Marbled Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake

I’ve already posted the Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake Michelle and I made using a John Besh recipe as our template. Besides wanting to make it truly our own, the big problem was that it just wasn’t blackberry enough. Michelle had the idea of making it more of a structured filling and we figured that double the blackberries meant double the flavor.

We were right! Intense fruit flavor balanced with creamy cheesecake. Major yum!

Michell made these in three 8×8 pans for easy freezing and transportation. To do so, she had to triple the graham cracker crust but the rest of the recipe is plenty of batter to fill them up.

Marbled Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 pounds cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon limoncello

3 cups blackberries, pureed
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
Juice from one lemon (zest lemon and put the zest in the cheesecake batter)
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Grease a 9 inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the remaining butter in a medium bowl. Press onto the bottom and part way up the sides of the pan. Bake it for 10 or 15 minutes before putting in the filling.

 

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. Blend in the milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in the sour cream, flour, lemon zest and limoncello until smooth. Divide the mixture between two bowls.

 

In a food processor or blender, puree blackberries with the lemon juice. Mix in sugar and flour. Pulse a few times before adding in egg and vanilla extract.

 

Pour half the cheesecake mixture into prepared pans. Then add the blackberry filling in dollops on top. Pour on remaining cheesecake batter.

 

Place in oven and bake for 2 hours, until the topping is set. Remove from the oven. Raise temperature to 350 and return pan to oven to bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

 

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Bus 57 Apple Cake

Here is a very easy cake recipe from the kitchen of Miryam Levy. Seems she had listened in on a conversation in French between two women sitting behind her on the 57 line from Haifa to Kiryat Bialik. And, voila, bus cake!

My only addition was to toss the apples with a little cinnamon (1.5 teaspoons) for a little more flavor. However, the cake should be just fine without that step. I experimented with both red (Honey crisp) and green (Granny Smith). The sugar was a little much with the red ones but perfect with the tarter, green ones. The green apple cake, because the apples aren’t as juicy, had a lovely crunch along the edges as well. The red apple cake was more moist and dense, so it is really up to personal taste as to which apples you choose to use. Heck, I may try it again with a mix of apples!

Red (Honey Crisp) Apple Cake

I also still had the grater out when doing the second cake and so I grated the butter for more even distribution on the top of the cake. The top picture is the red apple cake with sliced butter. The bottom picture is the Granny Smith cake with grated butter.

Green (Granny Smith) Apple Cake

Bus 57 Apple Cake

1 cup semolina
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 stick cold butter, divided
3-5 apples, depending on size to make 3 cups grated (I recommend Granny Smith)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Generously butter a round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter it as well. I used one tablespoon of butter on this step.

Mix semolina, sugar, salt and flour together and pour half the amount into pan. Peel, core and grate apples. If desired, toss the grated apples with a little cinnamon. Evenly spread the apples over the first layer of dry cake mix. Pour the rest of the dry mix over grated apples. Slice or grate the butter and layer  it over the top of the cake.

Bake until golden, about 60 minutes.

Serve hot, topped with ice cream or whipped cream. I also had it cold the next morning with my tea and it was wonderful, too!

As this recipe doesn’t use eggs, substitute margarine for butter and you’ve got a terrific vegan dessert!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Honeycomb Crunch

Time for more quick, no-bake desserts. This one is a little messy but the darker chocolate compensates for the sweetness of the cereal.

The recipe calls for 8 cups of cereal but I just used the entire 12.5 ounce box and an entire bag of bittersweet chocolate chips.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Honeycomb Crunch

1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 cups bittersweet chocolate morsels
8 cups Honeycomb cereal
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Place cereal in a large bowl. Melt chocolate and peanut butter in a double boiler. Let cool slightly and then pour over the cereal. Stir gently until everything is well coated.  Pour onto a baking sheet and let the chocolate set for an hour.

In a large paper bag, place 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Dump in the chocolate covered cereal into the bag and shake out another 1/4 cup of powdered sugar on the top. Shake vigorously until sugar coats the pieces. Pour out onto a large baking sheet and let cool completely before putting in zip top plastic bags.

White Christmas Party Mix

The New Orleans Saints are playing the Dirty Birds (aka Atlanta Falcons) on Christmas Eve, so I decided to take my usual party mix (Circles and Squares) and give it some holiday flair. If I had some red and green m&ms, I would have added them after the powdered sugar coating step.

Dirty White Christmas Party Mix

1-12 oz box of Crispex cereal
1-8.9 oz box of Cheerios cereal
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1-12 oz package of semi sweet morsels
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup confectioners sugar, divided

Stir the cereals together in a large pan. I use a disposable turkey roasting pan. In a small saucepan, melt together the butter, Worchestershire sauce and salt. Pour over the cereal and, gently but thoroughly, stir to coat. Bake in a 250 degree F oven for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

When there are about 20 minutes left on the baking cereal, put the semi-sweet morsels and peanut butter together in a double boiler and melt, stirring occasionally.

Remove the cereal from the oven. Pour the melted chocolate and peanut butter over the cereal and stir. Keep stirring until all the cereal is coated in chocolate. In a large, clean paper bag, sprinkle a half cup of powdered sugar. Pour in the cereal and then sprinkle on the other half cup of powdered sugar. Close and roll down the top of the bag and shake to coat all the cereal in sugar.

Cool completely on baking sheets – this takes about an hour. Store in an airtight container until time to gobble it up!

Who Dat!

Chocolate Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I purchased a container of Creole cream cheese the other day for a recipe that I couldn’t get the other ingredients for. As I’ve been craving chocolate, I thought I’d make a cake with it. I have a recipe for a pound cake that uses this uniquely Louisiana treat and a recipe for chocolate pound cake and I decided that combining the two should hit the spot.

It makes a deep chocolate cake that isn’t too dense, as the Creole cream cheese adds plenty of moistness to the batter. I had a slice with a big glass of milk and it was wonderful.

If you don’t have access to (or don’t want to make) Creole cream cheese, for this recipe I would substitute sour cream.

Chocolate Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

2 cups cake flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Creole cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour two loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream unsalted butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with Creole cream cheese. Stir in pecans. Pour half of batter in each prepared pan. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over batter.

Bake 75–80 minutes, rotating the pans midway through baking. Cook until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Pound cakes freeze well, so wrap the second one well with plastic wrap and seal in a zip top bag for a cake for any occasion.

Victoria’s Semolina Cake Love

My friend, Victoria, says this cake is the love of her life. It is an Arab Semolina Cake, sometimes spelled harissa or harisa or haresa. I was happy to make it as part of her family cookbook project.

Trust the instruction that has you mixing with your hands – it is the easiest way to incorporate everything, so embrace your inner child and get your hands busy! It definitely helps to measure out all the ingredients first, so you don’t make too big a mess. And press it down well – it won’t hold together unless you make sure you compress it to 1 inch thick (again, best results from using your hands).

Arab Semolina Cake


Cake
3 cups semolina
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup whole almonds or slivers for decoration

Syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Preheat oven to 400˚F

Mix yogurt and baking soda in a bowl and wait until yogurt doubles in size.

In a large bowl, mix all other cake ingredients together with wet hands.

When the yogurt has almost doubled in size, pour it on top of the semolina mix and use your hands to mix well.

When the mixture is well combined, press it tightly into a buttered 9×13 pyrex baking dish. The unbaked cake shouldn’t be more than 1 inch thick, so press it well.

Cut diamond or square designs with a butter knife and place an almond on top of each piece.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until dark brown.

Mix sugar and water together in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon. Add orange blossom water and stir well.

Pour boiling syrup on a very hot cake.

Let cool down before serving.

Miryam’s Amazing Strudel

I have to say I was a little intimidated when Victoria gave me this recipe. I once saw strudel being made and they had stretched this piece of dough until it was as big as a dining room table and thin enough to read the newspaper through. However, her mom’s method had the dough being divided into four pieces, so it didn’t have to be stretched so much. I found stretching it 18 by 12 inches was sufficient to make thin layers. And, because, I was dividing it into fourths, I decided to add a classic apple filling to half of them (leaving the others with her mom’s classic cinnamon raisin nut version).

Most recipes I read recommended using a high gluten bread flour, so I did that, as the original recipe only specified flour. I also soaked the raisins to soften them for about 5 minutes in hot water before draining them and patting them dry. As I’m allergic to walnuts, I used pecans instead but left walnuts in the recipe.

I used a food processor to make the dough, although you can mix everything together in a bowl and knead until a smooth dough forms. I also divided my dough in half before resting – I did half the dough after the four hour rest and the rest for brunch the next morning.

Sesame coated cinnamon raisin nut strudel

Miryam’s Amazing Strudel

Strudel Dough

4 cups bread flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons white vinegar

 

Cinnamon Raisin Nut Filling (makes two)

1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
1/2 cup plumped, well drained raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter (half a stick), melted

  

Apple Nut Filling (makes two)

3 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup plumped, well-drained raisins (optional)
1/4 cup butter (half a stick), melted

  

Strudel base

1 stick butter, melted

  

Toppings

1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar
1 egg

  

Place butter, water and vinegar in a bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the flour and and process until the dough is smooth. Remove to a well buttered bowl and cover. Let rest in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. If you let it rest overnight, let it warm on the counter for an hour or two before attempting to roll out.  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

For Cinnamon Raisin Nut Filling: Combine all the filling ingredients together.  

For Apple Filling: Toss the prepared apples with the lemon juice. Stir together with the rest of the ingredients. If it is super liquidy, add 1 tablespoon corn starch and stir well.

Divide each filling into two portions and set aside while you prepare the dough.

Divide dough into 4 parts. Take off any rings, bracelets and watches and have your arms bare to the elbow. Pat the dough into the shape of a rectangle. Set the piece of dough on the center of your work surface and roll out in each direction with a rolling pin. Let the dough rest for a few minutes. Lifting up a section, gently stretch the dough out on the sides, using the back of your hands and working your way around the entire rectangle. It should be semi-translucent in some places, but be careful not to tear it. Don’t worry too much if you do, though, as the many layers will hide the rips.  

Drip butter onto the dough – it is too delicate to brush with butter. Place dollops of one portion of filling on the buttered dough and gently spread out, being careful not to tear the dough. Brush exposed ends with melted butter, fold in sides of dough, then gently roll dough into a cylinder. Seam should be on the bottom.

Score the top of the strudel in portion-sized sections before you put it in the oven. The knife marks will make a clean slice easier after the strudel is baked.

Brush an egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water on top of the cylinders. Sprinkle with sesame seeds on the cinnamon raisin nut filled ones and with cinnamon sugar for the apple filling.

Bake on a greased baking pan for 30 minutes, rotating once midway through baking. Begin rolling out the dough for the next strudel while one is cooking. Follow above directions for filling and rolling and baking.

Slice when hot. Serve with ice cream or with coffee/tea and it is even better served cold the next day.

 

Cinnamon sugar coated apple strudel