A Christmas post about pork and cheesecake.

This has probably been one of the longest periods of time that I’ve gone without blogging. Christmas happened, New Years happened, Aaron started classes again today and I am back to blogging!

I uploaded pictures from the week of Christmas today. It’s been two weeks since Christmas!

I baked the cake pops below for Aaron’s work holiday party. I ended up baking 80 total – 60 for Aaron’s coworkers and 20 for one of mine. They were chocolate cake. Of course because no one likes anything other than my chocolate cake. AHHHH. Anyway, dipped in white chocolate candy coating and sprinkled with sanding sugar.

I also printed little labels that said Happy Holidays and stuck them on green pieces of scrap booking paper. Let me just note right here that I am not a scrap booker. I scrap booked once and it was TEDIOUSLY BORING. But three cheers for those of you who are into it. It’s pretty cool, just not my thing.

My thing is dipping tiny balls of cake in chocolate and hoping they don’t crack.

Not a great thing….

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Cake pops taking over the dining room table:

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And a close up of a finished one. I thought they turned out pretty well. I’m SO OVER making cake pops though.

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Moving on to Christmas day…

Aaron and I woke up bright and early, made coffee and opened each other’s presents. He got me great presents! For example, these pretty Crate and Barrel nesting bowls:

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Though mine are slightly cooler colors. Cooler like better.

After we finished opening presents, we spent all day cooking! Aaron chopped and peeled a million things for me.

I made two cranberry apple stuffed pork loins for the main course. The recipe is from Simply Recipes and can be found here. I also made streuseled sweet potato casserole from Cooking Light, a salad with blue cheese, candied pecans and pears and a maple cheesecake with maple cranberry sauce for dessert. Aaron’s parents also brought two stuffings. One with bacon and one without.

I would recommend all of the recipes to you. Aaron LOVED the pork though I wasn’t a huge fan. I loved the sweet potatoes (add a pinch of cinnamon) but my absolute favorite thing was the cheesecake. Here’s a link to the recipe. Make it. Seriously. Make it. It is a wonderful cheesecake! I baked it in a water bath per the instructions and it didn’t crack at all.

Thanks to my mother for getting me a subscription to Taste of Home. That’s where the cheesecake recipe came from. Also, thanks to my mom and dad for getting Aaron and I an iPad. We love it!!!

Check out the little roses in a cranberry-filled vase. Channeling Martha Stewart.

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Aaron man-handling the pork:

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Aaron’s grandma Dorothy!

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Aaron’s parents looking at the wedding album that my parents made. Oh yes we’re on the back of it looking over the water in black and white.

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And Aaron’s brother being Santa and handing out gifts.

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Alright Aaron is out of the shower now and it’s almost 10 pm so I’m heading into bed soon. I always claim on here that I’m going to get back into blogging and do it more often. Those claims never actually happen so this time there will be no claims.   

Aaron and I are off to an Inn this weekend and I’m so excited!! We’re staying in the Lilac Room. Yes!

Thanksgiving Caramel Apple Praline Cheesecake

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It’s 9:30 AM. Thanksgiving. I’m sitting on my couch, laptop in lap, wearing brown knee socks and a Montour High School sweatshirt with my name stitched into it. My cheesecake is baking. I’m watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and drinking coffee. Today, I appreciate living alone.

Moving on.

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for having the day off, my cat currently napping instead of tearing apart my umbrella and, as yet, my cheesecake not cracking. Keep your fingers crossed.

I’m having camera issues so we’re going to have very few pictures if any at all. I’m trying to charge the battery but I think my camera has finally kicked the bucket. Let’s hope it charges a bit otherwise I may carry my laptop over to it and take a picture with the built in camera..

After considering what to bake for over a week, perusing hundreds of recipes and finding about 15 with enough potential that I printed them, I narrowed it down to one from a cookbook that I mentioned in a previous entry. It’s the cookbook that I found in Tutu’s basement when she was moving. I used the main filling recipe with a few variations.
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Caramel Apple Praline Cheesecake


Makes one 9-in cheesecake. About 10 servings

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs at room temp.
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Variation
Caramel topping
Apple pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Stir together graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar and melted butter in a small bowl. Press into bottom of 9 inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

Beat cream cheese, brown sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer or stand mixer until blended. Do not over blend.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Blend in vanilla; stir in chopped pecans. I poured a layer of caramel topping over the crust. Leave about an inch of the outer crust uncovered. Add about 10 apple slices on top. Pour cheesecake batter over crust. Bake for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F and continue baking for about 30-33 minutes until set. Turn off the oven, open a crack and let cheesecake sit in there for about 5-10 minutes to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly and avoid cracking. Take out of oven, loosen cake from rim and allow to cool for another 15 minutes. Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Once chilled, add more apples, any remaining chopped pecans and then swirl some caramel over everything.

Crazy Sweet PB & Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake
If you are looking for a dessert to showcase your masterful culinary skills without actually having masterful culinary skills, make this.  It’s quite easy and very, very pretty and impressive looking.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Cheesecake

I baked this cheesecake quite awhile ago, probably around May and remembered that I took a few pictures of it.  I was told (though I didn’t get to taste it) that it was quite good so I figured I’d post the recipe.

Baking the cheesecake was the easy part. At the time, I did not have a hand mixer (gasp!) so I used my blender. (Craziness, I know.) But as you can see, it worked out wonderfully. I’ve since purchased a hand mixer and now I’m looking to acquire a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I obviously need this. Did you know that they sell an ice cream maker attachment for the Kitchen Aid mixer??? Endless possibilities my friends.

So anyway, back on topic, I did not use a water bath and the top did not crack at all (amazing!) This cheesecake is very sweet and peanut buttery, so I wouldn’t recommend making this for your plain cheesecake loving friends.


Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake


Serves 10 

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 2/3 cups (10 oz. package) Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Chocolate drizzle (recipe below)
  • Extra chocolate and/or peanut butter chips for garnish

Directions:
Heat oven to 300°F.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa and butter.  Press into bottom of 9 inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until fluffy.  Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, then melted chips, until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Pour over crust.  

Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until center is almost set.  Remove from oven. With knife, loosen cake from sides of pan and let cool.  Garnish with chocolate drizzle (if you like crazy sweet things like myself) and additional chocolate chips.  

Chocolate Drizzle:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter over low heat; add 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons water. Cook and stir until slightly thickened.  Do not boil.  Cool slightly.  Gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, beating with whisk until smooth.  Makes about 3/4 cup.

After the cheesecake was done and cooled, I mixed up the chocolate drizzle to swirl on top. (Note: leave the sides of the spring-form pan in tact. This makes adding additional chocolate chips to the top much easier.)  I used a spoon to just flick the drizzle around to make some swirls.  I then just patted some extra chips (I used the chocolate and peanut butter mixed chips) onto the sides.

Remove sides of pan.  Store covered in the refrigerator. 

 

Cheesecake Pops!

Well, it was my last day at the bank Friday.  I used this as another excuse to pawn off my bake goods to coworkers.  I came across this recipe in about 10 of the five thousand blogs to which I’ve become addicted because it was a Daring Bakers Challenge last month(?).  They ended up being quite tasty and very aesthetically pleasing.  

Photogenic Cheesecake


Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Pops


Makes about 30 pops

2 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 pinches of salt
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons heavy cream (I did not have heavy cream so I substituted 1½ tablespoons of 2% milk and a teaspoon of butter [melted and then cooled to room temperature]) 
2 bags of melting candy coating
Sprinkles

Bake the cheesecake:

Preheat oven to 325°.  Set some water to boil for the water bath. 

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth.  If using a mixer (which I did), mix on low speed.
Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition.
Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Pour the batter into an 8 inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray.  Place the pan on a jelly roll pan and fill the jelly roll pan with the boiling water.  I did use the water bath but I don’t know how necessary it is since it doesn’t matter if the cheesecake crack…
Bake until the cheesecake is firm in the center and slightly golden on top, about 40 minutes.

Prepare for the pops:
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature.  (I was impatient and only let it cool for about 30 minutes and then stuck it in the freezer.)  You are supposed to cool to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap and freeze for about an hour and a half.
When the cheesecake is (very) cold and firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2 ounce balls and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Insert the sticks into each cheesecake ball.
Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very, very hard, at least 2 hours.  It is important that they are practically frozen otherwise you’re going to lose some of your balls to the melted chocolate [as I did].

Prepare for the candy coating:
In the microwave or in a double boiler, melt your chocolate or candy coating.  Stir until completely smooth.  I used white chocolate and peanut butter candy coatings from a craft store. 
Get your cheesecake pops out of the freezer, prepare to speed dip into the melted chocolate if your kitchen is 80 degrees as mine was.  Cover the balls completely.    Right after you dip in the chocolate, dip in your sprinkles, sanding sugar, crushed up candy bars, etc.  
Place the pop on a clean parchment (wax paper worked) lined baking sheet to set. 
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.  I put them in the freezer for about an hour and then individually wrapped them in little lollipop sleeves and tied with a ribbon until I ran out, then I used silver twisty ties.

Quite the photogenic cheesecake, eh?