5 National Cheesecake Day Recipes

5 National Cheesecake Day Recipes

Dulce de Leche Mini Cheesecake

Dulce de Leche Mini Cheesecake

Today’s National Cheesecake Day. I don’t care who decided today was dedicated to all things cheesecake – I love cheesecake!

Here are 5 cheesecake recipes to help you celebrate National Cheesecake Day!

What are some of your favorite cheesecakes?

Cheers,

Veronique

Chewy Crunchy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Crunchy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Crunchy Chocolate Chip CookiesI truly love when readers contact me to say they’ve successfully tried some of my recipes and have even ventured to make yummy variations to them.

One of my readers, Kayla from New Jersey, wrote me recently to say she used the Extreme Peanut Butter Cookies recipe and replaced the peanut butter chips with chocolate chips. She loved the results and sent in the gorgeous images posted here. Here’s the recipe for your perusal and enjoyment!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar or ½ cup honey
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 8-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Chewy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies PanDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder and 1 cup of the flour. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in remaining flour. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Shape dough into 1½ inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Let me know what you think if you bake a batch!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Centers

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Centers

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Centers

With Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

Ganache centers, need I say more?? These dark chocolate cupcakes get an extra boost of chocolateness with the addition of bittersweet chocolate ganache filling in the center of the cupcakes.

As you bake these cupcakes, the fudgy centers will cave in – no worries! That’s the perfect little nook to put extra frosting in.

Ganache Centers Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioner sugar

Chocolate Cupcakes Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup piping hot, brewed coffee
  • ¾ cup bread flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Cupcakes after baking

Cupcakes after baking

Ganache Centers Directions:

  1. Place chocolate, cream, and confectioner sugar in a medium bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the mixture and if not completely melted, return to the microwave for 10 seconds. Stir until smooth then place in the refrigerator to cool, 15-20 minutes.

Chocolate Cupcakes Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and either butter and flour a 12-muffin pan or add cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the chocolate and cocoa powder. Pour the hot coffee over the chocolate and cocoa powder. Whisk until smooth, about 1 minute, and chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Blend together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  4. In another medium bowl, beat the oil, eggs, vanilla and vinegar. Whisk the egg mixture into the reserved bittersweet chocolate / cocoa powder mixture until smooth.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, add the flour mixture to the chocolate batter until just incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  6. Divide the batter among the cups of the muffin pan. Each cup shouldn’t be more than ¾ full.
  7. Add a teaspoon of ganache on top of each cupcake – don’t mix the ganache in the cake batter.
  8. Bake 17 – 19 minutes, until the cupcake tops are firm. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Frost with Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting.

Yields a dozen cupcakes.

Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

Marshmallow FrostingOne of the best frostings I’ve ever tasted was at a kids’ birthday party when I was around 8 years old. My friend’s mom made a light and fluffy marshmallow frosting over confetti cake so delicious I remember it vividly to this day.

Since I’m a serious chocolate fanatic, I decided to try a chocolate version of marshmallow frosting. The results were hugely popular with my co-workers who tasted the frosting over Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Centers.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp. milk
  • 3 cups confectioner sugar
  • ¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 7-ounce jar marshmallow crème

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter, vanilla and milk until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. With the mixer on low, add the confectioner sugar and the cocoa powder and beat until just combined, then beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  3. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the marshmallow crème into the frosting mixture until most of the white streaks are gone.
  4. Use right away or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature if previously refrigerated.

Makes enough frosting for a dozen cupcakes or a 8” double layer cake.

Red, White and Blue Cake

Red, White and Blue Cake

Red Velvet CutI love red velvet cake, well, the cream cheese frosting actually, so when I was looking for a dessert to make for my 4th of July party, I opted for a red and blue velvet cake.

I love that this cake turned out not…fussy and perfect for a casual outdoor party that involved grilling a whole beef tenderloin.

I made my life easier by baking the four cakes the night before my party so they’d be completely cooled by the time I got around to frosting them with the decadent cream cheese frosting.

Red Velvet AngleThe recipe below is for two red velvet cakes. Make those than make the exact recipe but with 2 ounces of royal blue paste food coloring (I use Wilton). I dipped some strawberries in chocolate for an additional festive touch.

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients (enough to cover the whole 4-layer cake):

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Red Velvet Red ClothRed Velvet Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using cooking spray or a bit of softened butter, coat two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
  3. In a small bowl, blend the cocoa powder and the food coloring with a teaspoon to create a smooth mixture.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy, about three minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every minute.
  5. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, mixing well after each one.
  6. Add the food coloring mixture and mix well, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture, then, add half of the buttermilk. Add the rest of flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure the batter in completely blended without white streaks of batter.
  8. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and the baking soda with a teaspoon to form a bubbly mixture.  Add the mixture to the cake batter and stir gently until just combined.
  9. Divide the batter evenly in each cake pans and place them in the preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  10. Cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes then remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks.

Red Velvet SliceFrosting Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every minute. Incorporate the vanilla.
  2. Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and blend until the powdered sugar has been incorporated, about 2 minutes, again scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  3. Use the frosting right away or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. To use refrigerated frosting, bring to room temperature then stir thoroughly using a wooden spoon.
  4. Place a red cake on a large platter or cake stand. Cover with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting using an offset spatula or butter knife. Top the red cake with a blue one, ice it, then, repeat the process with the remaining cakes, ensuring that the top layer is the flattest slice – this will ensure a smooth surface for the finished cake.
  5. Crumb coat the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. Finish icing the cake with the rest of the frosting then refrigerate. Serve within a day at room temperature.

Serves 12.

Chocolate Decadence Chip Cookies

Chocolate Decadence Chip Cookies

Chocolate CookiesI made these decadent cookies as take-home gifts for my guests at my recent Food & Wine Chickie Lobsterfest, but the excess of adult libations “made me” forget to actually give them out at the end of the evening – boo!

I sort of redeemed myself by bringing them to work where they received some pretty big kudos from my colleagues.

You might question how old my baking sheets are – and they are! They’re my Grand-Mother’s sheets and although not new and shiny, I love thinking of her as I bake.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 8 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Cookie DoughDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Reserve for later use.
  3. Warm half the chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. If not fully melted, microwave in 15 second increments until they are.
  4. Place the melted chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend together on medium speed until fully combined, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time until combined. Using a wooden spoon, add the remaining chocolate chips to the dough.
  5. Form dough into 1 ½-inch balls. Place the dough balls 2” apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to completely cool (if you can wait that long).

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June 2005

No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

Cheesecake 2When I saw this beautiful dessert from the July 2003 issue of Bon Appetit, I knew it would be perfect for me Memorial Day barbecue. I’ve made some changes to the recipe and it’s light, pretty and delicious. I had the perfect quantity of blueberries from a giant container from my local Costco.

Crust with Butter

Crust with Butter

Crust Ingredients:

  • 9 whole Graham crackers or 1 ¼ cups Graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats (I used 2 envelopes of instant oatmeal and it was fine)
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 12-ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
Whipped Cream Over Cheesecake

Whipped Cream Over Cheesecake

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2-3 cups blueberries
  • 2/3 cup blueberry or strawberry jam
Crust Baked

Crust Baked

Crust Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Pulse first 4 ingredients in a food processor until mixture is finely ground.
  3. Add butter and vanilla to the crumb mixture and pulse a few times until moist crumbs form.
  4. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake crust until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool.
Blueberries with Jam

Blueberries with Jam

Filling Directions:

  1. Pour 1/4 cup water into small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 10 minutes.
  2. Stir over very low heat just until gelatin dissolves. Set aside.
  3. Blend cream cheese, cream, sugar, and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. Add blueberries and puree until smooth with some blueberry bits, about 20 seconds.
  4. With food processor running, add warm gelatin mixture through feed tube and blend well.
  5. Pour filling into crust. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead).
  6. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Transfer to platter.

Cheesecake 1Topping Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream and sugar until firm peaks form.
  2. Spread cream mixture thickly over top of cheesecake.
  3. Place blueberries in a medium bowl.
  4. Heat jam in microwave for 20 seconds or until just melted.
  5. Pour jam over blueberries and toss to coat. Mound coated blueberries in center of cream, leaving 1-inch plain border. Chill cake at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Serves 10.

Family, Friends and Food in Quebec

Family, Friends and Food in Quebec

Beet Salad

Beet Salad

Last weekend, I flew up to Quebec to surprise my dad for his birthday. As always, the weekend was filled with an abundance of food and adult libations.

Lobster Dinner

Lobster Dinner

Friday, the weather was nice and we opted to grill pork tenderloin kebabs that my brother-in-law, Etienne, had marinated in his special concoction a good part of the afternoon. Since it was also my mom’s birthday a couple days prior to my arrival, my nieces and me made my Chocolate Éclair Squares, an easy-to-fix, tasty and light dessert (perfect for Memorial Day celebrations).

Wines for Lobster Dinner

Wines for Lobster Dinner

Saturday, my sister Josée, her daughters and me decorated her home for dad’s party and began cooking for the memorable dinner party. On the menu was a springtime salad of roasted beets, heirloom tomatoes, red onions, Mozzarella and basil. My brother-in-law boiled some lobsters and made his now-famous Lemon Butter Cream for dipping – fantastic. Dessert was a plate of vanilla bean cupcakes and my Zesty Key Lime Tart (minus the meringue and topped with whipped cream instead). The wine lineup wasn’t half bad either.

Poutine

Poutine

Sunday morning, mom fixed us a big breakfast of eggs benedict with homefries and after spending the morning at our horse ranch, I headed back to the airport to catch my flight back to New Jersey. As I’ve grown accustomed to doing when I fly out of Quebec, I had a poutine to mark the end of my wonderful weekend.

Hope your weekend adventures were as delicious as mine were.

Cheers,

Veronique

Divine Squares

Divine Squares

divine-squaresWhen I was a young kid growing up in Quebec, my mom and my friends’ moms tried to outdo each other by making scrumptious treats for our birthday parties. Not only were the birthday cakes over-the-top, but moms typically sent kids home with baked treats that they wanted to be sure other moms checked out an envied.

One of my friend’s mom out-shined all the other moms’ baked treats, and I’ve perhaps never had a better baked treat, than her Divine Squares.

The buttery base is chewy, the caramel layer is gooey and decadent and the chocolate topping provides just a bit of chocolaty crunch that’s hard to resist.

These could become the best treats you’ll ever make.

Crust

Crust

Crust Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup Rice Krispies
Caramel

Caramel

Caramel Layer Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 14-ounce can of condensed milk
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
Chocolate Topping

Chocolate Topping

Chocolate Topping Ingredients:

  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1¼ cups Rice Krispies

Crust Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all the crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Once the butter has been absorbed, press the mixture onto the bottom of an 8×8 pan.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes.

Divine SquaresCaramel Layer Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the caramel layer ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Pour the caramel over the baked crust.

Chocolate Topping Directions:

  1. Melt the chocolate chips by microwaving them for 30 seconds. After stirring the chips, if they’re not quite melted, return to the microwave for 15 seconds. Add the Rice Krispies to the chocolate and stir gently to coat.
  2. Sprinkle the chocolate Rice Krispies over the caramel mixture to mostly cover the caramel.
  3. Allow to cool for an hour then refrigerate at least 12 hours.

Makes 12 squares.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Bundt Cake SliceA couple weeks ago, the nice people at Laura Secord, Canada’s largest Chocolatier, sent me a gift basket (read about it here). In the basket were premium-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips that I decided to use to bake a cake worthy of Laura Secord’s 100th anniversary.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ sticks butter, softened, divided
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • ½ cup whipping cream

Chocolate Bundt CakeCake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using ½ stick of butter, completely coat the inside of a 10-12 cup Bundt cake pan. Using ¼ cup of flour, completely cover the butter in flour.
  3. Add the 2 sticks of butter, cocoa powder, water and salt to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture until melted and combined. Set aside.
  4. Whisk together the 2 cups of flour, the sugar and the baking soda in a large bowl. Add the butter/cocoa mixture to the flour mixture and whisk to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each one, until fully incorporated. Add the sour cream and the vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour the cake batter into the Bundt pan. Sprinkle the chips in the batter around the cake and push them down towards the center, not allowing them to touch the pan walls. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Ganache Directions:

  1. Add 6 ounces of chocolate chips and the butter to a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes. Add the cream to the chocolate and butter and whisk until fully melted and smooth. Allow to cool for 2 minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly.
  2.  Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining chips over the ganache.

Serves 10.