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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Apple Pie Cheesecake (12 Weeks of Holiday Treats)

12 weeks until Christmas friends.  Yup, I am NOT kidding.  But not to worry because I have your back.  Help is right here for all your baking, treat making, homemade gift ideas needs.  For the next 3 months, one a week you will be handed a variety of amazing and totally delicious recipes and ideas to help you figure out the best of the best for holiday treats.  Yours truly along with a spectacular group of many talented food bloggers will provide you with a plethora of such resources once a week for the next 12 weeks.  So sit back, relax and be ready to drool. :-)
Speaking of drooling happiness how about a fabulous cheesecake recipe?  You know the kind with apples, cinnamon and sugary goodness all on top? Ahhh yes, an Apple Pie Cheesecake.  Heaven in a springform pan.  HEAVEN.
What could be better than a cookie crust that surrounds a silky cheesecake filling and then topped off with slices of cinnamon sugary dusted apples?  The perfect dessert for a special holiday party or even given as a gift to a special friend.  This cheesecake could easily be made for Thanksgiving, Christmas or even New Year's.  A delicious dessert that is easy to make and makes everyone fall over backwards for seconds.
The crust is easily adaptable to your preference.  If you don't wish to use the crust recipe I have to share you can make a graham cracker or even a ginger cookie crust.  Apples go well with a variety of flavors.  I jazzed up the apple layer of the cheesecake by drizzling  it with a lovely homemade caramel sauce.
Apple Pie Cheesecake
(recipe discovered from Dinner with Julie)
Crust Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (reserve egg white for later)
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
Filling ingredients:
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Apple topping ingredients:
2 large apples (I used Cortland) - peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Butter or grease 9" springform pan and set aside.
2. Prepare crust by combining all crust ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mix well all together with a fork or pastry cutter.  Ingredients will be appear as big soft crumbs.  Press mixture into prepared springform pan on bottom and up sides.
3. Prepare filling by beating cream cheese and sugar together until smooth and lump-free.  Add in eggs, one at a time and then reserved egg white and vanilla extract. Pour filling into prepared crust.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Prepare apple topping by combining sliced apples, sugar and cinnamon - toss gently so that sugar and cinnamon coat apples.  Arrange sugary-cinnamon apple slices over cheesecake filling to cover completely.
5. Bake cheesecake for 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. and then reduce to 375 to continue baking for another 30-35 minutes.  Cheesecake will be puffed and lightly browned but slightly jiggly in center when done.  Turn off oven and open door slightly to allow cheesecake to cool for a good 45-60 minutes.   Then take out of oven and cool further to room temperature.  Refrigerate over night before serving. 
Serve with a lovely drizzling of your favorite caramel sauce or freshly whipped cream.  A delight of a dessert!  Enjoy!
Happy Apple Pie Cheesecake Baking!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple Clafoutis for September SRC

Clafoutis.  Such a beautiful word that just rolls off your tongue.  Try it.  Pronounced as, Cla-Fou-Tee.  See wasn't that wonderful to say!?!

Just as wonderful as saying clafoutis I would like to introduce you to a very special food bog called, My Judy the FoodieMy Judy the Foodie was my assigned blog for the month of September for the Secret Recipe Club.  Not only is this food blog packed with amazing recipes that make your mouth water and drool but more importantly the love, dedication and happiness that has given life to this blog is just beautiful.  Shari, daughter to Judy (as in Judy of My Judy the Foodie), created this blog in an effort to teach herself how to be in the kitchen with confidence and ease along with honoring her mom who was a beautiful master in the kitchen. In reading through Shari's blog it became clear to me that her mother surrounded her herself by all things beautiful and meaningful including food.  And through her kitchen magic Judy created happiness and special moments all around her that were deeply treasured by all.  Shari has done a beautiful job through her own words (and video's!) exploring her mother's recipes and then sharing them with all of us lucky people.   I was honored to have been part of Judy and Shari's world for this past month as I soaked up all the deliciousness and kitchen passion through my SRC assignment.  Sending you hugs Shari!  You are an amazing woman!  Truly amazing. :-)

Apple Clafoutis was my pick from all the delicious recipes from My Judy the Foodie which I will share with you today.  I could not have been happier with my choice!  Clafoutis hold a special place in my heart as my family in France often make such a dessert.  Instead of using apples they use FRESH cherries, apricots or plums from their fruit trees.  Delicious!  The simplicity of mixing up a clafoutis is lovely.  Your fruit of choice is surrounded by simple ingredients such as eggs, milk, flour,sugar and melted butter which can all be mixed by hand.  Grab those apples you have in abundance right now and make your heart and palate sing with joy over this dessert.  And then invite me over for a piece - I can never have enough clafoutis! :-)

Apple Clafoutis
(recipe from My Judy the Foodie)
Batter Ingredients:
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 cup milk
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon (my addition as I can never go without adding cinnamon to an apple recipe)
Apple ingredients:
1 Tbsp butter
4 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2" slices
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp rum (which both Shari and I omitted)

1. Prepare your apples by melting 1 Tbsp butter and sugar in a large frying pan. Mix melted butter and sugar together to combine.  Peel, core and slice apples and then place into pan with melted butter and sugar.  Cook apples for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring gently.
2. Prepare batter while apples are cooking.  In a large bowl whisk together all batter ingredients.  Your batter will have the appearance similar to a pancake batter. 
3. Grease and dust with sugar a pie plate.  Add in 2 cups of batter to the prepared pie plate.  Gently add in cooked apples.  Leave the syrup of the apples behind for later use. Pour remaining batter over apples.
4. Bake your clafoutis in a 350 degrees oven for 30-35 minutes.  The clafoutis will be golden brown and set in the center when done.  The center will be just a little bit jiggly but that's what a clafoutis will do when baked.
5. Pour remaining apple syrup over your clafoutis when you take it out of the oven.
Serve warm or cold...either way is delicious!

Happy Apple Clafoutis Baking!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Rustic Peach Tart with Crumble Topping

Although I am on the verge of all things apple and pumpkin in my baking world I want to continue celebrating Summer by offering a perfect PEACH of a recipe.  Easy, beautiful, completely delicious and packed with peaches!

You start with a lovely crust made in a food processor (or a pastry cutter - either one is fine). And then keep in mind the word, "COLD".  The butter you use should be COLD and then the prepared pastry should be kept COLD in the refrigerator while you make the crumble topping.  A perfect crust comes from all things COLD.
Beautiful peaches are sprinkled with a crumbled topping allowing for the perfect sweetness to top off the tart. Ahhhh, the magic of peaches.  Grab a hold of the last couple moments that Summer still suggests and make this rustic tart.  It will be well worth it.  I promise.  
Rustic Peach Crumble Tart
             (recipe from Farm Flavor)
Pastry Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, COLD and diced
1/4 cup ice water
Filling and Crumble Ingredients:
4 cups sliced and peeled FRESH peaches
1/4 cup sugar (white or brown is fine)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp tapioca (flour will work fine if you don't have tapioca)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, COLD and diced
1. Make pastry by placing DRY pastry ingredients into food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse a couple of times to combine together. 
2. Add in COLD diced butter and pulse 12-15 times or until butter is the size of peas.  Add in iced water through the feed tube as the food processor is on.  Pulse several times - stop just before dough comes together.
3. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at lease 1 hour.
4. Make crumble topping by adding 1/4 sugar, flour, tapioca, salt and cinnamon into bowl of food processor.  Pulse a couple of times to combine ingredients.
5. Add in COLD butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly.  Keep crumble topping in refrigerator until needed to sprinkle over peaches.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Roll out COLD pastry dough into approximately an 11-inch circle onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper.  Transfer onto cookie sheet.
7.  Cover dough with peaches, leaving about a 1 1/2 -inch border.Sprinkle crumbled topping over peaches.  Gently fold the pastry border over the peaches, pleating to make a circle. 

Bake for 25 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned and peaches are tender.   Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Happy Rustic Peach Tart with Crumble Topping Baking! 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Zucchini Cornbread

Ladies and gentlemen it is time for you to try your hands at making a cornbread.  Yes, a cornbread.  Not just any kind of cornbread either.  I want you to get ready to make a cornbread that has a very special ingredient.  Zucchini.  That's right ZUCCHINI.
The Browned Eyed Baker offered this recipe earlier this summer.  As soon as I saw it I had to try it right away.  I was so glad that I did as this recipe created a wonderful cornbread that was not only beautiful to the eyes but also beautiful on the taste buds.  This bread is moist and has a perfect crumb texture. I even enjoyed this bread lightly toasted the second and third day.  And it was a great way to sneak in some extra veggies into my dear daughters as they too enjoyed this bread.
Grab that last zucchini in your garden and make this bread!
Zucchini Cornbread
(recipe from Brown Eyed Baker)
1 medium zucchini
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  Set pan aside.
2. Trim ends of zucchini and cut 6 thin slices off and set aside for garnish.  Shred the remaining zucchini.  Toss grated zucchini with 1 tablespoon sugar and then place in colander and allow to drain for 30 minutes.  After at least 30 minutes, gather drained zucchini in a clean kitchen towel (or a doubled up paper towel) and squeeze out any possible remaining water.
3. In a large bowl combine flour,1/2 cup sugar,  cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk all together and then set aside.
4. In a medium bowl combine melted butter, eggs and buttermilk.  Whisk together.  Add grated zucchini to butter mixture and stir gently to combine.
5. Pour wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir all together with a rubber spatula until no traces of flour remain.
6. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes. Bread will be golden brown and a tester inserted in the middle will come out clean when done.  Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool further on a wire rack.  Bread can be stored at room temperature and wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 days.
Happy Zucchini Cornbread Baking!


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