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Dessert Food photography Recipes

Fresh Dark Cherry Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Dark Cherry Cheesecake with Chocolate Chips

Fresh Dark Cherry Cheesecake with Chocolate Chips

Since yesterday was National Cheesecake Day, and cheesecake is a big family favorite around here, another cheesecake it was.  I had a big container of really nice dark cherries and of course, chocolate goes with anything so I had to throw some of that in.  I used my favorite cheesecake recipe modified a little and cut down some since my healthy eating plan for the year has already suffered from a significant lack of participation.  The original recipe from The Joy of Cheesecake (my very favorite cookbook) says it makes a 10″ cake, but I always have enough left to make that and another small one so I cut the recipe down and it is just right for an 8″ springform.
Printable Recipe Fresh Dark Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake with Chocolate Chips
Crust:
I made a very simple crust using crushed white chocolate peanut butter cookies (son’s favorite so I had some around).  You can use graham crackers or any other crust you like.  If I’d had them, I’d probably have used crushed Oreo’s.  I very rarely make an “official crust” with the butter etc. patted in nicely but instead usually just crush up some cookies, cracker’s or nuts and sprinkle on the bottom of the (vegetable sprayed) pan in a light layer.
Cheesecake filling:
Ingredients (all should be at room temperature):
1 1/4 pounds cream cheese
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips
Procedure:
Pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees.
In a large bowl (or the mixer bowl) beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, add the sugar and flour and mix until smooth.
Mix in the yolk and eggs one at a time until mixed thoroughly.
Stir in the cream and mix slightly, just until incorporated.
Place the chocolate chips on top of the crust and pour the cheesecake mixture over them.  Bake at 475 for 12 minutes, then lower the temperature in the oven to 200 degrees and bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is set but still jiggles slightly in the middle.  Start checking at 30 minutes.
Cheesecake Topping
4 cups of fresh pitted cherries sliced in half
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
In a small bowl mix together the corn starch, lemon juice and water until smooth. Place cherries in a saucepan over medium heat, add the liquid and bring to a boil. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Cool while the cheesecake bakes, and when the cheesecake has cooled, the topping can be spooned on the entire cake, or on the individual slices when they are served.
Fresh Dark Cherry Cheesecake with Chocolate Chips

Dessert Recipes Tested Recipes

The Daring Bakers Challenge: Fraisier inspired Raspberry and Blueberry Cream Chocolate Cake

Raspberry/Blueberry Chocolate Cream Cake

This month’s challenge was just made for me, what could be better than a strawberry cream cake?  I did have one slight problem and I need to make sure I remember next time; if you want to keep the kids from eating the strawberries (that you know are their favorite)  make sure you tell them they are reserved! Therefore, when it came time to finish the cake, it became a framboise/bluet-r (love my French – straight from the translator) because the fraise were history.  No matter, it was still delicious.
Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.
I followed her recipes here using the chocolate version of the cake.  I did vary (besides the fruit) in that I made my own almond paste using honey and brown sugar.  It wasn’t the most photogenic, but tasted great and was very simple.
Ingredients for Almond Paste:
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup hone
1/3 cup water
3 cups blanched, whole almonds
1/4 cup butter
In a heatproof bowl microwave sugar, honey and water to a strong boil.  While the mixture is heating, pulse the almonds until coarsely ground.  Pour the honey mixture over the almonds and blend until smooth which may take 10 minutes or more.  If the mixture is too thick add a small amount of water.

Grind the almonds, honey and brown sugar

Just before use, knead in the butter to make a smooth consistency.

Knead with butter, then roll thin layer for the top of the cake

After making the chocolate cake and cream filling per the recipe, I assembled the cake pretty much as directed but using the raspberries and blueberries instead of the already devoured strawberries.  I also didn’t seem to have enough cream left for the top layer so instead I made a quick chocolate ganache (1/2 cream and 1/2 chocolate).  Next time I would leave more space between the berries as I would have liked the cream to show through more but all in all it was still pretty and very delicious!

Sliced
Appetizers and Soups Breakfast/Brunch Main Dishes Quick and Simple Recipes

Potato LeekTart

Potato Leek Tart

I’m sad to say this dish was just not very photogenic.  It has great flavor and was a big hit with family and friends but I just couldn’t get a good picture so I had put off posting it.  However, it was very tasty and I’ve been requested to put it up so here it is!
Printable Recipe for Potato Leek Tart
Ingredients:
1 pkg frozen puff pastry
4 slices of bacon chopped finely (optional)
2 large well washed and finely sliced leeks
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 lb peeled medium diced potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces finely grated Gruyère cheese
Procedure:
Puff Pastry

Place both sheets of pastry on a jelly roll pan pinching together the sheets in the middle to make one single layers and bake at 400 degrees for approx 5 minutes – it will not be fully done.  Remove from the oven and set aside, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Boil the potatoes in a large pot for 15-20 minutes, they should be firm but mostly cooked.
In a  large skillet or dutch oven, fry the bacon pieces until crisp.
Saute the leeks until wilted

Saute Leeks

Add the sliced leeks and cook until wilted.
Add garlic and pepper

Saute with garlic and pepper

Add the garlic and pepper and sauté for 1 minute
Add cream

Add the cream 1/4 cup at a time while stirring constantly and allow most of it to absorb before adding another 1/4 cup.
Add potatoes

Mix well

Add the potatoes and mix well.
Add cheese

Add 1/2 of the cheese
Spread on tart shell

Pour onto the partially baked tart shell and spread evenly.
Add cheese

Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling is browned and bubbling.
Baked potato leek tart

Pasta/Pizza Quick and Simple Recipes Sauces Tested Recipes

The Daring Cooks Challenge – handmade spätzle (with meatballs in cream sauce)

Spätzle with meatballs in cream sauce

This month’s challenge was to make noodles, with a suggestion for Spätzle.  A long (long) time ago I lived in Germany for several years and became very fond of them but although I’ve made lots of other types of noodles,  for some reason just never tried these.  I know my choice of meatballs in cream sauce really isn’t traditional with them, there was the usual time crunch and I had some ready made meatballs on hand that could be made quickly.  Thanks for the great idea and I will be making these more often (and with more traditional meals – maybe schnitzel) now that I know how quick and easy they are!
Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!
I followed the recipe given by Steph for the Spätzle but instead of the sauce she provides, I made the weekday meal version – prefab meatballs with a simple cream sauce to serve with them.
Spätzle:
Boiling the spätzle

Draining

Meatballs and Cream Sauce
Ingredients:
1 lb fully cooked meatballs (purchased or your favorite recipe)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1 TBS Better than Bullion (or 1 teaspoon bullion granules)
2 cups milk or half and half
Procedure:
Heat and brown the meatballs in a large skillet adding a little oil if needed, then remove and set aside.  Add the onion to the skillet and brown well (add a little more oil if there is not enough fat from the meatballs).
Saute the onions and meatballs

Add the butter and stir in the flour and cook until it is lightly browned.
Make the sauce

Stir in the Better than Boullion or bouillon granules then add the milk or half and half. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return the meatballs to skillet and heat through, about 1 minute.

Dessert Quick and Simple Recipes Tested Recipes

5 minute dessert – no bake chocolate cake

No Bake Chocolate Cake

No bake Chocolate Cake

I absolutely love Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks.  Her recipes are wonderful but even more, her pictures are gorgeous and inspiring.  I decided to try her No Bake Chocolate Cake.  This is so simple and quick and the family gave it the thumbs up.  I will definitely make it again! Basically just cream and chocolate, it takes about 5 minutes to make and you can change it up depending on what flavors or spices you add.  I made it plain this time and served with strawberries and maraschino cherry jelly and cherries.  Don’t forget the salt, it really made a difference!
No Bake Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherries

I used some mini ceramic pans and they looked really cute.  I was a little apprehensive about getting the slices out, but I didn’t have any problem except one of the first slices was a little misshapen.  After slicing I used a very small, thin rubber spatula to get them out.  Also since the containers were small, the slices were proportionately a little larger.
No Bake Chocolate Cake

Dessert Food photography gifts Recipes Sauces

Citrus cream parfaits

Citrus Cream Parfait

While I was visiting the LA Times test kitchen, Noelle Carter was gracious enough to share a great trick with me.  Instead of whipping cream with a whisk or mixer, try doing it in the food processor.  The cream has less air and is more substantial so it holds better and tastes amazing, a little more buttery.  I couldn’t wait to get home and try it out and since I had collected quite a few fruits from my sister-in-law’s trees and the Santa Monica farmer’s market, I decided to make a citrus cream parfait.  I used the lime cream recipe (Printable Lime Cream Recipe) substituting a mixture of lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges to make a double batch.  Use whatever citrus fruits you have, as long as it equals the right amount of juice.  I zested all the fruits because I like things tart, but you can do only some if you prefer a slightly sweeter recipe.
Citrus Cream

Once the citrus cream was ready, I made the whipped cream by adding 2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the food processor and processing for a brief (1-2 minutes) time until it was smooth and thick.
Gently fold 1/2 of the whipped cream with 1/2 of the citrus cream.  In dessert cups or nice glasses, add a layer of the citrus cream, a layer of the cream mixture and a layer of whipped cream, then repeat if you are using large glasses.  You could also do it in a single large glass bowl like a trifle.  That’s it!
A double batch of the citrus cream and 2 cups of whipped cream makes 4-8 servings depending on the size of your glasses.
Lime Cream Coconut Pie

The citrus cream is great for desserts or put it in a jar for gifts.  You can use it to make pies, filled cookies, tarts and almost anything you would use lemon curd for, even just on toast or muffins so while I was at it, I also made a double batch of the lime.  I put it in a pre-baked pie shell and sprinkled with some toasted coconut for another quick dessert.
Enjoy.