Posts tagged ‘Cheese’

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

One of the many reasons I love baking is being able to share my creations with those I love, my friends and family, and spread the love. So, when my bestie, Eliza (who is still in school – poor her!), invited me to celebrate her birthday with her at college, I jumped at the chance to bake her a cake.

Eliza and I have a lot in common. For one, we both love peanut butter and chocolate, especially in the form of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup! That’s why her cake of choice was a Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake.

Since I also made a second cheesecake (White Chocolate Raspberry – recipe to come!), I wanted an easy recipe that didn’t require too many ingredients. After some research, I compiled this recipe from a few difference sources (listed below). What I created was a rich, flavorful cheesecake filled with yummy peanut butter cream cheese filling and topped with chocolate ganache and peanut butter frosting. It’s like a Reese’s cup in cheesecake form!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, Confections of a Foodie Bride and Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life

Ingredients

Crust

  • Homemade or store-bought graham or Oreo crust (9 inch) – I used Ready Crust Reduced Fat Graham crust because I couldn’t find an Oreo crust and buying a crust saved me time.

Peanut Butter Filling

  • 12 oz cream cheese, at room temp – I used 4 oz Neufchatel (1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese) and 8 oz nonfat cream cheese.
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Chocolate Topping

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped – I used chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 1/6 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cup milk (plus more to achieve desired consistency)

Any additional decorations – I used semisweet chocolate chips and a Reese’s cup

Method

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

For the peanut butter cheesecake filling

Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together on medium speed until smooth.

Add the sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined.

Reduce the speed to low and add eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition.

Pour filling over crust.

Bake until the sides of the cheesecake are set and the middle just slightly jiggles, about 35-40 minutes.

Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour).

The edges of mine browned a bit because my oven doesn’t bake very evenly (and I forgot to turn the cake half-way through baking). Yours don’t need to be browned like mine.

While cooling, the raised, “puffy” cheesecake filling sunk in a bit. This is normal. After cooling, it looked like this:

For the chocolate topping

Put chocolate, butter and cream into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second bursts until hot, stirring (or whisking) in between each burst until smooth.

Pour the chocolate evenly over the tart. Do so slowly, so the chocolate doesn’t pour over the sides.

Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.


For the peanut butter frosting

Using the amounts outlined in the ingredients, follow the instructions for the frosting from my Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes w/Peanut Butter Frosting recipe.

Decorate as you wish. Be creative! I used the frosting, semisweet chocolate chips, and a Reese’s Cup.

I made this cake two days in advance, and it travels really well (especially thanks to the plastic crust “saver” that came with the store-bought crust).

This slice is 1/16 of the cake.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe. Please leave a comment. I love hearing from you! If you try this recipe, tell me how it goes.

Question: What is your favorite type and flavor of cake?

My favorite “traditional” cake is probably moist chocolate cake with raspberry filling and lots of chocolate frosting. I am also a huge believe in the power of sprinkles. Sprinkles make anything better! My favorite flavor of cheesecake is, you guessed it, peanut butter and chocolate!

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May 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm 10 comments

California Dreaming: Avocados

T minus 17 days until I am back home in California!

Don’t get me wrong. I love Boston, college, my friends here,etc. However, I’m so excited to be finished with school and back home with my family, friends, and kitchen and to start my summer fun!

Although I’m German, I grew up in Northern California and have enjoyed all that California has to offer: the beautiful weather, glorious nature, and amazing, fresh food among so many other great things! California, especially the Bay Area (near San Francisco), is privileged with so much fresh produce. One of my favorite California-grown items are Avocados!

(Source)

Nutritionally, avocados get a (falsely given) bad rep because they are high in fat. However, the fat in avocados are actually really good fat. Here is some info from the The California Avocado Commission about the nutritional benefits of avocados: Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit. In addition, avocados can help you meet the American Heart Association dietary guidelines because avocados have both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (aka the good fat!) and contain potassium.

Click here for more about why the nutrients found in avocados are important. For nutritional information of avocados, click here.

As you can see, avocados are nutritional powerhouses that you should consider implementing in your diet (in moderation, of course, like all foods). In addition to being super tasty and healthy, avocados are surprisingly very versatile. While you may think avocados are always destined to become guacamole, you’re quite wrong. Creamy avocados are fabulous in both sweet and savory dishes. Inspired by Fitsugar‘s 10 Vegan Avocado Recipes article, I bring you (from the web) a few healthy recipes where avocados are the star of the show!

Please note: none of these recipes or photos are mine. They belong to the linked recipes and owners. :)

Easy Guacamole by Cooking Light:

Light and Fresh Avocado Cream Verrine by Angela from Oh She Glows: If you love guacamole, you’ll love this dish by Angela from Oh She Glows.

Great Avocado Smoothie Recipes by Be Well Buzz: The avocados make this super rich, creamy, and tasty!

15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta by Angela from Oh She Glows: Vegan yet oh-so-creamy! This is on the top of my savory dish to-make list when I get home!

Vegan Avocado Frozen Yogurt by One Hungry Mess: Perfect for the upcoming summer!

Choco-Cado Pudding by Gina from The Fitnessista: I’ve said it a few times, so I think you get the idea: avocados add amazing creaminess to dishes, especially this chocolate pudding! It’s one of the healthiest, tastiest chocolate puddings you’ll ever try.

Chilled Double Chocolate Cake by Angela of Oh She Glows: Um, drool!! This would be a great recipe to bring to a party, but don’t tell people right away about the ingredients. Then, when people rave about it and ask what’s your secret, you can say, Avocado!

Shrimp Tostadas with Avocado Salsa by Eclectic Recipes: A wonderful dish for a meal outside on a warm summer’s night! Sub with tostada with a corn or flour tortilla to increase the healthiness (less fat) and freshness.

Double Chocolate Avocado Muffins by Muffin Tin Mania: Thanks to these healthy muffins, you can get away with eating chocolate for breakfast!

Roasted Tomato and Avocado Toast (with Goat Cheese) by Running with Tweezers

Question: What’s your favorite avocado recipe?

One of my all time favorite dishes is freshly made guacamole. Whenever my family eats at Chevys (or another restaurant with a similar option), we often get table-side-made guacamole with chips. At home, I prefer making it myself then eating store-bought guacamole. There’s seriously nothing like freshly made guac!

April 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm 16 comments

Three Times the Fondue

I love Christmas. I love the holiday season. I love everything about it: spending time with family and friends, eating delicious food, following tradition, making new traditions, and giving and receiving gifts.

This year, my family spent Christmas in Tahoe, California with family and friends. There are nine of us, and we are currently renting a cabin. [Most of us (except for my parents, brother and I) are leaving on Monday.]

Christmas Eve day started with some of this…

Skiing at Alpine Meadows in Tahoe

View from the top of the Lake View chair lift = Breath taking!

I love this photo, so I’m showing it to you. 🙂

Speaking of photos and when am I not?, I love my new camera. It is a Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS. So far (I’ve had it for less than a week), it’s an amazing camera for its size and price. It’s great in low light situations and it takes great macro photos, which are both great for taking photos for this blog. I love playing around with it and testing our it’s abilities. 🙂 Anyway…

I’m going to start the food portion of this post by saying the following foods aren’t necessarily “healthy.” They are, however, healthy for the soul and spirit, which some may argue (me included) is just as important.

In Swiss/German tradition*, my family opens our presents on Christmas eve. But first, we have tea/coffee and sweets. (*My parents were born in Germany and grew up in Switzerland. I have a German and an American passport, just btw.)

In addition to drinking coffee and tea, we ate a variety of Swiss and German delights: lebkuchen (iced flat brown, soft gingerbread), dominosteine (cube of layered soft gingerbread, jam, and marzipan enclosed in a chocolate shell), Lindt truffles (milk chocolate and mint chocolate), chocolate Santa Clauses and Snowmen, pfeffernüsse (small, round, hard, iced biscuit with round nuts), marzipan potatoes (small marzipan – which is basically a sugar and almond paste – balls lightly coated in chocolate powder), and a few other traditional Swiss cookies (which hide amongst the other cookies).

My favorites of the above confections are the marzipan potatoes, dominosteinem, and Lindt chocolates.

Marzipanstollen (as seen above) is a rich yeast bread filled with nuts, raisins, and other dried fruit as well as marzipan. I’ve been eating marzipanstollen ever since I can remember. It’s sweet but not over the top. It has a nice bite to it, thanks to the thick bread and fruits and nuts. It freezes very well, so my mom will often buy multiple stollens at the beginning of the holiday season and we will eat them throughout.

Then, after tackling unwrapping these….

…We moved on to dinner, a fondue dinner that is!! We had three types of fondue: meat, cheese (which was my vegetarian alternative, but everyone ate it), and chocolate (dessert).

Sides (above): horseradish, cornichons (small pickles), and onions; and salad

A spread of delicious food!! For those of you unfamiliar with meat and cheese fondue, here is what you need to know.

Our meat fondue consisted of cooking chunks of raw meat (pork and beef) in vegetable broth (although sometimes people cook it in oil) after poking the meat with fondue forks.

My brother was getting creative by making little sandwiches with meat and pickles between two small slices of bread. He even added some cheese fondue to make it a cheese and meat sandwich.

Too cute!!

Now on to something a bit more cheesy…

Although my mom usually cooks cheese fondue (melted variety of swiss cheeses, often with sherry brandy mixed in) from scratch, my mom choose to keep things simple by using Swiss Knight cheese fondue (pre-mixed). I offered to help and made it. It was surprisingly easy to make (put in fondue pot on stove and mix till done) and tasted amazing, very much like our from-scratch variety. I don’t know how to describe cheese fondue other than that it’s delicious. It’s a bit different from regular melted cheese (like on a grilled cheese) in flavor thanks to a mix of swiss cheese and the addition of sherry brandy (don’t worry, it’s burns off during the cooking). It’s very smooth and creamy and compliments the bread (usually french or baguette) nicely.

How-to (cheese) fondue:

Step 1: Dip bread into cheese

Step 2: Admire

Step 3: Eat! [Feel free to skip directly to this step from Step 1 if you can’t contain yourself. After my first bite of deliciousness, I sure couldn’t!]

Dessert = chocolate fondue. Need I say more? The answer is “no.”

How to make chocolate fondue:

Adapted from Rachel Ray’s recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup half and half: The originally recipe called for cream, but apparently I can’t read… It still tastes delicious, and this way it has less fat. Yay!
  • 4 (3.5oz) bars of chocolate: The kind is up to you. I used semi-sweet chocolate, which yielded a not-too-sweet chocolate fondue. If you prefer a sweeter chocolate fondue, I’d recommend milk chocolate.
  • Treats to Dip: See below for suggestions

Step 1: Heat the half and half (in either a fondue pot or heavy saucepan) on stove until it reaches a low boil.

Step 2: Take pot/pan off stove. Add in chocolate (which I suggest you break into small pieces) and let it sit for 3-5 minutes to let the chocolate soften.

Step 3: Whisk or stir the mixture until it is fully incorporated.

Steps 2 to 3:

Step 4: (Transfer contents to fondue pot if you haven’t already.) Place onto fondue fire/fondue pot holder or grate/what it is called. If you plan on eating the chocolate fondue quickly (and I wouldn’t blame you), this step isn’t necessary.

Step 5: Dip in dippers using fondue forks (or forks or your hands) and enjoy!!

For dipping, we had pretzels, marshmallows, apple chunks, dried pineapple, mandarins, bananas, pound cake, dried ginger. I also suggest trying the following: other dried fruits like apricots, cream cheese, graham crackers, other fruit, and rice krispie treats.

The above photo shows a chocolate covered (halved) marshmallow. It tasted very much like s’mores. To make it even more s’mores-like, I would probably smush this between graham crackers (which I didn’t have) next time.

Chocolate covered banana slice: I drool…

After a long meal filled with this delicious food, I slept very well! Not only did I have a wonderful time with friends and family, I was also full but not over the top full, which is just how I like it. 🙂

Question: What traditions do you celebrate around the holidays? What is your favorite food from around this time?

PS. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to have a more in-depth how-to post about any of the 3 fondues (or anything else). 🙂

December 25, 2010 at 5:49 pm 2 comments


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