And I’m back! I disappeared over the last week or so and it was kind of accidental. Basically, there was a snafu with a power cord before a big trip. Oops. I had all sorts of grand plans to share delicious recipes while I was gone, but onwards and upwards.
Where did I disappear to exactly?
Tokyo to be exact and it was amazing. One of my good friends is working in Tokyo at the moment, so it was the perfect excuse to visit. Apart from exploring the city, meeting some amazing people and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, the highlight of the trip was definitely the food! Every meal I had was better than the last one. I ate a lot of things that I have had the Americanized version of before and wow, I have been missing out. I also ate a lot of things outside of my normal food comfort zone. You have to be a little adventurous when you travel.
The only downside of all the amazing food, is the fact that I will never be able to eat sushi again, which makes me sad. One morning we woke up at 3.30 to get down to the Tsukiji Fish Market and see the tuna auction. Afterwards we went and had sushi for breakfast. I cannot even put into words how amazing this sushi was. All other sushi has been completely ruined for me. According to my friend I had a look of total disgust on my face the entire time we were eating. Yes, I was totally disgusted, because all other sushi will just pale in comparison for the rest of my life. But it’s kind of okay, since I guess that’s just an excuse to go back!
Now, let’s get back to business.
Cheesecake is one of the few desserts I really, really like. Well, love actually. Naturally, I was intrigued by Japanese cheesecake.
This cheesecake is very different than your standard American cheesecake. The consistency reminds me more of a sponge cake or angel food cake combined with custard than an American cheesecake. It’s very light and airy. It also does not have a crust of any kind. The crust is kind of , sort of, my absolute favorite part of an American-style cheesecake, so off the bat this cheesecake had a disadvantage to winning me over.
I topped my Japanese cheesecake with matcha (green tea) powder (not mold, I swear) and a raspberry sauce. Both helped give a bit of color and flavor to the dessert. I did enjoy this cheesecake, but it probably won’t be on the top of my must make again list.
Japanese Cheesecake (adapted from allrecipes.com)
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup white sugar, divided
- 4 egg whites
- 2/3 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan cake pan with parchment paper.
- Warm the cream cheese and milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cream cheese is melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and half of the sugar until light and fluffy using an electric mixer. Fold the cream cheese mixture into the yolks. Sift in the flour and cornstarch, and stir until blended.
- In a separate bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites with cream of tartar until they can hold a soft peak. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining sugar and continue whipping to stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into the cream cheese mixture. Pour into the prepared cake pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet with sides.
- Place the baking sheet with the cheesecake into the oven, and pour water into the baking sheet until it is half way full. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Continue to bake for 15 more minutes. Let the cake cool before removing from the pan.
- Run a knife around the outer edge of the cake pan, and invert onto a plate to remove the cake. Peel off the parchment paper and invert onto a serving plate so the top of the cake is on top again.
This is one of the easiest and most refreshing desserts you will ever make. The dessert reminds me of the magical summer I spent studying abroad in Cambridge. It’s light, airy and screams of summer, but it is also the perfect no-bake, in a hurry dessert. The meringues make the cream absolutely amazing. The berries and the cream are great, but add in the meringue, and it gives the dessert the best type of contrast.
I made this with both thawed frozen blueberries and fresh ones. The frozen definitely worked better. The juices that form as the berries thaw out, definitely make the dessert all the better. Any berry will work this dessert, so feel free to go wild.
Blueberry Eton Mess (adapted from Food Network)
- One 1-pound bag frozen unsweetened blueberries, thawed
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 scant cup chilled heavy whipping cream
- Eight 2-inch vanilla meringue cookies, coarsely broken (about 2 cups), plus 2 more, halved
- In a medium bowl, using a potato masher or fork, mash the berries and any juices into a chunky sauce.
- Place the sour cream in a 1-cup measuring cup. Add enough chilled heavy cream to fill the cup completely. Scrape the cream mixture into a deep medium bowl. Beat the mixture until thick and stiff with a handheld electric mixer. Fold in the broken meringues.
- Divide the sauce in half and spoon into the bottom of four serving bowls or glasses. Divide the cream mixture in half and spoon on top of the sauce. Repeat the layers using the remaining sauce and cream mixture. Top each parfait with a meringue half and serve immediately.
I love Mexican hot chocolate. It was always one of my favorite things growing up. If you didn’t grow up in Southern California or another area with a large Mexican influence, you might not know what Mexican hot chocolate is, in which case, I’ll share. Mexican hot chocolate is very sweet, sugary chocolate with cinnamon, a bit of vanilla and sometimes some almonds or chili. In these parts, you can buy Mexican hot chocolate in just about any grocery story already mixed up, which makes everything a lot easier.
I saw a box of Abuelita at Costco earlier this ‘winter’ (winter is a very loose term in California) and got pretty excited. I bought it. I might have slightly overshot on this purchase. As much as I love Mexican hot chocolate, it’s not something you can have more than one mug of at a time or even every day; it’s way too rich. I realized I had to come up with other ways to use it all up.
Ps. Chocolate rice pudding is really hard to photograph/make look appetizing. Please forgive the picture.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Rice Pudding (from meals.com)
- Heat milk and Abuelita chocolate in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until Abuelita chocolate is dissolved and milk reaches a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add rice. Cook, stirring frequently, for 60 to 80 minutes or until rice is tender and sauce is thickened.
- Spoon into individual cups. Serve immediately.
These could not be simpler and they could not be more delicious. You probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen already. Be warned they are super, super rich.
The bars are also very easy to make gluten free! All you need is a box of gluten free cake mix and done. And seriously, don’t stress out about not making these completely from scratch. Everyone has enough to worry about this time of year and Betty Crocker and other baking companies have spent millions of dollars perfecting the mix that is in those boxes so you don’t have to worry about it; it’s practically rude not to use them.
These would also be perfect to take to a holiday cookie exchange. They are cookie-ish, but a little more exciting. Just throw some seasonal sprinkles on top and you are good to go.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars (from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
- 1 (18.25) package plain yellow cake mix
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Combine cake mix, melted butter, peanut butter, and eggs in a large bowl using a mixer or spoon. Press this into a 9X13 pan reserving 1 1/2 cup of the mixture to crumble on top.
- In a small pot, melt chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Spread chocolate mixture over the mixture pressed in the pan and then crumble the 1 1/2 cups of reserved cake mixture on top evenly.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
I decided to try a new pecan pie recipe this year. Pecan pie is one of the few desserts I like once a year, but I’m still pretty picky about it. The chocolate and bourbon definitely puts this pie over the top. I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a twist on regular pecan pie.
I read through the comments on the recipe after I made it and I definitely wish I had read them before. This pie makes a TON of filling. You will need a deep dish or 2 regular crusts (see my note!). I would also agree with the recommendation to cut down on the sugar to 3/4 cup. I personally didn’t find the need to cut down on the chocolate or bourbon (and this is coming from someone who is not a fan of chocolate or bourbon), however some other bakers did, but I mean, pecan pie is supposed to be decadent, why cut down on the chocolate and bourbon…?
NOTE: The original recipe called for 1 9-inch pie crust. I followed the recipe exactly and ended up with enough filling for 2 8-inch pie crusts… I would definitely recommend using a deep dish crust or 2 pie crusts like I did. I decided to cheat and used pre-made gluten free pie crusts from Kinnikinnick. These pre-made pie crusts were really not worth the hassle. This is the first bad experience I have had with a Kinnikinnick product. I’ve had good experiences with Whole Foods GF Pie Crusts in the past, but didn’t have a chance to get to WF before I needed the crusts. In the future I will still to Whole Foods Pie crusts or just use GF graham cracker crumbs.
Gluten Free Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie (adapted from allrecipes.com)
- 1 9-inch (or 2 8-in gluten free) pie crusts
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
- In a small saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, and butter or margarine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter or margarine melts and sugar dissolves. Cool slightly.
- In a large bowl combine eggs, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Slowly pour sugar mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Pour mixture into pie shell.
- Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until set and golden. May be served warm or chilled.
Now that silly birthday things are out of the way, it’s time to get down to some very serious business.
Well almost, but it’s my favorite holiday of the year, so I take it very seriously. I am also more than a little peeved about the unnecessary encroachment of halloween and Christmas on T-giving’s turf. Back up off my favorite holiday, yo!
I have a habit of not being in America for great American holidays, but in no way does that put a damper on the celebration. I’m actually pretty excited to be in the States for this Thanksgiving, because the last few years, I’ve kind of been all over the place… This one year I was on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, then I was in Budapest, the next year I was in Italy, then the year after I was in London and cooking for 25 with 1 oven and a raging case of meningitis, and then I was back in Budapest again and I nearly burnt down a really important historic building owned by the US Government. True story.
My preliminary planning for Thanksgiving may or may not have begun in February of this year… Stop it right now! Don’t you dare judge me. It’s called enthusiasm!
Like every family, we have our own traditions and favorite dishes, but I always like to try out a couple new dishes every year as well. Regardless of where in the world I’ve been or who I’ve been cooking for, I have a couple steadfast rules and traditions on which I will not budge.
- There will be cornbread stuffing
- There will be no canned cranberry sauce (unless Lauren is there and only then)
- There will be no canned cream of something soup anywhere near my green beans
- All vegetables shall be fresh, no canned, no frozen, just fresh
- Turkey is not that big a deal
- If you want pumpkin pie, you can make it yourself, pecan is where it’s at
So, all that being said, let’s talk menu. There are some things that will always be on my menu, some things will come and go. Here’s a look at how this year’s menu is shaping up:
- World Famous Cornbread Cranberry Stuffing
- Dried Cherry Cranberry Sauce
- Horseradish and Chive Mashed Potatoes
- Green Bean Casserole w Madeira Mushrooms
- Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic and Shallots
- Some kind of turkey
- Pecan Pie
This week, I’m going to share some other recipes that would also make for a great Thanksgiving.
Posted in Appetizer, Desserts, Dinner, Gluten-free, Holidays, Recipes, Thanksgiving
Tagged Appetizer, baking, cooking, dessert, dinner, food, gluten free, holidays, pie, recipes, thanksgiving, turkey
Today is my birthday! This is my all-time favorite dessert.
Now, I’ll let you all in on a little secret. I am not really a fan of chocolate, or of dessert in general, except when it comes to this cheesecake. I love this cheesecake. Mama CC has made it for my birthday every year we have been in the same country since I was in middle school. I have been very wary of sharing the recipe and have only made it for a few select people in the past. I don’t want anyone else messing with my favorite dessert. But honestly, it’s just too good not to share.
It’s ridiculously rich. This is probably the richest cheesecake you will ever try. That is why I tried to make mini cheesecakes of it. I thought it would help stagger the richness of the cheesecake. You really can’t have more than a sliver of it at a time. So mini cheesecakes seemed like a natural solution. Mini cheesecakes were brilliant in their inception, but not so much in their execution. They were just way too much work. But they did benefit from the smaller portion; you really only need two or three bites to be satisfied.
Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cheesecake
Yields 1-9 inch cheesecake
Chocolate Graham Crust:
In medium bowl, stir together crumbs, sugar, cocoa and butter. Mix well. Press into bottom and halfway up side of a 9-inch springform pan.
- Chocolate Graham Crust
- 2 packages (8 ounces each) of cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
- Prepare Graham Crust. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- In large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, cocoa and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Add eggs, beat until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared crust.
- Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven to wire rack, cool 15 minutes. Increase over temperature to 425 degrees.
- In a small bowl stir together sour cream, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon vanilla, mix until smooth. Spread over baked filling. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven to wire rack. With a knife immediately loosen case from side of pan. Cool completely; remove from pan. Refrigerate several hours or overnight until completely cold. Serves 10 – 12!
Posted in Baking, Cooking, Desserts, Food, Gluten-free, Recipes
Tagged birthday, cheesecake, chocolate, dessert, food, gluten free, recipes