Thursday, December 17, 2009


Sorry for the biased and unpleasant title. But god, I hate cheesecake. I thought, maybe I'll like it this time? Maybe if I make it, it will be different? No. No. No. NO. It was worse. Much, much worse. I could barely stomach the smell while making them let alone force myself to take a bite of that abomination. It could've had something to do with being hungover from the hot cocktail party but regardless, I don't think I would've done well with them even if I was totally well. To be fair, many that tasted them did enjoy them, and even those that don't like cheesecake (perhaps less so than myself) liked them, so that was a triumph. They were quite pretty (thanks to Martha's minions). I can't comment on the taste, only relay to you what criticism I got. I find myself totally betraying the wise words of one of the greatest cooks ever: Julia Child. She always said to never criticize your food when you serve it. Why do I always do this? I guess I just always want it to be the next greatest thing I've ever tasted. But, I am quite honest in saying if something is good or not. At least I'm not the one who came up with the recipe? Not always....

So, yes, they were pretty, and yes, many said they tasted great, but some said that the texture was a bit off. And some some said that they weren't sweet enough. There really wasn't that much sugar, so probably add a lot more. Perhaps double. But, what do I know. I don't even know what cheesecake is supposed to taste like. I do know however, that the technique for the top is something any cheesecake would be glad to adorn itself with. You blend up about a cup of raspberries (or any fruit), strain them so you remove the seeds, add some sugar and put a few drops on each cheesecake and then with a toothpick, swirl it around so it makes, a well, swirly design. What more can I say?

So instead of making one big cheesecake (gross), I made a dozen cupcake sized ones with graham cracker crust. This part, I'm ok with. Crush up some graham crackers, add some melted butter (yum) and press a bit in to the bottom of each cupcake well. Bake for 10 and add your cream cheese mixture (gross). Then top with the raspberry sauce (so good on waffles the next day), swirl, and bake. Word to the wise, I also made tiny cupcakes and cooked the crust for the same amount of time and they burnt completely, so watch them and only bake for like 5 minutes.

Also, if you're like me and have a total aversion to cream cheese and don't understand that it is a dairy and needs to be refrigerated, take this as a lesson learned: refrigerate the cheesecakes after it's cool. Not saying I didn't do that.....

I'll never understand you cheesecake lovers. But I will make it for you. Begrudgingly.

The recipe:

Hot Cocktail Party Treats

A couple weekends ago we had a hot cocktail party and of course I had to make some desserts. This wasn't one of my better ideas because all the drinks were so overly sweet that not even I could take a single bite of one my sweets. Way too much sugar. They got eaten soon enough though. I went all Martha Stewart on this one. You know, I always think that her stuff is going to be the best because it just seems with all the thousands of minions she has coming up with ideas and taste testing everything, that her recipes would just blow everything else away. I've come to find this is not true....all the time anyway. While she does make some seriously good looking things, I've found that, yes, they are ALWAYS good looking, but not always as good tasting as you expect. Most of the times she comes half way. So it's kind of a toss up. A toss up I'm always willing to make though for some reason. I'm so brainwashed by the gorgeous pictures that I just think, man, this MUST be the best chocolate cupcake recipe there is?! It just has to be. In my case, it was gingerbread cupcakes and chocolate sandwich cookies.

Both recipes were relatively easy to make. Nothing out of the ordinary. My main problems and compliments with each are as follows. The gingerbread cupcakes took some getting used to. If you like not-so-sweet desserts, which many do (weird...) this is a good one. It is intense and SUPER molassesy. I mean, like there is 1 cup of molasses in the batter. If you've ever made anything with molasses, a little goes a long way, so this was a ton. I was shocked. Also, there is a ton of ginger in it too. So mostly, they just tasted like gingery molasses. Maybe not your thing? Not really mine either. I did warm up to them after a couple though. Like I said, they take some getting used to. However, they looked so pretty with a little white buttercream piped on top to look like a snowflake and then dipped in shimmering sugar. You can't go wrong with that. Not to mention, the beautiful display I used that I got for my birthday. So pretty!

Gingerbread cupcake recipe:

The chocolate sandwich cookies turned out different than I expected as well. First, I thought they were going to be more bite-sized like in the picture, which I can only blame on myself because I was the one that distributed the dough. It was fun though because you put little balls of dough on your baking sheet and then press them down into a disk with the bottom of a sugared glass. Makes them sparkly and a little bit sweeter. However, the cookies came out too crunchy and hard for my taste. I didn't over-bake them, quite the opposite. If anything, I under-baked them. So if you like your cookies crunchy, these are good for you. The recipe book I used (Cookies-Martha) is so cool because it divides the recipes into the different cookie textures i.e. crunchy, soft and chewy, crumbly, rich and dense, etc. Pretty good thinking there minions. I can't recall, but if these cookies weren't in the crunchy section, they should've been. The filling surprised me as well because it came out almost exactly like the Oreo filling, which depending on your predilections, could be a good or bad thing. I thought it was a good thing.....mainly because it didn't contain high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated palm oil and was still just as tastey, but that's just me! So, the cookies had the frosting going for them, but they were too crunchy. Too hard to eat. And they were way too big. Especially since they were a sandwich. So not only do you have the too hard chocolate cookie, but you have two! Make them small if you make them. Word to the wise.

Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches:

These weren't my favorite holiday treats by a long shot, but regardless, it's still fun to experiment and have people tell you what they think of them. I didn't even get too many tasters though, I think the cocktails did them (and me) in.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pumpkin Roulade

I made a pumpkin roulade for Thanksgiving and despite it looking like one of the hardest desserts to make, it was actually one of the simplest....or maybe I just got lucky. You do have to be fearless though, no second guessing yourself on this one!

There really is nothing to it. I used Libby's recipe, a good standby. I like to substitute organic pumpkin instead of Libby's pumpkin, but the rest works great. You just mix everything together, poor the batter in a large (10X15in) jelly-roll (casserole pan is fine) pan, bake for the exact lower range time (not a minute more!) and immediately when you take it out of the oven, carefully flip it onto a dishtowel covered in powdered sugar. Then carefully roll it up slowly from short end to short end, using the towel to help you roll by lifting it up and curling the cake with it. If all went well it rolled up perfectly without cracking or crumbling. Let it cool for a couple hours. When it's completely cool, carefully and slowly unroll it and frost it liberally with a vanilla buttercream. Any flavor would work here though. Cinnamon? Maple? Frangelico? Whatever you think is good with pumpkin. It should be pretty sticky on the inside, like it's slightly underdone. Helps it to roll better. Then roll is back up carefully (I requires a lot of redundancy) and if you like, you can pipe along the swirl to make it look a little prettier and perhaps pipe on the top. Sift on some powdered sugar and it's done! Pretty easy overall as long as you work slowly and carefully. Just go for it and if you mess it up, it still tastes the same right? And hopefully next time it will look a little better. I've never made anything like this before, I wasn't even in my own kitchen, and it went perfectly, so it can be done.

I apologize for the atrocious pictures. Collin wasn't around to take any of his amazing photos. It will have to do.

Endnote: I used organic powdered sugar for the first time in this recipe and I have to say, it was way better than regular sugar. It had this slightly different texture, way more powdery than powdered sugar and had a slight color to it. A richer cream, almost a gray, so pretty. Loved it! Give it a try! So good for the Earth...and you too!!