Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Calling all pumpkin spice fans. How many of you have already made it into Starbucks for your pumpkin spice latte? Uh huh. That’s what I thought. Quite a few of you…Can we get enough of fall time pumpkin treats. I think not. Here’s something you can whip up on your own–no coffee house trip needed. Pumpkin Cheesecake bars. After I made these, I thought they looked a little plain so I added a recipe for a cream cheese frosting to spread on top if you like. Cheers~

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Crumb Base:
1 1/2 Cup crisp gingersnap cookie crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted melted butter

1. Line a 9×9 inch square pan with tinfoil. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Lightly grease the tinfoil. In a small bowl combine the ingredients well with a fork. Press into the bottom of the pan and bake at 350 for about 14-15 minutes until crust looks set around edges. (crust may look a bit wet–that’s okay). Let crust layer cool completely. Make the cheesecake layer while crust is cooling.

Cheesecake Layer:

12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup confectioners sugar
1/2 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 Cup pumpkin puree* (note: pumpkin puree usually comes as a 15 oz. can–which gives you exactly 1 3/4 Cups puree; you will have exactly 1 Cup leftover puree after this recipe. Freeze the remainder in a ziplock baggie for another recipe that calls for pumpkin).
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (note: if you can’t find pumpkin pie spice, use 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg)

1. With an electric mixer cream together the cheese and confectioners sugar until combined; about 3 minutes. Hint: to avoid excess air bubbles don’t go past speed 4 (or medium) on your mixer. Stop occasionally to scrape down bottom and sides of bowl. Add the brown sugar and mix (same speed) until combined. Add eggs one at a time until smooth; scraping down sides and bottom occasionally until smooth. Add in vanilla. Add the pumpkin puree and beat (same speed) until combined. Add in the flour, salt and spices and continue to beat until combined. Pour the mixture onto the cooled crust and rap the pan on the counter several times (about 20 times) until you no longer see any air bubbles rise to the surface (This helps prevent getting those nasty air bubbles you sometimes see on top of the cheesecake). TURN THE OVEN DOWN TO 300 DEGREES F TO BAKE.

2. Bake at 300°F for about 30-35 minutes or until just set. The middle portion of the pan should look JUST slightly jiggly when you gently shake the pan. Turn off the oven and prop open the door and let pan sit in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let cool completely over a wire rack.

Spread with cream cheese frosting if desired. To store: cover pan with tinfoil and chill in the fridge until firm enough to cut.

Cream Cheese Frosting (optional)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. soft butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/4 Cup confectioners sugar, measured then sifted

In a small bowl combine the cream cheese and butter with a rubber spatula until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir in the sugar and combine until smooth. Spread over cooled cheesecake.


Big Tall Blond(ies)

This is a post I am dedicating to all the men who read my blog. First of all, sorry for such a lapse in blogging–I have been having major trouble with my computer so I am a bit behind. Onto business… I’m getting more of you sweet males who are stopping by so I wanted to give a shout out to you with a recipe I think you will enjoy. Of course all my ladies will equally enjoy them as well. These blondies are what I call my “big blondes”. They are a taller thicker blondie with a lot of sass. A lot of chips and nuts in the mix. They are quite simple to make and you don’t need to haul out a stand mixer to make them. If you like your blondies a bit thinner then simply bake them in a 9×13 pan and bake them for about 20 minutes. Enjoy~

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“Big Blondes” 

2 Cups all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 sticks (1 Cup) unsalted butter (reserve the wrappers for greasing the pan)

1 Cup light brown sugar + 1 Cup dark brown sugar (OR> 2 Cups light brown sugar + 1 Tbsp. molasses)

2 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (reserve a small handful for top)

1 Cup rough chopped nuts (cut on the larger size)

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F or (180° C).  Prepare a 9 inch square baking pan by greasing the pan with one of the butter wrappers. Line the pan with a tinfoil sling and then also grease the tinfoil with the wrapper you reserved from the butter.

2. Make “brown butter” using the 2 sticks of butter. Place the butter in a skillet and over medium high heat melt the butter until fully melted. Once melted; turn the heat down to medium low and swirl and watch the butter until it turns a golden brown color and smells nutty. Immediately remove from the heat and let it sit for about a minute.

3. In a large bowl place the brown sugar(s) and molasses if you are using. Pour over the warm browned butter and with a whisk combine vigorously for one minute. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk after each one until batter looks combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add in the flour mixture all at once and switching to a spoon or spatula combine until smooth. Stir in the nuts and all the chips except about a small handful of the chips. Spread the batter (it will be thick) into the prepared pan and level out evenly. Sprinkle the reserved chips over the batter.

4. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, then cover with tinfoil and  turn down the heat to 325 and continue to bake until a tooth pick inserted comes out with moist crumbs; about another 20 minutes.

5. Cool the pan over a wire rack. Once cool, lift out the entire slab, peel back the foil, and cut into small squares or rectangles.


Mocha Brownies with Coffee Drizzle Icing

Is there such a word as Jamocha? Or is it like “ja-mon” ala the Michael Jackson song lyric. These are the things that keep my up at night. Life’s serious questions 😉 When I was in college I used to frequent Arby’s and buy their jamocha shakes. Those shakes got me through college. When I had a particularly hard day I would do drive through and buy one to treat myself. That period in my life started my love affair with anything mocha, or perhaps jamocha. Whatever.

Can you ever have too many recipes for brownies? Okay, just checking with you– as this recipe is different from my other recipe I have posted previously. These brownies are very dense and super fudgy, and packed with a lot of flavor. The coffee both in the batter and in the icing adds just enough punch to take them over into indulgent territory. You might consider them PMS brownies. Sorry guys. My ladies will totally get this statement. That is not to say my man peeps will not thoroughly enjoy them. Plan ahead and make sure to have some nice cold milk in the fridge to go along with them. Cut them small as they are super rich.

Jamon, Jamon.

Mocha Brownies

Mocha Brownie Squares

Temple near Jinlong Lake

scenic view of Beifeng Temple near Jinlong Lake, Xizhi District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Mocha Brownies with Coffee Drizzle Icing

2/3 Cup unsalted butter

1  1/4 Cup granulated fine (castor) sugar

2 tsp. instant coffee granules

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s)

3 Lg. eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 Cup all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 325° degrees F (160° C). Line an 8 inch square pan with either parchment paper or tinfoil (dull side of foil facing up). Brush lightly with oil or butter.

2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium low heat; add the sugar, coffee granules, and salt and stir until sugar melts. Whisk in the cocoa and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, then slowly whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Whisk the flour over the mixture then stir to combine. Pour the batter into the pan and tap the pan aggressively on the counter 3-4 times to remove any air bubbles.

3. Bake in a preheated oven for about 27-30 minutes until brownies just set, and a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.

4. Let the pan cool over a wire rack. When completely cool, using a small spoon drizzle with the coffee icing.

Coffee Icing

2/3 Cup confectioners sugar, sifted

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules

1/2 tsp. hot water

In a small bowl stir the instant coffee granules and hot water until dissolved. Stir in the sugar and heavy cream until smooth.


Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Sometimes you crave something sweet, but you can’t place exactly what it is that you want. You start running through your mind all the options for a sweet tooth fix but nothing sounds right. This is the time I usually go for something sweet and tart. I love tangy and citrus desserts. I never met a lemon dessert  I didn’t like. These cheesecake bars are really easy to whip together and they fulfill the sweet but tart craving. I had a jar of lemon curd in my pantry I had to use up, so I went with that rather than homemade, but you could make homemade lemon curd if you like. Enjoy~

Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Lemon Cheesecake Squares signed

 

Lemon Cheesecake Squares 3

 

Lemon Cheesecake Squares Slicing

recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

Gingercrumb Crust

1 (5 0z.) pkg. Pepperidge Farm “ginger-man”cookies, (or other gingersnap type cookies) ground to a fine crumb (to equal 1 Cup of crumbs)

1 Tbsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Prepare an 8 inch square pan lined with tinfoil to allow a 2 inch overhang on all sides. Lightly spray the foil with baking spray (nonstick spray). Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes at 350° F. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 325° F. Make the filling as below.

Cheesecake Filling

2 (8 oz.) bars cream cheese, room temp

3/4 Cup sugar

zest of two lemons

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Lg. eggs, room temp

1. Cut the cream cheese into one inch pieces and place into a food processor along with the sugar, zest and lemon juice. Process for about 30 seconds until smooth. Add the eggs and process again about 20 seconds. Pour onto the crust and bake at 325 degrees for about 40 mins. or until the center appears dry and the edges become slightly puffed. Allow the cheesecake to cool about 10 minutes. Take the jar of lemon curd, spoon it into a bowl, and microwave for about 20 seconds to become warm. Gently pour the curd over the cheesecake, and spread evenly with an off-set spatula. Allow the bars to cool to room temperature then place the pan in the fridge to chill for several hours or overnight. Once chilled and set, remove the entire pan of bars using the tinfoil and peel away the foil and cut into squares.

Topping

(about 1 generous Cup purchased) jar of lemon curd (I like Dickinson’s)


Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

I have a childhood confession. I used to steal blackberries from the neighbor’s yard; but it’s okay because my Mother made me do it. She doesn’t remember this, but I remember it vividly as if  it were  yesterday. We had an old man who lived behind us that had an amazing garden. He scared the living daylights out of me. His garden had wonderful plump blackberries. That garden of his was like something out of a Secret Garden. True story book material. It was somewhat magical and grand. He was always tinkering in his big garden so it was hard to find the time when he was not around. I think I had his nap time figured out though. Just when the moment was right, I would bring my little Tupperware container and seize a few of those berries.

Then I would run like hell.

Technically is it stealing if those berries are crossed over into your property by say a half an inch or two? 🙂 If I were in that house today I would simply make these bars and ask him for some berries. I’m sure he would have approved.

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Crust:

8 large cinnamon graham crackers; crushed to a fine meal to equal 1 generous Cup crumbs

3 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:

2 (8 oz). bars (16 oz. total) of cream cheese; softened to room temp

1 Cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sour cream at room temp

3 Large eggs at room temp

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 Tbsp. flour

1/3 Cup Blackberry seedless jam

1 Tbsp. water

fresh blackberries

Make the filling: Combine the cream cheese and sugar in an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Stir in the vanilla bean paste. Add the eggs one at a time and combine until smooth. Stir in the flour. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the worker bowl to make sure all the cream cheese has been combined thoroughly.

1. Prepare an 8 inch pan with a double sling (so each side is covered) of tinfoil. Spray the foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.

2. Pulse the graham crackers to a fine meal in either a food processor or blender; you should get about one generous Cup. Add the sugar and salt and melted butter and combine. Press into the bottom of your prepared pan and chill for 30 minutes. Bake the chilled crust for 10 minutes.

3. Prepare the filling while the crust chills.

4. Pour the filling into the pan and dot the filling with the blackberry jam by dropping teaspoons over the batter. Use a wooden skewer to swirl the jam. Lower the oven to 325 degrees.

5. Bake the bars at 325° degrees for 30-40 minutes until the filling is set but slightly soft in the center. let the bars cool in the pan on a wire rack until set. Chill the bars for 2-3 hours until very cold and remove the entire pan of bars carefully using the sling. Peel away the foil. Cut into bars. Decorate the top with fresh blackberries is desired.


Microwave Brownie In A Mug For One

I saw this on Pinterest.com and thought this was pretty nifty. Apparently I’m late to the party as this recipe is all over the web. Never heard of it myself.  If you are not addicted to Pinterest then you must be sleeping very well. Myself- I’m a Pinterest addict. Sometimes I have to cut myself off from that darn website or I would be up all night. I think this recipe/idea would be a great idea for an informal dinner date. Or conversely; maybe you’ve just been dumped Friday night and you need Chocolate Therapy STAT!

We’ve all had a date where you’ve invited someone over for dinner and you want to make something easy where you are not stuck in the kitchen. It would be a genius way to involve your mate/date to be part of the experience. This is also a good late night brownie experience for one while watching Saturday Night Live.

Brownie In A Mug

Here are the components for what you need:

One 10- 12 oz.  microwave safe mug (but you knew that)

1 Tbsp. melted butter

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil or grapeseed oil

2 Tbsp. water

1/4 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

1/4 Cup sugar

2 Tbsp.  flour

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s special dark but regular will do)

Ice Cream of your choosing (vanilla, coffee etc.) personally I like salted caramel

Instructions:

1. In a microwaveable safe mug place the melted butter, oil, water, vanilla and salt. Whisk or stir well to combine.

2. Add the sugar, stir well. Add the flour, stir well, add the cocoa, yep-stir well.

3. Microwave on high for 40-50 seconds. I have a 1300 wat microwave and I experimented several times and found that I like 42 seconds which produced a slightly gooey soft fudgy brownies. But experiment and see what you like. Carefully remove the mug (careful- that Cup O’ Love is hot). Top with your favorite ice cream and enjoy.


Carmelita Bars

I’m at it again. For some reason I have caramel obsession on the brain lately. I’ve actually been wanting to make these for some time. Last summer we went to our local San Francisco “Off The Grid” which is a local food truck gathering. There I was with The Husband, child and dog in tow and we were each perusing around the “grid” each buying various food items to share and tracking each other down after our hunt and kill was done. I had done savory. The Husband had done spicy. The child had done messy. I was after something sweet. A serious sweet tooth nagging at my noggin. I wish I could remember the name of the food truck I visited because I would love to give them their props for having the best freaking carmelita bar I’ve ever had. It had a bit of crunch to it on the bottom part of the crust. The caramel was butter rich, the oats were perfectly chewy but not too mushy. Upon my quick dissection of that caramel puppy I discovered it had a thin layer of sliced almonds. Freak yeah! I made a mental note right there. I said, self- you need to come up with a carmelita with a bit of crunch. I love gooey, but I love texture too; especially when the two are combined. You know how it is when you are enjoying some great street food and time almost seems to stand still? Everything is swirling around you, noise, people, commotion but you are able to focus on your personal food nirvana? Yeah, this was one of those moments, except I literally stood still. I mean, I seriously stopped dead in my tracks- frustrated Mothers with double wide strollers were strategically edging around me. Once I took a bite of that carmelita- I literally stopped in the middle of the grid and closed my eyes and finished off that caramel booger in about 4 bites. The Husband found me and said, ”Hey, I thought you were going to get something sweet” ? I looked at him like a naughty cat trying to hide my discovery. “Huh, me? naw, I changed my mind.” Some things you just have to keep to yourself. Meeowww!

Carmelita Bars

Filling

One 14 oz. bag Kraft caramels; unwrapped

1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

pinch salt

1 Cup rolled “old fashioned” oats (not quick oats)

1 Cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

2/3 Cup packed dark brown sugar

1  1/2 sticks (3/4 Cup) unsalted butter; melted

1/2 Cup sliced almonds

1/4 Cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 inch square pan by lining with a parchment sling to cover each side so that a few inches hangs over on each side. Spray the lined pan with non-stick spray.

2. In a non-stick saucepan, over medium-high; heat the caramels and cream until the caramels melt and the mixture is smooth; let boil for about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and set aside while you make the oat mixture for the crust.

3. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and melted butter until combined.  Divide the mixture in half. If you have OCD tendencies like me that is about 9 oz. for each half. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan and sprinkle the almonds over the oat mixture to cover completely; being careful to press into the crust firmly. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; (the crust will look puffy-that’s okay), let cool about 5 minutes then sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the crust. Pour the melted caramel mixture over the crust and smooth it evenly. Take the remaining half of oat mixture and sprinkle like big crumbs over the caramel, pressing in slightly. Bake for 15 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE; THE FILLING WILL BE VERY, VERY LOOSE and the edges of the oat mixture will be golden brown. The filling will solidify once cool. If you over bake it will become too hard. Let the pan cool on a wire rack until cool enough to park in the fridge until completely cool.

4. Cut the bars while they are cold. (I let them sit in the frige overnight).  Let come to room temperature to enjoy. Store any leftovers at room temperature.