Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake.

Let's talk about this cheesecake.
Oreo cookie crust? Check.

Rich, creamy cheesecake? Double check.

Fudgey bite-size brownies? Addicting. And yes.

A chocolate ganache glaze? Yes.
My mind = blown. 
I could eat cheesecake everyday... except for that nagging little issue of fitting into my pants. It's my favorite dessert. Birthdays, anniverseries, Thursdays, whatever the reason to celebrate, some people do cake, some people do ice cream. I do cheesecake.

You can bet when I get married I'm going to have a cheesecake wedding cake. Is that even possible? 
So it's probably a dangerous thing that I know how to make one now. A cheesecake, that is, not a wedding cake. Especially this cheesecake. This was rich and over-the-top with squares of fudgy, chocolatey brownies mixed into the batter and an addicting Oreo crust that I could have seriously eaten by itself if that sort of thing were socially acceptable. And the ganache over the top was perfect, especially since mine developed a giant fault line down the middle somewhere between coming out of the oven and cooling. Not only did the ganache cover it up, but it seeped into the cheesecake in parts and was super delicious.  
If you love cheesecake as much as me, this is a recipe that I know you'll love. And the best part is you end up with lots of extra brownies it's actually really easy and uncomplicated to make! 

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

Printable Recipe

Part One: Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs (do not overbake). Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan using foil handles.

Cool brownies, then cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake (using a pizza cutter works best). Loosely measure out 2 cups of brownies cubes and add to cake batter as directed below. Eat extra brownies for breakfast.

Part Two: Oreo Crust

1 1/2 cups finely ground Oreos
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir together ingredients and press into bottom and 1 inch up sides of a buttered 10-inch springform pan. Fill right away or chill for up to 2 hours.

Part Three: Cheesecake

3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups of brownie cubes

Make crumb crust as directed above for 10-inch cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Fold 2 cups of brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven for 45 minutes, or until  cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.

When completely cool, top with following glaze.

Part Four: Ganache Glaze

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Place finely chopped chocolate in a medium size mixing bowl. Scald the butter and cream together in a saucepan (or in the microwave on high for 1 minute). Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla and then whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.

Source: Brown-Eyed Baker.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cowgirl Cookies.

Something about the word "cowgirl" makes me feel independent and sassy. Like a pioneer. Like I lassoed these cookies up after churning my own butter and herding some cattle. 
When really these are just cowboy cookies with pink M&Ms thrown in.
... and red. And white. You caught me. They're leftover from Valentine's Day. 
I'm not sure what makes these fancy oatmeal cookies so cowboy, but they remind me of kitchen sink cookies, what with nearly everything in sight thrown into them... M&Ms, chocolate chips, pecans, oats... I reined myself in when I started reaching for the pretzels and popcorn.
A problem.
A solution.
M&Ms masquerading as chocolate chips. Don't tell the others.
And the best part about these cookies is that they're thrown together in one bowl.
Which means one dish to wash. Hallelujah!
Cowgirl Cookies

Printable Recipe

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cup M&Ms
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 slightly beaten egg
1/2 cup butter, melted slightly in the microwave
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir the first ten ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Mix the egg, melted butter, and vanilla into the dry ingredients, using the back of a large spoon to work it all together. You may need to use your hands to get everything incorporated.

Roll the cookie dough into 1 1/2- inch balls, place on a greased or parchment-covered baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.

Makes 26-30 cookies. 

Source: Bakerella.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cinnamon Streusel Pecan Coffee Cake.

If I had my way, I would make a giant bowl of this cinnamon pecan streusel and eat it with a cookie scoop.
But since eating spoonfuls of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon probably isn't socially acceptable, I made this coffee cake instead.
Because it was raining. And rain makes me want to bake something cinnamony and sugar-topped. 

It's a compulsion. 

... that's probably why there's so many snickerdoodles in the freezer. 

This was the best coffee cake ever. The cake was light, moist, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious...
With a ribbon of brown sugar, cinnamon, and toasted pecans winding right through the center (excuse the crumbs... we were hungry!)...

And just a little bit of streusel on top. 
Oh and glaze.

Maybe rainy days aren't such a bad thing. Happy spring!

Cinnamon Streusel Pecan Coffee Cake

Printable Recipe

Streusel Topping
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

Streusel Center
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter or spray with a nonstick cooking spray a 9-inch tube pan with a removeable bottom.

To make the streusel topping, mix together flour, brown sguar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until small to medium clumps form. Mix in pecans and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the streusel center, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans, and set aside.

To make the cake, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Contiue to beat until well combined.

Spoon half the batter into pan. Sprinkle streusel center mixture evenly over batter. Top with remaining batter and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Sprinkle streusel topping mixture evenly over batter.

Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Remove cake from pan and transfer to parchment.

To make the glaze, mix together confectioners' sugar and milk. Drizzle over cake and let drip down the sides. Let set for 5 minutes before serving. Can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Source: From Martha Stewart Living, March 2011.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oreo Cupcakes.

I realize St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow & with a name like Kerry & a somewhat Irish heritage, I should probably be posting something dyed green or spiked with Bailey's. 
About that.

I forgot St. Patrick's day was this month I made these instead. 
I suppose you could always spike them with Bailey's if you really wanted to be festive.
It took me a long time to jump on board the cupcake trend. At the time, they seemed like a lot of work compared to baking cookies & I'm not really one for fancypants decorating & frosting tips. 

Also I just really love cookies.
These cupcakes are a little bit of both and were so much fun to make. I used the recipe for the ultimate chocolate cupcakes I made earlier this year, but resisted the urge to stuff them with ganache.

Maybe next time.

And want to know a secret? 

They're baked with a double stuffed Oreo cookie on the bottom!
They get kind of soft & dreamy & cake-like in the oven. 

And the cookies & cream whipped cream frosting? 
Why yes, I did could eat it with a spoon for breakfast. 

Side note: Never turn a mixer full of whipping cream & powdered sugar on full-on high unless you feel like cleaning your entire kitchen. We're talking counters, floors, and ceiling, people. Sigh. Wonder who did that.  

Unrelated side note: Meet my newest love.
Oreo Cupcakes

Printable Recipe

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot, strong-brewed coffee
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
15 Oreo halves, with cream filling attached

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons Oreo cookies, finely crushed
15 Oreos for the top of each cupcake

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Twist Oreos in half and set aside the extra cookies for later. Place the side with cream filling in the bottom of each cupcake liner, cream-side facing up.
Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl and pour the hot coffee over the mixture. Whisk until smooth and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.

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

Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-20 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. 

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until the whipped cream holds stiff peaks. Gently fold in the cooke crumbs with a spatula.

Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag and pipe on top of the cupcakes (I used a Wilton #1M tip for these cupcakes). Garnish with Oreo cookies.

Makes 15 cupcakes.

Source: Cupcake recipe from Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2010. Whipped cream frosting from Annie's Eats.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Brownie Bars.

I'll keep this simple.

Fudgey chocolate chip brownies + salted peanuts & peanut butter cups + melted chocolate & peanut butter + Rice Krispies = the most over-the-top, indulgent thing I have ever made. 
I could eat that Rice Krispie layer with a spoon.
A serving spoon.

It's no wonder they're also known as Better-Than Crack Brownies. They're so addicting. They're literally as rich as fudge.

I blame the peanut butter cups. Hello, weakness.

I'm trying to convince myself these are healthy. After all, there's only a little bit of chocolate in these. And the Rice Krispie box says it has vitamins A & B6... and aren't peanuts a heart-healthy food?
Don't answer that. 

Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Brownie Bars

Printable Recipe

1 batch of your favorite brownie recipe for a 9x13-inch pan
1/2 cup salted peanuts
8 Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Prepare the brownies according to the directions and bake for about 5 minutes less than the recipe states. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with the peanuts and chopped peanut butter cups.
Return to the oven and bake for 5 additional minutes.

While they finish baking, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the cereal to evenly coat. Remove the brownies from the oven and evenly pour the chocolate and peanut butter mixture over the top. Spread to cover evenly. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting and serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Snickerdoodle Blondies.

Earlier this week I made snickerdoodles. Then a few days later I made something even better:  snickerdoodle blondies. 
Which is really saying something because snickerdoodles are one of my least favorite cookies.

But these. These smelled amazing while they were baking, like coffee cake and cinnamon rolls. And they tasted exactly like a cakey snickerdoodle, with a flaky, crackly cinnamon-sugar crust on top that made me want to do dangerous things. 

Like serve it warm. 

For dinner.

With a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
... and maybe some caramel sauce.

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Printable Recipe

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan lightly with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fittted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and spread in an even layer. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the surface of the blondies spring back when gently pressed. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the blondies cool completely before cutting.

Source: Brown Eyed Baker.