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Raspberry Cheesecake

raspberry cheesecake 2 Raspberry Cheesecake

This would be pretty for Canada Day, don’t you think? (I knew better than to attempt to arrange a maple leaf out of raspberries.) It looks pretty enough that people asked me where I bought it, but in reality if you can stand a raspberry upright, you can cover a cheesecake with them. The truth is, here they’re covering a gaping chasm of a crack in the top – something so common in cheesecakes it’s traditional to cover the plain ones with a sour cream topping to conceal any flaws.

raspberry cheesecake 1 Raspberry Cheesecake

Cheesecake was my dessert of choice back in the 90s – it was Mike’s birthday cake of choice for decades – and yet I never think to make them these days. They’re pretty low-maintenance, as far as desserts go – once baked, it needs to sit in the fridge to firm up, so it may as well just hang out in there until you’re ready for it. A plain cheesecake like this – a classic recipe I started baking from the Canadian Living Cookbook around 1987 – can be dolled up with berries, fresh or sauced, or you can douse it in chocolate or caramel, spike it with citrus or leave it plain.

Raspberry Cheesecake

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs or chocolate wafer crumbs
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar

Filling:
3 8 oz. (250 g) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Grated zest of a lemon (optional)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
3 large eggs

1 pint fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

To make the crust, combine the graham crumbs, butter and sugar and press the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set it aside. Turn the oven up to 425°F.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until it’s smooth. Add the sugar, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and beat it again, just until it’s smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour the batter over the crust.

Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 250°F and continue to bake the cheesecake for another 30-35 minutes. (If you have trouble with the top of your cheesecakes cracking, spray some water inside the oven with a spray bottle before you put your cheesecake in to keep the oven humid inside as the cake bakes.) You can tell when the cheesecake is done when it’s barely firm around the edges and the center is just slightly jiggly – it will firm up as it cools. Immediately run a thin knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan, but allow it to cool completely and then refrigerate it for at least an hour before you remove the sides of the springform pan. Once chilled top with raspberries, sitting them upright and close together.

Makes one 9-inch cheesecake; serves 12.

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June 29 2014 | cake and dessert | 2 Comments »

Black Forest Cupcakes

Black forest cupcakes 6 Black Forest Cupcakes

It’s finally summer enough to warrant coffee on the back porch! And while these are hardly summery, I can’t imagine chocolate, cherries and whipped cream have a particular season. I’ve been promising to share the recipe since E’s 16th birthday back in April, when she told us it didn’t really matter what kind of cake she had, but she liked Black Forest. Me too. Who doesn’t? And the flavour combo makes a fine cupcake – a good thing because Black Forest cakes can be tricky to assemble and messy to cut.

chocolate tree Collage Black Forest Cupcakes

With a bag of frozen cherries in the freezer, all we needed was a batch of our standby chocolate cupcakes and some whipped cream. And something fancy to go on top – chocolate trees I recalled seeing somewhere, sometime – maybe on Pinterest? Here, I think? At any rate, I love melting chocolate chips in zip-lock baggies in a cup of warm water, then squeezing it out into shapes that then harden and can be used for decoration. W was on chocolate tree duty while I made filling.

black forest cupcakes 11 Black Forest Cupcakes

Cherries simmered with sugar and a bit of cornstarch comes out exactly like canned cherry pie filling, only not quite as gelatinous and with better flavour. (I imagine cherry preserves would work as well, only sweeter.) You cut a chunk out of each cupcake and put in a spoonful of filling, then replace the plug, not worrying much about it fitting snugly since you’ll cover it with whipped cream anyway.

Black forest cupcakes 3 Black Forest Cupcakes

(You may have to break off the tip of the little cone you cut out – cooks’ nibbles.)

Black forest cupcakes 5 Black Forest Cupcakes

Once they’re all filled, spoon whipped cream into a bigger zip-lock bag, snip off a bigger corner and pipe it out onto the cakes. Isn’t it satisfying to pipe things out onto other things? I have real piping bags and cookie presses, yet they tend to stay in the basement while I use ziplock bags, which of course can be tossed out afterward. Fewer dishes is always a bonus.

black forest cupcake Collage Black Forest Cupcakes

A cherry would have been nice on top, like a little cupcake sundae. And you could do chocolate shavings (use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler and make sure the chocolate is at room temperature) but the chocolate trees! Of course it wouldn’t have to be trees -you could pipe out the chocolate into letters, numbers, whatever suits the occasion that calls for cupcakes.

Black forest cupcakes 1 585x864 Black Forest Cupcakes

To make the chocolate trees (or letters, numbers – whatever you like), put chocolate chips into a snack-sized zip-lock baggie, seal and place in a glass or bowl of warm water. Take it out once or twice and squeeze it, until all the chocolate is melted. Snip off a corner and pipe onto waxed or parchment paper, and leave at room temperature or refrigerate until solid, then peel off.

Black Forest Cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, or half all-purpose, half whole wheat
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup strong coffee (I mix together instant)

Filling:
2 cups fresh or frozen cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Topping:
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
chocolate shavings, extra cherries or chocolate trees

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar and cocoa. Add the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine; add the coffee and stir until well blended and smooth.

Divide the batter among the cups, filling them 3/4 full, and bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are springy to the touch. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, simmer the cherries, sugar and cornstarch (if you like, stir the sugar and cornstarch together first in a small bowl to get rid of lumps) over medium heat until bubbling and thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.

With a sharp knife, cut a small piece out of the top of each cupcake. (I cut in a circle with the knife pointed in, so you end up with a little cone shaped chunk of cake.) Fill each cupcake with a small spoonful of filling, then replace with the chunk of cake (you may have to break off the pointy end to accommodate the filling).

Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Spoon into a larger zip-lock bag, snip a bigger piece off one corner and pipe out over the cupcakes. Top with cherries, chocolate shavings or chocolate trees.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes.

pixel Black Forest Cupcakes
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June 22 2014 | cake | 11 Comments »

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