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Pecan Cheesecake

Earlier this summer I posted a cheesecake recipe.  I gave options to make it with orange, lime, or raspberry.  For Thanksgiving, I made it with pecan!  Take that!  For real, it’s right down this page, just take the recipe and enjoy deliciousness.

What you’ll need:

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups of pecans (I used pecan chunks, not whole pecans)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter (melted)


For the filling

  • 24 oz. cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecan whisky
  • 1 pkg unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup of whipped heavy cream


For the topping

  • 2 tbsp cinnamon whisky
  • 3/4 heavy cream
  • 1/4 powdered sugar (or more, depends on your taste)

How you’ll do it:

  1. Put the pecan pieces, cinnamon, and sugar in a food processor (or something else) to crush up the pecans until they’re finely ground.  It’ll be somewhat sticky from the oils in the pecans.  Mix that stuff with the melted butter until it is all an even consistency.  Press that into the bottom of an 9-inch spring form pan (you don’t need to grease or butter the pan for this crust).  Bake that at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and let it cool.
  2. Find yourself a little saucepan, and put the pecan whisky in it.  Sprinkle the packet of gelatin into the orange juice, and let them get to know each other for five minutes.  Then cook it over low heat until the gelatin is all dissolved into the whisky.  Remove it from the heat and let it cool down for 10 minutes.
  3. While that’s coolin’ off, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until it’s nice and floofy.  Once you’ve got that well mixed, grab the whisky/gelatin combo (provided it’s cool now (temperature wise, not like, ‘hip’ or ‘with-it’)), and gradually add that into the sugary cream cheese.  Let that chill for about 3 minutes, this seems like it might not actually do anything, I mean, it’s only 3 minutes.  But it lets the gelatin start to set up and get things firmed up.
  4. Now, gently fold in the whipped cream.
  5. Transfer all that jazz into the pan with the crust we made earlier.  You’ll more than likely have to spoon it from one to the other, as it doesn’t pour very easily.
  6. A stand mixer is best for this next part.  Put all the topping ingredients in the bowl, and whip it forms nice, stiff peaks.  You can pipe it on all fancy like, or just spread it on.  (Or, after the next steps, even take the somewhat lazy route, and just serve it on the side so people can top their cheesecake with however much whip cream they desire.  Also, have some pecans there to sprinkle on top for a delightful crunch.)
  7. Stick it in the fridge!  I normally make this a day ahead so it can chill overnight, and the flavors get a chance to really get in there and mingle among the rest of the cheesecake mixture.
  8. Once you’re ready to cut it up, you’ll want to use a knife to loosen the cheesecake from the edge of the pan.
  9. Slice it up and eat it!
 
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It’s been a while! (Double feature)

Hello, there!  If you have come here recently hoping to see something new, I apologize for disappointing you.  But hey!  There’s something new now, in fact, you’re reading it!

Let’s flash back to about a month ago.  My parents were coming to town on Memorial Day, and Tiffany was planning to cook up some ribs, so I wanted to have an equally tasty dessert to follow that up.  A cheesecake was in order.  Not a cheesecake with one of those hard, crumbly graham cracker crusts, though.  No, this one wanted a softer place to rest, perhaps a bed made of brownies?

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Yes, delightful.  The brownies are pretty-straightforward, home-made, no box recipe here.  The cheesecake is no-bake, very creamy, and jazzed up with some orange.  And, if you do like I did, and forget to cut back on the brownie recipe, you have a bonus pan of brownies to snack on as well!  I’ve got recipes for both the brownies and the cheesecake below.  They’re separate, so you can make these individually, or combine them into one glorious dessert masterpiece.  A note if you are combining them, don’t worry about the foil for the brownies, just butter up the spring form pan really well, and bake the brownies right in there.  Once they’ve baked, I use a skewer to perforate the top of the brownies, which lets the cheesecake adhere better to the brownie base (I don’t know how much this helps, but it seemed to improve it this past time).

Keep scrolling to get to the recipes.  Thanks again for coming back after we’ve been gone so long!

Super Awesome Brownies (consumable)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped up
  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I suggest moving a rack nearer to the top of the oven, the brownies seem to bake more evenly that way.  Depending on your oven, you could get away with doing this later, so your oven isn’t on for longer than it needs to be.
  2. Acquire a piece of aluminum foil that will be large enough to line a 9×13 cake pan. Butter the aluminum foil. I find it works best to lay the sheet of foil on the counter, and just rub a stick of butter on it. Not the whole stick! Just rub the butter until there’s a nice coat of butter all over the foil, then place the foil into the pan, buttered side up.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside for a bit.
  4. Grab a medium-sized bowl, glass works best, and put the cubed butter and the chopped chocolate in there. Now rest that over a pot of boiling water, be sure the bowl isn’t actually touching the water, as that could scorch the chocolate. Let the steam heat the bowl, thereby melting the chocolate and butter together, and stir it up so it’s all smooth. Then remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside to cool. Be sure to use pot holders or something when moving the hot bowl.
  5. A stand mixer works best for this next part. But a hand mixer will do just as well, or, if you’re feeling especially funky, you can just grab a whisk and do it yourself. The eggs, sugar, and vanilla need to get whisked together. Whisk them until the mixture is a pale yellow-ish color, and it’s a thick consistency.
  6. Now grab that chocolate/butter mixture from before, and pour it into the egg mixture. Be sure the chocolate is cool, as you don’t want the chocolate to start cooking the eggs. Unless you’d rather have sweetened chocolate scrambled eggs, rather than brownies, then, you know, do whatever. But that sounds gross. Once everything is completely mixed together, you’re good to stop whisking.
  7. Find the dry ingredients you mixed together way back when. Pour that into the eggy-chocolate mixture, and whisk that up until it’s all incorporated together. Transfer the batter into the foiled pan from earlier.
  8. Bake the brownies in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle comes back out clean. Be careful, it’s easy to over-bake them, and then they aren’t nearly as gooey as they should be.
  9. Now eat all the brownies. Don’t share them. Tell others to make their own brownies.  Making your own food is a valuable skill,  so they should be thankful you’re giving them this opportunity.(Or, be nice to your friends and family and share the brownies).
  10. NOTE! If you don’t want plain chocolate brownies, grab some of the fancy chocolate bars that have fruit added (I’ve used orange, blueberry, cranberry almond, and a few others) for a fancier treat with no extra work on your part. You could even use fruit juice in place of the vanilla to kick it up that extra notch.

 

Equally as Awesome Orange Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 1 package chocolate graham crackers (crushed up into crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 1 package unflavored gelatin
  • 24 ounces of cream cheese (softened, just leave it sit out for about an hour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (whipped up to have stiff peaks)
  • The zest of one orange
  • Chocolate shavings (use a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate off a chocolate bar) or mini chocolate chips

Recipe:

  1. Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter until it is all an even consistency.  Press that into the bottom of an 9-inch spring form pan (you don’t need to grease or butter the pan for this crust).  Bake that at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and let it cool.
  2. Find yourself a little saucepan, and put the orange juice in it.  Sprinkle the packet of gelatin into the orange juice, and let them get to know each other for five minutes.  Then cook it over low heat until the gelatin is all dissolved into the orange juice.  Remove it from the heat and let it cool down for 10 minutes.
  3. While that’s coolin’ off, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until it’s nice and floofy.  Once you’ve got that well mixed, grab the orange juice/gelatin combo (provided it’s cool now (temperature wise, not like, ‘hip’ or ‘with-it’)), and gradually add that into the sugary cream cheese.  Let that chill for about 3 minutes, this seems like it might not actually do anything, I mean, it’s only 3 minutes.  But it lets the gelatin start to set up and get things firmed up.
  4. Now, gently fold in the whipped cream and orange zest.
  5. Transfer all that jazz into the pan with the crust we made earlier.  You’ll more than likely have to spoon it from one to the other, as it doesn’t pour very easily.
  6. Top it with the chocolate shavings or chocolate chips.
  7. Stick it in the fridge!  I normally make this a day ahead so it can chill overnight, and it gives the orange flavor from the zest a chance to really get in there and mingle among the rest of the cheesecake mixture.
  8. Once you’re ready to cut it up, you’ll want to use a knife to loosen the cheesecake from the edge of the pan.
  9. Slice it up and eat it!
  10. NOTE!  Don’t want orange, that’s fine, well a little weird, but workable.  I’ve made this with lime in place of the orange, you’ll just want 2 or 3 limes for zest, and if you top it with coconut, it is quite delicious.  Raspberry is also a good choice, use raspberry puree in place of the orange juice, and you don’t really have to worry about replacing the zest.
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The Quest for Cake

What happens when you want to eat cake, but there’s no knife with which to cut that cake (and you feel like eating the whole thing right then and there with a fork would be frowned upon)?  Watch my epic journey unfold!

If you like the video, I’d appreciate if you give it a thumbs up on the YouTube page.  You could subscribe to our channel while you’re there, to be sure you get updates when we post new stuff.  Thanks!

The knife turned out really well.  I watched a video a while ago from Bob at I Like to Make Stuff, where he made a cake knife, and I’ve had this lil’ project in my mind since then.  I’m pleased that I finally got around to it, it was fun and only took an afternoon of work (between working on a larger project that I’m excited to share next week, hopefully).

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The knife was made entirely of scraps leftover from other projects.  The knife scales are a paduak off-cut, and the blade is a lovely strip of curly maple.  The paduak was a beautiful orange color as I was sanding it down, and I’m bummed it doesn’t keep that tint.

Orange Paduak

Curious about the cake?  That’s Yummy Cake (no, really, that’s what it’s called, but, yeah, it’s also an apt description).  It’s a recipe from Tiffany’s family’s cookbook, and it is super simple to make.  I can sum it up in two pictures, really.

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Mix these together for the cake (only 1 cup of the oil). Ignore the instructions on the cake’s box.

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Mix this stuff up for the frosting.

Bake the cake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick into the center and have it come out clean.  You want the cake to cool completely before adding the frosting.  And I hope you like the frosting, because it ends up being about half as thick as the cake (not a bad thing!).

Full Disclosure!  We had plenty of knives available to cut this cake.  I staged the knife disappearance simply to have a more fun way to present this video.  I apologize if you feel as though you were misled.  But at the same time, it’s a silly video, so maybe do some self-reflection, and see what the root cause of that feeling really is.

Thanks for reading!  OH WAIT! Before you go, have you entered our giveaway yet?  It’s only open until this Saturday, May 5th 2018, so check it out here or watch the video here.  Ok, thanks, you’re free to go now!

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Cake or Cheesecake?

Why not both?

Most Sundays we get together with a few friends to play have some fun in our imaginations with a good ol’ tabletop RPG (we’re being pirates in 7th Sea right now).  Typically, this involves us making some sort of food.  If we’re hosting, it’ll be a main dish, but when we make the arduous journey to their place (it’s, maybe, 1.5 miles), we like to bring a snack, or side dish, or dessert.

Not long ago, we picked up a new bundt pan for 50% off.  What a deal!  I thought it was time to break it in, and am I glad I did.  While I can’t take credit for the recipe, I’ll take credit for googling it.  I knew I wanted to try a stuffed bundt cake, and this didn’t let me down.

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Not content with leaving the recipe alone, though, I wanted to kick up the cheesecake part a little bit.  My first instinct was to make a strawberry jam to swirl into it, and I was going to stick with that plan until we hit up the local farmer’s market.  There was a booth with a very friendly gal that let us taste a few samples, and after doing so, it was pretty clear some cherry preserves needed to go into this cake, not what would have been a lame attempt at strawberry jam by yours truly.

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My only regret is I should have used more.  The bites of cake when you get the cherry, it’s a delightful tartness to offset the richness of the dense chocolatey cake.  Those bites just didn’t happen enough.  Next time, they will.  Not that the bites without the cherry weren’t great, because they were.  It’s one of those instances where something awesome gets taken up another notch from one little addition.

As far as other modifications to the recipe, I omitted the espresso powder, simply because we didn’t have any, and I had to bake it for about 75 minutes.  I think adding a little cherry liqueur to the glaze would have been a welcome addition as well, but I thought of that too late to incorporate here.

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Part of what makes creating things fun and worthwhile is when you get to share those things with other people.  I don’t think I’d make nearly as many things as I do if I just kept them to myself (though I was tempted to do that with this cake, at the risk of suffering Tiffany’s wrath).  Luckily, when you bake something, it’s much easier to share the results with others.  They appreciate eating cake much more than they do anything I’ve ever tried to feed them that I’ve made from wood.