Tag-Archive for ◊ cream cheese ◊

29 Sep 2016 Pumpkin-Chocolate Cake

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This is the BEST cake to serve at this time of year (or any other time of the year, actually)!  It’s a good chocolate cake – a very, very good chocolate cake; it’s moist, and nicely chocolate-y, and made richer with some pumpkin puree added.  The cake doesn’t taste of pumpkin, it just tastes well-rounded and delicious and the frosting tastes like Fall! There is a touch of cinnamon in the frosting, then the ganache topping is smoothed over the top and dripped down the sides which sends this cake into the realm of ‘One of the Best Cakes EVER’! My daughter, Abby, has been making this cake since she was in high school.  Her friends would ask for it for their birthdays (even for Summer birthdays)!

It goes without saying that this cake takes a bit of time to make and decorate, but if you are thinking of making this cake then you are thinking of making it for a special occasion, right?  The time and effort are worth it and there’s nothing complex or confusing about making this cake, it’s pretty straightforward. And you won’t be serving up a box mix and a can of chemicals to your friends and family, either 🙂

Now, your cake is going to look a bit different than the one above, since this cake was decorated for my witch themed Halloween party. Abby used candy, cupcake toppers, and Pinterest inspiration [to decorate the cake in the picture below] for my Halloween party last year.  Isn’t it cute?

Witches 2013 dessert abby's witch cake

The original recipe came from a Good Housekeeping magazine about, oh, 20 years ago?  I still see pictures from that recipe dancing around.  Don’t believe them!  For some reason in the picture the frosting under the ganache is orange.  I tried to do that and there is no way that I know of to turn a cocoa powder frosting bright orange.  I tried. Many times. It. Can’t.Be.Done. Sigh…

Not all recipes in magazines, cookbooks, newspapers and the Internet will work.  Mine will.  I only post recipes that I’ve tested and have been verified “Delicious!” by a multitude of family members and friends.  Many of my treasured recipes, like this Pumpkin-Chocolate Cake, I have made time and time again. You can do it, too! Make it once for Halloween, and I KNOW you’ll want to make it again for your Thanksgiving potlucks!

PUMPKIN-CHOCOLATE CAKE

For Cake

1 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark is good)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. sugar
3 eggs plus one egg yolk
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line the bottoms of 2 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and lightly butter (or spray with Pam for Baking).
  • Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
  • In another bowl stir together the pumpkin, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and then the egg yolk.
  • Reduce speed to low and beat in 1/3 flour mixture, and then 1/3 pumpkin mixture.
  • Repeat until all ingredients are used.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake until cake passes the toothpick test, about 35 minutes.
  • Cool, frost and glaze as directed below.

For Frosting

6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick), softened
1 (16-oz.) box powdered sugar
3 T. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
2 – 3 T. cream (or milk)
  • Beat cream cheese and butter together until well blended.
  • Stir in powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and enough cream to make a stiff spreading consistency.
  • Spread 1 cup frosting between the two layers, and use the remaining frosting for the tops and sides.
  • Chill cake for a minimum of 30 minutes before glazing.

For Chocolate Glaze

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 T. butter
3 T. corn syrup
1/2 c. heavy cream
  • Place chopped chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a small bowl.
  • Heat heavy cream until boiling.
  • Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture in bowl.
  • Let sit for 3 minutes then blend with whisk until smooth.
  • Let glaze sit for  FOR AT LEAST 5 minutes to thicken slightly (it might be 15-20 minutes–better the glaze be on the thick side rather than the thin side)
  • Pour the glaze on top of the chilled and frosted cake. Smooth out glaze to edges, and then let drip down the sides.
  • Refrigerate to set glaze.
31 Jul 2013 Blueberry Heaven

 

Do you ever go into a bakery?  Of COURSE you do!  Do you ever buy a pastry that looks delicious, but then are seriously disappointed in the taste…? And then, to top it off, are you overwhelmed by the amount of  fat you’ve just consumed for something that really wasn’t that all that great?  Me, too 🙁 Do you ever wish, on a weekend morning with your second cup of coffee, for that imagined deliciousness, without all greasy pastry and sugary icing?  Me, too 🙂 Pssssst…  Come here! No, come closer! I am going to tell you how to make a breakfast pastry as delicious as the one you are dreaming of…, and without the load upon load of grease and sugar!

Now. Seriously…, am I your best friend, or what?!

It’s so simple!  You need 2 slices of bread, a bit of cream cheese, and a handful of blueberries. It helps if you have a sandwich maker or a panini press, but if you don’t, use a frying pan and make this Blueberry Heaven just like you would a grilled cheese sandwich.

I found the original recipe here: http://www.fitfromconception.com/2012/06/blueberry-breakfast-grilled-cheese.html  No, I am not pregnant, roflmao.  Neither are any of my children.  I have no idea how I ended up at that website, but I am glad I did.

Blueberry Heaven

[a Stand-in for Fat and Sugar Laden Blueberry Pastries]

For each serving:

  • 2 slices of bread, any kind.  Make it whole wheat if that’s the way you roll.  I use Orrowheat Country Buttermilk Bread.  Cinnamon bread would probably be delicious, as would almost any kind of homemade bread (don’t use homemade rye bread or anything like that!).
  • Plain cream cheese, enough to spread on two slices of bread.
  • a sprinkling of sugar, less than 1/4 tsp, optional
  • a handful of fresh blueberries, about 24 (jam can be substituted)
  • Butter, optional, unless you are using a frying pan

 

  1. Preheat sandwich maker, panini press, or frying pan.
  2. Spread each slice of bread with cream cheese, no measurements here, just coat the slices of bread to your preference. (If you are using a frying pan, spread the other side of the bread with butter)
  3. Sprinkle a bit, and I do mean a bit, less than 1/4 tsp of sugar over the cream cheese, just to sweeten up the cream cheese a little bit. (I’ve made this without the sugar, and it’s just not the same.)
  4. Arrange blueberries on one slice of the cream cheese covered bread.  Use as many as you want, but I think 24 is about perfect.  I like to evenly space the blueberries on the bread so I get an equal number of  blueberries in every bite.
  5. Put the other slice of cream cheese covered bread onto of the blueberries, cream cheese to cream cheese.
  6. Put the sandwich in the press, latch close, and cook for 2 minutes. (If using a frying pan, put the sandwich, butter side down on the preheated frying pan.  When the first side is golden brown, flip, and cook the second side until it is golden brown too.)
  7. Remove sandwich from the press or the pan and let cool a bit, the filing will be mad hot right out of the press. Be careful.
  8. Enjoy! It’s a little slice of heaven, isn’t it?
  9. Repeat.  You’ll want to make one for someone else… 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Aren’t you glad you don’t have to drive over to the Olde Time Bakery for a pastry that will only make you feel badly about yourself? Hooray!!

18 Mar 2012 Salmon Spinach Breakfast Roll

I’m pretty sure this recipe will make my Top Ten list for 2012.  It’s certainly the best recipe I’ve come across so far this year–and the one that has gotten me back into the business of blogging, which was no small feat. This is a delicious make ahead special occasion breakfast/brunch dish.  Keep it in mind for Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduations, as well as anytime you have overnight or early morning guests.

My friend Karin made this at our Cookbook Club’s Snow Holiday.  I ate it the morning she made it, and had it again for the following three mornings! Loved it.

Karin learned to make  this from her cousin in Germany who had made it for an Aunt’s milestone birthday celebration. The original recipe is full of German words, quantities stated in grams, and a few ingredients mentioned in the directions but not in the ingredient list, but we’ve fixed that for you. Truthfully, both Karin and I wouldn’t have made this if we hadn’t eaten it before reading the recipe.  Cream cheese and eggs never appealed to me, and neither did the thought of eating cold omlette. Just overlook those things!  Be smarter than we would have been. This recipe is a winner. Don’t hesitate to make it. Remember to plan ahead;  make, assemble and roll this the night before your special occasion.

Since I ate this for four days, I know it stays fresh and delicious for at least that long, but I probably wouldn’t push it  much longer than that.

I know this is thinking a bit far ahead, but wouldn’t the green spinach, the “red” salmon, and the make-ahead-ability make this perfect for Christmas morning?   Salmon Spinach Breakfast Roll

  •  approx. 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz. fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced (can substitute some finely diced and sauteed onion or shallots)
  • 6 whole eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 oz shredded swiss or gruyere cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese with herbs, divided use, at room temperature (don’t even be tempted to try to make this with cold cream cheese)
  • 8 oz. thinly sliced lox-style salmon
  • Bagels, toast, or mixed greens, to serve
  • a few teaspoons of capers, optional, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (200 degrees C.)
  2. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with Pam or spread with butter.
  3. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese onto the parchment paper.
  4. Beat 4 oz of the softened cream cheese and then beat in the eggs. Stir in the chopped spinach, sliced green onions,  the Swiss or Gruyere cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well. (It will probably look like you have used  too much spinach, but it’s OK. The spinach will reduce significantly when cooked.)
  5. Pour egg mixture carefully over the Parmesan cheese onto the parchment lined jelly roll pan. Bake  at  375 degrees F.  for 10 min.
  6. Remove cooked eggs from oven. Let cool in pan.
  7. When cool, flip omlette over and onto a long piece of plastic wrap.  Remove parchment paper.
  8.  Spread remaining softened cream cheese on top of eggs.  Lay thinly sliced smoked salmon over the cream cheese, covering the entire omlette.
  9. Roll egg-cheese-salmon omlette tightly in plastic wrap–you can roll from either end, making a bigger spiral serving fewer people or a small spiral serving more people with lighter appetites– and place in refrigerator overnight (at least 8  hours).
  10. Remove roll from refrigerator about an hour before serving (just to remove the chill). Slice, arrange on platter (sprinkle with capers, if desired) and serve. (The first day we put this on lightly toasted bagel halves, the following days on slices of sourdough toast. Can we also served on a bed of greens as a light salad.)

THANKS for stopping by my kitchen today.  Aren’t you glad there was a new recipe posted?  Me, too! I hope there’s another one tomorrow…or the next day.

 

 

10 Oct 2011 Mocha Cheesecake Brownies

I am not a big fan of the food section of my local paper.  In fact, I am not a  fan at all.  I read it every Wednesday just to see which recipe will cause me to roll my eyes the most.  Sometimes I even post LOL comments on my Facebook page.  It’s THAT bad.  Occasionally, there are recipes that don’t cause me to roll my eyes. They cause me to fall asleep. LOL. Just kidding! NOT!  Sometimes there are recipes I think aren’t too bad, but rarely am I inspired to try one.  Then, last Wednesday there was a recipe that hit me over the head and hollered, “Try me, try me”.  The recipe was  “Mocha Cream Cheese Brownies”, and I did roll my eyes before I tried it.   Not because the recipe was bad, it was really very good (as  you have probably guessed based on the picture above).  I rolled my eyes because  the  name of  the brownie was wrong.  I’ve had cream cheese brownies, bars, breads, muffins.  The cream cheese is mixed with a bit of sugar and perhaps an egg, then layered in with the batter. When baked, you get a nice layer of cream cheese. This is  NOT a cream cheese brownie.  It’s a cheesecake brownie.  There’s a world of difference.  A world of yummy difference.

I baked the brownies, as directed, in a 9×9 pan.  I won’t do that again.  The brownies were too tall. They were so tall they were hard to get into my mouth!  And, I had to bake the brownies 15 minutes more than the recipe suggested to get the cheesecake layer to set.  Now I think they the size if the baking pan was wrong in the recipe (or maybe I just know better!). Next time I will bake these Mocha CheeseCAKE Brownies  in a 9×13 pan and then the suggested baking time will probably be spot on.

About one third of my pan of brownies is in the freezer right now.  I think they will freeze very well.  Brownies freeze well.  Cheesecake freezes well.  Why not Cheesecake Brownies?  If they don’t freeze well, I will update this post…but I am pretty sure that won’t be necessary.

This recipe was published in the San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday, October 5 as “Mocha-Cream Cheese Brownies” and attributed to Emly Luchetti, “The Fearless Baker”.

Mocha Cheesecake Brownies

Brownie Layer

  • 9 oz. dark chocolate (58-62% cacao)
  • 10 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • large pinch Kosher salt

Cheesecake Layer

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a pan, your choice, a 9 inch square pan (as the original recipe originally specified), or as I suggest, a 9×13 oblong pan.
  3. Place the chopped chocolate and the cubed butter into a microwaveable bowl.  Melt the chocolate and the butter in the microwave.  (I did this on 50% power for three minutes, stirring after every minute.)  Let the chocolate cool to room temperature.  (You can get the rest of the ingredients for the brownie layer ready to go and also make the cheesecake layer while waiting for the chocolate mixture to cool) (Skip step #4  and come back to it when the chocolate has cooled.)
  4. Whisk 1 cup sugar and 3 eggs together until smooth.  Stir in the melted and cooled chocolate. Add in the flour and the salt and mix until well blended.
  5. Mix the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar together until smooth. Blend in the two eggs, and then the instant coffee and the vanilla.
  6. Pour the brownie batter into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread the cheesecake layer on top of the brownie layer. Swirl the cheesecake layer and the brownie layer together (use a spoon or a knife–don’t over swirl)
  7. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (I had to bake mine–in a 9×9 pan for an additional 15 minutes)
  8. Cool to room temperature.  Cut into bars. Serve.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Have fun with these brownies.  They are deeelicious!

17 Aug 2011 Overnight Blueberry French Toast

My elder daughter, Hannah, found blueberries on sale at Safeway this week: four pounds for five dollars! After she posted the “find” on her facebook page I had to go out and get some… But WHAT am I going to do with four pounds of blueberries?!? Hannah made a Fresh Blueberry Pie  (one of our family’s favorites),  and I decided to try this recipe for Blueberry French Toast since it’s been in  my “To Try” file for ages.

I fell in love with overnight casseroles a few years ago.  I probably have overnight guests more than most, so I have quite an array of breakfast recipes, but I’ve gotten lazy.  Although I am usually up earlier than my guests, I’d just rather not rush to pull a breakfast together. I like to get up, make myself a latte, and enjoy some peace and quiet with the newspaper and the Internet –while in my jammies– before facing a busy day ahead.  Overnight casseroles are one of my secret weapons to maintaining my slow-and-easy morning routines, yet still provide a nice breakfast for my guests.

This breakfast casserole is really more of a cross between a bread pudding and french toast.  It’s not very sweet,  so you can douse it with powdered sugar or maple syrup. But with only two eggs, it’s not very egg-y or french toast-y.   And in spite of all that cream cheese, it’s not very cream cheese-y, either!  It is nice though; warm, full of juicy blueberries with just a hint of cream cheese and a hint of egg.  A side of bacon or sausage could be a nice salty, crispy counterpoint.  I think it’s best with enjoyed with some newly awakened house guests, a second latte, and a fun chat about the plans for the day.

Blueberry French Toast

  • 1 lb. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (original recipe called for 1 teaspoon, but that seemed a bit too much for me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 10 slices of good quality french bread, sliced about 3/4 inch thick, if possible
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Maple syrup or powdered sugar, to serve

Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.

With an electric mixer beat cream cheese sugar and vanilla together until smooth.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Slowly beat in the milk.

Cut the slices of french bread into cubes and spread evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the cubed bread.

Pour the cheese-milk-egg mixture on top of the bread and the blueberries.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove casserole from refrigerator and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake 40 minutes, or until golden brown (perhaps 5 minutes longer if casserole was still cold from the refrigerator when it went into the oven).

Serve with maple syrup and/or powdered sugar.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  If you still have blueberries leftover, be sure to make some Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins , which are one of  my top three favorite muffin recipes. Ohhh, and I’ll have to post the recipe for a Blueberry-Lemon Pavlova, too…!

16 Jun 2011 Gravlax (sort of like Lox)

A few weeks ago my Aunt and I went on a seven day cruise to Alaska.  I spent most of the time reading while  looking out to sea and waiting for the next meal to be served, usually just a couple hour wait! It’s quite decadent to eat four multi-course meals a day (breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner) all chosen off a menu, all served by waiters, while sitting at tables set with linen, too much  silverware, and many glasses.  And after all that, the biggest thrill yet awaits.  The getting up from the table, without removing a plate, and walking out the door, with not one thought about cleaning up or storing leftovers.  Now THAT, was lovely.  I wouldn’t be opposed to a fourteen day cruise next year!!!

As on most cruises, the Head Chef did a little demonstration for those of us who like to cook in real life (being on board ship is by no means real life). The Head Chef of The Dawn Princess showed us how to make Gravlax and Tiramisu. Tiramisu I can take or leave, and I usually leave, which is very odd since I am a cake person to rival Gayle King, and a coffee person to rival Howard Shultz but, hand me a raw fish and I get all giddy!  I took lots of notes during the Gravlax portion of the demonstration.  When I got back on land, I knew I was going to make  Gravlax for our Cook Book Club meeting.  The theme was “Something You Love But Seldom Make”.  This recipe fit perfectly, as I love it, but had never made it.  Gravlax is one simple recipe, and it’s a stunning appetizer plate or brunch treat.

I know some of you are asking, but what is Gravlax? Think Lox!  It’s very similar, but with a shorter curing time (two days versus six months). Gravlax is a Scandinavian dish of dry-cured raw salmon marinated in salt, sugar, dill, and citrus and often served thinly sliced on bread as an appetizer often accompanied by a dill-mustard sauce.

Dawn Princess Gravlax

  • 1 salmon fillet, about 2 lbs (very fresh, wild caught)
  • 500 grams of table salt (I weighed this out to be about ¾ cup)
  • 500 grams of sugar (I weighed this out to be about 1 ¼ cups)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • One bunch fresh dill
  • 1 large orange, sliced
  • 1 large lemon, sliced
  1. Place the salmon side on a large piece of plastic wrap. Run your hand over the surface and remove any and all bones with small tweezers.
  2. Mix the salt and sugar together. Sprinkle approximately half of the salt/sugar mixture over the salmon fillet. Then top with a good amount of  freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Top the black pepper with a heavy layer of fresh dill sprigs.
  4. Top the dill with a layer of the orange and lemon slices.
  5. Pour remaining sugar-salt mixture over the top of everything.
  6. Wrap the fish, covered with the salt, the dill, and the orange and lemon slices and a final layer of salt/sugar, completely and tightly in plastic wrap.
  7. Lay plastic wrapped fillet on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 30-48 hours.  (80% of the recipes I read on the Internet said to weigh the fish down with something heavy during the refrigeration time. The chef did not say this, but after reading the recipes on line, I decided to do the same.  I used a 12-pack of soda.)
  8. Remove the plastic wrap from the fish. Drain off the liquid. Quickly rinse the salt off with cold water, then dry with a paper towel.
  9. Thinly slice the salmon, holding the knife at a diagonal.  Serve.  The chef served the gravlax on a sliced sweet baguette with a honey-mustard-dill sauce (equal parts of honey and mustard, with a few tablespoons chopped fresh dill).  My kids, and I, love to put the Gravlax on top of  bagel halves which have been spread with thin layer of cream cheese and then topped with thinly sliced red onion, capers, and tomatoes. Or how about Eggs Benedict with Gravlax rather than Canadian Bacon?
  10. Leftovers can be wrapped tightly in plastic and kept for one week in refrigerator, and can be stored in freezer for longer storage.  If gravlax is frozen, be sure to defrost gently in refrigerator, or the texture of the gravlax will be compromised.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  If you’d like to see more recipes, just click on the “In The Kitchen With Polly” header on the top left hand side of the page, which will allow you to scroll the recipes in order of posting.  If you would like to search on a particular ingredient, just type the name in the search box.  I think my dear friend Rattie has designed a very user friendly website!

Polly