Saturday, November 25, 2017

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake

(recipe from

Serves  15-20 at least                                                                                          

Note: Plan ahead, this cake should be made over the course of 2-3 days.  Please read this recipe in its entirety before making. I have included lots of helpful notes throughout the text.
Edit:  Also, please note that this cheesecake should be stored in the freezer and is easier to cut when still partially frozen. 

Crustless Cheesecake portion:

30 mini peanut butter cups, each one quartered

2 sticks (16 tbsp) softened butter

1 cup granulated sugar

4- 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened

1- 3 oz. package cook and serve vanilla pudding

4 eggs

2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease two 9" pans with shortening, line the pans with parchment and then grease the parchment.  Lightly flour the pans and tap out excess over the sink.  Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Add cream cheese a little at a time until smooth.  Scrape bowl down and beat again on medium speed, adding eggs one at a time.  Add remaining ingredients except peanut butter cups.  Mix again until smooth.

With a rubber spatula, fold in quartered peanut butter cups.  Divide batter evenly between pans.  You should have 8 cups of batter, so 4 cups in each pan.  Smooth batter with offset spatula (Fig.1) and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour.  Cheesecake will puff up during baking, then deflate when taken out. 

Do not turn out cheesecakes when they are finished baking.  Put them directly in the freezer, and leave until frozen solid. 

Turn out frozen cheesecake layers and peel parchment from the bottoms.  Line the pan they were in with enough parchment or wax paper to hang over the sides of the pan (Fig. 3).  Place the cheesecakes back in the pans.  This makes removal FAR more easy after caramel layer has been added.  Place cheesecakes back into the freezer while you make the caramel layer.

Caramel for cake layers:

 2-14 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk

10 tbsp. butter

80 caramels

Scant cup of salted peanut halves

Important note:
 This recipe is made in two batches, so all of the ingredients are divided.

In a large microwaveable bowl, place 1- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, 5 tbsp. butter, and 40 caramels.  Heat at 1 minute intervals until smooth.  My household microwave at full power took about 4 minutes.

Pour caramel evenly over frozen layers of cheesecakes.  Be careful to not let much of the caramel drip over the sides.  Sprinkle each layer with 3-4 tbsp. of salted peanut halves.  Return cheesecake layers to freezer.

Chocolate cake portion:

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cups cocoa powder, unsweetened

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup of coffee - must be hot!

Grease 2- 9" pans with shortening and line with parchment.  Grease parchment and lightly flour pan, tapping out excess. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  In a 4 cup glass measure, mix all the wet ingredients except hot coffee!

Turn mixer on low speed and gradually add wet ingredients to dry.  Stop and scrape down the bowl, making sure to scrape the bottom where dregs tend to gather.  Return mixer to low speed and beat in hot coffee.  Mixture will be very thin.

Divide batter evenly between the two pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes (check at 35).  Cake is ready when toothpick tester comes out clean.  Cool slightly in pans.  Run knife around the edge of cakes and turn them out.  Let them rest on a cooling rack.

When cool, level cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler.  Line cake pans with parchment or wax paper, enough to hang over the edges (just like previously with the cheesecake layers).  Return cake layers to parchment lined pans.

Make 2nd batch of caramel as directed for the cheesecake layer.  Pour caramel evenly over both chocolate cake layers (Fig. 4), sprinkle with 3-4 tbsp. salted peanut halves.  Place caramel covered cakes in freezer until caramel has hardened a bit (about 15 minutes).

Remove all cake layers from freezer.  Remove all cake layers from pans using the parchment overhang to pull them out.  Stack layers beginning with 1 layer of chocolate cake as the bottom, then cheesecake layer, then chocolate layer, and last cheesecake layer will be on top (Fig.5).  Wrap layers in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.  You'll frost your cake the next day.

Chocolate ganache frosting:

13 oz. or 1 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 tbsp. corn syrup

Note: Remove cheesecake layers from freezer and unwrap.  Choose your serving plate and line it with wax paper strips.  Place cake over strips.  Now you're ready to frost.

Put chocolate chips in a medium bowl or 4 cup measure.  Heat cream in a saucepan over medium high heat until very hot but not boiling.  Pour hot cream over chips and stir until smooth.  Remove 2/3 cup chocolate mixture and pour into a small bowl.  Add 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup and stir.  When combined, immediately pour over top of cake (Fig. 6), creating a shiny dark topping and taking care that most remains on top of the cake and doesn't spill down the edges (Fig.7).  Return cake, uncovered this time,  to freezer.

Fit stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Pour remaining chocolate ganache into the stand mixer bowl and whip on the highest speed for 5-10 minutes (I set my timer for 7 minutes) until icing is light and fluffy.  Icing is ready when it is thick and can be pulled into a stiff peak (Fig. 8).

Remove cake layers from freezer and frost sides with chocolate ganache using an offset spatula.  The whipped frosting should grab on to the frozen cakes well.  Use all the ganache frosting, evening the cake's surface as you work.

Chocolate curls:

(I made these my own way by using a putty knife against the cookie sheet instead -- )

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips -semisweet


11x14 cookie sheet

Small brownie spatula with a sharp edge - like this one

Melt chocolate chips at 30 second intervals in the microwave; stir until smooth.  Pour onto cookie sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula.   Place in refrigerator for 5-7 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm and has a matte appearance.

Remove from refrigerator and let stand for a few minutes (3-5ish) at room temperature.  With a small, sharp spatula, begin scraping chocolate at one edge in a thin strip.  If chocolate breaks into pieces it is too cold, so allow it to stand a few minutes more at room temp.  Chocolate should curl easily as you run your spatula under the chocolate and down the length of the cookie sheet.  Place curls in a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready for use.

To garnish cake with chocolate curls, let cake stand at room temperature for a few minutes, then remove curls from refrigerator and gently press into the sides of the cake.

Peanut Butter Frosting and Garnish:

(I doubled this recipe and used it on the sides before putting the chocolate curls on it.)

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

8 tbsp butter, softened

1 cup confectioners' sugar

9 mini peanut butter cups

Cream peanut butter and butter together in stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  Whip on high speed until light and fluffy.

Transfer icing to a piping bag fitted with a large french piping tip.  Pipe 8 large swirls around the top edge of cake, and pipe one swirl in the middle.  Garnish each swirl with a peanut butter cup.


    * . Edit: I'm being told from some of you that it is easier to slice partially frozen.  Store cake in freezer.

    * Using the exact same pans for both cheesecakes and chocolate cakes will keep you from having to trim the edges when stacking all layers together.  ( I had to trim the cheesecake edges a little, see Fig.7)

    * The caramel is very gooey and when cold can be a little resistant to slicing. Run a knife under hot water and dry it off, then cut the cake with the warm knife for a nice even slice.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Lemon Scones

I "cheated" on this one and used Sticky Fingers (the BEST) English Scone Lemon Poppyseed Mix then doctored it up as follows:



1 Sticky Fingers English Scone Lemon Poppyseed Mix

Follow recipe on scone package and add 2-3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice. (You can omit this part but I love it really lemon-y).  Put it in a good non-stick scone pan (I use this one:)


1-1/4 c flour
1 c brown sugar
1/8 t salt
1/2 c butter melted

Mix together and crumble evenly over scones.

Cook according to Sticky Fingers English Scone package. Cool completely. Drizzle Glaze on top:


3/4 - 1 c powdered sugar
5 t freshly squeezed lemon juice

Get all lumps out. I use my handy-dandy emulsifier (which is also my fav chopper -- this is my "must have" kitchen tool -- I got it for all my daughters for Christmas last year!):

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Favorite Baking Tools

It's all about the tools.  Here are some of my must-have's:

I roll my pie crusts between this no-mess pie crust maker before rolling it out with a marble rolling pin that puts just the right amount of pressure on it...

I love using these shapes to decorate my pies...

I hate fishing egg shells from my mixes; this little guy solves that problem by separating eggs so easily -- fits onto the side of the bowl too!

I use these pie weights to hold down the crust while baking an unfilled pie...

My secrets to a perfect pie crust every time:

When you have a parchment paper obsession and want your sheets to fit perfectly onto your baking pans:

Pumpkin Pie Spectacular

9" piecrust (I usually make my own but in a pinch I use the refrigerated ones and just spread it into the pie plate)
2 c crushed gingersnaps (about 40 gingersnaps)
1 c pecans, finely chopped
½ c powdered sugar
¼ c butter, melted
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs, beaten
½ c sour cream
1 t ground cinnamon
½ t vanilla extract
¼ t ground ginger

Pecan Streusel (recipe follows)
Stir all of the following ingredients together:
            ¼ c all purpose flour
            ¼ c firmly packed dark brown sugar
            2 T melted butter
            ¾ c pecans, coarsely chopped

7 thin ginger cookies, halved (I use Anna's Ginger Thins – available at most Kroger,
    Tuesday Morning, Walgreens & Target stores)

Ginger-Spice Topping, ground cinnamon (recipe follows)
            Stir all of the following ingredients together:
            1 8-oz cool whip, thawed
            ¼ t ground cinnamon
            ¼ t ground ginger

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Fit piecrust into a 9" deep-dish pie plate; fold edges under and crimp.
2.  Stir together crushed gingersnaps and next 3 ingredients (finely-chopped pecans, ½ c powdered sugar and melted butter).  Press mixture on bottom and ½" up sides of piecrust.
3.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).
4.  Stir together pumpkin and next 6 ingredients until well blended.  Pour into prepared crust.  Place pie on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
5.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle Pecan Streusel around edge of crust.  Bake 40-45 minutes or until set, shielding edges with aluminum foil during the last 25-30 minutes of baking if necessary.  (Really you should have the pie crust shields, either silicone or aluminum, that they sell for this purpose and use them instead!)

Insert ginger cookies around edge of crust.  Let cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).  Dollop with Ginger-Spice Topping; dust with cinnamon. 

Layered Walnut Pumpkin Pie

This is Gary's fav...

3/4 c walnuts
1/4 c cold water
3/4 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 t salt
1 c shipping cream
walnut halves for decoration
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 lb. pumpkin
1/2 c milk
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t vanilla
1 9" baked, cool pie shell

Chop nuts fine. Soften gelatin in water in 2-qt. pot. Stir in pumpkin, 1/2 c of the sugar, milk, lightly beaten egg yolks, spice and salt. Heat just to boiling, stirring constantly. Turn heat very low and cook 5 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat; add vanilla and cool. Chill until mixture thickens slightly. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 2 T sugar, beating until stiff. Fold into pumpkin mixture along with the chopped walnuts. Beat cream with remaining sugar until very stiff. Turn half pumpkin mixture into pie shell and spread level. Top with 3/4 of the whipped cream and spread in even layer. Spoon remaining pumpkin filling on top of whipped cream gently. Decorate top with remaining whipped cream and walnut halves. Chill at least 4 hours before cutting.

Lemon Cheesecake

This is Jeanette's fav cheesecake, so I made it for her birthday!
This recipe is taken from:  Creative Culinary

Preparation 30 min
Cook Time 45 min
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
A large and luscious cheesecake with just the perfect touch of lemon.


    For the Crust

    • 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 25 single crackers, crushed)
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 6 tablespoons melted butter

    For the Filling

    • 3 - 8·ounce packages cream cheese, softened
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 1/3 cups sugar
    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

    For the Sour Cream Topping

    • 1 pint sour cream
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    For the Glaze

    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
    • 1/2 cup water (I substituted 1/2 cup Limoncello for the water but it's optional. I also ended up adding just a touch of lemon paste color. )
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


      Prepare the Crust:

      1. Combine cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press into bottom and 1/2" up sides of an 11 to 12 inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool before adding filling.

      Make the Cheesecake:

      1. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer at high speed until completely smooth.
      2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.
      3. Continue to beat, gradually adding 1 1/3 cups sugar, then lemon juice and vanilla.
      4. Stir in lemon rind.
      5. Pour into cooled crust and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
      6. Blend sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract for topping.
      7. Remove cake from oven. Gently spread sour cream over top of cake. Return to oven and bake about 12 minutes.
      8. Cool on rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until topping is cool but not completely chilled.
      9. Make glaze by combining sugar and cornstarch, blending in water and lemon juice until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. Cook 3 minutes. Chill until cool but not set.
      10. Spread top of cheesecake with lemon glaze. Chill several hours or over­night. Can also be frozen.
      Recipe Notes
      This recipe calls for a rather large springform pan; if your pan is smaller in diameter than your baking time will need to be adjusted accordingly. 

      Friday, April 7, 2017

      Karen’s Incredible Triple Chocolate Cake

      (Everyone loves this, but especially Jesse and Matthew!)

      (a repost!)

                  1 package Pillsbury Plus Devil’s Food Cake Mix
                  1 c dairy sour cream                         ¾ c water
                  1/3 c oil                                              3 eggs
                  4 oz (+) bar good milk chocolate, chopped in food processor

      Frosting (I usually double this part for frosting-loving crowds)
                  8 oz (+) good white chocolate, cut into pieces*
                  ¾ c Land O Lakes butter, softened (yes it does make a difference!)
                  ½ c powdered sugar

      Garnish (make before frosting the cake)
                  Apx. 2 lbs. white chocolate

                  Heat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans.** In large bowl, combine cake mix, sour cream, water, oil and eggs at low speed until moistened: beat 2 minutes at high speed. Gently fold in milk chocolate. Pour batter evenly into greased and floured pans. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely.

                  Mix white chocolate in double boiler, stirring constantly. Alternately, you could microwave it at a very low temperature, but watch it carefully and stir often because if it burns you have to toss it! Remove from heat; cool. (If you don’t cool it thoroughly, it will harden when mixed in with room temperature ingredients and look lousy.) In small bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Gradually beat in cooled chocolate until smooth and fluffy. To assemble cake, place one layer bottom side up on serving plate. Spread generous amount of frosting between layers. Place remaining layer bottom side down on frosted layer. Frost sides and top of cake with remaining frosting.

                  For garnish: Melt white chocolate and spread thin layer over back of cookie sheet or ideally on slab of marble. When it loses the shine, but BEFORE totally cool, take a putty knife or wide spatula, and make big chocolate curls or fans to put all over the top and sides of the cake. Put over sides and bottom while frosting is not yet “set.” If you are flunking out with the chocolate curls, cool the good white chocolate in a small bowl lined with saran wrap then take it out and just use a potato peeler to make small curls!

      *Use GOOD white chocolate! I use Callebaut online or get imported chocolate from candy making store.
      **I grease the bottoms, trace and cut pieces of parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Don't need to grease the sides.


      Wednesday, March 22, 2017

      Cauliflower Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

      I used a recipe I found on line (see below for link).

      1 head cauliflower stem removed and cut into smaller pieces
      1 large egg
      1/2 c shredded Parmesan
      1 t Italian seasoning (or use combo of salt, pepper, basil, oregano & parsley)
      (I added few shakes of cayenne pepper too)
      a few thick(er) slices of your cheese of choice (white cheddar, white American, swiss, provolone, or in our case jalapeƱo)

      1.  Preheat oven to 450. Pulse cauliflower in food processor til small pieces about half the size of a grain of rice.
      2.  Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave another 3 minutes. Stir. Microwave 5 minutes. Stir. Microwave another 5 minutes. It should be a LITTLE moist but pretty dry and clumpy. Make sure it is not too moist or you will have issues.
      3.  Let it cool a few minutes. Add egg, Parmesan and seasoning.
      4.  Divide into 4 equal parts and make into squares on parchment paper, about 1/2" thick. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes.
      5. Carefully slide cauliflower "bread" off parchment. Add cheese in between each "pair" of slices. Place either in toaster oven or back into oven on parchment until cheese melts.

      Original post is from: