Limoncello Cheesecake For My Birthday

Michelle made me an awesome cheesecake for my birthday. With lemon juice and limoncello liquor, it was amazingly creamy and lemony and off the hook delicious.

This makes a lot of cheesecake – it almost overfilled a 10″ springform pan. You could use two store bought graham cracker pie shells, instead. If you’re making your own crust, it will take 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs mixed with 5 tablespoons of melted butter to coat the bottom of the well buttered pan.

Because this is a low and slow method of cheesecake cookery, do not use a water bath in the oven.

 

Limoncello Cheesecake

4 packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt (we used Fage)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup limoncello liquor
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Whip the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix to combine. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the flour and yogurt. Slowly mix in the lemon juice and limoncello. Add in the vanilla extract and lemon peel.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 3 hours.

Remove from oven and crank the heat to 500 degrees F. Place the cheesecake back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to brown the top. Turn off the oven and crack the door and let the cheese cake cool down for 30 minutes. Then run a knife along the edge to release from the pan and cool on the counter for another 30 minutes before putting it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before releasing the sides of the pan.

Pudding Filled Yellow Cake

My very good friend, Charlotte, had a birthday earlier this month and requested a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I picked up at a rummage sale a two part cake pan to make filled cakes (most of the pictures were fruit based fillings but I immediately thought chocolate).

To start with, I used a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that combines the technique of a chiffon cake to a butter cake in order to get a moist, tender and fluffy cake. Of course, that requires that you actually read the recipe and only put in 6 yolks and 3 whites. I put in 3 whole eggs, 3 yolks and 3 whites and the cake was a little dry – this was entirely mitigated by the pudding filling but, the fact remains that I messed things up a bit by not being careful with my reading of the recipe.

In any event, Charlotte was happy with her birthday cake and I was happy with the leftovers!

Pudding Filled Yellow Cake

2 ½ cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites

Bring all ingredients to room temperature before beginning.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your cake pans, dust pans with flour and knock out excess. I used my Mrs. Fields Fill N Flip Cake pans but you can use two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto wire rack. Cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours before filling and frosting.

You don’t want your filling in a Fill and Flip cake to be too dense. You can lighten pudding to almost mousse like consistency with a little extra work. To make a mock mouse: add cream instead of milk to a small box of instant pudding and, using a hand mixer or a whisk and some elbow grease, whip until it is almost mousse like.

For the frosting, I used a chocolate buttercream that I typically use on Doberge cake:

Rich Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 ounce square semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup milk or cream
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate with milk and whisk to combine. Cream sugar and butter, then add cocoa, then the melted chocolate milk and vanilla.

Easy Rocky Road Candy

I was licking the knife I had used to spread peanut butter on my sandwich when my gaze fell on an opened bag of marshmallows. It took me back to an easy recipe one of my Girl Scout troops once made. I don’t remember if any badges were involved but combining melted chocolate, marshmallows and peanut butter is a sure fire way to make the world a better place.*

Rocky Road Candy

1 cup peanut butter (I prefer Skippy Super Crunch Peanut Butter)
2 cups chocolate morsels (I prefer Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups small marshmallows

In a large double boiler, melt peanut butter, chocolate and butter. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in the little marshmallows.

Pour into a buttered 8×8 pan and refrigerate for two hours (if you’re desperate, place it in freezer for 45 minutes). Cut into squares and serve.

* Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to 
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie for Pi Day

I suffer from innumeracy (and numerophobia and arithmophobia) but I appreciate the work that mathematicians and scientists do/have done/are doing. I am especially grateful for those who teach math and science, even in the face of attacks from legislators and religious extremists. Here in Louisiana, we just had BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) vote to add a provision to the standards laid out in a poorly named state law (the Louisiana Science Education Act) to encourage teachers to challenge evolution and climate change in their science classrooms.

Is it a surprise that Louisiana ranks poorly in national comparisons of science testing results?

Anyhoo, I also celebrate March 14th because I like pie. This one is a recipe my mom took off the back of the cornstarch box many years ago.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups cold water
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
Grated peel of 1 lemon, chopped fine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 baked (9-inch) pie crust (I prefer graham cracker)
3 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine 1 cup sugar and corn starch in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in water until smooth. Stir in egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice and butter.

Spoon hot filling into pie crust.

Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy. Mix 1/3 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon corn starch and gradually beat into egg whites. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing to edge of crust.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack at room temperature for 30 minutes; refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Oh, and before you make your own pie crust using a pie plate you inherited, make sure it is 9 inches. As you can see from the picture, mine is actually closer to 10 inches!

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix together graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine. Press into a pie plate, being sure to press down well on the bottom and sides. Bake for 8 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. Allow to cool before using.

Sourdough Chocolate Cupcakes

In my never ending quest to keep up with my sourdough starter, I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour site. They made a cake with a frosting and a drizzle. I made cupcakes and used my quick, fudge frosting to ice them.

lets-go-streaking-with-cupcakes

Wearing a “Let’s Go Streaking” cupcake t-shirt!

Sourdough Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 large eggs

Feed your starter and remove one cup. Combine the fed starter, milk and flour in a large mixing bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. It will expand a little bit.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fill 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa and espresso powder.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gently combine the chocolate mixture with the starter-flour-milk mixture and beat gently until smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared liners.

Bake the cupcakes for 30 minutes, rotating pan midway through baking. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set it on a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Once entirely cool, frost generously.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

Fudge Frosting

1 stick butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine butter, cocoa, and milk; bring to a boil. Add sugar and vanilla; beat well until smooth. Place in the refrigerator to cool before using. If frosting becomes too stiff, add 1 drop of milk at a time until it reaches the desired frosting consistency.

Darkly Chocolate Brownies

I woke up craving chocolate, so I started these brownies. They are mixed in a large double boiler, so there isn’t a lot of cleanup. Oh, and they get better as they sit (they are very gooey when first taken out of the oven but firm up with time) as the chocolate gets even more intense the next day.

brownies

Darkly Chocolate Brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1-1/4 cup flour
3/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup roasted cacoa nibs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large double boiler or in a large bowl over a saucepan with some water in it, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring occasionally. When smooth and melted, sprinkle on cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Using a hand mixer, mix in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time. Reducing mixer speed to low, mix in the flour. Add the chocolate chips and cacoa nibs and stir just until combined.

Pour the very thick batter into a buttered 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 baking pan (a square pan will result in thicker brownies). Smooth the top and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, then check the brownies with a toothpick. If it is overly gooey/messy, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes. Don’t leave them in there until the toothpick comes out clean, though, as that would be too long.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into small squares. The brownies are very rich!

Bailey’s Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting

I saw this recipe in my Facebook timeline feed and figured that, with a few tweeks, that it would fill my deep and abiding, end of year chocolate needs. We used Bailey’s Irish Cream instead of vanilla extract. The 1 cup of boiling water made the batter super thin – it resulted in light cupcakes but, I don’t know about you but I want density with my dark chocolate. We also used my favorite frosting for a nutty, creamy finish.

cupcakes

Bailey's Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup very best quality cocoa (I used Droste)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 28 to 30 muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will thin out considerably). Pour batter into cups about 2/3 full.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or 22 to 25 minutes for cupcakes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting.

 

Chocolate Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz package cream cheese
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup good quality cocoa
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons Praline liquor or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all together. Frost cupcakes. Lick spoon. Dab a little bit behind your ears and celebrate the start of a new year!