Remove from over water (but keep water simmering) and stir in marshmallows.  Let them sit and soften for about 3 minutes.  Return over water and beat until shiny medium-stiff peaks form.  Beat in vanilla.
  • Place on cheesecake.  Let stand until set, about 15 minutes.
  • Either use a torch to singe the top or a broiler for about 3 minutes.  

I varied the recipe I found in the July 2008 Bon Appetit.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rocky Road Fudge Bars

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted anything. Dang Olympics are eating into my blogging time!

Anyway, I've recently become an Angel Baker which is a program that sends home baked treats to our soldiers abroad. It's an amazing program and my first "assignment" was great. You should check it out.

So I made these bars as part of my package. I figured if anyone could use some sweet, layered, chocolaty goodness it was soldiers! I'm not sure if they qualify for "true" rocky road bars since I used peanuts instead of walnuts (it's normally walnuts, right?), but they're good either way. They are sweet, so small bars (which are not normally my style) are great.


1/2 cup butter
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup chopped nuts

6 oz cream cheese, soft
1/4 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups mini marshmallows

2 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup mil
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For base:
  • Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13x9 inch pan with parchment (or grease and flour, if that's your thing).
  • Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in remaining base ingredients.
  • Spread into pan

For filling:
  • Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, and egg until smooth and fluffy. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
  • Spread over base.
  • Bake 25-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. On a side note, I had some issues with this since I managed to stick my toothpick into about 14 different spots before I hit an area that was chocolate chip free. So be warned, the toothpick may come out wet, but only wet with melted chocolate. Keep stabbing!
  • Top with marshmallows and cook 2 more minutes.
For frosting:
  • While the base and filling are baking, cook cream cheese, butter, milk, and chocolate on low heat until blended and smooth.
  • Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar and vanilla.
  • Pour over warm, puffed marshmallows and swirl with a knife to marble. Two things here: 1) I did this too early to keep the frosting from crusting a bit so I just whipped it for a second to remove the crunchy bits and 2) mine didn't marble, but they still tasted great!
  • Refrigerate until firm.
I found this recipe in Best of the Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookies and Bars

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I should have quit while I was ahead

It's been a LONG time since I've thrown out a dessert (I mean, really, are they ever THAT bad?) but I did today. I should have known better too. The entire process turned out to be a comedy of errors. I even thought to myself "maybe there have been one too many issues here. Turn back now? Naw." I should have listened.

But I decided to post them anyway. I figure I can't be the only one who has bad baking days!

I can't say for sure what went wrong, so for now I'm blaming the recipe. ;) I did half the original (which is posted) and thank goodness because I probably would have cried if I'd had to throw out 17 chocolate and cream cheese-based anything. I'm pretty confident in my dividing abilities, having a degree in math and all, so I don't think that was it. I under-baked by five minutes because they started looking a little scary brown for cream cheese and they still turned out dry and pretty non-chocolaty.

So, if you see a glaring error in the recipe, let me know. If not, I wouldn't bother.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

3/4 pound (one and a half 8-ounce package) cream cheese (not softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (preferably canola)
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with 18 cupcake papers

  • In a medium-sized bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.
    • This was actually really tasty at this stage. Once cooked, not so much. I don't know if I could use it for something else. It has a raw egg in it, so I'm thinking a filling wouldn't do. Maybe leave out the egg and inject into the middle of a chocolate cupcakes?

  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the oil and sugar.
    • This is what happens when you're not careful with your cocoa scooping.
  • Add the dry ingredients into two parts, alternating with buttermilk and vanilla, and making sure all the ingredients are well blended.
    • This is when I started to really worry. This is the thickest batter I've ever seen. It's almost cookie dough.
  • Carefully spoon the cupcake batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds full. Drop a small scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) of the cream cheese filling on top of each cupcake.

  • Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
    • This is at 25 minutes.
  • Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 30 minutes. Remove the tins and cool completely on a wire rack.