No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake + Sugar Cookie Teabags

The first cake in this cake series is Laura Vitale’s no-bake chocolate cheesecake! I made this for my mom’s birthday and I came up with the idea to add some extra special touches to it.

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My sisters and I were actually scrambling to finish a nice birthday celebration the night of our mom’s birthday. Each girl was busy with a different task as the hour was getting late. So I apologize in advance that the pictures aren’t the best quality…florescent lights aren’t the best for pictures, but since these are the only pictures I have I’ll just use these.

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Imagine opening your fridge and seeing open books with chocolate butterflies in them. :) Pinterest has been a great help and I can’t tell you how many of our birthdays now have Pinterest-inspired decorations and gifts! Does anyone else identify!? ;)

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Your old college textbooks come in handy for these kinds of projects…although I doubt that you can learn anything from them about chocolate butterflies…lol! If you’re interested in making your own chocolate butterflies I found them on this great blog. Check it out!

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I just loved the way they turned out! They added such a special touch to the cake!

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The table is almost ready as presents and cards are brought out to be given to mom!

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The table is all ready!

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Here is another Pinterest story. While my sister Abby was making the butterflies, my other sister Becky was working on the paper teacups. Becky made a template for me to cut out the teabag cookies. Now I’m not a person of much patience and artistic meticulous ability, so cutting the cookies in this shape was pretty painful! :) After making about two cookie sheets full of them, I took out my handy dandy little heart cookie cutter and sped up the process by 100 mph. ;) Instead of making “one cookie an hour” I was now making “100 cookies in an hour”. JK! But, you get the point! :)

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In the end it turned out very nice! Worth the patience and work, but definitely not something I plan on doing on a regular basis. :) The heart-shaped cookies turned out to be perfect as well because we were able to write a special note to mom with them (see above picture). Now I can add some pins to my “pins I tried board”! :) Make sure you follow me on Pinterest!  

As we called mom to see our surprise, my 3-year-old sister Caroline said “mom you’re going to be like, shocked!” :) And she was!

No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake

Recipe from Laura Vitale

Ingredients:
1 Prepared 9” Chocolate Crumb Crust
8 oz of Semisweet Chocolate Chips, melted
2 8oz Blocks of Cream Cheese at Room Temperature
½ cup of Brown Sugar
½ cup of Regular Granulated Sugar
2 Tbsp of Milk
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
½ tsp of Instant Espresso Powder
Chocolate Chips, for topping

Process,

In a large bowl add the cream cheese, both sugars, milk, espresso powder and vanilla extract. Whip with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and mix for another 2 minutes.

Pour into the crust and sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Enjoy!

 

Note: If you want to make teabag cookies, cut a template out of paper. Recently I just saw a teabag cookie cutter online, if you want to spare yourself the pain buy one! :) Also go here if you want the directions for the paper teacups.

Cutout Sugar Cookies

recipe from Laura Vitale

Makes a few dozen

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 10 mins

Ingredients:
3 cups of All Purpose flour
1/2 tsp of Baking Powder
1/4 tsp of Salt
3/4 cup of Unsalted Butter at room temperature
1 cup of Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Ganache

4 ounces of Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup of Heavy Cream

Process,

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla and continue to whisk for about 1 minute.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix it all in until its all combined. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for about an hour. Take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/3 to 1/4 inch thick, cut out any design you like with your cookie cutter(s) and place them a couple inches apart on your lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges and allow them to cool completely.

Heat the cream in a small pan over medium heat until just below boiling point. Pour cream over chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute. Whisk the whole thing together until the chocolate has fully melted. Use to dip your teabag cookies halfway. 

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

I have a lot of recipes to share with you. All my pictures were on my sister’s computer, and I finally copied them to mine. Hopefully my blog won’t be so dead now, and I hope someone is still out there reading this… ;)

It was birthday season in our family so you’ll see a whole series of (delicious!) cakes coming on here  after this…don’t go anywhere! :)

 

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Here is another version of strawberry shortcake cupcakes for you. I made a different style of strawberry shortcake cupcakes here. I got this recipe from Laura Vitale, and it’s just as delicious!

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You can use a piping bag for the whipping cream if you’re serving this to guests

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I was in a hurry so I just used a mini ice cream scoop

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I think it has it’s own beauty

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Topping them with a fresh strawberry is like putting the cherry on the cake ;)

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Plus it hides all the imperfections of the whipping cream (if you have any) :)

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If you want to make them patriotic for the 4th of July, just add some blueberries!

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Summer is here and strawberries are in season, so take advantage and make something delicious with them, you’ll impress everyone! :)

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Personally I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t want to try these, they’re a feast for the eyes!

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Recipe from Laura Vitale

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

2/3 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup of Unsalted Butter, softened at room temperature
2 Eggs
2 tsp of Baking Powder
1/8 tsp Salt
1-1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
Zest of one Orange
Juice of 1/2 of an Orange
2 tsp of Vanilla Paste

For the Strawberry Mixture:
1-1/2 cups of Fresh Strawberries, finely chopped
2 Tbsp of Sugar
Zest of 1/2 Orange
1 tsp of Corn Starch (I personally used Arrowroot Powder)
1 Tbsp of Orange Juice or Water

Whipped Cream:
1-1/4 cup of Heavy Cream
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
3 Tbsp of Confectioner Sugar
1/2 tsp of Orange Zest, optional

To make the cupcakes:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake tin with liners and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder, set aside.  In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the orange zest, vanilla paste, orange juice and eggs and cream together until you get a smooth mixture. Add the dry ingredients and with the speed on low mix together, slowly adding the milk and mix everything to combine.  Scoop the batter into your lined cupcake tin, make sure it’s only filled 3/4 of the way up because they will rise. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes and let cool for about 45 minutes before frosting.

To make the strawberry mixture:
In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) in the orange juice and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the berries, sugar and orange zest. Cook over medium high heat and bring to a boil stirring often until the sugar dissolves.  Add the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) mixture and cook for 1 more minute, allow to cool completely

To make the whipped cream:
Make the whipped topping by whisking together the cream, orange zest, vanilla and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.

To assemble:
Using a melon baller or small ice cream scoop, scoop out the center of each cupcake. Fill with about 1 Tbsp of the strawberry mixture and pipe with some of the whipped cream. Top each cupcake with either a slice of strawberry or leave them as is!

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker

Mini Pudding Pies

I know, it’s been forever since I posted! I want to share with you the little mini pudding pies I made for this year’s mother’s day. I got the idea from Pinterest (who doesn’t :) ) but instead of making the peanut butter filling that the original recipe called for, I made a vanilla pudding instead.

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The breakfast table almost ready for mom. I also made waffles with strawberries, blueberries, and apricots in them. They were very fruity and very delicious! We had extra pudding that we put on top of the waffles…SO GOOD! :)

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 They didn’t quite turn out like the picture here, but they still turned out a cute version of them. :)

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 I wanted to make something new I had on Pinterest, to make mother’s day a little more special (and because I have like 200 desserts pinned) and these were the perfect thing. Our mom was surprised when she woke up and saw these. Plus they were super duper delicious! :)

What did you make for your mom this mother’s day? 

p.s. My sister was in a hurry that morning so these were the only good pictures she was able to take.

Mini Pudding Pies:

original recipe: here

Chocolate Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold
  • 4 tablespoons Crisco (I used 4 tbsp. of butter) 
  • Yolk from 2 large eggs
  • 6 – 8 tablespoons iced coffee (Ice water will work as well.)

Vanilla Pudding:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (it can also be substituted with corn startch, but it’s not recommended)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole (full fat) milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon  unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Sprinkles for decoration (optional) 

In a food processor (you can also do this by hand if needed), combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt on low until blended. Add the butter and Crisco and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Add the egg yolks and iced coffee and process with slow pulses until the dough forms a ball. Start with about 5 tablespoons of iced coffee and add more until the mixture comes together.

Press the dough into two flatten discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Then, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

On a floured surface, roll out your dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Then cut out the dough using a flour shaped cookie cutter. My cookie cutter is 3-inches in diameter petal tip to petal tip. Once your first set of flowers are cut, you can ball up the dough and roll it out again. Repeat until you have used as much of the dough as possible.

Gently press the flowers into an ungreased mini muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 -15 minutes.

Allow the mini pie shells to cool completely in the pan before removing. This will ensure they keep their shape.

While they are cooling, mix up the vanilla pudding. In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, whisk the  egg yolks with the sugar. Add the arrowroot powder and salt and mix until you have a smooth paste. Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk just to boiling (the milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and slowly pour the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling (pour through strainer if necessary). Pour the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, keep whisking the mixture for another 30 – 60 seconds or until it becomes thick. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Pour into a clean bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until firm.

Add this filling into a piping bag or large plastic bag. Pipe into your cooled chocolate pie shells. For decoration, you can sprinkle them with chocolate sprinkles. Or drizzle them with melted chocolate. 

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker

 

Yogurt Brownies…

…Or diet brownies as I like to call them. ;) I say that for a reason as they do not have any butter, oil, or eggs.

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Of course I don’t suggest you diet with these brownies, but it’s a delicious variation to your regular brownies. BTW, I’m not under any circumstances ditching my favorite  Black Forrest Brownies recipe. :)

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The original recipe had Greek yogurt, but I haven’t acquired a taste for it yet and I didn’t have any on hand so I just used regular plain yogurt

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These brownies do have a slightly difference  taste. You can kind of taste the yogurt, especially when they are warm, but I found that the white chocolate chips and walnuts really balanced the flavor well

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Of course on the other hand, they are soft, fudge-y, and moist! Very delicious!

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So, if you’re looking for a different style of brownies please do give this recipe a try!

Yogurt Brownies

Ingredients:

(recipe taken from here)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 + 1/3 cups plain Greek yogurt (I used fat-free)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with parchment paper leaving the sides overhanging or butter and flour.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl melt 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips using the chocolate setting of your microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between until smooth and melted. Whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and yogurt.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix in 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup white chocolate chips and walnuts.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup semisweet and 1/4 cup white chocolate chips over top. Bake 28 – 32 minutes or until a toothpick in center comes out with a few moist crumbs but not wet batter.
  6. Cool in pan on wire racks. Lift using the parchment to a cutting board and cut into squares with a sharp chef’s knife or paring knife, wiping clean after each cut.
  7. Store tightly covered in a cool, dry place.

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker

Strawberry Kiwi Cake

When life gives you a birthday…make cake! I mean, how simple is that? Simpler said than done I tell ya! :)

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We stopped buying store-bought cakes for birthdays a while ago. Not that I mastered making cakes, quite the contrary, I’ve had my fare share of nearly ruined birthday cakes. :)

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But sometimes you just have to take the risk and nearly ruin a birthday cake to keep practicing. It’s how I learned, through trial and error.

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My poor sisters had to bear with me as I would come up with yet another cake to make on their birthdays, this time thinking that I got the perfect cake.  I didn’t ruin all of them though :)

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I still haven’t fully mastered making cakes, but here is one that came out well the first time I tried it, so it was worth repeating.

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I was inspired by Laura Vitale’s Strawberry Cake. The only difference was that I used my own cake recipe and added some kiwi. It was delicious!

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Little hands can be a big help! :)

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This is such a simple cake recipe you will not believe it! And you can really play around with it and change it to your liking.  Maybe you want to add vanilla pudding in the middle and cover it with melted chocolate and make a Boston Cream Pie Cake. I tried it,  and it’s super delicious!

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The finished cake!

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Please try this cake. It’s soft, fruity, whip creamy…you get the point! It’s worth trying, and you can trust me on this. ;)

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To give you a clue,  it kind of tastes like a strawberry shortcake

Strawberry Kiwi Cake

Ingredients:

9 eggs (separated)
3 Tbsp. Oil
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Flour (sifted)
1 quart whipping cream
1 cup strawberry jam
juice of 1/4 of an orange
Strawberries
Kiwi

Note: you will have 6 egg yolks left over, do not trash them, make pudding or creme brulee with them! :) 

Directions:

Separate the eggs from the whites (making sure you place 3 egg yolks in a bowl separate from the other six egg yolks). Mix the 3 egg yolks with the oil (adding the oil slowly) and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the 9 egg whites until they become frothy, and then slowly add the sugar. Beat egg whites until you have stiff peaks. Fold in the egg yolk mixture, and afterwards gently fold in the flour. Grease and lightly flour and 13×9 in. rectangular pan or a 10 in. round cake pan. Bake for about 1 hr. at 300 degrees or until lightly golden.

Cool the cake completely, about 2 hours and whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Mix the strawberry jam with the orange juice.

When the cake is completely cooled, cut in half and spread the strawberry jam mixture all over both layers of the cake  leaving a 1 inch boarder. On the bottom layer, spread about 1 1/2 cup or so of  whipping cream over the entire surface.  Arrange the strawberries and kiwi all over the top and place the top cake over the fruits. With the remaining whipped cream, cover the entire surface of the cake. Use extra strawberries and kiwi to decorate.

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker

European Donuts (Gogoshi)

Whenever I give these donuts to someone who’s never had them before, their reaction is always “wow! Mmmm…” and I love it! I love seeing people’s reaction whenever they try these donuts! :) I have yet to  find someone who doesn’t like these because they are SO good!

I grew up watching my aunt make these donuts and thinking how lucky my cousins are to have them on a regular basis. :) Now I’m glad that I can make them myself! These are traditional Romanian donuts called “Gogoshi”, I know, funny name. :) But I hope you give these a try! You won’t be disappointed!

Oh! Btw, a huge thank you to my wonderful sister Abby for the new blog do! She is the master photographer behind all the pictures on my blog. I couldn’t have done it without her, so thank you Abby! I really love my new blog header!

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There’s nothing like a bowl full of fresh donuts!

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They’re sweet, sugary, and soft!

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The secret is for the donut to be hollow in the middle. When you have that, you know you’ve mastered the recipe! :)

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I can’t believe I didn’t post this sooner! This is actually one of the first dessert recipes I tried on my own when I first started baking! Do you want a recipe that impresses people the moment they try it? Make these donuts!

European Donuts (Gogoshi)

  • 2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter (melted)
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 cups Milk (warm)
  • 4 whole Egg Yolks
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Rum Extract
  • 5 cups Flour (approx)
  •  Oil for Frying
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar, More Or Less

In a large bowl mix together the yeast and sugar. Add the warm milk (make sure it is not hot) and stir. Set aside for 10 minutes or so until the yeast has risen a bit. Add the egg yolks and butter to the milk and yeast mixture. Add the vanilla extract and rum extract and stir. Slowly incorporate the flour and form into a soft (not too sticky) dough. Use as much flour as needed until the dough is forms. You might not need all 5 cups of flour. You don’t want the dough to be hard or else the donuts will turn out dense. Knead for 2-3 minutes it all comes together. Place the dough in a large bowl covered with a lint free towel and set aside. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 2-3 hours.

After the dough has risen, punch it and set on a floured surface. Knead for about another minute and then roll it about half a centimeter thick. With the rim of a cup (use whatever width you prefer) or any round cookie cutter, start cutting the dough into round circles. Let the donuts rise for another 10 minutes or so.

In a pan pour oil about halfway up the sides. Place over medium-high heat. Make sure the oil is really hot so that the donuts sizzle when you drop them in. Gently drop each donut in and let them fry on each side until golden brown. When both sides are done, drop them in a bowl with powdered sugar. Roll them around until they’re all covered with powdered sugar.

Enjoy with a glass of cold milk!

Jessica the Baker

Christmas Baking 2013

Once the middle of December rolls around, my dad asks me to bake something for the people at his work. Usually it’s always chocolate chip cookies and brownies as some of you will probably remember from this post last year.  :)

Best of the West Brownies

iLove Chocolate Chip Cookies

This year, I also made some cinnamon rice krispies. I think they’re perfect for this time of year, and they’re super quick too!

Cinnamon Rice Krispies

The frosting gives it an extra special touch that almost makes them look like cinnamon rolls. This time I didn’t add any frosting when I gave them away because I was making these around 10 p.m. last night. :)

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I have to warn you, I made these late at night so the only pictures I could take was with this ugly fluorescent light, which didn’t give me the nicest pictures. But I wanted to show you what I did and give you some ideas.

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All packed and ready to be given away!!

Since this was for the people at my dad’s work, I didn’t do anything fancy. But when we’ll give something to our neighbors I want it to be a little more festive. :)

So, what are you baking to give away this Christmas?

Jessica the Baker 

p.s. You can find the recipes on my blog. I might post the cinnamon rice krispies later…for now you can look on any rice krispie cereal box and use that recipe and just add cinnamon.