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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Once upon a time…

The tartness grabs her taste buds and effervesces like teensy Pop Rocks on a wet tongue. When the first creamy bite of cheesecake hits her mouth, she’ll wonder if she even likes the combination of Key lime and blackberry.

Key lime blackberry cheesecake

She takes another bite.

Key lime blackberry cheesecake

She likes it enough to pile her fork with chunk after chunk and before she knows it, the tiny slice she “tried” is gone.

Key Lime Blackberry Cheesecake

Later that evening, she’ll be standing in front of the refrigerator with a clean fork.

Key lime blackberry cheesecake

A few months later, she’ll ask her sister when she is going to make Key lime blackberry cheesecake again.

Key lime cheesecake

But her sister will not know because her other sister requested turtle cheesecake a long, long time ago and more recently requested taco cheesecake. She’s just not sure which to make first.

She chooses to make taco cheesecake and everyone lives happily ever after.

Taco cheesecake

The end.

~~~~~

Key lime blackberry swirl cheesecake

This recipe makes one 9″ pan. I made one 6″ springform and four 6″ tart pans with this recipe. 

Crust:

4 cups pretzels

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Filling:

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup lime curd, stirred well to loosen it up

5 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature

5 teaspoons flour

1/2 cup Key lime juice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 eggs, room temperature

1 egg yolk, room temperature

1 jar (10 ounces) seedless blackberry jam or preserves, stirred well to loosen it up

blackberries for serving with each piece

Make the crust:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor combine pretzels, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter.

If you don’t have a food processor, put pretzels in a plastic storage bag and bang with a heavy object like a can of soup to make fine crumbs. Combine everything in a bowl. 

Dump the mixture into a greased 9″ springform pan and press down with bottom of measuring cup. Bake 7 minutes. Remove from oven.

Make the filling:

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy, making sure there are no lumps. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Whip in lime curd. Beat in sour cream and flour. At this point, make sure cheesecake filling is smooth because once you add the eggs, you don’t want to beat it vigorously.

Stir in Key lime juice and vanilla.

With mixer on low speed, beat in eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each one.

Pour half the filling into crust. Drop teaspoons of blackberry jam randomly into filling, using three-fourths of jam. With a butter knife, gently swirl jam into batter without touching crust. Pour second half of filling into pan and drop teaspoons of jam into the batter, swirling gently with butter knife.

  • For 9″ springform bake at 350 degrees.
  • For 6″ springform bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
  • For 6″ tart pans bake at 275 degrees for 28-33 minutes.

Remove from oven when center is slightly jiggly. It will continue to bake once removed. Cool to room temperature. Chill in fridge for 24 hours. Serve with blackberries.

Store leftovers in refrigerator up to one week or in freezer up to three months.

Also try Key Lime Cheesecake with Patrón Sauce and Key lime pie.

Sweet fairytale wishes,

Staci

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Hannah graduates from SDSU in a couple of weeks and it was her last day working in our group. Sticking with tradition, we had a food day—no nuts, no peanut butter. Hannah loves chocolate and deep dark chocolate cheesecake with honey ganache is irrefutably the most decadent chocolate dessert I make. And eat.

Perhaps it was the cool air breezing through the kitchen window when I opened the oven door, or maybe I overbeat the batter like a cheesecake novice that I am not.

deepest darkest chocolate cheesecake

But no matter what it was, the crack in my cheesecake made the perfect cranny for the ganache to nestle into like a silk scarf tucked into a cashmere coat.

ganache in cheesecake crack

Candid iPhone picture while slicing the cheesecake

I’m hoping I can make the same mistake again. And again. And again.

deepest darkest chocolate cheesecake

Deepest Darkest Chocolate Cheesecake with Honey Ganache is on foodnetwork.com. I’ve used the recipe since 2013 when I shared it in Save the bees, make chocolate cheesecake with honey ganache. I use the ganache recipe for a lot of my desserts because I like to use locally-harvested honey instead of corn syrup.

Don’t be afraid to add the coffee to the filling and to the ganache. Just like in Is that coffee in your cookie or just intensified chocolate, coffee simply deepens the flavor of the chocolate.

Sweet mistake wishes,

Staci

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I gave Jason a choice for his belated birthday dessert—Key lime cheesecake with Patrón sauce or Key lime pie. He chose Key lime pie, but specified he wanted one with pretzel crust.

Key lime pie with pretzel crust

Heck if I’ve ever written down my recipe so it always takes me a while to figure out how to make it again. And then I worry that it’s not as good as last time.

Key lime pie

When it was done, I put the pie in the refrigerator and texted Jason that it would be ready to eat when he and Camden got back to our house that night. The next morning I noticed that there were only two pieces gone. Worried that the pie didn’t turn out, I questioned Jason like a cop busting up an underage party. The interrogation was unwarranted though, as he assured me they liked the pie but it was too sweet to eat huge slices at midnight.

Key lime pie

Crisis averted. So that I have the recipe for his next February birthday, here’s the recipe for our favorite Key lime pie—best savored one slice at a time.

For a lighter dessert perfect for Easter Sunday, make summer breeze lime pie from Midwest Living.

Key lime pie 

Crust

1-1/2 cups pretzel crumbs (approximately 4 cups pretzels)

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling

2 cans (14 ounces each) sweetened condensed milk

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup Key lime juice

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Key lime or lime zest

Whipped cream for topping, if desired

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine pretzel crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until combined. (Or mix crust ingredients in a bowl.)
  3. Lightly spray 9-inch pie plate. Drop the crust mix into the pan and firmly pat down evenly with the bottom of a measuring cup or the palm of your hand.
  4. Bake crust 7 minutes. Remove from oven. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.
  5. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, pour in the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, Key lime juice, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high until mixed well.
  6. Stir in lime zest.
  7. Pour filling into crust.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or just until set.
  9. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
  10. Keep leftovers in refrigerator up to 4 days.

Sweet and sour birthday wishes,

Staci

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You’ve flipped your paper calendar to November, there’s a gallon of apple cider in your fridge, “A Partridge in a Pear Tree” is chirping on Pandora, and you’re pinning unrealistic menu and holiday decorating to-dos as if Pinterest hands out gold medals. And now you will fall asleep at night counting tiny triangles of caramel apple cider cheesecake.

caramel apple cider cheesecake

But since cheesecake doesn’t fall from trees, this is a realistic dessert to pin to your Thanksgiving Meal board. You will impress your guests or hosts with a cheesecake flavor they’ve likely never tried, and you get to make it well in advance of your dinner because you can refrigerate cheesecake for seven days and you can freeze it for up to six months.

If you are a cheesecake novice, this is an easy enough cheesecake recipe for you. I’ll share my same tips as I did a few days ago in Don’t let cheesecake scare you: start with a recipe easier than monster cookie dough cheesecake:

  1. Bring ingredients to room temperature. Using room temperature ingredients and adding the eggs last, and not overbeating once you add them, are the secrets to making cheesecake. Simple as that.
  2. Plan to be at home for a few hours. (But you can even run errands while the cheesecake cools.)

Caramel apple cider cheesecake

Crust

1-1/2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling

4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1-1/4 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup apple butter (smooth, nut chunky)

1/2 cup boiled cider (or use this recipe from Midwest Living to make your own boiled cider)

1-1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice

4 eggs, room temperature

1 cup caramel ice cream topping

Put it all together

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. For a 9-inch springform pan, grease the springform pan with baking or cooking spray. For a 9-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper or pan lining paper leaving extra paper hanging over the edge to use as a handle to lift the cheesecake out.
  2. Combine the crushed graham crackers and melted butter in a small bowl. Stir well. (Or combine in a food processor.) Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of pan. Bake 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat room temperature cream cheese on medium-high speed until creamy throughout, with no chunks or pieces. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times while mixing. This will take approximately 3-4 minutes. This only works if the cream cheese is at a soft, room temperature consistency.
  4. Add the sugar to the cream cheese mixture and beat on medium-high speed for a few minutes until sugar is well combined and the texture is creamy.
  5. Drop the apple butter and apple pie spice in and stir lightly. Pour in the boiled cider and mix on medium just until combined.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low just until combined. Turn off the mixer and gently scrape down the sides of the bowl after each egg is added. Do not overbeat.
  7. Gently pour the filling into the prepared crust. With a spoon or fork, drizzle the caramel all over the top, trying not to drop big globs on the cheesecake. With a knife, swirl the caramel into the cheesecake, but only near the top of the batter, don’t get it very deep.
  8. Bake at 350° for approximately one hour and 15 minutes or until the edges are light golden brown and the center is just set. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door open slightly. Let the cheesecake completely cool in the oven for two hours. (You can run your errands now.)
  9. Once cool, run a knife between the pan and the cheesecake to loosen it from the sides, then cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan or remove from square pan by lifting the edges of the parchment paper. To slice, run a large knife under hot water and dry before making each cut to keep the slices smooth and free from crumbs.

Keep cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to seven days. If you want to freeze the cheesecake or slices of cheesecake wrap tightly in foil or seal in freezer bags for up to six months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight and at room temperature for 2 hours or at room temperature for three hours.

If you want to bake this cheesecake in 4-inch springform pans as I have pictured, lower the oven temperature to 300° and bake approximately 40-45 minutes or until the edges are light golden brown and centers are just set.

If you want to get fancy, serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Sweet fall wishes,

Staci

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If I had a nickel for every time someone told me they can’t make cheesecake, I’d advance my own cookbook and give my debit card pin to my favorite charities.

Their stories go one of two ways. They’ve either tried once, maybe twice, to make cheesecake and it didn’t turn out as perfectly as they expected, or they’ve never tried to bake cheesecake because they assume it takes special skills.

monster cookie cheesecake

It is possible that your first cheesecake won’t look like a Food & Wine centerfold. And it does take skills:

  1. The ability and patience to bring ingredients to room temperature. Using room temperature ingredients and adding the eggs last, and not overbeating once you add them, are the secrets to making cheesecake. Simple as that.
  2. The availability to be at home for a few hours. (But you can even run errands while the cheesecake cools.)

If you have these ordinary skills, you can make cheesecake. So let the big bad scary cheesecake out from under your bed and let’s talk about how you can make extraordinary cheesecake at home. My suggestion is to start with the easiest cheesecake and work your way up to making a more time-consuming, but not more difficult cheesecake, like monster cookie dough.

Vanilla cheesecake with fresh berries | Random Sweetness Baking

I know you can do this. In my early days of learning to make cheesecake, I undercooked a cheesecake and brought it to work. I was mortified. So I tried again. And now I’ve mastered the art of making cheesecake but I’m just a home cook. My field of training is in communications and business, not culinary arts. I flunked art in middle school and my home ec sweatshirt was too long and crooked. I once hot-glued wallpaper to cover a section of bedroom wall when I lived in a trailer house. And every once in a while, my cheesecakes have sinkholes, but so what? Did you know that a bad-looking cheesecake still tastes better than any pie or cake ever?

Vanilla Cheesecake with Fresh Berries

Crust (I toss whole crackers, sugar, and the melted butter in my food processor.)

1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

4 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened to room temperature (Take the cream cheese out of the packages and set them in your mixing bowl. Cover with a towel while they come to room temperature, at least 60 to 90 minutes before you are ready to bake.)

1-2/3  cups sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I use Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Crush)

3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream, at room temperature

3 large eggs at room temperature (Set these out when you get the cream cheese out.)

fresh berries of your choice

Put it all together

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. For a 9-inch springform pan, grease the springform pan with baking or cooking spray. For a 9-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper or pan lining paper leaving extra paper hanging over the edge to use as a handle to lift the cheesecake out.
  2. Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter in a small bowl. Stir well. (Or combine in a food processor.) Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of pan. Bake 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat room temperature cream cheese on medium-high speed until creamy throughout, with no chunks or pieces. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times while mixing. This will take approximately 3-4 minutes. This only works if the cream cheese is at a soft, room temperature consistency.
  4. Add the sugar to the cream cheese mixture and beat on medium-high speed for a few minutes until sugar is well combined and the texture is creamy.
  5. Put the cornstarch in a tiny bowl. While stirring, add just enough ice-cold water to dissolve the cornstarch. It’s probably a teaspoon or two of ice water. Stir until dissolved and then add to the cream cheese batter.
  6. Pour the vanilla extract and room temperature whipping cream into the batter and then beat on medium until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low just until combined. Turn off the mixer and gently scrape down the sides of the bowl after each egg is added. Do not overbeat.
  8. Gently pour the filling into the prepared crust. Bake at 350° for approximately one hour and 15 minutes or until the edges are light golden brown and the center is just set. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door open slightly. Let the cheesecake completely cool in the oven for two hours. (You can run your errands now.)
  9. Once cool, run a knife between the pan and the cheesecake to loosen it from the sides, then cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan or remove from square pan by lifting the edges of the parchment paper. To slice, run a large knife under hot water and dry before making each cut to keep the slices smooth and free from crumbs. Serve with your favorite berries.

Keep cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to seven days. If you want to freeze the cheesecake or slices of cheesecake, (remove the berries first) wrap tightly in foil or seal in freezer bags for up to six months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight and at room temperature for 2 hours or at room temperature for three hours.

If you want to bake these in 4-inch springform pans as I have pictured, lower the oven temperature to 275° and bake approximately 35-40 minutes. If you have mini cheesecake pans, bake for approximately 26 minutes.

Once you rule the kitchen with vanilla cheesecake, you are ready to make any cheesecake. Because the same basic rules apply—use room temp ingredients and don’t overbeat once you add the eggs to the batter.

Try Key Lime Cheesecake with Patrón Sauce.

Key lime cheesecake with Patron Sauce

Or Andes Mint Cheesecake.

Andes Mint Cheesecake

And then try a savory Taco Cheesecake. Yes, savory cheesecake.

Taco cheesecake

And then you are ready for Monster Cookie Dough Cheesecake, which is really quite easy, it just takes a little extra time to make the cookie dough balls.

monster cookie dough cheesecake

Monster cookie dough cheesecake

Crust

1 (17.5 ounce) pouch peanut butter cookie dough mix and the ingredients to make them

1/2 cup mini M&Ms

1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup quick-cooking oats

Filling

5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs, room temperature

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. For a 9-inch springform pan, grease the springform pan with baking or cooking spray.
  2. Make cookie dough according to package directions. Add the mini M&Ms, mini chocolate chips, and quick oats. Press a layer of cookie dough into the springform pan, approximately 1 cup of the dough. Bake for 5 minutes.
  3. Take 1 cup of the dough and roll into tiny balls, about the size of a nickel, and set aside.
  4. For the remaining dough, break into pieces and put on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes, just until you can use them as cookie crumbs to top the cheesecake slices.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add white and brown sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Do not over beat.
  6. Pour 1/2 of the cheesecake batter into pan. Scatter the cookie dough balls into the pan and then cover with the remaining cheesecake batter.
  7. Bake in 9-inch pan for 50-55 minutes or until the top starts to turn a light brown and the center still looks a little shiny.
  8. Remove from oven and cool 2 hours. Refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving. Top with reserved cookie crumbs when ready to serve.

Give one of these a try and then come back and let me know how you did. I’ll be your cheesecake cheerleader! Friends don’t let friends eat store-bought cheesecake.

Sweet and not-so-scary-cheesecake wishes,

Staci

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It didn’t start out to be a Labor Day weekend in the kitchen but in the past 24 hours I’ve washed a lot of dishes.

It started with a text from my nephew Garritt. “How busy r u this weekend?” I proceeded to tell him that I’m around, working on a few things around the house and waiting to see if my daughter was coming home. He asked if he could put in a request for me to make something – pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Well how do I say no to a sweet, innocent face like this?

(Disclosure, I Photoshopped a small injury off my forehead because I didn’t want to tell you that right when I was hosting the CBS Sunday morning crew for my real job, I cracked my head open a tiny bit with my car door. But now you know anyway. So, I Photoshopped the injury back on my forehead.)

Staci Garritt 2014

The two middle children in our family. T-R-O-U-B-L-E is our middle name.

Staci Garritt 2015

So, I baked Garritt’s favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

pumpkin chip cookies

While I was at it and washing dishes anyway, I made the Caramel Apple Nut Bars that I had intended to make for my sister Kalli’s birthday last week. I delivered them today. Better late and sweet than never I guess.

Caramel Apple Nut Bars

I’ve been trying to thin out the shelves in my pantry a little so today seemed like the perfect day to bake a big old pot of Make-It-Your-Way Rainy Day Chili. (I should’ve made Beer Chili instead so I could also get rid of a bottle of beer).

rainy day chili

Of course I made from-a-pouch cornbread and added a few dollops of Lake Benton honey. And a bowl of French vanilla pudding with banana slices (because Jason likes it).

And a pie plate of Cherry Crunchobblerumble (because we both like it).

Cherry Crunchobblerumble | Random Sweetness Baking

Well, enough about all the dishes I washed this weekend. Tell me about all the fun you had!

Sweet wrinkly wishes,

Staci

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There’s a border battle between two Minnesota housewives and for that reason, I am sworn to secrecy and cannot share my sister’s super-secret-better-than-everyone-else’s Special K bar recipe.

For years, Heidi has been knocking the socks off family and friends with her secret Special K bars. But there’s this one housewife [Lincoln County Housewife] who is unkind (like cyber-bullying unkind) to my sister but that lady’s husband and sons (who are nice and friends of the family) love Heidi’s bars. So she bakes them for the guys but won’t share the recipe with anyone but her sisters. Ah, sweet revenge.

Special K bars

When I told Heidi I was writing this post and assured her that I would not share her secret recipe, she told me a few interesting facts about what happens when she makes a pan (or two) of her famous Special K Bars. [I didn’t use the guys’ names.]

Heidi: When I make these for them, there are rules. They are rationed between each other.

Me: LOL, what? Between Lincoln County Husband and Sons?

Heidi: I don’t really know, but it is wild hog code of rules about who gets bars, when they get bars, what size bars each get. I stay clear!

Me: Oh it’s wild hog rules amongst themselves – they’re not your rules? Is that more than just Lincoln Co. Husband and his boys? Or is it Pipestone Co. Husband and the other guys too? You just toss them a pan and run??

Heidi: Yes. It’s (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male), (Male) and (Male).

And the chivalrous “ladies first” rule does not apply.

It gets even better. 

Here’s an excerpt from a message from Lincoln Co. Housewife to my sister:

“Made my husband more bars, huh…I’d like to know what obsession you have about making bars for my men in my family…” blah, blah, blah something about the “fatning” bars… (her spelling not mine) “[Lincoln Co. Husband] told me today that he told you to stop making him bars…you better listen to him…”

Me to Heidi: Did he tell you to stop?

Heidi: Hell no!

Who knew a pan of bars could create such turmoil? We will forever refer to her secret recipe as Special K-iss My Ass Bars.

Special K Bars

(A standard, non revolution provoking recipe)

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup white sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

6 cups Special K cereal (or corn flake cereal)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

In a large saucepan over medium heat bring corn syrup and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth. Fold in cereal. Press into a buttered or parchment paper-lined 8 x 11½ or 9×13 cake pan.

In a small saucepan melt chocolate and butterscotch chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Once smooth, pour over bars and spread evenly. Cool completely before cutting.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Come back later this week for: 3 piggies in a breakfast pie.

Super secret sweet wishes,

Staci

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