Easy Cheese Danish

Easy Cheese Danish

My husband has been asking to make cheese danish for years.

You’d think I would have taken him up on that right away! I love to bake. I love to be bossy in the kitchen. I love cheese danish.

But for some reason, I felt intimidated. Do you ever feel paralyzed by the desire to do something absolutely perfectly the first time, to find the right recipe and execute it just right, and make the most delicious thing anyone has ever tasted?

I had made croissants exactly once: they were a lot of work, and in the end, they were only fine. Fine! How dare they. I knew that cheese danish was in danger of turning out the same way, so I put them on the back burner.

But this month, when I was cruising through Renee’s Kitchen Adventures for my Secret Recipe Club challenge, I spotted a cheese danish recipe…and I knew I would have to go for it. This recipe is somewhat unusual, as it uses puff pastry instead of a typical laminated, yeasted dough! This had the potential to be way simpler, and equally as delicious. Plus, I have been all about puff pastry lately.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Gingersnap Crust

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Gingersnap Crust

I have never liked pumpkin pie.

I know I’m not alone in that.

Because of pumpkin pie, I believed until well into my adulthood that I hated all pumpkin things.

Thank God I got over that!

But seriously, pumpkin pie is not the only way to enjoy your pumpkin this Thanksgiving. And why do pie when you can go cheesecake?

Pumpkin cheesecake is amazing and gorgeous, it’s creamy and tangy and sweet and warm with Fall spices. It’s basically Fall dessert perfection.

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Brownie Cheesecake Ice Cream

Brownie Cheesecake Ice Cream

As you may know, it’s National Ice Cream Month. A month I intend to celebrate enthusiastically! (Okay…I may have jumped the gun a little and started celebrating early. And I will probably still be celebrating in August.)

Initially I really struggled to figure out what ice cream recipes to share with you this month. What could be better than Nutella ice cream or cookies and cream ice cream or cake batter ice cream? I am quite predictable in my ice cream selections…and I just didn’t see how I could come up with something new to try when I had already turned all my favorite things into ice cream!

But then it hit me: brownie cheesecake. Awesome!

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How to Make a Wedding Cake: Cheesecake Filling

Three Cheesecakes

So last time, I shared the inception of this wedding cake with you. To recap: the bride and groom requested a 3-tier cake, each tier consisting of pumpkin spice cake, a thin cheesecake filling, and Baileys cream cheese frosting on the outside.

It’s a tall order! Not only is a wedding cake a nerve-wracking, complex thing to take on, but I embraced the additional step of baking cheesecakes to fill the layers, rather than filling with a simple frosting or ganache.

Have you ever make a cheesecake-filled cake? It actually isn’t as hard as it sounds, but it does require extra time and a mountain of extra dishes. The cheesecakes are typically baked in advance and then frozen, which makes them firm enough to handle without crumbling or smushing during assembly.

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How to Make a Wedding Cake: The Concept

Knight Wedding Cake

I may have been somewhat MIA over the last several weeks, but I promise I have not been idle. I have been hard at work on a wedding cake for a good friend of ours!

When the idea first came around, it was almost a joke. You see, I have a frustrating tendency to volunteer for everything. And even to make up events so I can then volunteer to do everything. It’s a sickness.

So as the groom-to-be was teasing me for volunteering to make a dairy-free Sweet Sixteen cake several months ago, he suddenly asked, “Hey, do you want to bake our wedding cake?”

And months of planning later…here I am!

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Honey Ginger Cheesecakes with Caramel Hearts

Honey Ginger Cheesecakes for Valentine's

It’s almost Valentine’s day. And if there were ever an occasion that just screamed for a delicious dessert, it’s a day centered around honoring your sweetie, right?

(Not that we really need an excuse to want dessert…)

Last week I was telling you about the valentine-themed cooking challenge I participated in. The mystery ingredient was honey, which I have never really liked. Honey is just way too sweet for me…and I really like sweets, so wrap your mind around that one. But I am super competitive, so I dug my heels in and determined to make the best gosh-darn honey dessert ever.

As I sat on my couch, examining my copy of the Flavor Bible, trying to figure out what kind of dessert I could possibly make that featured honey prominently but was well balanced, I suddenly realized that cheesecake would do the trick! Cheesecake is naturally tart, and the salt in cream cheese seemed like the ideal complement to the flowery saccharine flavor of honey.

These cheesecakes have several components (hey, it was a competition!), but in the end each piece is quite easy to carry out. They were so delicious, highlighting honey but also bringing in other strong flavors so the honey wouldn’t overwhelm. And guess what? I won the award for creativity!

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Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

When I was a kid, my mom made the best brownies at all the church potlucks. I mean seriously, they were simple, fudgy, and sometimes topped by a colorful sprinkle of mini m&ms. Nothing compared!

And yet, time after time, we would come home from said potlucks with half the batch leftover. It was a complete mystery…how could our fellow worshipers not see that they were passing by the best plate of brownies on the table? They were making beelines for the more frilly desserts, the brownies with all the frosting or the cheesecake swirls. And yet for all their curb appeal, most of those fancy-looking desserts tasted exactly like crunchy cardboard.

Oh well, we figured. More for us! And we enjoyed the spoils of everyone else’s dessert-selecting mistakes.

Memories of those beautiful, tasteless brownies at church potlucks haunted me, in a way. I developed a sort of bipolar snobbishness about my baking (“My food isn’t pretty, but at least it tastes good!”) on top of a massive case of low self-confidence (“Well I think it tastes good, but what if no one else likes what I bring, and then they think I’m a terrible baker, and I have to bring most of it home?”).

I also eschewed such extravagances as cheesecake on my brownies.

Who really needs cheesecake on a brownie, anyway? Isn’t it good enough when they are sweet and chocolatey and soft enough to melt in your mouth?

I obviously hadn’t met these particular cheesecake brownies yet. The brownie part is rich and dark, and the tangy cheesecake is thickly swirled through the chocolate. Each bite dances with flavor. They are perfection!

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Black Bottom Cupcakes

Don’t you just love it when fate guides you to a recipe for something delicious, and you happen to have all of the ingredients on hand?

A few weeks ago I was semi-randomly clicking through food blogs, both those near and dear to my heart and new finds, and I stumbled across this super easy recipe for black bottom cupcakes. I was mentally transported back to high school, when about halfway through my 30-minute drive home from school, I would convince myself to take a small detour so I could swing by Starbucks and get a gigantic, cream-cheese filled cupcake and an even more gigantic mocha frappuccino with about a quart of whipped cream. Yes, those were very healthy times for me…and I’m not quite sure how I always seemed to have just enough cash for these extravagances, but there you go.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve gotten a black bottom cupcake from Starbucks (it’s probably also been a long time since they even carried them!), but they were a pretty amazing treat for me. Chocolate so dark and moist that it was actually black, a soft cheesecake center…what more is a teenage girl to want? (Aside from, say, fitting into her jeans…)

I knew I had to make these cupcakes without delay. You should, too, as soon as you find some unassuming victims to share them with…as I can attest, it’s hard to eat only one!

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Ricotta Cheesecake

There is almost nothing more luscious than a cheesecake, am I right? Thick and creamy, sweet and slightly tangy…the perfect canvas for any flavor you are craving, be it chocolate, caramel, or even cherries.

But if you are anything like me, heavy-laden slices of cheesecake just don’t make good summer fare. That’s why, when I found a recipe for ricotta cheesecake, the cream cheese cake’s skinnier cousin, in Ready for Dessert, I immediately went out and bought an obscene amount of ricotta cheese so I could try it. Why not have your cake and eat it too?

Now, before you get all excited about eating a guilt-free cheesecake, let me warn you that the ricotta version is more like a custard than a cheesecake. It is much less dense, though still creamy, and still a good canvas for your favorite add-ins. David Lebovitz suggested adding fruits…which I, of course, ignored.

I tried out two versions of this recipe. The first aimed to see whether I could sacrifice any of the dairy fats and still result in a cheesecake that was creamy enough to substitute for the New York-style cheesecake I am used to. I used part-skim ricotta and added extra flour to compensate for the extra liquid in the cheese. That version was fine, though a bit crumbier than I would have liked. But the second version, which was more true to David Lebovitz’s recipe, was a delight.

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