Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lemon Cheesecake with White Chocolate Ganache

Saturdays are beautiful days. I love waking up and feeling absolutely free for a whole day. Now that it's finally spring here in Provo, we can actually do fun outside-y stuff. Yesterday I woke up and went for a hike up rock canyon. It's an amazing view of most of the valley (did I mention I got a horrible sunburn?)

After one of the busiest weeks of my life, I finally had the Saturday that I needed. This week I planned the Relief Society birthday party, for which I baked 216 cupcakes and made enough buttercream frosting for all of those.

But it was so fun to plan!

Balloons are the happiest things on earth. 

Anyway, when I got home after getting all sunburned at Rock Canyon, I was really craving more lemon. I had a bunch of cream cheese to use, so...

Lemon Cheesecake 

1 9-inch cheesecake

1 1/2 cups gingersnaps, smashed to smithereens
3 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted

4-5 8 oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

1. Mix the crushed gingersnaps, sugar, and butter together until all the gingersnaps are moistened (I used my pastry cutter). Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan and bake at 325 for 10 minutes. 

2. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat between each. Add the sour cream and beat. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and zest. Beat. 

3. Pour it into the crust and bake for approximately 1 hour at 325 degrees fahrenheit. Bake with a pan of water on a rack below the cheesecake. 

4. When it's done, it will be jiggly all over and more jiggly in the middle. Don't remove it from the oven-- crack the oven and turn it off. Keep it open for about 10 minutes, then close for about 30. Do this twice. 

5. Refrigerate for about 4 hours. 

Doesn't it look so pretty?

White Chocolate Ganache

1 cup white chocolate 
1/2 cup heavy cream

Microwave heavy cream until it's really hot and pour it on top of the white chocolate. Whisk it until all the chocolate is melted. Pour it on top of the lemon cheesecake. 

Top with whipped cream and lemon wedges!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

It finally got warm here! Spring has arrived! After months and months of freezing snowy weather, it got warm! Happy day!

Lemon is obviously the best way invite spring back. 

I had been craving blueberries and lemon, so I decided to make a moist lemon-blueberry pound cake. 

What I thought of when I made this was the time I discovered lemon zest. I was using recipe that called for lemon zest. I asked my dad what that meant and he said, "It's the outside of the lemon grated." 
I didn't understand. Why would anyone want to eat the peel? Isn't that like eating a banana peel?

I was disgusted.

BUT... I have learned to really love lemon zest. It adds texture and taste to lemony recipes that can't be created any other way! So, I encourage you to leave the lemon zest in this recipe! Don't skip out on it!

Lemon-Blueberry Pound Cake 

Yields: 1 loaf

1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 stick of butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 eggs
1/2 sour cream
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup blueberries

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease and lightly flour a 9x5 or 8x4 loaf pan.

2. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate medium bowl, cream butter, sugar, and lemon zest for about 4 minutes on a high speed until it's light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each egg.

3. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and milk. To the butter mixture, add the flour and the sour cream mixtures, alternating between the two while mixing. Add the lemon juice and beat for 1 minute so it's well incorporated.

4. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes for an 8x4 or 45-50 minutes for a 9x5.

5. Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice and glaze over the pound cake when it's still warm.

6. Enjoy!

Bon appétit! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Banana Bundt

Old mushy bananas are the best!

Last night I went to an orchestra concert, and for some reason I was craving banana bundt cake the whole time, but I've never had it before. Story of my stinking life. I crave things all the time that I've never had. I set out to find a delicious recipe for a moist banana bundt. At first I was searching for something with sour cream to make sure it was moist, but I decided to go with a recipe I found on Pinterest. I'm so glad I did! It was so unbelievably moist. 

Today was definitely a baking day. I woke up to a fresh blanket of snow covering the ground. It's LATE MARCH! Utah is crazy!

Tweaked from Hungry Couple NYC.

Banana Bundt

4 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 banana, peeled and sliced

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 (8 tbsp) stick butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (1 cup milk + 1 tsp vinegar)
2 bananas, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Butter and flour a bundt pan. Lightly tap the pan to release the extra flour. Line the pan with the brown sugar and then the banana slices.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the softened butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat. Add the buttermilk and mix. Scrape the bowl. Add the mashed bananas and mix. Slowly add the dry ingredients until it's fully incorporated.

3. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool for about an hour before inverting it out of the pan.

Also, yes, in case you were wondering, I do always sing the Gwen Stefani song in my head to make sure I'm spelling "B-A-N-A-N-A-S" correctly. 

Happy Saturday, y'all!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Pull Apart Bread

Pinterest is the devil.

Do you need reasons why?

It leads me to sit at the computer, hypnotized by its sinful desserts, for hours on end. 

I've been spending way too much time on Pinterest and I think it's quite time for a Pintervention. 

A few days ago when I was on Pinterest, I found this recipe. I HAD to try it. I honestly didn't have a choice. As soon as I saw it, I had no control over what I did from there on out. PINTEREST WAS POSSESSING ME. 

It's cinnamon roll pull apart bread so it's basically the best thing ever. I tweaked it from My Chocolate Therapy

Cinnamon Roll Pull Apart Bread

Yields: 1 9x5 loaf (12 servings or 1 serving if you're me-- anything is a single serving if you put your mind to it)

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp dried active yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
cream or milk

1. So I used my bread machine for this. I put all the dough ingredients in my bread maker starting with all the wet ingredients (I heated the milk and water so they were slightly warm). I then added all the dry ingredients, ending with the yeast on top. I put my bread machine on the dough cycle and went to class. When I came back, it was gloriously puffy and beautiful! I'm in love with my bread machine (Thanks, Aunt Tam!)

If you don't have a bread machine, just do it like the original recipe tells you to

2. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface into about 18x18 inches. Spread about 2/3 of the softened butter on it and then mix together the filling. Spread the filling on top of the butter. 

3. Roll up and use dental floss to cut the dough into 1 cm thin cinnamon rolls. Brush a little of the leftover butter on top of each one and cover with plastic wrap. Roll them out until they're about 1/2 their original thickness. Stack them in about stacks of 5. 

4. Grease a 9x5 pan and put the stacks of flattened cinnamon rolls into it. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (oven at 170) for about 30 minutes. 

Before rising

After rising-- wow!

5. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until the top is golden. Let it cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan and put it on a cooling rack. Whisk the glaze ingredients together and pour it on the still warm loaf. Bon appétit!

Look at that perfect swirly-doo!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Andes Mint Cupcakes

I've been really into mint lately. Not just the flavor, either. I've been into the color mint, and I've recently purchased some mint pants which I'm kind of obsessed with wearing. It's such a happy color!

With St. Patty's day coming up tomorrow, I decided to make something with a little minty green. I wanted it to use Andes Mints because those things are obviously the best thing that has ever happened to after-dinner mints.

Andes Mints are the perfect marriage of silky smooth chocolate and cool mint.

I'm obsessed.

I had been craving them lately so I decided to make some Andes Mint cupcakes. I wanted a really light and fluffy chocolate cupcake, a minty chocolate mousse filling, and cool buttercream on top. I found the fluffiest chocolate cupcake recipe ever at My Baking Addiction (tweaked to my taste).

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

Yields: 18 cupcakes (I made 12 regular + 18 minis)

1 cup flour (I used 1 1/4 cups because I'm at high altitude)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup oil (I used veggie oil)
1 cup hot water
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet while mixing. That's it! You could even probably do it all in one bowl at once (that's what the original recipe did). I mixed it by hand and it was super easy!

2. Fill baking cups 2/3 of the way for sea level or 1/2 way for high altitude. Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes for full-sized or 9-11 for mini cupcakes.

Andes Mint Mousse Filling

2/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup Andes mints, melted (I used the Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips they came out with-- they're pre-broken up for you)

Whip up the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Add the melted chocolate mints and whip until it's just incorporated.

Cut the center of the cupcakes out with a knife or a handy-dandy cupcake cutter. I found this at Walmart (2 for $1!) and had to see if it worked. Much to my surprise, it worked like a charm! You just stick it in, twist, and pull up! Voilà! C'est magnifique!

Fill each cupcake and put the top back on, if desired. I always do just because I like how it looks better.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

4 oz cream cheese
1 stick (8 tbsp) butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
about 15 drops of green food coloring

Beat the cream cheese and butter together. Add the food coloring and beat. Add the vanilla and then the powdered sugar, slowly. Beat it until it's stiff and lovely! Frost cupcakes with a star tip. Top with Andes Mints or drizzle a little bit of melted Andes Mints in a decorative pattern. Enjoy!

I drizzled the minis because I had some leftover melted mints. 

I enjoyed mine with Martinelli's, because what isn't improved by sparkling cider?

Happy St. Patty's everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Pi Day!

Pi Day, March 14th, is one of the best days of the year. First of all, it's my best friend Kaki's birthday. We've been best friends since kindergarten and I'm so blessed to have her in my life!

Second of all, pie is the superior dessert. If you don't believe me, click here

Apple pie and pumpkin pie are my favorite types of pies.

Today I decided on apple pie because it's March and however much I may want pumpkin pie all year round, I think it makes it better to have it only in the fall. It makes it more special, you know?

So I went with apple!

This recipe is just a family recipe my mom passed on to me. We change the ratio or apples & sugar every time, but this is what I went with this time. 

I used my absolute favorite pie crust recipe, brought to us by America's favorite baker, Martha Stewart. The trick is the ice-cold water. It's totally worth making, y'all! Don't buy an icky pre-made pie crust. 

Perfect Flaky Pie Crust

Yield: 1 single crust 9-inch pie (I doubled this because my pie had two crusts)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
9 tbsp butter (1 stick plus 1 tbsp), chilled and cut into 1 tbsp cubes
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp ice-cold water

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. 

2. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles crumbs.

This is a pastry cutter. 

3. Slowly add the water while cutting until it's incorporated and flaky but sticks together. 

4. Form into a ball with your hands and flatten slightly so it's a disk shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 1 day. You can freeze it for up to a month, as long as you thaw it for 24 hours in the fridge before using. 

5. Roll it out and transfer to a pie pan. Cut the extra on the edges of the pie pan. "Fork" the crust. Preheat oven to 425 F. Refrigerate pie crust for 15 minutes while the oven is heating. 

6. If desired, place foil in the bottom of the pie crust and add dried beans as pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes, making sure to puncture the crust with a fork if it gets puffy while it's baking. 

These are old pictures from when I made another pie. 

Apple Pie

Yields: 1 9 inch pie 

2 recipes flakiest pie crust (bottom crust pre-baked)
8 cups apples-- I love using honeycrisp, but they're out of season right now so I used 10 granny smiths
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup white sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
1 tbsp half and half or cream

1. Peel, core, and slice apples into small (1/4 inch) slices. Put them into a large pot. Add all the ingredients on top and stir until the apples are coated with all the ingredients. 

I've finally perfected the art of peeling apples in one peel!

2. Cook at low-medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, or until the apples are slightly softened. 

3. Pour all the warm apples into the pre-baked bottom pie crust. Roll out the top pie crust and make whatever pattern on the pie crust you like. Brush the top with an egg wash of egg and half and half. 

4. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the top crust is lightly golden. 

Mini Apple Pies

With my leftover pie crust dough, I made some mini apple pies. You could really do this with any fruit. Look how cute they are! I filled them with the apples I cooked for the apple pie, brushed them with a little egg wash, and baked them on my silpat for 20 minutes. 

Make anything bite-size and you can expect lots of "AWWW!!!"s

How did you celebrate Pi Day?

Go out and have some irrational fun! 

(I know, I know. Sorry about that one.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Raspberry White Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes

I've been losing sleep lately.
I've been losing sleep because I have been HARDCORE craving raspberries for two weeks! I didn't know you could lose sleep over cravings!
I went to four stores looking for raspberries, and the only one that had them was the BYU creamery, which had a teeeeeny tiny container for $6.89.

I thought it was a joke. Seven bucks for raspberries?

Thankfully, my roommate Lexie is a sweetheart and used her meal plan to pay for them because I was bound and determined to not pay that much for raspberries. (She's the best.)

So I had dreamed up (literally had a dream about them) a recipe for Raspberry White Chocolate Truffle cupcakes. I looked everywhere and they just didn't exist.

So I went on an adventure to invent them.

And man, are these winners!!! They are just as good as they sound.

I wanted the base of the cupcake to be a really, really fluffy vanilla. I wanted them to be filled with white chocolate mousse. I wanted the frosting to be really fluffy raspberry buttercream with a hint of white chocolate. And I wanted them to be adorable.

I tweaked my white cupcake recipe from Couple Of Cooks.

White Cupcakes

Yields 18-20 deliciously full-sized cupcakes
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour (I used 1 cup minus 2 tbsp all purpose flour, then added 2 tbsp corn starch. This is my go-to cake flour recipe. Make sure to mix the flour and corn starch together really well.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature (I put my cold eggs soaking in warm water for 3 minutes or so)
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 fahrenheit (If you're at high altitude, preheat to 385). Line cupcake tins with adorable cupcake liners.

2. Mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk until incorporated.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk, and egg whites. Set aside. 

4. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

5. Add the vanilla extract to the butter mixture. While the mixer is on low, add the flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the milk/sour cream mixture. (You'll start and end with flour mixture).

6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If you make mini cupcakes, they take about 13 minutes.)

White Chocolate Filling

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (I used Guittard's white chocolate chips-- they're so delicious!)

Whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Melt the white chocolate really slowly (15 seconds at a time, stirring between each time). Add the melted chocolate to the whipped cream and whip it until it's really stiff and incorporated. Set aside about 1 cup for the frosting recipe. 

Filling the Cupcakes

Cut a cone shape out of the top of each cupcake. Cut the bottom tip of the cone shape off and discard (AKA eat that sucker before someone else does). Pipe some of the filling into the hole and put the flat top back on. 

White Chocolate Raspberry Frosting

1 cup of the white chocolate mousse filling
1 stick butter 
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup frozen raspberries, microwaved for about 20 seconds (I had fresh but I used frozen because when you thaw them in the microwave, they release so many juices. If you use fresh, microwave them to release the juices, enhance the flavor, and enhance the color.)

Cream the butter and add the powdered sugar. Add the raspberries slowly and then lastly add the mousse filling. Beat until it's really fluffy and tasty. 

Sweet action shot of me sprinkling it with white chocolate shavings

Look at that delicious white chocolate truffle filling!!

Don't mind me... I'm just going to sit here and eat my weight in cupcakes.

Cravings: fulfilled