#SundaySupper Cheesecake with Fresh Berries

Yay! It’s time for another #SundaySupper celebration. I was unable to attend last Sunday because of that dreaded 20-page research paper, but I’m back, and I couldn’t be more excited. We are  celebrating Cristina Ferrare’s cookbook for #SundaySupper this week. I don’t personally own her cookbook, but I hear it’s amazing. I chose a recipe from her website, which is absolutely beautiful.

You can find Cristina on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Foodily, and on her site. Her recipes are amazing. I made her cheesecake with fresh berries, and it does not disappoint. The filling is smooth and creamy with a hint of lemon. The entire cake gets topped with fresh summer berries and glazed with a sweet sauce. It’s excellent!

This is the first cheesecake I have ever made that didn’t crack. I was thrilled. I felt like a real professional. I thought to myself, “Dang, it didn’t crack. Well I’ll be darned. This cake is a winner.” I took it out of the oven and it was all smooth on top. I was theatrically clapping like a small child. What can I say, a smooth cheesecake makes this girl happy.

Oooo, look at the sweet strawberry sauce dripping down the sides of the ripe berries. That’s a dreamy sight, indeed.

Happy #SundaySupper. A big thank you to Cristina Ferrare for joining us this Sunday. Enjoy your time around the family table.

Make sure you check out the other Cristina Ferrare recipes my fellow #SundaySupper foodies are cookin’ up:

XO,

Jennie

Recipe:

adapted from Cristina Ferrare

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup pecans

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

FILLING

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tsp. lemon zest

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

TOPPING

1 pint fresh strawberries, halved and arranged on top of the cake

1/4 cup strawberry jam

To make the crust:  In the bowl of a food processor, add 1 cup of pecans. Pulse the pecans until they become a fine crumb. In a medium-size bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, pecan crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and butter until moistened. Using the bottom of a glass, press the crumbs into the bottom of a 10-inch by 3-inch springform pan. Bake for 15 minutes, and cool completely.

To make the filling:  In a mixer using the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese for two minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add 1 cup of sugar in an even stream, and mix for 2 more minutes, until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition to incorporate thoroughly, and scrape down the sides of the bowl each time. Add the  of sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Process until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour the filling into the cooled crust, and spread evenly in the pan. Lift the pan and tap it on the counter several times to release any bubbles in the batter. Bake for 1 hour, or until the top is set. If it wiggles slightly, that’s okay. Do not overbake.

Cool the cake completely in the pan overnight. On the next day, release the springform pan from the cake. Arrange the halved strawberries attractively on top of the cake. Heat 1/4 cup of strawberry jam in the microwave for about 40 seconds. Using a pastry brush, brush the strawberries with the jam to give it a sweet, shiny coating. Slice and serve. Enjoy!

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Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

I’m craving summer like I crave chocolate. I want to run around it flip-flops and sundresses. I want to sit on the beach with a tropical drink under my umbrella while I read a sappy romantic novel. Summer is so carefree. There are bonfires to enjoy, beach parties to attend, and music by the water. And, here in Baltimore, summer means crab season. There’s nothing like a deck party with good friends, beer, and steamed crabs.

To help assuage my craving for summer, I decided to make a lemony dessert. I made a lovely and light poppy seed pound cake. If you like lemons, you will adore this cake. The lemon flavor is front and center. I love that this cake has a delicate tartness, causing your lips to pucker ever so slightly. Oh, and there’s glaze. Yum! The glaze gets drizzled onto the cake while the cake is still warm, creating a sweet, crunchy crust, and a moist center.

The crust is so crunchy and delicious.

Mmmm, glaze!  It makes a cake just a little more special. I love watching it ooze over the sides of the cake.

This cake really is a beauty. And, even better, it’s absolutely delicious. Enjoy!

Happy eating,

Jennie

Recipe:

from flour bakery

2 cups cake flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup plus 3 tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

3 tbs. grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)

4 tbs. poppy seeds

1 tbs. fresh lemon juice

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups sugar

Lemon Glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 to 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick liquid. If the butter hardens into lumps, heat the mixture gently until the butter melts again. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 4 minutes, or until it’s a light and fluffy lemon color. If you use a handheld mixer, it may take a little longer.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just combined. Fold about one-fourth of the egg-flour mixture into the butter-cream mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg-flour mixture just until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when you press it in the middle. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

To make the glaze:

While the cake is cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and enough lemon juice to make an easily spreadable, smooth glaze.

When the cake has cooled for at least 30 minutes, pop it out of the pan and place it on the rack. Spoon the glaze over the top of the warm cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

Slice and enjoy.

Hello, Cupcake!

I made cupcakes! I just love making cupcakes. I mean, who doesn’t adore a cupcake? They’re individual cakes that you don’t have to share. That’s right, no sharing. I’m stingy. I will not share my cupcake. Hello, get your own, there’s 23 more right over there in the cupcake holder. Geesh!

I searched for the perfect cupcake recipe for our Easter festivities, and what I found was a Bakery-style vanilla cupcake on Sweetapolita. Thanks, Rosie. If you haven’t been to Rosie’s site, you’re missing out. Her site is full of beautiful, sprinkled confections, copious amounts of fluffy frosting, and tons of sweet treats. You’ll leave inspired and drooling. Click the link and say hi to Rosie. She’ll have you coming back daily to see what treat she’s baking up next.

Let me just tell you, I love sprinkles! They make everything pretty and cheerful. I’d put them on everything if I could. I even added sprinkles to the batter- I couldn’t resist!

These cupcakes are absolutely delicious. I ate one. I scarfed it down in 3 bites. Then, I proceeded to lick the frosting spatula clean. I should probably be ashamed, but I’m just unable to conjure up that feeling- it just felt so right! You will not be disappointed with this cupcake. It’s impossible. They’re buttery, fluffy, and moist. The frosting, oh the frosting. It’s sweet, light, fluffy, and melts in your mouth. Pure heaven.

I wish all of you a very happy Easter. Enjoy it with loved ones. Share each other, share food, share the love. Don’t share your cupcake! You don’t have to- there’s 23 more.

Love and sweet treats,

Jennie

Recipe

adapted from Sweetapolita

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup whole milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup nonpareil sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside. In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. The mixture will become very pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla (I added the vanilla to the milk) with each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat. Scrap down the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Fold in nonpareils.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. I use a stainless steel scoop. It makes scooping much easier and ensures that the cupcakes will be consistent in size. Bake in the middle of the oven until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay), about 15-18 minutes. Cool cupcakes in tins for 5 minutes. Remove from tins and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Pink Vanilla Frosting:

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 tbs. whole milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip butter for 5 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale (almost white) and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla, beating until incorporated. Scrap down the bowl and whisk to combine. Add a touch of pink food coloring, and whisk until incorporated. I may have added a little too much; I was going for pale pink, but it came out a little on the hot pink side. Frosting is best if used right away.

Frost your cupcakes with an offset spatula or fill a pastry bag and pipe the frosting on. Add sprinkles.

 

Coffee Cake Pound Cake

My mom and I decided to take a road trip this weekend, so we hit the open road and headed to Pennsylvania to visit my grandparents and aunt. Road trips are my favorite (as long as it’s not too far of a trip. I start to get antsy after the four hour mark). I love them because I get to car dance the entire time I’m driving. My mom and I totally busted some awesome moves to some Rob Base. I’m sure we got a few snickers out of the passing drivers.

I tend to take over my grandparents kitchen when ever I visit. I gave them a list of items that need to be kept in stock a few visits ago. If they want cake, I need flour, sugar, and butter. They gladly provide me with the essentials. Why? because they want cake. My grandmother loves it when I visit because she gets a break from the kitchen. When I arrived on Friday, my grandmother had a page with a cake recipe bookmarked in one of her favorite magazines- major hint, right! Of course, I couldn’t say no to my sweet, loving grandmother, so I gladly made the cake. Good thing I did make the cake because it was delicious. It’s a very simple cake. It has a lovely buttery vanilla flavor, and the cinnamon sugar center  provides a delicate sweetness to the cake. My favorite part was the cinnamon sugar topping. It really gave the cake a nice crunchy texture. After all this talk about the cake, I want another piece.

My brother ate four huge slices of this cake on Saturday. Four! I’m sorry, but I had to share that with you because I thought it was hilarious. Every time I turned around he had another slice of cake. I took it as a compliment.

Cake baking wasn’t the only thing I did this weekend. My aunt and I headed over to the local vineyard to taste some wine. I love wine! We ended up buying a case. We’re wine lushes. Hey, we know how to throw a fun girls weekend. I ended up making a very tasty sangria with some of the red wine I purchased. It’s gone! 

If you’re ever in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, you have to stop by Vynecrest to sample some wine. The staff is friendly and helpful, the view is breath taking, and the wine is amazing.

The vineyard is much prettier when it’s in bloom, but I love this photo for its rustic charm.

Me getting my picture taken while taking a picture. My aunt has an obsession with taking photos. Basically, she documented our entire girls weekend in photos. It’s her thing.

 Wine sipping- my favorite part! I believe I was sampling the red wine I used to make sangria later that evening.

Wine loot! Gotta love the saying on the bag. We recycled some grapes that night.

Love and sweet treats,

Jennie

Recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a tube pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to butter mixture, beating until just combined after each addition. Spread half of the mixture into your prepared pan. Stir together remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture over batter. Top with remaining batter and sprinkle the top with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if your feeling fancy. Enjoy!

A Classic Combination

I made cupcakes over the weekend for my bestfriend’s birthday. She didn’t want anything fancy- no nuts, no espresso, no chocolate chips. A no frills cupcake. I’m not used to simple; I like to spruce things up with different textures, flavor combinations, and the occasional addition of something fancy- like cacao nibs. But it was her birthday, so I made her a simple, yet classic cupcake combination- vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. These cupcakes may be simple, but they don’t fail in the flavor department.

My girlfriend and I enjoyed these cupcakes while watching a movie and chatting about the different goings-on in our lives. We may be adults now, but these cupcakes transported us back to our childhood. As I was licking the frosting off of my cupcake, an abundant amount of childhood memories penetrated my thoughts. Funny how food links us to our past. Thoughts of fun themed parties with cone hats, matching table accessories, piñatas, streamers, pin the tale on the donkey, and water balloon fights (I had a summer birthday). Those were good times. Now we’re adults and have responsibilities, but we can still let loose and have a cupcake on occasion, or daily.

Mmmm, look at all of that butter. It’s what makes this cupcake moist and tender. I eat, sleep, and dream butter. I think I may have a problem. Like I said before, this cake is simple and doesn’t require an excessive amount of ingredients. You probably have all of these items in your pantry.

See that scoop? It’s the best cupcake batter scooper. I used to make an enormous mess trying to get the batter into each individual tin. I’ve been mess free (I’m fibbing. I still have an issue with flour.) since I discovered this handy tool. It’s not just for ice-cream.

I had all I could do to resist eating the cupcakes before frosting them. I have absolutely no will power. None! I ended up eating one. It was good.

The frosting line up. I know there’s a can of cacao nibs in the picture. I didn’t use them, but I wanted to put them in the picture as an option for any one who would like to fancy up there cupcakes. The cacao nibs can be ground in a food processor or spice/coffee grinder and placed in the batter for some extra chocolatey flavor and crunch. My best friend doesn’t like fancy, unless it’s a pair of shoes.

This frosting is so delicious that you’ll find yourself licking the bowl clean. It’s creamy, velvety, smooth, and chocolatey. I’m not going to lie, I totally licked the bowl clean. I’m not even ashamed.

Frosting cupcakes is my favorite. I love how the frosting looks like twirly cloud puffs on top of the cupcakes.

Sprinkles! I think they’re so much fun. They make me feel like a kid inside. Enjoy!

P.S.- Don’t be like me and shove the entire cupcake in your mouth.

Love and sweet treats,

The Messy Baker

adapted from Alice’s Tea Cup

Cake:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake pans.

In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, use a mixer to cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5-7 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Then add the vanilla, and mix until smooth. With the mixer on low, add the dry mixture gradually, alternating with the milk. Scrape down the mixing bowl after every addition and mix just until smooth.

Fill the cake pans evenly with the batter and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Place the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 tbs. light corn syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup heavy cream, more if needed

1 tbs. cacao nibs, grinned to a semi-course crumb (optional)

In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, use a mixer to cream the butter. Add corn syrup and vanilla, and mix until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder, alternating with the heavy cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing until the frosting is smooth. If needed, add more cream to get the right texture.

Comfort in Sadness

On Wednesday, a very special person passed away- my Uncle Gene. In honor of his life, I decided to make a decadent chocolate bundt cake with a chocolatey glaze. Food is a powerful thing. It has the ability to bring comfort in a time of sadness. No matter what’s going on in our lives, food tends to lift our spirits. Funny how that works. I love to swoop in when someone is feeling down and bring a little happiness back into their life by giving them the gift of food. It always seems to put a smile on their face and rejuvenate their soul. This chocolate cake has a job to do; it’s going to lift my Aunt’s spirits in a time of heartache.

This cake is guaranteed to make someone smile. Maybe even do a little jig. I’d totally do a jig if someone gave me this fine looking cake.

You’re going to start by heating the coffee and the cocoa powder in a medium pot on medium low heat until it comes to a boil- whisking frequently.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature before using it in your batter.

Add the sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs, and egg yolk to a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment. Beat on high for 1 minute.

In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, canola oil, and vanilla. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture to the sugar mixture. Beat for another minute.

Sift flour and add it to the mixing bowl in 3 batches. Beat for 2 minutes.

Now, add the best part- the heated chocolate/coffee mixture. I love the look the batter has when the chocolate mixture is being incorporated.

I finished whisking my batter with a whisk, but you can finish this process with the stand mixture. I just wanted to show you how beautiful the batter looks when the chocolate is added.

Pour your beautiful batter into a prepared bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. While the cake bakes, whip up your glaze. The glaze for this cake is decadent and super chocolatey. It’s a cross between a glaze and a frosting. The coffee that’s added to the glaze creates a glossy finish and depth of flavor that enhances the chocolatey aspect of this glaze.

Start by chopping up 3 oz. of unsweetened chocolate.

Add the chocolate to a double boiler until all the bits are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter- I melted mine right in the microwave for 30 seconds. Measure out 1/4 cup of sour cream and make a cup of strong coffee.

Add your melted butter and chocolate to a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment and beat until combined.

Add 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar to the mixture in 2 batches. Before adding the second batch, add the sour cream, then continue adding the second batch of powdered sugar, making sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything gets incorporated.

Next, add 2 tablespoons of your brewed coffee to the mixture. The mixture will become glossy and beautiful. Set aside until the cake cools and is ready to be glazed. When the cake is cooled and ready, pour the glaze all over the cake. You can direct the glaze with an offset spatula. The glaze should drip over the sides of the cake, creating stunning folds of chocolatey goodness. I’ve made this cake several times, and gifted it several times. It’s a definite tummy pleaser and will surely put a smile on that special someone’s face. Enjoy!

Love and Sweet Treats,

The Messy Baker

For the Cake:

Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon brewed coffee

3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 whole eggs

1 egg yolk

1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoon canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups, plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan, set aside.

Place brewed coffee and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Remove from the heat and let the mixture come to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs and egg yolk on low speed for about 1 minute.  Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.

Add the flour and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.  The batter will be very loose. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack.

For the Glaze:

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate

6 tbs unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1/8 cup brewed coffee, cooled

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place them in a heatproof bowl (or a double boiler). Set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water.  Be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water.  Remove the bowl from the heat when all of the chocolate bits have melted.

Melt the butter in a separate pan or in the microwave.  Whisk the melted butter into the melted chocolate until thoroughly incorporated.  Sift in half of the powdered sugar.  Add the sour cream and whisk to combine.  Sift in the remaining powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.  The glaze should be thick and shiny.  Lastly, add the coffee and whisk to create a glossy glaze.

Pour the glaze over the cooled bundt cake, covering it completely.  Leave at room temperature until ready to serve.