Happy Birthday to Me (and the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Obsession Continues)


I’m here, I’m alive, I’ve survived another year! Go me! I know it’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other, but it’s been a busy year so it’s been hard to find time to sit down and blog. But, I’M BACK KIDS! It’s my birthday gift to me (and you)! For those of you who have been around awhile, you may be aware that every year I make my own birthday cake. This year was no exception. Previous birthdays included:

When I saw this cheesecake over on Smitten Kitchen, I just knew I needed to make it for my birthday. With layers of chocolate cookie crust, rich chocolate fudge, and creamy peanut butter cheesecake, all topped off with a chocolate ganache.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Ingredients

    For the crust
  • 9 oz (1 package) Nabisco chocolate wafers
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • For the fudge
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 13 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • For the cheesecake
  • 2 8-oz packages full fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup full fat sour cream, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the ganache
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter

Instructions

    Prepare the pan
  1. Cover the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with two layers of aluminum foil.
  2. For the crust
  3. Finely crush wafers in a food processor until they make fine crumbs. Add chocolate chips and brown sugar a pulse to combine. Add butter and continue pulsing until thoroughly moistened. (If you don't have a food processor, you can crush the cookies in a heavy duty ziploc bag using a rolling pin, then pour into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients).
  4. Transfer the crumbs to the springform pan and press them up the sides of the pan almost to the top (within a half inch) and into the bottom of the pan to form the crust. Place in refrigerator to chill while you make the fudge.
  5. Make the fudge
  6. Bring heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and peanut butter, whisking until smooth. Pour into pan and spread into an even layer. Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes, until firm.
  7. Make the cheesecake
  8. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  9. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.
  10. Scrape down the sides and add the sour cream, beating to combine.
  11. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.
  12. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides and bottom to ensure everything is evenly mixed. Pour cheesecake over the fudge layer.
  13. Bake in a water bath
  14. Place foil-wrapped springform pan into a roasting pan large enough to hold it.
  15. Fill the pan with enough hot water to come 1 inch up the side of the springform pan and transfer very carefully to the oven.
  16. If you don't want to use a water bath, you can bake it without a water bath as well, but the water bath is more gentle. To bake without a water bath, simply place your springform pan onto a baking sheet in the oven. (The baking sheet will make it easier to remove when the cheesecake is done).
  17. Bake the cheesecake for 75 to 90 minutes until the cake is mostly firm but will still jiggle a bit in the middle when poked. If you like to be more scientific, the center of the cheesecake should reach about 150-155°F on an instant read thermometer. The top will be a light golden brown.
  18. When done, allow to cool about 30 minutes on a wire rack, then transfer to the refrigerator for at 3 hours (or longer).
  19. Make the ganache
  20. Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering.
  21. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and peanut butter, whisking until smooth and shiny.
  22. Pour onto the cheesecake and spread evenly across the top of the cheesecake.
  23. Return cheesecake to fridge for at least 30 minutes, until the ganache has set.
  24. Serve the cheesecake
  25. Run a small offset spatula or butter knife around the outside of the cake to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan. Unhinge the sides to remove the bottom piece containing the cheesecake.
  26. To cut the cheesecake, run a sharp knife under hot water and wipe with a warm damp cloth. Cut into thin slices, pressing firmly at the bottom to ensure you cut through the crust layer at the bottom, wiping the knife as needed.
http://wee-eats.com/2017/03/15/happy-birthday-chocolate-peanut-butter-cheesecake/

[ Recipe from Smitten Kitchen ]

Baked Occasionally December – Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies

peanut-butter-cookies-wee-eats

It’s already been a whole year of our Baked Occasionally series, can you believe it!? It’s only logical that we would close the year with a recipe from their Christmas Cookie selection. This month, we each selected our own recipes, with Shannon choosing the whipped shortbread cookies and me choosing these beauties.

These cookies bake of wonderfully soft and chewy, filled with butterscotch and topped with a sprinkle of fleur de sel they are the perfect balance of salty and sweet, and will make the perfect addition to your Christmas cookie collection.  Continue reading

Gluten Free Banana Bread (and a Gluten Free Flour Review!)

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Now as you are well aware, I am far from gluten-free. I do, however, enjoy gluten free foods from time to time. Usually when I bake gluten free items, I will just bake something that doesn’t require flour rather than something that substitutes a “gluten free” flour. However, the folks over at Butterfly Gluten Free Flour were kind enough to send me a bit of their flours to try out and being the curious cat that I am, I just had to try them out.  Continue reading

Thanksgiving Stuffing Rolls

stuffing-rolls-wee-eats

Thanksgiving is this week and many of you already have your menus planned but for those of you with a little wiggle room, allow me to talk you about these rolls. I saw these on in my inbox and was very skeptical like, “How much like stuffing could these really taste like?” Turns out, a lot. A lot like stuffing. Like, exactly like stuffing. Continue reading

baked occasionally – election palmiers

election palmiers | wee eats

When I chose election palmiers for our November Baked Occasionally recipe, it honestly had nothing to do with the election. It’s completely coincidental that the post is debuting the day before election day and they’re called “election palmiers” and … it’s just a whole bunch of serendipity I guess.

I’ll spare everyone words on the actual election, as I know it’s all we have heard about nonstop for the last few months, the last thing I need is another place to read about candidates and issues and voting, etc, I’ll leave you to pretty much any other form of media for that. Let’s deem this a safe space, shall we? Free of election news, despite the name of these delicious cookies. Instead, let’s talk about cookies, shall we? Palmiers, to be exact. Vote Palmiers 2016, that’s a cause I can get behind!

I’ve made palmiers dozens of times, but I’ve never made them totally from scratch. Usually I just grab some puff pastry from the freezer section and go along my merry way, so I was really curious to see what went into creating them from scratch. Lucky for me, Shannon had also never made them from scratch and being the curious creatures we are, we agreed that although it was probably the best-known recipe, it was also the most exciting recipe for November.

Yes, some elbow grease is required as we are basically taking a cookie dough and then laminating it. No, not with heat and plastic, but with rolling and folding and butter. Lots of butter. I also used this recipe to try out a new gluten free flour blend, but more on that later.

So, the pros

  1. The homemade version is a bit crunchier, flakier, with more butter flavor than the puff pastry version and I would say they are worth the extra work.

The cons

  1. It is a lot more work than simply unrolling some puff pastry and going on your merry little way, BUT I still think you should try making them from scratch at least once.
  2. Rolling – I seriously HAAAATE rolling dough. The only thing I hate more than rolling is cutting out cookies. I have tried for many years to make cut out cookies for the holidays and usually end up with a few cookies cut out and then I just give up. Make your life easier here by putting a piece of plastic wrap between your dough and your roller. You’re welcome.
  3. Folding – Yeah, it gets tedious and can be difficult, a dough scraper can be helpful for getting stubborn dough off or your counter tops and to help you get that perfect fold.

I scaled back on the cayenne significantly (by about half, but maybe my cayenne is just extra spicy?) and it added just the right amount of kick at the end without making the cookies overtly spicy. If you’re worried about it at all, feel free to leave it out entirely. It does give the cookies an interesting boost of flavor, though. I also made a second batch of these with pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon (and no cayenne), which were equally as enjoyable.

baked occasionally – election palmiers

Yield: 20 - 24 cookies

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (170 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 ounces (1 ¾ sticks/200 g) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup (125 g) raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions

    Chill the ingredients
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and ½ teaspoon of the salt and place in the freezer. Place the butter in a separate bowl in the freezer. Finally, in a small prep bowl or measuring cup, stir together 2 tablespoons water with the lemon juice and place in the freezer.
  2. Allow all the items to chill in the freezer for 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Make the dough
  4. Remove all items from the freezer. Place the flour mixture in a food processor and pulse for 1 or 2 short bursts.
  5. Add about half of the cold butter chunks and pulse about 3 to 4 times in short bursts. Do not over process the mixture - the butter pieces should be visible and just slightly bigger than pea size.
  6. Add the remaining butter and pulse a few more times - the butter should still be visible and pronounced in the mixture.
  7. Drizzle in a few drops of the lemon juice mixture and pulse 2 or 3 times until crumbly.
  8. Test the dough by pinching a bit in your fingers, the dough should just hold together. If it still crumbles apart, continue to add drops of the lemon juice mixture and pulse as needed.
  9. *Note: you may not use all of the mixture, or you may need to add a few extra.
  10. Be careful not to over process the dough - it should be loose and crumbly, you aren't looking for it to form a ball.
  11. Form the dough
  12. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until it just comes together. Use your hands to shape it into a rough 6-by-9-inch (15-by-23-cm) rectangle about ½ inch (12 mm) thick, with the shorter side closest to you.
  13. Make the first letter fold: Fold the bottom third of the dough on top of the middle third, then fold over the top third to cover, just like folding a letter.
  14. Rotate the rectangle so the short side is facing you, and letter-fold the dough again.
  15. Rotate again and use your hands to gently shape the dough into another 6-by-9-inch (15-by-23-cm) rectangle.
  16. Perform the final letter fold. If, at any time, the dough starts feeling soft or the butter starts to warm, refrigerate until cool again.
  17. Once all three letter folds are finished, cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
  18. Fold again!
  19. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface.
  20. Using a rolling pin this time, roll the dough into an 8-by-15-inch (20-by-38-cm) rectangle, with the shorter side closest to you.
  21. Make the first letter fold - Fold the bottom third of dough on top of the middle third, then fold over the top third to cover.
  22. Rotate the rectangle so the short side is facing you and letter-fold the dough again. Rotate again, gently roll the dough back into a rough 8-by-15-inch (20-by-38-cm) rectangle, and perform a final letter fold. Cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 more minutes.
  23. Shape the cookies
  24. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a fork. Set aside.
  25. Place a half sheet pan sized (18 by 13 inches/46 by 33 cm) rectangle of parchment on your counter.
  26. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne (if using), and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and dust the parchment with one-third of the sugar mixture.
  27. Place the dough on top of the parchment and sprinkle the dough with another third of the sugar mixture.
  28. Roll the dough into a 12-by-15-inch (30.5-by-38-cm) rectangle about 1?8 to ¼ inch (3 to 6 mm) thick. If the dough becomes too sticky, sprinkle a tablespoon or two more of the sugar mixture over it. (I found that putting a layer of plastic wrap over the dough helped me out immensely here).
  29. Return dough to the refrigerator and chilld for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.
  30. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll up both of the long sides of the dough toward the center so that they meet in the exact middle.
  31. Brush the egg wash where the two sides of the dough meet (this will help to keep the rolls stuck together).
  32. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for another 20 minutes.
  33. Slice and Bake
  34. When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  35. Add a teaspoon or two of water to the parchment and use your hands to spread it around, making the parchment to be slightly damp.
  36. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut crosswise into ½-inch (12-mm) slices and place the slices on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
  37. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the slices.
  38. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and flip the cookies over with a spatula. Bake the other side of the cookies until they have spread slightly and are puffy and golden brown, about 5 more minutes.
  39. *Note: I flipped some and didn't flip others, because SCIENCE! See details below.
  40. Allow to cool slightly, then serve warm or at room temperature.
  41. Storage
  42. Allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight storage container. They recommend eating the same day, but my coworkers seem to be enjoying them just fine a whole 24 - 36 hours later.

Notes

* Do yourself a favor and make rolling easier by putting a piece of plastic wrap between your dough and your roller. You'll thank me later.

* If making and baking all in one go, you will want to begin preheating the oven when you return the dough for its final chill (after shaping it into the spirals).

* Flipping the cookies: I left some cookies un-flipped for science and did not notice a huge difference in terms of flavor/texture between the flipped and un-flipped cookies, so I would deem this step as OPTIONAL. Especially if you are prone to burning yourself like yours truly.

http://wee-eats.com/2016/11/07/baked-occasionally-election-palmiers/

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