March 26, 2013

Mocha Baby Cheesecakes

For the first time in a long time, I feel excited to be in the kitchen.  It was something I regarded with dread because I knew I would need an aspirin and 2 bags of peas by the time I was done.  But you know what, screw it.  Instead of focusing on what I can't do, I need to just do.  I need to create things.  I need to have projects.  I need to make messes!

I decided to step back into the kitchen full force by creating one of my signature baby cheesecakes.  This was an idea born from my coworkers during a fat kid discussion, probably one of my favorite things to talk about.  I brought in some pumpkin baby cheesecake leftover from Little Toasty's birthday that went over pretty well and was getting requests to bring in more.  So, I thought I would play to my audience and ask what they wanted in a baby cheesecake.  What we brainstormed was an indulgent coffee and chocolate fantasy that needed to become reality!

I feel pretty confident with what works and doesn't work in a cheesecake at this point, so I thought I would just wing it.  Instead of normal graham crackers, I used some chocolate teddy grahams and toned down the sugar in my normal crust to accommodate for the slightly sweeter product.  I overloaded my french press with fresh ground coffee beans to create a super concentrated coffee base to add to the cheesecake batter.  Brown sugar instead of regular sugar echoed the richness of the coffee and unsweetened cocoa powder.  I used only one egg to create a denser final product.  I made a whipped cream with a dash of the concentrated coffee and then finished with a shaving of chocolate.

Rich and decadent, these little cheesecakes are sure to please any coffee lover.  Hope I did my fellow fat kids proud!  (And yes, I wrote this with my ankle sandwiched between two bags of frozen peas!)

March 11, 2013

Pretzel and Salted Caramel Brownies - March Secret Recipe Club

March Secret Recipe Club Post!  I'm so excited to share these salty sweet brownie with you, but first a quick update.  I'm mostly independent with a bit of cast thrown in here and there when I've really over done it.  I am SO HAPPY to be back on my bike, but the rain slash snow has thrown in a bit of complication.  Lost a fight with a curb last week when unlocking the bike, but I think I need one more boot day and I'm back to fighting shape.  Most importantly, I have been able to wear my rainbow of flats again!  Now back to the food...

Just last week, I was sitting at my desk and proclaimed aloud: "I really want something with chocolate and caramel... and pretzel!"  Which naturally led into a conversation about how yogurt covered pretzels are terribly inferior to chocolate covered pretzels.  I mean who would pick chobani over chocolate?  I'm not really a chocolate girl (I know, gah I'm the worst) and I always pick out the pretzels in chex mix but the combo is heavenly for me.  Add salted caramel in the mix?  Perfection.

So when I was digging through the many many recipes over on Colleen's blog Secrets from The Cookie Princess, her pretzel brownies and her salted caramel pretzel bark sounded so great that I thought I would combine them!  Colleen was the first person to ever get me for Secret Recipe Club, which premiered while I was waiting for surgery on my ankle.  It was a lovely post where she put cookie butter into one of my all time faves Nutella Buttermilk Bars.  Not only was it an ingenious swap, but her kind words about my blog and my food put a smile on my face during one of the hardest days of my life.  And to the ladies who were able to shuffle my post around the few days before for the September SRC, thank you again for accommodating this cripple.

Back to the brownies!  I used my new favorite toy, the brownie bite pan.  Those pretzels that look like a checker board fit perfectly into the molds so that you get a salty crunch in every bite.  I really loved Colleen's technique of using semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder or bakers chocolate, will definitely be keeping this in brownie rotation!  A quick caramel with himalayan pink sea salt (Trader Joe's, 3 bucks, just do it!) was adapted from the recent Smitten Kitchen salted caramel brownie.  I sprayed the pan with baking pam, added enough batter to fill the molds halfway, topped with a generous chunk of caramel, and finished with a pretzel on top to keep it crispy.  I'm a texture girl, I needed the crunch!

The resulting brownies are fudgy, chewy from the caramel, and salty-sweet with the crunch of pretzel.  All in all, one of my favorite desserts I have ever made.  Sorry, Nigella, your bacon brownies have been beat!  Thanks, Colleen, for the inspiration!

And for a little more inspiration, here are the rest of the B group recipes!  Happy SRC Monday!

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