NY Style Cheesecake

This cheesecake almost didn’t happen. The night I had planned to make it for a lunch we were holding the next day, I conveniently forgot where the springform pan’s base was. I sat for a while on Pinterest trying to get inspirations for another dessert to make, but nothing was appealing to me. Once I had the idea to make this cheesecake, I just couldn’t forget it and that was the problem. I tried again, opening every cabinet and looking between pans that the springform base could be hidden in. Just when I was about to call it a night, my mom yelled over to me and there it was in her hand. Apparently it was in our outside refrigerator; an area that I never thought to check. Cheesecake is one of those desserts that is really worth making because the end product never fails to satisfy. Check below to enjoy your own home-made version as well!

new york cheesecake

New York Style Cheesecake

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups crushed graham wafers
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling

  • 32 ounces (4 of the 8 ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest  (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Put the wafers in a food processor and blend until they are small crumbs
  2. Pour the crumbs in a bowl and add the 1/4 cup of sugar and melted butter
  3. Spray the springform pan with cooking spray and press the crumbs on the bottom and halfway up the pan
  4. Refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling
  5. Put the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and flour in a mixing bowl and beat until well incorporated (1 minute)
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are blended in
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix so that you do not have any lumps of cream cheese remaining
  8. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and beat for a minute or until well mixed
  9. Before you pour the filling into your crust, cover the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil (so no water gets in)
  10. Pour the filling into the aluminum wrapped springform pan
  11. Put the springform pan in a large baking dish and fill the dish with water (so the water is halfway up the pan)
  12. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes
  13. Reduce to 250 F and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until only the center is a little wobbly when you shake the pan
  14. Cool and refrigerate overnight and decorate/serve the following day

Tips

  • For the design, I melted semi-sweet chocolate and dipped strawberries in it. For some strawberries, I covered them with chopped almonds and for the others, I dipped them in a ready made strawberry glaze.
  • If you do not have graham wafers (as I did not), be creative and improvise with ANYTHING that you have. I used waffle cones that we had and just put those in the food processor. I have also used animal crackers in the past so anything will work.
  • Baking the cheesecake in a water bath will prevent it cracking because then the outer edge will not bake faster than the center (the hottest the water bath can get is 100 C).
  • Short 1 minute video for how to assemble a water bath here

Recipe modified from ZoomYummy

new york cheesecake

new york cheesecake

 

For more ideas check out some of my past cheesecakes below:

reeses cheesecake

 

pecan cheesecake

 

cheesecake

 

 

Houston Bites: Cedar’s Bakery

Houston Bites is back!!!

Driving back home with a colossal stack of white boxes, I knew that my brunch with my mom had gone successful. A planned brunch date quickly turned into stocking up a week’s supply for the family which was quite successful, although it disappeared without a trace. The effect after my first visit was similar as this is one place that is definitely hard to leave. I will have to warn you: you need to eat at least one of the mana’eesh (flatbread pies) in the store before heading home with a load, or else you may find yourself driving with one hand because your other fingers (that are now covered in olive oil and sesame) could not resist the temptations driven by the aroma of Middle Eastern herbs.

Cedar’s Bakery, a Lebanese family-owned business, may not have an extensive menu of breakfast or lunch items to order, but why have that when you have a range of quality mana’eesh, pita sandwiches, and assorted mini pastries? Watching your mana’eesh come out on long wooden paddles from the authentic twin brick ovens only adds to the experience as compared to simply picking up a pizza in a box from Domino’s. One of my favorites is sojok, a beef crumbly sausage flavored with cumin, garlic, and red pepper that is also mixed with a crumbly cheese. The sweet cheese and savory sausage complement each other on the soft, chewy pita flatbread. Other favorites of mine include the zaa’tar (a spice blend of sumac, thyme, oregano, sesame, & marjoram) and the parsley with akkawi cheese. If you are looking for a flatbread that is not so savory, I would go for the labne bread (a popular Middle Eastern cheese topped with tomatoes, olives, & a spice blend). Other than the famous mana’eesh, I have also tried their crunchy spinach and onion pies which are great to-go items for a quick snack. You can pair up some coffee or tea with your steaming baked good or you can be a bit more adventurous and go for the fragrant rose-flavored drink.

Quick “Must Order Bites” List

  1. Sojok Mana’eesh (my favorite although I am fan of their whole menu)
  2. Half Zaa’tar/ Half Cheese Mana’eesh
  3. Parsley & Cheese Mana’eesh
  4. Labne Mana’eesh
  5. Spinach Pies
  6. Rose Flavored Drink

Take a look at their menu here , complete with mouthwatering pictures to make your decision even harder on what to order haha.

Newsworthy Tidbit: Cedar’s has been rated as 42 out of the top 100 Houston restaurants for the Houston Chronicle in 2014 so come grab a quick bite here!

ADDRESS

8619 Richmond Ave

Houston, TX 77063

HOURS OF OPERATION

MONDAY-FRIDAY: 7am – 6pm

SATURDAY: 7am – 5pm

SUNDAY: 7am – 4pm

CONTACT INFO

EMAIL ADDRESS:info@cedarsbakeryhouston.com

TELEPHONE: (713)706-4141

 

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Sojok Mana’eesh

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Parsley & Cheese Mana’eesh

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Labne Bread

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Rose Flavored Drink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Daring Baker’s Challenge- Sachertorte

Success! I’ve joined the Daring Baker’s community and completed this month’s challenge: Sachertorte- a classic Austrian dessert.

This October’s Daring Baker’s Challenge was brought to us by Korena from Korena in the Kitchen. Sachertorte is a rich chocolate cake filled with an apricot glaze,  topped with chocolate ganache, and served with a dollop of whipped cream on the side. The history behind the making of the Sachertorte is pretty interesting. It originates back to 1832 when Prince Metternich requested a dessert for his dinner guests. His pastry chefs were ill at the time and so his apprentice, Franz Sacher, concocted this fancy dessert that is now famous internationally. His son, Eduard, later opened the Sacher Hotel in Vienna where the cake is made with its closely guarded recipe. The cake is so well known that it can be ordered online and shipped worldwide too.

Sachertorte

Sachertorte

 Printable Recipe Here (with step by step pictures too)

Sachertorte

Servings: 12-16

Cake Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (4 ½ oz) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% Lindt Smooth Dark)
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
  • pinch fine grain salt

Lindt Chocolate

Directions

Preheat: 375 F

  1. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by spraying it with cooking spray and dusting it with flour. Line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Fill a saucepan with an inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put it on top of the saucepan (make sure that the bowl is not touching the water). Stir occasionally until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium until light and creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar on low speed, then increase to medium speed and beat again until light and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until well-mixed.
  6. In a separate bowl, add the egg whites and one tablespoon of granulated sugar and beat on high until foamy. Gradually add the remaining granulated sugar and continue beating until you form soft, shiny peaks.
  7. Add about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites and whip vigorously into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Be sure to be gentle so that the egg whites are not deflated.
  8. In another bowl, combine together the flour and salt and mix until combined. Sift half of it over the chocolate mixture and fold in with a spatula until almost incorporated. Sift the remaining flour over the chocolate and fold until combined.
  9. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Place into the oven and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake will crack and dome as it bakes, but will flatten as it cools.
  10. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Remove the bottom pan and parchment paper. Turn the cake right-side up and allow to cool completely.

Apricot Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity (about 1 cup)

Ingredients
1¼ cup (14 oz) apricot jam or preserves
2 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Boil the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. You should have about 1 cup of glaze. Use warm.

Cake Assembly

Directions

  1. Turn the cake upside-down so that the perfectly flat bottom of the cake is now the top. Cut the cake horizontally into 2 even layers.
  2. Place 1 cake layer on the 8½-inch (22 cm) cardboard cake round and spread it generously with about half of the apricot glaze. Allow it to soak in.
  3. Place the second cake layer on top and spread the top and sides with the remaining apricot glaze. Work quickly before the glaze has a chance to set and use a metal offset spatula to smooth the top.
  4. Place the cake on a rack set over a plate or baking sheet lined with waxed paper and allow the apricot glaze to set.

Chocolate Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity

Ingredients
1 cup  granulated sugar
½ cup water
4 0z good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook while stirring for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. It might thicken up quite a bit. If it does, return it to low heat and add a few drops of water if necessary to thin it out to a runny, pourable consistency. The glaze should be smooth and shiny.
  4. Off the heat, stir the glaze for 30-60 seconds to cool it slightly. Immediately pour it over the top of the cake, first around the edge (allowing the glaze to spill down the sides) and then in the middle. Spread the excess glaze over any bare spots using a spatula. Before the glaze has a chance to set, move the cake to a serving platter. Note: Any excess glaze can be stored in a container in the fridge and added to a mug of hot milk to make hot chocolate.

Writing Chocolate

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (1.8 oz) chopped good quality chocolate
  • ½ – 1 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Heat the chocolate until just melted, then stir in enough vegetable oil to get a pipeable consistency. If necessary, let the chocolate mixture cool slightly to thicken so that it is not too runny.
  2. Place the chocolate in a disposable piping bag or small Ziplock bag and snip off the tip to make a small hole. It might pay to do a practice run on waxed paper before writing on the cake.
  3. With the writing chocolate, pipe the word ‘Sacher’ in the middle of the cake and add any decorative flourishes you wish. Chill the cake until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour.

Final Assembly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

Directions

  1. Let the cake come to room temperature for about 1 hour before serving. Whip the cream to soft peaks (this is best done in a cold bowl with cold beaters). If desired, sweeten it with icing sugar to taste.
  2. Cut the Sachertorte into wedges with a large sharp knife dipped in hot water and wipe off the blade between cuts. Serve each wedge of cake with a large dollop of whipped cream.

Tips:

*Store up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature

*Highly recommended to check out the great series of videos found on Epicurious of a pastry chef making this Sachertorte recipe from start to finish, with some very useful tips on technique

Sachertorte

Stay posted for more recipes and next months Daring Baker’s Challenge!

 

Surviving Midterms: Foodie Style

It’s that time of the year again. I wish it could have been Thanksgiving but no, it’s midterms time where any form of joy is killed. It’s when you really appreciate the carefree time you had last week where you had the luxury to choose whether to watch a new episode of American Horror Story or go grab a quick bite at Panera Bread. This is all up to you of course. Midterms or not, we always have food so why not use it as a stress reliever and motivator? Step away from living off vending machine snacks and camping out at a single cubicle to learning simple tips to making your studying experience a bit more enjoyable.

  1. Find a few great studying spots and alternate. Studies show that alternating your study area improves retention compared to studying in one location. Try studying anywhere and everywhere to find out what works for you, even if it’s while flipping pancakes.

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2. Sometimes we all need a little motivation and it doesn’t hurt if it comes in the form of a gummy bear.

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3. Studying with a furry (or not so furry) friend nearby can lend for some company. Not when they steal your chair though haha.

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4. Next time you grab for a snack, go for berries and fruits. They are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants which helps your memory and improves brain performance.

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5. Go for a change and try out coconut water: it’s high in potassium and low in sodium and calories. A diet low in potassium can cause fatigue which is a bad combo for studying. A high potassium and low sodium diet helps lower blood pressure, therefore lowering your stress levels.

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6. If you are in the mood for an actual meal then Chipotle is the way to go! It’s an easy to-go meal that you can save for later if you get full. The best part about October is that you can get $3 Burritos if you come in a costume for Halloween.

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7. Need an actual break from studying? Whip up these 3-ingredient Nutella brownies or make yourself an easy mug cake.

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8. We all know what’s not good for us, yet we tend to buy it anyways. Treat yourself every now and then, because you know you deserve it.

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9. When studying gets dull, you can always light a candle or candles. Candles can help reduce your stress, improve your productivity, and help you stay more focused on your studies.

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10. Pack a healthy snack like a salad or some pumpkin spice scones to the library so you aren’t stuck living off of vending machine food, because all the real food is way too far away.

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Boston Creme Donuts

bostoncremedonuts

Looking for a dessert that won’t turn your whole kitchen upside down? How about one that transforms a seemingly simple can of Pillsbury Grands into a delectable dessert that is indeed grand? If you have an appreciation for this golden halo of fried pastry, then you will love when you learn just how easy it is to satisfy your donut desires.

Within 30 minutes, you can have a plate in front of yourself with a chocolate ganache glazed donut filled with a french vanilla creme. And the best thing about it, you don’t have to leave your house to enjoy warm, fluffy homemade donuts! Perfect for a light morning breakfast with coffee or even as a midnight snack for those late cravings, you definitely do not want to miss out on these delights.

Boston Creme Donuts

Makes: 8 donuts

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

For the donuts

  • 1 package Pillsbury Grand biscuits (contains 8 biscuits)
  • Canola oil

For the filling

  • 1 box JELL-O instant french vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)
  • 1 cup whole milk  (can use fat free for a healthier alternative)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

For the ganache

  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Filling

  1. Whisk together the pudding mix with the milk for about 2 minutes and then set aside
  2. In a separate bowl, beat on high the heavy cream with powdered sugar for about 3 minutes until soft peaks form
  3. Fold in the pudding mix and refrigerate until ready to use

Donuts

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet (should be about an inch high)
  2. Separate biscuits and fry each side for 2-3 minutes
  3. Set on a plate covered with a few paper towels to dry and cool

Ganache

  1. Add heavy cream, milk, butter, vanilla, and corn syrup in a medium pot
  2. Over medium heat, wait until the butter is melted
  3. Change to low heat and add in the semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips
  4. Whisk until smooth and remove quickly from heat to avoid overheating the chocolate
  5. Whisk the powdered sugar in until you have a smooth ganache and set aside
  6. Add a few drops of milk if the ganache seems too thick to coat the donuts when you are ready

Assembly

  1. Spoon the filling into a large pastry bag (or ziploc bag) with any tip
  2. Press the tip into the side of the donut and squeeze until the donut appears full
  3. Dip the donuts in the ganache or use a spoon to spread the ganache over it

Recipe Adapted from ShugarySweets

Tips:

-For variations you can also use a chocolate pudding, if you prefer a chocolate filling

-Add toppings such as shredded coconut, slivered almonds, sprinkles, or more

-Use fat-free milk for a healthier alternative

ingredbc

Ingredients for the French Vanilla Creme Filling

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Making the French Vanilla Pudding Mix

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Adding in the heavy cream and powdered sugar whipped mixture to the French Vanilla pudding

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How the consistency should look for your French Vanilla Creme Filling once mixed

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Golden brown fried Pillsbury Grands biscuits

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Your final dish: Boston Creme Donuts

 

What is the most interesting donut that you have ever made or tasted?

Vanilla Bean Poached Pears

poached pears

If you always fall in love with that perfectly spiced apple pie drenched in a sweet, cinnamon syrup that just keeps you coming for more, then you are sure to find this recipe a hit! Why? It’s super easy and you don’t have to worry about baking a crust that is too hard or under-baked. After making this recipe, I didn’t have mounds of measuring cups, bowls, and spoons to wash so it was a relief. Mind you, I’m not usually the pears type of person. I will go straight for the apples if given both to choose from. This dish though presents pears in a simple yet enjoyable way. It almost tastes like an apple pie, because of how juicy and tender the pears are.

Vanilla Bean Poached Pears

Printable Recipe here

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (can also use actual vanilla bean or vanilla extract)
  • 7 medium sized pears (peeled, cored, and split in half)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat: 375 F

  1. Place sugar in a small bowl and mix in the vanilla bean paste
  2. Arrange the pears in a large baking dish (cut side up) and then pour the lemon juice and sprinkle the sugar evenly over them
  3. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the pears and pour the water into the dish
  4. Divide the butter amongst each of the pears, placing a small amount onto each one
  5. Roast the pears for 30 minutes
  6. Turn the pears over and roast for another 25-30 minutes, or until tender and caramelized

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Tips:

- If you are unable to finish the pears, refrigerate and warm up before eating the next time

- Vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream will go great paired with this dessert

poached pears

Mini Pumpkin Pies

pumpkin pie

Got empty graham crusts in your pantry waiting to be filled? I did. My first thought was to make a coconut cream pie. Ah but I was missing one ingredient!! I wasn’t in the mood though to go out to buy one thing. After searching through recipe after recipe, I found this heavenly pumpkin pie for which I already had everything! I am just in love with the small size too. No worries about cutting the perfect slice.

I’ll definitely be taking advantage of this fall season so keep posted to see what other delights will be coming soon!

Printable Recipe Here

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Ingredients

  • 12 mini graham cracker crusts
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (5 ounce) can  of evaporated milk

Directions:

Preheat: 350 F

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, pumpkin spice, egg, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and evaporated milk
  2. Put the pre-made crusts on a baking sheet and fill with the pumpkin pie mixture
  3.  Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until the filling no longer jiggles when you shake it

Homemade Whipped Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Whip the cream until stiff peaks are about to form
  2. Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract until peaks form
  3. Scoop into a piping bag with a fitted tip and place one star on each cooled pie

Recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

Tips

-You can find the pre-made graham crusts in the baking aisle (Walmart, Kroger, etc)

-Wait for the pumpkin pies to cool before icing them so that the icing does not melt off

-If you want to try a variation of this recipe, try Nutella Pumpkin Pie from a previous post of mine here