S’mores Cheesecake

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When I was a little kid I remember sleeping over at my friends house.  We would stay up super super late and wake up super super early.  I’m not really sure why.  I guess we were just so excited about sleeping over we didn’t want to sleep! But during the sleepovers we would braid each others hair, watch movies (she had a HUGE television downstairs) and play boardgames.  And my favorite part of the night…when it would get dark out, we would go outside by her roasting pit and roast marshmallows for homemade s’mores.  There’s something about a s’more that is so comforting and so delectable.  Is it the perfect crunch and crisp texture of the honey-graham scented cracker?  Or is it the warm, slightly melted Hershey’s chocolate squares that leak out the sides and run down your fingers? (Giving you an excuse to lick them.)  No wait, it must be the roasted, toasted, caramelized taste of the slightly charred marshmallows. Yeah. That is what makes a s’more a s’more.  Any dessert can have the combo of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers.  But a true s’more has the roasted and toasted marshmallow that has that perfect golden brown crust on the outside.

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When we would roast marshmallows over a real fire on vacation and various trips it was always so incredibly difficult to roast the perfect marshmallow.  Some wouldn’t want to take the risk of plunging their roasting skewer straight into the flame.  But they would end up with a pathetic, very pale looking blob on the end of their stick.  Those that risked it all, by diving marshmallow first into the fire, had a chance of getting burned (literally!). But, if they did it just right, they struck gold.

I could describe s’mores all day long.  But the real reason I dove into so much detail was to paint the perfect picture of what a true s’more is.  It is more than three ingredients.  It is the masterful way you combine and cook each ingredient.  And that is what I have done with this cheesecake.  The cheesecake filling is marshmallow-esque with the sweet and vanilla scented taste. But mini chocolate chips stud the actual filling.  To recreate the chocolate square on the base of the graham cracker, there is a chocolate ganache that covers the bottom of the cheesecake and creates a luscious creamy and chocolatey layer.  And because I use dark chocolate, the sweetness level doesn’t rise too high.  The star of the show is really the marshmallows on top.  I find that actual mini marshmallows opposed to fluff hold on and stick to the actual cheesecake better. Those babies get piled high atop a fully cooked cheesecake and get broiled to perfection in the hot oven. If you happen to have a blow torch, now would be the time to whip that out.  But if you are behind the times, like me, the broiler will work perfectly fine.  (It’s just not as cool.) I used an 8 inch spring form pan to get a really dramatic and tall cheesecake.  But a standard 9 or 10 inch spring form pan will work perfectly well. The cooking times will just have to be adjusted.

Garnishing the cheesecake is completely up to you.  I top it with a drizzle of that dark chocolate ganache that is underneath the filling and sprinkle some toasted graham cracker crust crumbles.  The look of this cheesecake is absolutely spectacular!  I don’t want to brag, but this would look very nice in that ostentatious looking case at a certain factory that has cheesecake in its name…

Cook Time: 45-75 minutes (depending on pan size)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Crust:

  • Two sleeves of graham crackers
  • 3/4 cup melted butter melted (can substitute for Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate discs or chopped chocolate
  • 1/4-1/2 cup scalded milk or cream

Filling:

  • 2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese (can be low fat, not fat free)
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping:

  • 1 cup mini marshmallows (or as many as it takes you to cover the entire cheesecake)
  • Extra dark chocolate ganache (optional), toasted graham cracker crust (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and spray a spring form pan with non stick cooking spray

2. In a ziplock bag smash the graham crackers until a fine meal (can be done in a food processor as well)

3. In a bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar and stir until well combined. Press into prepared spring form pan making sure the crust goes all the way up the sides.  Set aside the extra (if you have any extra)

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4. In a small measuring cup microwave the milk or cream on high for 1-2 minutes or until very hot and slightly bubbly. Pour hot milk or cream over chopped chocolate or discs in a small bowl. Let stand for 3 minutes.

5. Whisk the chocolate and milk/cream vigorously until a smooth and glossy ganache is achieved.

Pour the ganache until the entire base of the crust is covered in the ganache.  Set aside any leftover ganache. Refrigerate crust.

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6. In a large bowl or a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and beat again, scraping the sides down to ensure a uniform and smooth texture.

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7. Add the eggs one at a time and beat in between each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract and mini chocolate chips.

8. Pull the refrigerated crust out and pour the filling into the crust.

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9. Bake for 45-75 minutes or until the edges are fully set and the center jiggles slightly.

10. Set the oven to broil.

11. Spread an even layer of mini marshmallows over the top of the cheesecake and return it to the oven.  Watch it carefully and pull the cheesecake out once the marshmallows have toasted the desired amount.

12. Let cool in the oven with the oven door cracked for one hour.

13. Refrigerate over night.

14. When ready to serve, take the cheesecake out and drizzle some of the leftover ganache over the top using a fork in a back and forth motion.  Sprinkle some of the toasted graham cracker crust over the top.  Set in the fridge for five minutes for the topping to set.

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Funfetti Cupcakes

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A couple of months ago, my parents and I made the big drive down to southern California to attend my sister’s graduation.  I wanted to make something special for her.  I wanted that something to be portable, festive, and tasty.  Cupcakes seemed to fit the bill and I knew exactly which cupcakes I wanted to make.  I chose the funfetti variety.  My sister has always loved all things funfetti.  Whether it is getting jimmies atop her fro-yo, funfetti cookies or cupcakes, my sister loves herself some funfetti.  And I can’t blame her! I mean who doesn’t love the colorful rainbow studded in a fluffy and light cupcake?  Funfetti cupcakes seemed to be the perfect treat to bring to her graduation.

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The buttermilk, wet and dry ingredients, and the star…JIMMIES!
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The funfetti batter ready to be scooped and baked!
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Before…
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After!

What to top these beauties with…

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At first I thought of a funfetti buttercream frosting.  (You can never have too much funfetti.) But then after some thinking, I was thinking of how a boston cream pie is constructed.  In a boston cream pie, you have two layers of fluffy vanilla cake, and vanilla custard sandwiched in-between the two layers.  Atop is not a frosting, but a delectable, rich, not-to-sweet, dark chocolate ganache.  I thought I would apply that concept to these festive cupcakes.  And chocolate ganache is one of the simplest things to make.  All it takes is dark chocolate morsels and some warm milk or cream.  All I had on hand was 1% milk so I substituted the traditional heavy cream for the 1% milk. And let me tell you, you would never have missed the heavy cream.  The chocolate ganache was on the looser side because I wanted it to be almost glaze-like.  I wanted it to mimic the glaze of a chocolate sprinkle donut.  The kind of glaze that sits right atop the cupcake and slightly cracks when you bite into it.  And when you open your mouth to take another bite, you front teeth are stained with the chocolately goodness.  From my mouthwatering description of these delectably, delicious cupcakes I may have already swayed you to top these cupcakes with a chocolate ganache.  But I will leave the choice up to you.  You can top these with the traditional funfetti buttercream if you so desire.  Both will certainly be delightful.

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These cupcakes really are a breeze to make.

Cupcakes

Makes 12 standard size cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 15-20 mins

Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt*
  • 1 stick Earth Balance melted (can substitute half for canola oil, applesauce, or substitute entire stick for 1 stick unsalted butter)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar (can substitute entirely for 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Truvia Sugar Blend)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs and one egg white
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (can substitute entirely for 3/4 cup milk and 1 teaspoon vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup rainbow jimmies

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Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels
  • 1/4-1/2 cup scalded milk or cream
  • 1/2 cup rainbow nonpareils or jimmies to dip the cupcakes in (optional)

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12 cup cupcake/muffin tin with liners
  2. In a small bowl whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
  3. In a medium to large bowl, beat the Earth Balance and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved
  4. Beat the eggs and egg white in one at a time until combined.
  5. Beat in vanilla extract.
  6. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. (This always helps me: flour-beat-buttermilk-beat-flour-beat-buttermilk-beat-flour-beat–FINISHED!)
  7. Fold in the jimmies until incorporated.
  8. Using a 1/4 cup or large ice cream scoop, divide the batter evenly amongst the 12 cupcake liners.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean with no wet batter.
  10. Let cupcakes cool completely.
  11. In a small mug, place milk in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until it starts to bubble.
  12. Add the milk to the chocolate morsels in a bowl and ensure all the chocolate is submerged in the milk.  Let sit for 3 minutes.
  13. Once it has sat for 3 minutes stir with a whisk or a spatula for 1-2 minutes until the chocolate completely melts and becomes glossy.
  14. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the ganache and immediately dip the tops in the sprinkles.
  15. Let the chocolate ganache set before serving

*If using Earth Balance do not add the salt

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    I think my sister liked them 🙂

Mini Coffee Cake Muffins

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My father often calls me a “money leech” : a person who merely sucks money but does nothing in return.  Of course he is joking—at least I think he is—but I often use my baking as a way to make up for my unfortunate title.  He enjoys many of my creations: cakes, muffins, scones, bread; but perhaps one of his favorite sweet treats I make are my mini coffee cake muffins.  They are delectable, moist muffins spiked with cinnamon and nutmeg and topped with a sweet and crunchy streusel topping.

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They really are a treat and a perfect pop-able size (My father scarfs at least three in one sitting).  These are incredibly light as well. Because I use canola oil as my fat, rather than butter, the muffins still remain incredibly moist without being overly dense.  And the sweetness on these jewels can easily be adjusted.  If you are craving a sugar sweet donut-like muffin, in the way the sugar granules stick to your lips upon biting into it, then the streusel topping is a must.  If you’ve acquired a more mature palate, then topping the muffins with chopped walnuts will be perfect.

These babies are packed full of nutrient dense foods!

– Walnuts: One of the greatest nuts out there. Repeatedly on many superfood lists, and packs a hearty punch of omega 3 fatty acids–helpful for
or your brain and your heart

– Canola Oil: One of the greatest oils on the planet. This flavorless oil has a great omega 3:omega 6 ratio making it nearly perfect.  Heart healthy as well.

– Cinnamon: An excellent spice for regulating blood sugar levels.  Your pancreas will thank you if you sprinkle this spice on any food containing sugar.

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The dry ingredients: cinnamon, brown sugar (or Truvia), all purpose flour (or the flour you choose to use), baking powder, baking soda, salt
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I often measure all my wet ingredients in one big measuring jug. That way I only dirty one item and can pour my wet easily into my dry ingredients.

This recipe easily make 24 mini muffins with some extra batter leftover to make a mini bundt, a mini loaf, or an excellent cooks treat.  (The leftover batter makes any cleanup in the world worth it!)

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The muffins without the streusel. From here you can sprinkle on the chopped walnuts instead of sprinkling on the streusel.
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The muffins with the streusel.

Makes: 24 mini muffins + mini loaf/bundt (or 30 mini muffins)

Prep time: 20 mins

Cook time: 10-15 mins

Recipe:

Muffins:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (may substitute up to half for whole wheat flour, oat flour, brown rice flour, etc.)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (may substitute entirely for 1/4 cup Truvia Brown Sugar Blend)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup any milk (can substitute for water)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil (may substitute up to a 1/6 cup of unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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The muffin batter.

Streusel (optional)*:

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (can substitute any type of flour)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (can substitute entirely for 2 tablespoons of Truvia Brown Sugar Blend)
  • 3 tablespoons cold Earth Balance (can substitute for any other non-hydrogenated shortening, or real butter)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt**
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Line a 24 mini muffin pan with liners and spray a mini bundt/loaf with cooking spray
  3. In a small bowl combine all of the streusel ingredients (if using the streusel) except the walnuts.  Using a fork or a pastry blender, cut the Earth Balance into the dry ingredients until you get the texture of coarse cornmeal.  Once this texture is achieved stir in the walnuts.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients.  (Whisk well to avoid any lumps later on)
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together the wet ingredients (make sure to break up the egg yolk)
  6. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until the batter is just moistened. (Do not over-mix!)
  7. Using a tablespoon or a mini ice cream scoop, spoon the batter evenly into the mini muffin tin.  Set aside the remaining batter
  8. Pick a mini loaf, or mini bundt to bake the remaining batter in.
  9. If using the streusel topping, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the streusel over each mini muffin.
  10. If using a bundt pan sprinkle 1/3 of the remaining streusel on the bottom of the bundt pan, spoon half the batter on top and sprinkle the rest of the streusel on top of the batter. Add the remaining batter on top of the streusel.  If using mini loaf pan, spoon the remaining batter into the pan, and sprinkle the remaining streusel on top of the batter.
  11. Bake 10 minutes for the mini muffins, and 15-20 minutes for the mini bundt/loaf.
  12. Let cool completely and enjoy!

*If you decide to not use the streusel topping, top each muffin with the same amount of chopped/crushed walnuts

**If using Earth Balance salt is not necessary in the streusel, if using unsalted butter, salt is necessary

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Delicious mini muffins and mini loafs 🙂

Sensedible Delights

I have always had a passion for baking and cooking.  Since I was a little girl, I remember standing on my step-stool in my grandmothers kitchen so I could help flute the crust of her famous apple pie.  My little baby hands worked tentatively and slowly to create a very “rustic” looking pie.  Eventually, as I got wiser (and taller), the step-stool vanished and I became a baker.  I became a good baker.  I became the girl that always brought the dessert to the family gathering; the girl who could give advice on how to make the perfect roasted potatoes; the girl who used her baking prowess to make scrumptious baked goods in return for math tutoring from a family friend.  I became a real baker.  I try to think back and remember when my love and passion for baking and cooking started.  And to be honest, too many memories morph into each other that I cannot pin point the exact moment when it all began.  But I know one thing for certain, I have loved every second of it.

This blog will be filled with recipes for any occasion.  Hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch and in need for some desperate ideas?  No fear!  My scone recipes are the absolute bomb!  Fourth of July? I have a smore’s cheesecake that will knock your block off!  What makes my recipes so special?  They are sensedible delights.  They are sensible, edible, delicious eats that will keep you coming back for seconds.  I will always have substitutions for certain ingredients because I know many people in the world today have different dietary restrictions.  I will let people know when and if they can substitute for a lower calorie alternative.  And I will let people know if a substitution can be made and if it affects the overall taste and quality of the end result.  I will be 100% honest with you; you have my word.

I cannot wait for us to share these sensedible delights! Go forth and conquer your kitchen! (Your friends and family will thank you for it.)