Chocolate, Chocolate and a little more Chocolate

choco

We have gone triple chocolate this week! Chocolate cake/cookie type base, Chocolate Cream Cheese center and Chocolate frosting….is it rich?  You better believe it!

This week I made Frosted Gooey Chocolate Cake Bars. Again with the extra long title and a little misleading on this one as well.  I didn’t really find this to be all that gooey but it’s 100% chocolate so I’ll give it that.

The recipe starts out with making a base with a chocolate cake mix.  I’m a big fan of using cake mixes in other ways than just cake so I always like to give these kind of things a try.  The bottom layer is just the cake mix, 1 egg and melted butter.  It is very thick when you finish mixing it together.  The second layer is a chocolate cream mixture, pretty standard stuff.  I didn’t make any changes to this recipe but I wish I had.  I would have added a little more liquid to the base mixture, maybe some sour cream or a little milk.  I found the bottom to be very very dense and almost a little too dry for my taste.  When I tried it last night I just ate the bar by itself but I would have liked some whip cream or ice cream to go with it.  I’m all for chocolate but this needs something to cut it down a bit.

It also recommended keeping it in the fridge, which I did.  I’m interested to see after letting it set over night if the texture of the bottom layer has changed any.  If so, I’ll have to make a not of that later.

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But as of now, I probably wouldn’t make these again.  The recipe was good and it was simple to make but I know I can make other chocolatey things that I would like much better.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Time

PB&J

Peanut Butter and Jelly, probably one of the most classic food combinations of all time.  I’m a big fan, a late night PB&J is one of my favorite snacks.  So I was very excited to give this recipe a try, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookie Bars.

First off, I think the name is a little misleading.  I wouldn’t describe this as a cookie. To me it has more of a peanut butter brownie type texture.  After feeding one to my favorite guinea pig, Anthony, he agreed that “cookie bar” was the wrong term too.  He actually said it was more bread like and not as sweet as he was expecting.  And I would have to agree with that as well.  Which is strange since they have a cup of sugar, a cup of brown sugar and peanut butter in them.

The recipe is pretty simple and the only change I made was the flavor of jelly.  I used a seedless raspberry jam because that’s what I happened to have on hand.  Because again, I enjoy a late night PB&J. Once I got the base made I was surprised by how much there was and that it was a little on the thick side.  When it came time to swirl the jam into the base it was really hard to do.  Usually when you do a swirl both the things have about the same consistency but this didn’t so it was hard to swirl the jam into it.  I ended up trying to smooth it out a bit and then just poured the jam on top in a pattern.  In the end I felt like it could have used more jam, the peanut butter is a little over powering. Since the base is so thick and there’s so much of it, I wish I had put half in and then layered the jam.  I think that would have put more of a flavor contrast in it.

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So while this was pretty tasty I don’t think I would make these again. And I don’t think it has anything to do with the recipe but it just wasn’t what I was expecting.  I would probably prefer a peanut butter thumbprint cookie with jam, that way I get both of things I love in an equal amounts.   Great…now I have to go make cookies!

My Strong Cheesecake Game Continues!

I know I probably shouldn’t have made back to back cheesecakes but I needed something to take to brunch on Sunday and well this has orange in it and you have orange juice for brunch so this is good for brunch.  Or at least that’s what my brain said late at night when I was deciding on this.  I’m not on trial here!

So anyway here you have the very delicious Chocolate Orange Cheesecake! Now I will say I’m not a huge fan of the chocolate and orange combination but as a cheesecake lover I was willing to give this a chance and I’m so glad I did.  This is a beautiful and delicious cheesecake, that was fairly simple to make.

And yes of course, I made a few changes to recipe but I’m sure the original recipe would also be just as good.  First, I didn’t use orange extract.  I’m not a big fan of this extract as I find it can be a little over powering and I wanted a good hint of orange not have it take over the whole cheesecake.  So instead I used the zest of 2 oranges and the juice of one. Secondly, the recipe said to use the extract before separating the mixture to make the chocolate layer but I didn’t add the orange zest or juice until after I removed part of the batter.  I wanted the chocolate layer to be pure chocolate.

The thing I liked best about this recipe (and I’m kind of kicking myself for not thinking of this) is that it recommended freezing the chocolate layer for 15 minutes so it would be easier to smooth out the top layer.  And in the heat I’m dealing with in my kitchen right now that piece of advice was a Godsend! I will be doing that with all of my layered cheesecakes from now on.

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This was a delicious cheesecake and my friends really enjoyed it and that always makes me happy. The end result was one of the creamiest cheesecakes I’ve ever made and the chocolate and orange combination worked beautifully together.  The only drawback and this has nothing to do with the recipe is that the weather did make the cheesecake go soft a bit but once it was back in the fridge it firmed right back up.  So, maybe I need to lay off the cheesecakes until the weather cools a bit.  Stupid Heat Wave!!!

My Cheesecake Game Is STRONG!

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Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecake…go ahead and savor those words a little bit!  I love making cheesecakes.  I think I have a pretty solid handle on them and 9 times out of 10 can get them to come out beautifully. For that 10th time, I’m going to blame my oven for any less than stellar cheesecakes.  You try baking in an oven that doesn’t have any temperatures on the knob. (Ah, the thrills of apartment rental living)

But this week I made, what I have to say, is probably one of the tastiest cheesecakes ever. Butterfinger would have to be in my top 5 favorite candy bars and so you add that to cheesecake and I’m sold!  The recipe is a pretty standard peanut butter cheesecake with crushed Butterfingers added to it.  The recipe recommends adding sour cream or yogurt to the base.  I used sour cream, I like the little extra tang it gives to the mix.  The biggest change I made to the recipe was with the crust.  The recipe advised doing an Oreo crust but I thought it might be a little overwhelming for the cheesecake.  Plus, sometimes I find Oreo crusts to be a little oily due to the cream in the cookies.  This could just be me. So instead I made a traditional graham cracker crust.  I thought the graham cracker crust gave it a good balance and helped put a little salty factor in the cheesecake. I also added the recommended peanut butter drizzle on top and yep it was super yummy.  Although, as my friends and I were enjoying the hell out of this we all thought it could use a drizzle of chocolate as well.  Next time I make this…that is so happening!butterfinger

When I started slicing it I could see immediately that this is a super dense cheesecake that needs to be cut in smaller slices.  When you put a slice on a plate and the plate dips…you know the piece is too big.  So, start small on this one.  Also, I served it with some whip cream but I think vanilla ice cream would also be amazing with this.  And if you’ve never tried ice cream with cheesecake, you don’t know what you’re missing!  Try it…trust me

So, in the end, Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecake should be made and shared with friends.  And eaten in the middle of the night while watching the Olympics.  Or maybe that’s something only I do.  Either way, this is delicious and you should give it a try.

A Classic This Weekend

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There’s a reason why some things are labeled as “classic” and in dessert making a chess pie is one of those classic pies.  I’ve been asked and I have also asked people why it’s called “chess” pie and I still haven’t been able to figure it out.  The closest thing I’ve come to getting an answer is that in England something similar was referred to as a cheese pie and American’s messed up the name and called it chess.  I don’t know if that’s right or not and if you know I would love an answer on that.  Also, another mystery of the chess pie is whether it is a classic southern recipe as a cousin to the pecan pie or a New England recipe.  Being from the South I think all yummy things started there so I’m going to declare it as Southern!

Now this weekend I made a Chocolate Chess Pie which I have to admit I’ve never made before.  And now I’m kicking myself for not making one sooner.  This recipe was simple and made one damn tasty pie.  The next time I have to bring a pie to something this one will be at the top of the list.

choco pie

I didn’t stray from the recipe one bit and I suggest you don’t either.  I know some people might be tempted to add nuts or cookie pieces to this and while I’ll admit that that would probably be tasty try it this way to begin with. I served it at room temperature with a little whip cream and it was smooth and fudgy and really delicious. My favorite part is the very top layer that just gives the pie a little crunch on the top.  I had to stop myself from cutting another slice immediately.

So, if you’re looking for a simple and delicious dessert I highly recommend this one.  You probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen right now!  So…go…go make one now!

Do You Like Lemon?

lemon pie 1

This is a great summer dessert…introducing the Lemon Sour Cream Pie!  It has been a little hotter than normal here in San Diego so I’ve been trying to pick nice cold desserts and sweet treats to make and I think this pie may stay on my list as a go to recipe.  It’s pretty simple to make and if you follow the directions pretty fool proof.

You’re basically going to make a lemon curd and while I know that kind of freaks some people out, let me tell you that it’s easier than you might think.  The only thing that makes it a little difficult is the constant stirring.  You can’t walk away from it once you get started.  If you burn it, there’s no saving it…trust me.  So make yourself comfortable, snag your favorite whisk and prepare yourself to go to town on this thing for about 8 to 10 minutes.

I made two slight changes to this recipe.  First, I doubled the amount of lemon zest.  With the addition of sour cream I felt like the lemon might get downplayed a little and I like a nice tart lemon taste.  The extra lemon zest just gave it a little more zip but it didn’t make me pucker up all sour like.  The second change was for the whip cream topping.  I sometimes take issue with homemade whip cream because it taste a little, well like nothing to me.  So when I make my own I add a little extra sugar, about a 1/4 tsp of vanilla and a pinch of salt.  It just gives it a little extra something that I enjoy.

I chilled the pie for about 4 hours, sliced it up and Anthony and I enjoyed a nice refreshing piece of pie last night to help cool us down.  So a thumbs up for this one, if you’re looking for a good summertime dessert I would highly recommend this one.

lemon pie

 

Fudge!

fudge

I absolutely, positively love fudge!  It’s one of my favorite treats and I love making it.  This week I’ve made 2 versions of fudge that I’ve never done before but I’m so happy I’ve made them now.

First up let’s go with the more classic of the 2, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge. Just that name puts a smile on my face.  I love peanut butter cups and I love fudge so you know it’s gonna be good and it so is.  Now for people who have a fear of making fudge this is the recipe for you.  No double boilers needed, no candy thermometer needed…just a glass bowl and a microwave and you’re good to go.  But as easy as this is let me give you a couple of helpful hints.  You start out by placing whole peanut butter cups in the bottom of the pan. It was a little warm in my house so I put them in the fridge for about 10 minutes and this helps when it comes to unwrapping all of them.  Your hands get warm and those little suckers will start melting on you quick.  Now the recipe called for 3 cups of chocolate chips and again how many cups are in a bag? Well, it’s approximately 2 cups in a bag so you’ll need a bag and a half but you can eyeball this and still come out just fine.  Last helpful hint, make sure everything is dry before you start melting your chocolate.  Just a little bit of water can ruin chocolate and there’s no coming back.  If I’m melting chocolate in the micorwave I put my glass bowl in there empty first and heat it for about 20 seconds. If there’s any moisture in the bowl it will be dry now and it heats the bowl up giving the chocolate a little head start.  After melting everything down you just pour it over the peanut butter cups smooth it out and top it with chopped up peanut butter cups.  It is awesome….trust me on that!

Next up was the Red Velvet Cake Batter Fudge.  This recipe intrigued me because it’s really freaking weird. It’s start with dry red velvet cake mix, which is odd enough for fudge but then you heat it with butter and a little bit of milk.  When it came out of the microwave I was a little concerned because it had the consistancy of really lumpy cake batter.  Then I stirred in my white chocolate chips and the texture didn’t change all that much and I was honestly very concerned at that point.  Fudge is supposed to be smooth and creamy but this looked very grainy and weird.  Now I did go my own way on this recipe because to me, it’s not red velvet without the cream cheese frosting.  The recipe suggesting topping the fudge with white spinkles but I decided to swirl in some cream cheese frosting instead.  When I had it all together it looked like a horrifying mess and I was pretty convinced that this stuff was not going to see the outside of my kitchen.  But I covered it and put it in the fridge over night like the recipe said.  The next morning I pulled it out and it still looked a little odd but I sliced it and gave it a taste test and it was smooth and creamy and delicious.  I have absolutely no idea how that happened other than magic fudge elves came into my kitchen and worked a little magic on it.  I would be interested to see if you could do the same with other cake mixes.

In the end I would give both of these recipes a thumbs up.  These would be ideal for holiday parties or gift giving.  The chocolate fudge is best at room tempture whille the Red Velvet seems to be best a little colder, just an FYI.  But you should totally give them both a try…even if it’s just to test and see if you have Fudge Elves in your kitchen too!