Irresistible Turtle Cheesecake

turtle cheesecake 4

Not sure how a cheesecake can be creamy, delectable and somehow light at the same time.  As an added bonus, it’s easy to make.

 

3 cups cups finely crushed chocolate wafers (or use a combo of graham and chocolate wafers)

3 Tbsp. butter, melted – use your judgement, may take a little more to get the crumbs to stick together
1/4 cup caramel sauce (plus more for drizzle)
1/4 cup chocolate sauce (plus more for drizzle)
1 cup chopped and roasted pecans
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 eggs
I used a 9 1/2″ springform pan for this cake – depending on the size of your pan, you may need to adjust slightly for the amount of crumb.
Heat oven to 325°F.
Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 1-1/2 inches up side of 9 1/2 inch springform pan.
Sprinkle toasted and chopped pecans over crust layer, and top with the caramel sauce.
turtle cheesecake 1

I used a combination of chocolate and graham crumbs and really loved the way it turned out,

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each one, until really smooth.  Pour over caramel layer in crust.  With an offset spatula smooth the top.
I always like to bake my cheesecakes in a water bath – this makes them even smoother and creamier, as well as less likely to crack on top.
turtle cheesecake 2
TIP – Double wrap your cheesecake pan with foil, then set in large roasting pan.  Put this in your preheated oven, and ONLY THEN fill with hot water until about 1/2 way up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake 1 hour 5 min. to 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.
turtle cheesecake 3
When the cake is completely cooled, remove from springform pan and sprinkle reserved pecans over.  Then drizzle with both caramel and chocolate sauces.  Irresistible.
turtle cheesecake 5
You can be as creative as you like with both the caramel and chocolate sauces.  They are easy enough to make, but if you are inclined to take it easy on yourself, just buy them.

Pumpkin Pie

I will bet you don’t even know how easy it is to make your own pumpkin pie at home!  Try this one out and you may never go back to grocery store pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie hit all the notes, tender and creamy, with just the right amount of spice to wake up your taste buds.   I used my flaky pie crust with vinegar and egg to make the crust, but if you’d rather, a frozen pie crust will work well too.  Give yourself that break when you need it …

  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired (we like whipped cream).
  3. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

The perfect way to celebrate the arrival of summer weather is when the rhubarb is ripe at the same time as strawberries!  Take the tartness of rhubarb with the sweetness of the strawberry and you have a winning combination.

Galette 1

I used my flaky pastry recipe (with egg and vinegar) to create this one … and in case you are wondering what the threads of lighter colour are …. I had a soft apple in the fridge so it got added to the pie.  Delicious!

Have you ever made a galette?  It’s really just a fancy name for a very easy, lazy way of making a pie.  If you aren’t a fan of making your own pastry dough, then just buy a frozen pre made pie crust, tip it out of the tin pie plate and carry on …. if you roll over the edges to take away that little crimped evidence of a premade shell you don’t even have to admit this to anyone!

Preheat oven to 400.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a lightly floured surface roll out your pastry to about 1/8″ thickness.  Place on baking sheet (it will hang over the edge).  Put this in the fridge for about 10 minutes while you prep the fruit.

  • 1 pint strawberries, thickly sliced
  • 1 pound very refresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2″ thickness (or frozen sliced rhubarb)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar, to taste
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla bean paste

To finish you will need:

  • butter
  • milk
  • raw sugar

In a large bowl toss the strawberries and rhubarb with the sugar, flour, lemon juice and vanilla.  Spread on the prepared pastry to within 2″ of the edge.  Fold the edges, pleating at about 2″ intervals.  BE REALLY CAREFUL HERE ….. warning is from experience.  If you don’t carefully create these pleats, (sealing as you go) enough to hold the fruit there will be a breakout, and that mess is not pretty!  

Galette 2

Brush the edges of the pastry with milk and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Dot the filling with butter.  Bake the galette in the centre of the oven for 1 hot, or until the fruit is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown.  Allow to cool before cutting.

Galette

THIS is what happened when I didn’t seal the edges of my pleats together …. really, you should have seen me trying to get the half baked effort off the sheet pan and into something that would hold the juices better, BEFORE it all ran away.  Still tasted delicious, just somewhat messier, but a galette is meant to be free form anyway, right???

 

NOTE – If you are using fresh rhubarb, remember that the leaves are toxic!  Be sure to trim them to remove any leaf.

Mini Lemon Cheesecake

Easter means brighter, fresher desserts, and this fits that description perfectly.  Ideal for brunch, lunch or dinner, these are a real treat.  I found the recipe on “Live Well Bake Often”, and, unusually for me ….. I didn’t change a thing!

Mini Lemon Cheesecake

When spring is peaking around the corner, I immediately think of lighter, fresher desserts …. and usually lemon figures in there somewhere!  These light, lemony cheesecakes topped with fresh whipped cream and berries are an ideal way to finish off dinner.

Cheesecake graham crumb

If you have a mini cheesecake pan, that would be ideal, but this straight sided silicone muffin tin I had worked perfectly.

For the crust:
  • 6 full-sheets (90 grams) graham crackers (or ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
Graham crumb 2

It’s important to get the crumbs settled smoothly into the bottom of the tin, and I used the bottom of a small glass to get it all flattened out.

To make the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray each cavity of a 12-count mini cheesecake pan well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (or silicone muffin pan).  If you want to use a traditional muffin tin I would recommend using liners for easier removal.
  2. Add the graham crackers to a blender or food processor and process until you have fine crumbs. Scoop the crumbs into a mixing bowl, add the melted butter and sugar, and mix until everything is well combined. Evenly distribute the mixture between all 12 cavities in the mini cheesecake pan, making sure to press each one down firmly into one even layer. Bake at 325°F for 5 minutes, remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. Keep oven temperature at 325°F.
Mini cheesecake

These muffin tins used 1/4 cup of the cheesecake batter to make the perfect little mini cheesecake.

For the lemon cheesecake filling:
  • 12-ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
To make the cheesecake filling:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the granulated sugar and mix until well combined. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed, then mix in the egg and egg yolk on low speed until just combined.
  2. Evenly distribute the cheesecake filling between all 12 cavities of the mini cheesecake pan (or muffin pan) and return to the oven. Bake at 325°F for 17-20 minutes or until the tops of the cheesecakes are set.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3-4 hours or overnight. Once the cheesecakes are chilled, remove them from the pan. Top with whipped cream and fresh berries if desired, serve, and enjoy!

 

Apple Pie Cookie Bars

apple pie bars 5

Combine an apple pie with shortbread bars and you have this winner!  I found this recipe in my latest Food Network magazine, from Ina Garden, and I’ve already made it twice.  The first time without the nuts so that the kids can take it in school lunches.

  • For the Crust
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
apple pie bars 4

Make sure your little helper has fun!  Stella loves working in the kitchen with Nana…

  • For the Apple Filling
  • 1½ pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 large)
  • 1½ pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 large)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

Apple pie bars 1

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the crust, place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy. Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter-sugar mixture, beating until combined. Scatter two-thirds of the dough in clumps in a 9 × 13-inch baking pan and press it lightly with floured hands on the bottom and ½ inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, put the mixing bowl with the remaining dough back on the mixer, add the walnuts and cinnamon, and mix on low speed to combine. Set aside.

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling, combine the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples and lemon juice in a very large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Melt the butter in a large (10-inch-diameter) pot, add the apples, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat, stirring often, for 12 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Spread the apples evenly over the crust, leaving a ½-inch border.

apple pie bars 3

Pinch medium pieces of the remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly on top of the apples (they will not be covered).

apple pie bars 2

Make sure you taste …….. Stella already knows this, here she decided to add a few oats and more cinnamon to the topping mix ….. it was a hit!

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is browned. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Fruit Tart with Lemon Cookie Crust

Summer fruit is here, and we have the best of it right out our door.  Fresh cherries, peaches and blueberries all ready at the same time inspired this dessert for Sunday dinner ……  Don’t you just love Sunday Family Dinners??  We sure do.

Fresh Fruit Tart with Lemon Cookie Crust

The best of the seasonal cherries, peaches and blueberries retain their fresh bright flavour in this dessert – no cooked fruit here!

COOKIE CRUST

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. For crust, in a medium bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon peel, the baking powder, vanilla, and salt; beat until combined. Add egg; beat until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour (or knead gently until combined).

lemon cookie tart

Press dough onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round tart pan with removable bottom.

tart shell

If you don’t have a tart pan with removable base, use your springform pan.  It worked just fine …. at least until I get myself some tart pans with removable bottoms!

Line crust with a double thickness of foil. Bake crust for 6 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 6 to 7 minutes more or until crust is lightly browned. Cool crust on a wire rack.

CREAMY VANILLA CUSTARD

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups milk

Whisk all ingredients together in sauce pan, and stir over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in:

1 tsp vanilla

Cover surface of the custard with a layer of plastic wrap and allow to cool completely.

GLAZE

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup juice (something that works well with whatever fruit you are using)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a small saucepan, stir together cornstarch and sugar.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent clumps.  Allow to boil long enough for the liquid to lose the cloudy look of cornstarch.  Set aside to cool slightly.

ASSEMBLY

Leave cookie crust in tart pan, and spread the custard in an even layer.  Make sure the custard is cool at this point, you don’t want your fruit to get cooked!  The beauty of this dessert is that it really showcases the mouthwatering flavour of fruit that is in season, and you don’t want to lose that.

Arrange fruit over custard layer.

Brush glaze over fruit, just enough to set the fruit and keep the vibrant colours.

Cool completely before serving.

Amazing Angel Food Cake …. & strawberries!

When the kids were little, we always had birthday “season” with cousin Sara, Shane, Meghan and Hayley all having a birthday within a month (ish).  Their all time favourite was angel food cake, and I’ve done a lot with it …. layered with lemon curd, whipping cream and berries being one of the favourites.  I think this one hit it out of the park with all those yummy tastes, but in a beautiful presentation.  I finally got around to doing it for Fathers Day this year, and it was AMAZING!!

Angel food cake 4

1 box Angel Food Cake mix

1 1/2 cup diced strawberries

vanilla

raw sugar

confectioners sugar (icing sugar)

2 cups whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make an angel food cake mix according to the package directions.  (total admittance here, I’ve rarely made the cake from scratch – not knowing what to do with all the egg yolks given that we aren’t egg lovers).  Once you’ve mixed up the batter, line a baking sheet (17″ x 11″ ish) with parchment paper.  Pour the batter out onto this, and smooth with an offset spatula.

Bake for 17 min – check …. it should be just springy to the touch.  If not, give it an extra minute or two but be careful not to overcook.

Remove from oven, and turn out onto a tea towel that has been liberally dusted with icing (powdered) sugar.

angel food cake 1

Roll the tea town up (I started with the long side because I had a lot of people to feed), and yes, keep the tea towel within the rolls.

Angel food cake 2

Allow to cool on a rack for about 20 minutes.

While that is happening: chop up 1 cup fresh berries. Add a dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of raw sugar.

Angel food cake 3

 

Whip up whipping cream.  Fold the berries with 1 – 1/2 cups whipping cream.

Gently unfold cake, and spread cream/berry mixture over.  Gently, re-roll and finish with seam side down.  Place in/on serving dish.  Use remaining whipping cream to mound on top, and garnish with fresh berries and a bit of mint if desired.

Angel food cake 4

I love the way the dusting of icing sugar makes the angel food cake look!  Sprinkle extra berries around the cake for serving, and if desired add a few sprigs of fresh mint.