Category Archives: Dessert

The Cheesecake Factor

Caramel Apple Pecan and Pumpkin Spice Cheesecakes

Caramel Apple Pecan and Pumpkin Spice. MMMMM….

My first official post in what… 7 months? Time flies when you aren’t inspired to cook. But thanks to the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I had a reason to bake a dessert or two. With the Autumn season in full swing, what better way to acknowledge it than to utilize apples and pumpkin? Two different cheesecakes derived from the same basic recipe.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

  • Basic Cheesecake Filling (recipe follows)
  • graham cracker crust (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 c caramel sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans
  • 2 apples (preferably granny smith), peeled, cored, diced
  • 1 T AP flour

Pour about 1/2 of your caramel sauce into the bottom of your graham cracker crust. If you prefer, you can omit this step to make the cheesecake less sweet. Sprinkle about half of your chopped pecans on top of the caramel layer. Toss the diced apple with the AP flour so that it doesn’t sink into the bottom of your cheesecake filling. Mix the apple into the cheesecake filling and then pour into the crust. You may have some apple filling left over. Bake in a 325 degree preheated oven over a bain-marie for 35-40 minutes or until set in the middle. While still warm, drizzle the rest of your caramel sauce on top and sprinkle the remaining pecans. Allow to cool for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

  • Basic Cheesecake Filling (recipe follows)
  • graham cracker crust (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t ground clove
  • 1/8 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 c pureed pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling)

Measure about 1 c of the plain cheesecake filling and pour into the bottom of the crust. Mix pumpkin and spices into remaining filling until thoroughly combined. Pour pumpkin filling on top of the plain filling. Spread evenly. Swirl two fillings if you wish. Bake in a 325 degree preheated oven over a bain-marie for 35-40 minutes or until set in the middle. Allow to cool for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Basic Cheesecake Filling

  • 2 packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Cream together the sugar and cream cheese until well combined. Gradually mix in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time. Pour into your graham cracker crust of choice.

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Beam Me Up, Biscotti



Growing up, one of my fondest food memories was having biscotti and coffee (hot cocoa for the kids) with the family on Sunday mornings. It wasn’t a weekly thing, but it was something that happened to occur on a Sunday. Biscotti is a twice-baked biscuit or cookie. The dough is baked as a “loaf” and cut into the individual biscotti. These resulting cookies are then baked again, which is what causes them to dry out and become crunchy, perfect for dunking in your coffee (or cocoa).


  • 1/3 c butter, softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • 2 1/4 c AP flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 c almonds, slivered

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Mix in rest of liquid ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients until combined. Fold in slivered almonds until well incorporated. Divide mixture into two equal portions, which will be spread into 2 loaves on baking sheet. They will need to be spread so that they’re about a 1/2 inch tall and almost as long as your baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, turning around halfway, depending on your oven. When it’s golden brown, take it out and allow to cool on a baking rack for 5 minutes. While it’s still warm, cut along the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay them on your baking sheet and bake for another 10 minutes, flipping and turning halfway through. Allow to cool.

Let’s Go To Tamal… Today II

Guava and Cheese Tamales

Guava and Cheese Tamales

Part II of my Tamale series of posts. This one is inspired by the Guava & Cheese rolls over at Porto’s. I had a difficult time trying to find the guava paste (ate de guayaba). I tried Northgate (which is a big chain of Mexican supermarkets) and couldn’t find it. I heard that Vallarta (another large chain of Mexican supermarkets) opened a store locally, so I checked them out, which did have it. Making dessert tamales is much simpler than savory tamales. A few changes must be made to the masa for this tamale though.

Once again, soak dried corn husks in hot water while you’re preparing everything else.

Dessert Tamale Masa

  • 2 c masa harina (para hacer Tamales)
  • 2 c warm guava nectar
  • 2/3 c butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 t baking powder

As you can see, instead of lard, I’ve substituted butter. You probably don’t want your dessert tamales to taste like pork. I’ve also added some sugar to sweeten the masa and replaced the water with guava nectar for additional flavor. If you wish to make the masa more tender, add about 1/2 c of milk after letting the masa rest in the fridge.

Guava & Cream Cheese Tamales

  • 8 oz block of cream cheese
  • 8 oz guava paste

To make the process of cutting the cream cheese easier, freeze the block of cream cheese for 30 minutes. Cut both the cream cheese and guava paste into 4 inch sticks. They should be about 1/4-1/2 inch wide. This way, when you line the middle of your tamale with a stick of cream cheese and a stick of guava paste, you’ll get a bit of each with each bite. I’ve tried it with alternating cubes of each and it was like one bite was just guava and one was just a glob of cream cheese.

Assemble your tamales like normal ones. Spread the masa, line with filling, and fold in the sides & end. Steam for 1 1/2 hours until masa is firm.

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Blondies Have More Fun

White Chocolate Walnut Blondie

And now for something completely different… Well, not really.

I decided to switch it up this time and make Blondies instead of Brownies. Think of Blondies as Brownies without the chocolate. They’re like Michael Jackson after the skin lightening. Too soon?

The recipe is actually pretty much the same as a basic chocolate chip cookie, except for some minor differences.


White Chocolate Walnut Blondies

  • 1 c AP flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/8 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 c melted butter
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all dry ingredients and the nuts.

Mix together the melted butter and sugar. This should cool it enough that you can mix the egg and vanilla into it.

Add your dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Spread into a 9 in. sq pan and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges are brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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No Animals Were Harmed In The Making Of These Brownies

Pumpkin Vegan Brownies... I think.

I love brownies. There’s something about the chocolaty, chewy, moist middles, surrounded by crispy, crunchy edges. I decided to try my hand at making a healthier alternative to regular brownies.

I came across multiple references to substituting all the liquid ingredients for a can of pureed pumpkin. No oil, no eggs, not even any water. Just pumpkin. Everyone said that it was just like eating a regular brownie.

They were dead wrong. It had the consistency of dense, bread pudding. Like a moist cake collapsed in on itself. It was chewy just like a brownie, but it verged on almost rubbery.

If you MUST make them, all you need to do is take your favorite brownie recipe (whether it’s from a box or from scratch) and replace all the liquid ingredients with a 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin. Bake as directed.


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That Sweet, That Nasty, That Gushy Stuff

Marshmallow Brownies

Oh sweet Lord...

Simple recipe here. Take your favorite brownie recipe and about 2/3 of the way through baking, top with marshmallows. When they have melted and turned all toasty brown, they’re done.

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