Tag Archives: butter

Japanese Cheesecake

I got interested in the Japanese Cheesecake about 2 months ago when I was talking to my granddaughters. They showed me the video of the making of the Fluffy, Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake and commented about how they would like to learn how to make it. I agreed to help them. Meanwhile, I had to research the project and make certain I could make the cheesecake. So I went from the video to the web site and found several problems. The measurements of some of the ingredients were different in the video than on the recipe. So I started following the comments for the recipe and found others had the same problem; no one had corrected the recipe or video- whichever was wrong.

It also seemed to me that the comments were of two types- those that seemed taken with the recipe but hadn’t really tried to make it, and those who had really tried to make it and were not complementary. There were bad comments about the taste. One person even suggested a recipe on a different web site as being better. So I decided I needed to look at that recipe.

I made that recipe, and it was a failure. So I continued research and finally found a combination of recipes that work for me.

I will also say that the original Fluffy Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake recipe had an area that I couldn’t figure out how to solve- they had the cheesecake coming out of the oven at cooking temperature and immediately being turned upside down on your hand to remove the pan and parchment paper- how to do that without getting burned badly had me stumped.

Here is a version of Japanese Cheesecake that I made and felt showed the final texture and rise of the product. I notice that almost all cooks serve the cheesecake with a sweet topping. Some are just fruit like strawberries, and others are jam glazes, or powdered sugar or a combination of these. I will use frozen strawberries as they provide moisture and sweetness.

I have decided to leave the ingredient list in international units- grams and milliliters where the measure is not a natural one. That was how I put the recipe together and had no real problem. My kitchen scale allows setting the units to grams, and the back side of my liquid measuring cup shows milliliters. If that is too big of a problem, there are conversion programs to aid in getting the units back to ounces and cups.

Japanese Cheesecake

Preparation

  • (Optional)Remove frozen strawberries from freezer to come to room temperature over-night.
  • Remove cream cheese from refrigerator to come to room temperature over-night.
  • Move oven rack to lowest position.
  • Cut parchment paper to fit a 8×3 cake pan bottom; spray the sides and bottom of the pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with the parchment paper. Wrap the bottom and sides completely in foil to prevent the water bath from oxidizing the pan. (the water bath with heat turns aluminum black so the foil protects the pan.
  • Separate 6 eggs

Mise en place

  • 9 ounces cream cheese (ouch, it comes in 8 ounce packages)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 70g granulated sugar(this is half of the total 140g)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 100 ml whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 60g cake flour
  • 20g cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • —————–

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 70g granulated sugar (the other half of the 140g)
    —————–

  • (Optional) Strawberries – to serve
  • (Optional) Powdered Sugar – to serve
  • (Optional) Cream Chantilly – to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (200 degrees C).
  2. Over a warm water bath (bain marie), whisk the cream cheese until smooth
  3. Add the egg yolks and continue to whisk
  4. Add half the sugar (70g and whisk
  5. Warm the milk and butter in the microwave or stove and whisk into the batter
  6. Add the salt and lemon juice and whisk
  7. Remove from the water bath, sift the flour and cornstarch and fold into the mixture.
  8. ————————

  9. Whisk the egg whites at low speed until foamy.
  10. Add the cream of tartar and beat at high speed till bubbles become very small but still visible
  11. Gradually add the sugar (70g)and beat till just before soft peaks form.
  12. Fold the whites into the batter 1/3 at a time.
  13. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and tap on the counter a couple times to remove air bubbles.
  14. Bake the cake on the bottommost rack in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees for 12 minutes; finally turn off trhe oven and leave the cake in the closed oven for 30 minutes. Open the door of the oven slightly at that time for 10 minutes for the cake to cool.
  15. Remove the cake from the cake pan, and remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar, and serve with a side of strawberries and Cream Chantilly. Enjoy!


I found that I was not as taken with the soft sponginess of the Japaness Cheesecake as others seem to be.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 36 cookie
The nutty taste of brown butter, a good dark chocolate chip and a final sprinkling of salt work in concert to elevate these cookies to star status – named the best-tasting chocolate chip cookies by our expert panel.
Published in The Washington Post.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Joy Wilson of JoytheBaker.com

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalte butter, half at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • Flaky or coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Steps

  1. Melt the chilled half of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, swirling it in the pan occasionally. It’ll foam and froth as it cooks, and start to crackle and pop. Once the crackling stops, keep a close eye on the melted butter, continuing to swirl the pan often. The butter will start to smell nutty, and brown bits will form in the bottom. Once the bits are amber brown (2 1/2 to 3 minutes or so after the sizzling stops), remove the butter from the heat and immediately pour it into a small bowl, bits and all. This will stop the butter from cooking and burning. Let cool for 20 minutes.
  2. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the remaining 8 tablespoons of room-temperature butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or use a handheld electric mixer; beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth (but not quite fluffy). Reduce the speed to medium-low; beat in the vanilla extract and molasses until well incorporated.
  4. Pour the cooled brown butter into the bowl, along with the granulated sugar. Beat for 2 minutes (medium-low), until smooth; the mixture will lighten in color and become fluffy.
  5. Reduce the speed to low; add the egg and egg yolk, beating for 1 minute, then stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the flour, kosher salt and baking soda; beat on low speed just until everything is incorporated. Use a spatula to fold in the chocolate chips and pecans and finish incorporating all of the dry flour bits into the dough.
  6. Scoop the dough in 2-tablespoon-sized balls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the balls. Use a light two-fingered pinch to sprinkle each portion of dough with coarse or flaky sea salt.
  7. Bake (upper and lower racks) for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  8. epeat to use all the dough.

Black Angus Cookies

This is an excellent recipe for the chocolate lover. It uses coffee to accent the flavor of the chocolate. It is only missing the other item we are now seeing in recipes of cookies that contain chocolate- the sprinkle of sea salt on the dough just before baking. That could easily be fixed by the person making these wonderful cookies.

This recipe was published way back in 2006, and yet is seemed to predict a lot that is happening now in the cooking of chocolate oriented cookies. First, it starts with bittersweet chocolate. That is now available in chip form and is being used by a large number of the recipes I see. Second, this recipe melts the chocolate and butter into a smooth mixture before adding it to the rest of the wet ingredients. That also is showing up in a lot of current recipes.

Ron Paul Black Angus Cookies

from the Oregonian FOODday Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Makes 5 to 6 dozen (or less)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped (3 1/3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks; not margarine)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted and coarsely chopped pecans (1/3 pound; see note)
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. In top of a double boiler over hot water, place bittersweet chocolate and butter and heat until melted, stirring occasionally; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, espresso powder and vanilla extract. Beat with a wooden spoon, or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until well-combined. Pour in the bittersweet chocolate mixture and mix well. Gently fold in the flour mixture, pecans and semisweet chocolate chips.
  5. Drop dough in 2-Tablespoon portions (or using #50 scoop), 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake 11 to 13 minutes, until cookies are still shiny but are beginning to set in the cente. Do not overbake. Remove immediately to wire racks,or aluminum foil to cool.
  6. NOTE: To toast nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to scorch them. Or, spread on baking sheet and bake in 375 degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until brown Or, spread nuts on a paper plate on in a microwave-safe pie pan. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once.


My hint for the pecans is to toast them first, and then chop them. It is easier to toast large pieces than the many small pieces from chopping.

I find that the cookies are very slow to totally solidify. That means that if I try to take them off the baking sheet, or even the parchment paper too soon, the bottom centers stick and it makes a mess. I would recommend lining the baking sheets with parchment paper, and then pulling the parchment paper off the baking sheet and onto the cooling racks when the cookies come out of the oven. Use a new piece of parchment paper for the next batch. Take the cookies off the parchment only when they are stone cold.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

After making these cookies, I put them in tupperware containers and refrigerated them. When I got them out to make my Christmas boxes of different varieties of cookies, I ate one and discovered that the center wasn’t nice and soft and gooey as my muse had wanted, but was rather firm. I think there could be several reasons why.

  1. This is my new oven, and maybe the temperature isn’t as the readout says. I don’t think this is the problem because on another cookie, it seemed under-cooked instead of over-cooked
  2. I cooked the full suggested 18 minutes for refrigerated dough; perhaps that is wrong.
  3. Maybe refrigeration has something to do with it; could the centers dry out even when in a tupperware container?

I will be trying this recipe again in the future, and if I can determine a cause, I will add a not to this page.


My Seattle muse brought this version of a chocolate chip cookie to my attention. She liked how the center of the cookie was soft, and of course the salt on the cookie also makes it taste good. I searched around and found a basic recipe, but as I got into it, I found a lot of issues to resolve. Hopefully all those are resolved in this version of the recipe.

In some sense this cookie reminds me of the Pub cookies in that it is very large- it could be larger than the 4 inch diameter that I made- and is ideal for walking around and crunching as you take life easy and enjoy your surroundings.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Developed by Jacque Torres

Written up by David Leite

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup Plus 2 Tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups minus 2 Tablespoons (8 ½ ounces) cake flour*
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 ½ ounces) bread flour*
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 ¼ pounds (20 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, at least 60 % cacao content
  • sea salt, to sprinkle

* instead of 8 ½ ounces cake flour, substitute 2 cups AP flour, then use only 1 cup bread flour

Instructions

  1. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, mising welll after each addition.
  3. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  4. Turn the mixer on low. Add both flours, the baking soda and baking powder, the salt and chocolate to the mixture in the mixer bowl.Mix only until the flour is no longer visible.
  5. Scoop 3 1/2 ounce mounds of dough onto baking sheets.*
  6. Refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours
  7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Flatten each dough mound slightly and sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Bake for 18 minutes.
  10. The cookies are done when a crust has formed and the edges are slightly crispy. The middle of the cookie will fall after removed from the oven and cooled.

The dough may be frozen for a month, or refrigerated for up to 5 days if covered tightly.

*The baking sheets may be covered with either parchment paper or silicon mats if desired. Or the cookies can be placed directly on the baking sheets. Do not grease the baking sheets.

A 3 1/2 ounce scoop would be a #9; I used a #20 scoop and was able to get only 4 cookies on a baking sheet. The cookies expand; my final cookies were about 4 inches in diameter.

Kouign Amann

kouign amann 2 001Kouign Amann

In February, 2016, I started to learn to make Kouign Amann. It has been a long road with many missteps in getting to this recipe and set of notes.

Kouign Amann comes from the Brittany region of France. The words mean ‘Butter Cake’ in the Breton language. It seems to be a somewhat catch-all name for a type of dough which people make into many different types of pastry; on the Internet, I find images that show it as bun shaped pastry as I will give herein, as a large pie shaped pastry from which individual pieces are served like pizza slices, and as rolls much on the order of cinnamon rolls. The bun-shaped pastry can be various sizes; the two most common are a 2 inch base, made in muffin pans, or a 4 inch base made in larger muffin/pastry rings.

In Seattle, we had tried Kouign Amann at two bakeries- Bakery Nouveau and Le Reve. The former made their Kouign Amann in the larger 4 inch rings, while the latter had the 2 inch muffin pan form. We decided that we liked the larger pastry better and that was the experience I have tried to create in this recipe. The only difference is the container in which the pastry is cooked; a muffin pan or a 4 inch pastry ring.

After early research into the Kouign Amann, it is basically a puff pastry product and I wanted to use my Croissant Dough recipe. And I wanted to make the Kouign Amann in 4 inch pastry rings, I didn’t have those and so I made my first attempt in muffin pans.

kouign amshn 1 001First Attempt with Muffin Pans

If you use muffin pans to form the Kouign Amann, dump them out of the pans as soon as you take them out of the oven! If they aren’t removed from the tins while they are still very hot, the sugar will harden and they can not be taken out in a single piece.

In my research, I found one chef who indicated that the dough for the Kouign Amann should not be milk based as milk (and egg used in Danish pastry) promote browning and there is already enough sugar and butter in the dough to cause browning. That means I shouldn’t use the Croissant Dough recipe directly, but should switch to a different ingredient list. It also appears that unlike most pastries, the Brittany pastries are made with salted butter. Interesting.

One of the characteristics of the dough in the final recipe is it is a very moist dough. I ran into problems with other doughs in that the sugar would pull the moisture out of the dough leaving it dry, and it didn’t want to rise during proofing.

Since the dough is a version of puff pastry, it is layered with butter and sugar, and folded around the additions. Like most puff pastry recipes, after rolling the dough out, it is folded into thirds- the bottom third up over the middle third, and then the top third down over the middle.

It is also very difficult to make the additions as we would normally do in making puff pastry. Normally, the addition is made to the top 2/3 of the rolled out dough before it is folded. With this dough, I had trouble doing it that way- the dough is too moist to allow spreading the butter, and the sugar addition would fall off down to the fold when the top was brought down over the middle. I changed the method slightly. I add the layer in two parts; the first part is after the dough is rolled out, and goes on the middle third of the dough. Then the bottom is folded up over the middle, and the second part of the addition is placed on the bottom third (now in the middle) before the top third is folded down.

Finally, I experimented with making disposable pastry rings with aluminum foil and found they work without any problem. I will give directions for making the rings at the end of this post. (Because I was making so many Kouign Amann, I decided to buy some 4 inch muffin rings. I have made a half recipe- 3 pieces- a week for about the last 8 weeks trying to get the bugs out of the recipe and notes. If you are interested, 4 rings for less than $10.00 on Amazon- by Fox Run. [Actually, they are 3.5 inch rings.]).

Below are two recipes; the full size recipe and a half size recipe. Because I was making the Kouign Amann so often, I needed to create the half recipe for testing my changes; you may want to make a half recipe just to experiment with the dough and techniques before going for a full recipe

Kouign Amann (full recipe- )

Ingredients

Kouign Amann (half recipe- )

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup water (not over 100 degrees)
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 2 3/4 cups AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbs) cold salted butter (leave in the refrigerator until needed)
  • 1 cups sugar (plus more for non-stick rolling)
  • 2/3 cup water (not over 100 degrees)
  • 1/2 packet yeast (1 1/8 tsp)
  • 1 3/8 cups AP flour (1 cup + 1/4 c + 2 Tbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tbs cold salted butter (leave in the refrigerator until needed)
  • 1/2 cups sugar (plus more for non-stick rolling)

Directions

Differences Full Recipe Half Recipe
Size for adding butter/sugar 10 x 18 7.5 x 12
Goal for flattened butter 10 x 9 7.5 x 8
Sugar per third of dough 1/4 cup 2 Tbs
Final rectangle for 4 inch rings 11 x 16 6 x 16
Final rectangle for 2 inch rings 8 x 22 8 x 11.5
Squares and size for 4 inch rings six 5 x 5 three 5 x 5
Squares and size for 2 inch rings twelve 3.5 x 3.5 six 3.5 x 3.5

  1. Prepare the dough. Mix the first four ingredients in a mixer bowl, and let the mixer run for 3-4 minutes to knead the dough
  2. Let the dough rise. Put the kneaded dough into the bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in an area with a temperature in the 70-72 degree range. Let the dough rise to double in size; this might take a couple hours.
  3. Prepare the butter packet. Refrigerate the dough in its covered bowl for 1 hour. Meanwhile, place the cold butter on a piece of parchment paper. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the butter. With a rolling pin, beat the butter to flatten it. Between beating and rolling, try to get the butter to be 2/3 the size to which the dough will be rolled. This will make it easier to put the butter on the dough. Place the flattened softened butter on the parchment paper in the refrigerator.
  4. Prepare the dough packet Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured rolling surface, flour the top, and roll it into a rectangle for addition of the butter. Place half of the softened flattened butter on the middle 1/3 of the dough. Now fold the bottom not buttered piece up over the middle buttered third and and place the other half of the butter on the folded up piece of dough. Now fold the top third of the dough down. Pinch all the edges together. This completes the first turn. The dough is three layers with butter between each layer.
  5. Complete turn 2. Rotate the dough so it is like a book ready to be opened with its spine to the left. (Each turn will start with the dough in this position- a book with its spine on the left). Roll the dough into a rectangle the same size for additions, although nothing is added this time. Again fold the bottom third up and then the top third down completing the second turn. Wrap this dough package in plastic and place it in a baggy in the refrigerator over night. (I always leave the dough in the refrigerator over night, but I suspect that you could continue with the following steps after cooling the dough for 2-3 hours. Since we will not use flour any more, the rolling surface needs to be cleaned at this point)
  6. Turn the dough 2 more times and while adding sugar Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a sugared rolling surface (about 2 Tbs) in the position of a book ready to be opened. Sprinkle the top of the dough with another couple tablespoons of sugar to keep it from sticking. Roll the dough out into a rectangle for addition of the first sugar. Sprinkle the middle third of the dough with its sugar; fold the dough bottom third up. Now sprinkle the addition sugar over the bottom third and fold the top third down. Rotate the packet into book position and reapply sugar to the rolling surface and the top of the dough. Again, roll the dough into the addition size rectangle and sprinkle the middle 1/3 with an addition of sugar and fold the dough bottom third up. Sprinkle it with another addition of sugar and fold the top third down. Refrigerate the dough while preparing for cooking. (the four additions of sugar in this step adds up to the amount of sugar given in the ingredient list [4 Tbs = 1/4 cup])
  7. Prepare the Pastry Rings This step assumes that if you are using temporary foil rings, they have already been made. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a sheet pan. Spray the inside of the pastry rings with cooking spray and place them on the parchment paper, opening the rings to as round as possible.
  8. Form the Kouign Amann. Sprinkle the rolling surface with sugar and place a packet of dough on the surface. Sprinkle additional sugar on top of the dough. Roll the dough out into its final rectangle. Trim a 1/2 inch off all sides of the rectangle so that the layers of dough are visible. Cut the rectangle into its squares. Sprinkle each square with about 2 tsp of sugar, then pick up the square by its 4 corners flipping it upside down so that this latest sugar is on the bottom. Place the square in a pastry ring. Put about 1/2 tsp of sugar in the center of the square and tuck the corners over onto the center of the pastry so they do not hang over the edges of the ring.
  9. Proof the Kouign Amann.Let the pastry rise until slightly puffy- 40 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven. (while recipes seem to all say the oven rack in the middle, I found I needed to move the rack down one notch, and then place the sheet pan inside a secnd nesting sheet pan to insulate the bottom from being closer to the bottom heat).
  10. Bake the Kouign Amann. Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes; after 15 minutes, tent the Kouign Amann to keep the tops from browning too fast. The pastry is done when the tops are deep golden and the tips look like they might just be starting to burn. It takes this last almost burned state to get the caramel at its peak.
  11. Remove from pan and cool. After removing the pan from the oven, use a pancake turner and tongs to remove the Kouign Amann to a cooling rack without their pastry rings. Cool the Kouign Amann upside down.


rings 001

Making Disposable Pastry Rings

From my experience, these rings work as well as hard metal rings. The length of the foil should be 12 inches for 4 inch rings and 7.5 inches for 2 inch rings. The overlap point is 11 inches for the 4 inch rings (actually 3.5 inches) and 6.25 inches for 2 inch rings.

  1. For each ring, cut a piece of aluminum foil that is 4 inches wide by the suggested length.
  2. Fold the 4 inch dimension in half twice, resulting in a 1 inch strip that is 4 layers of foil.
  3. Mark the overlap point from one end (End A).
  4. Loop the foil strip, bringing End A to the marked overlap point.
  5. Staple the overlapped part of the ring twice to hold the rings shape. When the ring is used, its shape can be straightened to more closely resemble a ring.

It is interesting that the softness of the ring doesn’t seem to be a problem. I think that is because a circle is a very stable figure, and as the pastry rises and expands, it pushes fairly evenly all around the ring bringing it back into a circular shape. And, when the baking is finished, there is no washing of the rings; they are tossed in the trash.

So, why are the sizes for the half recipe not closer related to the full recipe sizes? For example, the size for adding ingredients for the full recipe is 10 x 18; why not either 5 x 18 or 10 x 9 for the half recipe? I don’t like the 18 inch height for my rolling surface, and I don’t like the ending shape for a 10 inch wide since that would be longer when turned to roll out again than that goal which would be 9 inches. It all has to do with the area of the surface of the dough. For the full recipe, the area (in this case) is 180 square inches; half recipe would be 90 square inches. And 7.5 x 12 is 90 square inches.

Individual Cheesecakes

Bday 001

Allison wanted her birthday cake to be cheesecake. And as always, I had to do something special. Since different folks like different tastes, I decided to make individual cheesecakes with a smorgasbord of sauces. Each cheesecake is about the size of a cupcake, and is complete in itself. And then there are the toppings with which each person can choose and complement their cheesecake. All the recipes are in this article, even if some have appeared earlier in other articles.

Bday 006

For toppings, I made a ganache, a caramel, a praline sauce, lemon curd, strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkin. The latter is because this year we celebrate Alli’s birthday on Halloween, and Halloween goes well with pumpkin cheesecake.

I obviously made way too many, and too much toppings. I was surprised to find that the lemon curd and the strawberries were probably the favorites, with the caramel running third. The ganache was not a favorite; as daughter Mindy told me later- who wants chocolate with cheesecake? Cheesecake is almost the anti-chocolate food.- She also said that she felt pumpkin mousse was not a topping for cheesecake, but if you want a pumpkin cheesecake, you should put the pumpkin in the cheese layer.

Individual Cheesecakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 pkg (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 cups Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

The above Ingredient list is broken into 3 parts- bottom crust, middle filling, and topping.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put cupcake papers into the bottom of 18 muffin cups
  3. For the crust, mix the graham crumbs, 2 Tablespoons sugar and butter until well blended, and press into the bottoms of the cupcake papers.
  4. For the filling, beat the cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3/4 cup sugar until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Spoon over the crusts.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the centers are almost set.
  6. For the topping, combine the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over the surface of the warm cupcakes. Return the cupcakes to the oven and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.
  7. Remove the cupcake papers and arrange the individual cheesecakes for serving.


Since I made the seven toppings, I will give you recipes for each of them although you should probably only focus on a couple or three for your serving.

Ganache is a mixture of heavy cream and chocolate. I have used several of these in the past and am providing you with a pointer to some of those recipes as well as giving you a recipe herein. Perhaps the best previous recipe was with the home-made Ding Dongs. In that case, We wanted the ganache to set since it was an outside coating, and we wanted it to be shiny. So the amount of chocolate was more than the amount of cream, and we added fat (butter) for the gloss. Likewise, for holding cake pops together, we use a ganache. The recipe in the cake pop article is not strong enough compared to the recipe for white chocolate ganache in the Icings, Frostings and Glazes article; you really need a 4 to 1 ratio of chocolate to cream for cake pops. Here, we want a fairly liquid ganache, and use a 1 to 1 ratio.

Ganache

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Chocolate Pieces (any flavor or type, including white)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream

Directions

  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave proof bowl
  2. Heat the cream in a sauce pan until small bubbles start to appear around the edges (just to a boil but not boiling!)
  3. Remove from the heat, and pour over the chocolate.
  4. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for 5 minutes
  5. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth

An alternative approach is to place the ingredients in a double boiler over simmering water and cook, stirring until it is smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Since the chocolate is in a heat proof bowl, and the sauce pan is out, this should be an easy change from heating the cream separately and waiting for the chocolate to melt.

Caramel is a mixture of heavy cream and sugar. Most of the caramel I have used I have made from salted caramel chips, and used a ganache recipe; it works. However, if you want a straight caramel without salt, then the recipe I have in the Guinness Gingerbread Cupcakes article does a nice job.

Caramel

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool it to room temperature and refrigerate it in a covered container. Reheat over low heat until smooth and spreadable.

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the brown sugar and cream. Stir with a whisk until the sauce bubbles and gets sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

If ganache is Chocolate and Cream, and Caramel is Sugar and Cream, then I would say that Praline is Sugar and Sugar; it is a very sweet sauce, and this recipe adds chopped pecans to give it more of that Southern flavor.

Praline Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespooons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a small heavy sauce pan, stir together the brown sugar and cornstarch
  2. Stir in the corn syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla.
  4. Cool slightly, and serve.


I tried many recipes for a lemon sauce, and found I didn’t like any of them. Then I found this recipe for Lemon Curd, and the way the people at the party liked it, I think it is a real winner. As one person said, “I can’t wait to have my toast with lemon curd in the morning”.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks in addition
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating each into the mixture. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look lumpy but will smooth out in the next step as it is cooked.
  2. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, cook the mixture over low heat until it smooths out. The lumpy appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. The thickened mixture should leave a path on the back of a spoon, and will read 170 degrees F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture go beyond 170 degrees, or boil.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming. Chill the curd in the refrigerator; it will thicken as it cools.

The curd will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, and can be frozen for a couple months.

For the strawberries, I made the Strawberry Sauce recipe that is macerated strawberries. Again, I had tried several different recipes to get a good strawberry sauce, and finally settle on this one; it is juicy and sweet.

Strawberries

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Mix the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Taste the resulting sauce, and if not sweet enough, add more sugar. Some recipes go to 1/2 cup of sugar, while others start with only 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

I started with the idea that I would macerate the blueberries, but then, who would want smashed blueberries. They really would not be very appetizing. So I left the blueberries whole; maceration seems to need the fruit to be cut, or opened such that its juices can flow.

Blueberries

For this “sauce” I added a couple tablespoons of sugar and some lemon zest to the blueberries, but next time, nothing but the berries. I think the zest turned people off; blueberry lovers want the simple pure fruit!

So finally, here is the pumpkin mousse that Mindy said was not proper for a cheesecake; she said the pumpkin should be cooked into the cheese layer of the cheesecake and not painted on top. However, this mousse would make an excellent filling for a simple pie- say graham cracker crust. And it would require no cooking- ready in a jiffy!

Pumpkin mousse

Ingredients

  • 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding (sugar free is okay)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 -15 oz. can pure pumpkin/pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp clove

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the vanilla pudding mix, milk, pumpkin and spices.
  2. Whisk until smooth


That is all there is too making the mousse. Use it as you like.

Cloverleaf Rolls

rolls 008

Why Cloverleaf Rolls? For one thing, when you pull them apart each piece has some crust from the top, and some softer dough on the bottom. But then, too, they have more surface to put condiments on when you pull them apart; condiments like jelly, jam, preserves, honey and butter- and who doesn’t like to butter their rolls.

And then there are the possible toppings that you can bake onto the rolls. I chose plain, salt, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. I suspect that you might also have a favorite.

This recipe is also nice in that it is made over two days, so much of the work can be done ahead of time, and then only putting the rolls in the muffin cups and baking them is left for the second day; the days don’t even have to be consecutive. You can do the first part 2 or 3 days in advance if it helps make your party easier to schedule.

Cloverleaf Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100 degrees to 115 degrees)
  • 1 four-ounce packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • cooking spray
  • optional toppings, e.g. poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt

Directions

Day 1:

  • In a mixer bowl, combine the sugar and water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit until foamy- about 5 minutes.
  • Separate one egg; save the white for an egg wash, and the yolk will go into the dough with the other whole egg.
  • Add 1 cup of flour to the yeast mixture and, using the mixer, beat on medium until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the salt, the whole egg and egg yolk, and the cooled melted butter; beat until combined.
  • Using a wooden spoon, add the other 2 1/2 cups of flour about a half cup at a time, and mix until it is all combined
  • Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and transfer the dough to it. Spray the top of the dough, loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight (or up to 2 days). The dough will double in size.

Day 2:

  • Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper, and divide it into 36 equal pieces (about 1 ounce each).
  • Coat 12 standard muffin cups with cooking spray. Roll each dough piece into a smooth ball and place three balls in each muffin cup.
  • Coat the top of the filled cups with cooking spray, and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until double in size, 60-90 minutes.
  • Add a tablespoon of water to the reserved egg white, and paint the tops of each roll with this egg wash. If toppings are being used, sprinkle the topping on the rolls at this time.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls until puffed and golden- about 10-15 minutes.


rolls 007

And here are some thoughts from my experience with this recipe. When I first put it together, I had too much moisture, and the dough balls did not keep there individual positions, but seemed to meld together on top so there was one very big roll. I have reduced the moisture, and now the recipe gives excellent results. Note that this is a yeast dough, but there is no kneading of the dough- the recipe is very easy except for getting all of the flour into the dough.

I found that I need to turn the ball of dough while adding the last 2 1/2 cups of flour. Otherwise, the dry flour seems to slip under the dough ball and hide, and stay dry; it is not part of the dough needed to make the rolls. So be certain that the dough ball picks up all of the flour, and none of it hides at the bottom of the bowl.

When dividing the dough ball into 36 equal pieces, you might want to weigh the first couple pieces you separate off to calibrate your eye for doing the rest. I found that what worked best was to cut rows from the ball, each about 1 inch wide, and then cut the row into individual pieces about the same size. A rather dull knife works well; I used a bench scraper, or a regular table knife.

The first row will be weird since it is on the edge of the ball and both ends are very curved and it is hard to see the long straight row that will make multiple pieces; leave this first row until you have done the second row, then you can see how to pull the long thin tails of the first row into the size pieces you need.

Even so, if you do not come out with just 36 equal pieces, you will need to determine which pieces are too large or too small and adjust their size.

Lemon Curd

If you have breakfast breads, like toast or English Muffins, then you should learn to make Lemon Curd as a topping for the bread. It works just like jams and jellies, but I discover that I skip the butter when I use lemon curd.

Lemon Curd 002

And lemon curd is not just a topping for your breakfast breads; it can also be used on sweet breads, like tea breads or pudding breads- anywhere you would like a strong lemony flavor. Lemon curd is also a base for other recipes that want a strong lemony flavor.

This recipe is easy, and I feel fail-safe. I have made it several times, and it comes out perfect with a nice smooth curd.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks in addition
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

  • Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating each into the mixture. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look lumpy but will smooth out in the next step as it is cooked.
  • In a heavy bottom sauce pan, cook the mixture over low heat until it smooths out. The lumpy appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. The thickened mixture should leave a path on the back of a spoon, and will read 170 degrees F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture go beyond 170 degrees, or boil.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming. Chill the curd in the refrigerator; it will thicken as it cools.

The curd will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, and can be frozen for a couple months.

For a lime curd, substitute lime juice and zest for the lemon juice and zest.

I found that two large lemons gave me the 2/3 cup of lemon juice. I have also made this recipe with just a single lemon for the zest, and the rest of the juice from the plastic bottle in the refrigerator.

The recipe makes about 20 ounces of curd.

English Toffee

English Toffee is a favorite when it comes to Holiday Season candy. I find it difficult to make because of the changing state of the sugar from hard-ball to caramel is so fast you need to move quickly and use subjective judgment. There is no time to use a candy thermometer or the cold water testing of the sugar’s state. The key is the dark golden brown color, but not so dark as to be burned.

english toffee 002

I think there is a psychological factor in cooking the toffee that in order to prevent the burning I do not let the heating of the sugar advance completely to the caramel state. I have burned the sugar at times, and the burned sugar tends to be stuck to the bottom of the pan; so the problem is not with the caramelized sugar going into the toffee, but in cleaning the pan. And, my sister Rachael taught me how to do that- there is a powder known as Barkeepers Friend that seems to take the black burn right out of the pan. I buy my Barkeepers Friend at one of the Big Box building goods stores.

English Toffee

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1 package (12 ounces) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions:

  • Stir butter and sugar together in a large sauce pan over high heat until mixture is melted.
  • Continue cooking while stirring constantly until toffee is very smooth and dark golden brown (about 10 minutes).
  • Add almonds and cook one minute longer, being careful not to burn.
  • Spread in a 9″ x 13″ buttered pan. Allow to cool several minutes.
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top. As chips melt, spread over entire surface.
  • Cool in refrigerator. Knock from pan and break into pieces.
  • Stores well in a covered can in refrigerator; I place wax paper between layers.


While the recipe is for a 9 x 13 inch pan, the recipe easily divides into half and can be made in a 7 x 9 pan. I have done that many times and recommend starting that way if you are not confident about boiling the sugar.

If your pan is glass, I would recommend lining it with foil before buttering it; I have been successful buttering with PAM spray. I broke a glass pan trying to knock the toffee from an unlined pan.

You are going to get a little burn in the bottom of your sauce pan; get the Barkeepers Friend I mentioned previously and it comes right out.

Daughter Mindy saw someone making English Toffee and putting it in a 10 x 15 inch pan; she felt the depth of the toffee looked better than when in the 9 x 13 pan. If you want to do this, you should increase the amount of chocolate chips to cover the bigger areas; try 16 ounces instead of the 12 ounces as a starting point.

Do NOT use the point of your good knife to break up the toffee. I lost the point of my knife that way. Depending upon how close to caramel the sugar got, you might even need to go out to the garage and get a chisel and hammer to break up the toffee.

Chicken Marinade

For many years, Marlys was the grill master in our house; I had a long commute to work and home, and was also going to school several evenings each week. So Marlys had to be fairly independent. She learned to light and cook on the Weber Grill, and her favorite was chicken thighs and breasts, marinated in this marinade. It is a good recipe since it does not require refrigeration, can be made early in the day and be ignored until time to grill the chicken. And she used the recipe also as a basting sauce. (As with all marinades that have been used on raw meat, you do not use them on the table with the cooked meat; they need to be cooked, too).

Marination doesn’t give many opportunities to show interesting pictures. This first photo shows the ingredients in the marinade.

chicken marinade 002

Chicken Marinade

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, mashed

Makes enough for 1 whole chicken. Marinate at room temperature all day or over night. Grill chicken on indirect heat on a Weber outdoor grill about 1 hour, turning once. Baste every 15 minutes.

Marlys used a freezer bag to hold the meat and the marinade. Push the excess air out as you seal the baggie, and then you will not need to turn the bag as often as the marinade will fill the remaining space.

chicken marinade 008

When I published the recipe for Basil Chicken Marinade, I commented that marination really had a slight cooking action. I decided to demonstrate some of that action by showing you a before and after set of photos of a chicken breast that I was marinating. Notice the darker color and somewhat tightening of the flesh after marinating.

chicken marinade 009

This is good for pork also; either marinated or just brushed while grilling.