Caramelized Onion and Mushroom White Pizza

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Lianna’s list of things that are super annoying to do and take an unnecessarily long amount of time to complete but are things that I really should be doing and so I do them, sometimes:

1. Flossing

…and that’s all I have so far. Can you tell I just flossed?

Also, I went to the drugstore and invested in a bottle of multivitamins, the kind you take once a day, but I couldn’t bear the depressing idea of taking a bland pill-like thing once a day and so I went with the kind that come in sour gummy form. Win!

I’m pretty sure I say this every time I come up with a new post, so what the heck I’ll say it again. This week has really flown by! I kept busy with school, gym/marathon training, catching up with old but still good friends and trying my hardest not to take more than one sour gummy multivitamin a day.  I finally got around to looking in my drafts of posts for this blog and realized that I had never shared this amazing pizza recipe with you! I feel like I’ve been holding back…but honestly, caramelized onions?! I’d say that’s a pretty good start to any recipe.

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I’ve actually never caramelized onions before this recipe. I remember when I was young my mom would once in a blue moon buy a massive bag of onions (I’m talking a big bag, the size I picture Santa carrying presents in but maybe not quite that big) when they would go on sale for really cheap. She would spend the whole morning peeling the onions and slowly cooking them in batches on the stove. Our entire house would smell like caramelized onion which at the time I hated because then I had to go to school the next day smelling like onions, but honestly it was so worth it once I had a big bowl of homemade french onion soup in front of me. Yummah! The best memories are the ones you can almost taste.  ANYways, I guess what I’m trying to say is I got a little nostalgic caramelizing onions for this pizza. We keep things simple by just adding mushrooms and a creamy and rich white sauce to this pizza.Yum and perfection!

The only downside is this is the kind of recipe you have to plan for in advance. The dough should be made overnight, and the onions will take almost an hour to caramelize properly. Definitely worth the time and effort though!

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom White Pizzza

Ingredients:
For the dough:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
about 3/4 cup water

For the topping:
3 small yellow onions
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch salt and pepper
8 oz button mushrooms
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 cup shredded mozzarella

For the sauce:
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
The night before, combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Stir to combine. Add just enough water to make the mixture form a ball of dough with no dry flour left on the bottom of the bowl. This will be around 3/4 cup of water. Loosely cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 12-18 hours.

The next day, about an hour and a half before you plan to eat, thinly slice three small (or 2 medium/large) yellow onions. Saute the onions in a skillet over medium-low heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about 45 minutes, stirring the mixture every 2-3 minutes. The end result should be deep golden brown, soft, sweet onions. For a more detailed, step by step photo tutorial on how to caramelize onions, check here.

While the onions are cooking, slice the mushrooms. Take the caramelized onions out of the skillet and add the mushrooms, along with a pinch of salt and pepper and the dried thyme. There should be some residual oil in the skillet to cook the mushrooms, if not add a tad more. Cook the mushrooms until all of the moisture has evaporated away (about 10 minutes over medium heat).

While the mushrooms are cooking, prepare the cream sauce. Mince a clove of garlic and add it to a pot with 1 tablespoon of butter. Saute over medium heat until softened (about 2 minutes). Next, add the cream cheese, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Heat and whisk this mixture until a smooth sauce forms (about 5 minutes).

Adjust the rack in your oven to its highest position and begin to preheat to 500 degrees. The dough at this point should be at least double in volume and very bubbly (see photos below). Sprinkle it generously with flour and then scrape it out of the bowl and onto a floured surface. Pat the dough down into a circle about ten inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to a large (16-inch) pizza pan that has been coated with non-stick spray and stretch/press it the rest of the way out to the edges of the pan.

Spread the sauce over the surface of the dough with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms over top. Finally, add the shredded mozzarella. Bake the pizza in the fully preheated 500 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

—SOURCE—
Budget Bytes

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish Braid

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I feel that with something as good as this blueberry cream cheese danish braid, I should keep the talking to a minimum so you can hurry up and get to the recipe asap. I’m still going to talk about how seriously amazing this danish braid is but I won’t be offended at all if you skip right to the end of this post 😛

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It all started when I had a craving for pastry. I’ve made croissants and chocolate croissants before so just thinking about those made me really want something perfectly flaky and buttery crisp. I wanted to play around with different flavours and fillings though, so it wasn’t long before I thought of this spiced apple cream cheese danish braid and decided that I wanted to make a blueberry version.

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Making pastry dough can be a little daunting if you have never tried it before, but it really isn’t hard at all! The only thing to keep in mind is there is a lot of waiting time in between when your dough is chilling in the fridge. I planned this danish braid ahead of time so that I could make the dough and the fillings the night before, and so all I had to do the next morning was roll out the dough, assemble and bake!

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Knowing that I had this beauty of a treat to look forward to was the only thing that kept me running home after a long 27km run…but let’s not go there, my hip hasn’t quite recovered from that just yet!  My longer runs usually leave me pretty drained once I’ve gotten back home, but I definitely had enough energy to put this braid together and pop it in the oven. And ohmygoodness. Fresh from the oven, each slice is made up of delicate layers upon layers of buttery goodness that envelopes a sweet blueberry pie-like filling perfectly complemented by a cream cheese filling with a lemon tang. All of that coated in a light and sweet sugar glaze.

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The best part is that even if you have leftovers, this still tastes so good the next day and the day after. I kept mine chilled in the fridge and even enjoyed it chilled, but it also tastes just as good after a quick zap in the microwave or if you have more time, after a few minutes in the oven.

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This would be the perfect treat to serve for a breakfast where you really want to impress! So go out there and knock some socks off! Actually, if it’s breakfast at home, then your household might not be wearing socks. Unless they are one of those weird people that wears socks when they sleep. I’m shuddering thinking about it.

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Also, the braiding of this danish might make it a little tricky to cut perfectly straight pieces. But that’s totally okay, because if you’re quick enough you can just snag a bigger piece. 😉

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish Braid

Ingredients:

For the Danish dough:
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1½ tsp. instant yeast*
¼ cup sugar
¾ tsp. salt
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the butter square:
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

For the cream cheese filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. sugar

For the blueberry filling:
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water

For the glaze:
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tsp. milk, plus more as needed

For the drizzle (optional):
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. milk, plus more as needed

*Instant yeast = rapid rise yeast = bread machine yeast

Directions:
To make the dough, combine 1¼ cups of the flour in a bowl with the yeast, sugar, and salt.  Place the milk and egg in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and knead until a smooth ball of dough forms, about 7-8 minutes.  (The dough should be sticky but if more dough sticks to the bowl than the dough hook, add the remaining ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.)  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the butter square, toss together the butter pieces and flour on a clean work surface.  Smear the butter back and forth using a bench scraper against the work surface until they have combined into a smooth homogenous mixture.  Wrap the butter mixture in plastic wrap and use the edges of the plastic to form it into a 5-inch square.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour.  Lay the chilled dough on the work surface and roll into a 9-inch square.  Place the butter square diagonally on top the dough and remove the plastic wrap.  Fold the corners of dough over the butter so that they meet in the middle of the butter square.  Pinch the ends of the dough together to seal.  Using a rolling pin , tap the dough from the center outward until the butter begins to soften and become malleable.  Gently roll the dough into an 11-inch square, re-flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking.  Fold the outside edges of the dough in toward the center in thirds, one overlapping the other, like a business letter.  Repeat this process folding the other direction to make a square.  (This completes two turns.)  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Roll the dough into an 11-inch square once more and repeat the two turns as before (business letter, then square).  Wrap in plastic wrap again and chill once more for at least 4 hours.  (At this point the dough can be refrigerated overnight).

To make the cream cheese filling, combine the cream cheese, lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl.  Mix well until smooth and blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the blueberry filling, combine the blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Mash about half of the blueberries as the mixture gets heated, and bring it a boil. Once the mixture is bubbling, lower the heat to medium and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring until it thickens. Remove from heat and let it cool before using.

When you are ready to shape and bake the danish, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  On a large, very well floured sheet of parchment paper roll the chilled dough into a 14-inch square.  Spread the cream cheese filling evenly down the middle third of the dough.  Lay the blueberry filling over the top of the cream cheese mixture (you may not end up using all of the filling*).  Using a pizza cutter or a paring knife, cut the outer thirds of dough into ¾-inch strips so that the cuts are diagonal to the filling.  Alternating sides, fold the strips of dough over the filling, crisscrossing the strips over the center, until the entire Danish is braided.  Transfer the braid, still on the parchment, to a baking sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and rise at room temperature until slightly puffy (it will not double), about 30 minutes.

Bake until the braid is golden brown, 22-26 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.  To make the glaze, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time as needed to thin the glaze.  Transfer to a cooking rack and brush with the glaze while still hot.  Cool to room temperature.  To make the drizzle, combine the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time as needed to make it a drizzle-able consistency.  Drizzle over the finished braid.  Slice crosswise and serve.

*leftover blueberry filling is excellent served over yoghurt, pancakes or waffles, ice cream, in smoothies, the options are endless!

—SOURCE—
based off of this Spiced Apple Cream Cheese Danish Braid recipe

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I’ve decided that a week (and a half) is a perfectly acceptable length of time to mope around, contemplate buying a plane ticket and running way, and consume an embarassing number of microwavable chocolate mug cakes in order to get over the feeling of having a giant hole in my heart. But now I’m back to reality and back to normal! Thank you so much for your love on my last post. Your sweet comments meant the world to me and I adore you. Which is why I want to share with you this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!

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I really love carrot cake, especially with cream cheese frosting. It’s one of my favourite flavour combinations, yet for some reason up until now I had never baked one myself! To be honest I think I was a little scared to try out a recipe and be disappointed. More often than not, the carrot cakes I’ve tasted have either been too dry, too dense or lacking in flavour. I was so happy with the way this cake turned out though. The carrot cake itself is plain and simple, yet so moist and fluffy. I love how the grated carrots add a lovely pop of orange colour as well. The cream cheese frosting is perfection and if you’re like me and bake your cake in a bundt pan then you will have leftover frosting to snack on 🙂

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups grated carrots

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (16 oz) powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract


Directions
:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl. In another bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to first mixture and combine. Then add carrots and stir in gently. Pour into a greased and floured pan (bundt, sheet cake, 9 x 13 pyrex) and bake at 350F until cooked through, 25 minutes (sheet cake) to 50 minutes (Bundt pan), depending on the pan you use.  Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, in a large bowl, cream togetherbutter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla and blend together very well until creamy. Spread on cooled carrot cake. Enjoy!
—SOURCE—
slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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Despite the fact that I easily have hundreds of recipes bookmarked for future reference, sometimes I come across something that instantly catches my eye and makes me feel the strongest urge to run to the kitchen and start measuring and mixing ingredients together. I wouldn’t say that this happens regularly mainly because I like to think that I am able to exercise some sort of restraint, but reading about these cheesecake stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars honestly made me dizzy with excitement. I mean seriously? Whoever thought up this combo is a genius in my eyes. These bars manage to combine chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake, two of my very favourite things in the world, into one dessert. These bars are great chilled, at room temperature, and even after a quick zap in the microwave for melty chocolatey goodness. You really do get the best of both worlds with these bars 🙂

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Yields: a 9×13″ pan, about 20 bars

Ingredients:
For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer:
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

For the Cheesecake Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with aluminum foil and lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

For the cookie layer whisk the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour, salt and baking soda, folding into the dough with a rubber spatula; do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips until combined. Press half of the dough onto the bottom of the prepared pan. It will be a thin layer, so use lightly moistened hands to press the dough into a thin even layer, filling in any holes with a bit of cookie dough from the bowl.

For the cheesecake filling, mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. Spread the cheesecake filling over the layer of cookie dough in the pan.

Using the remaining cookie dough, flatten tablespoon sized amounts of cookie dough in your hands into flat disc shapes, about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Place these discs over the top of the cheesecake layer, pressing very lightly to adhere them to the cheesecake layer. It’s ok if there are small spaces; the entire top doesn’t need to be completely covered just make sure it is mostly covered with cookie dough.

Bake the bars for 35-40 minutes until very lightly browned on the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate until chilled, 1-2 hours. Cut into squares and serve. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

—SOURCE—
slightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Cheesecake Brownie Bites

IMG_4559So I was supposed to share a much healthier recipe with you today, but I literally just baked these cheesecake brownie bites and couldn’t wait a second longer to share these with you. I’ve always loved cream cheese in pretty much any shape or form, and whenever a dessert incorporates cream cheese into the batter or filling or frosting I am a very happy girl. So you can imagine just how excited I was when I stumbled across this recipe! These little brownie bites are kind of like those 2-bite brownies, except they have ingredients you can actually pronounce, are made with love, and have a sweetened cheesecake-like filling inside! Do you really need any more convincing to make these?  My mom bought me a mini muffin tin over the summer so I was very happy to put it to good use with this recipe. The original recipe says you will make about 30 cheesecake brownie bites, but I ended up making 48 in total although I ran out of the cheesecake filling so about 6 of them were just plain brownie bites, but no complaints there 🙂

Cheesecake Brownie Bites

Yields: about 44-48 brownie bites

Ingredients:
For the brownie batter:
4 large eggs
1¼ cups baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder, mixed with 2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2¼ cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups all-purpose flour

For the cheesecake filling:
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, baking cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso mixed with water, and vanilla until well combined. Just a warning that this batter will be very thick. I switched from using a whisk to a firm rubber spatula.

Stir in the sugar and melted butter until well combined, then stir in the flour. Set brownie batter aside.

In a separate bowl, prepare the cheesecake filling by stirring together the cream cheese, sugar and egg yolk until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag or plastic bag.

Grease a non-stick mini-muffin pan with cooking spray or butter and then spoon a tablespoon of brownie batter into the greased cups. Pipe a generous amount of cheesecake filling atop the brownie batter, and then top off each cup with an additional teaspoon of brownie batter.

Bake for about 12-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let the brownie bites cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then transfer them to a cooling rack to continue cooling, or enjoy warm. If the brownie bites aren’t easily releasing from the pan, use a sharp knife to cut around the edges to release them.

—SOURCE—
Just a Taste, brownie batter recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.

Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Icing

IMG_0245I was cleaning out all of my old USBs and deleting a lot of files when I found pictures of this pumpkin pecan cake with brown butter icing hidden away in a file. I realize that this is more of a cake I should be sharing with you in the fall or  early winter (just like these pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting!) but I couldn’t handle the thought of waiting 8 or 9 months just to share this with you. So here it is in all its glory! This layered cake has a nice, warm pumpkin pecan flavour that is jazzed up with a bit of orange zest. The cake layers are sandwiched with candied pecans and brown butter icing (the icing alone is enough reason to make this cake) and the whole thing is covered with more icing and pecans!  You don’t have to coat the sides of the cake with candied pecans like I did, but I had enough pecans to do so and I didn’t like the way the icing looked plain anyways. This cake was a hit and even if you don’t have plans to bake it now, it’s definitely a cake to bookmark for next fall!
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Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups packed, light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups unbleached cake and pastry flour
½ cup ground toasted pecans
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp each ground ginger, cinnamon and allspice
1 tsp orange zest
½ cup buttermilk

For the Icing:
½ cup unsalted butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ cup brown sugar
1¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 cups (500 mL) chopped candied pecans** (plus more for garnish)


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Grease sides of two 9-inch (1.5-L) round metal cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk fl our, ground pecans, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and orange zest. Stir into butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of wet. Scrape into pans; smooth. Bake in the centre of oven until a cake tester comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks; peel off paper. Invert; let cool.

For icing, in a large heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let stand until the little bits sink to the bottom, about 5 minutes. Transfer to freezer and chill until firm, about 15 minutes. Scrape the top of the butter from the bits at the bottom; discard bits.

Transfer brown butter to bowl with the cream cheese and brown sugar. With an electric mixer beat until the brown sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until incorporated and fluff y, 1 to 2 minutes.

To assemble the cake, brush any crumbs from cake layers. Cut each in half horizontally. Place 1 layer, cut-side up on cake plate. Spread with about ¾ cup (175 mL) of the icing. Sprinkle evenly with ½ cup (125 mL) of the candied pecans. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining layer, cut-side down. Spread entire cake with a scant cup of the icing to mask. Refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes. Spread cake with remaining icing and decorate with remaining pecans.

** to make candied pecans:
Yields: 2 cups of candied pecans

Ingredients:
1 large egg white
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups raw pecan halves

Directions:
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg white until the whites have foamed into small white bubbles. Add sugar, spices, and salt.  Whisk until thick and opaque. Add pecans and toss to coat. Once thoroughly coated, spoon pecans onto prepared baking sheet. Leave any extra coating in the bowl.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and toasted golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

—SOURCE—
cake from Food&Drink magazine, candied pecans slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

IMG_0069Is it too early to start showing you pictures of desserts with frosting that looks so rich and dreamy you just want to reach through the screen and have a taste? Or is it too late to share any recipes that feature pumpkin? The answer as I have so clearly decided is no and definitely not! Who says you can only enjoy pumpkin from October till December? I’m pretty sure canned pumpkin is available in grocery stores year round and while pumpkin pie in the summer may seem a bit absurd and probably the last thing you would crave in the sweltering heat, right now there’s a whole lot of snow on the ground (at least where I am) and all I want is the comforting flavour of pumpkin cake topped with just the right amount of the silkiest cream cheese frosting. Plus I went to the gym today so that totally justifies this dessert!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
For the cake batter:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin puree. Beat on medium heat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients for the cake batter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until just combined. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely.

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Beat until smooth. Spread atop the bars and cut into squares.

—SOURCE—
Espresso and Cream, adapted slightly from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Mini Cheesecakes with Apple Cinnamon Compote

IMG_4323I apologize for all of the sweet treats I’ve been sharing with you lately, I know my thighs aren’t loving it but I promise there will be more savoury recipes to come in the near future! In the meantime, I want to share with you these adorable mini cheesecakes. I recently had a friend over for dinner and I knew I wanted to have a great dessert to end our meal, but I didn’t want to make an entire cheesecake because there was no way we would finish it all! So I found these cute mini cheesecakes online and halved the recipe. I ended up using a standard sized muffin tin to bake these in and made about 9 mini cheesecakes with a half batch. This was the perfect dessert to end a nice meal! The cheesecake itself is lovely and rich with a hint of lemon flavour, and the apple cinnamon compote on top adds a nice colour and flavour to perfectly complement the cheesecake base. I know I will be making this again in the future and can’t wait to experiment with different toppings and flavours.

Mini Cheesecakes with Apple Cinnamon Compote
Yields: about 18 mini cheesecakes

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tbsp. zest of lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt

For the topping:
1 granny smith apple, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
splash of apple juice or cider

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Combine crust ingredients in a mixing bowl. Press 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture into each bottom of 18 greased mini cheesecake pans or standard sized muffin tins.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar or 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer running, add eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the flour, lemon zest, vanilla, and salt until just combined and smooth. Pour filling into crusts and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the centers have set.

Let the cheesecakes cool completely and then chill thoroughly before removing from pan.

To make the apple cinnamon compote, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. add the brown sugar, cinnamon and apple juice, and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. (if mixture seems too thick or clumpy add another splash of cider.) Add the apples and cook until soft. Remove from heat. Mixture will thicken as it cools.

Top each cheesecake with 2 teaspoons of apple compote and serve. (both cheesecakes and compote can be make ahead of time and assembled just before serving.)

—SOURCE—
adapted from The Baker Chick, from Tiny Food Party

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars

One of the things I always look forward to as the weather gets cooler are the seemingly endless variations of pumpkin flavoured baked goods. I’m a huge fan of pumpkin pie, it’s quite possibly my favourite type of pie, so these creamy pumpkin pie bars are like perfection to me! These bars incorporate the classic pumpkin pie flavour that I’ve always adored into an almost cheesecake-like filling, sandwiched between a crumbly crust and topping. I think the filling to crust ratio is just perfect,  and the pumpkin flavour really shines through in this dessert. A perfect way to satisfy that pumpkin pie craving without the hassle of baking a whole pie!

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars

Yield: makes 9 bars in a square 8×8-inch pan

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all-spice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
9 roasted pecan halves for topping

Directions:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8-inch square pan with butter or shortening.  Line with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and oats.  Add cold butter and quickly but thoroughly break the butter up into the dry ingredients.  When broken down, some butter pieces will be the size of small peas, others will be the size of oat flakes.  Add the chopped pecans and toss to thoroughly combine.

Remove about 1 1/2 (to 2 cup) of the mixture from the bowl and place in a small bowl in the refrigerator.  This will be our crumble topping.

Dump the remaining crust mixture into the prepared pan.  Using your fingers, evenly press the crust into the bottom of the pans.  Try to make sure that the crust has an even thickness across the pan.  Place the pressed crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat cream cheese on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth and pliable.  This will help the cream cheese be less chunky when combined with the pumpkin.

Add pumpkin and sugar  to the softened cream cheese and beat on medium speed.  Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring that the pumpkin and cream cheese are thoroughly combined.  If the cream cheese looks chunky, switch to the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until most of the cream cheese lumps are incorporated.

On medium speed add the egg and egg white.  Beat to combine (about 1 minute).  Add the spices, salt, and vanilla extract.  Beat to combine.

Remove the pressed crust and loose crumb from the refrigerator.  Pour the creamy pumpkin filling over the pressed crust.  Sprinkle generously with crumb topping and top with pecan halves.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.  I like to slice and serve these bars chilled.

To store, wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

—SOURCE—
Joy the Baker

 

Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

IMG_3771

When I think of Fall, I think of apples and pumpkins. Apples first and pumpkins a bit later, but when baked, both usually have the same thing in common: warm, nutty spices and aromas that somehow help you to accept and perhaps even welcome the colder drafts of air and the changing colours of the leaves. These apple cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting seemed to be the perfect Fall-appropriate treat to bake. The process might seem a bit daunting at first, but I promise that these are quite straightforward to bake provided that you have a bit of time and patience. Once your kitchen starts to smell like a Cinnabon factory and you accidentally spoil your supper by having 2 or 3 of these instead, you will know that you have officially said goodbye to summer and can therefore commence your online shopping hunt for the perfect pair of fall boots.

I may have stopped making sense after the second sentence of that last paragraph, so I’ll just go ahead and take you through the cinnamon roll making process!  After you have combined all of the ingredients for the dough and it has almost finished rising, start to prepare your apple filling. Apples, butter and sugar will start to almost caramelize when heated to make a delicious, gooey filling.

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Once you’ve rolled out your dough and sprinkled on more brown sugar, spread out your apple filling as evenly as you can.

img_3750Roll up the entire thing (making sure to pinch the seam to seal) and slice into 12 rolls. If you do the math, that means that you can have….well quite a few rolls to yourself and I guess you can share a few as well.

img_3754Carefully arrange in a 9″ pan. I used my favourite 9″ springform pan, which definitely made it a lot easier to serve since the sides of the pan popped off quite effortlessly.

img_3757Bake, and try not to eat any before you have covered it all with cream cheese frosting.

img_3760Spread cream cheese frosting generously over the rolls, and serve!!  That was easy!

IMG_3777

Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields: 12 rolls

Ingredients:

For the Dough:
4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract (or the scrapings from 1 vanilla pod)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 cups flour (20 oz), plus more for dusting surface
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
1 tsp salt
Vegetable oil or cooking spray

For the Filling:
4 Tbsp butter
2 apples (I used Braeburn), peeled and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1 cup packed dark brown sugar, divided
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

For the Icing:
2.5 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp milk
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:
Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, beat the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, vanilla, buttermilk and half the flour together until well combined. Add yeast, salt, and the next 1 1/4 cup flour (leaving about 3/4 cup remaining) and knead on low for 5 minutes.

Add additional flour by the spoonful if necessary – you want the dough soft and moist but not overly sticky. Knead another 5 minutes until the dough clears the sides of the bowl (but might still stick to the bottom a bit).

Transfer dough to a lightly greased, large bowl and let double, 2-2.5 hours.

Just before the dough is finished, make the filling. Melt the butter in a large saute pan and add the diced apple. Crumble 1/2 cup of brown sugar over top and stir in the cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 10 minutes, until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and set aside to cool.

Spray or butter a 9-inch pan. Turn out the dough onto your lightly floured work surface. Stretch and roll the dough into a ~12×18 rectangle with the long edge nearest to you.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar over the dough, leaving the top 1-inch bare. Spread the cooled apple mixture over the dough.

Starting with the edge of the dough closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder and pinch the the seam to seal. Gently press, squeeze, and stretch the roll to get an even thickness.

Cut the roll into 1 1/2-inch slices and place in the baking dish (you’ll get 12 rolls). Cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Place the rolls in the oven with the heat off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3 full of boiling water and place it on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven and let the rolls rise for ~30 minutes.

Remove the water pan and rolls from the oven and preheat the oven to 350.

Bake rolls on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

While the rolls are cooling, beat the cream cheese, milk, and powdered sugar together until smooth. Drizzle over the rolls and serve.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, tightly covered. Rewarm in the microwave for best results.

—SOURCE—
Confections of a Foodie Bride

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