Monthly Archives: July 2012

Happy Birthday America!!

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American Flag Cheesecakes!

Ah The Fourth of July. Probably  my favorite holiday. Seriously. I think it’s because it’s so close to my birthday, but I love this day. Good food, time with friends and family, and fireworks. Since I was little I’ve loved the American Flag and the red-white-and-blue combo. When I was in second grade I dressed up as Betsy Ross for “Hero Day.” No joke. I was “that girl.” But anyways, I love this day. And what better way to celebrate today with some cute 4th of July treats!! These are an easy, but impressive treat. I posted this recipe earlier (see my Black-Bottom Mini Cheesecakes), but I made some changes for the 4th. Basically I wanted to make a red, white, and blue snack. So check it out and I hope everyone has a Fantastic Fourth!!

 

Ingredients

  • 9 Graham Crackers
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Blueberries and strawberries for topping

 

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups and spray the cups with vegetable oil spray. In a food processor, crush the graham crackers. Add the butter and process until fine crumbs form. Spoon the graham cracker crumbs into the prepared baking cups and press with the bottom of a glass to compact. Bake for 5 minutes, or until almost set. Leave the oven on.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the goat cheese, then add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. Pour the cheesecake batter into the baking cups, filling them three-quarters full.
  4. Bake the cheesecakes for 15 minutes, or until slightly jiggly in the center. Remove from oven and place your topping of choice on each cheesecake. Transfer the muffin tin to the freezer and chill the cheesecakes until set, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cheesecakes from the pan and peel off the foil baking cups. Transfer the cheesecakes to a platter and serve.

    These can be refrigerated for up to four days.

My Notes…

If you don’t like goat cheese, you could easily use 6 ounces of cream cheese instead. I sliced the strawberries to get them to fit. These cheesecakes are pretty bland, so you might want to also use some strawberry jam in addition to the actual strawberries. As you can see from the photos I got 20 cheesecakes, I think the recipe definitely makes more than 12. Next time I want to try vanilla wafers as the crust instead of graham crackers.

 

Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing

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The past few days have been insane. First of all, I got engaged. Unbelievable. Guess I’ll be cooking for two a lot more often. Secondly I turned 28 yesterday. Birthdays have never been a big deal in my family, but we do always have a cake. Last year I didn’t get any cake. This year I took matters into my own hands. Chocolate Cake with caramel icing has to be my favorite cake. This isn’t just any caramel icing. This is a labor of love. It takes a lot of love to make this icing, and the icing returns my love by being so delicious if it were in a jar, I would eat it straight out of the jar with my finger. Not a spoon, there wouldn’t be time for that. It’s just soooo good. Writing about it makes me want to go eat some. Now I wouldn’t say this cake is for everyone. My family raves about it, but outsiders have not been so enamored. Regardless, I love it. And I will be eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until it is no more. If you’re going to attempt this icing, be sure to read my notes. As I said, it’s a labor of love. But it’s not unrequited I assure you.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of margarine or butter
  • 1 box of light brown sugar (2 1/4 cups/a 1lb box)
  • 1 5-oz can evaporated milk

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Cook for 5 minutes or until “soft-ball” stage. (This means you can form a ball in cold water).
  3. Let cool and beat with a mixer until spreadable.

My Notes…

I learned how to make this icing from my mother, who learned how from her mother (my grandmother) and I’m not sure how far it goes back. It’s very rich, but oh so good. I like to make this icing when I have other chores around the kitchen or apartment to do. The reason is you really have to be patient with this icing. The best technique is to let it cool then beat for a few minutes. Let it cool some more, beat some more, cool, beat, cool, beat and on and on. It literally takes an hour or so to set up. So I will beat the icing, then unload the dishwasher. Beat the icing, take the clothes out of the dryer. Beat the icing, make myself a drink… You get the idea. If it’s really humid the icing will not set up, but it will still taste good. It will just be a tad runny on the cake.

A note on the chocolate cake: For yesterday’s cake I used a box of Devil’s Food Cake and then added a can of diet coke. This is one of my favorite cake tricks. You don’t use the oil, eggs or water. Just a can of diet coke. None of the calories, all of the chocolate cakey goodness. You could also use this trick with angel food cake or white cake and sprite or 7up. Make sure you let the cake cool completely before icing. I cannot imagine this rich icing on any cake other than chocolate (specifically Devil’s Food), but it would be good on sticky buns or cinnamon rolls I’m sure.