Cheesecakes are easy, but at the same time, they take just a bit of work. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not. Stay with me for a bit here. So, cheesecakes aren’t complicated. They involve ingredients we typically have on hand. Graham cracker crumbs, cream cheese, eggs, sugar, heavy cream, etc. Cream the ingredients in a pan and bake them off. However, they are also a bit of work. Some people bake their cheesecakes in a water bath. I’m not saying a water bath is difficult to set-up, but anyone who’s done it will attest to its awkward set-up. On top of that, it’s not like you can just dive-in once it’s baked. You have to wait for the next day for the cheesecake to set-up before doing that. That’s probably the hardest part of it all. Well, sometimes you’re just not feeling it. Sometimes you want to cut the ingredients, time, and effort in half. This recipe for no-bake mini cheesecakes will fill your cheesecake sweet tooth and it’s so easy and quick to put together. No baking, no crust, no water bath, just easy mixing.
I’m just going to say it for everybody. “Casserole” doesn’t sound appetizing. The word just has a bad connotation attached to it in the food world. You can blame things like Tuna casserole and other crazy concussions for that. However, I’m here to break that stigma. There are plenty of delicious casserole dishes out there. Lasanaga, baked ziti, and baked macaroni and cheese are great examples of amazing “casserole” dishes. Well, let me introduce one more to add to that list…French Toast Casserole. Yes, you read that right. French Toast Casserole. I love this dish so much! There’s no need to soak the bread overnight. There’s no need to stand over an oven and slave away flipping the bread at precisely the right moment. Nope, this dish allows you to put everything in one casserole dish, bake it off and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. This version of french toast casserole is called “berries and cream french toast casserole.” For good reason too. We have berries and cream cheese in the casserole. Then, we top it off with more berries and some whipped cream. Once you take a bite of your warm french toast, you’ll think you died and went to heaven. It will take you to another dimension. I’m tellin’ you.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Ice cream is an American favorite and with good reason. Creamy, cool and flavorful, what’s not to like? Well, summertime is here and it’s the perfect time to munch on some ice cream. I can’t think of a better type of ice cream to eat than some homemade, eggless strawberry ice cream. Yes, it’s homemade. That’s a plus. The recipe has no eggs. That’s a bonus. And it’s strawberry ice cream…which yeah….is kind of amazing. So, kick back, relax and cool down with this great recipe. Oh yeah, did I mention none of those pesky ice crystals? There are two keys to this recipe’s success. First, we toss the strawberries in sugar and let the large amounts of liquid in the berries drain. We don’t want that water in our ice cream. Secondly, we use milk powder. It’s key to absorbing the excess liquid and contributing to a creamy texture. Enough talk, let’s get started.
Start by tossing the strawberries in sugar and letting them sit at room temperature covered with plastic wrap for 6-8 hours.
Drain the excess liquid through a colander and place in a bowl.
Pour in the milk, sugar, vanilla, milk powder, salt.
Use a blender or immersion blender to blend the mixture together. You don’t want any lumps of powder or berries. It should be a smooth, uniform mixture. Pour in the heavy cream and stir until combined.
Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine until about 1/2-3/4 full and churn 15-20 minutes or until soft serve consistency.
You can enjoy at this point, but I suggest freezing it from anywhere to a few hours up to overnight. If you choose to freeze, leave out for 5-10 minutes before serving.
See how I do it:
- 1 lb fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 1/4 cups granulated or cane sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup skim milk powder
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Toss the strawberries in 1/2 cup of the sugar in a bowl and allow to sit out at room temperature covered with plastic wrap for 6-8 hours.
Drain the strawberries in a colander in the sink.
Combine the strawberries, milk, milk powder, vanilla extract, 3/4 cup sugar in a bowl and use a blender or immersion blender to puree until smooth. No lumps should remain.
Pour in the heavy cream and stir until uniform in color.
Transfer this ice cream base into the ice cream maker and churn about 15-20 minutes, according to manufacturer's instructions. Make sure you only fill it about 1/2 way full or 3/4 way full when you pour the base in. You'll have two batches of base.
Transfer the finished ice cream to a storage container. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 hours or up to overnight.
Temper ice cream for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish how you please and enjoy!
You'll have extra ice cream base. It makes about two batches worth. Don't over churn and leave some space in the ice cream maker so "overrun" can occur.
Thumbprint cookies are elegant, delicious and so easy to make. The perfect accompaniment at your next brunch or tea party. Thumbprint cookies are typically shortbread cookies that are filled with fruit jam. My version is a little nonconventional as I use a sugar cookie dough base. I’ll eventually share a thumbprint cookie recipe with a shortbread base, but this is just as delicious a recipe. This is too easy and too delicious to not try.
You’ll need sugar, butter and sour cream.
You’ll also need vanilla extract, an egg and a lemon.
Lastly, you’ll need some flour, salt and baking powder.
Combine the butter, sugar and sour cream in a mixer and mix until light and fluffy about 5 minutes. Scrape.
Add in the egg and vanilla. Mix until combined. Scrape.
Add in the dry ingredients and pulse until just combined. Finish folding in the rest of the flour. Mixture will still appear crumbly, but big chunks of flour shouldn’t be visible.
Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more.
Use a mini ice cream scoop to scoop out two scoops of dough and form a ball. Make an indentation with your thumb, deep enough to hold the jam. Place on a pre-greased baking sheet.
Fill with your favorite jam and bake off for 10-12 minutes. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about five minutes. Cool completely before glazing.
Make your glaze and drizzle on top of the cookies.
See how I do it:
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- zest from one small or medium sized lemon
- juice from one small or medium sized lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-3 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest and juice from half a medium sized lemon
Combine the sugar, butter and sour cream in a mixer and mix until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
Add in lemon zest and juice until combined.
Dump in the dry ingredients and pulse until just combined. Fold in the rest until flour isn't visible. Don't overmix! Mixture will still appear crumbly.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour or more, until you're ready to bake it off.
Once out of the fridge, use a mini ice cream scoop. Scoop out one or two scoops worth of dough. Roll between your palms to form a ball and use your thumb to form an indentation in the middle. Place the cookie balls about 2" apart. Spoon in your favorite strawberry jam in the middle. Continue doing this until all cookies are filled with jam.
Bake off at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for about five minutes and continue to cool completely on a wire rack.
Combine your powdered sugar, vanilla, zest, juice and milk until a glaze that is the correct consistency is accomplished. You want the glaze not too thin, and not too thick like frosting. You should be able to drizzle it.
Once the cookies are cool, drizzle the glaze over the top. Let the glaze dry, then enjoy!
Use your favorite homemade or jarred strawberry jam. You can use any flavor jam if you want to switch it up. Add as much milk as you need for a good glaze consistency, a tablespoon at a time. Good, soft cookies should not be over mixed or over baked. This is a sugar cookie base instead of a shortbread base.
This strawberry sauce is so versatile. You can use it to top ice cream, cheesecakes, cakes, and pretty much anything else you want. Though it’s not strawberry season at the moment, Spring and Summer is just around the corner, so we may as well get ready for it the right way. The sauce is delicious, but not overpowering like some may be. I’ll personally be using this sauce to make a tasty trifle. Watch out for that next week!
Start by placing some whole strawberries to the side. You’ll cut off the tops and slice these, but you won’t put them into your sauce until after it’s cooked. Cut off the tops and slice in half the rest of the berries. Place in a saucepan with the sugar.
Cook on a medium to medium-low heat for about 15 minutes or until thicker. Stir occasionally. A wooden spoon is best for this recipe.
Once it’s done cooking, it should look something like this.
Take off the heat and pour into a separate bowl. Add in the lemon zest and vanilla and mix.
Blend with your immersion blender until desired thickness is reached. If you want it thinner, add in some water or lemon juice when in the cooking process. It will obviously be tarter if you go the lemon juice route. You can also strain it after you blend it and just add the liquid to some sliced berries and mix.
Enjoy with some ice cream, cheesecake or in a trifle, like I’ll be doing. Keep covered, refrigerated for up to a week.
See how I do it:
Cut the tops of the strawberries and slice them in half. Leave two whole berries to the side and slice them as well. Place in a saucepan along with the sugar. Cook on a medium to medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and pour into a seperate bowl. Add in the lemon zest and vanilla and mix. Use a immersion blender to blend to the consistency you'd like. Enjoy! Refrigerate covered for up to a week.
Cut the tops of the strawberries and slice them in half. Leave two whole berries to the side and slice them as well. Place in a saucepan along with the sugar.
Cook on a medium to medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Remove from the heat and pour into a seperate bowl.
Add in the lemon zest and vanilla and mix.
Use a immersion blender to blend to the consistency you'd like.
Refrigerate covered for up to a week.
Sorry guys for missing last week. There has been a lot going on. Between work, finals, having to do a dessert table for my aunt’s graduation party and catching a cold over that time. To say it’s been crazy lately is a huge understatement. I’m still recovering from the illness, so I decided to give you something very easy to make.
Jams, although they seem easy to make, can be more complicated then they need to be. Some people think you need canning jars, pectin and thermometers. All that is not necessary. People are just over complicating it for no reason. This recipe will yield a delicious jam that thickens beautifully in no time. Oh yeah, and it tastes so good! No pectin is needed. No thermometer and no canning jars. Lastly, you can also substitute the strawberries for any other berry, as well.
Start by cutting of the green tops of the strawberries and cutting the berries in half and then in half again, into chunks.
Wash the chunks when finished and set aside.
Wash and peel and core a Granny Smith apple and cut it in half. When peeling, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Begin grating half the apple. You can use a box grater or a microplane, though, a microplane will take you longer.
Set aside some sugar. I use some vanilla sugar that I make by leaving an old vanilla bean in the sugar jar over time. Regular boring sugar works as well.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the strawberries, sugar and grated apple. Stir occasionally.
Heat this mixture for about 10-15 minutes and until it thickens significantly. Stir throughout this process.
Take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Pour the mixture in a small canning jar or a ramekin or bowl. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least four hours or up to overnight. It will thicken and improve in flavor as it sits.
This jam will last up to two weeks in a wrapped container in the fridge.
See how I do it:
- 8 oz fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled, washed and diced in chunks
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar or homemade vanilla sugar
- half a granny smith apple, peeled and grated
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine 1/2 pound fresh (or frozen, thawed) hulled, quartered strawberries and the 1/3 cup sugar in a saucepan.
Stir and heat over medium heat, use the rubber spatula to break up the strawberries.
Stir in 1/2 peeled, coarsely grated large Granny Smith apple. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring and breaking up strawberries, until sugar dissolves.
Simmer until jam is thickened, 10-15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
Transfer to a bowl or jar; let cool. Cover and chill until set, about 2 hours or overnight. Keep chilled; serve within 2 weeks.
You can really use any berry here. Jam will last wrapped in container in fridge for up to two weeks.
If you know me, you know that I appreciate all things Italian. The culture, the country, the language and of course the food. The Italians are well-known for taking simple ingredients and making them shine. Simplicity is the key in Italian food and I really appreciate that. They somehow carry that mentality to desserts as well, which is hard to imagine. While many want to overcomplicate desserts, the Italians say “no way!” They want simple ingredients to shine. They want smaller portions and lighter desserts. Semifreddo is a great example of that. Semifreddo literally translates to “semi-frozen.” That’s what semifreddo is. It’s a half-frozen mousse. Much lighter than ice cream, but with the same creaminess. It’s very easy to make and very versatile. You can flavor a semifreddo pretty much anyway you’d like. You can also serve it anyway you’d like. Me, I decided to not overcomplicate it. I made a vanilla semifreddo and served it with strawberry sauce and a few fresh strawberries. The next day, I made a fresh strawberry compote. I served it slightly warm and oh my gosh was it delicious. The cold and warm contrast in desserts always works best. What I’m saying is, flavor and serve as you please! Learn the technique and have some fun with it.
Make sure you have your eggs at room temperature and your heavy cream cold. Having your ingredients at the proper temperature is always important in executing desserts. Grease a loaf pan and line the loaf pan with plastic wrap with a little overhang. Place in freezer.
Separate your eggs. You’ll only use 1/3 cup of the egg whites for this recipe. Reserve the rest for another recipe or discard the rest. In a heat-proof bowl, whisk together your egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla extract and vanilla beans if using, with a whisk or hand beater until lighter yellow and thickened. With a hand mixer, it’ll take about 2-3 minutes. With a whisk it’ll take about five minutes. Place the heat-proof bowl over simmering pot of water and continue to whisk for about 3 minutes until volume is about doubled. Take it off the heat and whisk for another minute.
Zest in the lemon zest and whisk in.
In a stand mixer, whisk the cream of tartar and egg whites on high speed. When tracks begin to form, gradually add in the other 1/4 cup sugar. Continue to whisk on high speed until a moist, shiny, firm stiff peak forms.
Fold in the meringue into the egg yolk mixture gently.
Without cleaning the bowl or whisk, pour in the heavy cream and whisk on high speed until soft peaks form.
Fold in the whipped cream into the mousse mixture.
Remove the loaf pan from the freezer and pour the mousse gently into the pan and slightly flatten the top. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.
After 4 hours.
Dip the pan in hot water for about 10 seconds and use an offset to unmold the semifreddo.
You can serve the semifreddo with any kind of berry, compote or sauce.
It was just another day. I was online browsing recipes as I usually do and I made a discovery that would forever change my life. I saw a picture of a lovely white meringue, topped with fruit and cream. It looked absolutely delicious. I thought, hey, why not? Let’s give it a try. Little did I know, just how freaking good this dish is. Pavlova is a dish that originated in New Zealand. It’s a meringue that is topped with cream and fruit, traditionally. I’ve never had anything like it. The outer shell gives a little bit of a crispy texture. The inside has a marshmallow texture. It is the lightest dessert ever. Topped with the fresh whipped cream and strawberries to add some sweetness. It has all the elements you want in a dessert and all the elements really contrast well with each other. Strawberries go great with it, but really any berries will work. If you haven’t had Pavlova, it will change your life. Seriously. You’ll thank me later.
Ensure that the egg whites are at room temperature. This will ensure you get a proper meringue. Also, we want to make sure these meringues don’t stick to our baking sheet. You’ll use a parchment or silicone sheet. You can use a stand mixer or Pre-heat your oven to 200°F.
To begin, prepare your oven and baking sheet. Using a whip attachment, whip up the egg whites on low speed until slightly frothy.
Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to high. Continue whipping until tracks form and the whites are at a soft peak. It should be a soft, drooping peak when you lift the beater.
With the mixer running, gradually add in the sugar, vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch.
Continue whipping until it’s a shiny stiff meringue with stiff peaks. For me, it only took a couple of minutes after adding the rest of the ingredients. You can stop the mixer and check if you’re not sure. If it’s stiff and holds it’s peak, you’re good to go.
You can pipe the meringue, use a cutter to ensure that there’s an even amount, or you can just spoon them onto the sheet. Drop the meringue into 5 equal mounds with a couple inches between them on the prepared baking sheet.
Dip a soup spoon in hot water, wiping off each time you dip it and you the back of the spoon to create a divot in the center of the mound. This will be where your cream and fruit will go.
Bake the meringues for 1 1/2 hours and then turn off the oven and leave them for another hour to dry out. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely before topping them. All ovens are different, so if you see that the meringues are browning too quickly, open the oven door for 10 minutes to let it cool down. Cracks are totally normal too.
Now, prepare the cream and the berries. I like to macerate the strawberries in a little sugar and lemon juice. If you’d like to top it with a strawberry sauce, that would be delicious, as well.
Top them as you please and enjoy. These don’t last long around here. I finished them all off within the hour. Hey, I can’t help it! They’re so light. It’s like I’m eating air. It’s my ultimate dessert cheat code, when I want something sweet without a ton of fat.
Who doesn’t love cheesecake? It’s perfect anytime and it’s so versatile. Flavors vary from Oreo to pumpkin to red velvet. New flavors seem to be created on a daily basis. But if you’re not as adventurous, you can always come back home to the traditional. You can’t go wrong with the traditional cheesecake. A graham cracker crust, the creamy middle and the topping of strawberry puree. It’s so delicious and goes really well anytime, but especially in the spring or summer. This recipe is the one we used in class. The first time I tasted it, I felt like I was on cloud nine. The crust is slightly spiced, the middle is super creamy and light and of course the tartness and sweetness from the strawberries really goes well with the subtle cream cheese tang. If you’ve never made cheesecake, try this recipe and I guarantee you’ll never doubt your cheesecake skills again.
Before we begin, it’s vital that all your ingredients are at room temperature. If you want a great cheesecake, starting with room temperature ingredients, will get you there.
Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.
Lightly grease a 10″ springform pan. This recipe yields one cheesecake for a 10″ pan.
To begin, combine all the crust ingredients together and mix until it clumps together like wet sand when clinched in hands.
In a lightly greased spring form pan, press the crust into the bottom. Ensure the sides are covered and it’s pretty even throughout.
Begin by mixing the cream cheese on low until smooth and no lumps. Stop the mixer a couple of times to scrape.
Gradually add in the sugar. Scrape after mixing for a little bit. Add in the lemon zest and salt and mix for a little bit. Scrape. Begin to add in the eggs one at a time. Beat well between additions. Allow the egg to get absorbed before adding the next one. Also, I scrape between each addition. I also add the vanilla extract at this point. After mixing for a bit, it should look more liquid and smooth. Scrape the bowl and blade at this point. Use your hands to clean the blade off. Add in the sour cream, mix, scrape, add in the heavy cream slowly, mix, scrape, add in the lemon juice, scrape and mix. Keep the mixer on the lowest speed or second speed throughout this process. I can’t stress enough the importance of scraping throughout.
Place the batter in the pan on top of the crust. Place your pan into a 2″ pan or round pan. Pour 3 cups of hot water. Place in your pre-heated oven and bake for about 40 minutes to an hour. It took me about 45-50 minutes for this to finish.
It’ll bake for 40 minutes to an hour. The internal temperature should be 155°F. The best way to tell if it’s finished if it’s set around the sides, but jiggly in the middle. It should be firm to the touch in the middle, meaning it shouldn’t be liquid when you touch it.
Once out of the oven, remove from the 2″ pan and allow to cool for about 20-30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
For the strawberry sauce, wash all the strawberries and cut them in half. Set aside 1/3 and cook the rest. Cook over medium high heat for about 15 minutes, until it becomes thicker and more like a syrup.
Once it’s thicker, remove from the heat and move to a new container.
Add in the 1/3 uncooked strawberries and mix. Let it cool and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, have a pitcher of steaming hot water with a small offset or butter knife, a chef’s knife and a cake or pie server in it.
Using the offset or butter knife, unmold the cheesecake, top with the strawberry sauce, decorate (optional).
If topped with whip cream, serve within the first couple of days. Without whipped cream, you can serve it for up to a week. Keep refrigerated until serving time.
Crust In one bowl, combine all your ingredients for the crust and combine until it clinches together like wet sand. In a lightly greased 10" springform pan, pat the crumbs until they reach the sides and are even across the bottom. Make sure they don't go up the sides. Start by having all your ingredients at room temperature and pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Mix the cream cheese on low for about five minutes, stopping to scrape. It should be smooth and lump-free. Gradually add in the granulated sugar and mix until sugar is blended in, about 2 minutes after adding all the sugar in. Scrape. Add in the lemon zest and salt and mix until combined. Scrape. Add in the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Scrape. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. Let it mix properly before adding each egg. Scrape in between each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined. Scrape. Slowly pour in the heavy cream and mix until combined. Scrape. Add the lemon juice and mix until combined. Scrape. Pour the batter on top of the crust in the springform pan and tap lightly to release air bubbles. In a pan or pot that has 2" sides, pour in three cups of hot water. Place the springform pan in the middle of the water bath. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes to one hour. I check at the 40-minute mark and go from there. If you have a digital thermometer you can check the internal temperature, which should be at 155°F when it's done. The best way to tell if it's done is if the sides are firm, but the center is jiggly. If it jiggles, but when you touch it with your finger it's not liquid in the center, that means it's done. Refrigerate overnight. Top with strawberry sauce and serve. Wash all strawberries and cut them in half. Place 2/3 of the strawberries in a saucepan with the sugar and vanilla. Cook about 15 minutes on medium-high heat, until thicker and syrup-like. As you cook the strawberries, mash them slightly with the wooden spoon. Remove from heat and place the remaining 1/3 uncooked strawberries with the cooked strawberries and mix. Let it cool for about 10 minutes. Cover with saran and refrigerate overnight. Serve with the cheesecake the next day.
In one bowl, combine all your ingredients for the crust and combine until it clinches together like wet sand.
In a lightly greased 10" springform pan, pat the crumbs until they reach the sides and are even across the bottom. Make sure they don't go up the sides.
Start by having all your ingredients at room temperature and pre-heat your oven to 350°F.
Mix the cream cheese on low for about five minutes, stopping to scrape. It should be smooth and lump-free.
Gradually add in the granulated sugar and mix until sugar is blended in, about 2 minutes after adding all the sugar in. Scrape.
Add in the lemon zest and salt and mix until combined. Scrape.
Add in the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Scrape.
Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. Let it mix properly before adding each egg. Scrape in between each addition.
Add in the vanilla and mix until combined. Scrape.
Slowly pour in the heavy cream and mix until combined. Scrape.
Add the lemon juice and mix until combined. Scrape.
Pour the batter on top of the crust in the springform pan and tap lightly to release air bubbles.
In a pan or pot that has 2" sides, pour in three cups of hot water.
Place the springform pan in the middle of the water bath.
Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes to one hour. I check at the 40-minute mark and go from there. If you have a digital thermometer you can check the internal temperature, which should be at 155°F when it's done. The best way to tell if it's done is if the sides are firm, but the center is jiggly. If it jiggles, but when you touch it with your finger it's not liquid in the center, that means it's done.
Top with strawberry sauce and serve.
Wash all strawberries and cut them in half.
Place 2/3 of the strawberries in a saucepan with the sugar and vanilla.
Cook about 15 minutes on medium-high heat, until thicker and syrup-like.
As you cook the strawberries, mash them slightly with the wooden spoon.
Remove from heat and place the remaining 1/3 uncooked strawberries with the cooked strawberries and mix.
Let it cool for about 10 minutes. Cover with saran and refrigerate overnight.
Serve with the cheesecake the next day.