Adventures In Baking

(in a perpetually messy kitchen)

Posts tagged cheesecake

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Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cinnamon-Chai Buttercream Frosting

Finally, I remembered the sugar.

The last time I tried to make this cake, it took until it had been sitting in the fridge for a few hours for me to realize, mid-bloggery, that I had forgotten to put in the sugar. This time, I remembered. As Juliet would say, “wa-lah!” (It’s her version of “voila.”)

When it comes to a full-on decadent dessert maker, you can’t really go wrong with Paula Deen. I did actually lighten things up just a tiny little bit, but mostly I was just focused on making this a worthy dessert for tonight’s Thanksgiving table at Dad & Michael’s. To that end, I started with a graham cracker crust.

I mixed together graham cracker crumbs, light brown sugar, and cinnamon (more than suggested, as always).

graham cracker crumbs

Juliet popped by at this point to see if she could help.

Juliet

I was letting her stay up a little extra late, and she was very happy about it.

Next I added the melted butter to the graham cracker mix.

adding melted butter

Once that was mixed, I pressed it into the bottom of a springform pan.

crust in pan

Then I set that aside to focus on the cheesecake itself.

Three 8-oz packages went into the bowl of my stand mixer. One of them was light cream cheese, just to ease things up a bit. The instruction was to beat until smooth, which was perplexing given that cream cheese is already pretty smooth, but I did my best.

cream cheese, beaten until smooth

I added the pumpkin and the (light) sour cream.

pumpkin and sour cream

And then, the once-but-not-this-time-forgotten sugar.

sugar

Nathaniel is my new expert nutmeg grater. He loves doing it and has been waiting for me to bake something with nutmeg again so he could show off his mad skillz.

Nathaniel grating nutmeg

Nathaniel

I added the nutmeg, plus some cinnamon (a full heaping teaspoon), cloves, and just shy of half a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, which wasn’t called for in the recipe but seemed like a good idea. Then the kids took turns cracking the eggs and we added those too: three eggs, plus one extra yolk. The mixer whirred.

added eggs

The last ingredients to go in were two tablespoons of all purpose flour, and a teaspoon of vanilla.

flour and vanilla

Once everything was mixed well, I poured it into the pan, over the crust, and wrapped the bottom in tin foil so I could bake it in a water bath, to avoid cracks.

pan with foil

In it went, for an hour. I must have looked at ten different sites describing how to tell when a cheesecake is done, and it still made me nervous trying to guess. I read the descriptions to Dave and we mutually agreed that it was ready.

cake in water bath, done

It looked pretty good!

cheesecake, baked

Enjoy the perfection; it didn’t last. When I stretched out the plastic wrap to cover it, some of it grazed the top of the cake, and now it has these weird marks on it. It was too late to smooth it over, I was worried about making things worse, so I just let it be, and put it in the fridge over night. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, we actually have enough room in the fridge for a cheesecake. (Mixed blessing.)

It chilled overnight, and now it’s Thanksgiving day, so this morning, Juliet stopped by in her special Thanksgiving costume.

Juliet on Thanksgiving

And then I went to work on the frosting. I took the recipe from the Vanilla Chai Cupcakes I made for Nathaniel’s in-class birthday, but halved it since I knew I wasn’t going to need to cover a lot of surface area.

I started by beating the butter until smooth, then added in some vanilla and half of the leftover chai spices from the cupcakes.

butter, spices, vanilla

Then I slowly added the powdered sugar, plus a tablespoon of milk, and kept the mixer going until the frosting took shape.

frosting wide

frosting close-up

And then I used my new decorator to go around the edges of the cake. I’m not very good at this yet, but I did my best. (I ran out of frosting with one little “bloop” to go, so I reloaded and added it in last. Tension!

cake with frosting

cake side view

The frosting tastes great, and after we eat the cheesecake tonight, I’ll come back and post the results. Fingers crossed.

Update: The cheesecake was a hit, and the frosting turned out to be the perfect complement. It added a sweet lightness to contrast the natural heaviness of the pumpkin, and all the spices went together beautifully. There was less than half of it left tonight and Rosie happily agreed to the idea of leaving her the leftovers. Here it is at the Thanksgiving table. (I snapped this with my iPhone.)

Thanksgiving table

PAULA DEEN’S PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE RECIPE

CINNAMON-CHAI BUTTERCREAM FROSTING RECIPE

Filed under pumpkin cheesecake cinnamon-chai frosting graham cracker crust thanksgiving paula deen cheesecake dessert decadent

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The Pumpkin Cheesecake Debacle
Well, it finally happened. The dizziness got the best of me.
Back in June, on my sister Rosie’s birthday, I promised her a pumpkin cheesecake, but she was away all summer and we couldn’t work out the details of making it and getting it to her.  She’s back in Manhattan for a few days before heading back to Oberlin, so we finally figured out the logistics and last night I got to work.
Since it’s a birthday present, it needed to be special and particularly indulgent. In search of a recipe, I went right to Paula Deen circa 2007, back when she was still all about the butter.
It started with the crust: graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

See that tiny hand in the bottom right corner? That’s Juliet’s. She helped.
This is Juliet, helping me with the melted butter. A whole stick of it.


I felt like I needed more butter to keep it all held together, but I figured that if Paula Deen said it was enough butter, it had to be enough. She’s not exactly known for holding back on the butter, especially back in 2007. 
Juliet and I poured the mixture into a springform pan.

I used the bottom of a measuring cup to push the crumbs into place. Then Juliet went off to watch Thomas the Tank Engine, and I worked on the filling.
The recipe said to beat the cream cheese until smooth, which was a very strange instruction. Cream cheese is already smooth! I beat it anyway.

I added in 3 eggs, one yolk, pumpkin, and sour cream. This is where things went completely wrong, although I didn’t know it yet. I added the spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. For good measure, I threw in some pumpkin pie spice too.Things got very messy, but I thought I still had them under control. (I was wrong.)

I got the mixer going, and things started to look better. (Looks can be deceiving.)

Then I added the flour (only a few tablespoons, and vanilla.

Once that was properly mixed, I retrieved the pan with the crust in it.

I poured the mixture in. I thought it smelled good. It probably did.

For some reason, I didn’t taste the batter. I wish I had. I usually do.
I put it in the oven and let it bake for an hour. I took it out, let it cool for 15 minutes, then covered it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. I was done! I texted Rosie to tell her.
Then I sat down to continue my Downton Abbey marathon. And started blogging. It was slow going, as the show is pretty engaging. I usually keep the page with the recipe open as a reference, and after I typed this part,

I added in 3 eggs, one yolk, pumpkin, and sour cream.

I noticed something. Something terrible. The recipe said,

Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices.

I read it again.

Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices.

Notice anything? Probably not. But I did.
Sugar.
Sugar?
I don’t remember adding any sugar. I remember putting brown sugar in the crust, but white sugar? In the bowl? With the pumpkin?
Nope.
Dammit.
I texted Rosie in shame. I told Dave what happened. I grieved for the poor cheesecake and all its wasted ingredients, and its lost potential. I watched more Downton Abbey, which, thematically, included the “salty pudding” episode.  I ate some peanut butter in secret shame.
I’m so embarrassed.
Poor Rosie. She was gracious and lovely about it, of course, because she’s a wonderful person. She’s so wonderful she deserves a f-ing cheesecake! Sadly, she’s not getting one this time. I promised her one the next time she comes back from school for a visit.
I should probably give her two.
Should YOU wish to make a pumpkin cheesecake, don’t follow my instructions, but do head straight to Paula Deen.
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE RECIPE
And I will try not to take on more complex baking tasks until my doctor gets back to me about the dizziness.
Dammit.

The Pumpkin Cheesecake Debacle

Well, it finally happened. The dizziness got the best of me.

Back in June, on my sister Rosie’s birthday, I promised her a pumpkin cheesecake, but she was away all summer and we couldn’t work out the details of making it and getting it to her.  She’s back in Manhattan for a few days before heading back to Oberlin, so we finally figured out the logistics and last night I got to work.

Since it’s a birthday present, it needed to be special and particularly indulgent. In search of a recipe, I went right to Paula Deen circa 2007, back when she was still all about the butter.

It started with the crust: graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon

See that tiny hand in the bottom right corner? That’s Juliet’s. She helped.

This is Juliet, helping me with the melted butter. A whole stick of it.

Juliet's hand

pouring butter

I felt like I needed more butter to keep it all held together, but I figured that if Paula Deen said it was enough butter, it had to be enough. She’s not exactly known for holding back on the butter, especially back in 2007.

Juliet and I poured the mixture into a springform pan.

pouring crust into pan

I used the bottom of a measuring cup to push the crumbs into place. Then Juliet went off to watch Thomas the Tank Engine, and I worked on the filling.

The recipe said to beat the cream cheese until smooth, which was a very strange instruction. Cream cheese is already smooth! I beat it anyway.

smooth cream cheese

I added in 3 eggs, one yolk, pumpkin, and sour cream. This is where things went completely wrong, although I didn’t know it yet. I added the spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. For good measure, I threw in some pumpkin pie spice too.Things got very messy, but I thought I still had them under control. (I was wrong.)

pumpkin and cream cheese

I got the mixer going, and things started to look better. (Looks can be deceiving.)

all mixed

Then I added the flour (only a few tablespoons, and vanilla.

flour and vanilla

Once that was properly mixed, I retrieved the pan with the crust in it.

crust

I poured the mixture in. I thought it smelled good. It probably did.

poured into crust

For some reason, I didn’t taste the batter. I wish I had. I usually do.

I put it in the oven and let it bake for an hour. I took it out, let it cool for 15 minutes, then covered it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. I was done! I texted Rosie to tell her.

Then I sat down to continue my Downton Abbey marathon. And started blogging. It was slow going, as the show is pretty engaging. I usually keep the page with the recipe open as a reference, and after I typed this part,

I added in 3 eggs, one yolk, pumpkin, and sour cream.

I noticed something. Something terrible. The recipe said,

Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices.

I read it again.

Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices.

Notice anything? Probably not. But I did.

Sugar.

Sugar?

I don’t remember adding any sugar. I remember putting brown sugar in the crust, but white sugar? In the bowl? With the pumpkin?

Nope.

Dammit.

I texted Rosie in shame. I told Dave what happened. I grieved for the poor cheesecake and all its wasted ingredients, and its lost potential. I watched more Downton Abbey, which, thematically, included the “salty pudding” episode.  I ate some peanut butter in secret shame.

I’m so embarrassed.

Poor Rosie. She was gracious and lovely about it, of course, because she’s a wonderful person. She’s so wonderful she deserves a f-ing cheesecake! Sadly, she’s not getting one this time. I promised her one the next time she comes back from school for a visit.

I should probably give her two.

Should YOU wish to make a pumpkin cheesecake, don’t follow my instructions, but do head straight to Paula Deen.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE RECIPE

And I will try not to take on more complex baking tasks until my doctor gets back to me about the dizziness.

Dammit.

Filed under pumpkin cheesecake cheesecake debacle paula deen rosie butter mistakes misadventure dessert

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Cheesecake Brownie Bites
Antonia is a co-worker who likes my baking so much that it inspires me to try making new things, and she needed something decadent. I love a good baking assignment, so I narrowed it down to three choices, and let Nathaniel cast the deciding vote. It took him about three seconds.
This was one of those times when I didn’t look for ways to lighten up the recipe. I used all purpose flour, lots of butter, 4 eggs, and more than 2 cups of sugar. I also got to use espresso powder, which always makes feel good, since it was a birthday present.
First things first: two sticks of butter. Pot. Stove.

While that was melting, I got the eggs out. Nathaniel was there for the cracking of the first egg.

(He’s not naked, by the way. Pants are on.)
He didn’t even crack the egg all the way before he got egg-shy, being fresh from the shower and wanting to avoid having to wash up again, so he handed it off to me and I cracked that one plus three more.

To the eggs I added cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, vanilla, and the espresso powder mixed with a few teaspoons of water.

The directions said to whisk it all together, which was a bit of a challenge as it started to thicken. I think my poor whisk got one of its wiry bits stretched. I’m still hoping it will recover.
After that I added sugar and the melted butter, and used the sturdy spatula to mix everything until well combined.

Then it was time to add the flour. I stirred it in, then set that bowl aside and got out a new one. In went the cream cheese, one egg yolk, and three tablespoons of sugar.

Honestly, once I had it thoroughly mixed I thought it looked a lot like egg salad. Fortunately it didn’t smell like egg salad. That would have been disturbing.

Doesn’t it look like egg salad?
I dug out my one remaining pastry bag, I even found a tip for it, and stuffed the mixture in.

This recipe has a lot of moving parts. I went back to the brownie batter, armed with a cookie scoop. If I had a smaller one, I think it would have served me better here, but I didn’t, so here we are.

I should have been more vigilant about how much ended up in each cup.
Then I went back to the pastry bag. The only tip I had for it was really more of a thin decorating tip than a wide batter trip, so this was when it really stopped looking anything like the pictures in the recipe.

Yeah. Weird.
Then I definitely made the scoops on top of that too big. I should have used a teaspoon.

The muffins took much longer than the recipe said to bake, it said 12 but I think it was more like 20. When they came out it was obvious that I’d overstuffed the muffin cups.

I had enough left to make another batch, though, and this time I used a spoon to put the cream cheese batter in and pushed some of the batter in by hand. They looked better.

A few of them even looked almost good.

And everyone loved them. Antonia got the last two from the batch that went to work with me, and Dave and Nathaniel get the rest. Juliet will opt out because of the chocolate. I like them but I wanted them to look prettier. Pretty, schmetty, though, they got raves. They’re small decadent indulgent bites of brownie and cheesecake, what’s not to rave about?
CHEESECAKE BROWNIE BITES RECIPE
By the way: I just added commenting to this blog, so feel free to comment! I’m using Disqus.

Cheesecake Brownie Bites

Antonia is a co-worker who likes my baking so much that it inspires me to try making new things, and she needed something decadent. I love a good baking assignment, so I narrowed it down to three choices, and let Nathaniel cast the deciding vote. It took him about three seconds.

This was one of those times when I didn’t look for ways to lighten up the recipe. I used all purpose flour, lots of butter, 4 eggs, and more than 2 cups of sugar. I also got to use espresso powder, which always makes feel good, since it was a birthday present.

First things first: two sticks of butter. Pot. Stove.

two sticks of butter, melting

While that was melting, I got the eggs out. Nathaniel was there for the cracking of the first egg.

Nathaniel cracking egg

(He’s not naked, by the way. Pants are on.)

He didn’t even crack the egg all the way before he got egg-shy, being fresh from the shower and wanting to avoid having to wash up again, so he handed it off to me and I cracked that one plus three more.

four eggs

To the eggs I added cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, vanilla, and the espresso powder mixed with a few teaspoons of water.

cocoa powder mixture

The directions said to whisk it all together, which was a bit of a challenge as it started to thicken. I think my poor whisk got one of its wiry bits stretched. I’m still hoping it will recover.

After that I added sugar and the melted butter, and used the sturdy spatula to mix everything until well combined.

brownie batter

Then it was time to add the flour. I stirred it in, then set that bowl aside and got out a new one. In went the cream cheese, one egg yolk, and three tablespoons of sugar.

egg yolk and cream cheese

Honestly, once I had it thoroughly mixed I thought it looked a lot like egg salad. Fortunately it didn’t smell like egg salad. That would have been disturbing.

cream cheese mixture that looks like egg salad

Doesn’t it look like egg salad?

I dug out my one remaining pastry bag, I even found a tip for it, and stuffed the mixture in.

pastry bag

This recipe has a lot of moving parts. I went back to the brownie batter, armed with a cookie scoop. If I had a smaller one, I think it would have served me better here, but I didn’t, so here we are.

brownie scoops

I should have been more vigilant about how much ended up in each cup.

Then I went back to the pastry bag. The only tip I had for it was really more of a thin decorating tip than a wide batter trip, so this was when it really stopped looking anything like the pictures in the recipe.

cream cheese added

Yeah. Weird.

Then I definitely made the scoops on top of that too big. I should have used a teaspoon.

batter in tins

The muffins took much longer than the recipe said to bake, it said 12 but I think it was more like 20. When they came out it was obvious that I’d overstuffed the muffin cups.

too much batter

I had enough left to make another batch, though, and this time I used a spoon to put the cream cheese batter in and pushed some of the batter in by hand. They looked better.

second try

A few of them even looked almost good.

brownie

And everyone loved them. Antonia got the last two from the batch that went to work with me, and Dave and Nathaniel get the rest. Juliet will opt out because of the chocolate. I like them but I wanted them to look prettier. Pretty, schmetty, though, they got raves. They’re small decadent indulgent bites of brownie and cheesecake, what’s not to rave about?

CHEESECAKE BROWNIE BITES RECIPE


By the way: I just added commenting to this blog, so feel free to comment! I’m using Disqus.

Filed under cheesecake brownie bites decadent baking mini muffins espresso powder pastry bag