S’mores Cheesecake Bars

So a strange thing has started happening.  My former student’s prom pictures are popping up in my facebook news feed and…it makes me feel so old.  Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing.  It’s nice to be mature and independent, and I get to put on a big, poofy dress in a few months anyway, so I don’t really miss prom or high school life.

Going to Luke’s reunion was a reminder of our age as well.  I didn’t post yesterday because we decided to come home Saturday night instead of Sunday afternoon so Luke had a day to relax before work.  We didn’t get back until really late, and well, I was tired.

But the reunion was nice.  We had a good time, and reconnected, or in my case just connected, with some awesome people.  Luke even got told what a lucky man he is (to have me) by a former classmate 🙂  I knew I was armcandy!

Before my ego swells uncontrollably, let’s move on to the foods.  S’mores are a traditional summer snack, but with no campfire in sight (although I’m contemplating using that baking spices scented candle.) I’m finding other ways of working the summer staple into our dessert rotation.

Enter the s’mores cheesecake bar.  A crumbly graham cracker crust and toasted marshmallows sandwiching a creamy chocolately cheesecake layer.  Let’s call them fancy s’mores.  Let’s call them super amazing s’mores.  I just hope they can power me through my first GRE practice test.

S’more Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Sugar Plum

Makes one 8X8” pan

For the crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 6-7 graham crackers)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 ounces semi sweet or dark chocolate, melted

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

melted chocolate for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until well combined.  Pat into the bottom of baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and set on wire rack to cool.

In another medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and marshmallow cream until fluffy – about 1 minute. Beat in cocoa powder, vanilla and eggs until combined.  Stir in melted chocolate until combined. Pour filling over crust, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set, and no longer wobbly. Remove from oven.

Preheat oven broiler. Evenly top cheesecake with mini marshmallows and broil for about 10-20 seconds until marshmallows start to brown. Cool on a wire rack and drizzle with additional melted chocolate, if desired. Place in the refrigerator or freezer until well chilled, about an hour or two, and enjoy.


Banana White Chocolate Mousse Cake

Today is a very special Hop Day with Izzy, because it’s somebody’s birthday!!

I’ll give you a hint: it’s the birthday of someone in the photo above…who isn’t a rabbit.

Yes, it’s my wonderful fiancée Luke’s birthday today!!  Happy Birthday darling!

I bet you’re all wondering what I got him.  Technically I got him a new keyboard and mouse for his computer.  Technically as in, he found what he wanted, and I pressed the “purchase now” button.

Better to get him something he really wants than some weird trinket he’ll smile at and put in a dusty corner.  Oh, and I gave him food.  Lots and lots of food.

Specifically a big cake.  I had been asking him for weeks leading up to the big day about what he envisioned his birthday cake to be this year.  At first he said he wanted the Bananarrot cake I made to bring into the office for his dad’s birthday.

But I wanted to make something new!  So I nudged him a little.  And this beautiful cake was the result.  A luscious banana layer cake filled with creamy white chocolate mousse and top topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting.

I was interested to see how the white chocolate and banana would work together, and it seems they complement each other quite nicely.  I am very pleased with this creation, and look forward to later today, when I bring in some other goodies to celebrate his birthday at the office.

Banana White Chocolate Mousse Cake

Mousse adapted from Evil Shenanigans

Cake adapted from The Pastry Affair

Makes a 2 layer 8” layer cake

 For the mousse:

1 cup milk, 2% or whole
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter
3 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp cold water
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

¼ cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 oz white chocolate, chopped

2 ½ cups powdered sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

First make the mousse as it needs time to chill.  In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolk.  Whisk until well mixed.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens and comes to a simmer, about 5-10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the vanilla, butter, and white chocolate.  Stir until completely melted then pour the mixture through a strainer into a separate bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least four hours, or overnight.

In a small bowl combine the gelatin with the water.  Let stand for ten minutes to bloom.  Once bloomed melt in the microwave for ten seconds.  Let cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl combine the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Beat until it thickens.  Gradually pour in the gelatin while still beating.  Beat until it forms medium peaks.  Fold the whipped cream into the white chocolate base in three additions.  Cover and chill for one hour.

To make the cake, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease 2 8-inch round baking pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the bananas and vanilla extract.

Alternatively add and beat in the flour mixture and buttermilk in 5 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Pour batter evenly between prepared baking pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing from cake pans. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy.  Melt the white chocolate either over a double boiler or in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring between zapping.  Once the chocolate is melted, stir it into the cream cheese mixture and stir well to combine. Add in the powdered sugar in one cup intervals, mixing well between additions.  Finally, stir in the vanilla extract.

To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on a serving plate.  Scoop out about two cups of the chilled mousse and spread it evenly over the layer.  You will have leftover mousse, and it’s quite tasty on its own.  Place second layer on top and press down slightly.  Frost the outside with the cream cheese frosting and decorate as desired.  Store cake in the refrigerator until serving time, then store leftovers, covered, in the fridge.

Dirt Cake

This is a nice spring themed dessert that goes wayyy back for me.  When I asked Luke if he knew what dirt cake was, he replied, oh you mean worms and dirt?

Crickets.  Sure?  I guess?  Yes, it turns out dirt cake and worms & dirt are one in the same.  I happen to like my title better.  I don’t know how keen I’d be on eating a dessert with worms in the title.  Even if they are the gummy kind.

My mom used to make this dessert when I was growing up.  If she made if during the spring, she’d clean out a flower pot and put it in there for added effect.  I would have put it in one too, only all my pots are currently occupied by herbs.

But I should back up.  What is dirt cake?  It’s layers of Oreo cookie crumbs and a cream cheese/pudding/whipped cream mixture all stacked together parfait style.

Sometimes there are gummy worms dispersed throughout.  Sadly, I didn’t have any on hand, so I couldn’t include them.  When they are in the cake, I tend to eat the cake part first and hoard all the gummies for later.

The original recipe that I got from my mom calls for Cool Whip, but I couldn’t find any at my grocery store, so I subbed homemade whipped cream for it.  I think it tasted better, but that’s just because homemade whipped cream is amazing.  And only adds to the amazingness that is dirt cake.

Dirt Cake

Recipe from my mom

Makes about 12 servings

1 package Oreo cookies (the regular kind, not Double Stuffed)

½ stick unsalted butter

8oz cream cheese

¾ cup powdered sugar

two 3.4oz packages instant vanilla pudding

2 ¾ cups milk

12 oz Cool Whip (or homemade whipped cream)

gummy worms (optional)

In a food processor, crumble the cookies until finely ground and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar.  In another large bowl mix the instant pudding powder with the milk to create your pudding.  Add the pudding into the cream cheese mixture and stir to combine.  Fold in Cool Whip or whipped cream.  In a serving bowl (mine was a 2.75 quart Pyrex dish but I made a half recipe) layer cookie crumbs and pudding mixture, beginning and ending with cookie crumbs.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before servings, then store leftovers in the fridge.  If using gummy worms, add them just before serving, as they will get very hard if refrigerated.

Carrot Cake Quick Bread

I’m pretty sure that with this post, I’ll have made carrot cake into almost every breakfast item imaginable.

Let’s see…I’ve made carrot cake muffins, carrot cake waffles, carrot cake pancakes, and I’ve made actual carrot cake and carrot cake cupcakes.  (Check out the recipe index!)  The only thing I’m missing are carrot cake donuts.  With a cream cheese glaze, mmmmm.  Well, you know that’s going to happen.

Obviously, this household really likes carrot cake.  Luke has already openly professed his love for carrot cake, but I’m not ready to commit to just one type of cake as my favorite.

But back to cake for breakfast.  This bread is soft and tender, and while it’s not as dense or moist as actual cake, it certainly is still quite tasty.

You can also make a cream cheese spread to accompany, if you want to kick it up a notch.

Carrot Cake Quick Bread

 Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens, April 2011

 Makes one 9X5” loaf

 For the bread:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg (or cardamom)

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

2 cups shredded carrots

2 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

For the cream cheese icing:

1 oz cream cheese, softened

¾ cup powdered sugar

3-4 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9X5” loaf pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine carrots, eggs, milk, and oil and stir until blended.  Add to the dry ingredients, stirring until moistened.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  If it is browning too quickly, cover with foil.  Cool in pan at least 10 mins, then invert onto rack to cool completely.  While the load cools, make the icing.

Stir together all icing ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.  Top bread with icing before serving.

Nutella Cheesecake Pumpkin Muffins

It’s been kind of hot in MA the last few days.  And I am not a summer person.  Especially not in an apartment without air conditioning.

The only up side is I get to see a lot of this.

Izzy is lying down on her side and belly more often to cool off.  There’s nothing to make me forget that my bare legs are sticking together than a little black bunny flopping over and spreading out on her little paws.

Luckily, or not so luckily, the heat streak is ending today.  I’m happy about it.  As cute as Izzy is, I’d rather not start sweating while kneading bagel dough or checking on roasted potatoes.

Or making muffins.  I loooooove muffins.  I love them even more when they have a secret filling.

And if that secret filling involves nutella, I’ll eat so many I won’t care about that huge blister on my big toe I got from walking too far in flip flops.  Damn hot weather shoes.

But muffins make it all better.  I know it’s not pumpkin season, but these guys are delicious any time of year.

Nutella Cheesecake Filled Pumpkin Muffins

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Makes about 20 muffins

For the muffins:

4 large eggs

1-½ cup sugar

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree

1-½ cup vegetable oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

For the cheesecake filling:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup Nutella

1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add in sugar, pumpkin and oil and beat thoroughly. Add in remaining dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, Nutella and egg until smooth.

Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or place lines in the cups. Place about 2 tablespoons of pumpkin batter into each liner, then 1 tablespoon of Nutella batter, then top with 2 more tablespoons of pumpkin batter. Bake for 18-22 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Remove from muffin tin and enjoy!

Cream Cheese Filled Carrot Cake Muffins

Today I’m posting about something that both parties of Bashful Bao can get behind.  While I do enjoy making scrumptious dishes involving ingredients Luke doesn’t eat, and savor them immensely, I mainly try to accommodate both our palates.

I’m thinking this one’s right up that alley.  We both love carrot cake (including Izzy…if she was allowed to eat cake), so when I had extra cream cheese filling from my stuffed red velvet cookies, I knew this recipe had to happen ASAP.

Oh man…these muffins are goood.  Like finding the prefect bridesmaid dress at the first store, and it’s on sale good (fingers crossed).

I wish I had had some of these to bring down to CT.  I was so busy preparing my dad’s birthday treats, I completely forgot to make something to bring for my mom and stepdad, since we stay with them while in CT.  After dinner last night, my stepdad asked, “So Anna, what did you bring us for dessert?”  I shamefully hung my head and admitted that I had no goodies stashed away for his sweet tooth.  Some food blogger I am.

Hey, I figure he has my mom to bake for him, right?  Oh well.

I would totally eat these muffins for breakfast, lunch and dessert.  That’s probably why they disappeared so fast.  I will definitely be making them again in the near future, they’re practically an excuse to eat carrot cake all day long.  Best excuse ever.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Carrot Cake Muffins

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

Makes 12-15 muffins, depending on size

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp each ground allspice and ground coriander
¼ tsp each ground nutmeg and ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
8 oz finely grated carrots (about 2 cups or 2 large carrots)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup sour cream
1/3 cup canola oil

For the filling:
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or grease the cavities with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Whisk ingredients together to blend evenly and set aside.

Make the filling now so that it is ready once your batter is done. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and beat until very smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together grated carrots and both sugars. Let stand no more than 3 minutes to allow the sugar to break down the carrots and release some liquid. This helps to soften the carrots slightly so that you don’t end up chewing on stringy, cuticle-like bits in your cupcakes. Beat eggs into carrot mixture, one at a time, until well blended. Beat in sour cream and oil until well incorporated. Add flour mixture to carrot mixture all at once and fold gently using a wide spatula with few strokes until mostly incorporated, but do not over mix.

Scoop of spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them half-way. Using the back of a small spoon, create an indent in the center of each portion of batter and place one teaspoon of filling into the indent. Divide remaining batter among muffin cups, being sure to spread it out and cover the top and all sides of the filling to prevent it from leaking out during baking. If you don’t need use all of the filling, that’s ok. I’d rather you not overfill them. Maybe you can make these cookies with the extra?

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the edges (someplace where there is no filling) comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.



Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

According to Luke, he has never been without a date on Valentine’s Day.  We first met in January a few year back, and even though I didn’t know about his streak at the time, I guess I was destined to be his next Valentine.  It was our second date actually, the first being one he tricked me into going on.

I’ll tell that story later.  We went to one of my favorite restaurants, a wonderful Thai joint called Typhoon (if you ever find yourself in central CT and need a bite to eat, I’d highly recommend them) and ate delicious noodles while listening to live harp music.

He also got me flowers.  We easily established that Luke is the hopeless romantic in our relationship, which works well, as I think two would make it a bit crowded.  We haven’t decided whether we’ll be eating in or out this V-Day, but lucky me, I got a present early.

They’re just like the kind I bought in Paris, amazingly smooth and buttery.  Needless to say, I’m thrilled.

There are many red/pink velvet recipes floating around the Internet at the moment, and I wanted to get in on the fun.  When I first saw these cookies, the recipe called for boxed cake mix.  I avoid mixes if at all possible, so I went searching for a from scratch recipe.

And oh. my. goodness.  Definitely one of the best batches of cookies I’ve ever made.  The cookies are soft, but slightly crisp around the edges, and the cheesecake filling adds just the right amount of creaminess to the middle of your big cookie bite.

Luke had these all to himself while I visited my grandma, lucky him.  I’d whip up another batch on V-Day, but there’s another type of cookie that has Luke enamored more, which of course I’ll share in a bit.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

Adapted from Babble

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon natural red food coloring
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the cheesecake filling, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Scoop out teaspoons of the filling onto a plate lined with wax paper and put it in the freezer for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease/line two baking sheets. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in egg and beat well. Beat in vanilla and red food coloring. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.

Take a golf ball sized piece of dough and flatten it in your palm.  Place one of the cream cheese balls in the middle, then fold the cookie dough around it, making sure it is covered completely.  Place on prepared cookie sheet.  Repeat until all the cookie dough is gone.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes until centers appear set. Allow to cool slightly on baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.