Archive for the ‘dessert’ Category

Red Velvet Cheesecake

February 14th, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought it would be perfect to make mini heart shaped red velvet cheesecakes for V-day and I’ve been dying to make them ever since I tried it for the first time at Magnolia’s Bakery in NYC. I had to make up my own recipe because I couldn’t really find any red velvet cheesecake recipes. I guess they aren’t that popular yet.

I was scared that this project would become a complete fail for several reasons: 1) I’ve only made one other cheesecake before and that time I had an actual recipe to follow 2) I couldn’t find instructions on baking times for mini cheesecakes, so I had to guesstimate and 3) did I mention that I’ve never done this before?!? Experimenting makes me feel really out of my comfort zone haha.

Anyway, after all my worrying and stressing and peeking into the oven every 5 minutes, the cheesecakes came out a beautiful shade of red and there were no cracks at all. Success! The final test was the taste test and it was…GREAT! It really reminded me of Magnolia’s version (maybe even better? haha) and I’m so excited that I don’t have to fly 3,000 miles to get some now. I topped it with some whipped cream and it complemented the cheesecake perfectly. Make sure to make these for your sweetheart because there’s nothing that says I love you more than a Red Velvet Cheesecake <3

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Red Velvet Cheesecake

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Mascarpone Chocolate Chip Muffins

February 4th, 2010

I can’t even begin to tell you how GOOD these muffins are. Hands down these are the best chocolate chip muffins. I had been searching  for the perfect recipe for a couple days and I am so glad I did not decide to give up and just pick any old recipe. These muffins are so soft and fluffy, just imagine clouds with pockets of melted chocolate and the mascarpone cheese gives it a suprisingly great subtle flavor.

Many thanks to justjennrecipes.com for posting the recipe! I’m not sure whether or not she created the recipe, but regardless it is definitely a favorite from now on.

Mascarpone Chocolate Chip Muffins
(adapted from justjennrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like a lot of chocolate chips)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Beat mascarpone cheese and butter together until fluffy. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Stir flour mixture into wet mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spoon batter into 12 prepared lined muffin cups.  Filling them until they are almost full. I filled mine up all the way and had no problems with overflowing. They made a nice full muffin top.
  4. Bake for about 20 min or until the top is golden brown.
Mascarpone Chocolate Chip Muffins

Mascarpone Chocolate Chip Muffins

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2009

Hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday filled with lots of dessert!

I went to a White Elephant Christmas Party this past weekend and whipped up two really simple and easy treats. Both of the recipes require no baking, are cream cheese based, and can be made ahead; so it saves you plenty of time during this busy season.

I wanted to make something unique and I found the perfect recipe for a Dessert Ball. Think of a cheese ball spread, but instead it’s sweet. This was so easy to whip up and once all the ingredients were combined I just popped it in the freezer until it was time to bring it to the party. The dessert ball was paired with graham cracker sticks to spread on. Everyone at the party was intrigued by the ball. This was definitely a crowd pleaser and perfect for people who like cheesecake tasting dessert.

The other dessert on the menu were Oreo truffles. I like to call these the “Wow Truffles” because every time someone bit into it, the first thing they would say is “WOW! These are so GOOD!”. It even converted my non-chocolate loving friends. You know a dessert is awesome when even people who hate chocolate start eating your chocolate dessert and rave about. The truffles were also a snap to make and had the shortest ingredient list.

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Dessert Ball with Graham Cracker Sticks

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Oreo Truffles aka Wow Truffles - So good even chocolate haters love them.

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Extraordinary Desserts

December 21st, 2009

Took a trip to San Diego the other weekend and my very first stop was Extraordinary Desserts and like the name says, it was far from ordinary! I heard about Extraordinary Desserts from friends before, but I never thought to visit it sooner and now I wish I had. When you walk through the door you just see a long display cases filled with beautifully decorated cakes and treats.  Fresh flowers were adorned on almost every dessert, which seems to be their signature style. I had to take multiple trips up and down the display just to wrap my mind around everything I was looking at and try to narrow down my choices.

I finally settled on the La Bete Noire cake (Traditional vanilla crème brûlée, chocolate truffle cream are layered in between dark chocolate cakes and moistened with Madagascar vanilla bean). It was absolutely decadent and the creme brulee layer was my favorite part, such a brilliant idea. Of course, I couldn’t leave without taking a few things to go: cherry chocolate chip cookie – not my favorite, Chocolate Chunk Shortbread- very chocolately and oh so yummy, Mini Lemon Meringue – perfect size for a small treat and a lovely lemon flavor, not too tart. I was dissapointed that they weren’t offering their famous Chocolate Crossiant Bread Pudding, but that’s ok because it just gives me another excuse to visit.

I made one more dessert stop on my trip and that was to Babycakes. It got decent reviews on Yelp, so I decided to check it out. They had a unique selection of cupcake flavors ranging from PB&J to Guava cucpakes. I decided on the Red Velvet and PB&J. The red velvet was a complete fail. I don’t know if maybe I got an old cupcake, but it was just super dense and flavorless. Sadly, I ate a part of it and just threw the rest away. Not worth the calories. The PB&J was much better and salvaged my trip to Babycakes. The peanut butter frosting was delicious and I loved the jam syrup drizzled on top. The cake was just a plain chocolate cake, nothing fancy, but at least it wasn’t as dense.

Overall, the trip was great and I’m happy that I found a new favorite dessert place, Extraordinary Desserts. Hopefully, they will decided to open a store in LA in the future!

Extraordinary Desserts Display Case

Extraordinary Desserts Display Case

View of their bar/restaurant area

View of their bar/restaurant area

La Bete Noire Cake

La Bete Noire Cake

Beaultiful orchids and gold flecks arranged on the cake

Beaultiful orchids and gold flecks arranged on the cake

My Goodie Box - The shortbread was huge! Defnitely worth it!

My Goodie Box - The shortbread was huge! Defnitely worth it!

Babycakes

Babycakes

Red Velvet and PB&J Cupcakes

Red Velvet and PB&J Cupcakes

Thankful for All Things Pumpkin

December 1st, 2009

I hope all of you had a wonderful and filling Thanksgiving! Believe it or not, I still feel full from everything I ate over the last few days.

I’m a bit sad that the November is over because there were so many Thanksgiving themed desserts I wanted to try out, but they never made it to reality. I’m not sure how the month flew by so quickly, but I ended up making only a couple things from of my long baking list. I have so many different dessert recipes lined up just for Thanksgiving/Fall, but I guess they will have to wait until next year. The two recipes that actually made it to the oven, were Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins and Pumpkin Pie.

The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins were an idea I got from the Starbuck’s version, but I did it semi-homemade style and used a box of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread Mix. It still turned out really well and having a cream cheese center is always a nice twist.

Pumpkin pie was definitely a must bake on my list. At first, I couldn’t figure out which kind of pumpkin pie I wanted to make. I found so many versions of pumpkin pie and they all sounded so good. I decided to make traditional pumpkin pie since I had never made it before. The directions on the recipe made it seem fairly easy, but I messed up just a tad. The filling said it was good enough for one pie but I came out with enough for 2 pies. So, I made the mistake of overfilling the pie thinking it would fit…bad idea. I filled it up so much that I had a difficult time putting it in the oven without trying to spill too much. Another reason overfilling your pie is a huge mistake is that I didn’t take into account that it would rise just like any other baked good, so as it was baking it overflowed a little. But, thankfully it didn’t affect the overall taste; it just didn’t look as pretty as I would’ve liked.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix and a Log of Cream Cheese

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix and a Log of Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese Centers

Cream Cheese Centers

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Cream Cheese Goodness

Cream Cheese Goodness

Ready Made Crust

Ready Made Crust

My Overfilled Pumpkin Pie

My Overfilled Pumpkin Pie

Making Decorative Leaves

Making Decorative Leaves

Acorn & Oak Leaf Cut-outs

Acorns & Oak Leaves

My Very First Pumpkin Pie and Definitely Not the Last!

My Very First Pumpkin Pie and Definitely Not the Last!

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Happy Belated Halloween!

November 7th, 2009

I’m going to have to blame my lateness on my current situation: my over a week long illness that’s taking its precious time and does not seem to want me to get better yet. It made my Halloween preparations and plans very difficult, but I still managed somehow, even though I did have to give up a few things I wanted to get done. It was especially frustrating last week because I had started getting sick last Monday and miraculously the next morning I was all better, but the sneaky little bugger came back with a vengeance the next day and since then I have been battling it for almost 2 weeks now.

Anyway, on to what I was able to accomplish during my sick week. I was able to sew part of my Halloween costume. I was little red riding hood and I decided to sew my own cape. It came out pretty well, I’m just thankful I didn’t mess it up (it was my first time sewing anything). I baked two items out of the three items I had planned for Halloween, and I also managed to give out Halloween candy.

This year I decided to try out some new recipes. I baked Buttermilk Spice Muffins (the exact recipe from Mimi’s Cafe, I couldn’t believe they just posted it on their website) and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. The Buttermilk Spice Muffins were good, although next time I might double the spices. Unfortunately, I personally can’t tell you how good the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins were. By the time I made these, I couldn’t really taste anything anymore, but my friends seemed to like them so there’s a good sign! I’ll have to try baking them again when I’m not sick.

Buttermilk Spiced Muffins

Buttermilk Spice Muffins

Halloween Mini Muffin Liners

Mini Halloween Liners

My Little Red Riding Hood Basket Filled with Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

My Little Red Riding Hood Basket Filled with Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Cupcake Tasting

October 3rd, 2009

I haven’t really taken advantage of the free Sprinkle cupcake giveaways until recently, and I figured that it’d be a great way to get me to drive the long 10 min drive to my local Sprinkles store (yes, I am lazy, which in this case is a very good thing or else I’d be at Sprinkles everyday). So, I made sure to coincide my trips during their special featured flavor events which are scattered throughout the months. First trip I made was to try their Raspberry cupcake back in August and then I went one more time the other week to try the Vanilla Hazelnut Chocolate cupcake. Featured Flavor + Free Cupcake = Very good deal indeed.

The Raspberry Cupcake was surprisingly good. Both the cake and frosting were raspberry flavored. I wasn’t sure how they were going to pull off the raspberry flavor without making it taste artificial, but after one bite, I felt like they must have used hundreds of raspberries and packed it into one little cupcake. The frosting was the best part: not too sweet, nice tartness, and a bold raspberry flavor. The cake was not too shabby. It was moist, had less of the raspberry flavoring, but the only thing that threw me off was the coloring. The cake was gray. Weird, but tasty. At this point, I wouldn’t mind if they put some food coloring…maybe a nice bright pink/magenta? I don’t care, just as long as my food is not gray or anything resembling cement.

Now, onto the Vanilla Hazelnut Chocolate Cupcake. This was Sprinkle’s take on a vanilla cupcake with a Nutella flavored frosting. This cupcake was good, but defnitely not the best and I think I would have much rather have a vanilla cupcake with Nutella smothered on top. I don’t think anyone can come close to getting that Nutella flavor unless you actually use the hazelnut spread. The frosting had the hazelnut taste, but I really felt like the flavor was diluted. More Nutella please! Actually, forget the cupcake, I could just eat Nutella by itself with a spoon.

Sprinkle's Raspberry Cupcake

Sprinkle's Raspberry Cupcake

See? It's gray...

See? It's gray...

Sprinkle's Vanilla Hazelnute Chocolate Cupcake - Cupcake was a little damaged during handling, sorry.

Sprinkle's Vanilla Hazelnut Chocolate Cupcake - Cupcake was a little damaged during handling, sorry.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

September 28th, 2009

I’m happy to report that I think I’ve perfected my oatmeal chocolate chip recipe.  This recipe is a modified version of one that I was using previously and it makes great chewy soft cookies with a little bit of added texture from the oatmeal. The key to this recipe is that I use toasted quick cook oats which you can find at Trader Joe’s. These oats are already toasted and really give a great texture in the cookies. When I was at the store buying my ingredients, I just happened to pick the toasted oats instead of the regular oats and it turned out to be a winner. My friends say that they like the texture in my cookies better than other ones and the only thing that I can attribute it to is that the oats are toasted. I guess the toasted oats prevent them from getting moist in the cookie so they stay nice and crisp. These cookies make great gifts too. I made a batch of cookies, placed them in a nice tin with some tissue paper, tied it with a ribbon and voilà! Perfect gift for any cookie lover/monster.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Recipe
by iheartdessert

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup margarine or salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups toasted quick cooking oats
  • 12oz. bag of semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream  margarine/butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking soda, and salt; until well blended. Mix in the toasted quick oats and chocolate chips. Drop small heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown in the preheated oven . Cool cookies on wire rack.

Makes about 40-50 small two-bite cookies (which is how I like to make them), but feel free to make them as big as you want.

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Vanilla Bean & Bananas Foster Creme Brulee

August 16th, 2009

As promised, here are the recipes for the Vanilla Bean and Bananas Foster Creme Brulee I made from my previous post. I adapted both versions of creme brulee from one of Barefoot Contessa’s recipes. They both essentially have the same creme brulee base, but I spiced things up a little and tried to get a little bit more creative. After all this was a dessert challenge I was competing in.

Since this was my first time making creme brulee, I decided to buy a creme brulee torch set from Bed Bath & Beyond. For $19.99, you get a set of 4 ramekins and a creme brulee torch (warning: the torch does not come with butane, so you have to buy that separately at another store like your local grocery or hardware store). I really liked the set of ramekins the kit came with; they are not too deep and are the perfect size  for individual servings.

As far as the whole baking process, it was fairly easy and not time consuming at all. All I had to do was mix the ingredients and pop it in the oven. The only thing that took a little bit of time was cooling the creme brulee for a couple hours in the fridge. The best part was of course the torching. I made sure to put plenty of sugar(I like having a thick layer caramelized sugar on top) and torched away. Another thing to note is that if you do end up buying the creme brulee kit, the mini torch takes a bit longer to caramelize the sugar. So, don’t fret, the torch will do its job, but just don’t expect to have the creme brulee caramelized in 5 seconds so plan accordingly.

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
(adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

2) In the bowl, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together until combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in
a saucepan until it’s very hot to the touch but not boiled.You should see tiny bubbles coming up on the sides of the
pan which will mean its ready.

3)  Very slowly stir in the cream into the egg mixture. Add the vanilla beans and pour into ramekins until almost full.

4) Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour boiling water into the dish until it comes about halfway up the sides of
the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from
the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

5) To serve, spread 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until
the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Bananas Foster Creme Brulee
(adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoons for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 medium sized bananas
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon for each serving
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar for each serving

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

2) In the bowl, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together until combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in
a saucepan until it’s very hot to the touch but not boiled.You should see tiny bubbles coming up on the sides of the
pan which will mean its ready.

3)  Very slowly stir in the cream into the egg mixture. Add the vanilla extract and pour into ramekins until almost full.

4) Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour boiling water into the dish until it comes about halfway up the sides of
the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from
the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

5) Slice bananas thinly and cover the ramekins in a scalloped fashion. Make sure to overlap each row as you go, so it
covers the creme brulee well. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the bananas.

6) To serve, spread 1 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and
heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until
the caramelized sugar hardens.

Note: The bananas fosters creme brulee will caramelize faster and may burn easily due to the brown sugar, so be careful!

Vanilla Beans Pod Split, Scraped, and Mixed into Mixture

Vanilla Beans Pod Split, Scraped, and Mixed into Mixture

Regular creme brulee with no vanilla beans

Regular creme brulee with no vanilla beans

Creme brulee ready for the water bath

Creme brulee ready for the water bath

Banana slices scalloped on top

Banana slices scalloped on top

Finished product!

Finished product!

Dessert Challenge

August 11th, 2009

The other week, my friends and I did our second Top Chef/Throwdown style challenge. This time we did a dessert challenge and the goal was to create any dessert of our choice. My team made a duo of creme brulee: vanilla bean creme brulee and bananas foster cream brulee. The other team was really creative with their dessert. They made a sushi dessert dish, and everything looked exactly like sushi! I was so amazed!

The dessert challenge was a lot less stressful than our previous challenge. It was much easier to concentrate making one dish. This time we decided to give ourselves the whole day to create our dish and just make sure that everything was done by 9pm.

My team’s creme brulee turned out well, which is pretty exciting especially for my first time trying to make it. Out of the two that we made, I think that the bananas foster one was my favorite. You can never go wrong with a combination of banana, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Delish.  The dessert sushi also tasted great and it was really fun to eat! I definitely want to try to make it one day.

So, it looks like these cook-offs are going to be an ongoing event. The next one we have planned is a breakfast challenge and I’m pretty excited because I already have an idea of what I want to make.  So, stay tuned for the next challenge and  I will post the creme brulee recipes soon!

Duo of Creme Brulee: Vanilla Bean & Bananas Foster

Duo of Creme Brulee: Vanilla Bean & Bananas Foster

Dessert Sushi: Made with chocolate crepes, sweet sticky rice & fruit. Wasabi (green tea ice cream), Ginger (mango slices), Soy sauce (chocoalte syrup)

Dessert Sushi: Made with chocolate crepes, sweet sticky rice & fruit. Wasabi (green tea ice cream), Ginger (mango slices), Soy sauce (chocoalte syrup)