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Posts Tagged ‘white chocolate’

I got an F in art in middle school and I avoided the subject in high school. As an adult and a mother, I realized I liked buying scrapbooking materials but I never actually scrapbooked. I’m not much of an interior decorator either. Mostly I just slap my framed black and white photography in the hallways and call it good.

So why in the world I thought I could create delicately adorned petits fours is beyond me. But when my friend Ann asked if I could make them for her stepdaughter’s wedding I said, “Sure, I’ll give them a try.”

imperfect petit fours

To see what petits fours [that you’d actually want to serve at your wedding] look like, check these out on Pinterest.

mess of petit fours

Maybe my confidence and enthusiasm came from the experience I’ve gained making hundreds, actually thousands, of baby cheesecakes like Key Lime Cheesecake with Patrón Sauce, Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake, and Deepest Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Honey Ganache.

A few things I learned in this process:

  • Making sheet cakes and cutting 1-inch by 1-inch squares with a knife just doesn’t work. They are too small to handle the weight of stacked layers covered with fondant, which turns them into leaning and tumbling towers of petits fours. Use a small round or square biscuit cutter instead.
  • It takes a lot more pourable fondant to smoothly cover each petit four than what you’d think. A lot.
  • Petits fours are remarkably more time-consuming to make and assemble than baby cheesecakes.

If you are up to the petit four challenge, these are the websites I used to get me though the trial and error process. Golden Vanilla Cake from King Arthur Flour – a cake that I would definitely bake again because of its full vanilla flavor and soft texture. I used seedless raspberry jam for the vanilla petit four layers.

For the chocolate petits fours, I baked my Heavenly Chocolate Cake and made the Whipped Chocolate Cream layer in these Chocolate Pomegranate Petits Fours from A Spicy Perspective.

For the icing on both the vanilla and chocolate cakes, I made White Chocolate Poured Fondant Icing from King Arthur Flour and used the tips in their their article, “Pointed pinkies only, please: petits fours with poured fondant icing.”

Although the square blobs of cake were a fail in the context of serving them at a wedding, they tasted fabulous. Maybe the bride will come around to offering her guests adorable little cheesecakes instead. Dun dun daadun, dun dun daadun…

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There are more varieties than Baskin Robbins concoctions. We love cheesecake flavors like died-and-gone-to-chocolate-heaven-with-my-BFF, sweet girly cocktail with umbrellas and fruit swords (minus the morning headache), harvest-pumpkin-patch-my-kid-got-lost-in-the-corn-maze, and plain Jane topped with berries. But there is one cheesecake that always brings people to the table with forks in hand — raspberry white chocolate cheesecake.

Raspberry white chocolate cheesecake | Random Sweetness Baking

Maybe it’s related to the milkshake that brings all the boys to the yard. But this dessert brings them to their knees.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

Crust for 36 mini cheesecakes

2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs (I spin them around in my blender), with the filling removed or it’s too oily

6 tablespoons melted butter

OR

Crust for 9-inch springform pan

1-1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs (I spin them around in my blender), with the filling removed or it’s too oily

1/3 cup melted butter

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Cheesecake filling

4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature

1-1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

5 eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup white chocolate liqueur such as Godiva (optional)

10 ounce jar red raspberry preserves, seedless

4 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped into little chunks

For mini cheesecakes, preheat oven to 250°. For 9-inch cheesecake, preheat oven to 475°. Lightly grease pans.

Pour the melted butter into a medium bowl with Oreo crumbs. Stir around until the butter has soaked into the crumbs evenly. Dump the crumbs into the 9-inch springform pan and press crumb mixture onto bottom and slightly up the sides of pan using the bottom of a cup or your hands. Sprinkle white chocolate pieces evenly over crust. Place pan in freezer.

If using mini pans, place approximately 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture in each hole and pound it down using a tart shaper. Sprinkle white chocolate over each little crust. Put pan(s) in freezer.

With an electric mixer, beat softened cream cheese on medium-high until it’s smooth and there are NO lumps. Add sugar and beat again until creamy. Plop in the sour cream and vanilla and beat until velvety. If using white chocolate liqueur, stir it in slowly now.

Crack eggs into a small bowl and beat softly with a fork. Add the eggs a little at a time to the cheesecake filling, beating on low speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. The key is to NOT whip in any air.

Remove crust from freezer.

For the mini cheesecakes: Using a little scoop, fill each cavity with cheesecake filling, just under half full. Drop a few teaspoons of the raspberry preserves into batter. Using a butter knife, gently swirl the preserves into the batter. Top with more cheesecake batter, leaving approximately 1/4-inch empty at the top. Bake at 250° for approximately 25-27 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least 12 hours before serving. I often take the pans out of the refrigerator after a few hours and transfer the cheesecakes to a plastic, covered container.

For the 9-inch cheesecake: Pour half of the filling into the 9-inch pan. Drizzle the raspberry preserves into the filling. Using a butter knife, gently swirl the preserves in figure eight patterns. Pour the remaining batter into the pan.

Carefully pound the pan on the counter a couple of times to pop out any air bubbles. Bake at 475° for 12 minutes. Leave the cheesecake in the oven and turn the oven down to 350°. Bake another 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake starts to turn a little golden color. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake come to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least 12 hours before slicing and serving.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake | Random Sweetness Baking

Serve with fresh raspberries, whipped cream, and pieces of white chocolate. I like to use a vegetable peeler to make delicate shavings.

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It was an honor to make desserts for the East Central Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Fire & Ice formal fundraising event this year.

It was tough to make a final choice for this year’s dessert. For the 2011 event, I made Raspberry White Chocolate Truffle Baby Cheesecakes and they were a crowd favorite. This year, event organizers, Darilyn and Julie, narrowed it down to Italian Tuxedo Parfaits and Andes Mint Baby Cheesecakes. Since the night’s theme colors were an elegant black and red damask pattern, the parfaits made the cut, and we moved the Andes Mint cheesecake babies to the 2013 short list.

It all starts with good-quality chocolate and my favorite amaretto liqueur, which appears not to have started the day as a full bottle. Sampling my friends, sampling.

Instagram photo from my kitchen

A tower of butter is needed to bake enough brownies for 240 guests.

Instagram photo from my kitchen

We served the light desserts in petite wine glasses.

Instagram photo from the Old Sanctuary kitchen

The recipe in today’s post makes one large triffle bowl full of deliciousness. Of course, it’s always fun to serve them as individual triffles.

(A special thank you to Mike, the Brookings Hy-Vee Produce Manager, who spent part of the morning picking out some of the best strawberries with me! …and for making sure I had enough Ghirardelli white chocolate.)

{Italian Tuxedo Trifle}

For the rich amaretto brownies:

1- 1/2 cups butter, melted

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon almond extract or bakery emulsion

4 Tablespoons Italian amaretto liqueur (I use Disaronno)

1 cup 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate,  finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease 9×13-inch cake pan or line with parchment paper (This is the first time I used Reynolds Wrap® Pan Lining Paper and I will definitely use it have used it again and again!)

In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter and cocoa. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs on medium speed until fluffy, about five minutes. Slowly beat in the cocoa and butter mixture. Add flour, salt, almond extract and amaretto liqueur; beat just until combined. Spread half of the brownie mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with finely chopped chocolate. Carefully spread the remaining brownie batter over the chocolate all the way to the edges. Bake for 35-37 minutes. Cool completely. Cut into bite-size pieces.

For the silky white cream:

4 ounces white chocolate

4 Tablespoons milk

2 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract or bakery emulsion

2 cups whipped topping, thawed

2 pounds fresh strawberries

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt white chocolate and milk. Stir until melted. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Beat in powdered sugar and almond extract. Slowly stir in melted white chocolate. Gently fold in whipped cream.

Slice most of the strawberries into bite-size pieces. You’ll want to save some whole strawberries for garnish on top.

In a large trifle bowl, layer brownies, cream and strawberries. Repeat layers until all the ingredients are gone. Refrigerate 3 hours before serving. Can be made one day ahead.

If you make this, snap a photo and share it with me on Twitter or Instagram @RandomSweets. They’ll all look so pretty!

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My love for Andes Crème de Menthe baking pieces and my recently established obsession for Andes Crème de Menthe cookies inspired this recipe.

 

The bottom layer is a mix of Andes cookies and chocolate graham crackers. I only had one box of the Andes cookies, or I probably would have used all cookies and no graham crackers. These would be just as fantastic if you could spare yourself a couple of boxes of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies for the bottom layer.

There’s no substitution for Andes Crème de Menthe baking pieces. If you read my cheesecake story, {There May be Andes Mints Under My Pillow}, you’ll see just how long ago this sweet affair started. And the price my sisters paid for it. You may also like using Andes baking chips in these {Brownie Crunch Mint Crispy Bars}.

To give these bars a little crunch and a hint of salt, I added pistachios and coconut. I’m not a fan of coconut, but I like it when it’s toasted. That’s why I add the coconut as the top layer, so it crisps as it bakes.

{Chocolate Island Mint Bars}

7-ounce package Andes Crème de Menthe cookies, crushed to fine crumbs (If these are not available, use Mint Oreos or Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies)

1 package chocolate graham crackers, crushed to fine crumbs (Not a box, just one package from a box of three. If using Thin Mint cookies, you could use all cookies and no graham crackers.)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios

1 to 1-1/2 cups Andes Crème de Menthe baking chips

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350˚. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan or line with parchment paper.

Mix the cookie and cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with finely chopped pistachios, Andes baking chips, and white chocolate chips. Poor the can of sweetened condensed milk over the white chips. Top with coconut. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or just until coconut starts to turn light brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

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What ingredients inspire you to make new recipes?

 

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My friend, Tracey, is unpredictable. And randomly sweet. Which is why I love her. One day, she commissioned me to bake three dozen muffins to bring to our local police department.

Tricia Squashingroff-Schwartz and Officer Joe Fishbaugher from the Brookings Police Department

Tracey wasn’t trying to get out of any parking tickets, she just wanted to let them know there are people who appreciate the work they do. Our community had just experienced two senseless tragedies from two fatal car accidents in town, one of them killing a 17-year-old boy from the local high school. (Tracey’s 17-year-old daughter was about ready to get her driver’s license so I suspect she may have been experiencing some “mom” emotions – and rightly so.)

It was easy to pick the first two flavors because my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip and Butterscotch  muffins are the ones I get the most compliments on, and the most requests for. The third flavor was triple chocolate. Chocolate in a breakfast food. Enough said.

 

I made extra pumpkin muffins and brought them to work. (Michal, here’s the recipe I promised you!)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 36 regular muffins

2 1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup oil

6 eggs

2 1/4 cup canned pumpkin

3/4 cup water

4 1/2 cups flour

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoons ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 cups mini semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease muffin pans or use cupcake liners. In a small mixing bowl, lightly beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together. Add pumpkin and water and stir. In a large, separate bowl, mix the flour, soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients just until combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. As with most muffin batters, don’t over-mix or the muffins will be tough. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Lightly spray tops of muffins with cooking spray – this gives the muffins a lightly crispy top. (A little restaurant trick my sister, Kalli, taught me.) Bake 20-25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

I used my square muffin tin which is a nice change from traditional round muffins.

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I gave these butterscotch muffins five stars on the Taste of Home website. You can view the recipe here. It quickly becomes a favorite go-to muffin recipe for all occasions. While you are on the site, take a look at this Cappuccino Muffins recipe. I haven’t tried them yet but I need to! 

My sister, Heidi, emailed me the Triple Chocolate Muffins recipe on Wednesday, April 18, 2001. (I printed the email and stuck it with my recipes.) I was eight months pregnant. All she wrote was, “Thought this recipe might also be one that you might enjoy!!!!” I wonder if I was having a pregnant-woman-chocolate-meltdown?

Triple Chocolate Muffins

3 cups flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

4 Tablespoons cocoa

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled

2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Melt the butter first so it has time to cool. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease 12 regular muffin cups or use cupcake liners. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cocoa and brown sugar. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sour cream and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Stir in the dark chocolate and white chocolate chips. 

Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

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Tracey’s gift to the Brookings Police Department is one of my favorite random acts of “sweet” kindness. I’m guessing they don’t receive appreciation as often as they should.

Enjoy the muffin recipes! Let me know if you bake a few dozen and give them in your own random act of “sweet” kindness.

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If I went to Rydell High in 1958, Rizzo would have given me a Pink Ladies jacket for this. Frenchy may have dyed her hair pink again. And I would wear the skin-tight black leather pants at the end-of-the-school carnival.

By far the cutest, pinkest cheesecakes I’ve come up with so far. Sitting on top of the crunchy chocolate crust  is a creamy layer of white chocolate cheesecake. The pretty pink layer is swirled with crunchy peppermint white chocolate candy, spiked with peppermint creme liqueur and topped off with fluffy whipped cream and a drizzle of pink peppermint chocolate.

You’re the one that I want. ~Love, Danny & Sandy

{White Chocolate Peppermint Twist Cheesecake}

1  1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs

2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

1/4 cup  melted unsalted butter

3 (1 oz. each) squares white chocolate

3 (8 oz. each) packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

3 teaspoons peppermint cream liqueur or 1 tsp peppermint extract

11 ounce bag Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, chopped and divided OR 11 ounce bag Andes Mint Peppermint Candy Pieces

1-2 drops red food coloring

whipped cream

Heat oven to 350°. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and melted butter. Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch springform pan (or Chicago Metallic™ mini cheesecake pans). Bake 5 minutes, cool.

Over low heat, slowly melt white chocolate. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until combined. (If the mixture is over beaten, the air in the batter will crack the cheesecake.) Remove 1 cup of this cheesecake mixture and set the remaining mixture aside.

Gently stir the melted and cooled white chocolate into the 1 cup of cheesecake mixture. Pour over crust. 

Gently stir in 3 teaspoons peppermint cream liqueur or 1 teaspoon peppermint extract to the remaining cheesecake batter. Fold in 1 cup of the chopped Candy Cane Kisses (or Andes Peppermint . Add a drop or two of red food coloring to create your desired pink color. Pour the pink peppermint cheesecake mixture over the white chocolate mixture.

Bake at 350° 45-50 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake is almost set. If baking in mini cheesecake pans, reduce baking time to 20-25 minutes. Turn off the oven and crack open the oven door to let the cheesecake slowly cool to room temperature. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen it from the springform pan. Store in refrigerator overnight.

For garnish, top with whipped cream and sprinkle chopped Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses on top, saving 1/4 cup for drizzle. In a small, snack-size storage bag, melt 1/4 cup Kisses on low heat in the microwave. Snip a tiny corner of the bag and squeeze the melted pink drizzle over the cheesecake. Store cheesecake in the refrigerator up to one week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

My sister commented that these are almost too pretty to eat. Do you make a special dessert that is “almost” too pretty to eat?

If you are too young to remember the Pink Ladies and Danny & Sandy, may I suggest you watch the musical film Grease from 1978?

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One of my student employees, Hannah, turned 21 a few weeks ago and I thought it would be cool to bake her a cake with alcohol in it. Good thing the alcohol burns off in the oven because this cake is soaked in amaretto!

 

White Chocolate Amaretto Cake

Cake:

1 package yellow cake mix

4 eggs

1 (3.3 ounce) package instant white chocolate pudding mix

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup amaretto liqueur

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Glaze:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup water

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup amaretto liqueur

Drizzle:

1 container vanilla frosting

drop of almond extract

drop of amaretto liqueur

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a Bundt pan. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, pudding mix, 1/2 cup cold water, oil, 1/2 cup amaretto and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Blend well for approximately 3 minutes.

Pour batter into Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Make the glaze: combine butter, sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 cup amaretto in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove cake from oven and use handle of wooden spoon (or similar utensil) to poke holes in cake. Apply glaze while cake is still warm. Slowly drizzle glaze over cake, including the edges and center of the Bundt pan. Cool the cake in the pan for at least 2 hours.

Place the cake on a serving platter. Warm 1/4 cup of the vanilla frosting in a small saucepan on low heat. Add a dash of almond extract and a dash of amaretto. Stir until drizzle consistency and the drizzle over the cake.

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