Monday, December 28, 2009

Eggnog Cheesecake

I decided to be festive and make a Eggnog Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust and Cranberry topping! I found a recipe for Caramel-Rum topping, but I'm glad I went with the Cranberry; the sweet-tang of Cranberry meshes superbly with the creamy rich cheesecake.

1.5 cup ground gingersnaps
1 stick butter, melted

2 lbs cream cheese, room temp
4 eggs
1.5 cup sugar
3 T flour
1 cup eggnog
3 T rum
1 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon

Cranberry Topping:
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup cranberry juice (or as I did, 1/2 can jellied cranberry sauce and 3/4 cup water)
1 T cornstarch

Preheat to 350.

Mix the gingersnap crumbs and butter; press into bottom of a 9 or 10 in springform pan. Bake at 350 for 10 min, then let cool.

Preheat to 425

Blend cream cheese until smooth, add sugar and flour, then eggs (one at a time). Add in the eggnog, then the rum and the spices.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 425 for 10 minutes.
Lower the temp to 275 and bake for about an hour, until only the center jiggles.
Let cool, then chill overnight.

Make the cranberry topping:
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until desired consistency and most cranberries have split. Add more water if needed. Let cool and pour on cheesecake.

This cheesecake is a nice combination of spicy, boozy, creamy, tangy and DELICIOUS. Try it for New Years!

Epic Baking Week.

I think about the me that was three months ago, and I would've never dreamed that I'd ever attempt to make 8 cakes in a 24-hour period. And yet, here we are, and I'm on vacation after a week in which I used around 6 dozen eggs, 8 pounds of cream cheese, and 10 pounds of butter.

I have to brag a bit and tell you that in those 24 hours between tuesday night and wednesday night, I made 2 Cranberry Lemon Chocolate Poundcakes, 2 Milles Crepe Gateaus, 1 PB Cup cheesecake, 1 Hummingbird Cake, 1 Eggnog Cheesecake and 1 Yellow Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting. That is not to mention the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake I made on Monday, and the 3 cakes I made on Saturday. It's been quite a week.

Some of the fruit of my labor:

I am totally enamored with the cran-lem-choc poundcake and the gorgeous bundt cake mold I baked it in. (Thanks Beth!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Super Extreme Chocolate Cake

This cake is chocolate like, whoa. Chocolate cake, chocolate pastry cream, chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache. It's not your everyday cake, as I used more than a dozen eggs to make it, and who who can begin to say how much butter?

This cake was also a bit of a mess, because
A. there was pastry cream
B. the top layer kind of broke in half, but I thought it would be okay under all the icing. It was okay in a "this cake is staying together and will taste wonderful" way, but not a "serving this for a catered Christmas party at a nice restaurant" way. It was kind of oblong on top. Not my finest moment.

And when the flour finally settled and I was ready to deliver, everything from the floor to my hair was COVERED in chocolate. Story of my life recently.

(You will be happy to know that I got my car towed to a fix-it-place and they replaced my water pump and it was $335 which isn't awesome but could've been worse, and I have it back and everything is ok now.)

Boston Creme Pie, plus a bit of a rant as a bonus.

Key Lime Pie is the official state pie of Florida. The state meat of Virginia is Virginia Ham. Utah's state snack food is Jello, the fruit of Idaho is a Huckleberry, and Grits are the official prepared food of Georgia.

And the Boston Creme Pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts. Just in case you're interested.

I think that unless you have very sturdy pastry cream, you should never attempt to make a three layer Boston Creme Pie, as it is very unstable and all the pastry cream squeezes out. This week I have had made two very ugly cakes with pastry cream filling, and I think I'm going to shelf that filling for a while.

I used a pastry cream recipe that used flour instead of cornstarch as a thickener, and I truly think that in the case of cakes, cornstarch is absolutely necessary.

See my squashed out creme pie below. We should probably rename it yellow cake with chocolate icing so as not to deceive people.

I made Cakelove's yellow cake with the same dark chocolate Martha frosting from the Chocolate Raspberry Cake, with chocolate ganache and pastry cream, but as I said before, CORNSTARCH is KEY.

It was a nightmare, really. I had to dump loads more chocolate all over the cake at the restaurant to try to redeem its looks because the whole thing became a chocolate mud slide on the drive over. And for the rest of the night, I was a chocolate mess. There was chocolate hiding everywhere I tried to lean for the whole of my shift, smears and blotches of chocolate kept turning up all over my apron, shirt, face, pants. I almost used up the tide pen and the chocolate kept on coming.

This whole situation was exacerbated by my much loved jeep's obnoxious cry for attention. Yes, it has been making a chirp-chirping noise for several weeks, but I intended to get it checked out very soon. Any day now, I promise.

My car was through being patient, though. As I pulled into the neighborhood where I work, I noticed some smoke slipping out of the hood, and by the time I pulled up next to the restaurant (30 min late, might I add), there was white smoke (steam, I guess) POURING from every crack and crevice of the front portion of my car.

As curious coworkers and customers crowded in the restaurant windows to get a better look, I grabbed a cake from the back and noticed that GOBS of antifreeze were gushing from my car and forming a RIVER in the street.

There was nothing I could do about it, of course, so the rest of the evening was spent hitching up my apron to hide the chocolate on my shirt and nodding when every man at the restaurant offered his diagnosis of my obvious car problems.

It was bittersweet when my loving husband came to pick me up at the end of the night. I was thrilled to see him, but I couldn't help but stare sadly as we pulled away, leaving my still, silent jeep all alone.

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream Filling

I had orders for 3 cakes for the weekend, so this was an experiment in cake and frosting recipes so I could be fully prepared.

I made CakeLove's Chocolate cake, which I like a lot, but I don't think it stands out solidly in the world of chocolate cake. There are a million chocolate cake recipes out there, and many of them are worthy of "favorite" standing. So try them all.

1/2 cup plus 1 T cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 T boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4.5 sticks) butter, room temp
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 t salt
1.5 pounds (24 oz) best quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled.

Melt and cool chocolate. Combine boiling water and cocoa powder and stir into a smooth paste. Beat butter, sugar and salt until pale and fluffy. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the chocolate, then the cocoa mixture. Done!

I debated about the filling, and I finally decided on Raspberry. I made Italian Meringue Buttercream (recipe in this post), then added a few ounces of seedless raspberry jam. Once it was mixed in, I was revolted to find it was that pale-pink strawberry ice cream color that was way too homogenous and not interesting at all. I quickly defrosted some frozen raspberries in the microwave and stirred them (and the juice) into the frosting. It was beautiful and mottled and fresh-looking. I was very pleased with the results.

I layered the cake with chocolate ganache and the raspberry frosting, then covering the whole thing in chocolate frosting.

It looked beautiful in the case and is holding up very well. That is one thing I really appreciate about Italian Meringue Buttercream- once chilled, it's very stiff and not going anywhere. It is a good frosting to make a cake with if you don't want it sliding all over the car. For this same reason, it's best to eat it at room temp when its not so stiff.

And in case you're interested, Martha's dark chocolate recipe was very smooth and rich and piped beautifully. It does take a lot of chocolate, but it's worth trying.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rice Pudding

I'll give you some rice pudding porn to drool over while I ramble for a couple paragraphs here...

I must tell you that there was a bit of a break in posting here on The Fox Fix because one fateful morning last week I tried to take a picture of my glazed cranberry bundt cake, and, not for lack of trying, blurry is all I got. (see below).

The camera refused to focus, and that was all there was to it. I was very loath to inform Eric of this news, as I am just coming out of an extremely-irresponsible-with-very-important-things stage (I hope). I did tell of this awful thing, with much promising to be more careful with expensive devices around things like butter and sugar and heat (um, my life right now?).

HOWEVER, and VERY FORTUNATELY, today I picked up the camera with fearful expectation and it WORKED. It's good as new! So either God fixed our camera, or I can pretend that another week banging around in my purse actually did the thing some good.

In celebration, tonight I bring you: RICE PUDDING.

As my roommates senior year of college can attest, I practically lived on rice pudding that winter. (with rum. have I mentioned rum yet?)

4 Reasons Why Rice Pudding is the Ultimate Yum:
1. It's basically the definition of comfort food. Warm, creamy, easy going and sweet (but not too sweet).
2. It's so simple: Rice, milk, vanilla and sugar. Anything else after that is just gravy. (hopefully not literally.)
3. It's also very adaptable- like a blank canvas. Add rum or fruit or nuts or spices or chocolate or anything you want, really.
4. Can we please talk about the texture? For as many gross comparisons as you can come up with for the consistency, there are twice as many reasons to put it in your mouth and feel its sweetness spread to the farthest reaches of your taste buds...

Tonight I used Arborio Rice (1 cup), whole milk (4 cups), vanilla bean paste (1/2 T) and sugar (1/2 cup). In celebration of winter flavors, I also threw in some orange and lemon zest. I put it all in a pot and then simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring every few minutes or so, until the milk was mostly absorbed. I then stirred in a little cream (about 1/2 cup), a step which you can take or leave. Also, if your rice is still too crunchy when the milk is almost gone, just add a little more milk and keep on cooking.

Eric and I enjoyed our pudding while watching Bedtimes Stories on our new netflix account. I wouldn't really recommend this movie, but it was fun to watch.

Next time, I'm going to add some cardamon and maybe an egg, and experiment with starting it on the stove and ending in the oven. I'll keep you updated.

UPDATE: Perfect Rice Pudding found: FOUND. Here.

Above, we have the ingredients for pudding, minus the rice and plus our dining room. The flowers are from our friend Alex who came over for Thanksgiving and are starting to look 2 weeks old. The window above the pew is a new addition- I got it from a local warehouse and cleaned it up and painted it blue to matched one of the colors in the border. We like our house :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cranberry Lemon Chocolate Pound Cake

This confetti-looking cake is probably the only thing I've ever tasted that I could justify describing with the phrase "a party in my mouth." In fact, upon tasting the cake, one friend used those exact words. It also got rave reviews at The Restaurant.

Cranberry-Lemon-Chocolate. These are quintessential winter flavors, and the combination is just gorgey.* In fact, it inspires me to write a haiku.

zip cranberry tang
creamy lemon surrounds me
smooth chocolate rest

So anyway, make this cake for Christmas, and then again for Boxing Day, and for New Years, and for National Bird Day (jan 5), and for Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday(3rd monday in jan)...basically you're going to want any excuse to eat this cake!

Again, when making recipes that feature ounces instead of cups, just bite the bullet and just go buy yourself a kitchen scale. Make sure it switches between grams and ounces and other units of measure, and I got mine at the big box for 20 bucks.

Cranberry Lemon Chocolate Pound Cake
adapted from Cakelove (The original recipe used dried cranberries, and used fresh cranberries. The original also called for 2 T gin, but I just added that much more half and half and skipped the gin. Finally, these recipes always called for something called vanilla powder, which I just ignore all together.)

Preheat to 350.

Dry Ingredients:
13 oz (2.5 cups plus 1 T) AP flour
4 oz (1/2 cup) fresh cranberries, chopped. (hooray food processors!)
3 oz (1/4 cup) bittersweet chocolate
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda

(Mix together and set aside)

Wet ingredients:
4 oz (1/2 cup) sour cream
3/4 cup half and half
1 lemon (zest it into the butter and then cut and separate the juice packets from the pith and membrane, put that part in with the liquid)
1 t vanilla extract

(mix together and set aside)

1.5 sticks butter, room temp
21 oz (2.5 cups plus 2 T) sugar
1 T lemon zest
5 eggs

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer on low speed for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and the eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly between each. Switch off adding the wet and dry ingredients, in 3-5 additions. Don't blend completely in-between- this step should only take a minute.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides, then blend on medium speed for 20-25 second to "develop the structure of the batter."
Pour the batter into a well greased bundt pan. Use any leftover for cupcakes (they cook better in cupcake papers than straight in the pan like muffins). Bake at 350 for about 40-50 minutes. Cupcakes will only take about 15. The cake is done when a knife comes out clean from the center.

The book says to let the cake cool for only 5-10 minutes before removing, but the first time I made, as you can tell by the picture above, I lost the top doing it this way. The second time, I let it cool completely before removing and it was fine. However, in ordinary circs you probably won't be able to wait til it's cooled to try it. I guess that's where the extra batter cupcakes come in.

I also made a glaze for my second cake. I heated jellied cranberry sauce from a can with sugar and water and put it through a strainer to make it finer. I brushed it on the cake with a pastry brush, and then brushed on a second layer of a paste made from a little cranberry mix, some rum, and some powdered sugar. I then put it in the oven for 5 min to let it sink in.

I'm going to try it with orange instead of lemon next!

* has anyone else read Freaky Friday? Annabelle loves the gorgey word.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Caramel-filled Chocolate Cookies

On saturday night, I had a work Christmas party. I decided to make Cakelove's Cranberry-Lemon-Chocolate Poundcake and these "milk-dud inspired" chocolate cookies.

I was in a rush, so dear Eric helped me. (I had to make him smile for this picture, but for a cheesy smile, I think he looks pretty darn good.)

aaaand for the can go here :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

The original recipe used an almond-vanilla wafer crust, but I decided I couldn't go wrong making a chocolate cookie crust. Also, I read the reviews, and while most people loved the cheesecake, they also recommended doubling the recipe, which I did. I baked it in a 10-in springform pan.

And while the original recipe called for a sour cream topping, I was having none of it. I made mine with leftover white chocolate and some raspberry juice, though next time I would use waaaay more white chocolate and raspberry and make the topping beautiful like marbled paper...I fear that as it is, it looks like somebody bled all over the top.

(the dream-like fuzziness of the picture below was caused by steam escaping from below the bowl of melting chocolate)

Adapted from Bon Appetit, February, 1994 (As I made it, crust, doubled and topping).

1.5 c chocolate cookie crumbs
.5-1 stick melted butter
(pulse the cookies in a food processor, slowly adding the butter, or just just crumbs and butter together. Press into bottom of springform pan. Refrigerate)

8-oz white chocolate, chopped (they suggust Lindt) (forgive me, Bon Appetit, I used Tollhouse and regular old baking chocolate.)
4 8-oz packages (2 lbs) cream cheese, softened.
1-1/3 cup sugar
4 t vanilla extract
1.5 t grated lemon zest
4 large eggs
1.5 cup frozen (mostly thawed) or fresh raspberries

Preheat to 350.

Melt white chocolate in double boiler, stirring often, until smooth. Remove from over the water when melted.

Using a mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanille and lemon peel. Beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined. Beat in white chocolate.

Pour half the filling into the springform pan. Sprinkle the raspberries all over the top. Add the rest of the filling on top of the raspberries.

Bake until the edges are set, but the center still jiggles. It was about an 1 hr 10 minutes for me. The directions also say to cool 10-20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and gently press down the edges with your fingers.

(my mini test cheesecake so I can taste it before heading to the restaurant. I ate half before it was even cooled)

Then you can go on and mix 8-oz sour cream, 3 T sugar and 1/2 t vanilla, spread over the top and bake for another 5 min,


you can make white chocolate ganache, pour it over the cheesecake and then swirl in raspberry juice or raspberry jam. (I would recommend a ratio of 1:1.5 -cream:white chocolate)

Either way, let the thing chill and cool overnight (or for 3 hours if you are pressed for time as I was.)

No Bake Cookies n Cream Cheesecake

This cheesecake sets a little looser than regular cheesecake, so next time I might use the whole packet of gelatin (I think it's supposed to be 1 T). But it's AWESOME if you're pressed for time- just make it the night before you need it.

There's no getting up in the middle of the night to take it out of the oven, and then again later in the night to put it in the fridge. (this is my usual routine with cheesecakes.) Just mix, pop it into the fridge, and wake up to cheesecake.

(Below: Dissolving the gelatin in a water bath)

Cookies n Cream Cheesecake recipe adapted from Cheesecake by Pamela Clark

10-oz oreos (or more, if you're me)
2 t gelatin
3 T water
13 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz white chocolate, melted. (I used the microwave for this one. Just nuke in 20 second intervals, stirring between each)

Okay, Let's talk about the crust. The recipe is actually for 8 individual cheesecakes made in sections of PVC pipes...but lacking those I made it in a 9-in springform. In the PVC pipes, you just stick a whole oreo at the bottom for the crust. I preformed my usual butter and crumbs crust, but because it wasn't baked, just chilled, the crust stuck to the bottom of the pan badly. So I would either spray your pan first or figure out some other crust. Maybe spray the bottom then mix the crumbs with some melted chocolate. Worth some experimentation.

Step 1. Chop oreos into quarters. Save some for topping the cheesecake.
Step 2. Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a heatproof cup. Heat in a pan of simmering water until gelatin dissolves. Cool 5 min.
Step 3. Beat cream cheese, vanilla and sugar in a bowl until smooth, then beat in cream. Stir in white chocolate, gelatin and chopped cookies.
Step 4. Pour into prepared pan with crust, refrigerate overnight.
Step 5. (optional) Melt chocolate and pour in interesting swirls over the top.

I do love cookies n cream anything.


Can you believe it's December already? My life is slipping away. I'm pretty much convinced that I am middle aged right now, based on life-experience-speed.

See, when you're a kid, life moves so unbearably slowly. There are years between birthdays. You've been in 3rd grade forever. You can't even remember the last time you had ice cream.
Somewhere around high school, time picks up, and before you know it, you're applying to colleges. You're on the brink of adult life. There's no catching up now.

I am now 24; I've been out of college for almost a year, but it seems like only a few months. And in this year, I've lived in 4 of the 5 boroughs of New York City, planned a wedding, gone through with it, moved to Georgia....and here I am now, married FOUR MONTHS and trying to figure out what to do with my life before it gets up and leaves me!

Hence, I am middle aged. I'm pretty sure that the entire rest of my life will take about as long to live as the first 24 years. TWENTY-FOUR!!!!!

Oh wait, you say you're here for baked goods?

Well, here you go....OAT FUDGE BARS!!!

A local coffee shop in Blacksburg, VA, sold super amazing oat fudge bars that helped me through each and every final...and I made it my collegiate mission to crack the recipe. I was very scientific about it, taking notes on every batch I made, and I must say that this one is very, very close.

You'll find similar recipes for oat and chocolate bars, but the chocolate part always lacks the key ingredient: cocoa powder. It's essential to achieving the fudginess that makes these things so darn phenomenal.

I also use regular oatmeal, not the quick-cooking kind. I like the texture better. Also, I like to pretend these things are healthy. I haven't heard otherwise, and I'm not going to bother asking.


Oat part:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2.5 cup AP flour
3 cup oats

Fudge part:
2 T butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 oz sweetened condensed milk (so I basically just pour out a 15 oz can and don't worry about scraping the sides.)
2/3 c cocoa powder

Preheat to 350.
You know the drill: Mix the dry ingredients (minus oats), set aside. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. Mix in the dry ingredients, then stir in the oats.

Make the fudge:
Melt the chocolate with the SC milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often. When the chocolate mixture is smooth, add the cocoa powder and stir until smooth. (add it a little at a time, and if it looks like it's getting too dark and thick for you, then you can stop whenever. Really, any cocoa powder is better than no cocoa powder.)

Press 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of a greased pan. You can use different dimensions depending on how thick you want your bars to be. I used a 9x9 pan, but you could easily use a 9x13.

Scoop the fudge mixture on top of the oats and smooth.

Drop the rest of the oat mixture on top, pieces at a time, until it looks like this:

Then bake at 350 for about 30 min, until golden brown on top. Don't over bake- the fudge will set as it cools.

Good for breakfast, lunch, dinner and anytime in between.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Flourless Chocolate Torte #2

This recipe is from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible. Some consider Ms Beranbaum to be the authority on cakes, so I decided to trust her torte recipe. Her books are wonderful because they explain the science behind what's going on in your baking.

This Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte is different from the other recipe because the egg yolks and whites are whipped together, therefore the cake doesn't rise as much- it remains down and dense in the pan. It is not cooked very long, and the chill time is key. Here, more than ever, quality chocolate is very important.
I used 3/4 Ghiradelli, and 1/4 Valrhona Chocolate. Valrhona costs $15.00/lb! I don't know if that combination is quality enough, but I sure did try to honor the recipe and stay on budget. I've read that a lot of people favor Scharffen Berger Chocolate.

Preheat to 425 degrees

1 pound bittersweet chocolate (if using extra bittersweet, add 3 T sugar to the eggs)
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
6 large eggs
8-in springform pan (I used a 9, but didn't adjust baking. Maybe I should have)

Butter pan, wrap outside with aluminum foil if seepage is a concern.
Also prepare a water bath to keep the texture creamy.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, or in a glass bowl set over simmering water. Again, don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Set aside when smooth and melted.

In another glass bowl, heat the beaten eggs over the water until just warm to the touch. Stir constantly to prevent curdling. Remove from heat and beat with the whisk attachment in stand mixer until it triples in volume, and soft peaks form; about five minutes. (if using a hand mixer, let heat a little longer)

Fold half of the eggs into the chocolate, then fold in the other half, mixing until just blending, taking care not to deflate the eggs. Pour into prepared pan, and bake in a larger pan so it is surrounded by 1 in of water.

Bake for 5 min at 425, then loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely (the cake will be loose, but that's okay.) When cool, refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

To unmold, wipe the sides with a hot, damp towel, and run a thin utensil around the edges of the tort. Release the springform, then wipe the bottom of the pan with the hot, damp towel. Invert on a plate, then reinvert on the serving plate.

You can store this up to 2 weeks in the fridge, but don't freeze, as it changes the texture.
Serve at room temp; it is amazing with raspberries.

My only complaint is that when chilled, some of the butter separated from the cake in the little crack lines, which is not very attractive.

This recipe is good, but I think I will go on to try others.