Once again, the Daring Cooks choose a great project for us. Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George …
Cheesecake is always popular around here and I recently got a large container of blueberries. When I asked what I should do with them, Son’s girlfriend suggested blueberry cheesecake and since she was about to graduate and planned on celebrating at an Italian restaurant it seemed like a great idea for an at home dessert after the meal. Of course Son (who loves cheesecake but not so much blueberries) forgot to take or mention it so it didn’t make it to the celebration. I have no doubt it will be eaten anyway! I recently used this same basic recipe for an Oreo version requested for a birthday and found it is an excellent one, a little lighter texture than my usual favorite (which uses 2 2/1 pounds of cream cheese and no sour cream).
Printable Version Blueberry Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups finely ground cookie crumbs (I used the white chocolate peanut butter ones)
2 tbs butter (because these cookies were very moist I didn’t add the extra butter to keep the crust from being soggy, but if you use a dry cookie you should)
9 or 10 inch springform pan
1 1/2 lbs cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs (room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup flour
8 oz sour cream
1 lb (about 4 cups) fresh blueberries (frozen or canned works too – if you use canned in syrup, don’t add sugar)
1/2 cup sugar (I like them to stay a little tart so if you want sweet add 1 cup instead of 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon butter
grated zest from one lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 cinnamon sticks
Place the cookies in a food processor and grind them finely.
If the crumbs will not stick together between your fingers, add small amounts of melted butter until you can just flatten them together. Place on the bottom of a springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Set aside.
Beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy, add sugar gradually and keep beating until it is mixed in completely.
Add the eggs one at a time blending well after each egg.
Add the vanilla, salt and flour and mix until smooth, scraping down the bowl to incorporate all ingredients.
Add the sour cream and mix well.
Pour into prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When the time is up slightly open the door and let the cake stay for an extra hour without disturbing – no peeking you want it to cool slowly to prevent cracks, although in this case the blueberry topping will cover any that might happen. After an hour, cover with plastic wrap – not touching the top but over the pan and refrigerate at least overnight.
Wash the berries and place in a medium saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to a simmer to thicken to the consistency you prefer. A little less time and you will still have some whole blueberries, a little more and a thicker sauce. Remove the cinnamon sticks and refrigerate, covered until ready to serve.
For serving you can either cover the top of the cheesecake, or serve the blueberries on the side, topping each slice separately.
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.
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.
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.
So far I’ve been dismal in my attempts to be more healthy but today I made progress and it wasn’t even painful. Don’t worry, I’m not up to tofu yet and my “no carb left behind” lifestyle will surely take time to reform but I’m making baby steps. These muffins are really good and an improvement over my usual; by my standards these are positively healthy with eggs for protein, olive oil not butter, not too much sugar (which you could replace with Splenda) and whole wheat flour. Of course, nobody can expect miracles overnight so I stuck with real sugar and a “white whole wheat” from King Arthur Flour. According to the package it is “100% of the wheat germ and bran” with a “lighter color and milder flavor” which seemed like a good thing for a lemon theme. They are not “cakey” but more dense, like the texture of a corn muffin but without the corn flavor. They are sweet enough to eat for breakfast, but not so sweet you couldn’t serve with a meal, especially if you leave off the glaze.
The ingredients are:
- 4 cups whole-wheat flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar (or Splenda)
- 4 lemons, zested and juiced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil chopped finely
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Zest and juice the lemons. Use the zester for one lemon and the microplane for three. Reserve the juice and zest (fine) of one lemon for the glaze.
3. In the mixing bowl add the sugar and lemon zest and add the olive oil mixing on high speed.
4. Add the eggs one at a time.
5. Add 1/2 the flour mixture, then half the lemon juice mixing on low speed. Then add the remaining flour mixture and juice.
6. Add the basil and mix well. Of course you could leave this out, but it is surprisingly good, just enough to taste but not overpowering. You may have to scrape some lemon zest off the beaters, I find it best to use a spatula to do a final mix to make sure everything is well-distributed.
7. Place the batter in the muffin tins. I used mini-muffins and muffin top pans because I like the crispy outside.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.
To make the glaze, in a small bowl add lemon juice to the powdered sugar until it forms a fairly thin glaze. Either use a pastry brush or dip the tops of the muffins into the bowl to coat the tops of each muffin.
Let them sit uncovered for about 1/2 hour and the glaze will soak in and form a thin crust.
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