New York Style Cheesecake

31 January 2011

While I was at home for the holidays, I asked my dad if he could have one dessert what it would be. He answered cheesecake. Good ‘ol New York style cheesecake. Of course, I couldn’t leave the man who raised me cheesecake-less!

I made this cheesecake and froze it for him to enjoy after I left. Of course, I had a few bites as I was preparing it for the great freeze. MMmm! Delicious!

About a week and a half after I returned to New York, my Stepmom sends me a text saying how wonderful the cheesecake was and that they served it to some dinner guests, who were floored at how amazing it tasted!

Hehe. Daughter done good! I’ll take it!

I made the cheesecake without a topping, but I heard it was enjoyed with caramel, strawberry and raspberry syrups. Although I couldn’t be there to enjoy it with them, I am so glad it went over so well!

Shout out to the fam! Love you, miss you XOXO!

New York Style Cheesecake
Smitten Kitchen

Crumb crust
8 ounces (15 4 3/4 x 2 1/2-inch sheets of graham cracker; yes, I am crazy enough to both count and measure) finely ground graham crackers or cookies such as chocolate or vanilla wafers
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake filling:
5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia is recommended for cheesecakes but if you’ve had success with other brands, feel free to use them again)
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the crumb crust: Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and up the sides, stopping one inch shy of the top rim**, of a buttered 9 1/2-inch (or 24 cm) springform pan. You can fill it right away but I like to pop my into the freezer so it quickly sets while I prepare the filling.

For the filling: Preheat oven to 550 degrees***. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, flour and zest with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla, then eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated. Scrape bowl down between additions; I cannot stress this enough as if you do not, you’ll end up with unmixed stripes of cream cheese. I always find at least one, despite my best efforts.

Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan (to catch drips). Pour filling into crust (springform pan will be completely full) and baking in baking pan in the middle of the oven for 12 minutes or until puffed. Please watch your cake because some ovens will top-brown very quickly and if yours does too fast, turn the oven down as soon as you catch it. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees (see Note below about my baking drama) and continue baking until cake is mostly firm (center will still be slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken), about one hour more.

Run a knife around the top edge of the cake to loosen it and cool the cake completely in springform on a rack, then chill it, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

27 January 2011

I’m still behind in posting holiday recipes, but this is another one I made at home. I made this after a particularly long run and between my parents and I, we almost demolished the entire thing! Perfect cold day-cuddle up and watch movies dip. Or the Superbowl. Or a super PMS-y day. Wow, are those two conflicting days or what?!

The dips is the perfect blend of spicy and cheesy. We went the healthier route and dipped vegetables in and we used broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and jicama (a fun new veggie for me that I now LOVE!). 

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Eating, Etc. 

8oz Neufchatel or Tofutti cream cheese substitute, at room temperature
1/2 cup mayo
1/2c cheddar cheese, grated (goat cheddar cheese)
1/2c parmigiano reggiano (goat romano cheese)
4oz can chopped jalapenos, drained
1/4c panko bread crumbs
1/4c parmigiano reggiano

1) Mix Neufchatel, mayo, cheddar cheese, parmigiano reggiano and jalapenos in a bowl and transfer to baking dish.

2) In a small bowl, mix panko bread crumbs with parmigiano reggiano, and sprinkle over the dip.

3) Bake, uncovered, at 375°F until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Gingersnaps

24 January 2011

This past holiday season, I became a slave to the subtle and spicy flavor of ginger. In everything! I was craving gingerbread like it was going out of style! When I came home for Christmas, I decided to share the love with my parental units and made these gingersnaps.

I couldn’t get over how good these were! They are very soft and chewy, but in a good way. Even a certain someone who prefers her cookies crisp loved these! They were very easy as well. No mixer or beaters needed. Just two bowls. 

Were having a cold snap here in the Northeast. I recommend making these if you are too! They will warm you up for sure!

Gingersnaps
17 and Baking 

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
Sugar for rolling (I like evaporated cane juice or raw sugar)

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine together the brown sugar, molasses, canola oil, and egg until smooth. Mix the flour mixture into the brown mixture, stirring until dough comes together. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop up bits of dough by the heaping teaspoonful and roll into balls between your palms, about the size of a quarter. Roll the balls in sugar and place on the baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake 8 minutes – if you like crispy gingersnaps, try 9-10 minutes.

Cookies will be very soft but will firm up. Leave on the baking sheet several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

French Butter Cookies

21 January 2011

When I saw these cookies on Annie’s Eats before Christmas, I knew I was going to have to make them. I remember my mom coming home with a big tin of these butter cookies for the holidays several years in a row. I remember loving them! And, of course, eating too many. 

These cookies are just as great, if not better than those you get out of a big tin. They have a delicious buttery flavor, and are soft and crumbly. I made these for the family over Christmas and we literally ate them all in under one week!

They are definitely a process. It took me most of an afternoon to crank these out, but it was soooo worth it. It was also a fun process!

French Butter Cookies
Annie’s Eats

1 large egg
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 large egg white
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling 

Place the egg in a small saucepan and cover with 1 inch of water.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from the heat, cover and let sit 10 minutes.  Meanwhile fill a small bowl with ice water.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the egg to the ice water and let stand 5 minutes.  Crack the egg and peel away the shell.  Separate the yolk from the white; discard the white.  Press the yolk through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, salt and cooked egg yolk.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Add the flour and mix on low speed just until combine, about 30 seconds.  Use a spatula to press the dough into a cohesive mass.

Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a log about 6 inches long and 1¾ inches in diameter.  Wrap each log in a piece of parchment or wax paper.  Twist the ends to seal and firmly compact the dough into a tight cylinder.  Chill in the freezer until firm, about 1 hour.  (At this point, the dough can be stored in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 2 weeks.)

To bake, preheat the oven to 350 ˚F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a chef’s knife, slice the dough into ¼-inch thick rounds, rotating the dough log every few slices so that it does not become misshapen.  Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Brush lightly with the egg white mixture and sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar.

Bake until the centers of the cookies are pale golden and the edges are slightly darker, about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking.  Cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Variations: 
Vanilla Pretzel Cookies
Follow the recipe for French Butter Cookies, increasing the vanilla extract to 1 tablespoon and reducing the chilling time to 30 minutes.  Slice the dough into rounds as instructed.  Form each round into a ball.  Roll into a 6-inch long rope with tapered ends.  Twist into a pretzel shape.  Brush with the egg white mixture, sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake as instructed.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Follow the recipe for French Butter Cookies.  Slice the dough into 1/8-inch thick rounds.  Omit the egg wash and sprinkling sugar.  Bake the cookies as directed, reducing the baking time to 10-13 minutes.  When all the cookies are completely cool, melt dark or semisweet chocolate, spread a thin layer onto one cookie and sandwich with another cookie.  Let sit until the chocolate has set completely.

Black and White Spiral Cookies
Make one batch of French Butter Cookie dough.  Make a batch of chocolate dough by following the recipe for French Butter Cookies, reducing the flour to 1 1/3 cups and adding ¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder with the flour.

Max Brenner

14 January 2011

Before Christmas this year, my friend, T, and I decided to plan a date day for ourselves. Part of our fun day was to visit Max Brenner in Union Square for some major food consumption and boy, did we do our jobs well! Unfortunately I forgot my camera so you will have to pardon the photos from my phone camera.

I had never been to Max Brenner, although T had and guided me through the menu. Of course, we had to try EVERYTHING. And I do mean EVERYTHING! We started off debating between milkshakes and hot chocolate and decided to split a milkshake (even though it was freezing outside) and to order hot chocolate after our meal to-go.

So, after much deliberation, we decided on the Hazelnut Cream Chocolate Milkshake, which had vanilla bourbon ice cream, dark chocolate truffle and whipped cream.

WHOOO! Talk about delicious. This ended up being my favorite part of the meal. And aren’t the cups adorable?! It was sort of like drinking Nutella, which we all know I can’t stop myself from eating.

Next up was the main course. We decided t get two dishes to split, the first being the Mushroom and Ricotta Pizza with black olives and sun dried tomato pesto.

Since pizza is one of my favorite foods, if it’s on the menu, I pretty much have to eat it. This pizza was good! Not my favorite but I enjoyed the thin crust and zesty pesto that was used as a sauce.

The other entree we split was Max’s Sandwish of the Seas which had pan seared/seasoned salmon, caramelized onion, spicy roasted pepper aioli, tomato and lettuce.

 I LOVED this sandwhich. Next time I will probably just get one for myself. The coating on the salmon was super crunchy without compromising the soft fish inside. It came with a side of french fries that they dusted with cocoa powder. What a great idea!

(Side story: Speaking of cocoa powder on french fries, when I was little I ordered fries at a restaurant and mistakenly sprinkled them with sugar instead of salt. At first I refused to eat them and put up a huge fuss. Of course, after trying them I fell in love and for years after, I always ate my fries with sugar. What a wierdo!)

And, of course, what is the point of going to Max Brenner without getting dessert? At this point, we were both pretty full, but having run 10 miles earlier in the day, I had no problem singling out the dessert menu. We decided to split The Euphoria Peanut Butter Chocolae Fudge Sundae (say that three times fast!). It had chocolate peanut butter ice cream, caramelized banana toffees, pure chocolate chuncks, milk chocolate sauce and warm peanut butter sauce. It was garnished with whipped cream and hazelnut bits and served with extra peanut butter sauce and pure chocolate ganache. 

Lawda mercy was this thing crazy good! And SO rich! I am ashamed to admit we couldn’t finish it. Chocolate and peanut butter were in each bite I took! So good!

Unfortunately we were both too full for hot chocolate afterwards, but will definitely be going back  at some point soon. We got lucky and didn’t have to wait long for a table (about 30 seconds if you can believe it), but I hear it gets a little nuts so plan accordingly if you do go. I can’t wait to return to Max Brenner and eat my face off again!

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