“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake.”
- Francis Bacon

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Irish Cream Chocolate Cheesecake


* 1-1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafers (about 18 cookies)*
* 6 tablespoons butter, melted*
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
* 1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 8-ounce package semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
* 3 eggs
* 1/2 cup Irish cream liqueur or you may substitute Irish cream Cremora
* 2 tablespoons whipping cream or milk
* 2 teaspoons vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. For crust: In a medium bowl, combine crushed chocolate wafers, melted butter, and cinnamon; toss gently to mix. Press mixture onto the bottom and up the side of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.

2. For filling: In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and melted chocolate. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Using a wooden spoon, stir in eggs just until combined. Stir in liqueur, whipping cream or milk, and vanilla.

3. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan. Place springform pan in shallow baking pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken.

4. Cool in springform pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, loosen from side of pan. Cool for 30 minutes more. Remove side of springform pan. Cool for 1 hour. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours. Makes 16 servings.

5. *Note: If using a 10-inch springform pan, use 1-3/4 cups crushed chocolate wafers (about 21 cookies) and 7 tablespoons butter, melted, for the crust.

Monday, March 08, 2010

♥Rich, moist Orange Coffee Cake♥

This cake is so good, it reminds me of pastry. Sanding sugar gives this cake a crunchy top and keeps the inside moist.

1/2 cup oil, plus more for the pan
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/4th cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup white sanding sugar (can be purchased at Michael’s or your local bakery or pastry shop)
Orange segments, for serving


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with olive oil. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and brush paper with the oil.

In a food processor process together oil, eggs, 1 cup sugar, and juice until smooth. Add cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and orange zest and process. Add flour and pulse until just combined. Pour batter into the cake pan and sprinkle top evenly with 1/3 cup sanding sugar.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, invert cake onto a plate, and remove the parchment paper. Gently flip cake back over onto a cooling rack. Cool completely and serve with orange segments.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

♥Coconut Macaroon Bird's Nest Cookies♥

Moist coconut macaroons that look like little nests with an egg inside. The instructions may look a bit long, but this is an easy cookie to make.

2 egg whites, at room temperature
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened baking chocolate
1/3 cup hazelnuts
1/4th teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 ounce) bag sweetened coconut flakes. (I used Mounds)
16 to 18 white chocolate Lindt Lindor balls (2 bags)

1. Move the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Separate eggs, put the egg whites in a large bowl or stand mixer bowl. Save the yolks for something else. Set aside.

3. Microwave hazelnuts on high in a small bowl two times for 30 seconds each time. Stir in between cooking times. Immediately rub together in a paper towel to remove a little of the excess skin. Leave most of the skin on. Chop coarsely and set aside.

4. Melt baking chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave on high 30 seconds at a time. Stir after each stop until melted. Set aside.

5. With a hand mixer or stand mixer beat the egg whites on high until stiff and glossy. Add the salt, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate. Beat until mixed. Stir in the coconut and hazelnuts.

6. Scoop into mounds with a small (size 24) ice-cream scoop or a 1/4th cup dry measuring cup. Place on cookie sheets and make an indent in the middle with your thumb.

7. Place both cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Switch the cookies to the opposite shelf halfway through baking. This will prevent overbrowning. Meanwhile unwrap the candy.

8. Immediately move cookies to a cooling rack and set a timer for exactly 5 minutes (and see notes). Working quickly, set the Lindt balls on top of the cookies. Let cool completely. The Lindt balls may drip a little so you may want to place a sheet of parchment underneath the cookies.

Notes: These cookies need to be just warm enough for the Lindt balls to stick, but if the cookies are too warm the white chocolate will melt into goo. Check and place the Lindt balls on the cookies when they are just slightly warm to the touch, but not hot.

Makes 16 to 18 large cookies.