October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Growing up my grandma ("Meme") always made a few different pies for holiday dinners. Chocolate, lemon meringue and pumpkin. Pumpkin was the only one I liked and the only time I ever had it was during the holidays with my dad's side of the family.

I'm now closer to 30 than 20 years old and I haven't had pumpkin pie in maybe 8 years. So, I tried it last year and I discovered I'm not a huge pumpkin pie fan. I am, however, a cheesecake fan! I have a really amazing cheesecake recipe that my grandma ("Oma") says is better than hers (I'll share that with you another time). I wanted to make a pumpkin pie because I love the flavor and spices but since I can't get past the texture of it, I decided that combining it with a cheesecake was probably a genius idea. I was right! In conclusion, I'm a genius ;)

The recipe I had planned on using got lost and all I had was the list of ingredients I needed so I made the pumpkin cheesecake like I do my regular cheesecake and prayed it worked. It did. You're welcome. Haha. This is a pretty easy recipe, even though the list of ingredients is longer than I like. You won't regret this one and I guarantee that your family and friends won't complain if you bring this to dinner this holiday season! Enjoy!!

(picture borrowed from Brown Eyed Baker's website)

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake Time: 55 to 65 minutes | Yield: 12 to 16 servings

For the Crust:
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about a 14-oz package of cookies)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
2 cups (about a 15-oz can) canned pumpkin
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Double-wrap the bottom and outside of a 9-inch springform pan with heavy duty foil. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into the bottom and up the sides (about halfway) of the springform pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

2. Beat together the cream cheese and the sugars on medium speed until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is incorporated. Add the pumpkin and mix on low until completely incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, cloves and allspice and mix on low to incorporate.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.

4. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the edges are set, but the middle still jiggles a little. Keeping the oven door closed, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven, remove the foil and place the cheesecake on a wire rack to cool completely, about an additional 2 hours. Once completely cool, refrigerate for at least 6 hours (strongly recommend at least overnight!!).

5. Cover any leftover cheesecake with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

(Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker) Pin It

October 16, 2012

Homemade Marshmallow Fondant

A few major life lessons I learned tonight (a few fon-don'ts if you will):
1) It is next to impossible to unplug a stand mixer if your hands are greased up with Crisco.
2) Do not EVER but your hand in a mixer that is on to try to scrape down powdered sugar. My index  finger got stuck between the dough hook and the spoon! Ouch.
3) You should make sure you have a bowl big enough to accommodate an entire bag of marshmallows. Note: they expand when you microwave them. Shocker, I know.
4) My dog could probably eat his body weight in marshmallows.
5) ALWAYS wear plastic gloves when using red food coloring to color fondant.

Now that you know what NOT to do... let me share with you the recipe I used from Annie's Eats to make my own fondant for a little boy's Mickey Mouse birthday cake (pictures coming soon). It is super easy, do not be intimidated!!
Marshmallow Fondant
Yield: about 3 lbs.
Shortening, for greasing dishes and utensils
15 oz. miniature marshmallows
2 tbsp. water
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. light corn syrup
1 tsp. clear vanilla extract
½ tsp. lemon or almond extract
½ tsp. salt
7-8 cups confectioners’ sugar
Grease the inside of a microwave-safe bowl and stand mixer bowl with a thin but thorough layer of shortening.  Also grease a silicone spatula or two, as well as the hook attachment for the mixer.
In the microwave safe bowl, combine the marshmallows and water.  Microwave the mixture in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is melted and somewhat soupy.  When the mixture is melted, remove from the microwave and stir in the lemon juice, corn syrup, extracts, and salt.
Place about 6 cups of confectioners’ sugar in the stand mixer bowl and form a well in the center.  Pour the marshmallow mixture into the well and knead on low speed with the dough hook until the sugar is mostly incorporated.  When the mixture begins to stick to the bowl, add an additional 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and continue kneading.
At this point additional sugar may or may not be needed.  (Consistency will vary due to environmental humidity and how light or heavy you scoop your sugar.)  The final consistency of the fondant should be totally smooth, but quite thick, similar to modeling clay.*  If the mixture becomes too much for the stand mixer, transfer the fondant to a greased work surface and continue to knead with greased hands until the desired consistency is achieved.
*I personally think it is useful to work with store-bought fondant at least once, mainly so you know the consistency you are aiming for. (notes from Annie's Eats)
Form the fondant into a smooth ball, coat lightly with shortening, and wrap tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap.  Place in an airtight bag, press out all excess air, and seal.  Let rest at least 3-4 hours or overnight before using.**
**I know you’ll want to know how long this lasts.  I don’t have an exact answer but I can tell you that I typically make fondant about 4-7 days before I plan to use it (for the sake of breaking up an involved cake) and it is always fine when I use it. (notes from Annie's Eats)
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October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

This week was one of the best weekends I have ever had. Myself and 8 of my friends went to our friend's ranch for the weekend!! We got to spend the weekend riding horses, exploring the 800 acres her family owns, jam sessions by the bonfire and just enjoying the great outdoors.
Saturday night we had a big family dinner complete with grilling steaks and roasting corn in the fire pit outside :) It was SO good! Did I cook? Negative. Did I bring dessert? You betcha!! I brought a double batch of my most requested chocolate chip cookies and one of my new favorite fall desserts, Apple Spice Cake. There were 9 of us, so I had to make sure there was plenty of dessert for everyone and I figured a chilly night would be the perfect time to have the first pumpkin dessert of the season. I found this recipe on Whipped, The Blog and after reading the reviews I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did because this cake was the hit of the night. Thankfully it didn't all get eaten so I had some after dinner tonight!

(this is not my picture, I forgot to take one :( This is the picture used on Whipped's blog)
Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake


The cake:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-oz can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs

The glaze:

2 T butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1-3 T cream or milk


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour bundt pan. Combine together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan. Shake a few times to be sure to remove any bumps then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

To make glaze, heat butter until melted. Stir in sifted powdered sugar. Mix in cream or milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Drizzle over cake while it is on a wire rack so excess falls through.


- I forgot to buy buttermilk at the store so I had to make my own. It's really easy. In a liquid measuring cup pour 1 T. white vinegar and then fill to the 1 cup mark with milk and let sit for 5 minutes.
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October 1, 2012

Apple Spice Cake

Let's be honest, isn't fall everyone's favorite season?? It's cool enough to wear jeans and warm enough to go without a coat! It's my absolute favorite time of year. If I could make it fall year round I would have a lot less to complain about. Maybe ;)

This coming weekend 8 of my friends and I are going to my friend's ranch for a fun weekend outside the city. Everyone was suggesting what to cook for dinner, I knew the only contribution I could make was in the form of dessert and breakfast pastries. I saw a beautiful "fall" recipe on Smitten Kitchen's page a while ago and I immediately wanted to make a few changes and bring this along to the ranch.

This recipe is very easy. You can make it using a wooden spoon and 2 bowls. It's a very thick batter, so next time I will use my stand mixer, but you really don't need to. 

The cake is moist, spiced just right for the cool weather and studded with pieces of walnuts and chunks of tart apples! It received rave reviews at the office today. I'm so excited to share this one with you!


Apple Spice Cake

6 apples, I used McIntosh apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan with shortening. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it and then sprinkle the walnuts over the apples. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.


- You want to use a firm apple (McIntosh is perfect, Granny Smith, etc) that won't turn to mush when you bake it.
- This cake is easily customizable. Leave out the nutmeg, add some pumpkin pie spices... it's totally up to you.
- For me personally, it had too many apples. Everyone loved it, but I might try only using 5 next time. You just want enough to cover the middle and top layers. You don't need heaping piles of apple, unless you like it that way :)
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