New York Cheesecake

recipe courtesy of Joy of Baking.com

Check out their video here.

Ahh Cheesecake…rich, dense, and elegant.  You can serve cheesecake at your fanciest dinner party, or you can serve it on a random Tuesday night and it will elevate even the most humble meal.

I did some research for this post ( EzineArticles.com) and I discovered that the origin of cheesecake is Greek.  A form of cheesecake was first served to the athletes in the Olympics, to be eaten as an energy source.  The Greek people afterwards started making the little cakes and it became a custom for the bride-to-be to make and serve them to the friends of the groom.  That custom turned into brides and grooms serving wedding cake to their guests.

The cheesecakes that we know and love today, originate from immigrant New York City neighborhoods.  There are two styles; Italian, which uses ricotta cheese in the recipe and sometimes even candied fruits, and Jewish  or New York style, which is the cream cheese version.

This recipe comes from Joy of Baking.com.  I have lots and lots of cheesecake recipes, but I chose this one because their website has a video that accompanies the recipe.  I watched the video, and I thought it might be helpful to anyone out there who has never made a cheesecake, or hasn’t made one in a while. With Easter coming up, it is time to dig out the cheesecake recipes and start planning a menu. Hopefully one of these will fill the need for your holiday cheesecake. Enjoy!

Cheesecake Berry Baskets

Cheesecake Bars

Mini Easter Cheesecakes

Crust Ingredients

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling Ingredients

32 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (use full fat, not reduced or fat free)

1 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 Tablespoon lemon zest (I used the zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients

1 cup sour cream

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. You will need a 9 inch springform pan for this recipe.  Spray the pan with Pam, and place it on a baking sheet.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Place the rack in the center of the oven.

2. To make the crust- Place the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a medium-sized bowl and combine using a rubber spatula.  Pour crumbs into prepared springform pan.  Press an even layer of crumbs on the bottom of the pan and about one inch up the sides.  You can use a spoon, or your hands, I used my hands.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until you have the filling made.

3. To make the filling-Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar and flour.  Mix on a low-medium speed until smooth.  You do not want to beat this hard or fast because it adds too many air bubbles.  Just take your time and mix until the lumps are gone.  You will have to stop several times and scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl just to make sure that the mixture is smooth.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on a low-medium speed until each egg is incorporated into the batter.  Stop and scrape the bowl several times as you do this.  Add the whipping cream, lemon zest and vanilla.  Again, mix on a low-medium speed.  After everything is mixed, scrape the bowl sides and bottom and make sure you’ve got all the lumps out.  Take the pan out of the fridge and place it back on the baking sheet.  Pour the filling into the pan, and place the pan in the preheated oven.

5. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 °F., then lower the oven temperature to 250 °F.   Continue to bake for about 60-90 minutes, or until firm and only the center of the cheesecake looks a little wet and wobbly or giggly ( I checked my cheesecake at 60 minutes and it was not ready, so I added 5 minutes.  I checked it again and added 5 more minutes, and then it was done…so mine took 70 minutes).  Remove the cheesecake from the oven and place on a wire rack, leave the oven on.

6. To make the topping- Mix the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla together in a small bowl.  Spread the topping gently over the hot cheesecake, then place the cheesecake back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the cheesecake from the oven and using a sharp knife on the inside edge of the pan, loosen the cheesecake from the edge of the pan.  Doing this helps to prevent the cheesecake from cracking.  Do not remove the sides of the pan.

7. Let the cheesecake cool completely, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours (overnight is best).  When you are ready to serve, remove the sides of the pan, slice the cheesecake and garnish with fruit or sauce.

Boston Brown Bread & Berries

Ingredients

1- 16 oz. can B&M Brown Bread

1-8oz. package cream cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons milk, or heavy cream

8 nice strawberries

Directions

1. Remove the bread from the can and slice it into 8 evenly cut pieces.

2. Place the cream cheese, sugar, and milk in a bowl.  Beat the mixture until it is smooth, adding more milk  if  necessary.  Spread cream cheese mixture on each slice of brown bread.

3. Slice each strawberry about 4 to 5 times, leaving the berry connected at the top and leaving the green top intact.  Fan out the strawberry and place it gently on top of the cream cheese layer.

Cheesecake Bars

Cheesecake-Bars-baked

recipe adapted from Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars by King Arthur Flour

Unlike some cheesecake recipes, which require special pans or a water bath, this one is quick and easy to put together and uses an 8×8 inch pan.  After it is baked, cooled and refrigerated, you can serve this cheesecake as is, or top it with pie filling, chocolate, whipped cream, sundae sauce, etc.  The fresh lemon zest and juice is optional, but I suggest you use it because the taste is heavenly.  You will need to make this early in the day (or the night before) if you are planning to serve it for dessert, as it needs several hours to chill.  It is a nice size for a family or a small dinner party.  Enjoy!

Crust Ingredients

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

4 Tablespoons powdered sugar

5-6 Tablespoons melted butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (my favorite is the King Arthur brand)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Stir together the crumbs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and melted butter.

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3. Press into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of  an 8×8 inch pan.  If the pan is metal; freeze the crust for 15 minutes.

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4. Bake the crust for about 8-10 minutes, just until set.

5. Remove from the oven and cool, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

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Batter Ingredients

2-8oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (optional)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

Directions

1. Blend the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Mix until well combined.

Cheesecake-Bars-cheese-eggs-and-lemon

2. Scrape the batter into the cooled crust.  Bake the bars for 30-40 minutes (mine took about 38 minutes), until the filling is set but still jiggles a little in the center.

3. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

4. Slice and garnish with whipped cream, chocolate, caramel, cherries, etc.

Cheesecake-Bars-baked

7 Layer Dip

7-Layer-Dip-dip

Recipe courtesy of Joyce Levesque

This recipe comes from my Mother-in-law, Joyce, and is one of our family’s favorite appetizers, it makes an appearance at all of our sports celebrations and most BBQ’s.  This dip could not be simpler to make, but you do need to start it several hours in advance.  I always make it the night before the event, so that the cream cheese-sour cream-salsa layer has time to firm up before I add the chopped accoutrements.

It is a colorful and tasty addition to the buffet table.  Recently I’ve even gone low-cal and low-fat with some of the ingredients, without affecting the flavor at all.  College football kicks off this weekend, and our Buckeyes will be defending their title this year…Go Bucs! and Enjoy!

Ingredients

15 oz. can refried beans

6 oz. container unflavored, fat-free Greek yogurt (this replaces the sour cream)

8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

salsa (an amount that will make a loose mixture, I use about 18 oz.)

Co-jack cheese, grated (can use fat-free or low-fat)

1/2 large tomato, chopped, and seeded

3 green onions, chopped

1/2- 16 oz. can black olives, drained and sliced into thirds (or substitute 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained).

Directions

1. Choose a somewhat shallow serving dish, a deep-dish pie plate works well for this dip.  Spread refried beans in bottom of serving dish.

7-Layer-Dip-refried-beans

2. Place softened cream cheese and Greek yogurt in a large bowl.  Using a wire whisk, mix cream cheese and yogurt with salsa.  The amount of salsa will depend upon your preference for spice, but keep in mind that the mixture should be quite loose.  It will firm up as it chills in the refrigerator.

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3. Pour the mixture over the refried beans, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

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4. Remove dish from refrigerator.  Sprinkle grated cheese over entire surface of salsa layer.  Sprinkle chopped tomato, chopped green onion, and sliced olives over cheese layer.  Place in refrigerator, uncovered, until ready to serve.   Tortilla chips, especially Tostitos Scoops are great with this dip.

7-Layer-Dip-dip

Tangy Citrus Sandwich Cookies

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-stack-of-greenies

Recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour

This recipe uses granulated white sugar to roll the cookies in, but I used green sugar for mine.  The great thing is that you can use any color you want and make them to fit any occasion.  These cookies were flavored with lime juice powder and lime oil.  Both of these ingredients have concentrated flavors and can be used in place of lime zest.  I purchased them from King Arthur Flour, along with orange oil, lemon oil and lemon juice powder.  They are all great for pumping a little extra flavor into your cooking and baking.  The oils are especially great in Spanish or Mediterrean foods if don’t happen to have a fresh lime or lemon, and both the powder and the oils are delicious when used in frostings, glazes, and baked goods.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

—DOUGH—
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon orange, lemon, or lime juice powder, or 2 Tablespoons zest
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

—COATING—
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used green decor sugar)
1/8 teaspoon orange, lemon, or lime oil

—FILLING—
3 ounce package cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups glazing sugar (or confectioner’s sugar)
1 Tablespoon orange, lemon, or lime juice powder (or zest)

Directions

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-cream-butter-and-sugar

1. Make the Cookies– Preheat oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease 2 baking sheets, or line with parchment paper, or use a Silpat.  Beat together the butter and sugar.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-add-egg

2. Beat in the egg, zest, or powder of your choice.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-add-flour

3. Scrape the bowl and mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-green-sugar

4. Make the Coating– Shake the sugar and citrus oil in a container with a lid until the oil is evenly distributed.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-dough-rolled-in-sugar

5. Scoop the dough by the teaspoonful and roll in the coating.  Place the cookies on the baking sheets, and press flat.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-baked-cookies

6. Bake the cookies for about 7 to 8 minutes, until their edges turn light brown.  Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-stack-of-greenies

7. Make the Filling– Beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Beat in the juice powder or zest.  If filling is too thick, add 1 to 2 teaspoons citrus juice or milk.  Spread about 1 Tablespoon of filling on the bottom of one cookie, and top with another cookie (bottom down).

Velvet Pound Cake

IMG_0524

Recipe courtesy of kingarthurflour.com

Fiori di Sicilia (flowers of Sicily) is a flavoring that has a light citrus/vanilla taste and aroma.  The flavoring is best used with plain or mild baked goods (like this pound cake) and elevates the baked item’s flavor from nice to Nice! Mark came home from work and was very pleasantly hit with the wonderful smell. This cake truly does have a velvety texture, and it is quite a dense cake.  The directions say that the batter is stiff,  I used an electric hand mixer and it was a real workout.  Next time I make this I will definitely use the stand mixer.  The outside is very dark brown, and the inside is a creamy yellow.  This cake was the perfect partner for the season’s first strawberries…add a little whipped cream and you’ll forget all about dinner.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

14 Tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter, slightly softened

3 oz. package cream cheese, slightly softened

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract*

1 teaspoon almond extract*

5 eggs

* You can substitute 1 Tablespoon lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil or 1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia flavoring, for the vanilla and almond extracts.

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Directions

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1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.

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2. Add the salt, sugar, flour and baking powder, mix to combine.  The batter will be stiff.

3. Add your flavoring of choice and 1 egg, beat well.  Continue to add in the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition.  The batter will become fluffy as you add in the eggs.

4. Spoon the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan.  Bake in a preheated 350°F. oven for 55-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

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5. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  After 5 minutes, remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool on the rack.

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Chocolate-Chip-Cake-cake-slices

Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking

Pillsbury Publications, ©The Pillsbury Company 1993

Published by Viking and The Penguin Group, New York, N.Y.

 

The glue in the binding of this book gave way years ago, and everything is held together with staples and a big rubber band, but it is still one of my favorite cookbooks, full of great bread and cookie recipes.  For this cake to turn out the way you want it to; grease your Bundt pan well, or the cake will stick (I use Baker’s Joy), and to achieve a fluffy batter, the butter and cream cheese must be very soft (not liquid).

For the glaze, the recipe suggests that you melt canned, ready-to-spread frosting.  It would also be easy and convenient to use the ice cream topping sold in the squirt bottle.  If you’re not really a chocolate lover, the recipe can be modified and flavored so many ways.  Just substitute whichever flavor extract you wish for the vanilla, and add a little of that same extract to a plain white glaze for the top of the cake.  If you are making a citrus flavor, you can also add the juice of the fruit to the glaze, and the zest of the fruit to the cake and the glaze.  Enjoy!

 

 Cake Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Glaze Ingredients

1/3 cup ready-to spread chocolate frosting, melted

 

Directions 

Chocolate-Chip-Cake-grease-the-pan

1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan really well (including the creases) so that the cake does not stick.

 

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2. In a large bowl, beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

 

Chocolate-Chip-Cake-dry-ingredients

3. Combine remaining dry ingredients in a small bowl and whisk them together.

 

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4. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, mix well.

 

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5. Stir in milk and chocolate chips, mixture will be very thick.  Spread in greased pan (I used the back of a spoon to spread the batter).

 

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6. Bake for 30-40 minutes (I baked mine for 35 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes.

 

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7. Invert cake onto a serving plate and allow to cool.

 

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8. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the frosting.  Drizzle melted frosting over the cooled cake.