Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to make Mini Cheesecakes

I bought a mini cheesecake pan a few weeks (or months?) back, an impluse buy if you will, and it's been lying around the house in its box - pristine, untouched and definitely lonely. 

I finally got around to making mini cheesecakes last night - I was running low on a couple of ingredients, and since I was feeling a bit under the weather I couldn't muster the energy to buy additional supplies - hmm I had cream cheese, graham crumbs... mini cheesecakes it is!

Basic Mini Cheesecake Recipe:
(makes 10-12 mini cheesecakes)

1 cup Graham Cracker crumbs
3 tbsp Sugar
3 tbsp Melted Butter

1 - 8oz pack of Cream Cheese at room temperature (I used a block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese)
3 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp flavoring/extract (I used lemon)
1 Large Egg
2 tsp Flour

Topping of choice (or make your own!)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together the crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Line the bottoms of the mini cheesecake pan. Since it was a tiny bit of space, I just used my measuring spoon to flatten it out.

Beat the filling ingredients together with a hand mixer on low speed, then pour batter over crust(s) and bake for 12-14 minutes.

Pretty strong stuff. Found out after that my hubby didn't particularly care for this flavor, but everyone else liked it!

I use Lock&Lock containers to keep the ingredients fresh, then I label them since it gets confusing after a while.

Tip: Never crack open an egg directly into your mixture. You never know when you might get a bad egg, use a separate container first to check freshness!

I used a medium cookie scoop for this one, but it's roughly 3 tablespoons each. Mine only filled 10 though, so I'll adjust the recipe in the future if I want a full batch.
Bake for 12-14 minutes. Afterwhich I just turned off the oven and let it cool in there for an hour.

Despite leaving them in the oven for a while, they still cracked. Annoying, but the topping will cover that up. Yes, I ate 2 before adding a topping.
For the topping, I just decided to puree some canned peaches (since that's all I had on hand)

And voila! Mini Lemon Cheesecake with Peach Puree Topping (Would "glaze" sound better? Maybe.)

Have fun! :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

How to make Red Velvet Cupcakes

We were fortunate enough to retain electricity despite the horrible weather and intense flooding outside, so I was able to play around and try a different recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes!

You will need:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon  unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.

According to some recipes you can use Dutch-processed cocoa, but I prefer the rich flavor given by pure unsweetened cocoa.

By the way, since it's been impossible for me to find buttermilk in the Philippines, I just put 1/2 tbsp distilled white vinegar in a measuring cup, then added milk up to the 1/2 cup mark. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and you get almost-instant buttermilk substitute!

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar and vegetable oil until combined (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the oil mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cupcake batter. I wasn't able to get a picture of this step since it's a very quick process, but from what I understand this gives the red velvet its distinctive texture.

Working quickly, divide the batter evenly among the 12  muffin cups and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon (I was only able to make 11.. I didn't scrape out the bowl since I was in a hurry to get it into the oven!). Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 18 - 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and them remove from pan. Let cool completely before frosting. Either spread the frosting with a knife or offset spatula, or use a large 1M Wilton open star decorating tip to pipe the frosting.

I used an easy cream cheese frosting recipe for this one, but since it was raining cats and dogs outside, it was a bit runny and didn't set so well. But still yummy:

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 - 8oz package Cream Cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Just beat everything together until fluffy. Works best when cream cheese is still cold and firm :)

As mentioned earlier, I suspect the humidity got the best of me so pardon the somewhat runny icing, but I promise it's very yummy!

Had mine with a steaming cup of creamy coffee. Enjoy! =)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to make Chocolate Crinkles

A few days ago my hubby mentioned he was craving some chocolate crinkles so I decided to scout for a good recipe. Unfortunately, the first few recipes we found all required tempering chocolate, which was still quite tricky for me. Another deterrent was having to refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 4 hours before baking since I bake after work hours and I didn't want to stay up too late.

Luckily, thanks to Google and a little patience, I found a recipe that uses unsweetened cocoa powder instead of the melted chocolate - so here goes. I scaled down the recipe I found to a quarter portion since I was trying it for the first time, but now that I've had some I'm definitely making more!

You will need:

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar (for dusting)

***This is only a quarter of the original recipe and yielded 9 pieces for me. Also learned from experience that these are at their best the morning after - not after cooling from the oven!***

In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla. 

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours. In my case, I just put the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes - until it was firm enough to shape little chocolate balls.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). (Line cookie sheets with parchment paper) - Didn't bother with this step since I had nonstick pans . Roll dough into one inch balls. I used the smallest scoops I had on hand and dropped them into the confectioners sugar before rolling by hand.

Coat each ball in confectioners' sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

They were pretty soft and gooey right out of the oven, but don't fret because they will still continue to bake even after you take it out. Don't go over 15 minutes or they will turn out crumbly.

After they cooled we immediately tried some - and at the time the chocolate flavor was a bit overpowering and too gooey for our taste - so I proceeded to refrigerate the left over cookies (after they cooled completely), resigned to look for a new crinkles recipe. 

I ate the left over crinkles with my morning coffee today, and they were phenomenal! Chewy, chocolate-y, and perfect! *Nomnomnom* I'm making these again tonight, to be enjoyed tomorrow morning. Enjoy :)