S’mores Cheesecake

S'mores Cheesecake

Friday was the 6th anniversary of when Zach and I first started dating.  It also was exactly 3 months from the date when we will be getting married (October 11th).

6 years… that’s a quarter of my life, and the time has just been flying by.  We’re engaged now… we own a house together now… it’s still a little much for me to wrap my head around (I remember when I thought getting our first cell phone plan together was a big commitment).

Saturday we picked out wedding bands and yesterday we went to our first marriage prep meeting after putting up drywall in our basement all morning.  A lot has changed in the past 6 years.

I met Zach when we were 16 years old and working at a nearby Arby’s fast food restaurant together.  He used to pick on me all the time.  I had a huge crush on him pretty much from the start… but it took him 2 years to finally catch on and ask me out.

6 year anniversary together

Boys.  They can be so slow ;)

What better way to celebrate an anniversary than with a cheesecake?  A S’mores cheesecake, specifically.  Summertime is ideal for late-night bonfires and roasting s’mores, but I think I’ve found an even better way to enjoy that graham cracker/chocolate/marshmallow flavor combo.

S'mores Cheesecake

And Zachary (between mouthfuls) told me this was the best thing I’ve made so far.  Trying to get sincere, positive feedback about desserts from him is kind of like trying to wring water from a rock, so this recipe is definitely a winner, and will be around for a while.

A classic, graham cracker-based crust was the obvious choice for a S’mores cheesecake.  Top that with a decadent, milk chocolate fudge (don’t freak out, it is very easy, no candy thermometer needed!), which in turn is topped with a creamy, marshmallow fluff based cheesecake and then sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs and drizzled with additional milk chocolate.

S'mores Cheesecake

Share it with the special person in your life.  Or eat it all yourself, whatev, I don’t judge.

Enjoy!

 

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
S'mores Cheesecake
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Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Marshmallow based cheesecake on a layer of milk chocolate fudge and a graham cracker crust.
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 10 Tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Milk Chocolate Fudge
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 bag (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Marshmallow Cheesecake
  • 32 oz (8 packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 14 oz marshmallow fluff
  • 1¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Graham Cracker Crust
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine 10 tbsp melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, and 2 Tbsp granulated sugar.
  2. Press into the bottom of a 10.5" springform pan and set aside
Milk Chocolate Fudge Center
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, Hersheys milk chocolate chips, and 2 Tbsp butter.
  2. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until all ingredients are melted and combined.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp vanilla extract. Stir.
  4. Pour over graham cracker crust. Set aside while you prepare the marshmallow cheesecake layer.
Marshmallow Cheesecake
  1. In stand mixer, cream together cream cheese, marshmallow fluff, and sugar.
  2. Add 1 tsp vanilla and stir.
  3. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add sour cream and heavy cream, beat until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway through.
  5. Bake on 350 degrees F for 55 minutes. Center should be set and edges golden brown.
  6. Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving. If desired, sprinkle with additional graham cracker crumbs and drizzle with melted milk chocolate (I melted 2.5 Milk Chocolate Hershey's bars for my chocolate drizzle)

S'mores Cheesecake
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Strawberry Stuffed Angel Food Cupcakes

Am I too late for the red white and blue posts?

Doesn’t matter, because these perfect little cupcakes are not Fourth of July specific.  Heck, they are not even summer specific because that strawberry filling… yeah, that’s made with frozen strawberries.

Strawberry Stuffed Angel Food Cupcakes

That being said, you need these desserts for your next summertime cookout.  They are the perfect warm-weather dessert: light, airy angel food cake filled with a refreshing shock of strawberry filling and topped off with homemade whipped cream.

Strawberry Stuffed Angel Food Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a twist on a recipe that my grandmother makes… instead of cupcakes she makes an amazingly delicious angel food cake that is stuffed with this same strawberry filling.  I put a little twist on the recipe by miniaturizing the resulting cakes.  She also keeps things a little less complicated, and if you are running short on time and find yourself up to your ears making potato salads and pasta salads and jerk chicken, then give yourself a break and feel free to use boxed angel food cake and cool whip icing.

This is not a license I give freely, but since that’s how my grandmother does it (with delicious results), you get a pass for this recipe.  Just this once.

IMG_1269

However, if you do not have a potato salad alibi, then you need to make this from scratch.  I (only very slightly) altered my favorite Good Housekeeping Angel Food Cake recipe, which is my mom’s constant go-to recipe for Angel Food Cake (if she fails to bring it to a family get together, riots ensue).  You also need to try making your own whipped cream, if you haven’t done so before.  It’s SO easy, and the results are so much more flavorful than what you’ll find in a Cool Whip container.

Strawberry Stuffed Angel Food Cupcakes

 

Happy belated 4th!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Strawberry Stuffed Angel Food Cupcakes
Author: 
Serves: 34 cupcakes
 
Ingredients
Angel Food Cupcakes
  • 1¼ c. powdered sugar
  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups egg whites (about 11-12 egg whites)
  • 1½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 c granulated sugar
Filling
  • 2 Angel Food Cupcakes
  • 2-inch squared centers removed from remaining angel food cupcakes
  • 1 3-oz packet strawberry Jello mix
  • 16 oz frozen strawberries
Whipped Cream Topping
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • Blueberries or other fruit for garnish, if desired
Instructions
Angel Food Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line cupcake pan with cupcake liners
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine powdered sugar and flour and set aside.
  3. In stand-mixer, combine egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla and salt. Mix well.
  4. With mixer on high, beat in sugar, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, adding more only once the previous tablespoon has been dissolved (As you add the sugar, you should be able to hear the faint sound of the granules scraping against the metal bowl. Once you no longer hear this, the sugar has been dissolved). Do NOT scrape the sides of the bowl as you are doing this, just keep beating.
  5. Beat until stiff peaks form*
  6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in your sugar/flour mix, about ½ cup at a time. Do not overdo this step, fold only until the flour mixture is combined with the egg whites mixture.
  7. Fill cupcake liners to the top and bake on 375 for 12 minutes.
  8. Allow them to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and remove from cupcake pan. Before cupcakes have cooled completely, cut about a 2 inch square hole in the center of the cupcake. Set the removed centers in a medium bowl, which you will use for the filling in the next step. Likewise, tear two cupcakes into small pieces and place them in the bowl as well.
Filling
  1. Bring 1 cup water to a boil.
  2. In the bowl with the cupcakes pieces, combine hot water, strawberry Jello mix, and frozen strawberries.
  3. Combine all ingredients, chopping the strawberries into small pieces as they soften. Mix well.
  4. Using a spoon, pour the filling into the hollowed out cupcakes, filling them to the top of the cups (It is very unlikely that you will use all of the filling mix).
  5. Place cupcakes in the freezer for 15-30 minutes to chill before topping with whipped cream.
Whipped Cream Topping
  1. In your stand mixer, combine heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar.
  2. Starting on medium speed, gradually increase mixer speed to high and stir until desired consistency is reached (stiff peaks).
  3. Remove cupcakes from freezer and pipe whipped cream on top. Top with blueberries or other fruit if desired.
Notes
*Stiff peaks are formed when you can dip a rubber spatula in to the mix and pull it straight back out and the peak/tip that is formed doesn't fold over at all.

Angel Food Cupcakes--centers removed

Prepared Filling and hollowed cupcakes

Fill 'em up!

 

Top 'em off

 

 

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Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I’ve been waiting a long, long time to share this ‘recipe’ with you.

Mostly because, despite how incredibly easy it is to make your own vanilla extract, it also takes a long time.  Two minutes to prepare, then two months at least before you can use it.

Those two months are going to pass anyway.  Get your vanilla extract started today.

Let me show you how to really quickly.

First, Collect your ingredients.  You will need 7 Grade A or B Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans*, 1 3/4 cups vodka (equivalent to 350ml) (or bourbon, which is what is inside my purple-labeled bottle), and a glass container (such as a mason jar) in which to combine and store your ingredients.

Vanilla Extract Ingredients and Supplies

Step 1.)  Split your vanilla beans.  Starting about 1/4 inch down from the top of the bean, split the bean in half lengthwise using a sharp knife.

Vanilla Beans for Vanilla Extract

Step 2.)  Place your beans in a resealable container and cover them with the alcohol of your choice.  Unflavored, mid-shelf alcohol is your best bet as it allows the flavor of the vanilla bean to really shine through.  As you can see I used Smirnoff for the vodka-based vanilla, and for my bourbon-based vanilla (not pictured) I used Jim Bean.

DIY Vanilla Extract

Make sure your vanilla beans are fully submerged in alcohol.  If you need to, you can cut them in half.

Step 3.)  Sit back and wait!  Seal up your container and place it in a cool, dark space (I keep mine under my bed).  Try to remember to shake the container a few times a month to create as much vanilla-infusion as possible.  I recommend labeling the container with the contents and date as I did below.

DIY Vanilla Extract

 

As time goes on, your vanilla will darken to the deep caramel color that you are used to associating with vanilla extract, as you can see with my most recently finished and bottled batches.

DIY Vanilla Extract

While the extract will be ready to use after 2 months, I chose to bottle my vanilla after letting it sit for about 3 months (the longer you wait, the stronger the extract).  If you would prefer to keep your vanilla in its original container then the longer it takes to use it, the stronger your vanilla flavor will be as you get near the bottom of the bottle.  Just be sure to keep your vanilla beans submerged, either by cutting them as the liquid diminishes or by adding more alcohol (which in turn will dilute the vanilla, so add only as much as is necessary).

DIY Vanilla Extract Recipe

 

*When I initially set out to make vanilla, I was incredibly discouraged by the price of a single bean in the grocery store.  I found a website online called Beanilla  (affiliate link, code: 4528601) where I paid $25 for 25 Grade A Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans, AND I got free shipping (I think the free shipping was a special and am not sure if it’s still going on).

Inexpensive Vanilla Extract

And that’s it.  3 steps to your own, homemade vanilla extract.  The hardest part is the wait!

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 7 Grade A or Grade B Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans
  • 1¾ cups (350ml) mid-shelf liquor--either Vodka or Bourbon
Instructions
  1. Keeping the beans connected at the end of the stem, slice vanilla beans lengthwise.
  2. Place in a resealable glass container, such as a mason jar.
  3. Cover beans with liquor. Make sure that beans are fully submerged. If necessary, cut beans in half width-wise so that they are completely covered by alcohol.
  4. Place in a cool, dark space for 2-3 months, being sure to shake the container at least 4 times a month.

 

 

 

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Muffins

Who has two thumbs, an insatiable appetite for peanut butter chocolate chip muffins and can’t paint a wall right to save her life?

Check, check, and double-check.  And after over an hour of botching the paint job on one of the walls in my future family room, some serious baking therapy was in order.

My preferred therapy includes lots. of. chocolate.  And peanut butter.  And it creates muffin tops that, when removed (because you guys do that too, right?  Devour the base of the muffin and preserve the top, AKA the best part, for last?) taste remarkably like fresh peanut butter cookies.

PB Chocolate Chip Muffins

Bingo.

I think the biggest reason that baking is so good for de-stressing is just that I get to eat a lot of pre-cooked batter in the process.  And who can worry about things like whether or not their family room looks like it was painted by Jackson Pollock when they have a mouthful of peanut buttery batter?

Not me.  Just know that, thanks to the use of heavy cream, this recipe makes a light, silky, peanut butter batter that you are going to have to fight against every fiber of your being to resist shoveling into your mouth.

Just… try to fill up at least 11 muffin cups, OK?

IMG_1064

5.0 from 2 reviews
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
Author: 
Serves: 12 muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ⅔ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cups creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prepare cupcake pan by spraying lightly with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  5. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla extract.
  6. Add peanut butter and stir until combined.
  7. Add heavy cream and beat about 30 seconds. Mixture will be smooth and airy.
  8. Gradually, with mixer on medium-low, pour flour mixture into batter. Stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
  9. Spoon batter into prepared cupcake cups, filling each cup completely.
  10. Bake 18-20 minutes. Allow muffins to cool in pan before serving.

 
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Peach Blackberry Gingersnap Crisp

I am in peach blackberry gingersnap heaven right now.

Trust me, that’s a place.  At least, I am 98.8% confident that it must be after eating this peach-blackberry gingersnap crisp.  Devouring this peach-blackberry gingersnap crisp, rather, as much as I could while my family tackled it as well.  It didn’t stand a chance.  How many times can I say peach-blackberry gingersnap crisp before you get annoyed?  I’ll stop now.

I used to not be a big fan of fruit in my desserts, but as you might be able to tell from a few of my previous posts I’m slowly coming around.  Maybe it’s the hot, HOT weather we’re having right now, but I’ve been craving lighter, fruit-laden desserts recently.

But, um, not just fruit, ya know.   It needs to be surrounded by a significant amount of crumbly buttery sweet goodness in order to keep my attention.

Blackberry Peach Gingersnap Crisp

I’ve always been a fan of the classic, basic apple crisp, but sometimes I crave excitement.

Evidently, excitement for me is using peaches instead of apples and adding gingersnap crumbles to my crumb topping, but hey, I’m OK with that.

This crisp is full of juicy fruit covered in a jazzed up (thanks to the addition of ginger snaps) crumb topping.

IMG_1007

The spicy snap of ginger in these cookies makes a perfectly crisp, cookie topping that pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the peaches and blackberries.

Crisp gingersnap topping + sweet warm fruit filling + cold, (yet melting) vanilla ice cream = melt in your mouth oh-my-gosh-give-me-another-scoop-right-now perfection.

It’s just simple math.

And yes, I definitely recommend topping it all off with ice cream because what warm fruit crisp doesn’t deserve a cold scoop of vanilla, but hey, that’s optional.

As for making this crisp right now… Not optional.  Dooooo itttttt.

IMG_1031

On another note completely unrelated to peach-blackberry gingersnap crisp goodness, on Thursday Zach and I settled on our house!!!!!

We are now officially home owners and I am so excited and I have never before in my life been so in love with Home Depot or so excited to buy a bucket of paint.

Eek!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Skillet Peach-Blackberry Gingersnap Crisp
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Fast, easy fruit crisp recipe
Ingredients
Fruit Filling
  • 5 peaches, sliced, pits removed
  • 1½ cups blackberries
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Crisp topping
  • 20 gingersnap cookies
  • ¾ cups brown sugar (packed)
  • ½ cup flour
  • ⅓ cup oats
  • 1 stick cold butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a 10½ inch cast iron skillet* combine peach slices, blackberries, sugar, lemon juice, corn starch, vanilla, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Crush gingersnap cookies into small pieces. I did this by placing them in a resealable plastic baggie and crushing with a rubber mallet. Alternatively you could crush with a rolling-pin or pulse in a food processor.
  4. Pour cookie pieces in to medium-sized bowl. Add brown sugar, flour, and oats and combine.
  5. Using a pastry cutter (or knife and fork), cut cold butter into the mixture. Cut until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  6. Spread crumb topping evenly over the fruit filling in the skillet.
  7. Bake on 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
  8. Allow crisp to cool slightly before serving, preferably topped with ice cream.
Notes
*I chose to make this crisp in a skillet. I believe that if you did not have a cast iron skillet an 8x8 pan would serve much the same.

 
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