Irresistible Turtle Cheesecake

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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.
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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.
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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.
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When the cake is completely cooled, remove from springform pan and sprinkle reserved pecans over.  Then drizzle with both caramel and chocolate sauces.  Irresistible.
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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.

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I think these might be my new favourite cookie. I usually go for a crisper cookie, but these are soft and chewy and absolutely delicious.

Deliciously soft and chewy

Deliciously soft and chewy

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2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup fine coconut flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate
(We really like a fine bit of chocolate throughout, so we grated it, but if you like it a bit chunkier, just roughly chop it)
1 cup pecans, chopped
large flake sea salt for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl … Flour, oats, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon and kosher salt. Stir well to combine.

In large mixing bowl cream butter with the 2 sugars. When this is light and fluffy add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla.

Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture until well combined. Stir in pecans and chocolate.

Roll into 2″ balls and place on cookie sheet, about 2″ apart. Gently press down slightly.

Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes.

The minute they come out of the oven, quickly toss on a bit of sea salt for garnish.

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Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Wild Rice Salad with Kale, Pecans & Blueberries

This salad is so beautiful to look at, and packed with deliciousness in every bite.  The contrasting textures work so well together – a meal in a bowl but also an amazing side to pretty much any barbecue.  Take it to a potluck and watch it disappear!

We were delighted when Tory produced this deliciously colorful salad.

We were delighted when Tory produced this deliciously colorful salad.

1 1/2 cups wild rice
1 cup raw pecans
6 large kale leaves
3 T walnut, pecan or vegetable oil
1T brown rice vinegar
2t brown sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the wild rice and cook until tender to the bite, about 45 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 350F. Lay the pecans in the single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 10 mins. Watch carefully or set your timer – they go from golden brown to burnt in the blink of an eye! Let the pecans cool, then roughly chop them, set aside.

Trim and discard the thick stems form the kale, then chop the leaves.  Use your hands to massage and squish handfuls of the leaves until they soften and turn a darker shade of green, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Add the cooked rice and toss to coat.  Add the kale, bell pepper and green onions and toss again.

At this point the salad can be kept, covered and chilled for up to 2 days.

Add the blueberries, and pecans just before serving.

Blueberry Pecan Oat Muffins

Nailed it!  Blueberries are in season right now, and that means deliciousness ….. blueberry ice cream, blueberry pie, and naturally – blueberry muffins.  The coconut and lemon really bring the tastebuds out to party.  I had a craving for blueberry and lemon together … then thought of the oat flakes I love in muffins so created this recipe out of a mash up of my other muffin recipes.  Let me know what you think.

Pecan crumble gently pressed on - muffins are ready for the oven.

Pecan crumble gently pressed on – muffins are ready for the oven.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup large oat flakes

1/2 cup raw sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans

1/4 cup toasted medium shred unsweetened coconut

zest of 1 lemon

1 large egg

1 cup milk

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries (plus 12 fabulous looking berries for topping)

TOPPING

3  tbsp toasted chopped pecans

3 tbsp toasted medium shred coconut

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp raw sugar

1 tbsp softened butter

Combine all topping ingredients and set aside.

In large mixing bowl combine first 8 ingredients and whisk to blend.

In smaller bowl beat egg, add milk, vanilla and melted coconut oil.

Gently mix liquid ingredients into dry, being careful not to overmix.  Stir in blueberries.

Once just combined, fill prepared muffin tins, and press a bit of topping into each muffin – adding 1 blueberry to the center of each muffin.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Insert a toothpick – if it comes out clean, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.

Blueberry Pecan

Raspberry Peach Pecan Galette

This recipe works really well with any berry or fruit – the pecans give the pie crust a rich, nutty, crunchy texture and flavour. Really – what is a galette? An easy way to make a pie!

Ready for the oven, this raspberry peach galette looks delicious already.

Ready for the oven, this raspberry peach galette looks delicious already.

DOUGH
1/2 cup pecans (toasted)
1 cup plus 2 TBSP flour
2 tsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter (in small pieces)

FILLING
2 cups raspberries
1 peach
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar, plus a bit more to sprinkle on crust
2 tbsp milk or heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375

Once your pecans have been toasted, and cooled – pulse in food processor until they are a coarse crumble. Add flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse just until combined. Add butter pieces and pulse just until mixture looks like a coarse crumble – a few pea sized bits are great. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and drizzle in 4 tbsp ice water and mix. If necessary add another tablespoon of water just until it comes together. Gently pat the dough into a circle, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in fridge for at least 1 hour. (it will keep in the fridge for 2 days or you can freeze it for a month)

Toss raspberries, cornstarch, lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar in bowl.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12″ round. Carefully put on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Mound fruit mixture into centre of dough, leaving about 2″ around the edge. Fold edges over, overlapping slightly.

Brush dough with milk or cream and sprinkle raw sugar over.

Peel, and slice peach – in the center opening, arrange peach slices.

Bake until crust is dark golden brown and filling is bubbling – at least 45 minutes.

Fruit bubbling and oozing, crust golden brown ….. difficult to wait for it to cool before slicing!

Fruit bubbling and oozing, crust golden brown ….. difficult to wait for it to cool before slicing!

Allow to cool before slicing.

Peaches and raspberries were ripe and ready at the same time this year, so I served this with a yummy peach bursting sorbet …..

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Mexican Chocolate Cake with Pecan Glaze

A hint of cinnamon, a whiff of coffee, and a moist delicious chocolate cake - doesn't get much better than this!

A hint of cinnamon, a whiff of coffee, and a moist delicious chocolate cake – doesn’t get much better than this!

CAKE
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup cold coffee, or espresso
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have it – use 1 tbsp lemon juice and fill to 1/2 cup with milk)
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt cake pan well and dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.

Melt butter (2 sticks) in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in cocoa. Add coffee and whisk until smooth, then remove from heat. Whisk in separately sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl, then sift again into cocoa mixture and whisk until just combined (don’t worry if there are lumps).

Pour batter into cake pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 45 to 55 minutes. (Leave oven on just to roast pecans.)

Cool cake in pan on a rack 20 minutes, then loosen edges with a thin knife and invert onto a plate.

GLAZE

2 cups chopped pecans (71/2 ounces) Roast lightly until slightly browned – set aside.
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, then stir in half-and-half and confectioners sugar. Add chocolate and cook, stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in pecans and salt. Cool glaze until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Spoon glaze over top and sides of cake (cake will still be warm) and spread with a small offset spatula or knife to cover completely.

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Raspberry Lemon Muffins with Pecan Streusel

Muffins are a great way to start the day, or a perfect snack – go ahead and try these, you will make them your house favourite! Swap out the raspberries for blueberries, or chop any fruit in season – such a versatile recipe.

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Topping:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
Muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk ** see below
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

** If you don’t have buttermilk (and I usually don’t!) squeeze about 1 tbsp lemon juice into a 1 cup measure, add 1 tablespoon plain yogurt, whisk well and add milk to reach 1 cup.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

To make the topping, in a medium bowl, mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the melted butter. Add the buttermilk and lemon zest and whisk to combine, add vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just to combine. (Batter will still be somewhat lumpy; do not overmix.) Gently fold in the raspberries so the berries do not break and scoop into the prepared muffin tin. Crumble the streusel topping over the muffins and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Let cool in the muffin tins for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on wire racks.