A Few Things I Baked Recently

These are just a few things I’ve made recently. Thought I’d share. Can’t wait till my husband comes home from Afghanistan in two weeks and actually gets to spend some time at home in Kansas City once in a while so I can have someone to share all this deliciousness with!

New York Cheesecake with Mixed Berries – This I made for a colleague at work who did an excellent job on a logo project and mockups for a website I manage. He’s a very talented designer and Kansas City photographer and you should all check out his work. He and his team are very deserving of this delicious cheesecake. The cheesecake is the same as my Raspberry Thin Mint Cheesecake recipe, just using a graham cracker crust and topping with mixed berries instead of raspberry sauce.

Lemon Meringue Pie – This was made for my brother’s birthday. It is from my mother-in-law’s Debutant Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. I did not make the crust due to time limitations, but I was really pleased with the outcome. It helps to have someone travel with you when you’re transporting it though so it doesn’t slide around on the floor of your car in a cake carrier! (Oops.) Was still every bit as delicious as it looks.

Goat Cheese, Swiss Chard and Pear Pizza – I got the organic Swiss chard and organic pears from KC Door to Door Organics, and was ecstatic when I found a way to use them together. This recipe came from their site and the whole wheat crust came from the frozen section in Whole Foods, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. I did double all the toppings on the same amount of crust, and used a mandolin to slice my pears instead of doing matchsticks, though. I’ll get 4 meals out of this!

Baked Apple Chips – I made these baked apple chips using three apples I got in my KC Door to Door Organics box this week. I followed this recipe and added some cinnamon and cloves. They are ridiculously sweet and flavorful, and looking back I’ll probably skip the cloves next time and just stick to cinnamon. Cloves are wonderful, but so incredibly overpowering. It’s easy to cross the line and I think I did a bit. Nothing a good glass of milk can’t fix. These baked apple chips are so crisp and flavorful and a wonderful mostly-healthy snack.

Cake 50: Raspberry Cheesecake with Vanilla Peaches

I was stuck for inspiration on cake this week, but I went back to that food holidays page that I mentioned in the pina colada pineapple upside down cake recipe and saw that yesterday was National Cheesecake Day and that today is National Raspberry Cake Day so I combined the two. When researching what I wanted to do for this cake, I realized that most “raspberry cheesecake recipes” are actually plain cheesecake topped with fresh raspberries or a raspberry coulis, which isn’t quite what I wanted since I’ve done a similar recipe with my Thin Mint cheesecake recipe. I really wanted to have a raspberry cheesecake for heaven’s sake. I also wanted to do something special with peaches, per my husband’s recommendation and suggestion that peaches and raspberries complement each other well, so I tossed fresh slices of peaches with the grains from a Madagascar vanilla bean pod to take it to the next level. When I was done getting the grains out of the vanilla bean pod, I tossed it into my jar with homemade vanilla extract – look how dark it’s getting! I’m sure it’s ready or almost ready to use by now.

Raspberry Cheesecake Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup ground pecans
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup raspberry preserves

Raspberry Cheesecake Recipe Directions

Grind about 1 and 1/2 cups in a food processor to get fine graham cracker crumbs, and using a spice grinder do the same with the pecans. With a spatula or even your hands, mash together the graham cracker crumbs and softened butter until the butter is completely mixed in and you have a crumby mixture. Press your pecan graham cracker crust into the bottom of your cheesecake pan. Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a cake pan filled with water on the bottom rack. In your kitchen mixer, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment until it’s light and fluffy, and add the sugar gradually, beating until smooth. Mix in the milk, then add the eggs one at a time beating just until blended (don’t overbeat). Add the Greek yogurt, raspberry preserves and vanilla extract and beat until blended. Pour over your graham cracker pecan cheesecake crust. Bake for 1 hour, or until the middle is just a little jiggly and doesn’t seem quite set. Turn off the oven and let it set for about another half hour. Remove from the oven and cool completely at room temperature. Chill for 6 hours.

Vanilla Bean Coated Peach Slices Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 peach, peeled and sliced
  • Grains of 1 vanilla bean pod

Vanilla Bean Coated Peach Slices Recipe Directions

Wash and peel your fresh peach, which should be ripened to the point that it’s firm but allows you to squish a little bit with your fingers. Slice the peach thinly. (I need to learn some knife skills – I would love to have had much thinner slices!) Get the grains out of the vanilla bean pod. Here’s a tutorial on how to use vanilla beans. Toss the peach slices with the vanilla bean grains, then adorn the completely cooled cheesecake with the vanilla bean coated peach slices.

Cake 46: Carrot Cheesecake with Bittersweet Chocolate Drizzle

Sorry it took me so long to post this. My move to Kansas City has kept me very occupied as you can imagine. I made this cake last week to serve at an Independence Day dinner at my grandparents’ house, and it was a hit! I sort of combined my recipe for New York cheesecake with my carrot cake recipe and added some nutmeg. I used fresh carrots from my own garden! I really enjoyed this cake, and am glad the idea came to me at the last possible second before the event. I’m a happy camper about it.

(Also – holy smokes, I only have 6 weeks left of the 52 cakes project. Just wait till you see what I have in store for week 52 – though admittedly, it may take me several weeks to even pull off what I have in store for the grand finale. After that, I plan to take a breather for a while, and then I think I may start a 52 cookies project!)

Carrot Cheesecake Recipe with Chocolate Drizzle Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups grated finely chopped carrots
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 4 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon oil

Carrot Cheesecake Recipe Directions

Put 8 sheets of graham cracker in the food processor to grind until you get 2 cups of fine crumbs for the cheesecake crust. Melt 1/4 cup of butter. In a small bowl, mix the two with a spatula, and then press into a prepared 10″ round spring form pan. I prepared my spring form pan with butter and flour, as well as a 9″ round parchment paper sheet that I had on hand. (This makes a LOT of batter, and I had enough to make a tiny crustless cheesecake with the leftover. If you use a 9″ spring form pan, you may wish to reduce the amount of graham cracker crust and carrot cheesecake batter you make or you’ll end up with enough for two whole cakes!) Press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a cake pan filled with water on the bottom rack. In your kitchen mixer, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment until it’s light and fluffy, and add the sugar gradually, beating until smooth. Mix in the milk, then add the eggs one at a time beating just until blended. Add the Greek yogurt, vanilla extract and flour and beat until blended. (I bet you could leave out this flour and be just fine if you’re going gluten-free.) Stir in the finely grated carrots, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over your graham cracker crumb crust. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool completely at room temperature. Melt the bittersweet chocolate with a teaspoon of oil in a double boiler, stirring constantly over low heat. Drizzle over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate the cheesecake and chill for 6 hours.

Cake 42: Raspberry Thin Mint Cheesecake

We received a care package from Mark and Deedee’s family in Seattle while my husband was home on R&R and it included two boxes of my favorite Girl Scout cookies – Thin Mints! (Read my attempt at making homemade thin mint cookies.) I have been thinking about it for a while, and finally with the right supplies, was able to make a thin mint cookie crust for a classic New York cheesecake, which also happened to be the type of cake my husband requested for his time home from Afghanistan. Lucky break.

I apologize for not posting this much sooner – we’ve been enjoying two weeks of R&R from his deployment and I even took lots of time off work to spend with him, so I’m just now getting around to it!

Thin Mints Crust Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 cups Thin Mint cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Thin Mint Crust Recipe Directions

Put enough Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies in the food processor to grind until you get 2 cups of fine cookie crumbs for the cheesecake crust. Melt 1/4 cup of butter. In a small bowl, mix the two with a spatula, and then press into a prepared 9″ round spring form pan. I prepared my spring form pan with butter and flour, as well as a 9″ round parchment paper sheet. Press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan.

New York Cheesecake Recipe Ingredients

  • 4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup flour

New York Cheesecake Recipe Directions

Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a cake pan filled with water on the bottom rack. In your kitchen mixer, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment until it’s light and fluffy, and add the sugar gradually, beating until smooth. Mix in the milk, then add the eggs one at a time beating just until blended (don’t overbeat). Add the Greek yogurt, vanilla extract and flour and beat until blended. Pour over your thin mint cookie crust. Bake for 1 hour, or until the middle is just a little jiggly and doesn’t seem quite set. Turn off the oven and let it set for about another half hour. Remove from the oven and cool completely at room temperature. Chill for 6 hours.

Raspberry Sauce Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 6-ounce package of fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Raspberry Sauce Recipe Directions

Thanks, mom-in-law, for teaching us how to do this part. Couldn’t be easier. Cook down the fresh raspberries, sugar and almond extract over medium heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly until the raspberries break down. If you wish to have a smooth, seedless raspberry coulis, simply press the sauce through a sieve with a spoon. My husband said he was just fine with the seeds so we kept them in. Pour over the completely cooled cheesecake, garnish with fresh mint (ours is mint from the garden) and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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