Tag Archives: dessert

Slow Cooker Cheesecake

22 Oct

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Cheesecake is one of my favourite desserts in the whole world. A cold, smooth and creamy cheesecake with a tasty graham cracker crust…top that with chocolate, caramel, fruit…I’ll take it all. I enjoy baking my own cheesecake but it takes a lot of time to make it. Prep time, an hour in the oven, cooling time, you get the picture. I could buy one but where’s the fun in that!

I’ve been using my slow cooker a lot more lately, it’s great to be able to just “set it and forget it” especially since I can hide the slow cooker away from my toddler son. One of my new favourite recipes is a Slow Cooker Cheesecake recipe from Ricardo Cuisine. I love to try recipes where I can make my favourites in a new way and this recipe was a perfect example of that. The recipe was very easy to put together, it cooked fairly quickly and the portion sizes were perfect – two cheesecakes each for me and my husband! (Three for me if he only eats one, yeah!). It’s a great recipe and I hope you’ll give it a try. I’m planning on making it again very soon. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Cheesecake

I’ve included the original recipe below and I’ve added my own notes throughout. The link to the original recipe on the Ricardo site is given here (this recipe was shared with permission): http://www.ricardocuisine.com/recipes/5562-slow-cooker-cheesecake-2-

Ingredients – Cheesecake

Cheesecake

1 package 8 oz (250 g) cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup (75 ml) sugar (Note: Next time I’ll reduce the sugar a little, I found it a bit too sweet)

1 egg

1/4 cup (60 ml) 35% cream

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

Ingredients – Graham Crumble Topping

1/2 cup (125 ml) graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup (60 ml) all­ purpose flour

2 tablespoons (30 ml) brown sugar

1/4 cup (60 ml) unsalted butter, softened

Ingredients – Strawberry Topping

1 cup (250 ml) diced strawberries

1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar

Preparation:

Cheesecake

  1. Line the bottom of the slow cooker with a clean cloth (Note: I used a clean, folded dish cloth) to prevent the ramekins from vibrating.
  2. In a blender, purée all the ingredients until smooth. (Note: If you don’t have a blender handy, do what I did and use a hand mixer. Start off by beating the ingredients on low speed until combined and then switch to high speed to get a smooth texture). Divide the mixture among four 125 ml (1/2 cup) ramekins. Place the ramekins in the slow cooker (on top of the clean cloth) and pour hot water into the container halfway up the ramekins. (Note: I prepped a kettle of boiling water before I put the ingredients together. By the time everything was ready, the water was hot and at the right temperature).
  3. Cover and cook on low temperature for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until they are firm and slightly puffy. Remove the ramekins from the slow cooker and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until completely chilled.

Graham Crumble Topping

  1. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 180 °C (350 °F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and add the butter. Combine until the mixture is crumbly. With your fingers, drop the dough into small pieces on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring twice during baking. Let cool. (Note: I loved the crumble but found the quantity was too much for just 4 ramekins. Next time I will make half the amount).

Strawberry Topping

  1. Combine the strawberries and sugar. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  2. When ready to serve, top each ramekin with graham crumble and strawberries.

Overall, I LOVED the end result and I’ll definitely make it again. Per my notes, next time I would reduce the amount of sugar slightly (there was nothing wrong with the amount of sugar but it was a bit too sweet for me). I would also cut back on the quantity of crumble as I had quite a bit leftover. This makes for a great homemade dessert for a small group and can easily be done with ingredients you have on hand. If you don’t have strawberries at home, you can top the cheesecake with blueberries or any other fruit.

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CONTEST!

You could win a signed copy of Ricardo’s Slow Cooker Favourites cookbook, filled with more than 65 great slow cooker recipes, including vegetarian ones!

Earn entries by doing the following (you can enter using any or all of these methods):

Additional Info:

The contest begins on Thursday October 22, 2015 and will end on Thursday November 5, 2015 at 12 pm EST. The winner will be announced later that day.

You can enter via each method once per day until the end of the contest.

The contest is only open to Canadians with a Canadian shipping address. Ricardo will ship the cookbook directly to the winner’s home.

Good luck!

Turning Frozen Fruit Into Healthy Desserts with Yonanas

1 Sep

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Disclosure: I was given a Yonanas machine to try out and I thought it was pretty cool, so I thought I would tell you all about it. All opinions are my own.

I’m more than a little obsessed with kitchen appliances. If it does something new and different, I must have it, much to the dismay of my hubby who is trying to declutter our home while I clutter it up. One of the machines I’ve had my eyes on for some time is Yonanas, a frozen fruit dessert machine that lets you take any frozen fruit you have and turn it into a creamy, non-dairy soft serve dessert. I was already having high hopes for this machine…

The box arrived and I couldn’t wait to tear into it. The instructions were great and it was very easy to assemble, I had the machine up and running within minutes. I had some frozen banana and frozen blueberries that I wanted to try mixing first as this is one of my favourite fruit smoothie combinations. Per the instructions, I allowed the fruit to thaw for a few minutes before starting up the machine. I started with two frozen bananas and one cup of frozen blueberries. I read that banana needs to be placed into the machine first before adding any other fruit and sure enough, it was a good tip as the banana kicked things off and acted as a base. It was pretty amazing to see how quickly it turned my boring old fruit into a creamy looking frozen dessert. After tasting it, I was really happy….there was no added sugar and no additives, just the pure flavor of my own frozen fruit.

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Since that first trial run, I mostly throw in whatever frozen fruit I have on hand along with frozen bananas, which we always have in the house. This machine is the perfect place to use up spotty bananas that are a bit past their prime to eat fresh. I find that I get the best texture when I use a mix of old and new bananas (ones that have been frozen recently) along with a few handfuls of my favourite fruits. If you’re not a fan of bananas, you can use any other frozen fruits that you have on hand, just remember to let them sit out and thaw for about 5 minutes for best results.

To me this is a great machine for families to have as it can please everyone…ice cream lovers, people who are lactose intolerant, vegans and anyone who wants to make their own healthy, frozen desserts. I’ve used it to introduce my son to different fruits and as an added bonus, the cold helps to relieve his teething discomfort. His favourite combo…mangoes and strawberries…yum! The possibilities are endless, I have only tried a handful of the recipes on the Yonanas site…there are still so many others I have to check out.

To learn more, visit http://yonanas.com/ for info about their products and tips and recipes for frozen fruit desserts made both with bananas and without them.

Here are a few of my favourite “no bananas” Yonanas recipes, taken from their website. Enjoy!

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Strawberry Pineapple Sorbet

Ingredients: 1/2 cup frozen strawberries and 1/2 cup frozen pineapple

Directions: 1. Slightly thaw your frozen fruit prior to putting through your yonanas maker. 2. Insert 1/4 cup frozen strawberries. 3. Insert 1/4 cup frozen pineapple. 4. Alternate remaining ingredients

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Peach and Cherry Sorbet

Ingredients: 1/2 cup frozen peach slices and 1/2 cup frozen pitted cherries

Directions: 1. Slightly thaw your frozen fruit prior to putting through your yonanas maker. 2. Insert 1/4 cup frozen peach slices. 3. Insert 1/4 cup frozen pitted cherries. 4. Alternate remaining ingredients

Whole Lemon Bars and enter to WIN a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook!

21 Apr

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I love lemons. I love how they look and I love how I feel when I smell or taste a fresh lemon. I love the song by U2. Oh and I also love Eduoard Manet’s painting, Le Citron.

Life has handed me a lot of lemons lately, both the delicious, yellow kind and those not so good lemons that disrupt your life. As they say though, it’s all about what you do with those lemons and on a recent weekend I decided to put some of my lovely lemons to good use. I cracked open one of my newest cookbooks, The Smitten Kitchen cookbook, written by one of my favourite food bloggers, Deb Perelman.

I’ve been following her fabulous blog, The Smitten Kitchen, for some time now and I’ve made quite a few of her recipes over the years. What I love about her recipes is that they are perfect for the average home cook. It’s not just about the recipes though, it’s her writing that keeps me coming back over and over again. So when I received an invitation from Random House Canada to attend a blogger brunch in celebration of the launch of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, I accepted it immediately. As expected, Deb was warm, friendly and willing to share her stories with the bloggers in attendance. We were all hanging on to every word, as she described her kitchen and what it was like to write, test and photograph all of her recipes. She is one of the inspirations behind my blog and I’m sure she has given countless others the push they needed too.

After munching on delicious treats cooked up by the amazing Random House staff, we had some one-on-one time with Deb. I was telling her how obsessed my family was with all things lemon and she immediately grabbed her cookbook, flipped to the Whole Lemon Bars recipe and said, “You HAVE to try this, they are so delicious.” Of course, she was absolutely right! This is now my favourite lemon bar recipe as it has the perfect balance sweetness and tartness. I love that I get to use a whole lemon, skin and all (minus the seeds of course!).

Are you a fan of The Smitten Kitchen blog? Well, I’m happy to share that I have one copy of the The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook to give away! Scroll down below the Whole Lemon Bars recipe for details on how to enter. By the way, you HAVE to make these lemon bars. Like right now. Go.

Deb Perelman’s Whole Lemon Bars

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman. Copyright 2012 by Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 cup/125 g all purpose flour

1/3 cup/65 g sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons/115 g or 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus extra for greasing pan

For the filling:

1 small-to-medium lemon (about 4 1/2 ounces or 130 g, or about 3 inches long)

1 1/3 cup/265 g sugar

8 tablespoons/115 g or 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

1. Place a rack in middle of the oven and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut two 12- inch lengths of parchment paper, and trim each to fit the bottom of an 8- inch square baking pan. Press the first sheet into the bottom and up the sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, running it perpendicular to the first sheet. Lightly butter exposed parts of parchment or coat them with a nonstick cooking spray. Set the pan aside.

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2. Make the crust: Blend the flour, sugar, and salt together in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is powdery, but if firmly pinched, will hold the pinched shape. Turn the dough crumbs into the prepared baking pan and press the dough evenly across the bottom and about ½ inch up the sides. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Should any parts bubble up, gently prick them again with a fork. Leave the oven on.

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3. Make your filling: Cut your lemon in half, and here’s where I need us all to be, briefly, quite fussy.

Is the white part of the skin especially thick?

If the widest part of the white is ¼ inch thick or less, continue on to the next step; your lemon is good to go. If any part of it is thicker than ¼ inch, however, I find it safest to remove the skin from half the lemon or the bitterness of the pith can overwhelm the bars. To remove the skin, place half the lemon cut-side-down on the cutting board, and remove the skin and pith from the entire half in downward cuts and discard it. The second half, even if just as thick, can be used as is.

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4. Cut your lemon halves into thin rings and discard any seeds. Toss the lemon rounds – lemon flesh and peel – in the bowl of your food processor, add the sugar, and run the machine until the lemon is thoroughly puréed, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and again run the machine until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed. Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt and pulse the machine in short bursts until the mixture is evenly combined.

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5. Pour the lemon mixture over the crust and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is set. You can test this by bumping the pan a little; it should only jiggle slightly. In my oven, I find that the point at which the filling is set is also when the lemon bars start to get very light brown on top.

6. Let the pan cool completely on rack or in the fridge. Gently cut around the outside of the parchment paper to make sure no sides have stuck, then gently use the parchment “sling” to transfer bars from pan to cutting board. Cut into 16 squares.

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Sandy’s notes: I dusted them with icing sugar, to make them look fancier. I wish I had better photos of the lemon bars but my family ate them all up so quickly! I thought these were THE best lemon bars I’ve ever had. The balance of lemony goodness, salt and sugar was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe. Enjoy!

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CONTEST: Win a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

I’m giving away a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman! You must be a resident of Canada to win. If you win, the cookbook will be shipped directly to your home.

TO ENTER:

Option 1: Leave a comment on this blog post and tell me what your favourite recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen blog (http://smittenkitchen.com/) P.S. Don’t forget to include your Twitter, Facebook or blog site address so I know how to reach you!

OR

Option 2: Follow me on Twitter @savvari and tweet the following:

I want to win a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook from @savvari #cookbook #contest

You can enter once a day using each option! Canadian residents only.

Hurry! Contest closes on Tuesday April 30 at 5 pm EST. Good luck!

And the winner is…. Leora Heilbronn @leoraheilbronn – congrats!!

 

 

Smitten Kitchen

Martha Stewart’s Coconut-Buttermilk Pound Cake

27 Jan
Martha Stewart's Coconut-Buttermilk Pound Cake

Martha Stewart’s Coconut-Buttermilk Pound Cake

My mother and father always cooked the Indian dishes in my house and in my teens, I started to experiment with pastas, soups, casseroles and baked goods, basically all non-Indian cuisine. Between my mother, father and I, we seemed to have things covered in the kitchen right? Well, after I got married, I realized that I had zero cooking skills when it came to Indian food, at least the South Indian food I grew up with. I was so embarrassed (I still am really), that I was a “foodie” who had no idea how to make dishes from my own culture. The funny part was that my mom and mother-in-law responded to my embarrassment with “Oh, that’s okay. So listen, next time you come over, can you make your spinach cannelloni? Can you bring a cake over too?” I then realized that my family actually relies on my non-Indian cooking skills!

I love to bake but given that it’s just the two of us in our home, it’s not wise for me to bake all the time. I tend to bake when there is a family gathering, since it’s easier to finish a whole cake or a dozen cupcakes with more than 10 people around. The challenge however is that my parents and in-laws tend to enjoy plain baked goods such as pound cake, while my nephews love chocolate and caramel.

I’m on a quest to find cakes that make (the majority of) my family happy, so here’s my latest find. This one is from Martha Stewart, via @nympsam from Twitter. Funny thing, she tweeted to ask how to prevent the top of this cake from browning too much while the inside was still cooking. I suggested that she should cover the top with foil and then (naturally) I asked for the recipe. She took a picture of the recipe, I Googled it and BOOM, there it was! Once again, hats off to Twitter!

Martha Stewart’s Coconut-Buttermilk Pound Cake 

(This glorious recipe is from Martha Stewart’s website, you can find it here – http://bit.ly/WDCVQv. The recipe remains unchanged, however I’ve added my notes in BOLD throughout.)

Prep Time

30 minutes

Total Time

1 1/2 hours + cooling

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1 cup granulated sugar (Sandy’s Notes: You can use slightly less than 1 cup if you would like to. I even made it with 3/4 cup of sugar once and I still enjoyed it).

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, divided (Sandy’s Notes: I used store-bought buttermilk, I’ve never tried to use a homemade version for this recipe.)

1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted, divided (Sandy’s Notes: See below for instructions on how to toast the sweetened shredded coconut)

1 cup confectioners’ sugar (Sandy’s Notes: This is for the icing. I used half the amount of sugar and ended up with more of a glaze on the cake, which was still tasty.)

Directions:

Sandy’s Notes:

How to toast sweetened shredded coconut: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then spread the 1 ½ cups of sweetened shredded coconut on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan and put it on the middle rack. It can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to toast and you’ll have to keep stirring the coconut on a regular basis. Toast the coconut until a few pieces start to turn light brown. Any longer and you might end up burning it!  Remove the cookie sheet/pan from the oven and transfer the coconut into a bowl. If you leave it in a hot pan, it will continue to cook!

Toasted sweetened shredded coconut

Toasted sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 8 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down bowl. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with two 1/2-cup additions buttermilk, and beat until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in 1 1/4 cups coconut. (Sandy’s Notes: You’ll have some toasted coconut left, you’ll need it for the topping at the end.)

Adding the toasted coconut to the batter

Adding the toasted coconut to the batter

Transfer batter to pan and bake until a skewer inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 60 minutes.

Sandy’s Notes: I found this cake has a tendency to take a LONG time to bake. You may find that the top has browned nicely but when your toothpick or skewer is inserted into the center it still comes out wet after 60 minutes. If that’s the case, cover the top of your cake LOOSELY with a piece of foil and put it back in the oven for a few minutes. This will help the inside cook but keep the top from burning.)

Let cool in pan on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, 1 hour. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack. (Store at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, up to 4 days.)

The finished product, cooling down. Wait, there's one more step!

The finished product, cooling down. Wait, there’s one more step!

Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Drizzle over cake and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut.

Sandy’s Notes: You could skip this step if you don’t want to add anything to the cake, but it really looks and tastes great with the icing and toasted coconut. I used half the amount of icing sugar and created a lighter glaze, which worked out just fine. 

Put a plate or baking sheet under the cake when you're icing and topping it with toasted coconut, otherwise you'll have a bit of a mess on your hands

Put a plate or baking sheet under the cake when you’re icing and topping it with toasted coconut, otherwise you’ll have a bit of a mess on your hands

The verdict: This was one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever made and it was a huge hit with my family! The buttermilk keeps it really moist and the bits of toasted coconut are delicious. A slice of this cake is perfect with a cup of coffee, tea or even better, some chai (spiced Indian-style tea). Enjoy!

The Coconut-Buttermilk Pound Cake getting devoured mmmm

The Coconut-Buttermilk Pound Cake getting devoured mmmm

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