Archive for April, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

April 24, 2014

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I don’t remember a time in my life when I did not know about cheesecake.  For as long as I can remember, I have always known the dessert with the smooth, creamy filling.  The dessert that is called a cake but isn’t like cake at all.  My mom used to make cheesecake and pumpkin pie every single New Year’s Eve.  Two of each, actually!  It was just a thing she did.  And my dad would go on business trips to New York and bring back croissants and a piece of cheesecake each for me and my sister.  A charmed life, I have led.

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Which is exactly the reason I wonder why I don’t make cheesecake more often.  It must be the grandness of it.  It’s big (as in the actual size), it’s heavy (it’s not a dieter’s dessert, people), and it’s a bit of a show-stopper.  Cheesecake seems to be a dessert for special occasions.  Like New Year’s Eve!  And coming back from a trip to New York!

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I had been eyeing this recipe for a while.  But I just kept waiting until there was a good enough reason to make it.  Finally, I made this for a special occasion, and it was gone in an hour.  Flat.  And then I was sad I had no more cheesecake.  The irony is palpable.

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What I’m saying is that you actually should not wait for a reason to make this cheesecake, people.  Do it now.  There should be more cheesecake in your life.

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Chocolate Chip Cheesecake (slightly adapted from All Recipes)

For crust:

2 cups chocolate Teddy Grahams

scant 1/3 cup sugar

6 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/2 tsp. salt

Spray a 9 inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a food processor (or in a Ziplock bag), whiz together the Teddy Grahams, sugar, and salt until they are fine crumbs.  Add butter and blend until it comes together.  Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.  Set aside.

For filling:

3 8 oz. blocks cream cheese, at room temperature

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 14oz. can condensed milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup mini chocolate chips, divided

1 tbsp. all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, until each one is well-incorporated.  Add condensed milk and vanilla and mix well.  Toss 3/4 cups of chocolate chips with flour until the chips are well coated.  Fold the chips into the batter until well distributed.  Pour into prepared pan with crust.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips.

Bake for 1 hour, resisting temptations to open the oven.  At the 1 hour mark, turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven for an additional hour.  Remove from oven and cool completely at room temperature.  Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

 

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English Muffins

April 17, 2014

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The thing about making usually store-bought things homemade is that you have a standard to adhere to.  So, for example, if you were to, say, make English muffins at home, people may start searching for those nooks and crannies.

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It’s all about managing expectations, people.  No, these did not have the same kinds of holes and wobbles to smear a pad of butter on.  But were they fluffy and delicious?!  Yes.  Did they look like an English Muffin?!  Yes!  Were you able to split them with a fork?!  If you tried really hard, yes, but, I mean, use a knife.  Do you really need anything else?  Well, nooks and crannies would have been nice.

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But I’m focusing on the positive!  Split these open, melt some cheese on both sides and stick an egg in the middle – no one will turn you away.

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English Muffins (recipe from A Beautiful Mess)

2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon butter, room temperature 
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk, room temperature

Combine the yeast with the warm water, and let sit for 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Mix in butter, and then the milk and yeast mixture.  Stir until a dough ball forms.  Knead until the dough is shiny and elastic: if using a stand mixer and dough hook to knead the dough, this will take about 6 minutes; by hand it will probably take 8-10 minutes.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, set in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 60-90 minutes).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust it with flour.  Dump the dough out on a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough into 8 equal parts.

Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for an additional hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat a cast iron skillet (or other oven safe pan), or just a regular non stick pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil or butter and spread it around to make sure that the muffins don’t stick.  In batches if pan is small, or all at one time, stick the muffins on the pan.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until the muffins are golden brown on both sides.

Either stick the pan in the oven (or transfer back to the baking sheet), and bake for 10-12 minutes until cooked through.  Cool on a wire rack

Muddy Buddies

April 3, 2014

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People.  The name of this nostalgic childhood treat is called muddy buddies.  It’s also known as puppy chow.  And yes, I made it.  For you!

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What makes this worse is that this doesn’t even bring back any childhood memories for me.  Mostly because my mom wouldn’t have it.  You’re not making dog food in my kitchen, she once told me way back when.  Fair, I thought.  (And anyway, she had her own version of chocolate peanut butter cereal treats that were just fine by me.)

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And yet, here I am.  I made these anyway.  There was always something about this that I wanted to try.  Chocolate!  Peanut butter!  Cereal!  Nostalgia!  Ziplock bags filled with powdered sugar!  Basically, my top 5 favorite things.  How could this be bad?!

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I think that the most appropriate word to describe this is “addictive.”  But I’m sure you have all probably had these before.  They defy all logic – their name is so unappealing, their appearance equally so; but the reaction I got when I gave these away was pure (childhood?) joy.  And for that reason alone, you should make these muddy puppy chow buddies.

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Muddy Buddies (slightly adapted from the Chex website)

9 cups Rice Chex

1 cup dark chocolate chips

heaping 1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/4 cup butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Place cereal in a large bowl.  In another bowl, microwave together chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until smooth and melted.  Add vanilla and salt to the chocolate/peanut butter mixture.  Using a rubber spatula and constantly stirring to make sure that the cereal does not break, mix in the chocolate mixture into the cereal until the cereal is evenly coated.  Divide in 1/2 and place in two 1 gallon ziplock bags.  Distribute 3/4 cups powdered sugar in each bag.  Seal top and shake the bag until the cereal is coated with powdered sugar.  Line two baking sheets with wax paper.  Pour cereal out on baking sheets to let chocolate harden and cool.