Dessert, Sweet

Blueberry Icebox Cake

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My husband and I love blueberries.  In fact, it is our favorite after-dinner dessert, whether we are trying to be healthy or not.  A few weeks ago,  I bought two large boxes of blueberries (in fear that we may not get fresh fruit for a while–pandemic and such).  With all the other easter/birthday related desserts I have been making (Raspberry-swirl Cheesecake, Banana Bread), we have not been able to go through the berries as fast as we normally do.   As a result, the berries needed saving.  I did not want to through them away and since I just made blueberry waffles, I wanted to make something different. Thus, the icebox cake was born.  I saw a recipe like this in Bon Appetit magazine and decided to make my own version with what I had in the pantry.  I also wanted to make it relatively healthy so that I could eat the cake every night and not feel guilty.   The recipe has a few steps, and it does require overnight freezing.  You may think it is labor-intensive but, making this was a welcome distraction to grading papers!  The overall verdict was that it “tastes good”, but “it could do with more layers” (I quote my husband).  Maybe, in the warmer months, I will try to tweak the recipe, but this will do wonderfully, for now.

Ingredients:

For the Blueberry filling:

4 cups of fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked

2Tbsp of cornstarch

4 Tbsp of water

3 Tbsp of sugar (add more if your berries are not sweet)

To make the filling:

 

 

Dump all the ingredients in a deep sauce-pot and turn the heat to medium-low and start stirring constantly.  This is important, you don’t want the berries to melt and stick to the bottom on the pot,  Nobody likes burnt filling.  You will need to stir constantly for about 5 minutes.  You can reduce the heat to low if you think that the berries are sticking to the bottom.  By the end of the process, you will have a pot full of gooey blueberries–resembling the consistency of pie filling.  Take the pot off the heat and cool completely.  Proceed to make the graham cracker crust.

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Ingredients:

For the graham crackers crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/8 cup sugar

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

1 stick of butter

To make the crust mixture:

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir all the ingredients, till it resembles wet sand.

 

 

Important note: Since I was “coming up” with the recipe, I grossly overestimated the amount of crumbs.  I ended up using about half of the butter, crumb mixture.  I made PB&J cookies with the rest–why waste ingredients?  You can most certainly halve the recipe.

Ingredients:

For the yogurt filling:

1 and 1/2 cup of vanilla greek yogurt

1/8 cup of sugar

2 cups of whipped topping

1 tsp of vanilla bean paste (you can use extract)

To make the filling:

Mix yogurt, sugar, and vanilla thoroughly till completely incorporate and smooth.

 

 

Gently fold in the whipped topping at the end.  Continue folding, till fully incorporated.

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To assemble the icebox cake:

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Line a 9X5 loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving some overhangs so that you can lift the cake out of the pan once it is set.

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Using a 1 cup measure, layer in the graham cracker crumbs.  Press down with the back of a spatula/measuring cup/or spoon to create a neat and flat crust.

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Pour in 1 cup of the yogurt mixture and smooth it out.

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Add all of the blueberries (I wanted to use up all the berries–that was the whole point of this recipe. My husband would have preferred a thinner layer of berries)

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Cover the berry mixture with 1 cup of crumbs–smooth it out.

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Top the crumbs with the remaining yogurt mixture and smooth it out.

 

 

Wrap the “cake” with the plastic wrap overhangs and set in the freezer overnight.

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Remove from the freezer and leave it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before unfolding.  If it is still frozen, you can place the bottom of the pan in a larger dish filled with tap/warm water–it should help with the unfolding process.

 

 

Unwrap the top of the cake and using the overhangs, gently lift the cake out of the loaf pan on to a cutting board.

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Slice into half-inch slices and serve!  It tastes better as it starts to thaw a bit, but you most certainly still want to enjoy it while it is cold.  This is indeed a perfect dessert for a hot summer’s day!

 

 

Dessert, Sweet

Raspberry-swirl Cheesecake

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Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, this is the only cheesecake recipe you will ever need.  Yes, that is a bold statement, but after making the recipe, I can attest that indeed, this is the ultimate cheesecake recipe.  A perfect cheesecake slice is thick, rich, creamy, and luscious.  A perfect cheesecake will have a flawless, smooth top with a buttery graham cracker crust.  Achieving these is a labor of love.  Plan ahead and start making the cheesecake a day before you actually want to eat it.  For the impatient soul, there is always the “no-bake cheesecake,” (click here for variation#1 and variation #2) but it is definitely not the same.  Enjoy this recipe, follow it patiently, and get ready to be crowned as the definitive cheesecake baker!

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Ingredients for Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Ingredients for Cheesecake filling:

  • four 8-ounce blocks full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp of Vanilla Bean paste (you could use 1tsp of vanilla extract, but I love the flecks of vanilla bean in my cheesecake)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 5-6 oz seedless raspberry jam (optional if you want to make a jammy swirl, plain is just fine)

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Method:

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) The mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath. Allow crust to cool as you prepare the filling.

Make the filling: Using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla bean paste, and lemon juice then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can.  Pour the cheesecake batter on top crust and smooth it with the back of the spatula.  I was not too precise with this step since I was adding a jam swirl.  If you are planning on a plain cheesecake, take time to make a smooth top, it will make a beautiful presentation.

Raspberry Swirl: Take your favorite seedless raspberry jam in a small bowl and microwave it for 30 secs, till it is runny.  Using a spoon, add big dollops of the jam on top of the cheesecake.  There are nor rules here, you can use as much or as little jam you want, or how much “swirl” you want.  After you add the jam, take a long skewer (chopsticks or knitting needles will work too) and swirl the jam around.

Water bath: heat an entire kettle of water.  As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan—this will prevent any leaks.  Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside the pan and place it in the oven.

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Baking: Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan.  If you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.

Cooling and putting your will power to the test:  This is probably the most important step in the whole process.  Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven in the water bath as it cools down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and water bath, then cool cheesecake completely at room temperature for another 1-2 hours. Then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.

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EAT: Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.

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Classics, Comfort food, Dessert, Pastry, Sweet

Impromptu Apple Crostata

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I used store bought pie dough from the frozen aisle in the grocery and after covering 4 pies, I had enough scraps leftover to roll out a 7-8 inch round crust.  I made this recipe because I had extra pie crust dough leftover from making Chicken Pot Pie. I used store bought pie dough from the frozen aisle in the grocery and after covering 4 pies, I had enough scraps leftover to roll out a 7-8 inch round crust.   So here goes:

Ingerdients:

1, 7-8 inch pie crust

2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced ( I used honeycrisp)

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar, plus a 1tsp for sprinkling

1 Tbsp cold butter, diced.

Method:

Roll out the crust and place it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Keep it cold in the fridge while you prep the apples.

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Peel, core and slice two apples.  Toss them in sugar and cinnamon.

Arrange the apple slices on the cold pie crust, leaving a 1-inch border

Fold over the pie dough to create a rustic crust.

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Dot with butter and sprinkle sugar over the crust.

Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes till the apples are bubbly and the crust is pale golden and flaky.

Enjoy!!!

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Cake, Dessert

Happy Birthday America!

Here are two desserts perfect for any summer bash ! The first one is a Raspberry Vanilla Cake and the second is a No-bake Strawberry cheesecake pie with Chocolate cookie crust.  The best part is that you can make the filling and use it both recipes.  So if you have two parties to go to you have two delicious desserts ready ! Here are the links to the recipes !

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https://quetesaveur.com/2017/07/04/raspberry-vanilla-cake/

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https://questforflavor.wordpress.com/2017/07/04/no-bake-strawberry-cheesecake-pie-with-chocolate-cookie-crust/

Dessert

No-bake Strawberry cheesecake pie with Chocolate cookie crust.

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This recipe was “thrown” together because I had a lot of filling left over from the Raspberry Vanilla Cake I made (https://quetesaveur.com/2017/07/04/raspberry-vanilla-cake/)

For this recipe you will need:

A store bought cookie crust, I bought chocolate you can use whatever you like.

Then it gets really technical, so pay close attention ! You will beed to put the filling into the crust and top it with sliced strawberries.  Real hard !!!!!!!

Chill, slice and eat !

P.S: for another variation on this recipe check out this link.  I made this pie for 4th of july a few years ago !

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https://quetesaveur.com/2013/07/03/red-white-and-blue-cheesecake-pie/

 

Dessert, Pastry

Honey Lavender Nectarine Cake

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A beautiful floral summery cake fit from anything ranging from an outdoor BBQ to an elegant dinner party ! Enjoy !

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp of lavender
  • 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 4 medium nectarines (about 1 3/4 pounds), halved, each half cut into 4 slices

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Generously butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar and honey and beat until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, and then lavender.

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Beat in flour until smooth. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

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Arrange enough nectarine slices atop batter in concentric circles to cover completely; press lightly to adhere.

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Bake until cake is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour (50 minutes for plums or pluots).

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Cut around cake to loosen; remove pan sides. Serve cake slightly warm or at room temperature.

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Dessert, Pastry, Sweet

Fig and Raspberry Tart

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I made this decadent tart a few weeks ago for a party at my boss’ house.  It is divine ! Rich, buttery, sweet ! Simply lovely.  For gluten-free readers, skip the crust and bake the filling with the sliced figs in ramekins !
Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup ice water
Filling
2 cups almond meal
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup raspberry jam
3 or 4 figs, cut into 12 (1/4-inch thick) slices
For the crust
Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the food processor running, slowly add ice water until the dough just holds together. Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap tightly, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. (Can make ahead and freeze for up to 1 month.)
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a tart pan with a removable bottom
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thick. and place them into the tin. Prick the bottoms with a fork and chill for 10 minutes.
Fill the crust with beans or weights and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and remove beans or weights.

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For the filling
Combine almond meal and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and process until smooth. Add eggs and lemon zest and process into a uniform, smooth paste.

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Spread the raspberry jam at the bottom of the crust.
Fill to the top with the almond mixture and smooth it with the back of a spoon. Gently press a fig slices into the top.

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Bake for 60 minutes until set and golden.
Cool completely before serving.

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Dessert

Almond Joy Bars

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Looks messy, is messy but oh will your belly do a happy dance with one bite of these bars.  Use the ingredients to make either drop cookies or a bar like I made.  If making a bar, coat the top with the extra chocolate and coconut !!!
Ingredients
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ¾ c. Almond Butter
  • ½ c. Sugar
  • ½ c. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. Kosher Salt
  • ½ c. Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • ½ c. Whole Almonds, ground ( I ground coconut flavor almonds)
  • 2 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cream butter, almond butter, and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, beat until well-incorporated. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the creamed butters and sugars and mix on a low speed until just combined. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
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Press down the batter into a greased 9×13 baking pan.  Top with the chocolate chips and coconut. Bake until lightly golden around the edges but still quite soft in the center, 12-14 minutes.

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Spread the chocolate and coconut to make it look like frosting.  Put back into the oven for 5 more minutes.

Allow to cool completely before cutting up into squares !

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Cake, Dessert, Sweet

Almond Saffron Cake

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Rich and exotic, this cake is bound to be a hit.  I like to pair it with Earl Grey Tea or a nice cold glass of Chardonnay !

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 (.01-ounce) jar saffron threads (a generous 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) can or 1 (7-ounce) tube almond paste (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for topping, if desired
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • Juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup, optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add saffron and zest. Bring just to a simmer; remove from heat, and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in salt.

Beat together butter and almond paste at medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment about 3 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat until fluffy, scraping down sides.

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Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating at medium speed just until blended after each addition. Add reserved milk mixture; beat just until blended. Do not overmix.

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Shake pans gently, or use a spatula to smooth tops. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and serve warm, dusted with more powdered sugar or drizzled with orange juice combined with 2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, if desired.

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Dessert, Treats

Red, white and blue Cheesecake Pie !!!!

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The easiest dessert you will make this 4th of July ! With the heat rising, it makes no sense to turn on the oven ! So I turn to store bought goodies to help me out.  Also this is somewhat healthy since I choose sugar-free and fat-free ingredients.

This is what you need.

1 store bought graham cracker pie shell

1, 8oz tub of thawed fat-free whipped topping

1, 1oz package of  sugar-free, fat-free cheesecake flavored pudding mix

1, 6oz tub of fat-free vanilla yogurt (not greek, but I think you could use it if you wanted a tangy taste)

mix all these ingredients and pour into the shell.

Decorate with berries of choice.  I used strawberries and blueberries, but you could use, cherries, blackberries or raspberries.

Serve chilled !