AUSTRALIAN CHEESECAKE ~ LEMON CHERRY

I found this recipe in an old (1960’s) cookbook put together for a lake area homeowner’s association. I have no idea what makes it “AUSTRALIAN” and Ruth Traum is unknown to me so I can’t even ask her. I tried to do research and found several recipes called “Australian), but none of them said WHY they were “AUSTRALIAN”. Best I can tell it’s just a version of a no-bake cheesecake, but it’s SUPER airy and light.

Ruth’s recipe used lemon jello, but it is a simple thing to change up the flavor to your liking. I mixed a box of cherry and lemon, using only half then and saving the other half for another time. You can also substitute ginger snaps for the vanilla wafers or mix in some pretzels for and extra crunch… The second time I made it I used a combination of lemon and lime on the jello…  The cherry was better, but we’ll try orange next time 😀

AUSTRALIAN CHEESECAKE ~ LEMON CHERRY
1 small box Vanilla Wafers (crushed to make 2 cups of crumbs)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 small box lemon jello
1 teaspoon vanilla
Juice and zest of 1 LARGE lemon + hot water to equal 1 cup
1 LARGE can Carnation milk (VERY COLD) 12 ounces VERY COLD heavy whipping cream
1 can pie cherries in glaze (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • Crush wafers and mix with melted butter until well mixed.
  • Press crumb mixture into the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch spring form pan.  If you use the 8 it will COMPLETELY fill the pan.  If you use the 9 inch it provides a couple more pieces, just not as tall. 😀
  • Bake for 10 minutes and then cool.
  • Whisk jello into hot water mixture until dissolved.
  • Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  • Add in jello mixture until well blended.
  • Beat carnation milk with chilled beaters until very stiff.
  • Fold whipped milk into cheesecake mixture and pour into cooled crust pan.
  • Chill AT LEAST 8 hours, but this cheesecake is best made 24 hours in advance!
  • Top with whipped cream or pie cherries and enjoy!

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE
Your favorite pie crust recipe for a double crust
2 1/2 cups chopped FRESH red rhubarb
2 1/2 cups de-stemmed, washed and chopped strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon WONDRA flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground QUALITY cinnamon
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, cubed small
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  • Pour out into chilled crust.
  • Dot the top of the filling with the butter.
  • Brush edges of pie crust with egg white wash.
  • Roll out the other piece of dough and place over filling.
  • Crimp to seal edges.
  • Slice several vents into top to allow steam to escape.
  • Brush with egg white wash and garnish with large granule sugar.
    bake for 15 minutes.
  • Decrease temperature to 375° and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, until the filling starts to bubble.

NOTES:

  • I often like to cook the filling first if the rhubarb is especially tough, but be sure to allow filling to cool COMPLETELY before filling crust.
  • Collar with foil for the first 30 minutes to prevent burning.

ZUCCHINI GINGER CAKE with GINGER CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

ZUCCHINI GINGER CAKE with GINGER CREAM CHEESE FROSTING ala Valerie Bertinelli

CAKE
Unsalted butter, for the pans
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 ½ pounds zucchini
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons QUALITY ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups light brown sugar
4 LARGE eggs
1 ⅓ cups avocado oil
¾ cups whole milk
1 ½ tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350º.
  • Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  • Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater, then wrap in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze dry.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger and cloves together in a large bowl.
  • In a second large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, eggs, oil, milk, fresh ginger, vanilla and grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans; smooth the tops with an offset spatula.
  • Bake the cakes until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  • Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  • Use a serrated knife to carefully cut each cake in half horizontally, making four layers. OPTIONAL!

FROSTING
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger, plus a few pieces sliced into thin strips, for garnish

  • Beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until incorporated
  • Beat in the chopped crystallized ginger.

ASSEMBLY (NOTE: – most times I just make a 2 layer cake which really only needs half as much frosting)

  • Place a cake layer on a cake stand or platter.
  • Spoon a quarter of the frosting (about 1 1/2 cups) on top and smooth it evenly with an offset spatula.
  • Stack another cake layer on top; repeat with the frosting.
  • Continue with the remaining cake layers and frosting, leaving the sides of the cake bare. Top with the sliced crystallized ginger.

TENDER WHITE CAKE with BUTTERCREAM or CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM

CAKE
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
3 2 3/4 cups + 2 scant tablespoons cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon CLEAR almond extract
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract powder
1 1/4 cups WHOLE milk, room temperature
2 ounces avocado oil

  • Preheat your oven to 335ºF.
  • Oil and flour two 8″ x 2″ cake pans or line 18 cupcake tins.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Whisk together milk, oil and extracts. Set aside.
  • Cream butter in a stand mixer until smooth.
  • Add sugar and whip 3-5 minutes on high until light and white.
  • Add in room temperature egg whites one at a time, letting each fully combine after each before adding the next.
  • Add in a third of the dry ingredients, combining well.
  • Add in half of the milk mixture, combining well.
  • Followed by another third of the dry, then the rest of the milk mixture and then the rest of your dry, mixing until just combined.
  • Add batter into prepared cake pans.
  • Bake at 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool ten minutes in pan and then turn out cakes onto a cooling rack for another 20 minutes.
  • Wrap cakes warm with saran and place into the freezer to flash chill to lock in the moisture.
  • Once cool, but NOT yet frozen, trim off the brown edges of your cakes and frost as desired.
  • Chill cake.

NOTE: Cake flour makes a much more tender cake, but you can substitute 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour. Cake flour and all purpose flour are NOT an exact substitution.

Everyone needs a good creamy, delicious frosting in the recipe file, but sometimes you need options. So here is a plain buttercream AND a cream cheese buttercream.

BUTTERCREAM
8 ounces egg whites (4-6 extra large eggs) room temperature
32 ounces (8 sticks) unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
32 oz unsalted butter room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon CLEAR vanilla extract

  • Whisk egg whites and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.
  • Whisk to combine on low then whisk on high, adding in your butter in small chunks, vanilla and salt. Turn mixer up to high and whip until light, fluffy and white.

CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM
4 ounces salted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon of QUALITY, PURE Vanilla

  • Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a mixer until blended.
  • Add pinch of salt and powered sugar a cup at a time and continue to mix until sugar is WELL incorporated.

CINNAMON CRUMB STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE

Years and years ago I made the Bisquick box recipe of Cinnamon Crumb Streusel Coffee Cake and it was always a BIG hit. But as I progressed to scratch cooking it was apparent that my favorite coffeecake recipe had to be revamped! But, it had to remain moist, full of cinnamon flavor, buttery and with a bit of crunch to the top.

CINNAMON CRUMB STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE
CAKE

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1 LARGE egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
3/4 cup WHOLE milk

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar, scraping down the sides occasionally.
  • Add the vanilla and egg, mix in.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Add one half of flour mixture to the mixer, and when mostly combined, add the milk.
  • Once the milk is mostly incorporated, add the rest of the flour. This will be a fairly thick batter.

FILLING
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon QUALITY cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup PACKED brown sugar

  • In a small bowl, using 2 forks or a pastry cutter combine everything until soft crumbs form.

TOPPING
5 tablespoon butter, softened
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup PACKED brown sugar
1 tablespoon QUALITY cinnamon

  • In a small bowl, using 2 forks or a pastry cutter combine everything until soft crumbs form.

ASSEMBLY

  • Grease a 9×9 baking pan.
  • “Pour” in ½ of cake batter, and spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle the filling over top.
  • “Pour” in remaining cake batter, and with an offset spatula spread carefully across the top of the filling.
  • Sprinkle the topping over the top and press lightly so it adheres.
  • If you prefer your streusel to be more distributed, use a knife to create a bit of a swirl throughout the layers.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool slightly on wire rack before serving.

NOTE: My dad always would add a pat of butter to the top and let it melt for a few seconds in the microwave when eating it as a leftover 😀

PLUM SLAB PIE ala VALERIE BERTINELLI

PLUM SLAB PIE ala Valerie Bertinelli yield 12 servings

CRUST
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/3 cup cold water, plus more if needed
Cooking spray, for spraying the baking sheet
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 large egg
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

  • Combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt in a food processor and mix until combined.
  • Add the butter and pulse until evenly combined and the size of small pebbles.
  • Pour in the vinegar and pulse 1 to 2 times until just combined.
  • With the food processor running, slowly pour in the cold water, adding just enough for the dough to form a ball. You may not need the entire 1/3 cup of water.
  • Remove the dough from the food processor and form it into a ball.
  • Cut off about a third of the ball so you have a small piece (about 10 ounces) and a larger piece (about 1 pound 6 ounces; see Cook’s Note).
  • Form both pieces of dough into discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Spray a baking sheet very lightly with cooking spray.
  • Dust a work surface lightly with flour.
  • Roll the larger disc of dough into a rectangle that is 2 inches larger on all sides than the baking sheet.
  • Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and then unfold it over the baking sheet, gently guiding the dough into the baking sheet and lightly pressing it into the corners, sides and bottom.
  • Refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the pie.
  • Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll out the smaller disc of dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle.
  • Place a ruler along the 12-inch side of the dough and make a mark with a pizza cutter every 1/2 inch. Turn the ruler along each mark and use it as a guide to cut a straight line, making twelve 1/2-inch strips that are 20 inches long.
  • Transfer the strips of dough to a baking sheet, laying them diagonally so they fit and dusting the strips with flour as you lay them down.
  • Refrigerate while you make the filling so the dough does not begin to stick together.

FILLING
6 pounds red plums, cut in 1/4-inch half-moon slices
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons orange zest plus 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 small navel orange)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • In a large bowl, mix together the plums, granulated sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, ginger and salt, making sure the plums are evenly coated.
  • Let sit no more than 5 minutes.

ASSEMBLY

  • Evenly spread the filling over the crust on the baking sheet.
  • Lay one of the dough strips diagonally across the baking sheet from one corner to the other.
  • Repeat laying strips parallel to the first piece evenly across the rest of the pie. You can cut strips down to size as you work your way towards the end of the pie, making sure to leave a bit of overhang on both sides.
  • Take every other strip of dough and fold it back over itself so that it exposes a little more than half of the filling. Lay a long strip of dough in the opposite direction, going diagonally from one corner to the other. Fold the dough strips back down and you will begin to see a lattice form. Fold back every other strip of dough that you didn’t fold back before, and then lay another strip of dough diagonally across the pie, working towards a corner. Continue this process until half the pie has a lattice top. Then rotate the pan and repeat the same process on the other side to finish the lattice.
  • Fold the dough hanging over the sides of the pie up and over the edge, tucking the ends of the strips from the lattice top inside. This will ensure the strips of dough stay anchored to the edges of the pie.
  • Crimp the edges of the dough using your pointer fingers and thumb to pinch the dough together.
  • Whisk together the heavy cream and egg and brush evenly over the lattice top and edges of the pie.
  • Sprinkle the entire pie with turbinado sugar and bake until the crust is a deep golden brown and bubbles form towards the middle of the pie, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • Let cool completely, at least 40 minutes.

COOK’S NOTES

  • I have made this many times and it translates into other flavor profiles EXTREMELY well.  My personal favorite is peach, but I also love it made as cherry!
  • The weights for dividing the dough are approximations!  The weights are totally dependent on several factors – your climate (rain really affects the outcome) as well as how much water you add to the dough. The most important thing is to remember is to divide the dough so you have 1 piece that is twice the size as the other piece of dough.

BANANA CREAM CHEESECAKE

BANANA CREAM CHEESECAKE

CRUST
20 lemon or vanilla cream-filled sandwich style cookies I usually use OREO
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Finely crush cookies in food processor.
  • Add melted butter, blending until well combined.
  • Press mixture into the bottom of a 10″ springform pan and smooth it out.
  • Refrigerate the crust while you make the filling.

FILLING
3 blocks (24 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup FINE sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 LARGE eggs
3/4 cup – 2 VERY ripe bananas mashed
1/2 cup whipping cream

2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Wrap spring form pan with a double layer of foil and place in a deep baking dish or roaster.
  • Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until creamy.
  • Add sugar and cornstarch, blending well.
  • Add eggs one at a time, blending until incorporated before adding additional eggs.
  • Beat in bananas until well blended.
  • Add whipping cream and vanilla, blending until smooth.
  • Pour mixture into crust.
  • Fill roasting pan with hot water halfway up the side of the spring form pan.
  • Bake 15 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 300°.
  • Bake an additional 60-75 minutes, or until center is almost set.
  • Allow to cool COMPLETELY on cooling rack.
  • Before removing the pan ring, slide a knife around the edge of the cake to separate the cake from the pan cleanly.
  • Refrigerate cheesecake, uncovered, at least 6 hours.

ASSEMBLY
FRESH whipped cream
Caramel Sauce
Fudge sauce
FRESH sliced banana

  • Serve with FRESH whipped cream, caramel sauce, fudge sauce and FRESH sliced bananas.

CARAMEL SAUCE 
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
2+ tablespoons water

  • Combine the cream and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • In a medium saucepan cook the corn syrup over a medium heat until bubbly.
  • Fold in 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue to cook until the edges begin to turn a light amber color.
  • Add in 1/4 cup sugar more and repeat until all the sugar is blended in.
  • Continue cooking until amber color darkens stirring constantly.
  • Remove from the heat and carefully fold in the cream mixture.
  • Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until caramel is bubbling.
  • Serve warm.
  • Makes 1 1/2 cups.

NOTE: Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Microwave 20-30 seconds to soften before serving.

MOCHA HOT FUDGE SAUCE
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
scant 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted & cooled
3 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons golden rum

  • In a medium saucepan blend together the water, corn syrup dissolving the sugar and cocoa into it until smooth.
  • Bring to a low boil.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until smooth.
  • Gradually add the coffee and rum until desired flavor and consistency is reached.
  • Serve warm.

NOTE: Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Microwave 20-30 seconds to soften before serving.

APPLE PIE CAKE

This was a Bobby Flay French toast recipe, but with a few changes, it’s now a cake!  You could still call it French toast and serve it for Brunch, but it’s yummy enough for dessert too!

APPLE PIE CAKE majorly altered and formerly known as APPLE CRISP FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE ala Bobby Flay

TOAST
1 loaf day-old sourdough bread, crust removed, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • Preheat the oven to 275 °.
  • Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet and bake 20 minutes.
  • Let cool.
  • Adjust the oven to 350°.

APPLES
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider, plus more for syrup if needed
Juice of 1 lemon
4 LARGE Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons Coconut Rum
1/2 cup golden raisins

  • Combine the sugar, apple cider, lemon juice and coconut rum in a large saute pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Stir in the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and caramelized, about 15 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a bowl (you don’t want the apples to be too wet) and let cool 10 minutes.
  • Reserve the apple cooking liquid for serving.
  • Fold in the golden raisins.

STREUSEL
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup crushed walnut pieces

  • While the apples cool mix together the butter, salt and sugar in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Add the flour, oats. crushed nuts and cinnamon and mix until well combined.
  • Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

ASSEMBLY
Softened butter for greasing the baking dish
3 LARGE eggs
2 LARGE egg yolks
1 teaspoon  PURE vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons PURE maple syrup, for apple syrup
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces for syrup

  • Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with some softened butter.
  • Whisk the eggs, yolks, vanilla and cinnamon in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Whisk in the half-and-half, then fold in the cooled apples.
  • Add the bread and stir to coat, pressing down to make sure bread is totally submerged.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the apple-bread mixture to the buttered 9×13 baking dish, pressing down to make sure the top is an even layer.
  • Scatter the streusel evenly over the top.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and continue baking until set, slightly puffed and lightly golden brown, another 30 minutes or so.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Reheat the reserved apple cooking liquid. (If very thin, simmer briefly over medium heat until reduced to a syrup; if there isn’t much, add some apple cider and simmer briefly.)
  • Turn the heat to low and whisk in the maple syrup and cold butter, piece by piece, until emulsified.
  • Pour syrup over each piece as you serve it.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE

This recipe is every peanut butter lovers dream! It’s a ROLL YOUR EYES BACK IN YOUR HEAD AND SIGH KIND OF AWESOME! I’ve included 3 choices of ganaches.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE

CRUST
15 chocolate graham crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
PINCH sea salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Butter 9″ spring form pan and wrap bottom and sides of pan in a double layer of aluminum foil.
  • Set rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°.
  • In a food processor grind chocolate graham crackers into VERY fine crumbs.
  • Add sugar and salt, pulsing to combine.
  • Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl, add butter, and use fork or fingers to blend mixture until crumbs are evenly moist.
  • Press into bottom and about a third of the way up the sides of spring form pan.
  • Freeze 10 minutes.
  • Place pan on baking sheet and bake crust for 10 minutes.
  • Set on rack to cool and reduce oven temperature to 325°.
  • Bring tea kettle full of water to a boil.

CHEESECAKE
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoons PURE vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1 ¼ cups miniature chocolate chips
Reese’s, for garnish

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until completely smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add sugar and salt, beating and scraping down bowl as necessary, until smooth and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated and occasionally scraping bottom and sides of bowl.
  • Add lemon zest, beating until combined.
  • Add peanut butter, heavy cream, and sour cream and beat on low until completely combined and smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Fold in mini chocolate chips.
  • Pour cheesecake batter into cooled crust and smooth top evenly.
  • Place cheesecake in deep roasting pan and set on middle rack of oven.
  • Carefully pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come about halfway up sides of spring form pan.
  • Bake cheesecake until top is just starting to brown and crack, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Turn off oven, prop door open, and let cheesecake slowly cool in the water bath for 1 hour.
  • Remove roasting pan from oven, carefully lift spring form pan out of water and remove foil.
  • Set on cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
  • Once COMPLETELY cool, loosely cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate, AT LEAST 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (DO NOT USED UNSWEETENED)
3/4 cup heavy cream
PINCH sea salt

  • When ready to serve, carefully remove sides of spring form pan.
  • Place chocolate in a clean, dry medium bowl.
  • In a small saucepan, warm cream until just barely simmering.
  • Pour cream over chocolate and let sit 10 minutes, then add salt and stir until smooth.
  • Pour ganache over cheesecake, spreading it evenly and allowing some to drip down sides of cake.
  • Sprinkle with chopped Reese’s.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips, FINELY chopped OR grated

  • When the cake is completely cooled, run a thin knife around the edge and release the ring of spring form pan, then transfer the cake on a serving plate.
  • On a medium heat bring heavy cream to boil.
  • Pour hot cream on top of the chocolate and peanut butter. Cover with a plate for 5 minutes. The heat from the cream mixture will help melt the chocolate in a few minutes.
  • Stir well to combine until smooth.
  • Set aside to cool. The ganache should be pourable, but not too thin.
  • Slowly pour the ganache around the edges and let it drip down the sides.  Let the ganache set slightly then sprinkle with chopped peanuts and pile with coarsely chopped Reese’s.
  • Set in the fridge until ready to serve.

PEANUT BUTTER GANACHE

5 ounces QUALITY dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup CREAMY (NOT chunky OR crunchy) peanut butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Place the chopped chocolate and peanut butter in a bowl and set aside.
  • Heat cream and vanilla on the stove and bring to a simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Pour hot cream on top of the chocolate and peanut butter. Cover with a plate for 5 minutes. The heat from the cream mixture will help melt the chocolate in a few minutes.
  • Stir well to combine until smooth.
  • Slowly pour the ganache around the edges and let it drip down the sides.  Let the ganache set slightly then sprinkle with chopped peanuts and pile with coarsely chopped Reese’s.
  • Set in the fridge until ready to serve.

GARNISH (optional)
Chopped Reese’s cups
Crushed roasted peanuts

NOTES: The quality of your chocolate WILL have a HUGE impact on the flavor of your ganache. ALWAYS use the best quality artisan chocolate for the best flavor. Natural peanut butters are more flavorful, but their gritty texture interferes with the formation of a SMOOTH ganache – use the smoothest textured peanut butter you can find.

PEACH WILD BLUEBERRY PIE

PEACH WILD BLUEBERRY PIE
I LOVE THIS RECIPE! It’s quick, easy and SUPER versatile using simple ingredients and ready in no time at all!

scant 1 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 cup small WILD blueberries**
5 cups FRESH Peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into large chop**

  • In a large saucepan whisk together the water, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and cook 5-10 minutes over medium-high heat until mixture becomes thick.
 Stir constantly to prevent lumps in your mixture.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add vanilla and cinnamon whisking until smooth.
  • Allow to cool 5 minutes.
  • Fold in peach pieces and blueberries.
  • Allow the filling to cool down completely before filling the pie shell.

NOTES:

  • **You can use canned or frozen fruit though I really don’t recommend it, but if you do use it make sure they are thawed and drained REALLY WELL!
  • Other terrific flavor combinations are:
    Plum and Cherry
    Apricot blueberry
    Peach and Raspberry

KING CAKE FOR MARDI GRAS since I missed posting it for the EPIPHANY

Mardi Gras 2020 falls on Tuesday, February 25, this year and is also known as Fat Tuesday, the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Fat Tuesday is EXACTLY what it sounds like – time to party and EAT!  I thought this would be a good time to re-run this recipe for Mardis Gras King Cake.  I threw in some history for you also since King Cake isn’t just for Mardi Gras though that is what it is most famous for these days.  I do have to admit I made this cake a few years back when we were living in Texas during Mardi Gras season though since then I have made it for Epiphany without the Mardi Gras colors and using traditional Christmas colors.

A king cake (sometimes rendered as kingcake, kings’ cake, king’s cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with Mardi Gras and Carnival.

The “king cake” takes its name from the biblical three kings. Catholic tradition states that their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days (the Twelve Days of Christmas), and that they arrived to honor the Christ Child on Epiphany. The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), through to Mardi Gras day. Some organizations or groups of friends may have “king cake parties” every week through the Carnival season.

Related culinary traditions are the tortell of Catalonia, the gâteau des Rois in Provence or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France, and the Greek and Cypriot vasilopita. The galette des Rois is made with puff pastry and frangipane (while the gâteau des Rois is made with brioche and candied fruits). A little bean was traditionally hidden in it, a custom taken from the Saturnalia in the Roman Empire: the one who stumbled upon the bean was called “king of the feast.” In the galette des Rois, since 1870 the beans have been replaced first by porcelain and, now by plastic figurines; while the gâteau des Rois Also known as “Rosca de Reyes” in Mexico.

In the southern United States, the tradition was brought to the area by colonists from France and Spain and it is associated with Carnival, which is celebrated in the Gulf Coast region, centered on New Orleans, but ranging from the Florida Panhandle to East Texas. King cake parties in New Orleans are documented back to the eighteenth century. The king cake of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Carnival colors) with food coloring. Cajun king cakes are traditionally deep-fat-fried as a doughnut would be, and there are many variants, some with a filling, the most common being cream cheese and praline. It has become customary in the New Orleans culture that whoever finds the trinket must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.

Some say that French settlers brought the custom to Louisiana in the 18th century where it remained associated with the Epiphany until the 19th century when it became a more elaborate Mardi Gras custom. In New Orleans, the first cake of the season is served on January 6. A small ceramic figurine of a baby is hidden inside the cake, by tradition. However now, the tradition is giving way to the baby being supplied and the customer placing the baby were ever they wish in the cake. Whoever finds the baby is allowed to choose a mock court and host the next King Cake party the following week (weekly cake parties were held until Mardi Gras).

The classic king cake is oval-shaped, like the pattern of a racetrack. The dough is basic coffee-cake dough, sometimes laced with cinnamon, sometimes just plain. The dough is rolled out into a long tubular shape (not unlike a thin po-boy), then shaped into an oval. The ends are twisted together to complete the shape  (HINT: if you want to find the piece with the baby, look for the twist in the oval where the two ends of the dough meet. That’s where the baby is usually inserted.) The baby hidden in the cake speaks to the fact that the three Kings had a difficult time finding the Christ Child and of the fine gifts they brought.

The cake is then baked, and decorated when it comes out. The classic decoration is simple granulated sugar, colored purple, green, and gold for the colors of Carnival. King cakes have gotten more and more fancy over the years, so now bakeries offer iced versions where there’s classic white coffee cake glaze on the cake before it’s decorated, and even king cakes filled with apple, cherry, cream cheese, or other kinds of coffee-cake fillings.

King cakes are available at bakeries all over South Louisiana, but only after January 6 through Mardi Gras Day.

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which starts on Ash Wednesday. Popular practices also include wearing masks and costumes, overturning most social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades and such. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

This is my version of this yummy yeast bread/cake.

MARDI GRAS KING CAKE (makes 2 cakes)

PASTRY
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup melted butter

FROSTING/GLAZE
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water

  • Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the butter.  Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  • When yeast mixture is bubbly, add the cooled milk mixture.
  • Whisk in the eggs.
  • Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg.
  • Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
  • Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  • When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with SILPATS or parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins.
  • Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  • Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches).
  • Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side.
  • Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings.
  • Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet.
  • With sharp knife make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • Push the doll into the bottom of the cake.
  • Decorate with beads.
  • Frost while warm with the glaze.

CHERRY ALMOND CREAM CHEESE COBBLER DUMP CAKE

You know me, I prefer to scratch cook 100% of the time. Okay 99% of the time. But this dump cake with the cherry pie filling and buttery cake mix topped with the almonds, pecans or walnuts really makes this a quick, yet flavorful dessert for unexpected company or a church potluck. The addition of the cream cheese makes this is a serious upgrade to your mother’s dump cake of the 90’s. I just haven’t yet converted the cake mix into a scratch version that works as well as the store bought mix.

CHERRY ALMOND CREAM CHEESE COBBLER or DUMP CAKE adapted from Tablespoon Kitchens serves 12

2 – 21 ounce cans COMSTOCK TART cherry (see notes) pie filling
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
8 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 box yellow or white cake mix (both work well, but preferably the moist version)
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • Heat oven to 350°.
  • LIGHTLY spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In medium bowl, mix together the cherry pie filling and almond extract.
  • Spread evenly in the bottom of baking dish.
  • Top evenly with cubed cream cheese pieces.
  • Sprinkle evenly with dry cake mix.
  • Evenly pour melted butter over cake mix, covering as much and as evenly as possible.
  • Sprinkle with chopped almonds or chopped walnuts.
  • Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until top of cake is golden brown and bubbling on edges.
  • Cool 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

NOTES:

  • With just the two of us,  I measure the cake mix and then save half for another time and halve the other ingredients as well while baking in an 8×8 baking dish.
  • The cherry can also be traded with Peach or Blueberry with excellent results.
  • If you want to go elegant this recipe prepares well in individual ramekins if you want to take the time to measure everything evenly. 😀