Snickers Cheesecake

Several years ago, my parents gave me a cheesecake cookbook for Christmas, and the first few cheesecakes I made from that cookbook were complete disasters.  The first time I did a water bath, the water leaked into the cheesecake and completely ruined it.  I had one that wouldn’t set.  Then there was the one where the crust was soggy.  Oh, and the one where the top cracked and looked incredibly ugly.  I could keep sharing disaster stories, but I think you get the idea.  Needless to say, I gave up on cheesecakes for a while.

Last month I shared a recipe for an Oreo Brownie Cheesecake.  I decided to give that cheesecake a try because it was a combination of cheesecake and brownie, and brownies are definitely my speciality.   That cheesecake success gave me the confidence to try another.  So when I ran onto this Snickers Cheesecake recipe from handletheheat.com, I knew I had to make it.  After all, it had total “Barbified” written all over it — chocolate cookie crust, cheesecake filling with snickers, all covered in chocolate ganache, and then sprinkled with more snickers.  If that doesn’t have my name written all over it, then I don’t know what does.  Let me just say, I’m so glad I gave cheesecake another shot.  This cheesecake is seriously delicious…..and quite easy.

Snickers Cheesecake Whole

Snickers Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 30 Oreo cookies
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 18 fun-size Snickers bars, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package Snickers miniatures

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Process the Oreos in a food processor until they become finely ground crumbs.  Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.
While the crust is cooling, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Add in the sugar, cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Finally, stir in the Snickers bars.
Pour the batter into the cooled crust. Bake for 1 hour, or until set and the top looks slightly dry. If the middle is slightly wobbly, that’s fine. Cool the cheesecake completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate at least 4 hours. Release the cheesecake from the pan onto a serving plate.
Place the chocolate chips in a medium heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan heat the cream just until simmering. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips. Let sit for a few minutes then stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Pour over the top of cheesecake. Sprinkle the snickers over the cheesecake. Slice and serve.

Snickers Cheesecake Slice

Death by Chocolate Cake

Early on in the gum graft healing process, I discovered that chocolate cake was a soft food — or so I told my dentist.  With all the junk loaded on top and inside of this cake, I’d venture to say that this would not be considered soft food, and I doubt I would have been able to chew it a few weeks ago.  Lucky for me that my mouth is on the mend.  And while I haven’t been able to eat steak and I still have to use a fork and knife when I eat a sandwich, I had no problem with this cake.

It started out when I found this recipe for Ultimate Death by Chocolate Brownie Cake on Pinterest.

Here are the ingredients

  • Chocolate Cake Mix (plus the ingredients to make it)
  • Brownie Mix (plus the ingredients to make it)
  • 2 cans of Chocolate Fudge Frosting
  • 1 package Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Make the cake according to the directions on the box.  Pour the batter into two 8″ round pans sprayed with non-stick spray and lined with wax paper and bake according to the package directions.  Cool completely.

Make the brownie according to the directions on the box.  Pour the batter into one 8″ round pan sprayed with non-stick spray and lined with wax paper and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.  Keep an eye out as oven temperatures vary.  Cool completely.

To assemble, place a cake layer on the bottom of a cake plate, spread on a layer of frosting, and top with a handful of chocolate chips.  Next add the brownie layer, spread on a layer of frosting, and top with a handful of chocolate chips.  Place the cake layer on top and frost the entire cake.  On her cake, she sprinkled the whole thing (top and sides) with the remaining chocolate chips.

Now here’s where I went crazy.  In her directions, she mentions substituting chopped candy between the layers to change-up the flavor.  I started thinking about last year’s birthday cake and all the stuff we put on top of it.  Then I looked at the jar of candy on the counter —

candy jar

so full that the lid won’t sit on it properly.  This jar belonged to my grandparents.  My grandmother kept it sitting on their kitchen counter with graham crackers in it.  Years ago, my mom gave it to me, and now it sits on our kitchen counter filled with treats.  It’s one of a handful of things in our house that I absolutely cherish.  It’s funny — Gray knows how special it is, and he uses great care whenever he gets a treat from ‘the jar’.

Back to the cake.  Instead of topping it with chocolate chips, I selected my favorite candies from the jar, chopped them up, placed them on top of the cake, and drizzle the whole thing with melted chocolate chips!  Another Barbified dessert!

death by chocolate cake

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Pops

In the spring, Gray’s school has a fundraiser called Cocoa Bella.  It’s a fun and elegant evening filled with socializing, bidding on art and donated items, and eating lots of chocolate.  In fact, everything there is chocolate — including the savory items.  Some of the items on the menu were cocoa and coffee crusted steak, Kahlua truffles, and chocolate dipped candied bacon.  I was tasked with making Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Pops.

When I read the recipe, I was a bit concerned.  I wasn’t sure how they would work on a stick.  Over the years my mom and I have experimented with all kinds of cake balls and cake pops, and one of the things we have learned is that if the center is too soft, it cannot support the weight of the chocolate on the stick.  That was true with this recipe as well, but they worked beautifully without the stick.

Below is the recipe as it was given to me, but of course I made some changes.  Instead of the second package of Candiquik coating for dipping, I opted to dip them in some higher quality white chocolate which I also thinned with a bit of melted Crisco.  I simply melted the chocolate in the microwave on 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until smooth.  Then I stirred in 2-3 tablespoons of melted Crisco shortening to get the consistency I wanted.

My mom and I also figured out a few things as we made each batch.  (Oh, I failed to mention that we made 200 of these things — that’s 4 batches.)  First, we neither one thought it had enough raspberry flavor.  If I were doing it again, I would probably add 1 1/2 teaspoons of raspberry extract.  Second, we didn’t need to freeze the mixture before making the balls.  We used a melon ball scoop (sprayed with non-stick spray) to ensure consistent size, scooped them onto wax paper sprayed with non-stick spray, and then sprayed our hands with non-stick spray so we could roll them into balls.  We then placed the rolled balls in the freezer overnight to make sure they were completely frozen before dipping.

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Pops

Ingredients:

  • 2 (16 oz.) packages Vanilla CANDIQUIK® Coating
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 packet (3.4 oz.) Jell-O Lemon Instant pudding/pie filling
  • 1 tsp. Raspberry Extract

Directions:

1. Melt 1 package of Vanilla CANDIQUIK according to the package directions.

2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, blend melted CANDIQUIK with softened cream cheese, dry pudding mix, and raspberry extract until smooth.

3. Cover and place mixture in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until firm. These are very hard, it not impossible to roll if they are not super cold.

4. Remove mixture from freezer. On a baking sheet (dust with flour to ensure they don’t stick) roll mixture into 1” balls. Return the cheesecake balls to the freezer for an additional 45 minutes – 1 hour.

5. Melt Vanilla CANDIQUIK according to the package directions.

6. Remove a few cheesecake balls from the freezer at a time and insert a lollipop stick into the middle of each ball.  Holding the end of the stick, dip each pop into the CANDIQUIK, using a spoon to cover the ball completely in the coating. Allow excess coating to drip off and set on wax paper. Work quickly when dipping, as the coating will dry very fast due to the temperature of the cheesecake pops.  Sprinkle immediately (before coating dries) if desired. Or drizzle pink and/or yellow colored CandiQuik over your cheesecake pops.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

They were elegantly displayed at Cocoa Bella and received rave reviews.  Unfortunately, I failed to take a photo of them in their elegant state, so all I have is the messy work-in-progress photo.  Sorry……but you get the idea.

lemon raspberry cheesecake pop

Malted Crispy M&M Cookies

There’s a guy at our church that has been the usher for as long as we’ve been attending.  We see him every week, helping folks find a seat.  While we knew his face, we’d never spoken to him until a few months ago when we ran into him along with his granddaughter at Chick-fil-a.  His granddaughter recognized Gray, he recognized us too, and so we chatted.  Now when we see him ushering folks to a seat, we always wave and exchange a few kinds words.

About a month ago, an e-mail went out requesting meal sign ups for a family.  After Matt and I did some digging, we realized it was our usher friend’s wife.  It’s funny really.  We knew him.  We knew her.  We just didn’t realize they went together.   I tried to sign up to take a meal, but all the slots were already spoken for.  So I just showed up at church the following Sunday with food.  I figured if they didn’t need it right then, they could always put it in the freezer for a later date.

Two Sundays ago, I was asking about his wife.  He said while her treatment was going well, she’d been sick a lot, food didn’t really taste good, and she’d lost about 20 pounds.  When my mom was going through treatment for breast cancer, there was one thing that she could always eat — Chicken Barley Soup.  I told him I’d bring a batch the following Sunday.

I did.  I also included a loaf of my homemade bread, and a batch of these — Malted Crispy M&M Cookies.  My mom said sweets didn’t really taste good to her while she was undergoing treatment.  I told her the soup was for her, the bread for both of them, and the cookies were for him.  Cookies, even if for just a moment, always make you feel better.

Below is the recipe I used, courtesy of the polkadotchair.com.  Of course I made a few minor adjustments — I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour.  I’ve been doing this for a while now with all my cookie recipes.  I just produces a softer and more cake-like cookie.  I also used an entire bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and an entire bag (the large size) of Crispy M&M’s.  I like a little cookie with my chocolate.

Malted Crispy M&M Cookies

1 C Butter Flavor Shortening
1 1/4 C Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 C Malted Milk Powder
2 T Chocolate Syrup
1 t Vanilla
1 Egg
2 C Flour
1 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt
1 1/2 C Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 C M&M’s® Crispy – about 2 2.8 oz packages

Instructions

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the first 5 ingredients in order. Beat 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat well. In a bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Add this to the ingredients in the mixer.

Add the chocolate chips and mix until just combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the M&M’s® Crispy by hand.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet (or use a silicon liner or parchment paper). Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. DO NOT over bake. I recommend checking the cookies at 8 minutes.  They will be lightly golden brown around the edges.  Cool on wire rack.

Crispy Malted M&M Cookies

And of course, I had to test them out on my QC Engineer before passing them along.  He gave them a two thumbs up.

Crispy Malted M&M Cookies Gray Eating

Peanut Butter Haystacks

My Holiday Baking Extravaganza has come to a close — thankfully. I sent Matt off to Greensboro yesterday with this box and two other bags filled with treats.

cookie bags 2015

I cannot begin to tell you how many cookies, cake balls, and candies I made, but I can say that I sent 480 goodies with Matt.  That doesn’t include what all I made to take to gatherings and to give to family and friends.  I’m tired just thinking about it.  Now, I must admit that I started cutting corners toward the end by making things that were much easier and faster.  In fact, I used a box brownie mix to make some chocolate peanut butter chip cookies.  Shhh — please don’t tell anyone; I’ve got a reputation to uphold.

I tried a few new things this year, one of them being these Peanut Butter Haystacks.  Not only had I never made these before, I’d also never tasted one either.  I’m sure you can guess why  — right, no chocolate.  If it’s not chocolate, then I’m simply not interested.  Once my mom said to me, “You know, not everyone likes chocolate as much as you do.”  My response was, “Who.  Who are these people?”  So in honor of those people, I made something non-chocolate.

Peanut Butter Haystacks

  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts
  • 2 cups chow mein noodles

Melt butterscotch chips and peanut butter on top of a double boiler or in a microwave. Stir peanuts and noodles gently into the melted peanut butter mixture. Drop dough by forkfuls onto waxed paper. Allow to set.

peanut butter haystacks

Super quick and easy, and they are pretty tasty too — even though they aren’t chocolate.

Cookie Dough Truffles and Brownie Bites

The Holiday Baking Extravaganza continues.  Each weekend I make two things to include in Matt’s treat bags — and most recently it was Cookie Dough Truffles and Brownie Bites.  Both are really easy and come together quickly, moving me ever closer to being able to fill 50+ bags for Matt’s employees.

One note on the directions — both include Crisco in the list of ingredients.  I don’t always use it; it completely depends on the consistency of the chocolate.  Sometimes after you dip one, you can tell that the chocolate is too thick.  If that is the case, just melt 1-2 tablespoons of Crisco and carefully stir it in the melted chocolate.  But it is completely a feel thing.  Sorry I can’t be more specific than that.

Cookie Dough Truffles

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

1 1/2 pounds chocolate bark (I used green candy melts to make them look more festive)
Crisco

In a large bowl cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in flour and add milk. Add chocolate chips, mixing well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on waxed paper; chill 2 hours.  Melt the chocolate bark in the microwave on 50% power in 1 minute increments, stirring after each, until melted.  Dip the truffles and place them on wax paper to set.

After they set, I drizzled them with white chocolate and topped them with sprinkles.  It’s Christmas, so sprinkles must be used on a few things.  I’m sure it’s a written rule — somewhere.

Brownie Bites

2 boxes of your favorite brownie mix plus the ingredients to make them
1 tub of your favorite chocolate frosting
Candy melts or chocolate chips for dipping
Crisco

Prepare the brownies according to the directions on the box and let cool.  Remove cooled brownies from the pan and trim off the edges. Crumble the remainder of the baked brownies into a large bowl.  Mix in approximately 1/2 can of the frosting.  Use a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop to scoop brownies in to balls. Use your hands to smooth out the balls and place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.  Freeze at least 2 hours.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave 50% power in 1 minute increments, stirring after each, until melted.  Dip the brownie bites and place them on wax paper to set.

After they set, I drizzled melted chocolate over the top to give them a more finished look.

 

A word of caution on the Brownie Bites — don’t eat the first one.  If you do, then you’re done for.

cookie dough truffles and brownie balls

Almond Joy Truffles

I’ve already started my holiday baking extravaganza.  That’s because Matt again wants to give away goodie bags to every single one of his employees.  Fifty+ employees times eight items equals lots of time in the kitchen for me.  Not that I don’t love making treats — I do.  But I feel the time constraints of needing to have these things finished by the beginning of December.

Of course, I cannot stick with all old favorites.  That would be boring.  I’ve got to mix in a few new things.  First, I made Oreo truffles.  I shared that recipe months ago, but this time I added 4 tablespoons of peanut butter to the mixture.  Excellent addition!  I also made, for the first time, Almond Joy Truffles.  I always make one coconut-related thing for Christmas because not only is it one Matt’s favorites, it is also a favorite for my Uncle Bill.  These might become an every year must have; Matt said they were terrific.

Almond Joy Truffles

  • 5 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces silvered almonds
  • 16 ounces milk chocolate
  • Spoonful of Crisco
  • White chocolate thinned with Crisco for drizzle

In a large bowl, combine coconut, powdered sugar, condensed milk, vanilla, salt, and almonds. Mix thoroughly.  Shape coconut mixture into 1-inch balls.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until firm.  Melt the chocolate and Crisco in the microwave on 50% power in 1 minute increments, stirring after each, until melted.  Dip the coconut balls into the melted chocolate and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet to set. Drizzle with white chocolate, if desired.

almond joy truffles