Cheesecake Archives - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Caramelized Banana Pudding Cheesecake with Salted Cashew Praline – Vanilla Wafer Crust, for My Guest Post at The Gingered Whisk

May 24, 2012 at 10:56 am | Posted in Cakes, Cheese, Dessert, Fruit | 41 Comments
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Last March, Jenni, of the beautiful blog, The Gingered Whisk, asked me to do a guest post. Naturally, I jumped in, and wanted to get to work on it immediately. Jenni and I have been friends since 2009, and we hosted the Daring Cooks Cassoulet Challenge together at the end of 2010. Then, some not so great stuff happened on my end, and Jenni found out she was moving.  Several times, between us, the date changed.  Now that things have calmed down here, and Jenni is all settled into her new’s finally happening.

I made a lot of commitments prior to life semi-combusting, and now those commitments are piling up all at once.  I like it, though – it feels great to get back into the kitchen a little more.  I still don’t have much time due to work, but I squeeze it in as best I can.

SO, do you love banana pudding, the kind with the vanilla wafers (is there any other kind?)?  Do you love caramel?  If so, you’ll love this twist on banana pudding and vanilla wafers in a cheesecake.  It’s gooey, it’s rich, it’s sinful, it’s worth the calories.  Portion control are my key words for this cheesecake.  In this case, TWO big slices equals one portion, k? Bananas are good for you!  Potassium!

To get the recipe and see more photos, although I really couldn’t gussy it up due to rain and muggy weather melting ev-er-y-thing, click HERE and please check out Jenni’s blog. This chick can cook and bake like nobody’s business.  She could make the tar on a beaten path in NYC in 98 degree heat taste good!

That said, a note.  Not all of the caramelized bananas will look beautifully caramelized inside of the cheesecake once baked.  The cheesecake batter dilutes a lot of that golden beauty.  I had to cut through the whole cheesecake to find one slice where some of the bananas remained that beautiful color after baking, for photo purposes.  If you look closely at my slice photos, you’ll see the washed out color of some of the caramelized bananas.  But, no effect on flavor or texture, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

Caramelized Banana Pudding Cheesecake with Salted Cashew Praline – Vanilla Wafer Crust
On another note, I was nominated for a Food Stories Award by Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef. To say I’m surprised is an understatement. I’ve just been journaling a memory from a happy, innocent time to soothe my aching grown-up soul during a difficult period the past few months – I guess you could call it my own personal therapy. Glad some have enjoyed it.  However, before my Bad Boy First Love memoir, there are loads of mile long food stories, so I hope those are taken into consideration.  Who could forget the squirrels that ate my joconde paste?

As part of this nomination, they’d like a random fact about me.  Here goes …..

As much as I wax poetic about baking and cooking from scratch, I’m a slave to the occasional fluffernutter sandwich, and it must be marshmallow cream from a jar. Also, sometimes I scrape the cream from oreos with my teeth, and ditch the cookies. Lovely, huh? I’m a vanilla gal to the bone.

They’d also like me to nominate 5 other food bloggers for this award.  This was so tough to narrow down because there are SO many great food story writers out there, but I finally managed to choose 5.  Here they are;

Lifes a Feast – Her memories intertwine with the food effortlessly.  Not only can Jamie tell a story , but she does it with such flair, amazing imagery and love..happy or sad.  A fabulous, gifted writer in every way.

Bibberche – Lana’s stories have made me laugh, cry, literally feel her every emotion.  A beautiful writer and storyteller.

Creative Culinary – I love reading Barb’s posts because she flows….her writing is breezy, not to mention, she never holds back when it comes to controversial issues.  She tells it like it is – no sugar-coating.

A Few Rotten Vegetables and Moldy Cheese –   A friend linked me to her site, and I read the whole damn blog in one sitting.  I can identify with most everything she talks about – been there/done that.  She doesn’t know me, so I guess I’m her stalker – huge crush.  I wish she would post more.  Oh, she is NOT a food blogger, just a chef who writes – she makes that very clear.

La Mia Cucina – Lis, the founder of Daring Bakers, doesn’t blog anymore, but I wish she would.  Go read her blog now.  You will be spewing all kinds of matter all over your computer screen.  Not only great writing/story telling, but ‘effin HILARIOUS!  THIS post still brings on wheezing, tearing laughter.

To accept your nominations, click HERE to read about it.

Oh, one more thing.  My 4-year Blogiversary is coming up on the 28th.  I’ll be celebrating it with a HUGE giveaway.  Be sure to check back since you won’t want to miss this one – seriously.

Caramelized Banana Pudding Cheesecake with Salted Cashew Praline – Vanilla Wafer Crust

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Skinny Cheesecake for SRC and New Weight Watchers Fresh Meals

March 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Cakes, Cheese, Dessert, Fruit, Healthy, Rainbow, SRC | 66 Comments
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For this months Secret Recipe Club, I decided to keep it skinny, since I also happen to be reviewing a few new Weight Watchers Fresh Meals in this post.  When I saw this Cheesecake with Sour Cream at Cook Book of Trial and Error, the blog I was assigned for March, I knew I had to try it.  Look at how creamy and decadent it looks!  Would you believe it has almost 5 times less calories than a full fat cheesecake?  Trust me, you’d never know it.  It’s lighter in texture, more like a a mix between a ricotta cheesecake and full-fat cheesecake, but the flavor is closer to fatty the cheesecake, I was pleasantly surprised.

I was a bit devious, though.  I had a few questions about the recipe and since it’s supposed to be a ‘secret’ when you have someone’s blog, I left an innocuous comment asking those questions.  When she quickly responded with the answers (less butter and crumbs in lieu of powder), she asked me to let her know how it turns out.  I told I would definitely let her know – 100%.  Now, I’m letting her know – It turned out amazing and everyone who tried it cannot believe it’s a skinny cheesecake! 2950 calories for thole cake..245 calories per slice!

Then again, I didn’t post as Guest or Anonymous, so I’m sure she put two and two together and figured it outAlso, I tried to emulate the cinnamon zigzag in her photo, freehand, but it didn’t quite work out – so excuse the strip that looks like dirt. 

That said, please be sure to visit her blog, she’s got some really fantastic recipes!

On another skinny note..

Remember last September when I reviewed Weight Watchers Fresh Meals and Deli Salads?  Well, Catherine Bowen Brophy of Greencore/Weight Watchers sent me 5 new fresh meals to try and tell you about.  Like I mentioned in the previous review, I like Weight Watchers because it’s a sensible way to diet and the food is delicious and filling.  The meals I received, in order from favorite to least favorite, are;

Photos above courtesy Weight Watchers

Beef Steak Tips with Potatoes and Vegetables – This was my favorite of the 5.  I wanted to lick the carton clean when I was finished.  20 minutes later I realized I was full and satisfied.  This is what I love about Weight Watchers.

Southwestern Style Turkey Chili – I loved the heartiness and flavor of this chili, but it needed a bit more spice.  But, again, it filled me up, so that’s a gold star.

Teryaki Chicken – The sauce was really good, and it tasted pretty close to what you might get at a good Japanese restaurant.  However, it needed salt and teryaki should never,ever need salt.

Chicken Curry – Again, like with the chili, I felt it needed more kick, but I love really hot and spicy food, so maybe it’s just me.  Nice flavor and the sauce was silky.

Wild Alaskan Salmon – This was the least of my favorites.  The salmon was bland, dry and the texture not pleasing at all, but, what do you excpect from pre-frozen packaged fish?  That’s a tough one to pull off. I wanted to dredge each side in cajun seasoning and give it a quick sear, THEN, smother it with some kind of sauce, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? They need to rework this one.

You can always add extra spice to kick up the heat, so I’m giving these 5 new Fresh Meals a 7.5 out of 10, the main caveat being the salmon.  You won’t get 5-star caliber food here, but you will get tasty food that fills you up, without deprivation . My favorite diet plan out there, by far.

Before I get to the cheesecake recipe, I’d like to thank my friend, Mandy, from What the Fruitcake?! – for converting the measurements in this recipe from metrics to US for me.  Also, to see all the delicious dishes my fellow SRC’ers made from their assigned blogs, click on the blue frog below.

Skinny Cheesecake with Two Options
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Recipe from Cooking with Trial and Error, via her friend's Mom, with my revisions for an 8-inch springform pan
You can make this cheesecake using farmer's or cottage cheese for a ricotta like cheesecake, or yogurt cheese for a creamy NY like cheesecake.
  • 4.6 ounces animal or graham cracker crumbs (I forgot to measure after I weighed, but I will do that later with remaining crumbs)
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons melted butter (it could get too greasy with 5, so start with 3, which worked for me)
Cheesecake Filling
  • 1¾ cups Farmers or Cottage cheese or 2 cups Yogurt Cheese (recipe linked in notes) *
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Buttermilk or Yogurt *
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1⅓ cups sour cream
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  1. Place the animal or graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a clean bowl and drizzle in the melted butter, stirring, until it holds together somewhat. As mentioned above, you shouldn't need all 5 tablespoons, the cheesecake filling will bind it together when baking.
  2. Press the crumbs into a greased 9-inch cake or springform pan – just the bottom. Use the bottom of a glass to really pack it in. Place in the freezer while you make the filling. You can also use a 5”x7” square Pyrex pan, if you want to make cheese cake squares. I used an 8-inch springform pan, which doubled the baking time (see notes)**. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the cheese filling until uniform and silky. Remove the graham cracker crust from the freezer, and pour the filling on top of it.
  4. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degreees F and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Combine the sour cream with the sugar. After the cheesecake has baked for 15 minutes at 350F, remove it from the oven and spread the sour cream on top evenly - be gentle, as it will be slightly jiggly in the middle. Bake for another 5 minutes.
  6. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. I topped my mini cheesecakes (I cut them out of the leftover large cheesecake with a round biscuit cutter) with a melange of cut up fruits and honey.
* The Farmer's Cheese plus buttermilk amounts can be substituted with all Quark or Greek Yogurt - 500 grams total. OR, you can make yogurt cheese with the Greek yogurt, and try this cheesecake with that instead of the farmer's cheese and buttermilk or regular yogurt. If you choose the latter, it will be closer in texture to full fat cheesecake since it's creamy. Strain about 600 to 700 grams low-fat or regular Greek Yogurt in a fine meshed strainer lined with cheesecloth, over a bowl and covered, overnight. You should end up with 500 grams yogurt cheese, which is about 2 cups. Omit buttermilk or regular yogurt in filling if using yogurt cheese.
** I used a 7½ to 8-inch round springform pan. The baking time was 10 minutes at 400 degrees F, then 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees F, and another 10 minutes with the sour cream topping.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice - 245 calories

 I was not compensated monetarily for my Weight Watchers Fresh Meals review, only sent the meals free of charge.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Skinny Cheesecake made with Cottage or Yogurt Cheese.  Super creamy and delicious - you'd never know it was only 245 calories a slice!

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Jumbo Cheesecake Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins with Toffee Streusel

December 9, 2011 at 8:49 am | Posted in Breads, Cakes, Candy, Dessert | 51 Comments
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Do not let these awful, messy photos deter you.  These muffins are one of the best things you will ever wrap your mouth around.


That said…

..once again I come armed with pumpkin, cheesecake and a squeeze bottle of chocolate ganache, which is a combination you’ve seen on my blog twice in the past month, from pie to these muffins.  Not to mention pumpkin nutella snickerdoodle bars, pumpkin povitica, and pumpkin gnocchi. Five pumpkin recipes in a little over a month.

Pumpkin, Sage and Sweet?

Wellll…I told you I wasn’t done with pumpkin.  Actually, I made these back in October, but was going to make them again because I made a small mistake which led to an aesthetic issue with me.  This is the life of a food blogger, if it ain’t pretty, you hem and haw, and sometimes make it again, even if it’s absolutely perfect in the palate department and the last thing you need is another batch of whatever you made hanging around for you to consume.

People eat with their eyes when they look at food blogs, so it’s up to the food blogger to put out as pretty and mouth-watering a photo as he/she can get.

In my case, that’s not an easy task.  The cheaper artificial lighting is not kind to the details that make one’s mouth water.  BUT, I do my best..and I do have that small, patch of dim sunlight I just found,  As I mentioned above, these photos were shot weeks ago, before my mediocre ‘light patch’  discovery – which needs a lot of futzing with before I decide that either A) The small amount of light is not worth the blur since I can’t fit  a tripod in that area, and it needs a tripod even more than my artificial lighting! or B) I start to experience physical pain from twisting my body into unnatural positions just to get the shot in this small nook.

Having said all that, my mistake, which I will get to in a moment, led to messy muffin tops, except for one.

I finally decided not to make a new batch and post as is.  I just couldn’t have another few of these tempting me, all in the name of perfectly beautiful muffins for my blog.

I cobbled these muffins together using a recipe for Jumbo Pumpkin Pecan Streusel muffins from Taste of Home that I like – minus the pecans in the muffin batter, but doubled the streusel and added chopped chocolate covered toffee to it.  I used some homemade toffee in the freezer, from this recipe, but you can use chopped Skor or Heath bars if you like.

We all love muffin tops
It’s the stumps that get the raw end of the deal.  If there’s nothing in the stumps (chocolate chips, nuts..fillings), they’re usually kind of boring, and I’m sure there’s been times your stumps have ended up in the trash.  The big, fluffy muffin tops are always the star, and usually pretty filling, so the stumps are a 50/50 deal.  Eat or chuck – unless you can wrangle up a ‘Cleaner’.

Here’s the part I really love. I filled my stumps, but not only filled them, REALLY filled them.  You don’t just get that usual one bite circle of filling in these – every bite of the stump contains creamy cheesecake.   There’s one full-proof, fantastic way to do this, that doesn’t involve a spoon, which leads to a messy batter ‘plop and splatter’, and not that much filling once baked.  OR – you don’t bake them first, then cut a  gaping hole in the bottom, basically emptying out the stump, piping in a cooked or eggless cheesecake whip, and plugging with the jagged, crumbly part you cut out. Annoying.

Kind of looks like bacon streusel, doesn’t it?  Although I think that’s an idea waiting to happen, it’s the chocolate toffee melted on the streusel crumb.

This is what you do, and I got this brilliant idea from Chef Dennis from A Culinary Journey via his exquisite Black and White Muffins.  You fill a pastry bag with the infamous 1 bar of cream cheese ‘cheesecake recipe’ of no known or definitive origin.  Next, you fill your jumbo muffin cups half way with the pumpkin batter and then, stick that cheesecake batter filled pastry bag with a plain tip, or ziplock bag with an end snipped off, smack dab in the middle of the pumpkin muffin batter and squeeeeeze…

…squeeeeze until that pumpkin batter rises in the muffin well almost to the top (about 2/3 to 3/4’s full.).

Here’s where I messed up, but didn’t really mess up because it’s a question of…

To dome or not to dome?

Do you see that little white circle of cheesecake in the middle of the pumpkin batter in the demo photos?  If you do not cover it with more pumpkin batter, the toffee streusel will sink into it, as you see in most of my photos.  BUT, this is not a bad thing.  What you lose aesthetically as far as a big, fat, fluffy, streusel topped domes go, you make up for with extra gooey melted toffee streusel in part of the cheesecake filling.

On the flip side, you cover up that little hole with pumpkin batter, and the streusel topping remains on top, along with a beautiful dome, like you see in the first photo with the black background.

I did not cover the cheesecake batter circles on 7 out of 8 of my muffins.  The last one I did because there was only enough cheesecake batter to rise it to a little less than 2/3’s full – so I scraped every last bit of pumpkin batter out of the bowl, and filled it the rest of the way.

SO, your choice, big, beautiful ‘impress your guests/recipients’ domed jumbo muffins with a crumbly, crunchy toffee streusel, or a flatter topped muffin with melted, gooey streusel inside-out.  You can’t lose either way..unless it’s a beauty contest.

Muffins and Tiaras.

If you find gooey, muddled, flat top muffins too ugly to present to guests or for gifting, just drizzle melted chocolate on top of them.  I think that hikes the beauty quotient up quite a bit.  Melted chocolate drizzle is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

Hmm..but then the same can be done to hotty dome queen and it’ll look even more gorgeous.

Who said the life of a muffin was fair?

Finally, I think my giant, rough and tumble looking muffins would have a mad crush on these beauties. So delicate and tea party with white gloves, ready – the antithesis of my scruffy, muscled blue-collar workers with calloused hands.  The Muffin Notebook.

Jumbo Cheesecake Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins with Toffee Streusel
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: About 8 - 10 jumbo muffins - 18-20 standard size muffins
Muffin batter adapted from Taste of Home
Muffin Batter
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup fresh, roasted or canned pumpkin puree *
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cheesecake Filling
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
Toffee Streusel
  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped chocolate covered toffee
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cold butter, cubed
Make the Muffin Batter
  1. In a large bowl, combine the first seven muffin batter ingredients.
  2. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened - do not over stir it or you'll get tough muffins. Just a few folds until no flour remains. Set aside while you make the filling and streusel.
Make the Cheesecake Filling
  1. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt and vanilla beat until smooth. Do not over beat. Spoon the cream cheese filling into a pastry bag with a medium plain tip or a zip-lock bag with one end snipped off. Set Aside.
Make the Toffee Streusel
  1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans, chopped toffee and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Place in fridge, covered, until ready to use.
Assemble and Bake the Muffins
  1. Grease the top of the jumbo muffin tins lightly, making sure the area around each muffin well is greased. These babies rise a lot and spread a bit. If you don't use jumbo muffin liners, grease each muffin well too.
  2. Fill the 8 to 10 greased or paper-lined jumbo muffin cups half way with pumpkin batter. Place cheesecake batter filled pastry bag in the middle of each half filled muffin well, and squeeze in the filling until the batter rises and fills the lined muffin wells ⅔ to ¾ths full. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release air bubbles, which I forgot to do, hence some of the holes in my cheesecake filling.
  3. Cover white circles of cheesecake on top with any extra pumpkin batter, or just scoop the pumpkin batter from the sides or underneath to cover. If you don't care about a big, muffin dome, skip this step.
  4. Dump large handfuls of toffee streusel over cheesecake filled muffin batter. Make sure to keep it contained in the muffin well -mounding it like little mountains. Any that spills onto muffin pan, wipe off or brush into one of the wells. Ignore my raw streusel photos...I wiped all that extra crumb off ;D
  5. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes (about 15-18 minutes for standard-sized muffins) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
* If using canned pumpkin, strain puree overnight in a colander, or cook down until thick, bubbly and the moisture is reduced, then cool before adding to batter.

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Three Pies in One – Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie

November 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Dessert, Giveaway, Pies/Tarts, Puddings, Vegetables, Vegetarian | 227 Comments
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UPDATE: 11/26/14: Before printing the recipe and starting this pie, please read the TROUBLESHOOTING section below the recipe.   Also, I modified and updated the recipe and changed the baking method for the gooey pecan topping option because it works better, especially ‘layer wise’.

Whenever I think of Thanksgiving, I think of pie.  Bulging golden apple pie, deep orange, custardy pumpkin pie, gooey sweet, toasty pecan pie, luscious, rich…well, you get the picture.  Don’t get me wrong, visions of stuffing and candied sweet potatoes dance through my head too, but for some reason, since I started food blogging – PIE is the Footloose Kevin Bacon doing handsprings on the dance floor of my cerebral cortex.

Pumpkin pie has always been a favorite of mine, a pie I crave when the weather starts to cool and the leaves start turning color and falling.  The reason it became a favorite might have been because it was the bad boy pie, the elusive pie, the pie I wasn’t allowed to date or hang out with because my parents didn’t approve.

My family hated pumpkin pie.

Cheesecake Layer

As a child and young teen, OH how I craved a taste of those smooth, burnt orange, shiny surfaced pies, beckoning me with a whiff of pumpkinny goodness every time I saw one, whether it be at the supermarket, where I tried to sneak one into my Mother’s shopping cart, or the Fall bake sale at school.

I’ll never forget the day I got to finally sink my teeth into the creamy, spiced custard in a buttery, flaky crust that is pumpkin pie.  I was about 15, and the Fall bake sale at my HS was in full bloom, packed with kids and teachers vying for that last rice krispie treat, and almost stampeding past each other to grab a bunch of the ‘good’chocolate chip cookies that one Mom was known for (I always felt sorry for the other chocolate chip cookie Moms whose plates of cookies remained untouched).  I took baby steps toward one pumpkin pie, cut into slices, at the edge of the table.  I had spent the little money I had that day on a few bottles of nail polish being sold by an upperclassmen, forgetting about the bake sale.

Hmmm..I couldn’t just steal a slice – I needed to do this in a somewhat civilized manner, as in errr…

Pecan Crunch Topping

“I’m doing a report on pumpkin pie, and I’ve never tasted one.  I wish I could buy a slice, but I don’t have enough money.” I said to one sweet-faced PTA mom.  A report on pumpkin pie?  What was I thinking??

I immediately wished I could take it back, mentally punching myself in the mouth.

Then lo and behold – a miracle.  The PTA Mom winked at me and slyly slid a slice my way, ignoring the my ridiculous lie. I thanked her profusely..maybe a little too much, but no time for regrets, I needed to finally dig into years of wonder.

One bite and I was in heaven.  I knew we were meant to be.  From that day forward, even though pumpkin pie was still met with grimaces come Thanksgiving, my parents were nice enough to buy me one each and every last Thursday in November.  Of course, I had to endure the “Yuck, how can you eat that?” barbs and jokes, but it was well worth every bite.

To this day, my family still hates pumpkin pie or anything pumpkin in general.  To quote my father – from a very recent conversation we had about Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie this year;

“I just hate the smell of raw pumpkins.” He said with a look of disinterest.

“Have you ever tried it cooked?” I asked, in hope it would spark some new revelation in his pumpkin hating psyche..

“NO, and I don’t want to, so don’t try to push pumpkin pie on me, my stance hasn’t and never will change.” He replied.  Conversation over.

So much for that.

Oh, wow..all these years, and no pumpkin gene has kicked in – no glorious moment of discovery in finding out that something he ate contained pumpkn, and it was good!

Does that mean I’m not bringing one to Thanksgiving dinner? A big HECK no.  For years, coconut custard pie was the ‘pumpkin pie’ at our Thanksgiving dessert table, and I do love me a nice slice of coconut custard pie, but once adulthood set in, no one could stop me from placing a gorgeous, homemade pumpkin pie right beside it. Someone always found a way to push it to the side, the dark corner of the gymnasium during the HS dance – a total dessert outcast – shunned, blackballed, a scarlet P on its shiny surface. I was the friend who stood by it, the one who would never leave it to stand alone. In other words, I slid it back into the rotation every time I passed the dessert table, IN FRONT of the coconut custard pie. Ha!

Once I learned to bake pies, I tried many variations of pumpkin pie, from pumpkin cheese pie, to pumpkin pie with pecan streusel, to a recipe an ex BF’s Mom gave me where the cream cheese layer was beneath the pumpkin filling.  I LOVED that idea, and the pie itself, so that was my go to for many Thanksgivings to come.

Present day – as in today..well, last night.  I decided I needed to get at least one Thanksgiving pie favorite of mine up on this blog.  At first it was going to be the old pumpkin ‘cheese layer’ pie, but then I had this hankering for pecan pie too, and couldn’t decide which direction I wanted to take.  Then it hit me…why not combine all three, as in turning the pecan streusel from one pumpkin pie recipe into a more pecan pie like topping?  Into the lab I went, three days of testing.

It worked – two ways, crunchy or gooey.  Three pies in one.  No choosing, no juggling a slice of cheesecake, pecan pie and pumpkin pie on one plate, trying not to look silly as you take bites of each at once.

I almost added caramel apples to the cheesecake layer to make it a Pumpkin Apple Cheesecake Pecan Pie, but decided that was overkill.  What do you think?

The cheesecake layer is your standard formula for swirling into brownies, filling cupcakes or muffins , marbling into cake batters and sweet breads etc, prior to baking.  It’s a formula that I’ve had memorized for years, and it always works. No specific place where it comes from – it’s all over the net.  1 bar of cream cheese cheesecake creator – do you exist?

– Some readers have used store-bought 9-inch deep dish pie crusts in the foil pans and have experienced an overflow of the pumpkin layer.  If you want to use one of them to make thing easier, or just use a 9-inch deep dish pie pan, cut the pumpkin layer ingredients by half and continue as directed, but start checking it at 50 minutes.

Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: One 9.5 to 10-inch deep dish pie - about 8 to 12 servings, depending on how you slice it.
Rest time for pie dough - 2 hours
Chill time for pie - at least 6 hours, but preferably 12 hours
Pie crust adapted from Tish Boyle
Flaky Pie Crust
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch chunks and frozen
  • ¼ cup lard or vegetable shortening, frozen
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice-cold water ( I remove 1 tablespoon ice water and replace that tablespoon with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar in all pie crust recipes – it tenderizes the crust)
Cheesecake Layer
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
Pumpkin Pie Layer
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree (If using canned, strain in a cheesecloth or paper towel lined fine mesh sieve, covered, for several hours to overnight, in the fridge)
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream (you can use evaporated milk, if you prefer)
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Regular Gooey Pecan Pie Topping
  • 1½ cups mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup light or dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
Alternative Crunchy Pecan Pie Topping (If you use this topping, the baking method changes. Read in directions below)
  • 1½ cups mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
Make and Parbake Pie Shell:
  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade and pulse on and off until combined. Scatter the butter pieces and the shortening, in large chunks, over the flour mixture. Pulse the machine on and off until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 6 tablespoons of the ice water and process until the mixture just starts to come together. If the dough seems dry, add the remaining 2 tablespoons water as necessary. Do not allow the dough to form a ball on the blade, or the resulting crust will be tough! You want a raggedy mess of crumbly dough, with lumps of butter showing.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it in half, and shape each half into a disk – gently pressing each raggedy mess together, (DO NOT press into each disk or try to squeeze it together so the dough is uniform – it will come together in the refrigerator). Wrap the disks separately in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. You will only need one disk for this recipe, so you can freeze the other disk for later use.
  3. Lightly flour a large work surface. Allow the dough to soften at room temperature just until it is pliable (about 10 minutes). Place 1 disk on the floured surface and sprinkle some flour over it. Roll the dough from the center out in every direction, flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. You want a round of dough that’s about ¼ to ⅛ inch and about 3 inches greater in diameter than the pie pan/plate you are using.
  4. Transfer the crust to a 9½ to 10-inch deep-dish pie pan (if you don’t use a deep-dish pan, there will be pumpkin filling left over, not to mention you run the risk of overflow) by rolling it loosely around the rolling pin and unrolling it carefully over the pan. Press the dough first into the bottom of the pan and then against the sides. Patch any holes or cracks with dough scraps. Trim the edges of the dough with scissors, leaving about ¾ inch of overhang. Fold overhang over and crimp as you please. Place shell in the freezer and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. When oven temperature is at 400 F, remove the pie shell from the freezer and line the pie crust with a large sheet of lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the crust well with a fork and bake the crust for another 7 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, but the crust is not fully baked. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack while you make the fillings. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Make the Pie Using Pecan Pie Gooey Topping:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in ¼ cup sugar, then add vanilla and egg. Beat mixture until smooth.
  2. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of the par baked pie shell, spread evenly, then freeze for about 15 -20 minutes.
  3. In the mean time, in a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, heavy cream, the lightly beaten egg, vanilla extract, sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix thoroughly until uniform. In another bowl (or 2 to 4 cup measuring cup), combine the eggs, sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl. Do NOT stir in pecans, keep them in a separate bowl for now and set both the pecan pie goo and pecans aside. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  4. Remove the pie shell with cream cheese from the freezer and pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake 20 to 25 minutes more. You want the pumpkin layer semi-firm enough to hold the gooey pecan topping. When it looks that way, gently scatter the 1½ cups chopped and whole pecans evenly over the pumpkin layer. Now carefully spoon or pour the pecan pie goo over the pecans. It's okay if it doesn't cover fully as it will all melt together in the oven. Another way to add the pecan goo is too mix it up in a 4 cup glass measure so when it's time to add the pecan goo after scattering the pecans on the pumpkin layer, you pour the goo around the pie in circles from high up so it hits the pie in a thin stream, which will prevent sinkage.
  5. Bake for 30-45 minutes longer. Cover the edges of crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if browning too quickly, but you will eventually have to cover it to prevent excess browning some time toward the end. Keep checking every 20 minutes.
  6. When the pie is done, it should be sturdy, but still jiggly in the middle. The pecan pie topping should be dark and bubbling.
Make Pie Using Alternative Pecan Crunch Topping
  1. After you freeze the cheesecake layer, pour on the pumpkin layer and place in the oven. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the pumpkin layer is firm enough to hold pecan crunch layer without too much 'sinkage'.
  2. After pie has been in oven for 50 to 60 minutes, remove from the oven and gently sprinkle or spoon pecan pie crunch topping evenly over the top. The pumpkin pie layer will sink a bit because the pecan crunch is heavy, but do not worry! Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the pecan pie topping is bubbly.
  3. Cover the edges of crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if the crust is browning too quickly, but you will eventually have to cover it to prevent excess browning some time toward the end. Keep checking every 20 minutes.
  4. In the end, no matter which pecan topping you used, when it looks to be done, remove from oven and let cool at room temperature, then place in the fridge and chill for several hours to overnight (overnight is recommended).
IMPORTANT – And I have to stress this again even though I mentioned it above. Whichever pecan pie topping you use, you MUST let the pie cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for several hours to overnight before slicing and serving (preferably overnight). Also, sometimes some of the cheesecake filling or pecan pie filling affects the color of the pumpkin filling. It may not look a beautiful orange, but rather a yellowish color. No worries, as it still tastes awesome!
-Some have mentioned that they didn't have enough pecan pie topping to cover. It truly depends on your pie dish, so if it looks like you might not have enough, or simply want more since it's a thin layer, double or add another half of either pecan pie topping and bake an extra 5 to 10 minutes.
-If you don't have or can't find a 10-inch deep pie dish and want to use a 9-inch deep dish, cut the pumpkin layer ingredients in half. The reason for this is that a 10-inch deep dish is wider and deeper, and that extra inch in width makes a big difference. Start checking the pie at 50 minutes rather than 60 minutes.
-Drizzle pie with melted chocolate or chocolate ganache for extra decadence!


1. “There’s too much pumpkin filling, it overflowed when I poured it on top of the cheesecake, and I still had pumpkin filling left over!”

I have been using a 10-inch deep dish pie dish, like THIS one, for this pie for years, and everything fits perfectly.  But, if you use a 9-inch deep pie dish or your pie dish isn’t holding all the filling once you’ve already mixed all the pumpkin filling and started to pour it on; stop pouring when the pumpkin filling reaches about 1/2 to 1-inch below the crimped edge.  Make mini pumpkin pies with any leftover pumpkin filling.  Line a standard cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners and place a gingersnap or vanilla wafer at the bottom of each lined cup (or spray cupcake wells with oil, then line wells with pie dough circles).  Pour pumpkin filling over the cookies and bake at 375 F for 25 – 30 minutes.  You probably won’t fill all 12 pan wells, so pour water into any empty, unlined wells so the cheesecakes bake evenly.

UPDATE: I modified the pumpkin filling for a 9-inch to 10-inch deep dish pie plate to make sure there is no overflow.  However, if you want to use a 10-inch springform pan, the pumpkin layer ingredient amounts should be changed to;

1 1/3 cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree (If using canned, strain in a cheesecloth or paper towel lined fine mesh sieve, covered, for several hours to overnight, in the fridge)
1 cup heavy cream (you can use evaporated milk, if you prefer)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs, lightly beaten

I also recommend increasing the cheesecake and pecan pie layers by half, and using a graham cracker or your favorite cookie crust in lieu of the pastry crust!

2. “My pie has been in the oven for over 75 minutes and it still doesn’t seem done! What should I do?”

The pie will not look done when it’s ready to come out.  It will be jiggly in the middle, almost like it’s raw, but the sides will be somewhat set, just like a cheesecake. Some ovens run hotter or cooler than others, so an oven thermometer is an ideal tool to have to make sure your oven is at the right temperature. Regardless, do not keep the pie in the oven more than 90 minutes.  Once you take it out, let it come to room temperature, then into the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours.  I promise you it will set up perfectly!

3. “The pecan topping seems sparse!”, or “…it isn’t fully covering the top of the pie!”

The pecan pie layer is supposed to be thin (since it’s so sweet), but, if you want more gooey pecan pie topping, make another half of the recipe and add another 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.  If you decided to use the crunchy pecan topping, it  may seem like it won’t cover the top of the pie, but however you spoon it on, it will all melt together and cover the top of the pie in the end.  But, you can also double or make another half of the crunchy pecan pie topping, if you’d like.

4.  “Do I really have to strain the canned pumpkin?”

No, you don’t.  It’s just something I’ve been doing for years with any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.  Removing the extra water intensifies the pumpkin flavor and removes any ‘tinny’ can taste. It also helps reduce the chance of overflow. Sometimes I even strain and cook down the canned pumpkin!

In conclusion, everyone ate and loved this pie – even my father, although he scraped off the pumpkin layer.  Oh, well, it’s something, right?  Regardless, it’s now in demand for every Thanksgiving forward.

On another note, I submitted this Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake Pie to the Food Network’s Virtual Thanksgiving – A Communal Table.  The hashtag on Twitter is #pullupachair.  Below is the virtual Thanksgiving menu created by all of us.  What a feast, huh?  Click on the links and be prepared to drool.

The Food Network Communal Table Thanksgiving Feast

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:

Eat Be Mary: She’s Mulling It Over Wine
Cookistry: Bread With Ancient Grains
Celebrity Chefs and Their Gardens: The American Hotel Peconic Clam Chowder
Picky Eater Blog: Butternut Squash Soup With Thyme and Parmesan
Good Food Good Friends: Mushroom Soup

Mains: Grilled Quail with a Warm Beet, Frisée, and Pistachio Salad
She Wears Many Hats:
Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey

Living Mostly Meatless: Vegan-Friendly Corn Casserole
Healthy Green Kitchen: Red Kuri Squash Pie
The Naptime Chef: Crispy Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes
Gluten-Free Blondie: Apple and Cranberry Studded Stuffing
Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat: Blue Cheese and Rosemary Celebration Potatoes
Burnt Lumpia: Turkey, Sweet Potato and Cranberry Empanadas
Panfusine: Pan Fried Polenta Seasoned With Cumin, Ginger & Black Pepper
Homemade Cravings: Warm Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Slaw
Bakeaholic Mama: Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Prosciutto
Show Food Chef: Beer-Braised Brussels Sprouts
T’s Tasty Bits: Sweet Empanadas with Pumpkin and Lupini Beans Filling
The Amused Bouche Blog: Braised Kale
The Little Kitchen: How to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

The Macaron Queen: Macaron Tower
Poet In The Pantry: Amaretto Apple Crisp
Farm Girl Gourmet: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta
That’s Forking Good: Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies
Out of the Box Food: Out of the Box Food Maple Pumpkin Pie
Cake Baker 35: Orange Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
How Does She: Three of Our Favorite Desserts
Dollhouse Bake Shoppe: Thanksgiving Candy Bar Name Plates
Sweet Fry: Pumpkin Latte
Tasty Trials: Spiced Apple Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce
An Uneducated Palate: Puff Pastry Apple Tart
Frugal Front Porch: Mini Cheaty Cheesecakes

Even more:
Kitchen Courses: Thanksgiving for Six People Under $60
A Curious Palate: The Communal Table

Time for the winner of the Cuisinart DLC-2 Mini Prep Plus Food Processor. After I generated the number via, and counted over and over, skipping over a few of my own replies, I wasn’t shocked to see where it landed.  There were several entries from people who battled and survived breast cancer, people who’s loved ones battled and survived breast cancer, and sadly, some who lost loved ones to it.  Well… chose one of those people, or maybe something/someone else did.

Congratulations, Stephanie!  I hope your Mom chops, grinds and purees her heart out :)  Sending you an email to get your mailing info, right now.

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Braised Chicken Thighs, Killer Cheesecake, and the Winner of the Free Lotion

March 7, 2010 at 1:20 am | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Dinner, Giveaway, Poultry | 46 Comments
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I’ve never been a fan of those network morning talk shows that dominate our TV’s from 9 am until noon.  Regis and Kelly?  The perky factor is just too much to take (how much caffeine runs through her veins?).  When I was at the rehab facility for my knee last year, I had an older roommate (for a month) who would blast Regis and Kelly every single morning.  I almost smothered myself with pillows, 5 days a week, trying to cover every sense above the neck.

I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was when the month was up.

Braised Garlic Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs with Shallots

Last week, as I was getting dressed, my TV, which seems to have a mind of its own at times, decided it wanted to watch one of these shows. wasn’t too bad since it was Martha Stewart, and loud, screechy and insanely perky aren’t adjectives you would use to describe Martha Stewart.  Sure, there are a few others that would fit, but no need to bash Martha because, well..she cooks, bakes and makes elaborate chandeliers out of paper clips. Anyone who can do that, and still tend to farm animals and every vegetable, herb and flower garden known to man, is pretty cool in my book.

Braised Honey Mustard Garlic Skinless Chickem Thighs

On this particular show, which stopped me mid-dress to actually pay attention, she had some of her slaves cooks from a show called Everyday Food, promoting a new cookbook.  John Barricelli (the baker dude) made an apple brown betty and a ricotta lemon tart, and both looked great – but what really caught my eye and taste buds was a braised chicken with shallots that some nice lady whipped together.  Naturally..I had to get the recipe and try it – so I did.

Today’s post was dinner and dessert at my house last night.

Does the phrase ‘Lick your plate clean’ entice you?  It should, because you will do just that.  I know it seems like a lot of shallots, but trust me, they melt into the sauce and catapult the flavor to the point where you might utter, involuntarily,  “OMFG”.

I added a few tablespoons of honey to this particular recipe..but you know what?  It really doesn’t need it because the melted shallots provide just the right amount of sweetness to counteract the mustard.  YOU MUST TRY THIS.  I’d be shocked if any of you were disappointed.

Mascarpone Cheesecake

On another yummy note..while looking for a great way to use up the rest of the homemade mascarpone cheese from the Daring Bakers Tiramisu challenge in February, I came across a cheesecake that has comfortably settled into my top 5 cheesecakes of all time, along with Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake from the Daring Bakers April ’09 challenge.

Yes, the amount of mascarpone in ratio to the amount of cream cheese makes you wonder why it’s called Mascarpone Cheesecake, but that small amount provides such a rich flavor and creamy texture, I won’t ever question it again.  So, you have three elements of creamy in this cheesecake – cream cheese, mascarpone cheese and sour cream!

The only thing I did differently was bake it a bit longer than the recipe states..but that’s because my oven tends to run a little wonky at times, so 10 minutes longer is probably the way to go.  Oh, and I drizzled it with some of the leftover caramel sauce (again) from my take on the Tiramisu challenge.   Once again, YOU MUST TRY THIS CHEESECAKE..too.

Finally..*drum roll, please* – the winner of the free lotion, according to random, issss…Claudia of Honey from Rock, who was the 60th comment.  Send your name and addy to, Claudia, and Skin MD will send your free bottle right out to you :).

Braised Honey Mustard Garlic Skinless Chickem Thighs


Braised Honey Mustard Garlic Chicken Thighs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 4 to 8 servings
Adapted from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast
  • 8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 2½ pounds total)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound small shallots (about 12), peeled and halved
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish (optional)
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper; coat with flour, shaking off excess.
  2. In a Dutch oven or 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high. Cook chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove; set aside.
  3. Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine; cook until evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in honey, mustard and 1½ cups water; bring to a boil.
  4. Return chicken, bone side down, to pot. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; loosely tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Add tomatoes to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook on high until sauce has thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and return chicken to pot; cook until heated through. Serve, garnished with tarragon, if desired.

Three Cream Cheesecake.  A slice of creamy, fluffy heaven.
Three Cream Cheesecake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Cooling and chilling time total: 8 to 12 hours
  • 2⅓ cups ground vanilla wafers ground in food processor (about 70 vanilla wafers)
  • 2⅓ cups
  • 2½ eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese at room temperature (about 1 cup)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
For the crust
  1. Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Stir together cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl or pulse together in the food processor. Reserve ¼ cup buttered crumbs to top cheesecake.
  3. Dump the rest of the crumbs into your buttered springform pan. Pat on the bottom and up the sides, keeping it about 1-inch thick. I like to use a flat glass bottom to really pack it in.
  4. Place springform pan with crust on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack while you make the filling. Cool at least 25 minutes. Leave oven at 350°F.
For the filling
  1. Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and salt and mix at low speed until combined. Pour filling into cooled crust and bake until cheesecake is set and puffed around edge but still trembles slightly when pan is shaken gently, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly in springform pan on rack, about 20 minutes. Cheesecake will continue to set as it cools. Leave oven on.
For the topping
  1. Stir together sour cream, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt in a small bowl and spoon over cheesecake, spreading gently and evenly, leaving a ¼-inch border around edge.
  2. Bake cheesecake until topping is set, about 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge to help prevent cracking. Sprinkle top with reserved crumbs and cool completely in pan on rack, then chill, loosely covered, at least 8 hours.
Cheesecake can be chilled, loosely covered, up to 3 days. Cut cake with a long, thin sharp knife dipped in a tall glass of hot water.

Start this lovely meal with a salad, and make sure you have some bread on hand because the chicken gravy is to.die.for. A guy friend actually ate it with a spoon.  Seriously. Oh, good gravy, indeed!

Braised Garlic Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs with Shallots and Cherry TomatoeBookmark and Share

Say Cheese…CAKE!

April 27, 2009 at 6:07 am | Posted in Cakes, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Fruit | 109 Comments
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Yep, it’s that time of the month again, Daring Bakers.  Hmmm..what could the challenge be?  Oh, once again, I gave it away in the title.  Silly me.

img_9371 img_9981_edited-copy1

Every month, Daring Bakers wait eagerly for the announcement of the next months challenge.  When the day comes, you keep refreshing the page in hopes of seeing..’Insert Month’  challenge is here’ or something along those lines – OR, you come home looking forward to checking it out (for people who have lives – a category that eludes me at this juncture).

This month was no exception, and when I saw cheesecake, my brain went into overdrive, especially when I read we could take this particular recipe and dress it up beautifully, and/or add any flavors we creative!!  I must have made a thousand different cheesecakes in my life, so wow, I was going to run with this one.  OK, something weird happened after that..I went blank.

NO freaking idea why my lobes suddenly put up a velvet rope and wouldn’t let me in no matter how much I pleaded.  Holy moly, I had cheesecake block!  How could this happen?  Cheesecake is a blank palette of endless possibilities!  It must be a tumor or an aneurysm waiting to burst (I’d like to introduce you to Hypochondriac Me).  Nope, it’s just plain old cheesecake block.  What the…?


I resorted to surfing recipe sites and numerous food blogs, pouring through my vast collection of cookbooks and pulling out dozens of my own or handed down recipes for unique cheesecake ideas, but NOTHING, and I mean , NADA, inspired nor excited me.  This was getting bad.  Okay, it’s probably the pain meds I still take on occasion for my has to be.


I finally gave up, and decided to keep it simple.  I’d always wanted to try the Strawberry Mirror Cake from a past DB Challenge B.L.J (before Lisa joined), so I figured I’d make the mirror part of that recipe – but, I really wasn’t feelin’ the strawberry mirror, I wanted something a little off the beaten path.  So, a simple white chocolate cheesecake with a fruity mirror would be my boring, albeit tasty, submission. But, what fruit?

After eating a lunch of blood orange slices mixed into plain yogurt, I decided on a blood orange mirror, which came out a little darker than I’d anticipated, and my lousy photo skills and lack of natural light failed to capture the ‘mirror effect’.  But, it was there..I could see myself in it. *big, fat eyeroll*

I would have to gussy it up as best I could (1000 white chocolate curls, candied blood orange slices and blood orange dust (I dried blood orange peel then ground it into a powder) and add some fresh ginger and salted cashews to the graham cracker crust. Then a light-blub moment – I know how I could make it more interesting – make the cheesecake as planned, then make a deconstructed version of it!

The Creamiest Cheesecake in the World.  Period.

I’m sure many of you remember the deconstruction fad of the late 90’s – early millenium, and in fact, it’s still going on, but there was a time when every restaurant seemed to deconstruct almost everything on their menu.  In the best case scenarios, you got a decent plate of food, arranged in ways that were delicious and incredibly creative.

Unfortunately, at many of the more expensive restaurants in the city, you got a plate of almost nothing aka “I’ll have the deconstructed lemon meringue pie for dessert”.  Cut to  several minutes later, an elegant looking plate containing one candied lemon slice, one toasted homemade marshmallow, and a small shortbread cookie was placed in front of me.  $12.00 for this plate of bird kibble?  Are you frucking KIDDING ME?

Waiter – “Well, you’re supposed to eat it all at once so you get the lemon meringue pie in one bite”

Me – “Then you better give me twenty more plates of this so it equates to an actual slice of pie – no extra charge, Skippy!”

What makes this deconstruction slightly cool is that it’s an exact replica of Jen’s recipe and my additions, but each component is prepared in a different way, except for the blood orange mirror.  I made a sort of a sabayon aka zabaglione en Italiano, by beating half the eggs (well, one egg and one yolk) over a bain marie with the sugar, orange liqueur, and lemon juice until light and fluffy, then folding it into the cream cheese-white chocolate mixture along with the heavy cream, which I whipped to make a cheesecake mousse.

After using half the graham cracker crust for the cheesecake with 1000 white chocolate curls, I took the rest and toasted it in the oven to make a streusel for my………..TA DA – *insert flashing bulbs around this title* ;

White Chocolate-Blood Orange Cheesecake Mousse Parfaits with Salted Cashew-Ginger Graham Streusel!!

OK, hoopla over.  Yes, many, many have created amazing cheesecake parfaits, and the JELLO company is probably having a good laugh right about now, but hey, mine is from scratch, so a big PFFFT to all boxes of edible powder!


For the parfaits, I juiced the oranges in one of those grinding super juicers.  Unless you feel like skimming tons of foam off the top of the juice, (no matter how much you skim it, it seems to keep multiplying and never clears – like The Blob in foam form), DO NOT use one of those juicers if you’re going to make a gelee or mirror.  I couldn’t get that damn juice clear, like it was for the cheesecake with 1000 white chocolate curls, in which I squeezed the juice out each orange with a hand held juicing gadget.

This in turn led to a cloudy ‘gel’, and nope, couldn’t see myself in it, not to mention, it didn’t seem to set up as well, resulting in a sloppy looking, bleeding parfait.  Even the color was off! BAH!  Thank god it tasted good, or I probably would have decorated my walls with it.

WOW, I’ve really veered off the DB challenge, but what else is new?  I’m a ramblin’ woman.  Okay, first let me start out by saying that the recipe from Jenny, of Jenny Bakes, is one the best cheesecake recipes I’ve ever baked/tasted – NO LIE.  This cheesecake is heaven, so everyone who reads this MUST TRY IT AS IS, at least once.  Of course you can take it in many different directions, but just go with it plain to start, and you’ll see what I mean.  I’ll post the original recipe, then just add my additions afterwards with these —> **.

parf1 img_9988_edited-copy

OH – I forgot THE PARAGRAPH – blahhddy, blahhddy, blah, blah, blah.  Just kidding, here it is;

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.  Thanks Jenny and Abbey!

The Creamiest Cheesecake in the World.  Period.

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 Tbsp / 24 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
** I added 1/2 cup chopped, salted cashews and 1 Tbsp of freshly grated ginger

3 packages of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 Tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
** I added 4 oz melted white chocolate and 1 tbsp Cointreau

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil “casserole” shaped pans from the grocery store. They’re 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Blood Orange Mirror (Gelee)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Cointreau
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp unflavored gelatin
1 1/4 cups fresh blood orange juice (about 3 to 5 blood oranges)
1/4 cup simple syrup (1/4 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup water, simmered until sugar is dissolved and it’s syrupy and clear)

1. Place lemon juice, Cointreau and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.

2. Combine fresh blood orange juice and simple syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just begins to thicken (do not let gel); remove from ice water.

3. When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cheesecake in springform pan. Refrigerate until set.

Now let’s take the exact cheesecake recipe above, (dividing the cheesecake filling ingredients in half), and take it apart then put it back together again in a glass!

White Chocolate – Blood Orange Cheesecake Mousse Parfaits with Salted Cashew-Ginger Graham Streusel

White Chocolate Cheesecake Mousse
12 oz room temperature cream cheese ( 1 1/2 8 oz bars)
2 oz white chocolate, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsps orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
1 1/2 tsps lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract (or the innards of half a vanilla bean)

1. In a bowl over a simmering pot of water. combine egg, egg yolk, sugar and whisk until mixture is pale yellow and thickened, lifting the bowl of the heat intermittently to prevent the eggs from scrambling.  Continue whisking as you add the lemon juice and orange liqueur at once.  Keep whisking hard until the mixture is thick, doubled in volume  and about 160 F.  Again, if mixture is heating too quickly, remove the bowl from the double boiler and continue whisking off the heat.   The whole process should take about 5-10 minutes and you should end up with a thick, fluffy mixture that coats the back of a spoon well.  When ready, set aside to cool.

2. Beat cream cheese until smooth, then beat in the melted white chocolate and vanilla extract or beans.  Lighten with some of the cooled egg (sabayon) mixture then fold in the rest.

3. Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form, fold into cream cheese – sabayon mixture.

Blood Orange Gelee recipe above

Half of  Salted Cashew-Ginger Graham Crust recipe above

1 Preheat oven to 350F.

2.  Spread the salted cashew-ginger graham combination onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, squeezing some of it into clumps.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, stirring it once or twice to prevent burnt pieces, until lightly toasted.

Assemble Parfaits
1. In 4 to 6 clear glasses, pour a thin layer of the blood orange gelee (mirror) into the bottom of each glass. Place glasses in the fridge to let gelee set.

2. In each glass, top the layer of set gelee with graham cracker streusel, then cream cheese mousse. and another thin layer of the orange gelee. Let set again, then repeat above, ending with a thin layer of orange gelee. Top with white chocolate curls, orange dust, gold leaf or whatever suits your fancy – like whipped cream and orange supremes.

Don’t miss out on the other mouth watering creations other Daring Bakers came up with!  Click on the links to their blogs at the Daring Bakers Blogroll, and check ’em out!

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