White Chocolate Cheesecake with Cranberry Topping

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone's having a great day today. It's been such a happy, being home again. There've been some great holidays out in CA, but it was really good to be with my family again. My aunt, uncle, cousin, and her husband came over last night. Today it was just me, Dave, and my parents, and it was nice. Quiet, relaxing, and very nice. My dad and I even got to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, which is my favorite Christmas movie. That squirrel flying out of the tree gets me every single time. :)

The other night, while watching the repeat Iron Chef episode of Battle Cranberry, I started contemplating cranberry cheesecake. Which led to white chocolate, figuring on the sweetness to compliment the tartness of the cranberry. I wound up combining a few different recipes, including a portion of this cheesecake and the cranberry topping from an Ocean Spray pavlova. The end result? Wow. Very smooth, subtle white chocolate taste, with that sharp tartness of the cranberry topping. I loved it. Dave felt it was a bit too sweet, but my dad said he would happily help out with the remainders.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

3 pkg. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 ounces white chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled

Preheat oven to 325F. (300F if using a darker colored pan.)

Combine crust ingredients, and press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, until combined. Stir in chocolate. Pour over crust.

Bake at 325F/300F for 45-50 minutes, or until center is nearly set. After some cooling, run a knife along the outer rim to loosen cake from pan. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Cranberry Topping:
1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
Zest of half a lime

Combine cranberry sauce and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Let boil for one minute before removing from heat. Add lime zest. Cover and refrigerate until cool. Spoon over cheesecake.

Penny (with her glowing eyes lol) and I wish you each a fabulous holiday season! :D


Cranberry Bliss Bars... almost

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season (food-wise, at least) is when Starbucks brings out the Cranberry Bliss Bars. I look forward to them every year, and have extolled their deliciousness to many a stranger. Probably about four years ago, I decided to try to make my own... they could have been named Cranberry Brick Bars. *shrug*

So Saturday morning rolls around, and I'm baking for me this time. No presents, no holiday desserts, just whatever I wanted. And since there was no need for 400+ cookies this year, I started searching for some cookie recipes. When I stumbled upon Good Eats 'N Sweet Treats and saw she replicated the recipe with non-brick results, it was as if the sun came bursting out behind the heavy clouds, blinding us all with its rays on the freshly fallen snow! (Is that a sentence, or what? LOL)

But that's not to say that I didn't have some concerns as the recipe was coming together. The batter didn't win me over and I found the frosting way too sweet. But put them together, and it was a match made in sweet cranberry heaven. The dried cranberries countered the sweetness of the frosting perfectly. And while it's not an EXACT match, it's the best I've done so far. :)

(Oh, I forget to mention this: I halved the recipe, just in case it didn't come out good. For the full 13x9-inch size, just double the amounts (not the eggs, though; those would be three for the full-size) or check out the original post) :D

½ cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 oz. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch baking pan.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt. Gradually add in flour. Stir in cranberries and white chocolate. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick insert near center comes out clean. Once completely cool, frost with cream cheese frosting.

2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1?½ cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. vanilla
1/8 cup dried cranberries

Combine the first four ingredients until smooth. Spread on top of bars. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top.


Holiday Madness

I think I'm done. We had one very hectic day yesterday, with shipping and shopping and spending more money than I really would've liked to, but it's done. Even the stocking stuffers. Whew.

Now Part Two of the baking. The local stuff. I only mailed out three baked goods this year... Amelia got the Andes Mint brownies, Henelyne got Nutella brownies (that girl loves chocolate like nothing else lol), and Johanna got these Gingerbread Bars (just minus the frosting.) UPS has promised me that they'll all get there by the 22nd or 23rd. It would be in poor taste to say how much those babies cost. ;)

With that being said, we're in the middle of a good-sized snowstorm. There's probably about 5 or 6 inches on the ground right now, plus another storm coming on Sunday. As I was making tonight's brownies (half to the folk that work at our local Starbucks, half to the house here), I realized I'm down to less than a cup of butter. Oh, this does not work. Come hell or high water snow, I really, really need to get some butter this weekend.

If all goes well, I'm doing some fun baking tomorrow morning. It doesn't have to given out, it's just because it'll be relaxing. Maybe. My time limit is getting smaller and smaller, and we still haven't watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation yet! ;)


Chocolate Mint Brownies

Thus the Christmas Baking has begun. :)

For the select few, I send out baked goods for Christmas, usually something that's specifically chosen for them. For Amelia, my "twin" in both looks and baked goods-taste, chocolate and mint was the first thing that came to mind. And I'm hoping that she won't check out the blog until after she gets this, because these are for her.

I saw these over at Baking Blonde and just fell in love. And what timing, I had just bought the Andes Mints the weekend prior. The only change made to the recipe is in using 8 ounces of just semi-sweet chocolate, since I didn't have any bittersweet. And oh my god, the batter alone is orgasmic. Seriously. Whoever first put chocolate and mint together totally deserves to be sainted.

6 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
¼ tsp. mint extract
¼ tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup Andes Mint chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease (or line with parchment) an 8-inch baking dish.

Melt together butter and chcolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until smooth. Allow to cool for 5 mintues.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add eggs and mint extract, mixing until combined and smooth. Add flour mixture and mix until combined. Gently fold in 3/4 cup Andes chips. Pour batter into prepared pan, and evenly sprinkle remaining Andes chips over the top.

Bake at 350F for 25-20 mintues, or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs.
Allow to cool before cutting and serving. Makes 16 brownies.


The Unphotographables: Blackberry Coffee Cake

It's such a long, crazy story as to how I wound up with this... item. Started at Baking Bites, for a blackberry pound cake. That got scratched when I saw that there was no buttermilk. Alright, so we move from there. Long evolution story short, I wound up piecing together a recipe or two. Which isn't always a bad thing, as we all know. :)

So I mix it together, gently fold in the blackberries, pour into the pan, etc. I'm cleaning up the mixer bowl when I realize there's a faint scent of... burning popcorn from behind me. What the duck? Well, despite using the the proper size pan and everything, we had leakage.

Leakage, of course, meaning a blob reminiscent of something out of '50s sci-fi movie. Entertaining, but not what you want all over the bottom of the oven. Especially when it smells like burnt popcorn. Which then wafts its way across the house, like it does, and wakes up your mother, who had surgery the day before. Doh!

Anyways, despite how it sounds, The Day the Blackberry Coffee Cake Oozed, doesn't taste bad. It just looks all kinds of hideous. Hence a new category in the blogdom... The Unphotographables. Not that I have the best picture taken skills in the world, but this guy, ooh. I think I'd need a studio with fancy lights to make him look good.

I'll post the recipe, but do keep the Blob in mind if you decide to make it. Maybe a different size pan would help, too. :)

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
1 pint blackberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients. Spread into prepared pan. Top with as many blackberries as you'd like.

Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for a bit before serving.