These Krispy Kreme Copycat Doughnuts are BETTER than those at Krispy Kreme because you can taste all the necessary components of a doughnut – the sugar, the soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture, and the yeasty, fried dough. Amazing.
I’ve never been a fan of Krispy Kreme doughnuts because their doughnuts are too sweet for my taste. Albeit soft, warm, and delicious, these sugar “pillows” are so sweet that they overpower the bready, fried dough underneath. When I lived in Texas, my favorite doughnut shop was Shipley’s Donuts, where you could get your sugar fix as well as taste the soft, fried, yeasty layer, which made them more substantial and fulfilling. Continue reading “Krispy Kreme Copycat Doughnuts”
An indulgent slice of Nutella Cheesecake with a side serving of homemade, vanilla bean ice cream!
In March 2009, I started a food blog at mangiodasola.blogspot.com. After a few months of surprised popularity, I purchased my own domain name only to lose it in 2014. I then changed my site back to mangiodasola.blogspot.com. Losing my domain name really affected my zeal for writing and publishing photos and recipes. Of course I continued to cook and take photos of some meals. However, I could never muster the energy to write or even face my blog again. Continue reading “Nutella Cheesecake”
If you have visited my blog enough times, you may have noticed that I love using buttermilk in place of regular milk. I got this love of buttermilk from my mother and share in her sentiment that buttermilk makes almost everything better, haha. Now don’t get me wrong, I could NEVER and would NEVER drink the stuff by itself, blech! Also, I am not a fan of its smell. However, I firmly believes buttermilk makes my baked goods more moist and adds another dimension of flavor that regular milk cannot produce. Also, I use brown sugar in place of white sugar for similar reasons.
The batter is quite thick, but the waffles come out fluffy, not dense. I have heard of folding egg whites into the batter to yield fluffier waffles, but I thought using a bit of cake flour would create comparable results. I was very pleased with the end result and am now compelled to buy my own waffle iron (I used my friend’s). I hope you try out this recipe soon! In the meantime, I hope the following close-up shots will convince you to make these waffles on Christmas Eve or the morning of Christmas Day:
So fluffy and light (and blurry. sorry!)!
Ah much better!
YUM! Look at that slightly crispy and caramelized bite!
This shot makes me want to jump and make another batch!
2 cups all-purpose (AP)/plain flour (I used 1 cup cake flour/1 cup AP flour) 1 tsp salt 4 tsp baking powder 2 Tbsp brown sugar 2 eggs, room temperature 1 1/2 cups buttermilk or regular milk 1/3 cup melted butter 2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the waffle iron. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder). In a medium-sized measuring cup, pour (and measure) in the milk, then add the butter, vanilla extract, and eggs. Whisk the eggs into the milk mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and mix until combined. Do NOT overmix!
Ladle the batter into the preheated waffle iron, and cook the waffle until ready or until desired doneness. Serve immediately. For leftover waffles, wrap cooled waffles individually in cling wrap and place them in the freezer.
For future consumption, just place the frozen waffle in a toaster or toaster oven until hot and eat! 🙂
Hi, my name is Memoria, and I LOVE fluffy, southern buttermilk biscuits. In the south, it is not uncommon to see homemade buttermilk biscuits show up on the dining table, especially on Saturday mornings. Because of the buttermilk, butter, flour, and accompanying dishes (e.g., gravy, sausage, eggs, etc.) that pair with biscuits, I do not recommend eating these often. . .unless you have great metabolism, which I don’t.
Consequently, I made biscuits with fat-free, Greek yogurt, and they came out so well that I had promised to make them with yogurt from there on out. Well, I fibbed. Although those biscuits were indeed amazing (and I do plan to continue making them with yogurt), I felt as a Texan, food blogger, it was my duty to have a recipe for Southern, traditional, buttermilk biscuits.
Also, these biscuits were so gorgeous, I had to share these photos and recipe with you all. The layers, texture, and flavor were perfect. They were so soft, tasty, and fluffy that no extra butter (because that’s how we do it in the South) was needed. Instead, I tried one plain, one with pure jam (homemade or natural, Bonne Mamanbluebery jam), and one with eggs, cheese, and turkey sausage.
All the varieties were fantastic, but my favorites were with jam and plain. PLEASE try out this recipe ASAP! Then try it with fat-free yogurt and compare the goodness! Both are great! ¡Hasta luego! 🙂
Fluffy, Southern Buttermilk Biscuits
(I always halve this recipe; full recipe below)
250 grams (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour (or half wheat flour!)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder (without aluminum/aluminium)
1 tsp kosher salt or 1 teaspoon salt
85 grams (6 Tbsp) unsalted butter, very cold or frozen
237 ml (1 cup) cold buttermilk, approximately
PREPARE COLD BUTTER AND BUTTERMILK MIXTURE: Grate the butter with a cheese grater or cut the butter into small cubes. Place the butter in the freezer. Measure out the buttermilk mixture, and place it in the refrigerator as you prepare the dry ingredients.
DRY INGREDIENTS/BUTTER INTEGRATION: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl or in the bowl of a food processor. Add the grated/cubed butter into the dry ingredients and mix into the dry mixture with a fork or pastry cutter until the butter bits resemble small pebbles. If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until this consistency is achieved.
ADDITION OF LIQUIDS: Next, add the cold, buttermilk mixture and stir until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX! Make sure the mixture is not too dry or too wet. Adjust accordingly. The biscuit dough should be wet.
PAT IT OUT!: Turn the dough out onto a floured board or clear wrap/cling wrap. Gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it’s about 1″ thick (I fold the dough using the cling/clear wrap so that my warm hands do not directly touch the dough or warm the butter. I also prefer a thick dough to create more layers.). Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1″ thick.
BISCUIT FORMATION: Use a round cutter to cut into rounds OR with a sharp knife, cut the dough into circles and/or squares! (For the leftover dough, I fold the dough together 2 more times and then cut them into squares with a dough cutter or a knife. Most recipes say the leftover dough does not yield great, aesthetic results, but even my leftover, square biscuits came out perfectly because I did not refold it too many times.)
COOKIE SHEET PREPARATION: Lightly brush the cookie sheet with butter, and place the biscuits on a cookie sheet. If you desire the sides of the biscuits to be soft, put them on the sheet touching each other. If you like”crusty” sides, put them about 1 inch apart.
PREHEAT OVEN: Place the cookie tray of biscuits in the freezer or refrigerator while the oven preheats to 450F/230C. This step will allow the butter in the dough to remain cold and to create a flaky biscuits with light layers.
BAKE AND ENJOY!: Once the oven is at temperature, bake the biscuits for about 10-12 minutes.
Items I used (minus grater) to make these biscuits may be found below; the OXO cheese grater is on my wishlist.
In the United States, most of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day (Tday) on the 27th of November, and I’m sure you’ve seen many Tday recipes floating around the blogosphere.
In the States, most people cook and eat large amounts of food with families and friends from near and afar. It is a great day to appreciate and be thankful for what we have whether it be little or too much.
These apple pancakes are a good meal to have the day before or the day after Thanksgiving (or any day!). I amped the recipe that came from Everday Food by substituting milk with buttermilk and by adding fall spices and vanilla extract. Also the recipe calls for applesauce, which prompted me to use my crockpot applesauce!
So whether you’re celebrating a holiday or not and whether it is fall or spring in your hemisphere, I suggest conjuring up the ingredients for these pancakes along with some fluffy eggs and lightly burnt (just how I like it!) turkey sausage! Feel free to eat the pancakes plain, with syrup, or honey!
Optional topping: Sour cream (did not use) or applesauce
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F/121 degrees C. Whisk together dry ingredients, including the sugar. Add in wet ingredients and combine until combined and still lumpy. DO NOT OVERMIX! There should still be lumps.
Heat a cast-iron skillet, flat-top, or griddle over medium heat. Brush surface with butter or cooking spray.
Pour batter onto griddle 1/3 – 1/2 cup at a time. Cook batter until bubbles form around the edges (2-3 minutes), then flip pancake over and cook for approximately 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter and allow previous pancakes to stay warm in the 250/121 degree oven.
Feel free to serve with sour cream, applesauce, syrup, honey, or plain!
Indian food. I love Indian food so much. In fact, being a vegetarian would be a lot easier if I were to just eat Indian food every day. However, sometimes I get in the mood for other types of foods, so…yeah. I’ll eat more Indian food and just reduce my meat consumption instead ;). I think that’s a fair compromise for now…
I’m still in Lisbon and was craving Indian food and decided to make things for harder and more expensive for myself make paneer for Palak Paneer for my friends and me. I had never made paneer before, but I’ve made mascarpone, which is a similar process. I made one batch of paneer with whole milk and another with a milk with less fat (called meio gordo here). The paneer with whole milk was less crumbly, but both had similar textures and were fine. Next time, I plan to add a bit of salt and masala/spices to the paneer before allowing them to set.
LEFT: paneer with less fat/meio gordo. RIGHT: paneer with whole milk (gordo)
Next, I prepared the roti dough, which is much easier and quicker to make than naan dough because it contains no yeast. Roti is almost like a flourtortilla; they contain similar ingredients (I know some Mexicans who make flour tortillas with oil instead of shortening). I allowed the covered roti dough to rest while I prepared the pulao/pilaf and palak paneer.
Roti: Packed and ready to be delivered to my friends…
The sauce for the palak paneer was pretty easy to put together. Just be sure to have all of your ingredients out and ready, which is the rule for the preparation of all Indian dishes. You should also puree your tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilis, etc. before working on this dish.
I love the love the bright green color from the spinach! I wish I had placed the paneer in the fridge for 30-60 minutes instead of allowing it to set out on the counter. I think it would have been a bit firmer that way. Make sure your paneer is firm before using it in the dish. Also, the paneer itself is bland and soft. If you’d like a paneer with more flavor, add a little bit of salt or spices.
The day I made this dish, I was to meet my roommates at the outdoor theatre. So, I packed up the meal to deliver it to them (I had eaten my own plateful beforehand). Unfortunately, I could not find them, and we weren’t able to contact each other on our cellphones. However, once they returned home, they devoured this dish and said that it was delicious! I agree wholeheartedly!
The rice dish came from Pioneer Woman’s website! I love this rice recipe; it is my go-to for Indian-inspired rice.
Funny story: When my friend started eating this dish, I asked her, “How is the paneer?” and she grabbed the roti saying, “Oh! I haven’t tried it yet!” haha. In Romance languages, the word for “bread” is similar to the word “paneer“, so she thought I was referring to the roti, not to the Indian cheese :).
1 liter of whole or 2% milk (whole milk yields a creamier cheese but both are good)
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, or curd
Have ready a cheesecloth, muslin cloth, or clean tea towel over a heat-resistent bowl.
Stir and heat the milk until it comes to low simmer (do not boil!).
Add in the acid component of your choice until the milk and whey form.
Immediately pour the milk/whey mixture into the cheesecloth-lined bowl.
Then transfer the cloth (with paneer inside) to another container (I used the pot I used to heat the milk) and rinse the paneer with the cloth open to remove the lemon or vinegar taste and to cool down the cheese.
Squeeze out excess liquid. (If you’d like to add salt or spices like garam masala, this would be the time.)
Next, close up the cheesecloth, put it on a plate or shallow bowl and place something heavy atop the wrapped cheese.
Allow it to sit on the counter or refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. I suggest letting it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour for it to be ready for the Palak Paneer or any other curry.Storage: I’ve read that it can be stored in the fridge overnight, but I’ve never tried it.
To a rice cooker add all of the ingredients then cook the rice in the cooker.
If you do not have a rice cooker, boil the cold water, turmeric, butter, and salt. Then add in the rice once the mixture has started boiling. Cover and allow to cook according to the packaging. Once the rice is done, throw in some frozen peas, stir, and allow the heat of the rice to cook the peas.
125 grams (1 cup) of wheat flour (I used AP flour/tipo 55)
1/2 cup hot water (I’ve seen this made with warm water as well)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp of salt (to taste)
1 tsp of oil (I used veg oil)
Place flour and salt into a big bowl. Then add the oil. Mix the mixture together and add warm/hot water a little bit at a time (I did not use all of the 1/2 cup of water)
Use your hand to pour warm water to the flour (I did not use all of the 1/2 cup of water) and knead with the right hand. Do not pour too much water at once; mix flour properly.
Press the dough and turn it over several times with your right hand for about 4-5 minutes. When the dough seems uniformed and smooth, sprinkle 2-3 tsp water on it, then cover and keep aside for 20-25 minutes (I left it in the bowl for an hour because I was preparing the other dishes.).
Palak Paneer Recipe
500 grams of fresh spinach
200 grams of paneer, in cubes
2 Tbsp oil
1tsp of cumin seeds
2 tsps of kasuri methi
2-3 large tomatoes/5 small tomatoes
2 to 3 chili peppers or jalapeños or 1/2 of one green pepper
1 inch of ginger
2 tablespoon of cream (optional)
1-2 tsp salt or to taste
Remove the stems of spinach. Wash the spinach well and put them in a bowl . Pour the 1/4 cup of water into the bowl and heat it. The spinach will take 5 to 6 minutes to boil.
Grind the onions and garlic finely and set aside
Grind the tomato, green chilly and ginger in the grinder finely and set aside.
Heat oil in a pan. Put the cumin seeds into the pan.
Once the cumin seeds start to fry, put in the crushed (with your hands), kasuri methi and cook it.
Next pour in the onion/garlic paste.
Then pour in the tomato paste, green chilli and ginger into the masala (spice mixture). Fry the masala till it releases the oil.
Grind the boiled spinach in a grinder, hand mixer, or blender, and pour it into the fried masala. Then mix the masala properly.
Pour the cream into the masala and cook it for 3 to 4 minutes.
Now put in the paneer and cook the sauce for and additional 2 minutes.
The palak paneer is now ready!
Optional: Garnish it with a small spoon of cream. You can either serve hot or eat hot with chapati, roti, or naan.
When I’m on track with my diet, I prefer to eat raw in the mornings and evenings and eat a healthy, cooked meal for lunch. When I’m craving something a bit more naughty, I make these guiltless, turkey tacos.
They are comprised of extra lean ground turkey with a blend of seasonings, pico de gallo, a bit of cheese, and corn tortillas. To make the taco shells, I heat up the tortillas in the microwave to soften them up, then I spray the grates in the oven, and lay them there to form the shell. They come out crunchy and oh so flavorful that I sometimes feel like I’m eating something full of calories and fat.
The cheese is the only true guilty ingredient, so control how much you put on your tacos.
When I made the tacos this time around, I baked the finished tacos in the oven for a few minutes in my oval French oven to allow the cheese to melt and to become one with the rest of the ingredients. Because this extra step was impromptu, the pico de gallo was warm so I had to add a bit more at the end. If you decide to make a baked version of these tacos, add the cold pico de gallo after they’ve baked. I enjoyed the contrast of flavors and temperatures of the cold salsa and hot, meat filling.
When I made the tacos this time around, I baked the finished tacos in the oven for a few minutes in my oval French oven to allow the cheese to melt and to become one with the rest of the ingredients. Because this extra step was impromptu, the pico de gallo was warm so I had to add a bit more at the end. If you decide to make a baked version of these tacos, add the pico de gallo after they’ve baked. I enjoyed the contrast of flavors and temperatures of the cold salsa and hot, meat filling.
Baked Turkey Tacos
[For the PICO DE GALLO, I chopped up and mixed together 2-3 roma tomatoes, a handful of green onions and cilantro, and one partly deseeded jalapeño. I seasoned the mixture with 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt (to taste) and the juice of 2 limes. Store the pico de gallo in the refrigerator before making the tacos.]
Make the taco seasoning:
(go to allrecipe for a smaller version of this recipe; however, I suggest making a large portion of the seasoning to keep on hand. Below is the recipe based on a serving size of 50, which still isn’t much since you’ll be using 3 Tbsp of the mixture for the taco filling.)
1/4 cup & 1 Tbsp chili powder 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder 1 1/4 tsp onion powder 1 14 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 1 1/4 tsp dried oregano or “Italian seasoning” mix 2 1/2 tsp paprika 2 Tbsp & 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1 Tbsp & 2 tsp sea salt (or Kosher or table salt) 1 Tbsp & 2 tsp black pepper (freshly ground or powder)
Mix all ingredients in an airtight container. You will need only 3 Tbsp of this mixture for this recipe.
Ground turkey filling
1 lb of extra lean ground turkey (around 3 grams of fat/serving), regular ground turkey, chicken, beef, or minced mushrooms or other veggies 3 Tbsp of taco seasoning (see recipe above) 1-2 Tbsp water (optional; use only to make the seasoning less intense for children or sensitive folks)
Taco preparation Meat or veggie filling Block of your favorite cheese(s), grated (not the pre-grated stuff, please!) 6-8 corn tortillas Olive oil, oil spray, or Pam Salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. For two people, microwave 6-8 tortillas in a wet paper towel for about 45 seconds. Separate the tortillas carefully (I use a brush dipped in oil to separate and coat them). Brush or spray the tortillas with oil on both sides and sprinkle salt, if using, on both sides as well.
Spay the oven grates with Pam really well! Place the oil- and salt-coated tortillas on the grates of the oven. For wider tacos as the ones shown in this post, place the tortillas over two rows. Baked the tortillas for 7-10 minutes or until the taco is crunchy throughout. Take out the shells CAREFULLY by pushing them up from underneath the grates. They should pop right up if you sprayed the grates well enough.
Now fill the taco shells with your meat/veggie mixture, cheese, pico de gallo or salsa, and any other fixings you prefer. ENJOY!
Healthy Salmon Fried Brown Rice with Kikkoman Soy Sauce (not low-sodium.)
I love Chinese-American food, and I love making Chinese-American food. In the past I have made Orange Chicken, Lemon Chicken, and Chicken Fried Rice. At Chinese-American restaurants, I usually order Orange Chicken or Fried Rice; however, these dishes are usually high in fat and sodium due to the amount of oil, sugar (in the sauces), eggs, and soy sauce.
Healthier Vegetarian Fried Brown Rice
In order to compromise my love for fried rice and desire to eat healthier, I made the two dishes you see. I made fried rice healthier by reducing the amount of oil normally used, omitting the eggs, using brown rice (you could also use cauliflower rice), adding less soy sauce (or use low-sodium soy sauce), and incorporating more veggies or healthier meats such as salmon.
The results? A quick, delicious, and satisfying meal that more than satisfies my craving for the unhealthier version! This dish was a cinch to make. I made the brown rice the day before and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I made the fried rice in a non-stick pan so that I wouldn’t need much oil. In fact the oil was used to cook only the salmon and veggies. I then complimented my fried brown rice with some hot, black tea.
Even if you are not trying to lose weight, you should definitely try this dish out!
Healthier Vegetarian or Salmon Fried Rice
Serving size: 1-2 people
1-2 cups of brown rice, cooked preferably the day prior (I followed the instructions on back of the bag)
Mixed Vegetables (up to you! I used garlic, mushrooms, onions, and frozen mixed vegetables)
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce (preferably low-sodium)
Pour 1 Tbsp of oil in a hot wok or skillet. If using salmon, cook the salmon for 3-5 minutes each side. Cook the onions, mushrooms, and garlic (or whatever veggies you’d like) alongside the salmon. Remove everything from the skillet and set them aside.
If using a non-stick wok/skillet: without adding extra oil, heat up the cooked brown rice and frozen, mixed vegetables. While they are heating up, cut up the salmon. Once the rice and veggies are heated up, add the salmon and other veggies back in with the rice. Once sufficiently combined, mix in the soy sauce. Turn off the heat. Serve, and enjoy!
Freshly kneaded dough comprised of all-purpose and white-wheat flours, yeast, milk, oil, and salt
Reggio Calabria, Italy – Source of Pizza Dough Recipe
This is my go-to recipe for an authentic pizza dough. While living in Reggio Calabria, Italy, I met my now boyfriend and later his family. Every time I went to their house for lunch and/or dinner, his mother would spoil me with so many yummy dishes. In fact, to this day, one of the reasons my boyfriend wants me to return is so that he can eat that well again :).
His mother and I share a love for making different types of bread dough and cakes. So, I remember fondly the first time I saw her make pizza dough. I watched her intently and took photos. After eating my first unforgettable slice, I asked her for the recipe. Fortunately, she happily wrote it down for me, and I made this dough for my mom as soon as I returned to the States. My mother liked it so much that she asked me for the recipe and made it herself.
La ricetta – The recipe
When I lost the pizza dough recipe, my boyfriend’s mom wrote it down for me again, my boyfriend took a photo of it, and sent it to me on my phone.
Peperoni vs. Pepperoni
I’ve made this pizza dough so many times now that I’ve almost memorized it. It is such a simple recipe, which mirrors most, authentic, Italian recipes and dishes. They are so simple yet so delicious! However, I made U.S.-style pizze with salami or what we call “pepperoni” *with 2 “p’s”) (“peperoni” (with 1 “p”) means “little peppers” in Italian), mushrooms, and spinach/arugula, which are blasphemous toppings in my boyfriend’s Italian eyes :). He prefers a wholesome Pizza Margherita or the pizza his mom makes (which I was forced to make later :D).
Pizza Dough Serving Size and Freezer Storage
So, now I share this lovely, pizza dough recipe with you all. It makes enough for 4 personal pizze. With this dough, I put half of it in the freezer and made the other half a few days ago (the pizze from both portions of dough are shown). For the dough shown here, I used 50% all-purpose flour and 50% white-wheat flour.
Vegan Option – No Milk
My boyfriend’s mother made this pizza dough with milk every time I visited but originally made it with water. I’ve never tasted the water-version of her dough, so I make it with skim milk or half skim milk/half water. It’s up to you! I highly suggest weighing your ingredients, but I have provided conversions in parentheses. Enjoy!
L’impasto per la pizza di Mariangela
2 cucchiaini di zucchero
1 bustina di lievito di birra
500 grammi di farina (Ho usato 250 gr farina 00 e 250 gr farina integrale)
1 cucchiaio di olio
350 ml di acqua o latte
1 cucchiaino di sale
Mariangela’s Pizza Dough
2 tsp of granulated sugar
1 packet of yeast or 2 1/4 tsp of yeast
500 grams (4 cups) all-purpose or bread flour (I used half white-wheat and half AP)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
350 ml (1 1/2 cups) warm water or milk
1 tsp of salt
First, stir the yeast, sugar, and warm water/milk together in a large, mixing bowl. Allow the yeast mixture to bubble up and wake up for 5-10 minutes. Add oil, flour, and salt until the dough comes together. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes by hand or 5-7 minutes if using a stand mixer. Once the dough is well-kneaded, place the dough ball in an oil-lined bowl. Cover the dough and allow it to rise until doubled in size (1-2 hours). Once doubled in size, knead the dough again, cover it, and allow to rise a second time (I always did this step once, but I recently discovered she does it twice.). Once risen twice, section off the dough into four parts. Roll out the dough you’ll be using, and freeze the rest in a zip-loc bag or two.
Pizza Sauce and Toppings
One small can of tomato sauce (or tomato paste with some water) or whole tomatoes, crushed
sugar (optional, to cut down on the acidity)
red chili peppers
capers (optional, did not use)
Spinach/arugula mix (not pictured)
First, mix the first six ingredients together. For the toppings, I used turkey pepperoni, mushrooms and added a spinach/arugula mix afterwards.
Bake at the hottest temperature for your oven on a pizza stone, pizza pan (Mariangela’s uses this), cast-iron skillet, or the back of a jelly-roll pan. I prefer to dock or poke holes with a fork in the dough and then cook it for about 3 minutes. Then I take it out, add the sauce and toppings, and cook it until the crust is to my liking.
Doesn’t this Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake look tempting? For the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences of my university hosted a celebratory luncheon where each department within the college was required to bring a certain type of dish. The languages department was in charge of desserts. I eagerly signed up and scribbled simply “cheesecake” below a scanty list promising a batch of chocolate chip cookies, a gluten-free dessert, and a plate of brownies all on behalf of my fellow colleagues.
For days I pondered over what type of cheesecake I would deliver. It would have to be unique, department-related, and more complicated than necessary, because that’s how I prefer to make display desserts in the midst of this processed-food culture in which I reside. Then I finally opted to allow the less-popular Mexican chocolate cookies I had stowed away in the freezer to guide my choice – a cheesecake with the cookies as a base, cinnamon and ancho chile-infused cheesecake and Chantilly/whipped cream, and a Mexican-chocolate ganache. Cinnamon and ancho chile were in every single layer. I was going to add a mousse layer, but because I was in the middle of grading exams and other assignments, I thought it’d be wise to provide a “simpler” cheesecake for the masses.
I had ignored the inner voice that told me to cut and freeze the cheesecake the night before delivery. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my conscience in hopes that the people at the dean’s office would take good care of it. After reluctantly relinquishing my cheesecake to the secretary and kindly instructing her to store it in the refrigerator, in the back of my mind I knew something unfavorable was going to happen to my little labor of love. . .
The event started at 11am; I finished teaching by 12:15 noon. Throughout my class I wondered how the cheesecake had turned out and if there would be any left upon my arrival *hah!*. I rushed to the Thanksgiving luncheon and scanned the large auditorium for the dessert table. Since I did not immediately locate said table, I made my way to the savory items provided from other departments within the college, which were comprised of casseroles in crockpots and 9×13 baking dishes and turkey in foiled, roasting pans. As I meandered toward a table to relax and eat, I spotted the dessert table in the back of the auditorium. Not wanting to appear overly anxious, I decided to enjoy the main course meals before checking on my cheesecake and the other sugar-laden creations supplied by my colleagues.
Upon completion of the main course (which was pretty good by the way!), I nervously headed toward the back of the room. After passing over mostly store-bought desserts in their plastic containers and bakery price tags, a mushy-looking, unappetizing cake, and overly spread cookies, I resolved that my cheesecake was not there. I looked over the desserts again desperately looking for anything that resembled my cheesecake and finally found it. It was the mushy looking, unappetizing cake I had passed over the first time around.
Instead of being cut with a sharp knife, it was mutilated by a dull, butter knife that was not wiped between slices. Upon consumption of my first bite, I quickly realized my cheesecake had not been refrigerated, so it was very warm as if it had never spent the night in my fridge. Quiet tears yearned to leak out of my eyes with each bite I took of my little, mushy cheesecake. I reflected on how much effort I had put into the cheesecake and was thankful I had not added a mousse layer. I then reminded myself to be better prepared for such things to happen by cutting and freezing cheesecakes before delivering them to people who may not be accustomed to homemade, culinary creations.
On the positive side, my colleagues said they enjoyed the cheesecake. Also, when I finally remembered to pick up my (unwashed) springform pan and cake carrier from the dean’s office (almost 2 weeks later!), the secretary paused her phone conversation to tell me “your cake was REALLY good.” 🙂 Just that one sentence erased all the anxiety and dismay I had felt upon seeing and eating my mutilated cheesecake haha. I’m already looking forward and am prepared for the next luncheon :).
First layer: Mexican-Chocolate Cookies for the Crust layer
2 1/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar*
1 teaspoon baking soda* (I used 3 tsp of baking powder in place of the cream of tarter AND baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chile powder (I used ancho chile powder. Make sure there is no salt or garlic in it!)
If not refrigerating the dough, preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda (or just baking powder in place of the cream of tartar and baking soda), and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Next, add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low or with a spoon, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour for better cookies. In a small bowl or a sealable bag, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and chile powder. Using heaping tablespoons (or 25-26 grams of dough), form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon/chile/sugar mixture. Place, about 3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes (for a soft cookie, bake for 7-8 minutes), rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze the dough for months.I crushed about 15 cookies in the food processor to create crumbs. Next melt one Tablespoon of butter, mix it with the cookies, press the mixture in the springform pan, and store in the freezer while preparing the cheesecake filling.
1 pound (two 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (I always use kosher salt)
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup heavy cream (or sour cream or combination)
Put a kettle or pot of water on to boil. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Working in a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer), preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft for about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt, and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition to yield a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and stir in the heavy cream or sour cream.
Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter should fill only half of the pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour the the boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. (I pour half of the boiling water before putting in the pan to reduce my chances of dripping water in the cheesecake.)
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, at which point the top will be lightly browned and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat, and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
After 1 hour, carefully pull the roast pan/springform pan setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there WILL be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat (or microwave it for 30-60 seconds). For stove option, heat cream just BEFORE it boils. Place the chocolate in the cream, and remove from heat. Stir the mixture until smooth. Stir in the cinnamon and ancho chile powders and vanilla extract. Allow the ganache to cool for about 15 minutes before pouring the mixture on top of the CHILLED cheesecake.
Release the springform pan. With an offset spatula, smooth the ganache while starting at the center of the cake and working outward. Keep in mind that the cold temperature of the cake will cause the ganache to firm up quickly, and you may have to pour more on top to make it spread evenly.
Topmost layer: Cinnamon and Ancho-Chile Chantilly or Whipped Cream
1 cup COLD whipping, heavy, or double cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar (or fine or granulated sugar if you don’t have powdered)
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
1/2 – 1 tsp of vanilla extract (clear vanilla extract is best in this case, but I didn’t have it on hand)
For decoration: piping bag with tips, chocolate shards, cinnamon, ancho chile powder
Chill bowl and beaters in the freezer at least 5-10 minutes before making the Chantilly. Pour the cream in the chilled bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients when the cream becomes more voluminous. Continue whipping until the cream forms firm peaks. Do not create butter by over-mixing!
Final Preparation: Scoop the Chantilly/whipped cream into a piping bag with a 1M star tip or any other tip you have. Sprinkle shards of chocolate and more cinnamon and ancho chile powder on top to showcase what type of cheesecake you are serving :). Enjoy!