Saturday, September 22, 2012

Heavenly Hash Cheesecake Recipe

Nothing says Happy Birthday quite like cheesecake. Today is my sister's 22nd birthday, and instead of some fabulous sugar confection of a cake, she requested cheesecake in the flavour of her favourite ice cream - heavenly hash.

After scouring various recipe websites, I was unable to find a recipe for heavenly hash cheesecake, and so I wound up modifying this recipe for Hershey's Chocolate Marble Cheesecake (well, plus some chopped dark chocolate and freshly toasted pecans).

For those who are brave enough to try the recipe for themselves, I've copied it below (along with my modifications). If you don't feel like trying it, I suppose you will just have to gaze at the photograph and drool. 

Heavenly Hash Cheesecake Recipe


1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted butter

3 8oz. packages cream cheese
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/4 cup cocoa
1 Tbsp oil

1 cup pecans, freshly toasted and chopped
2 bars of decent quality dark chocolate (I used one with nuts and one without)

Preheat oven to 350F, and lightly grease a spring form pan. Combine ingredients for crust, press into the bottom of the spring form pan to form crust (I always press with my fingertips or the bottom of a drinking glass). Bake in oven for ten minutes - I took this opportunity to toast the pecans in the same oven. Cool crust thoroughly. 

Using an electric mixer, beat together packages of cream cheese until well combined and very creamy. Slowly add 3/4 cup of sugar, continue beating and scraping the edges of the bowl until no lumps remain. Fold in sour cream, flour and vanilla, then beat thoroughly. Add eggs one at a time, beating constantly. 

In a separate bowl, mix together 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa powder and oil. Slowly add about 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. 

In a third bowl, mix together toasted pecans and one of the bars of dark chocolate (finely chop the dark chocolate first). 

In the spring form pan, layer together spoonfuls of vanilla mixture, chocolate mixture, and the occasional sprinkling of chopped pecans mixture, until all mixtures have been used up. Reserve about half of the pecan mixture for sprinkling on top. Take a knife and lightly swirl together mixtures to create a 'marbled' effect. Increase oven heat to 450F. Bake cake for 10 minutes, then without opening the oven door, decrease heat to 250F and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Shut oven off, and let cool in hot oven for 30 minutes more (without opening oven door). Loosen edges of cake from pan with a knife, then allow to cool in the fridge for several hours. Serve chilled with slices of dark chocolate on top.

This cake earned rave reviews from my family members, and most importantly, from my sister. Happy birthday!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Easy Five Minute Ciabatta Recipe

This morning, when I began thinking about my evening plans (a lovely little dinner with my lovely fiancé) and then started thinking about our evening dinner (homemade bread?) I didn't pause to remember that I had agreed to babysit my friend's gorgeous four-month-old daughter Penelope. Luckily, Five Minute Ciabatta Bread can be made with a baby tucked under one arm. And yes, it takes a little longer than five minutes (but not much!)

Exceedingly Yummy Ciabatta Bread

My night went fabulously, and Penelope was a great help in the kitchen.

"Penelope, how much garlic should I put on this bread?" "Gurgle gurgle gurgle" "Really Penelope? That much?" And then there was "Penelope, do you think I should put butter on this?" "Gurgle gurgle" [drooling and bubbles] "You're right! It does need to have butter on it!"

This recipe is so easy, you can do it with one of these tucked under one arm! Also, yes I did make this hat. I will definitely have to blog about it soon!

 After much research, I adapted a recipe found on Lifehacker.

Five Minute Ciabatta Bread

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Rising Time: 4 Hours
Baking Time: 25 Minutes
Yield: Enough for two, or three if they feel like sharing. 


1/8 tsp Traditional Yeast
1/2 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Hot Water
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
Herbs and Spices
Cornmeal, for dusting

Mix together sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Slowly add hot water - it should be hot, but not hot enough to burn your fingers. Mix together thoroughly and let the yeasty water sit for a few minutes, until the yeast starts bubbling up to the surface.

Mix two cups of flour directly into yeasty water. Add the salt, stir together. It should not be thick enough to feel like 'real' dough - instead it will be the consistency of thick cake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for about 3-4 hours, or until mixture is doubled in size. You should be able to see bubbles in the dough.

While your dough is rising, use this time to chop up some herbs, or have a snack, or change the diaper of the baby you have under one arm. Oh wait, that's just me!

I used a combination of fresh rosemary (from my mother's garden) fresh basil (from my grandmother's garden) and fresh oregano (from a cutting I had on the windowsill). Dried herbs work great too, but I find fresh tastes better. Wash herbs and chop very finely with a sharp knife. 

Yummy Fresh Herbs!
Once the dough has risen, prepare a baking dish by coating it lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal and pour dough into the bottom of the dish. Don't handle it too much - the less you handle it, the more fabulous bubbles will be in your ciabatta. Sprinkle herbs on top of the dough, and shake some ground pepper and liberal amounts of garlic powder on top as well. Let dough sit in baking dish for an additional half an hour. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 F. Because this dough is so small, I cooked it in a toaster oven.

Raw dough, sprinkled with herbs.

Pop into the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and risen. Let sit in baking dish for at least ten minutes undisturbed, or else bread will collapse. I'm serious, no matter how delicious it looks, don't touch!

Fresh baked ciabatta bread!
Slices of fresh ciabatta bread

Once the ten minutes are up, remove bread from dish and either let cool for later, or (preferably) slice and eat. I buttered a couple slices for S and I to enjoy. Penelope looked like she wanted some too, but I didn't feel like sharing (also she doesn't have any teeth).


Edit: Also, I've submitted this post to Yeastspotting.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Crab Apple Pie Recipe

Things have been exciting lately in my little life. After a wildly successful interview, I've been accepted into the qualifying program for a master's of architecture program (yay!) To add to the excitement, S and I are moving all of our things across the province so I don't have to commute nine hours to school every day. Of course this means I'm surrounded by cardboard boxes, and sometime soon I have to figure out how to take apart my desk, and somehow I don't think S would find it funny if I decided to build a fort out of boxes rather than pack away all of my pretty shoes?

In the midst of all this chaos and upheaval (and guiltily admitting to my fiancé the three boxes of shoes I wound up packing) (in my defense, knee-high boots take up a surprising amount of space) anyway, in the middle of all this packing, I have been baking, painting, organizing, refinishing furniture, attempting to apply for jobs, and ... reading the newest book in the Game of Thrones series. I know, as if I didn't have enough guilty habits. 

I love fall apples - so here follows my fabulous adaptation of apple pie: Crab Apple Pie, courtesy of S's grandmother Lucille, who was lovely enough to provide us with a large bag full of crab apples.

I have to admit, I cheated on the crust. With all of my baking implements safely stashed away in boxes, and a dozen other things to do with my time, I really didn't want to take the time to make my own pie crust. Next time, I promise.

Crab Apples
Deep Dish Crab Apple Pie Recipe

5 cups Crab Apples, peeled and finely sliced
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
Dash of Salt
2 Tbsp Flour
Lemon Juice, to taste

Peel and slice the crab apples - depending on the size of the apples, this may take a while. I enlisted some kitchen help in the form of a willing fiancé who really just wanted to eat apple pie. Throw them into a large bowl, proceed to add remaining ingredients. This recipe created a pie that was a bit tart - add more sugar if you aren't a fan (or serve with vanilla ice cream).

Stir well until apples are well coated with remaining ingredients. Pour into prepared pie crust. I used Pillsbury Roll-Out Pie Crust. I know, I should have made it myself, but there just wasn't time. Still, I was impressed with this crust. It was flaky, delicious, and baked to a beautiful golden brown.

Cover edges of pie crust with aluminum foil to keep from over browning. Bake in a 450 F oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 F and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Remove foil about ten minutes prior to taking out pie.

Crab Apple Pie! Yummy!

Excuse me for not taking photos of it all cut up and covered with ice cream, I was far too busy enjoying some fabulous crab apple pie.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Last-Minute Orange Cake

Running late for a dinner? Really craving a freshly baked cake but too lazy to do all the work? Strangely addicted to buying stuff on sale and now you have a cupboard full of instant cake mix even though you think using a mix is cheating? Never fear, Last-Minute Orange Cake is here!

Orange Bundt Cake

I discovered this recipe months ago, and over time (and use) have tweaked it from awesome to absolutely mind-bogglingly delicious (it's never too late to start inventing your own words). The best part of this cake is passing it off as homemade.

I know, you're wondering what I do with my time besides bake. I wish I had a good answer for that.

Last-Minute Orange Cake

1 box of cake mix (either yellow, white or french vanilla)
1 box of instant vanilla pudding mix (lemon pudding mix works too)
1 cup of puréed oranges (about 2 medium oranges, puréed in a blender or food processor)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour cake mix and instant pudding mix together in a bowl. Mix in puréed oranges, vegetable oil, eggs and lemon juice. Stir well to dissolve any lumps. Pour into greased cake pan. I used a bundt cake pan; it was perfectly cooked in 40 minutes. This recipe also makes great cupcakes!

Cream Cheese Drizzle

To top it all off, I drizzled the warm bundt cake with a mixture of cream cheese, milk, icing sugar and vanilla. Coarsely chopped toasted almonds added the final touch and a bit of elegance to this otherwise simple cake.

Serve warm, or serve cool, or serve with ice cream.

Yummy Orange Cake

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chocolate Fudge Ripple Ice Cream

It's midnight and what are you doing? Normal people are sleeping (I just wish I could sleep!) I, however, am standing in the middle of a chocolate covered kitchen, trying to remember how to work the ice cream maker I found in the basement. 

S's favourite food is ice cream. After finding my ice cream maker (a very exciting birthday present for 19-year old me) hiding in a dusty box in the basement, I decided I should spend some time creating the quintessentially perfect chocolate ice cream. I haven't been doing much wedding planning lately, so making fabulous ice cream seems like a good solution.

I may have succeeded. 

The worst thing about this ice cream is that it is perhaps too creamy. Slightly too delicious. So yummy, in fact, that it was difficult to eat more than a very small bowl at a time.

Chocolate Fudge Ripple Ice Cream

Creamy, Delicious Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
Dash of Salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
3 Egg Yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup + 3/4 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Mix together sugar, milk, salt and cocoa powder in a saucepan and heat at medium-low heat. Stir often. Beat together egg yolks in a separate bowl. Slowly add about 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture, stirring vigorously. Gradually add eggs back to saucepan. Heat and stir, slowly adding 1/2 cup of whipping cream. Stir frequently until mixture is thickened, but be careful not to let it boil!

Once mixture is thickened, remove from heat and add the chocolate chips to the hot mixture. Stir until chocolate is completely dissolved. Store in refrigerator until cool, at least four hours or overnight. Once  completely cool, stir in remainder of whipping cream and teaspoon of vanilla. 

(while your ice cream mixture is cooling, you have plenty of time to make the fudge ripple component)

Fudge Ripple Recipe

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
6 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Mix together sugar, corn syrup, water and cocoa powder in saucepan. Heat over medium heat until bubbling, stirring constantly. Continue to cook at a low boil for 3-4 minutes. Stir often. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and cool thoroughly. 

Once both mixtures are cool, pour ice cream mixture into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions. Mine took approximately twenty-five minutes to freeze sufficiently. The ice cream mixture should be like a very thick, partially frozen soup. 

Ice Cream Maker

Use a large spoon to layer partially frozen ice cream mixture and cooled fudge mixture together in a plastic tupperware for freezer storage. Place container in freezer for 8 hours or overnight.