Sunday, February 19, 2012

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

When it comes to baked goods, cheesecake isn't exactly my favorite.  But a few years back I decided to start playing around and making cheesecake. After many attempts, some successful some fails, I combined some recipes and ended up with this.  It's the only cheesecake that I make, but its AMAZING.  I have never served it to someone who doesn't like it, even if they dont like cheesecake!  Another version I like to do, is to make it with dark chocolate instead of white, and use canned cherry pie filling on top.  I just skip the whole step where you add the raspberry sauce.

What you need:
Chocolate Crust
1 container of Oreo Cookies
4 T. White Sugar
1/2 C. Butter, melted.

Raspberry Sauce
1 (10-12 oz) bag of Frozen Raspberries
2 T. White Sugar
2 t. Cornstarch
1/2 C. Water

White Chocolate Ganache
1 bag of Ghiardelli White Chocolate Chips (about 2 Cups)
1/2 C. Heavy Cream

3 (8oz) packages of Cream Cheese softened (room temperature)
1/2 C. Sugar
3 eggs (room temperature)
1 1/2 t. Vanilla
1. Start with one small bowl, and one medium sized bowl.  Take the oreo's and separate the cookies from the cream, putting the cream in a small bowl and the cookies in the medium sized bowl.  Next put all the cookies into a blender and pulse them to make fine crumbs.  Add the crumbs to the bowl, with the sugar and mix them together with a fork.  Next add the melted butter and mix it f the mixture with a fork.  Take the crust mixture and put it in a spring form pan, pushing it firmly into the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan.  To prepare the pan for baking the cheesecake, I like to put tin foil on the bottom of the spring form pan, and half way up the sides.

In a saucepan, combine frozen raspberries and sugar.  In a cup, add the cornstarch and water and stir together to get rid of lumps.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and mix together.  Turn on the heat, bringing the raspberry sauce to a boil, continue boiling for about 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick.  You can strain the sauce in a mesh strainer to get rid of the seeds if you want to, or you can leave the sauce as is.  I didn't have a mesh strainer this time, so I left the seeds in.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).  In a double boiler, or if you dont have one like me.  I just use a metal or glass bowl, over a smaller pot of boiling water.  Add the white chocolate chips and heavy cream, stirring constantly until it becomes smooth.  Remove bowl from the pan, and put on the side.

In your kitchen aid, mix together the cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sugar until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Pour in the vanilla and mix in mixture.  Add the melted white chocolate mixture and mix in the mixer until combined.

Pour in half of cream cheese mixture into the pan.  Spoon in 5 teaspoons of sauce onto the cheesecake.  Use a knife and swirl the sauce into the cheesecake, add the rest of cheesecake mixture on top and repeat the same process to the top.  I did a heart for Valentines day, but typically I swirl it in the middle as well.

Bake for 60-90 minutes, or until filling is set.  Best way to check is to place a knife in the middle and see if it comes out clean.  Typically,  it doesn't always come out clean, but when it starts to brown a little on top, I pull it out and let it rest for awhile.

To garnish it, I used dark chocolate shavings, and fresh whipping cream with the left over raspberry sauce.  I always make it  the night before, so that it can rest in the fridge for at least 8-10 hours.  Make sure to cover the top with plastic wrap while it sits in the fridge.  It will shrink down so dont be surprised.
Here are some tips that I have learned along the way that have helped make the cheesecake perfect:

1. I always bake my cheesecake in a water bath.  You dont have to do this, but anytime I make a custard style dessert I always cook them in water baths.  So heres what to do.  After you put the tin foil on the bottom of the spring form pan, this prevents water from leaking into the cheesecake.  Place it in to a pan that has some deep sides and can fit the pan comfortably.  Use a teakettle to fill the outer pan with hot water.   Make sure the bottom of the pan has a shallow bath of water, but covers the entire bottom.  You can always check the cheesecake half way through to see if it needs more hot water, but I have never had to add more.

2.  One of the hardest things about cheesecake is to figure out when its done.   You can always check by taking the internal temperature, it should be around 160 to 165 degrees F (70 t0 72 degrees C).  Personally, I have never done this.  I like to insert a knife in the middle of it and see if it comes out clean.  Another way to do it is to turn off the oven, and let the cheesecake in it for another hour to ensure it sets up.  I have tried this trick twice, one time it worked, and one time it was WAY over cooked.  So I typically do it for about 20 minutes, after its done cooking, and then place it in the fridge.

3. It's very important to let the cheesecake completely cool.  This is why its always best to make it the night before.  The cake will naturally start pulling away from the sides of the pan, but its always smart to run a knife around the edges to make sure it comes out perfectly.

I know this is a lot of instructions, but I promise if you have the patience to make this, its worth the wait!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Dinner

 Happy Valentines Day!  Each year for Valentines Day my friends and I have a girls night with lots of good food, amazing desserts, and chick flicks!  This year, since we all had plans on Valentines Day, (Lady Antebellum concert, sadly, no hot dates for us.)  We decided to have our dinner a little early.  My wonderful, roommate and friend, Tracy loves the Paris theme in her kitchen, so we went with a moden Paris Valentines theme and kept the food French.  
This is the combined decor for the home.  I did the table with some of the stuff I had from last year.  My roommate Tracy did the cute vase with the pictures of all of us, and our two adopted roommates. She made cute champagne glass lamps, and we trailed some extra hearts along the table where we placed all our food.  We put the sign up as LOVE, because thats really what Valentines day is all about, letting all the people you love and care about know that your thinking about them.  Then I placed some of my red and pink pillows with candles and hearts all over the home.

For the food, Tracy made Chicken Cordon Blue.  Tina made rice pilaf with almonds.  Tara made a wonderful light salad with a light vinaigrette.  Vicki made Strawberry Daiquiris.  I bought at Harmons a white chocolate pecan bread that they make on Thursdays and I made a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake with a chocolate crust. I will post the recipe later this week for that.
If you want to check out last years Valentines Day Dinner here is the link to that.  It was homemade

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine 1st Birthday Party

1st Birthdays are always fun to do, I love making a darling cake for the kids to just plunge into!  For Harpers Birthday, I did a white cake with white buttercream frosting and candy hearts.  I originally was going to do fondant so it would look perfect, but I decided to make it a little easier for her to dive into.  Her Mom choose a Valentines themed Birthday party, so between the two of us, we came up with this!
We created a fun dessert table, full of lots of delicious treats, and heart garlands, with heart sprinkle confetti tossed across the table.
 Her Mom made a cute heart Birthday banner.
 Ballons were splashed along the ceilings creating a fun and playful look.
Large and mini vanilla cupcakes,  and rice krispy treats with marshmallows dipped in chocolate.
Oreo cake balls, chocolate dipped pretzels, candy balls, marshmallow kabobs, and more heart marshmallows dipped in pink chocolate.
 Shirley Temples for the party drink with stripped straws that floated to the top!
 Sugar cookie station for the kids to decorate homemade sugar cookies to keep them busy!
The Birthday cake, and a close up on the cake. I made the boarder into hearts and then pipped stripes and used heart sprinkles for the sides.  Note that the lighting was very yellow in the room, and I had a hard time getting rid of it in the pictures, so the coloring sometimes didnt turn out the best.
Birthday girl after her Birthday swim opening up her presents, or at least watching all her friends help her open her presents.
And the big moment of the night, her first cake all to herself!
This is what the inside of the cake looked like.  For the recipe I used my Vanilla Bean cupcake recipe found HERE:

Buttercream Frosting

1 C. Butter (2 cubes at room temperature)
1. tsp Madagascar Vanilla
4 C. Powder Sugar
2 tsp. Whole Milk
Pinch of salt

In a mixer, combine both cubes of butter and vanilla and mix together well.  Add one cup of powder sugar and mix well.  Next, add another cup of powder sugar and 1 tsp. of whole milk and mix.  Repeat process until all the powder sugar and milk are combined.  Continue beating the frosting for a minute or two until it gets nice and fluffy! Add desired color and mix in, then add to piping bag ready to pipe!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentines Treats

In January I started a diet competition with a group of good friends which in return has limited my baking these days.  So when I was asked by a friend to make her daughters 1st Birthday cake and help with the decor, I decided to do all my Valentines baking in one day. I made a few extra Vanilla cupcakes and delivered them with a cute little treat bag.  
For the treat bags, I found these cute bags at Orson Gygi and filled them with some cinnamon heart candies from the grocery store.  I used sparkly papers to mimic the cinnamon heart for a little tag and cut them into little hearts.  I folded the paper over the top of them, then I used a hole punch to put a hole in the center of the bag, and added pink paper ribbon and threaded it through the hole and tied it in a knot!
And this is how they turned out!  
Stay tuned for the Valentines 1st Birthday party posted Monday, February 13th and Valentines Dinner  posted on February 14th!  Then the next Monday I will post another baby shower, "Once Upon A Time!" 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's Marshmallows

Here is a cute simple idea for a Valentines party that takes a few minutes and a couple of ingredients.  I made these for my friends daughters 1st birthday party!
 The Birthday theme was Valentines, so I picked up some cute pink and white heart marshmallows from Walmart, dipped them in pink chocolate and rolled them in little heart sprinkles.
For the Birthday party I put them on sticks and placed them in the candy jars as part of the decorations on the table. Its a cute, inexpensive easy table decor that takes about 20 minutes.