Saturday, March 24, 2007

Oreo Cheesecake Truffles

There was a sale....I had to go. The Culinary Closet was calling my name...**le sigh**. Such a nifty little store. I feel like Carrie, with my head on a swivel, upon entering the store. Oh I am possessed all right. With dreams of Kitchen Aids, new spatulas and whisks, gourmet quality pots and pans. The list is endless.

I blame the Food Network...I mean SOMEONE has got to take responsibility for this. I know the seed was planted long before TFN and The Culinary Closet existed, but now it just makes sense to let them take the fall for it.

This little store is in our closest town, Antigonish. I hadn't been there for a while but it was so nice to browse there. I walked through the store, doing PLEN-TAY of ogling...what should I buy, what should I buy?? I spied on the top shelf a retro looking oil drizzler. I mean come on...Giada has one, I want one too. Now it sits on my counter, looking all spiffy and of course very retro. Yep, I will be swirling the Olive oil ever so nicely now. **Must make stir-fry tomorrow**.

I see all kinds of stuff I really don't need. There are pot scrubbers, more silicone spatulas, casserole dishes I should have, drink shakers, glassware, parfait spoons, aprons and garlic presses. Having a Romper Room moment here, but I also see a cool whisk stand (must have one of these!), pepper mills galore and several dozen flavored peppercorn varieties.

So, around the store I continue...I see the bake ware section. There are a gazillion Wilton tips, so I abscond with a couple nice large ones, for the perfect whipped cream swirls. Also in this section are the most fun-looking cupcake sprinkles. I gasp....I MUSTTT have them. I snatch them off the shelf...it was the last bottle...SWEET! Then I see it....$15.95....never mind. My cupcakes aren't THAT desperate.

So, with my hopes slightly dashed, I continue on. Then I heard angels singing, I swear. The lights were shining down from heaven. Oh wait, there actually ARE lights shining, but on the counter. I turned around and there they were, all lined up like short little fat Smurf-soldiers. A glass display case with one of my favorite things to make...Truffles!! I read the descriptions, and checked out each and every flavor. They looked divine!! So I picked a decadent looking one to give to my sister for a little treat.

Of all the flavors though, there were no Oreo Cheesecake Truffles. Not to dis the CC's truffles, but these truly are little mounds of joy! So smooth and creamy and hard to believe the ingredient list. I am sure Mark Gabrieau will be calling, begging for my recipe.

Oreo Cheesecake Truffles
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 bag of Oreo Cookies
1 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened ( I used light, like it matters...NOT!)

Put the entire package of Oreos in food processor and pulse until it becomes a fine cookie crumb consistency.

Mix in cream cheese, scraping sides a few times, until well blended. I refrigerate for a couple hours at this point. Using a melon baller, make into balls and place on waxed paper lined cookie sheet. I quick freeze the balls for about 15 minutes at this point.

Chocolate Coating:
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About 1 inch square of parafin wax, cut in small pieces for easy melting
1 bag of chocolate chips (used 1/2 semi-sweet, 1/2 milk)

Melt parafin wax in double boiler over low heat. Add chocolate, stir till melted. Dip balls in chocolate. Put on cookie sheet to harden. I put these in the fridge to harden. ***Add any toppings: white chocolate, extra oreo crumbs, cupcake sprinkles, anything yummy!!**

***I store mine in the freezer and actually I prefer to eat them right from the freezer. Just like mini frozen cheesecakes!!

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Peanut Butter Fudge

OK, it is true. I am a self-professed girly-girl. I like the hair, the make-up and the 4 inch heels. But there is my alter-ego. The one that likes the smell of grease and gas fumes, the roar of a souped up engine and dreams of tearing up the streets in a pimped out muscle car.

When I was little, I would like to spend time in my dad's garage. My dad was a mechanic, so there was every gadget and gizmo known to mankind (and some that weren't) in his garage. I would go out when he was working and just kind of hover and watch. I spent a lot of time just taking up space in that garage.

Dad always kept the doors locked, but what mom and dad didn't know was that every time they went for a drive, I was out in the garage as soon as the car left the driveway. The attraction inside was my most favorite: the CB radio!! Oh the fascination that silver box would bring. My sister Kim and I would tune those buttons until we found someone that had a thick Southern accent. To us, they were the most fun to talk to. I don't remember talking about anything in particular, but whatever the topic, I was thrilled!!!

There were other things, too, that drew our attention to the garage. Dad has such a creative flair for taking all these "things" that he has lying around and making something magical from them. He would create all sorts of ingenious things, like garden ornaments from shovel blades and garden rakes. Or a new tool for mom's garden that couldn't be found in any store. He could take almost any piece of scrap metal and see some sort of beauty that maybe others didn't see. He could see the potential. It always fascinates me to this day.

Now when we stop in to mom and dad's, there are still the occasional trips to the garage. Dad always takes pride in showing us what new gadget he has invented, what projects he is working on. I look around now and see all those rusty parts, bare bicycle wheels and wrenches but I now, too, can see the beauty. I breathe in the smell of grease I feel like a kid in a candy shop.

**My dad's favorite fudge is Peanut Butter...I think he will be happy when he gets a nice delivery tomorrow!!**

Peanut Butter Fudge
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INGREDIENTS:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
4 cups white sugar
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme

DIRECTIONS:
~~~~~~~~~~~~
1. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish and set aside. Butter a 3 quart saucepan.
2. Place buttered saucepan over medium heat, and combine sugar, evaporated milk and 1 cup butter within. Heat to between 234 and 240 degrees F (112 to 116 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from the water and placed on a flat surface.
3. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and marshmallow creme. Beat vigorously until smooth. Pour quickly into prepared baking dish. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

***I always like to add in some extra chopped honey roasted peanuts for added crunch!!**

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Fudge Puddles

It all started with an innocent paint chip. Ribbon Pink. With one glance, I go right back to my great-grandmother's bathroom. It was such a girly room. Pink in every corner. The walls, the accessories, the bathroom scales. All fluffy and frilly enough to scare off the bravest man. Yep...pink.

My sister Wanda and I were trying to find the perfect color for her bathroom. We poured over my massive selection of paint chips in search of a color. We somehow got on the subject of awesome bathrooms, which led us to our Nannie Jordan's bathroom. Then it was obvious what had to be done. It had to be pink.

With this bathroom renovation came several days of hard work. I always like to tease Wanda about being the Anti-Martha/Bob Vila in her younger days. But over the last several years, she could give them both a run for their money.

It is funny when you think back to your childhood and remember how irritated you were by your sisters. They were royal pains most of the time. Always borrowing your clothes without asking, reading your diary, blaming you for stuff you didn't do. It is so nice now to NOT think that way. Now when I view my time spent with Wanda, it is one of laughter, singing and planning of new projects. There is no insufferable tolerance. We work well together...just like peanut butter and chocolate!

The fun definitely outweighs the work. What is more entertaining than reading the instructions for the new bathroom fixtures completely in Spanish??? Or singing a bad country song, like Roll On (18 Wheeler) and Islands in the Stream?? Classics!! And as long as there is a good supply of carbonation, loud music and some chocolate to fuel us, we can go for days.

So now, after many trips to Central Building Supplies, SuperStore and Walmart's home decor section and ebay shopping for those just-right vintage prints, the bathroom is complete. I am really proud of this room. We managed to capture the very essence of Nannie's bathroom, with a few modern updates. Roll On, Nannie J, Roll on!!
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These REALLY are yummy!! They are smooth and creamy and that just right combination of peanut butter and chocolate!

Fudge Puddles
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter, peanut butter and sugars; add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients. Mix well, then chill for 1 hour. Shape into balls and place in lightly greased mini muffin pans (I used non stick spray). Bake at 325° for 14-18 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately make a "well" in the center of each by lightly pressing with a melon baller (I used Pampered Chef tart maker). Cool 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on racks.

Filling:
~~~~~~~~~~~
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla.

Melt chips in medium bowl in microwave, stir well. Add milk and vanilla stir well again. Fill each shell with filling.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Skor Squares

For most of my life I kept a diary. I am so glad now that I did, as it remains the source of MUCH entertainment.

My daughter's friend's have made our house the commonplace for sleepovers. When one arrives, they all arrive!! It is the time for family as well as friends, so my sisters are always on the invite list, too.

There is food galore...cookies, cheesecake and gooey squares. There are stories of boys, clothes and accessories, and that is just the adult conversation!

My diaries take precedence at these sleepovers. Wanda, my extremely animated sister, takes full pride in reading and acting out various excerpts from the "Diaries". Be it how good Sheldon and Bill looked in their rugby pants (omg...it is only mentioned every second page), or how "choice" (really bad 80's word) Blaine and Dwayne's hair was, all flipped back...there is never a dry eye. No, it is not tears of sorrow, but more from howling and falling to the floor in pain because we are laughing so hard.

My daughters friends will have many a story to take with them from our home. We all sit in a circle around my very small kitchen table and listen as Wanda also moves from my obsession with boys and hair, to my other obvious obsession with baking. Good lord, what NORMAL 12 year old has desire to whip up batches of biscuits, cakes and cookies on an almost daily basis?? I was seriously askew as a child. There is documented proof.

I find it so amazing that 17 year old girls will sit and listen to these "readings", and not one of them move from their spot while the Diaries are being read. I remember my life at that stage, and I didn't have what they have. My daughter has 3 very young and hip aunts who will talk about almost anything with her and her friends. I think that is why they so enjoy it....because we ARE young in our minds and spirits. I think they want to be a part of that. Plus, watching Wanda perform is pure hilarity.

With our impending move, I am sure there will be one last sleepover....one more cracking open of the diaries and a pan of Skor squares whipped up to go with the midnight coffee. I am most positive there will be one more page that I will talk about how Craig's lips looked so soft, or how I was going to ignore Bill once again to get his attention, and for SURE how I was going to try a new recipe for squares on Saturday.

My life as a teenager was good. It was filled with sappy-sweet memories, yummy food and TONS of hot guys. VIVA LA 80's!!!!

Skor Squares
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour

Mix together till fine crumbs form then pat into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, or till light golden brown. Remove from oven.

In medium saucepan put 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and 2 tablespoons of butter, Cook over medium low heat till thickened. Pour and spread over crust layer. Put back in oven for 12 minutes or till light golden.

Sprinkle with a bag of milk chocolate chips. Let stand for about 2 minutes, then spread over top of squares. Sprinkle with one bag or Skor bits. Cool then cut.

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Monday, March 5, 2007

Vanilla Cupcakes

It has all been decided. The details have been finalized. And it will be a good thing.

My best friend, Laura and I have made a pact that when we die, we will dress and do the make-up on the body, for whomever is the first to go.

For anyone who knows me knows I have a fondness for the bling....be it shoes, jewelry, purses, clothing and my all time favorite, the body glitter. Not everyone knows this but there are many forms of the glitter. There is the big, bad-ass, I-can-see-ya-coming from a mile away form...the stuff that could cause flash-blindness (similar to snow blindness). Then there is the more subtle version...the shimmery, sheer, glisteny type that makes your skin glow...perfect for summer. My preference is the body sugar...a bit of the eye blindness and the shimmer all combined one.

So, back to the pact. Laura and I have decided that the funeral would not be complete without the glitter somehow incorporated. I must say, though, she was not so keen on the whole idea at first. So I had to slowly add the glitter to her life. It was a task, looking back, that I think was well accomplished.

When we had any social outings, I would run to my purse to get my mini travel vial of the body bling, and be adamant on asking would she like some. At first, her answer was, no, no....I couldn't wear that stuff. But after many tries, she finally gave it up and the initial application was a success. I think she secretly LOVED the way it looked.

So, now it is a staple in our lives. We (well, mostly me)go no where without it. At New Year's Eve this past year, I purchased the most DELECTABLE glitter eyeliner. It was perfect! It really IS all about the accessories, I always say. So, she too, was convinced her outfit would not be complete unless there was some Kaa the Snake eye action going on. My work was done.

So, when my untimely death does occur (after many years of entertaining at the senior's complex), rest assured that there WILL be glitter...oh yes. Just like confetti at wedding, each guest will have their own mini vial, to toss at the casket as it rolls on by. I figure I can make an exit that rivals any of Erica Kane's entrances.

And Laura, just think of it as the sprinkles on a giant cupcake!!

I think it is only natural that this should reflect in what I bake, hence the recipe this time! Gotta love cupcakes!!!

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Vanilla Cupcakes
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Cupcakes:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing:
Vanilla Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flour,baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk (I used 1/2 milk, half coffee cream)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yield: enough for 2 dozen cupcakes

Saturday, March 3, 2007

New York Cheesecake

I was walking down the bakery aisle of SuperStore and there out of the corner of my eye, I caught a little flash of something. So, with my crow-like instincts, I head towards the flash, almost running in slow-mo. And what to my wondrous eyes should appear but a glass bottomed spring form pan....***gasp***. How nice to NOT have to remove the cheesecake from the nasty, ugly tin spring form bottom. Oh yeah, baby! So, I snatched it up and into the cart it went. A DEFINITE steal at 7.99...go President's Choice!!! Of course after that, I had to swing by the cream cheese aisle to pick up ingredients.

Really, what is more exciting to a baker than a new pan?? I remember when I was about 9, my best friend, Judy Jordan got an easy bake oven. With it came 2 mini round cake pans, and a kind of swirly shaped muffin pan. The round pans were nice, but my eye was on the muffin pan. It was shiny...***caw, caw***, and so perfect. I had to have one.

I think it was that next Christmas, there under the tree was my very own Easy Bake oven, complete with the mini-muffin pan!! Man, the awe!!! So, I would whip up cornmeal muffins, cake mixes, white cake...whatever my mother would let me use for ingredients at that age. She was a brave, brave mother...lol.

When I needed to mix it up a little, outside it would go with me to the sandbank, to whip up the most beautiful little mud cakes, complete with flowers snitched from mom's garden to decorate the tops with. I would leave them dry in the sun, and somehow, they would pop out, hard as rocks from my little pan. I would put them on one of my mini Tupperware plates (more good times), and go the the garage to ask dad if he would like some. He always took several, telling me how beautiful they were.

I still have my mini muffin pan, hiding in the back of the bottom drawer of my oven. Every now and then I will sneak a peek of it, and it takes me back to the very day I opened the box and took mine out. The good memories of muffins, made of both flour AND mud will always be present with each glimpse!

So with the new pan comes the New York Cheesecake. Definitely a contender with the Turtle Cheesecake. I love this recipe. I have made it many times, with stunning results. It is really tall when sliced, super smooth, decadent and just amazing when topped with, yes, once again, Caramel sauce. My oldest sister, Annette swears there is none like it. She may be biased, though. Or, you could try it and see for yourself!

***Going to ogle my new pan again***

New York Cheesecake
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Crust:
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese (I used light)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup coffee cream
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream (I used light)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch spring form pan. (I also lined the sides with parchment paper).
2. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of spring form pan.
3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk and coffee cream and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving.

**I topped this with a chocolate ganache, but let me warn you, it is SUPER rich***

Chocolate Ganache
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
INGREDIENTS

325 grams semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dark rum (I used coffee)

DIRECTIONS

1. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the rum if desired.
2. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.

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Yep....it really is my very own mini muffin pan from back in the day!!!

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