Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Chewy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Vanilla Buttercream


I love being able to make something at home (with little effort) that is beautiful - and I love being able to share those ideas with you to inspire you. 

These chewy chocolate sandwich cookies with vanilla buttercream were so easy to make and looked absolutely beautiful on my table. They took practically no time and were incredibly delicious! They would be great for so many different occasions, perhaps for a baby/bridal shower, summer BBQ, a super bowl party, or Father’s Day!


Because they are casual, and somewhat masculine, I decided to make them for Father’s Day. Plus, my father loves chocolate cake with vanilla cream, so he’s sure to love them!  They also transport pretty easily-perfect for traveling to our annual Father’s Day BBQ. 


I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of serving these instead of a large cake. They are easy, fun and just the right size for everyone to grab and enjoy!



The Cookies

The cookie dough comes together in minutes, requires no chilling, and only takes 7 minutes in the oven. The cookies are chock full of chocolaty goodness from cocoa powder and chocolate pudding! They have the perfect thickness and chewiness, which goes wonderfully with the buttercream. 

And that buttercream is just as simple and quick! It requires just three simple ingredients and comes out perfect every time. It’s wonderfully sweet, fluffy and luscious - perfect for sinking your teeth into. 


Assembling them was probably my favorite part because it was SO incredibly easy, and in no time I was left with these perfect little sandwiches.



The Presentation

There are so many ways you can display these adorable sandwiches, but I just love serving them stacked on top of one another, which gives them an abundant and homemade look. Really, you can’t go wrong serving these any way you like. They are so adorable and will definitely add oomph to your table! I added some fresh strawberries to the cake stand to add color, and abundance, as well as a casual and summery feel. 

The great thing about these cookies is that they are incredibly versatile. You can change the flavors, add fruit, flowers, candy, anything that suits your celebration! I enjoyed making these so much and will probably adapt them for future occasions for the blog J



Making Ahead

Although these are so incredibly simple to make (it took me about 40 minutes including cooling time), there are a few shortcuts you can take. 

1.    Bake the cookies and cool completely. Place them in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Allow them to thaw, make the buttercream and assemble before serving. 

2.    You can also assemble these earlier in the day and store them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.



Chewy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

Makes approximately 15 Sandwiches
Dairy

Ingredients

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3.9 oz package dry instant chocolate pudding mix
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground coffee

For the Buttercream

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugars, until light and fluffy.

Add in the egg and vanilla, and mix.

With the mixer running on low, add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, pudding mix, cocoa, and coffee. Once the dough comes together stop the mixer. The dough should be thick but not sticky at all.

Form tablespoon size balls, and push the tops down slightly. You want them to be thick and tall, so don’t flatten too much. This is what makes the cookies thick and rounded after they bake.

Place them on the baking sheets and bake for 7 minutes. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Buttercream

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and ½ cup of the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated. Keep adding ½ cup of the sugar at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Once all the sugar is added in, mix on high for about 2-3 minutes to aerate the buttercream. You should be left with fluffy and creamy buttercream.


I used a pastry bag with a giant star tip to fill the cookies, but you can use a ziplock bag or even a spatula (for a more homemade look). The trick is to add a nice tall layer of buttercream so the sandwiches are thick and have height.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Triple Berry No-Bake Cheesecakes


Anyone who loves to have guests over knows it’s always a win when a recipe requires little time, can be prepped ahead and ultimately looks beautiful. So when brainstorming for a hostess approved cheesecake recipe recently, I made sure it included those requirements. And I’m pleased to say the recipe I came up with is perfect for all you stylish and busy hostesses!

Triple Berry No-Bake Cheesecakes!


They’re a great light treat for summer and would be great for so many different occasions, perhaps for a baby/bridal shower, summer BBQ, July 4th or Memorial Day, which is coming up!

For this delicious and beautiful recipe, my secret was…go simple! As I’ve said before, beautiful is often simple.


The Cheesecake:

I wanted this recipe to be really easy for you guys-minimal cooking and no worrying about all the steps that usually go into baking cheesecakes. Plus, who wants to start turning on their oven in this hot weather? Not me! That’s why I decided to make these no-bake. Since these are no-bake, I do recommend keeping them in the fridge right up until they are being served. If left out for too long they will start to soften.

I used a couple simple ingredients like cream cheese (a must) and heavy cream to make these deliciously creamy and light. The heavy cream is what holds the shape of the cheesecake and what makes it silky and creamy.

Like all the other aspects of this recipe, the berry sauce is also super simple. All you do is bring everything to a boil, allow to cool, and you’re ready to start assembling!

For the crust I used Biscoff Lotus cookies. You know, the cookies that everyone is obsessed with! They add another dimension of flavor that really compliments the berries. I highly recommend using them.


The Presentation:

No fancy equipment or timely techniques are required. I focused on simple colors, simple flavors and simple elegance. And that, I believe, is what makes these beauties so darn pretty! The simple and abundant look of the berries with a fresh mint garnish is all it takes. And although I wanted to stick some dainty flowers in these too, the trick is also to know when to step away and restrain yourself from going over the top.


 I love placing anything mini on an elevated serving piece, so I used a simple white cake stand here. I love how the cake stand gives them height, and adds interest to the table.

Making Ahead:

The plain cheesecake filling can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days ahead. Once the cheesecakes are formed, I recommend eating them within 24 hours.

I hope these inspire you to make something simple yet beautiful for your next gathering!




Triple Berry No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe

Dairy
Makes 12 Mini Cheesecakes

Ingredients

For the Berry Sauce

1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
11/2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Cheesecake Filling

12 ounces non whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream

For the Crust

1 ¼ cups Biscoff Lotus cookie crumbs (about 18 cookies)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Fresh raspberries for garnish
Fresh blueberries for garnish
Fresh blackberries for garnish
Fresh mint for garnish

Directions

Thoroughly grease a mini cheesecake pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine all the sauce ingredients. With a wooden spoon, smash all the berries, and mix. Bring to a soft boil and turn off the heat. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

While the sauce cools start on the cheesecake filling.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment blend the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add in the heavy cream and mix until it has thickened, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Place the cookies in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Do not over pulse or they will turn into cookie butter.

Place the crumbs in a small bowl and mix in the butter until moistened.

To assemble the cheesecakes, place 1 tablespoon of the cookie mixture into each cavity of the prepared cheesecake pan. Firmly press, using a small shot glass. Then place 1 heaping tablespoon of the cheesecake filling on top of the crumbs, smoothing it out so it touches the entire rim. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of the cooled berry sauce, smoothing it out so it touches the entire rim as well, followed by more cheesecake filling. To ensure you get visible layers, be sure not to mix the cheesecake and berry sauce together.

Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, place the cheesecakes onto a serving platter, top with fresh berries and a mint leaf. Since the cheesecakes are no-bake, be sure to refrigerate until you are ready to serve them. If left out too long, they will begin to soften.

Serve and enjoy!





Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Polka Dot Cheesecake



If there’s one thing I love more than eating cheesecake, it’s decorating it! I think I love it so much because there are so many possibilities for turning a cheesecake into a total showstopper! You can add fresh flowers, swirl in chocolate, or pile on fresh fruit. The list can literally go on and on, and I can’t wait to talk about my latest cheesecake design with you!

Between the cheesecake baking and the design, this recipe might seem a bit intense, but don’t be intimidated! Let’s break it down a bit.

The Cheesecake:

This cheesecake recipe is my go-to. I use it for the base of most of my cheesecakes and it comes out delicious every time. It’s wonderfully sweet, creamy and slightly dense. The crust is a classic graham cracker crust that is perfectly buttery.  The addition of the chocolate makes this even more delicious. To me, it tastes like ice cream.



Feel free to use different cookies for the crust to change it up a bit. I’ve used Oreos and Biscoff Lotus cookies in the past. I like to play around with cookies of different colors like Oreos for some contrast. The dark chocolate color against the white cheesecake (with maybe some fresh flowers on top?) would be really beautiful.

I recommend reading through this entire recipe before you begin as there are some important steps. For instance, when it comes time to cool your cheesecake, it must sit in the oven as the oven cools down for 1 hour. Then it will need to sit out until it reaches room temperature before refrigerating it. And finally, I recommend refrigerating it for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight before releasing it from the springform pan. These are not difficult steps by any means, but are important for planning purposes. (For all you hostesses, this is not a recipe you can bake and serve in the same day.)


To ensure your cheesecake comes out perfect I have a few more tips for you. These are tricks I have found extremely helpful especially if you want to avoid any cracks on the top of your cheesecake.

First, make sure your cream cheese, sour cream and eggs are at room temperature. This is very important for a smooth and creamy texture. Next, you’ll want to make sure you don’t over mix the eggs. They are the last ingredient added in to ensure all the other ingredients are well combined before the eggs go in.  Lastly, what I have found to be crucial, is knowing when to stop the baking process. Depending on your oven, the cheesecake will be done baking after 45-55 minutes. It will look pale white (it should not be golden brown) and should be slightly wobbly in the center. It will continue to bake as it cools and will firm up even more once you refrigerate it. If you overbake it, the sides of your cheesecake will rise too high and collapse when it shrinks back down, forming cracks. I’ve learnt this from much trial and error and don’t want you to make the same mistakes! You can handle it ;)


 The Presentation:

Okay now for the fun stuff! Let’s talk about those polka dots! Don’t they look gorgeous?! Best part? They are super easy to make!

You might think I’m crazy for saying that, but I promise, there’s seriously not much to it. All you need to do is fill up either a plastic squeeze bottle or pastry bag with the chocolate filling, and squeeze it into your cheesecake batter. To ensure that the polka dots are visible in the inside of your cheesecake, make sure you insert the chocolate filling evenly and close together throughout the bottom, middle and top. You'll also want to squeeze longer for bigger circles. This will ensure that every slice has visible polka dots in it. Not only do the chocolate polka dots add tons of character, they also add in a delicious chocolate-y taste.




Although the cheesecake didn’t need anything else added to it to make it a total winner, I decided a pop of color and some fresh fruit couldn’t hurt, so I added a pile of fresh raspberries to the top. You can use any fruit you like. Strawberries, blueberries, cherries…whatever you have will work.


Making Ahead:

Want to impress your guests with this showstopper but don’t have all day? No problem! Skip the fruit topping and freeze it. Just wrap tightly for up to 2 months. Allow it to defrost in the refrigerator overnight, top with fresh fruit and serve.


I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Your guests are sure to be wowed!




Polka Dot Cheesecake Recipe

Serves 10-12
Dairy


Ingredients

For the Filling:
3-8oz packs of cream cheese, not whipped, room temperature. (I use Philadelphia Cream Cheese)
1¼ cups granulated sugar
8oz sour cream, room temperature
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup bittersweet chocolate morsels, melted

For the Crust:
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

You will also need:

-A plastic squeeze bottle (mine is from bed bath and beyond for $2) or pastry bag to make the polka dots. (If you are using a pastry bag, cut off 1/8 inch to ¼ inch off the tip).

-Fresh raspberries washed, for garnish


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a spring-form pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar and mix well. Then, add the sour cream, flour and vanilla until well combined. Turn the speed down to low and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined. Do not over mix.

Reserve ½ cup of the cheesecake filling. Set aside for later use.

In a separate bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and salt. Press into the bottom of the prepared spring-form pan. Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust. Set aside.

Mix the melted chocolate with the reserved ½ cup of cheesecake filling. Place in the refrigerator to cool.

Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, fill your squeeze bottle or pastry bag with it. Make sure the chocolate mixture is at the very tip, so you don’t squeeze air into your cheesecake.

Start at the bottom of the cheesecake and start squeezing medium size dots close together. Make your way up towards the middle and then top, to ensure you have covered all areas. Then, put polka dots on the very top of the cheesecake so they are visible from the outside.

Bake for 45-55 minutes. The cheesecake should be pale in color and still slightly wobbly in the center. It will continue to cook as it cools and will become more firm after refrigerating it.

Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside for 1 hour with the door closed. After one hour, allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature before refrigerating. I recommend refrigerating the cheesecake for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight before releasing it from the pan.

When you are ready to serve, pile fresh raspberries on the top.

Enjoy!