Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Turtle Cheesecake Brownies

I have been contemplating the best use for some shredded coconut I have in the refrigerator.  I finally decided I wanted to make cheesecake brownies.  I searched around for a crust, but after not finding one that appealed to me I just went in the kitchen and played.  I decided to use my large lasagna pan for this - I am going up to the Coyote Grill to share, so we need a nice size pan of brownies, plus I anticipate it expanding in the oven.  Since My lasagna pan is ceramic I decided to give the cooking a head start on the lower rack at a higher temp so it would cook more evenly.

Now I decided to use Ghirardelli boxed brownie mix for this because I made decadent homemade brownies with melted chocolate etc... last week and didn't feel like making quite as big a mess this week.  Dealing with developing crust and the cheesecake filling was enough creativity for me today.

Turtle Cheesecake Brownies

1 sleeve Graham Crackers
1 Cup Shredded Sweetened Coconut
1 Cup Walnuts
1/4 C Butter - semi-melted
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Cheesecake Filling
2 Packages Cream Cheese softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
3 Egg Yolks
1 Tbsp Sour Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Packages Ghirardelli  Chocolate Caramel Turtle Brownie Mix
1/2 Cup Water
2/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (you will be turning it down after 15 minutes of baking).

Process the crust ingredients in the food processor to a fine crumb.  Press into you pan and place in refrigerator to set up a little (about 20 minutes).

Mix your Cheesecake Filling ingredients until well blended, light and fluffy (used my Kitchenaide with the paddle attachment).  Put the bowl in the refrigerator while you work on the brownie mix.

Remove the crust from the refrigerator.

For the brownie mix, whisk the water, vegetable oil and eggs in a large bowl until well blended.  Pour the brownie mix into the bowl and fold in together with a spatula until just blended.

Carefully spread the brownie mixture over the crust.

Put the cheesecake mixture into a piping bag with small tip (I used my doughnut filler tip).  Pipe the cheesecake filling into the brownie mix close together at regular intervals.  Now for the Caramel part of the turtle brownies.  Cut the corner of your Caramel Pouches that came with your brownies.  Make eight lines of caramel across the short side of your pan.  Take a sharp knife and run it through the caramel the opposite direction of the caramel to create a pattern (I alternated directions about six times).

Place on the bottom rack of your preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Rotate the pan and move it to the center rack and turn the heat down to 350.  Set the timer for 30 minutes.  Now you will need to check the brownies for doneness.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Salted Peanut Butter Caramel "Sauce"

My friends have asked me, well, practically begged me  for the recipe for this Salted Peanut Butter Caramel "sauce".  I use it in many ways.  The favorite application so far is to layer it in Belgium chocolate cups with caramelized peanuts.  Here you are Juanita.

Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

1 Cup sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup (this can be omitted)
1/4 cup water
1 Cup heavy cream
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste)

Place the sugar and corn syrup in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan,  Pour the water in evenly around the sides of the pan.  Cook over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil and place the lid on the saucepan for 2 minutes (the steam should develop and drip down the insides of the pan).  At this point do not stir - it will cause granulation in your caramel sauce.

Remove the lid and boil until it the sugar becomes a dark amber color, gently swirling occasionally.  Warm the cream in a saucepan, do not boil (or your stove will be a giant mess).  Remove the pan from the heat and, while stirring, gently pour in the cream (it will bubbly vigorously and the caramel may solidify).  Place back over the heat and gently stir until the caramel is simmering and melted together with the cream.  Reduce heat to medium and add the vanilla, lemon juice peanut butter and salt and stir just until it comes back to a simmer.

At this point I normally take a very small 1/2 teaspoonful and put it in a glass ramekin so it cools quickly.  Then I can taste the caramel and decide if it needs more salt.  I use a very fine grained sea salt.  If you use table salt you may need to increase the amount.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pork ala Zurich

This is an incredibly aromatic and delicious dish.  My husband is Swiss.  This is my version of his daughter's recipe (thanks Corinne!).   I prefer to make this in a heavy bottom oven-proof pan

The traditional "Zurcher Geschneteltes" is made with well seared cubed veal.  I have to admit when we visit Switzerland I willl eat this three times a week at The Baeren in Roggwil.  This is traditionally served with Rosti or Spaetzle.  It is equally good with noodles, rice, anything with the sauce is amazing.

Also, this lends well to chicken.  I should try it someday with leftover turkey and white wine... ummm.

Pork ala Zurich
Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

1 Pork Tenderloin - silver skin removed, sliced very thinly (easiest if partially frozen)
1 pound sliced mushrooms (your choice, this was 8 oz button mushrooms and 8 ounce crimini)
1 onion, medium diced finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup cream or and milk of your choice (the sauce will just be thinner, but every bit as tasty)*
1 cup red or white wine (or a mix this was 1/2 each, anything you would drink)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (1 medium lemon)
1 Tbsp Sherry
Knorr Chicken Stock Gel
1 tsp Aromat (if not using Aromat use 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp Paprika)
1/4 tsp celery seeds (crushed or 1 tsp celery salt)
1 tsp Italian seasoning (I used Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle)
Fresh Ground Pepper

Melt 3 Tbsp butter in your skillet over medium-high heat.  Sear your pork slices in 2 batches and remove to a plate.  Sear the mushrooms in 2 batches.  (Add the other Tbsp butter if you need to.)  Saute the onions until tender, add the garlic and stir until fragrant.  Add the Pork and first batch of mushrooms back into the pan and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a simmer then cover and place in center of oven.  I normally cook this for about an hour and a half, but it can be left in the oven for several hours with no detriment.

*  If you use non-fat or 2 % milk you may want to thicken the sauce.   To do this make a Beurre Manie, using   1 1/2 Tbsp butter and 1 1/2 Tbsp Flour.  About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve place the pan on the burner over medium-high heat and stir in the Beurre Manie.  It is important to simmer so that the flour is cooked.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Homemade Malted Milk Balls

I recently purchased some "premium" malted milk balls. What a mistake - they had about a quarter of an inch of chocolate all the way around them. You could hardly taste any of the center - which for me is the point and pleasure of eating a malted milk ball.

I did some research and had a really hard time finding a true "homemade" recipe. (I am not interested in melting white choclate and blending in malted milk powder - yuck).

So I started off with a recipe on Yahoo Answers http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070411194516AAwWDZU

Here is my version.

4 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tarter
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup Confectionary Sugar
4 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
5 Tbsp Malt Powder
2 Tbsp Turbidino Sugar

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the confectioner's sugar, cocoa and malt powder.

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl of stand mixer. Use the whisk attachment and beat on slow then on high speed until beginning to froth. Add cream of tarter and slowly add the
granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Remove from stand and fold in the sifted ingredients. Then fold in the turbidino sugar (this adds the little texture tidbits).

Place in a piping bag and cut the tip to desired size. Pipe little balls onto parchment, space a litte bit away - mine spread and flattened slightly. (I'll work on twealking it).

I used piped part of the mixture onto a 9"parchment round to use for a tier inside a Chocolate Malted Milk Cake.

Bake for 50 - 60 minutes then turn off oven and prop open door with a wooden spoon. Leave in the oven to cool for at least 2 hours.

These can then be coated with melted chocolate or ganache.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Creative Epicure's Super Cocoa Espresso Sheet Cake

I love Texas Sheet Cake. It is easy, fast and super delicious. My idea was to create a version that has a little more protein and moistness with the addition of almond flour. Then, I intensified the cocoa flavor with coffee and cinnamon.

Here it is.

Super Cocoa Espresso Sheet Cake

2 sticks butter

1 cup coffee

1 1/2 cups Granulated White Sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp White Lilly Flour

1/2 Cup plus 2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 Cup Bob's Red Mill almond flour

1 Cup Sour Cream

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp rice vinegar


1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 stick plus 2 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 tsp vanilla

1 lb powdered sugar


35 chocolate covered espresso beans

1 Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar

Preheat oven to 40o degrees F. Spray a jelly roll pan with baking spray.

In a large pot over low heat melt together the butter,sugars and coffee, whisking occasionally to make sure the sugars dissolve.

In the mean time, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the almond flour.

In a small bowl mix the sour cream, eggs, vanilla and vinegar until smooth.

When the butter is melted and the sugars are dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and add in the remaining prepared ingredient and mix until incorporated.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until cake springs back to a light touch. Remove from oven and immediately spread the glaze.

When the timer is down to 10 minutes start the glaze. Over medium/low heat slowly melt the butter with the cocoa, stirring until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla. Whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth and pour the icing as evenly as possible over hot cake. Spread with an offset spatula. Garnish with the espresso beans. Break or chop the chocolate bar into small pieces and melt in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cake in swirls.

Cool completely in pan before slicing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blue Cheese Bounties & Poppers

I was trying out a new party popper recipe and had a lot of blue cheese filling left. I remembered a blue cheese cracker recipe I had seen in my book Heirloom Cooking by the Brass Sisters. I decided to use the cracker recipe as a tart base for the filling. Wow! Very blue cheesy, hence the name - Blue Cheese Bounties. The cracker recipe needs to chill before forming. The filling was a take-off on Aarti Sequeira's Bacon-Apple-Jalapeno Pop Em's http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aarti-sequeira/bacon-apple-jalapeno-pop-ems-recipe/index.html

My version of the filling includes the addition of creamy Maytag blue cheese, walnuts, nutmeg and lime juice.

I found a link to Nick's Savory Blue Cheese Cracker with Walnuts: http://www.wgbh.org/article/?item_id=3780064#crackers

This will make about 24 tarts and 8 poppers, or about 40 Poppers.


Tart shells:

1 recipe Nick's Savory Blue Cheese Crackers minus the walnuts. Again, I used Maytag blue cheese.


8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
2 ounces Maytag Blue Cheese
1 medium Braeburn apple, cored and minced
3 medium scallions, minced
4 Tablespoons walnuts, chopped (or pecans)
1 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp coarsely ground Tellicherry black pepper
A very small grating of fresh nutmeg
24 walnut or pecan halves

(If making all poppers you will need 20 pepper and 20 slices of bacon.)

4 slices Wright's Applewood Smoked Bacon, sliced in half
4 Jalapeno peppers/baby sweet peppers, cut in half lengthwise and veins and seeds removed
Mix the cracker recipe, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Blend cream cheese in food processor until smooth, crumble the blue cheese into the processor and mix until no large chunks remain. Now scrape this amalgamation into a medium bowl and blend in your remaining ingredients. (If you chopped your apple up ahead of time mix the lime juice into it to prevent browning.)

Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

Spray two 12 cup tart pans with baking spray.

Using a 1" cookie/candy measure press full of filling, evenly. Turn the filling into the mini tart pans and press into a tart form. (I used a Pampered Chef press dipped in flour).

Carefully spoon 1 1/2 Tbsp of the filling into the center of each tart shell. Top each with a nut half, gently pressing it into the filling, this will help to distribute the filling, as well as help keep the nut from falling off.

Bake for 15 - 18 minutes until golden.


Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil or parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Press filling into each pepper half up to the rim. Gently stretch a piece of bacon. Then, beginning at the tops of the pepper, just under the stem wrap the bacon around the popper spirally to cover the filling. Secure the bacon with a toothpick or small wooden skewer.

Place on the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes until the bacon is crispy. Let set for 5 minutes. Using tongs, gently lift each popper off the pan and blot it on a paper towel to remove some of the extra fat. Place on a serving tray and enjoy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Creative Epicure's Hearty Healthy Bread

My husband is Swiss and he loves a nice loaf of hearty bread. This was adapted from "Laurel's Black Bread" that I found in The Oakland Press some time ago. The base recipe is very versatile. This is a great snowy or lazy day project.

By the way, I am a huge fan of Bob's Red Mill organic whole grain products.

1/3 cup Cracked Wheat (light bulger)
2 1/2 cups Water
1/4 cup Blackstrap Molasses
1/4 cup Agave Nectar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup Gluten Flour
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
4 Tbsp Olive Oil (divided)
1/3 cup Oat Bran Flour
1 cup Rye Flour
1 cup Wheat Germ
1/2 cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/2 to 1 cup additional whole wheat flour
Rolled oats
2 Egg Whites
1 tsp Cold Water

Additional inclusions: you can pretty much add anything you like to the bread when you shape it. I divide the dough in thirds and make 3 kinds. Today’s versions were:

Sunflower: 1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds

Cinnamon Raisin: A handful of Raisins (about 1/4 cup) sprinkled with Saigon Cinnamon

Sun Dried Tomato: A good squeeze of Sun dried Tomato Paste (About 1 1/2 Tbsp), a sprinkle of dried Oregano and a handful of Sun Dried Tomatoes - chopped.

Over medium heat, bring the cracked wheat, water, molasses and agave to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into your stand mixer bowl. Insert a thermometer and wait till it cools to 110 degrees F (mine took 25 minutes to cool). Sprinkle with yeast and add the gluten flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes, scrape down the blow and raise the speed to #2 for 2 minutes, scrape and beat on speed #3 for 2 minutes. Remove paddle, sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.

Next I put the rye flour, oat bran flour, wheat germ, oats and salt on a piece of parchment paper and mixed it around a little.

Insert the dough hook onto the blender and, with the speed on low, very slowly add the flours into the mixing bowl and let the machine run to blend it well. (My mixer tends to want to dance around at this point, so I don't leave it unattended.) Then raise the speed to 2 and let it run until all the ingredients become a homogenous mass. Raise the speed to 3 and let it run for another 3 minutes.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the wheat flour onto your kneading surface. You may or may not need the other 1/2 cup. Begin to knead and knead in the additional flour until the dough is no longer sticky.

Pour the remaining 2 Tbsp Olive Oil into a large bowl. Put the dough into the bowl, turning to coat all sides with the olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Punch down dough and divide it into thirds. Press into a circle, leaving the center slightly elevated. Spread whatever flavor/filling you want to about 1/2" from sides.

Now, this is how to shape you loaf into a nice dense one. Fold over all the edges and make into a circular shape, the flip over and cup with your hands, pressing the dough downward and squeezing the folded edges together with your fingertips. Spin the dough a quarter turn and repeat the process until you have a tightly shaped loaf and you will just start to see your filling through the dough. Roll the bottom of the loaf in oats. Place on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. (Two will fit on 1 sheet.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, a little over an hour.

Now whisk together the egg white and water and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Brush the top of each loaf and sprinkle with desired topping(s).

I topped the Sunflower Loaf with Sunflowers, the Cinnamon Raisin Loaf with Oats and the Sun Dried Tomato Bread with a little Kosher Salt.