Friday, February 25, 2011

Dipped Cheesecake Squares

In my opinion, bite-size versions of foods are always better than the real thing. I prefer baby carrots to full size ones and would choose a cupcake over a slice any day. Mini desserts are great because you try a few varieties without feeling too guilty. Besides, they're just plain cute, which is quite an important characteristic to hold as a dessert, I would say.

So while it may be difficult to commit to a whole slice of cheesecake, good luck saying no to a little bite-size chunk covered in chocolate. Besides, you don't need any utensils. And the fewer dishes I need to do, the better.

I actually 'made' these by cutting up some leftover cheesecake from my sister's birthday (I too, am shocked that 'leftover' and 'cheesecake' was just used in the same sentence, but the birthday girl greatly overestimated her cake devouring abilities) but I have included a recipe below if you're making these from scratch. It is adapted from one on the AllYou website.

Off to the freezer to grab another one. . .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Week 12: Whole Lemon Bars

I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to see the city of lights, Paris, already twice in my 20-year life. If you haven't been before, you really must put it at the top of your list. There's something very dreamy about Paris, as if parisians live in some alternate perfect little fantasy world where it's perfectly acceptable to eat Pain-au-chocolat for breakfast and spend your days exploring the endless halls of the Louvre. Because that is certainly what I would be doing if I were a parisienne

David Lebovitz is an american chef and author who currently lives in the dreamy city and blogs on his life and cooking adventures there. His posts often come with recipes attached and always with the most enticing photographs that make me want to put down whatever I am doing and preset my oven. 

These lemon bars caught my attention by the fact that they use the entire lemon, including the almost always excluded bitter pith. They were one of the easiest things I have made recently and the recipe below is slightly adapted from the original as I think they were a little heavy on the crust:filling ratio. My kitchen smelled of buttery pastry and lemonade. Divine. . . like the city where they were first made.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Week 11: Copycat Cheesecake

 It was my sister's birthday yesterday and I was obviously eager to bake the cake and had asked her a week prior what type of cake she wanted. Red velvet? Chocolate? Over-the-top chocolate fudge oreo caramel peanut butter smorgasbord cheesecake? No. When asked what type of cheesecake she wanted, she said: "The type with cheese". 17-year olds are fickle. 

So began my search for the ultimate plain cheesecake, which is probably oxymoronic. I settled for this recipe from AllYou that claims to be near identical to what they offer at the Cheesecake factory. Although I'll never know how close this is to the factory favourite because given the choice of dozens of sinful creations they sell, the last one I would ever choose to end my dinner with would be plain.

The baking time in the recipe was too long and I ended up with a slightly burnt cheesecake that made my cake look like a giant 'Pastel de nata'. Maybe I should have just called this Cheesecake brulee and pretended it was on purpose. I have reduced the baking time in the recipe below and made a few alterations.

Copycat Cheesecake:
Yield: 1 9"cake, ~16 slices


  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine 

  • 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (I used plain yogurt instead)
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 3 large eggs 

  1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Place a large pan (The type you cook your turkey in works well) filled with 1/2 inch water in oven. 
  2. Make crust: Mix graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon, then melted margarine. Press crust onto bottom and 1/2 of the way up a 9" springform pan lined with parchment paper. Wrap a large piece of foil around bottom of pan and freeze. 
  3. Make filling: Using a mixer, blend cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Whisk eggs in a separate bowl; add to cream cheese mixture. Blend just until eggs are mixed in. 
  4. Remove crust from freezer and pour in filling. Carefully place cheesecake into preheated water bath. Bake for 12 minutes; then reduce temperature to 350°F and bake until top of cheesecake turns golden, 40-50 minutes. 
  5. Remove cake to a wire rack to cool. 
  6. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. (I didn't have time so it probably got 1 hour in the fridge and 15min in the freezer. It was much much better the next day after getting more fridge time)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good Morning

First of all. . . It looks like CollegeBakerGirl has just been graced with its first comment! It's nice to know that there are people other than a few of my close friends that actually read this.
Lisa at 'Sweet as Sugar Cookies' has kindly invited me to her 'Sweets for a Saturday' recipe share and though I am completely new to the concept, I am elated. Check it out here for some neat recipes!

It's my sister's birthday tomorrow and she has requested cheesecake so stay tuned for another recipe very very soon.

Happy Saturday from Toronto airport,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

I have no words to describe how amazingly these turned out other than the fact that I would not protest if I were to have to eat nothing else for the rest of my life. We had a bunch of zucchini laying around in the fridge that we need to get rid of before we all leave for reading week and I had come across this scrumptious looking recipe from 'For the Love of Cooking' and adapted it. I'd write more but I am currently still in awe of how something made with whole wheat flour and vegetables could be so delicious. . .

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Yield: 6
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil (try replacing some of the oil with apple sauce!)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a muffin tray.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and cocoa. Mix thoroughly.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the shredded zucchini and stir. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just combined. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tray, filling each cup to the top and sprinkle with chocolate chips.(fill empty spaces in the tray with water for moister muffins)
  4. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Per muffin:
261 calories | 14.9g sugar | 15.3g fat

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week 10: Sugar Cookies

There are 4 times a year when it is beyond reproach to eat copious amounts of sweet things. They are Christmas, Halloween, Easter and of course, Valentines day. As a soph (like an RA, except less rule-abiding), I get to mentor around 100 frosh. The froshies had planned a Valentines cookie decorating date for Sunday afternoon and I was obviously eager to do the baking. Good sophs don't let frosh eat store bought cookies. . .

According to my notes, this recipe made for 2 dozen medium sized 'star' cookies so I decided to double it to get 30-ish large heart cookies. Either my 'star' cookies of yesteryear were really tiny or I'm not very good at counting, because I ended up having to quadruple the recipe to have enough for the frosh a few for the roommates. The recipe below is 1/4 of what I actually made and was adapted from one on cookingnook. Also, this is a great one for when you don't have a few consecutive hours to bake because they need chill time in the fridge anyway, leaving you at least an hour to get some laundry done, or take a nap in my case.

Happy Valentines Day,

Sugar Cookies
Yield: 12 large cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 egg (use the other half to make yourself some French toast)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cream butter and sugar
  2. Add egg and vanilla and mix
  3. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk and mix well
  4. Chill dough in the fridge for at least an hour
  5. Preset oven to 375F, Roll out dough to no thicker than 1/4" and cut out with cookie-cutters
  6. Bake for 8-9 minutes

Per large cookie:
151 calories | 8.2g sugar | 7.8g fat

Update: From the words of an eloquent froshie:
 "They were like moist, yielding with just the right amount of crumbing.
Words fail me to describe it more accurately"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Week 9: Oatmeal Rocky Road Cookies

The concept of frozen milk with added sugar always seemed like an odd thing to eat for dessert to me, but through some food chemistry reasons I will never understand, ice cream is absolutely and always delectable. And though I would like to eat it as if it were its own food group, the fact that were hovering around -25C windchill right now makes it slightly less acceptable to be eating it all the time.  No matter, I'll just eat my ice cream in cookie form!

These were a bit of an experiment so the recipe below includes my suggestions of increasing the almonds, reducing the oats, and reducing the baking time for chewier cookies. Alternatively you can just store them with a muffin or slice of bread, which will soften them right up.

Oatmeal Rocky Road Cookies
Yield: 66 cookies
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3/4  cups rolled oats
  • 1-1/4 cups roasted almonds, chopped (Roasting Instructions)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, almonds, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 9-10 minutes in the preheated oven.
  4. Straight out of the oven, press marshmallows onto cookie, return to oven for a minute until slightly melted

Monday, February 7, 2011

Week 8: Cranberry Orange Scones

Cranberries were on sale a couple weeks ago and I thought they could serve double duty as ingredients for some more scones and perhaps a new smoothie recipe. For some reason, roommate AG forgot what scones were and I realised that I really don't have  better description for them other than: "You know, they're triangular, and flaky, and Starbucks sells them?". Which apparently was not descriptive enough.

I had taken the night off from campaigning in the school elections, which I'll regret if not enough people choose my name on the ballot a week from now. But from my experience of when I was elected as Grade 5 class president, campaigning breaks are okay; especially if they're taken for baking.

Last time I made scones I mentioned that I would like to try them with whole wheat flour if I had had any on hand, and now that I do, whole wheat scones it is!  This recipe is a little different from last time  as I think they ended up too moist. I've also replaced the lemon zest with orange since I didn't have any lemons on hand. Noticing that I didn't have this recipe stored anywhere else but the blog itself, I had to follow the recipe here and noticed that grey text is incredibly hard to read so I've changed it all to black to make all your lives just a bit easier, you're welcome.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

I brought back a canister of Hershey's unsweetened cocoa from the holidays and sadly, it's almost empty. That is, I've consumed an entire canister of cocoa in about a month. At least it's supposedly full of anti-oxidants. . . I would go into a lengthly explanation of how there's actually little evidence that eating the antioxidants will do any good, but I will spare you all from my grievances on food packaging health claims for now and move on to more delicious things. I personally find pre-formulated hot chocolate mixes dull and over sweet and like to make my own, always served in my monogrammed anthro mug. There's a basic recipe on the back of the Hershey's canister that I follow loosely but tonight I had the great epiphany of adding one of my other favorite foods to my hot chocolate, PEANUT BUTTER. The PB sort of sinks to the bottom if you don't stir constantly, leaving an awesome treat at the bottom. I wouldn't go as far as calling this Reese's in a mug, but it is pretty good. . .

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Yield: 1 mug full

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (you can add more, but I don't like mine too sweet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons peanut butter
  1. Fill the mug with half the amount of milk and microwave until very hot (~2 minutes)
  2. Add all other ingredients and stir
  3. Add the rest of the milk and microwave until hot, again
** Alternatively, you could do this on the stovetop on low heat, but I don't like to do dishes.

Per mug-full (with 1% milk and light peanut butter):
216 calories | 20.9g sugar | 8g fat

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

This post is a little late but I've been debating for a while now whether I want to include too many posts here that are not related to baking since this is supposed to be a baking blog. The thing is, smoothies are sort of their own food group in my diet and I'm always on the prowl for new recipes so I've decided that I'm going to use this blog to share them too. My smoothie recipes are usually inspired by a smoothie I've tried from an actual smoothie shop or a dessert.  On my way back home for the holidays, I had a brief layover in Toronto Pearson airport and was on the search for a small meal amid the plethora of over-priced junk food that was available. Without much success in the realm of solid foods, I decided to try a Chocolate Vivanno Smoothie from Starbucks. And then I got addicted . . .

I remember when Starbucks started selling smoothies a few years ago and had read a couple reviews saying that they tasted too banana-ey since an entire banana is added to the 16oz drink. That's not a problem for me because the concept of 'too much banana' is foreign to me. I actually have to deliberately buy overripe bananas to bake with as they never stick around long enough to reach the prime baking level of ripeness at my place.  I've watched very intently as the baristas make this and my recipe does have some differences. They make the Vivanno with a room temperature banana and just add plenty of ice while my recipe includes a frozen banana. Also as I will likely never have access to their top secret mocha syrup, I've replaced it with cocoa. It took me a couple tries to get this smoothie right, but here it is!

Chocolate Banana Smoothie
Yield: 1 ~16oz smoothie
  • 1 ripe banana (sliced and frozen)
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  1. Blend and enjoy!
Per smoothie:
223 calories | 19g sugar | 4g fat

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chocolate truffles-ish

What do pitted prunes, dried cranberries and almonds have in common other than being vaguely 'healthy' ? When you combine them you get something that tastes just like cookie dough.  Amazing? I know. I found this recipe after reading the food column in the National Post. The column's called 'Making love in the kitchen' and is written by nutritionist Meghan Telpner. Though I disagree with some of her strong views against additives like MSG, the recipes all seem pretty interesting and she had me at the word: Truffle. I halved and made a few changes to this recipe, both on purpose and by accident and I'm glad I did because these are little morsels of chocolate-y heaven. Next time I'm going to make them as directed.
    Chocolate Truffles-ish
    Yield: 31 truffles
  1. 1 cup  almonds
  2. 1/4 teaspoon  salt
  3. 7 pitted dates
  4. 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  5. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  6. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 2 tablespoons honey
  8. 1 tablespoon  water
  9. 1/2 cup shredded coconut (separated)

  1. Blend all ingredients except for 1/4 cup of the shredded coconut in a food processor (I used a magic bullet)
  2. Scoop out teaspoons and roll in remaining coconut
  3. Chill until firm
  4. Per truffle:
    47 calories | 2.2g sugar | 3.2g fat


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