Archive for March, 2011

Bailey’s Cheesecake

My brother’s birthday was last week and when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for it, he had two words.

“Cheesecake” and “Alcohol.”

The alcohol part I understood. He’s young (23 years to be exact), hip, and just beginning the 3-year road on the way to being a lawyer. Of course he’d want alcohol for his birthday! But cheesecake? Even my mom was surprised. My brother has never enjoyed cheesecake, has never asked for a slice of cheesecake even when we, as a family, have one in the house. He always passes.

So why the change of heart this time?

We celebrated his birthday on Sunday and his finalized request for cake was delivered to me Saturday evening at 5pm so I didn’t really have time to argue with him about whether or not he’d even like his birthday cake. I needed to grocery shop, bring ingredients to room temperature, and bake and chill a whole cheesecake for lunchtime Sunday!

But when we sat down to scarf down this wonderful cheesecake, he told us that two nights before (Friday) he had gone out to dinner and tried out a Bailey’s cheesecake (coincidental that I picked the same alcohol) and realized that he didn’t mind cheesecake so much. He liked dense, rich cheesecakes.

Uh oh.

This was not a dense cheesecake. And the one he tried on Friday was by a friend of a friend who owned a bakery. Could mine live up to it?

Oh blog world friends it did! It carried the flavor of Bailey’s without tasting like hard alcohol, beautifully balanced by the sweet mini chocolate chips and Oreo crust. It was light and airy, owing to my beating the filling like no one’s business and my straining of it at the end, and my brother liked it! The texture was silky smooth and the crust crunchy. Every bite was the perfect bite.

My brother who doesn’t like cheesecakes liked it, going so far to say that it topped the one he had tried two days ago. I don’t think he could have hoped for better.

Even my 93-year-old grandmother who I’ve never seen drink even a drop of alcohol liked it. That’s gotta say something!

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake
adapted from yumsugar

Ingredients
For crust:

  • 1/2 c pecans, toasted, cooled, and crushed (400F for 15 minutes or until fragrant)
  • 2 c Oreo crumbs (scrape out the filling)
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted

For filling:

  • 2 1/4 lb cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 c sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c Bailey’s Original Irish Cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c mini chocolate chips

For topping:

  • 1 c heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1/3 c confectioner’s sugar

Instructions
For crust, Preheat oven to 325F. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl until moistened. Press into the bottom and up the sides (as much as you can) of a 10″ spring form pan. Don’t pack it down too hard or it will be impossible to cut the finished crust. Bake 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the filling, Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed 3-5 minutes or until very smooth. Gradually add in the sugar followed by the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. Add in the Bailey’s and vanilla and beat another minute or two. At this point, my filling was still a bit lumpy so I strained it quickly before moving on.

Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips over the baked crust. Spoon in filling then sprinkle with remaining chips. Place onto a baking sheet or roasting pan filled partially with warm water. Bake at 325F for 1 hour 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Turn off oven and crack the oven door open, allowing the cake to cool in the oven a bit for 20-30 minutes before removing and chilling in the refrigerator overnight.

For serving, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the coffee and sugar and beat until stiff peaks. Taste and adjust accordingly.

You can garnish the cake with chocolate curls or toffee bits but I was pretty happy as it was already.

The aftermath. Not so pretty but definitely yummy!

Are you a fan of alcohol and baking?

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Pig Cake

I have been ridiculously MIA from blogging this past week. As we approach the end of an era (my formal education years), it’s getting quite hectic and I’m trying desperately to spend as much time with my family and friends as possible before my job (JOB! WOOHOO!) starts in June and I move away (not far away but away) and spend sleepless nights at the hospital.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Match Day, or the day all graduating medical students across the country find out where they’ll be working this coming year, was this past Thursday. It was nerve wracking, anxiety inducing, makes-you-need-to-pee-and-want-to-vomit-all-at-the-same-time, and all around torture. But we all got through it. I got my number 2 choice in New York if you’re all wondering. I’m quite happy. Boy is too (he also got his number 2, also in New York, but different institution).

To celebrate, I quickly whipped up this Pig Cake before we all went out for an evening of bad decisions. It was everything I wanted to be. Very few ingredients, meaning less time at the grocery store, whipped up in a matter of minutes, meaning more time hanging out, and tasted wonderfully. Also, it was a single layer cake, perfect for large crowds and for even less kitchen fuss. The cake itself was moist and light and just a bit tropical tasting with the addition of mandarin oranges. The topping was a pure dream. It, too, was light and fluffy with scrumptious chunks of pineapple. The whole cake was sweet but not too sweet and fit in perfectly for the joyous occasion. This will definitely be made again and again without hesitation. I don’t know why exactly it’s called Pig Cake (PW doesn’t either) but I can only surmise that it’s because it’s so incredibly delicious you can’t help but be a little piggy eating more and more!

Sorry there’s only one picture! I was too busy drinking champagne.

Pig Cake
adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

For cake:

  • 1 box Yellow Cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 14 oz can of mandarin oranges, drained, 1/2 c juice reserved
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For topping:

  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 4 oz Cool Whip
  • extra mandarin oranges for garnish, optional

Instructions
For cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking pan.

Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, butter, reserved juice, eggs, and vanilla on medium-high (start out slow to prevent cake mix from flying everywhere) for 4 minutes. Add oranges and beat until they are broken up into small pieces. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool completely.

For topping: Mix together vanilla pudding mix and reserved juice. Add powdered sugar followed by the whipped topping, mixing to combine. Stir in pineapple. Spread on cooled cake and refrigerate several hours before serving. Serve with extra mandarin oranges if desired.

What’s your reason to celebrate this week?

PB Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

This is the biggest week in my medical school career.

On Thursday, I find out where I am employed for the next four years of my life, where I will make my lifelong connections, where I will train to be the best possible physician I can be. At noon, my entire class will open our envelops containing the destination we’ve worked so hard to get to for the past four years. We’ll find out how far away we’ll be leaving one another. There will be tears of happiness and tears of sadness.

The thought of it makes me want to vomit.

Which is where this cookie cake comes in!

From the moment I saw this on Ellie’s blog, I knew I’d be making it in a time of turmoil. It looked comforting, inviting, and warm. And after all was said and done and I was eating my first slice, I knew it was exactly what I needed. The butterflies in my stomach vanished for a moment as I filled it instead with chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow goodness. How could I be stressed with a mouthful of what tastes like unbaked cookie dough?

Unfortunately, in my moment of need last night I polished off more of the cake than I anticipated. I’m not sure how I’m going to tide my nerves between now and Thursday now!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
adapted from Almost Bourdain

Makes 1 9″ cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c smooth peanut butter
  • 1 c lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 c chocolate chips (I used 60% cacao)
  • 1 c minimarshmallows

Instructions
Preheat oven to 355F. Grease and line a 9″ circular cake pan. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla for 1-2 minutes or until well combined. Add in egg and beat another minute on medium speed, scraping down sides as needed. Switching to low speed, mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before running knife around edge. Then cool in pan for at least 4 hours before turning out and serving.

 

What kind of week are you having?

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies

Let me tell you about these brownies.

They taste like olive oil.

Now, many recipes tout ingredients in their titles that don’t always play a huge role in the flavor category. This one doesn’t. These actually taste like olive oil with some surrounding chocolate and a helping of coconut. So if you don’t like any of those ingredients, I’m sorry but these are probably not the brownies for you.

However, if you do like any (or all) of the above ingredients, you’re going to love these! I happen to be one of those people who could (did? I’m not telling!) eat these in spoonfuls out of the pan, who finds the flavor combination both sublime and addicting. The only real problem for me is that they’re not super awesome washed down with a glass of cold milk. Milk and olive oil? Not the best duo. But olive oil and chocolate and coconut with a few grains of salt? Oh baby, come to mama!

This Week I Ate..

  • Eats Well With Others’ Chicken Enchiladas with Mashed Plantains. After a slightly panicked text message, I was reassured in replacing the red chiles with 3 chipotle peppers (with accompanying adobo sauce) and Boy and I could not love this dish any more. It was the perfect amount of spicy and the queso fresco on top completely won us over. (I used an entire 12 oz block). I wish I still had leftovers.

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies
adapted from NY Times

Makes 16-25 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c + 1 tbsp water, boiling
  • 1 oz unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate (I used 72%), finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c + 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 heaping tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 60%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 c shredded sweetened coconut
  • extra kosher salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with foil and grease lightly with extra olive oil. Set aside.

Whisk together cocoa powder with boiling water until smooth. Add 1 oz unsweetened/bittersweet chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in olive oil. Whisk in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add in sugar and whisk until completely incorporated. Switch to a spatula and fold in flour and salt until just mixed. Fold in coarsely chopped chocolate.

Pour half of the batter into the pan and smooth over. Sprinkle half the coconut over the batter. Then, in big spoonfuls, plop the rest of the batter over top the coconut and smooth over (it’s okay if it’s not perfect). Sprinkle with the remaining coconut and a good dose of sprinkling salt. Bake 25-30 minutes or until just set. Disregard the tester in this case because it won’t come out clean. Allow to cool completely on a rack.

This has been submitted to Sweets for a Saturday!

Coconut Half-Pound Cake

In all my “carpe diem”-ing, I took a small trip down to Philadelphia this past weekend to visit a friend from school who recently moved there. And, as per my usual, I decided the morning of to bake something. Anything, so long as it was good.

I took a quick survey of my kitchen and found leftover shredded coconut and not much else. After a quick Google search, this cake was it. And I’m so glad it was because it was a definite hit among my two girlfriend and myself as we polished off half of it that afternoon. Luckily, we have large enough stomachs that it didn’t spoil our dinner. I threw in a touch of almond extract at the last minute and was told that the addition made the cake. A tender crumb, moist coconut, and the delicious idea of sprinkling some vanilla sugar over top all made the perfect afternoon snack.

Unfortunately, in all the rush, I neglected to take pictures of the cake slices. Trust me that it was delicious. Also, had I taken pictures of the inside, you’d have seen little flecks of vanilla bean because the original recipe called for it. The end result, however, didn’t exactly showcase the vanilla so I omitted that in the recipe below. If you opt out of the almond extract you may find the vanilla bean flavor present but I love the almond and coconut combination.

Note: I call this a half-pound cake because the eggs and butter are only half a pound and not the classic pound. I also think it’s a cuter title this way.

Coconut Half-Pound Cake
adapted from the Naptime Chef

Makes 1 9×5″ loaf.

Ingredients

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • heaping 1 c sweetened shredded coconut, divided
  • vanilla sugar

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9×5″ loaf and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs approximately one egg at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed after each addition. Add extracts and combine. On low speed, slowly add in the flour until just incorporated. Fold in 3/4 c coconut with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, sprinkle remaining coconut and a good helping of vanilla sugar over loaf and continue baking another 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool completely. Eat, eat, eat!

S’mores Bars

I apologize for the lack of posting this week but I’ve been doing a lot of carpe diem lately. This past week I went to the NY Wine Expo (and became a hot mess), watched the Knicks v. Heat game on Sunday while eating wings (yum), shopped for snowgear (but didn’t buy anything), and ate out a grand total of five times. Also I saw the King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and Tangled. All of which were fabulous. (If you want my opinion, while I thought King’s Speech was good, I didn’t think it should have won Best Picture but that’s the Academy for you!)

And all this time I’ve been working.

So there hasn’t been much time for baking or blogging (my Reader is out of control at the moment). But there has been time for these bars because they took all of 10 minutes to throw together! They were delicious to boot. Who can resist the classic s’mores combination? I have to say the chocolate was a little bit too sweet for my taste though. Next time I may try bittersweet chocolate or even unsweetened (the condensed milk adds a lot of sugar). These were easy, quick, and perfect for any sort of gathering. (Except I ate all of them on my own but shhhhhhh don’t tell!)

This Week I Ate..

  • Smitten Kitchen’s Sour Cream Pancakes. These were wonderful! Tangy and fluffy, perfect for dousing in maple syrup with a side of strawberries. A solid breakfast is always best way to start my day.
  • Curry Creamed Chicken with Couscous Salad. I used to make this all the time when I first started living on my own but my need for variety and the staggering amount of good recipes I have yet to try have prevented me from making it the past few years. I revisited my old favorite and can only say that I usually double the cream sauce because it’s so delicious. This dish comes together in under 20 minutes and it’s great for a weeknight meal (and fairly healthy too besides the cream).
  • Annie’s Eats Chicken Ranch Pizza. There was a sale on fresh pizza dough at my local supermarket this week so I stocked up and made a bunch of pizza. This is one of my favorite pizzas ever! I’ve made it at least half a dozen times now and Boy can’t get enough.
  • Chicken BBQ pizza. With my extra pizza dough I just threw on about 1/4 c barbecue sauce (hickory smoked), 3/4 c shredded mozzarella, caramelized red onion, and cooked chicken, and called it a day. Simple but delicious just the same.

S’mores Bars
adapted from Williams Sonoma, seen on Annie’s Eats

Makes 16 or 1 8×8″ square pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c graham cracker crumbs (approximately 6-7 graham crackers)
  • 3/4 c sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/3 c semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c mini marshmallows
  • 2 whole graham crackers
  • extra butter to grease the pan

Instructions
Line an 8×8″ baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease with extra butter. (I found it easier to grease the foil first and then place in the pan.

Using a fork, mix melted butter with graham cracker crumbs until evenly moistened. Pour into the bottom of the pan and press into an even layer. (I used the bottom of a glass.)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the condensed milk and chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Quickly pour the mixture over the graham cracker base and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle marshmallows over the chocolate and gently press them in so they are anchored. Break up the whole graham crackers and insert between the marshmallows.

Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm. Cut into bars and serve cool.

When was the last time you carpe diem’d?