I Am Baker

neapolitan dipped marshmallows

I wanted to make a super fast, easy and yummy dessert.  For some reason I thought, chocolate & caramel dipped marshmallows!  So I googled that, found a recipe and got started.

Neapolitan Dipped Marshmallows!

Well.  After an hour of dealing with caramel and dipping marshmallows and it pooling weird and the not setting enough to dip in chocolate and then giving up because ITWASUGLY, I decided to try these little guys.

Strawberry marshmallows.

Chocolate dip.

White sprinkles.

Neapolitan fun.

Neapolitan Dipped Marshmallows!

Now these, these are easy.  If you do not have strawberry marshmallows, don’t fret.  Make some from scratch!  Is there anything better than from scratch marshmallows?

If you don’t want to do that, use regular old white vanilla marshmallows, dip them in chocolate, then add some pink sprinkles.

Voila!  Neapolitan. Or at least, my version of neapolitan.  I basically refer to anything that is pink, brown and white as neapolitan.

#neapolitanforlife

chocolate shell for marshmallow dipping

Ingredients

  • 11 oz. chocolate chips or finely chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or shortening)

Instructions

  1. Combine chocolate and oil in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Transfer to small container with high sides (like a drinking glass, just make sure its wide enough to fit cupcake), and let cool about 15 minutes.
  2. OR
  3. Place chocolate and oil in a tall glass in the microwave for 1 minute. Remove and stir. If chocolates not all melted, return to the microwave in 15 second increments until chocolate is all melted.
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I am giving a recipe for the chocolate shell, but you can even do something as simple as melting some chocolate chips in the microwave (15 second increments) and dipping the marshmallow in that.

The instructions are simple:

Insert marshmallow into a toothpick or skewer.

Dip into chocolate.  Let excess drizzle off.

Dip freshly chocolate coated marshmallow into sprinkle of choice.

Set on parchment to set.  (Can refrigerate to speed up process)

Best served within 24 hours.

 

Neapolitan Dipped Marshmallows!

The hardest part about this whole process should be finding a pretty sprinkle to embellish these beauties.

Now, since I love you all and we have no secrets here I will show you my colossal failure of marshmallows dipped in caramel and chocolate.

Marshmallows Covered in Caramel and Chocolate

Ok, ok.  So they were not a colossal failure.  I just didn’t like how the recipe nor the consistency nor the final appearance turned out.

Marshmallows Covered in Caramel and Chocolate

I tried a few different things and just found them all to be not up to par.

I think that the marshmallows have to be homemade, that the caramel needs to be homemade, and that the chocolate is a good quality dark chocolate.

So I promise, I am working on this recipe and will be sharing it when it is perfected!
HOLIDAY GIFT BUYING ALERT!!!

SurpriseInsideCakesCoverSale

 

For a VERY limited time my new book Surprise Inside Cakes is over 90% off!!  As of today, Nov. 20th 2014, you can get it for $1.99!!!

HUGE SAVINGS!!  Also, you can choose to “Give as a Gift”.  You can pick the day the book is received (like Dec. 25th?) and the recipient will never know you purchased it for less than $2!

I Am Baker

chocolate caramel ginger cookies

Let’s talk ginger.

Not the hair (although that would be fun too because I happened to have given birth to ginger baby).  The vegetable.  Or as most refer to it, the herb or spice.

Are you a fan?

Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies!

After seeing this recipe you will be, in one form or another.  Of this I am confident.

Know why I am so confident?  Because it is a subtle infusion.

It’s a hint of ginger.  An essence if you will.

I started out with a beautiful ginger infused caramel.

Ginger Caramels

But before I get into that you probably want to know why I am making ginger infused caramels.  Well, a little while back I was asked to participate in a challenge for Caribou Coffee.

Challenge: create a new holiday recipe inspired by Caribou Coffee’s Gingersnap Cookie Mocha using ground or fresh ginger. 

Once I saw the challenge was from Caribou Coffee I jumped at the chance to participate.  My husband is a huge fan of the coffee as well as the fabulous local coffee houses and spends a good deal of time there most weekday mornings.

But then I got totally thrown off by the whole “ginger”thing.  Shy of making their exact coffee blend into a cookie, how was I going to create a sweet and delicious treat inspired by ginger?

1. Make it into caramels.

2. The end.

Ginger Caramels!

Kidding.

I had my heart set on a cookie.

My vision was a decadent cookie resting precariously on the side of a steaming coffee mug in front of a roaring fire.  Feet up, cozy slippers on, Christmas music in the background and children happily reading books next to me.

As with all visions, it should start with baby steps.  So first, the caramels.

Next, the decadent cookie.

Process shot of Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies

I knew I wanted to stuff that amazing carmel into a cookie dough, but finding the perfect dough was a challenge.  Most chocolate cookies that I tried were cocoa based and couldn’t hold their own when paired with the caramel.

But, I finally was able to find a recipe that worked.  This recipe uses only actual chocolate to flavor the cookie which is exactly the pure and intense zing I was going for!

Ginger Caramel Recipe

chocolate caramel ginger cookies

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces mini bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter cut into chunks
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Ginger Caramels cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1 teaspoon crystallized ginger

Instructions

  1. Place chocolate and butter into a heat safe bowl and set bowl over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of simmering water.
  2. Stir chocolate until fully melted then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Whisk in eggs and sugar until fully incorporated.
  4. Now add in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until dough comes together and then chill for about 2 hours.
  5. When ready to prepare cookies, remove dough from fridge and using a small cookie scoop, prepare 12 scoops of dough. (Each cookie will use 2 cookie dough balls.)
  6. Be sure your cookie sheet is lined in parchment.
  7. Press the dough ball flat to about 1/2 inch thickness and place a ginger caramel inside. Press another flattened dough ball on top and press sides together, making sure there is a tight seal.
  8. Do this six times and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake six cookies for 8 minutes. (you will be baking for one more minute after adding ginger. If not adding crystallized ginger, bake cookies for 9 minutes.) Repeat until dough is gone.
  10. If adding crystallized ginger pieces, add 5-7 pieces evenly dispersed over cookie. Cookie will spread out considerably, so place ginger pieces all the way to the edge of the cookie.
  11. Put back in oven for 1 minute.
  12. Allow cookies to cool slightly before eating.
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Recipe adapted from myrecipes.com.

Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies!

So the cookie isn’t resting on the mug, but I think next to it will do.

Tips & Tricks

I recommend making the caramels at least one day before making the cookies.  They worked best cooled to room temperature and cut into squares.

If you are using crystallized ginger make sure you chop it into VERY very small pieces.  (After a great deal of feedback I think my pieces on the cookies above were much too big and too close together.)  It is extremely potent stuff and will overpower the chocolate & caramels.  When placing the pieces onto the hot cookie, try sprinkling it like it is sanding sugar.  Make sure the pieces are spread out over the cookie as much as possible.

The dough can be made 1-2 days in advance and kept in the fridge.  Cookies will last about 1 week in an airtight container.

HINT: Put the cookies in an airtight container that is slightly bigger than you would need.  Set cookies in, then place a piece of bread in the container.  The bread will turn hard and the cookies will stay soft!

Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies!

We have decadent cookies.  We have a hot cup of fabulous Caribou Coffee.

I guess the only thing left is the roaring fire, and I think that is up to you.  The rest of it… well.  I will just be happy with the cookies. :)

HOLIDAY GIFT BUYING ALERT!!!

SurpriseInsideCakesCoverSale

 

For a VERY limited time my new book Surprise Inside Cakes is over 90% off!!  As of today, Nov. 20th 2014, you can get it for $1.99!!!

HUGE SAVINGS!!  Also, you can choose to “Give as a Gift”.  You can pick the day the book is received (like Dec. 25th?) and the recipient will never know you purchased it for less than $2!

I Am Baker

Naked Cakes and Live TV

One of the perks of living in MN is Twin Cities Live.  It is a local show that is nationally recognized for the talent and quality of programming.  I am slightly biased because I happen to adore one of the hosts (well both actually!!) , Elizabeth Ries.  But even if I didn’t know her, I would still be a huge fan of the show!

Not only am I a #bigfan of the show, but occasionally I get to be a guest!  My most recent appearance was all about Naked Cakes.

Cookie Crisp Naked Cake!

This bottom of this cake is three layers of yellow cake prepared in 9-inch round cakes pans.  I used two yellow cake recipes and divided it between three pans.

The top tier is one yellow cake recipe equally divided between two 6-inch round cake pans.

Cookie Crisp Naked Cake!

Peaking out just a little bit is the frosting that I used between the layers… cookie dough frosting!  This is a really subtle way to create a cookie dough flavored naked cake.  You could also make the layers themselves with chocolate chips and yellow or white cake.

Cookie Crisp Naked Cake!

For the embellishment around the cake I used Cookie Crisp cereal!  Talk about a flash from the past.  You knew it was a special occasion if you got this for breakfast!

You could also make mini chocolate chip cookies if you prefer.

Naked Fruit Cake!

I also prepared a Chocolate Naked Fruit Cake.  This is two recipes of chocolate cake divided between four 8-inch round cake pans.  For the sake of travel and TV, I chose to only use three of the four layers.  It just got to be too high with four.

Naked Fruit Cake!

I used white buttercream in between the layers and added grapes, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and a beautiful pear on top.

I sprinkled the cake with powdered sugar right before the segment.  And of course, using a rustic cake stand helps to create a rustic feel!

fruitnakedcake

To serve you may want to have a cut up pear on hand (as well as more of the other fruit) so that you can leave the decorative pear on the cake as long as possible.

Also, I love the idea of drizzling a fruit syrup over the cake right before serving.  Since fruit is a living thing, it will move and squish and leak wonderful fruit juices over the cake.  (which I love) If you want to incorporate that into the design the fruit syrup drizzle will help!

This is how the cakes looked a few minutes before the segment.  I ended up making it through the hour long drive with minimal damage, but you can see the frosting really seeped out of the bottom layer of the fruit cake.  I added a bit more fruit around that spot to try and cover up the mishap.

As I mentioned, RIGHT before I added the powdered sugar.  (which you can see in the actual segment)

See that pretty pink pastry bag in the back?  That is from Bakerella’s new line of products!!  I am super excited about her new line and have been so impressed with the quality if everything I have used so far.

Elizabeth Ries and iambaker.net!

Miss Elizabeth is going to have her first baby in just a few weeks! Such an exciting time.

If you want to check out my segment here it is!  Also… I cannot be held responsible for rogue cake decorating.  #justsayin #lookingatyouSteve

Are you local to Minnesota and have an idea that would be perfect for Twin Cities Live?  Just contact them here and let them know!
HOLIDAY GIFT BUYING ALERT!!!

SurpriseInsideCakesCoverSale

 

For a VERY limited time my new book Surprise Inside Cakes is over 90% off!!  As of today, Nov. 20th 2014, you can get it for $1.99!!!

HUGE SAVINGS!!  Also, you can choose to “Give as a Gift”.  You can pick the day the book is received (like Dec. 25th?) and the recipient will never know you purchased it for less than $2!

I Am Baker

creamy cookie dough frosting

UPDATE:  You can see my TV segment here!

Today I am preparing some cakes for live TV.  And, as I often do when faced with what to make for the live segments, I decided to make something new.

Because we all know that you should experiment and do something different when you are going to be on live TV.

Creamy Cookie Dough Frosting (No Egg!)

I hope you can sense my sarcasm. Sometimes I just shake my head at myself for the dumb choices that seem not-so-dumb in the moment but then in hindsight  I realize are oh-so-dumb.

Wish me luck today, I have a feeling I am going to need it.

Creamy Cookie Dough Frosting (No Egg!)

creamy cookie dough frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Beat brown sugar and butter together in stand mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add in flour, vanilla extract, and salt into creamed butter until fully combined.
  3. With mixer on low speed, and in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated.
  4. Remove bowl from mixer and add in mini chocolate chips. Stir by hand until incorporated.
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Slightly modified from allrecipes.com.

Creamy Cookie Dough Frosting (No Egg!)

Tips & Tricks:

You will see that I wrote 16 tablespoons in the recipe.  As annoying as that is, I found that I liked the texture better when the milk was very slowly incorporated.  You can certainly just add in 1 cup of milk.

I used far more milk than the original recipe suggested.  The reason I did this is because the frosting was being used in a layer cake and it was far too hard to spread as-is.  So I doubled the milk to achieve a much creamier and smoother frosting. I highly recommend that for use on cakes.  If you just want to put a big dollop on a cupcake, try halving the milk and seeing if you prefer that consistency.

I preferr semi-sweet (or even bittersweet) chocolate chips in this frosting.  The slightly bitter chocolate compliments the sweet cookie dough quite nicely.

I used a Easiest Chocolate Cupcake recipe to test out my frosting on.

It was a match made in heaven of course!

HOLIDAY GIFT BUYING ALERT!!!

SurpriseInsideCakesCoverSale

 

For a VERY limited time my new book Surprise Inside Cakes is over 90% off!!  As of today, Nov. 20th 2014, you can get it for $1.99!!!

HUGE SAVINGS!!  Also, you can choose to “Give as a Gift”.  Maybe for a fun birthday gift or Christmas?  You can pick the day the book is received  and the recipient will never know you purchased it for less than $2!

 

I Am Baker

christmas cookie sandwiches with wondra

As a baker there are two things that I value greatly:

1. Time

2. Quality ingredients

Holiday Cookies!

Sometimes, as much as it pains me, I have to set certain recipes off to the side because of the time involved.  This is never a fun choice because we all know that the care put into a recipe is often a direct correlation to the quality and flavor of that recipe.  I mean, cake mix cookies are fine in a pinch, but having a chocolate chip cookie from quality ingredients that took 48 hours to prepare is a magical thing.

Sugar cookies is one of those recipes that benefits greatly from ‘rest’.  Chilling in the fridge (anywhere from one hour to overnight!) is a line that is in practically every roll-out sugar cookie recipe.

Holiday Sugar Cookies!

I recently tried a new (to me) product in the world of baking.  It is called Wondra® and is from the folks over at Gold Medal Flour.

Wondra® Quick Mixing Flour has always been known as your go-to flour for extra- creamy, lump-free gravies and ultra-flaky and crispy pie crusts. Its lightness and easy mixing qualities have made it perfect as the dredging flour for fish and poultry. But new research behind the product has revealed a hidden quality that will take this product from the unsung hero of the kitchen to the holiday baking tool that everyone is talking about!

Holiday Sugar Cookies!

No chilling. No refrigerator time.  No down time.

Immediate sugar cookie gratification.

I decided to try it.  I prepared my dough with all room temperature ingredients and looked at it on my counter.

It took everything in me not to wrap it up and put it in the fridge!  But I didn’t.

I rolled it out immediately and started punching out cookies.  I put those un-chilled cookies right into the oven and backed away slowly, expecting the impending doom of unrecognizable blobs of crispy browned sugar cookie dough.

But… it didn’t happen.  They baked up beautifully!  The flavor and consistency was just like my go-to sugar cookie recipe.  And they held their shape quite quite well!

This product is nothing short of revolutionary for sugar cookie artists!

sugar cookies with wondra

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. Mix powdered sugar, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheet. (or prepare as you prefer)
  3. Divide dough in half. Roll out first half 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured (with Wondra!) surface. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
  4. Bake 7-8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on wire rack.
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To make the sugar cookie sandwiches in this post, I used a very small cookie cutter and cut out the tree image before baking.

Christmas Sugar Cookies!

After baking allow cookies to cool slightly and sprinkle the cookies (with tree cut out) with sanding sugar or dusting powder. (I used red and green)

Place a solid cookie face down, fill with about 1 tablespoon of buttercream, then place cut out tree cookie on top.

You now have a perfectly festive, quick, easy and delicious Holiday Sugar Cookie Sandwich!

Holiday Sugar Cookies!

A few tips before using Wondra®:

Do not expect it to look and feel exactly like your traditional all-purpose flour.  Do expect it to work the same, if not better.

Do not be alarmed if your cookie “puffs up” while baking.  Do smile brightly when you remove it from the oven with it’s shape perfectly in tact.

Do not expect it to taste different.  Do expect it to taste delicious.

Do not waste one more second waiting on chilling dough or sticky dough or cookies that taste stale in 2 days.  Do use Wondra® and roll out beautiful dough that stays fresh longer!

This post brought to you by Gold Medal Flour and myself.  All recipe testing, opinions and images are my own.

I Am Baker

chocolate pistachio and ginger tart

Every now and then, I feel like acting as if I am classy. (Be advised, it took everything in me to not write classy with a k.  Just a testament to the fact that classy, I am not.)

Chocolate Crystalized Ginger and Pistachio Tart!

 

Not through what I wear or say or do, but with cuisine.

More specifically, dessert.

My first choice in dessert is usually cake. I mean donuts.  I mean frosting.

I mean all of the above.  Someone please make me a glazed donut cake covered in frosting. #newblogpost

Chocolate Crystalized Ginger and Pistachio Tart!

Wait!  I am acting classy.  So a frosting covered donut cake simply will not do.

But this, this will be perfect.

A decadent chocolate ganche poured into a buttery pistachio tart and sprinkled with crystalized ginger.

Flavors that compliment each other in a refined way.  A firm ganche (due to the lesser amount of cream) that holds up in the crust but melts into a fudgey pool of chocolate in your mouth.

The pistachio adds a distinctively salty and nutty kick to the chocolate.

That ginger though… that is what puts this dessert over the top.  Such a fantastic burst of earthy sugary spiciness!

chocolate pistachio and ginger tart

Ingredients

  • erves: 12
  • 3/4 cup shelled salted pistachio nuts, lightly toasted, divided
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup McCormick® Gourmet Collection Ginger, Crystallized

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 1/2 cup of the pistachio nuts in bowl of food processor; cover and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Mix flour and sugar in medium bowl, then cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add pistachio nuts; toss to mix well.
  4. Add water; stir until a soft dough forms. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of a prepared 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
  5. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire rack.
  6. Place cream and chocolate in medium microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute, stirring halfway through cooking time. (Chocolate will not be completely melted.)
  7. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool just until mixture starts to thicken.
  8. Spread evenly in bottom of tart shell. Cool completely.
  9. Place crystallized ginger in bowl of food processor; cover. Pulse until just coarsely chopped. Add remaining 1/4 cup pistachio nuts; cover. Pulse until chopped. Sprinkle over chocolate in tart shell.
  10. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
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Recipe shared with permission from McCormick.com.

Chocolate Crystalized Ginger and Pistachio Tart!

This fancy and delicate dessert is posh enough to be served at the most elegant affair, yet delicious and easy enough for the kids to enjoy after a dinner of hotdish on a Tuesday night. #thatshowweroll

I Am Baker

The Easiest Chocolate cupcakes

I was in a pinch.  Ever since our chickens started laying eggs, I vowed to never buy eggs again. (It’s not for vanity reasons or anything, it’s just that our eggs are so delicious and naturally organic and wonderful, all other eggs pale in comparison.  Literally.)

The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcake!

I found myself without any eggs but needed to make a chocolate cake.  So I started googling and came upon a recipe from Epicurious for “The Easiest Chocolate Cake.

Not only was it easy, it was vegan.

Now, I am the farthest thing in the world from a vegan and would eat eggs in one form or another every single day for the rest of my life if I could. (I mean, technically I can, no one is telling me I can’t.  And quite honestly I already almost do!)

The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcake!

Back to the cake.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how moist and fabulous it was.

So I decided to make it into cupcakes.

With a few small adjustments to that recipe, I think I have found one heck of a delicious and easy cupcake.

It really truly does live up to the name, “Easiest Chocolate CakeCupcake”.

The EASIEST ever Chocolate Cupcake! (One bowl!)

In an effort to be consistent and useful, I decided to make the frosting vegan as well.  Little did I know I already had a recipe on my site that could be easily adapted to become vegan!

the easiest chocolate cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Frosting
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons water or almond milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place liners in 2 muffin pans for 24 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Make sure your salt measurement is accurate. Set aside. (Be sure there are no lumps)
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the vanilla extract, oil, vinegar, coffee and water.
  4. Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. The mixture will be quite wet, but this is okay.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans (about 2 tablespoons per cupcake liner) and bake about 18 minutes. (The baking time is 24 to 26 minutes in a non-convection oven.)
  6. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. Frosting
  8. Cream shortening and vanilla in bowl using a handheld mixer for 2-4 minutes.
  9. Add in powder sugar, one cup at a time. If you find your mixer struggling, slowing add in water.
  10. Use more water for a creamy consistency, use less water for a stiff consistency.
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I scaled down the frosting recipe quite a bit, you can easily double or triple it.

The EASIEST Chocolate Cupcake! (that just happens to be vegan!)

These are good.  Moist.  Chocolatey.  Delicious.

 

I Am Baker

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

This is such a classic and great tasting dessert, I am ashamed I never shared it on my blog until now!

Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe!

The recipe I am sharing is a “copykat” recipe, in that it is reminiscent of the Cheesecake Factory’s® scrumptious Pumpkin Cheesecake. While I love eating it there, making it at home has it’s benefits too.

Like being able to drizzle all the caramel you want over your piece.

There is something quite magical about caramel and pumpkin!

Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe!

I seriously could not wait to try a piece. It was my first piece of Pumpkin Cheesecake for the season, and I hope it’s not the last.  My goodness cheesecake is amazing.  As much as the famous New York style is a staple, from October to January this becomes my new favorite.

Especially since you can make so many changes!  Switch out the crust for a shortbread or chocolate (like I have done here), cover in cinnamon whipped cream or caramel buttercream, you could even add a layer of caramel or chocolate ganache on top.

Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces Pre-Made Chocolate Pie Crust, about 2 - 2 1/4 cups
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • whipped cream
  • caramel sauce

Instructions

  1. Make the crust by combining the pre-made chocolate cracker crumbs with the melted butter in a medium bowl.
  2. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan. (I spray with bakers spray then place a piece of parchment at bottom)
  3. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the springform pan.
  4. In a stand mixer combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.
  5. Add the pumpkin, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and continue beating until smooth and creamy. (about 2 minutes)
  6. Pour the filling into the pan.
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes at 350 degrees.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool.
  9. When the cheesecake has come to room temperature, put it into the refrigerator.
  10. When ready to serve the chilled cheesecake, add whipped cream to the top.
  11. Drizzle with caramel sauce .
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Recipe heavily adapted from food.com.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know I like to use Oreo® crusts in a lot of things.  For this particular recipe, I thought the Oreo® flavoring was a bit too dominant, so I opted for simple chocolate crust.

My favorite way to swap out flavors is to buy pre-made pie crusts. (they are often less expensive then graham crackers!)

Pre Made Chocolate Pie Crust

I used two 6-ounce packages and added the melted butter.  When I use these I do not bake the crust before assembling.

If you do not have access to these or would prefer to make your own crust, you will want about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs, 5-6 tablespoons of melted butter, then 1 tablespoon of sugar if it’s graham cracker.  Press into pan then bake for 5 minutes before filling.

Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe with Chocolate Crust!

TIP: When making cheesecake (any flavor) I highly recommend using room temperature ingredients.  Also, do not be afraid to really whip that cream cheese!  You want it to be smooth and creamy with no lumps.

I used my favorite Ateco pastry tip to pipe out simple dollops of whipped cream.  Then drizzled all that wonderful caramel.  Don’t leave that step out, it makes the cheesecake outstanding.

Especially if the cheesecake is chilled and the caramel is warm… now that’s magic.

Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe with Chocolate Crust!

You can prepare the cheesecake a couple days ahead of time.  I am making another one today for a party I have tomorrow, and really hoping and praying I can resist eating a piece before the event actually beings.

Wish me luck!

Be sure to check out my new book, Surprise-Inside Cakes!

I Am Baker

caramel cake with apple cider whipped cream

This cake.

It’s… well.   It’s one of the best tasting cakes I have ever had the privilege of making.

Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting and Apple Cinnamon Whipped Cream!

But here is the thing… I am going to share TWO recipes for this cake.  The reason being is that when I made it from scratch I used Rose’s Caramel Cake.  I made it and loved it.  Then I made it again and tried to tweak the recipe, but to no avail.  Every change I made did not help, and more likely it took away from an already perfect recipe.

This was especially true about the caramel icing.  There was absolutely zero changes I could make to improve upon the texture, flavor and consistency of that sauce.  It’s down right amazing.

The Apple Whipped Cream I got from Rachel Ray was also hard to improve upon.  (I did add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, but that is totally an optional step!)

That is the from-scratch recipes if you are willing and able.  And I do recommend it, that flavors are sensational!

The recipe I am going to list below is the semi-homemade version, using a box mix, caramel sauce in the jar and Cool Whip®.  Just because I can’t post this beautiful and delicious cake in the completely from-scratch form doesn’t mean that I can’t provide some sort of recipe for you to use!

First though, the assembly.

Make the cake in two square 9-inch cake pans.  I prepared them by coating with Goop and then lined with parchment.

Allow cakes to cool to room temperature.  Level cakes to the same height.

Prepare caramel sauce and allow to cool to room temperature. (or get caramel sauce our of fridge and heat to lukewarm)

Place one square layer cake on cake stand and cover in approximately 1/2 cup of caramel sauce.  You will want to sauce to be warm enough to move, but not runny. (The consistency can all be controlled through temperature at this point.)  If your caramel sauce is too runny, allow it to cool more before finishing covering this layer of cake, we are trying to avoid a puddle of caramel around the base of the cake.  After you have poured caramel on cake, chill it for about 15 minutes in fridge or 10 minutes in freezer.  You want to ‘set’ the sauce as much as possible.

Once caramel sauce is covering cake and firm, you can prepare it for the next layer.

Prepare apple whipped cream. (or get out your Cool Whip®)

Cut a straw into four equal sections and place in the four corners of the cake.

Caramel cake with straws to support

This step isn’t pretty, but is essential for this cake.  The whipped cream is not sturdy enough to hold the weight of the cake above.

Add about 1 cup of whipped cream to the cake and smooth out.  You will want to whipped cream to be no higher than the height of the straws.

Place next layer of caramel cake on top of whipped cream layer and repeat the step of pouring the caramel icing over the cake.  Use a bit less at first, as you do not want it to drip too much.

Fill a piping bag with the remaining apple whipped cream and pipe out pretty swirls on top. (I prefer this open star tip from Ateco)

Sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (it’s a small amount, feel free to adjust to fit your tastes).

Drizzle top with a very runny caramel sauce. (Add a bit of milk to room temperature icing and stir until combined.  Put in piping bag and cut off the smallest tip then carefully drizzle.)

Chill until ready to serve.

Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting and Apple Cinnamon Whipped Cream!

caramel cake with apple cider whipped cream (semi-homemade version)

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • One container of caramel sauce (sizes can vary, just make sure you have at least 16 ounces)
  • 1-3 cups confectioners sugar
  • One 32-ounce container of store bought whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Apple extract or 1 tablespoon apple cider

Instructions

  1. Prepare yellow cakes according to the directions on the box in 9-inch square cake pans.
  2. Pour caramel sauce (about 16 ounces) into stand mixer. Add one cup of confectioners sugar and whip at medium speed until incorporated. You may add more confectioners sugar if needed; you are looking for a fairly thick consistency, one that is not overly runny.
  3. Place one layer of cake on cake stand and cover in about 1/2 cup of caramel frosting you just made.
  4. Open store bought whipped cream and add in 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp apple extract or up to 1 tablespoon of apple cider.
  5. Place about 1 cup whipped cream on cake and level.
  6. Repeat with next layer of cake and caramel, then pipe mounds of remaining whipped cream.
  7. Chill until ready to serve.
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Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting and Apple Cinnamon Whipped Cream!

TIPS: You want to cakes to be as level as possible so nothing goes sliding off with that beautiful caramel.  The caramel will become more runny the warmer it gets.  If you are able to give your cakes a slight concave in the center that would work as well.

The caramel is the trickiest part.  Once you are able to determine the best consistency to work with you will be set!  I found that the best way to practice was to use cupcakes and my guinea pigs.  (plus… yum!  Will share that recipe soon!) If you need this cake for a special event, be sure to practice first!

If you make the cake from scratch, you will have THREE layers of cake (lots of batter, never fill your pan more than 1/2 full).  I don’t recommend making this cake into a three layer (stability is an issue), so freezing the extra layer is a great option.

In the semi-homemade recipe I added powdered (confectioners) sugar to store bought caramel sauce.  I KNOW!  I know.  This is nuts.  But what I was going for in consistency.  The sauce needs to be a little thicker so that it does not simply spill out over everything.  You can skip adding the powdered sugar and just use much LESS caramel sauce so that spilling over is not an issue.

Apple Extract is not easy to find, I had to order some. (Pure Apple Extract from OliveNation).  You can substitute apple cider, but make sure that you start with teaspoons and taste test after each addition.  Be careful to not add too much liquid to the store bought whipped cream as it could become too runny to pipe.

This cake is WORTH the work!  It’s amazing.  Delicious!  Those flavors are genius and wonderful and a must for fall and holiday gatherings.

I styled this cake exactly like my Chocolate Pumpkin Cake and Red Velvet Peppermint Cake.  It’s a show stopper for sure!

I Am Baker

eight-layer dip

I am posting this in the wrong season.  I mean, technically speaking.  Does delicious eight-layer dip ever go out of season?  In this day and age we can get everything we need at the grocery store all year round it seems.  Even organic options!

Eight-Layer Dip

I just happen to have a little party coming up and this sounded like the perfect appetizer, even if it is closer to winter than summer.  This particular recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman’s A Year of Holiday’s cookbook, which is one of my favorites.

Eight-Layer Dip!

She adds roasted corn to her recipe which is genius.  I LOVE roasted corn and the idea of it added to 7-layer dip makes me  happy.  And bloated because I end up eating 57 million salty tortilla chips when this dip is around.

eight-layer dip

Ingredients

  • 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes
  • pinch salt
  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and diced
  • One 16-ounce can refried beans
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, finely grated
  • 1 cup black olives
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups roasted corn kernels

Instructions

  1. Add first four ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the juice of 1 lime and pinch of salt.
  2. Stir to combine, set aside. (you have now made pico de gallo)
  3. Add avocado's to a separate bowl and mix in half of the pico de gallo. (this is chunky guacamole)
  4. Spread refried beans on to serving platter in a flat smooth layer.
  5. Add dollops of sour cream on top and carefully spread in an even layer over the refried beans.
  6. Add the chunky guacamole in dollops and then spread in an even layer.
  7. Add the olives and the grated cheese.
  8. Add roasted corn to pico de gallo and combine.
  9. Put pico de gallo on top of cheese layer. Squeeze remaining lime. (Use a much or as little as you would like. If you want to use less, feel free to set extra lime to the side and offer to guests to use at their discretion.)
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Recipe just barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

Eight-Layer Dip!

I am still debating on wether or not to serve these on a platter or in individual cups.  I like the idea of the cups, but people still need a plate for the chips right?  So I am not sure the extra efforts is worth it in the end.  If you have experience with this method I would love some insight!

Eight-Layer Dip!

Oh my word do I love this stuff.  I could eat it every single day of my life.  The only difference is that I omit the beans and make a layer of taco seasoned ground beef.  Which I can’t believe I just shared with you because people usually react in horror when I tell them I don’t like refried beans.

Here I go sharing an un-seasonal recipe AND confessing I am practically un-American with my dislike of refried beans. Don’t be made at me ok?  Just make this awesome dip and lets be friends again.