Friday, September 23, 2011

Biscoff Cookie Cheesecake Squares

I love the internet. I mean, I can't even tell you the percentage of my recipes that are products of late nights on the internet. We all have our guilty pleasures, and one of mine is staying up late searching out the perfect recipe. Maybe it's online... maybe it's in a magazine... maybe it's in my head. Ok, it's never in my head because I'm dependent on instructions. Anyway, I found these cheesecakes at Tasty Kitchen over a year ago, and I knew I'd eventually get around to trying them. Eventually came when my friends Nathan and Julie invited me to watch football at their place. I used them for their big screen to watch Alabama beat Penn State, and they used me for cheesecake. Everyone came out a winner. Oh, and Roll Tide!

How about an opinion on the actual recipe? Well, have you seen the picture? Do I really need to say more? These are awesome, and they're pretty simple to put together. They're very rich, so you don't need to cut them in large bars. A 9 x 13 pan makes a lot of small bars, so plan on taking them to more than one event. Otherwise, you'll do what I did and end up with tons of them in your fridge begging to be eaten. That, my friend, is a problem.

Biscoff Cookie Cheesecake Squares

1-½ cup Crushed Biscoff Cookies (about 27 Cookies)*
3 Tablespoons Packed Brown Sugar
6 Tablespoons Melted Butter

1 cup Sugar
3 packages Cream Cheese (8 Oz Size)
2 Tablespoons Flour
3 whole Eggs
8 ounces, weight Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon Vanilla

Chocolate Ganache:
8 ounces, fluid Heavy Whipping Cream
¼ cups Butter
8 ounces, weight Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
¼ cups Confectioner's Sugar

In case you don't read through things before getting started, let me tell you at the beginning: These bars must refrigerate overnight.

Mix cookies and sugar together. Add butter and stir until combined.
Press mixture into a 13 X 9 pan.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream the sugar, cream cheese, and flour with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. On medium-low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until just combined.

Pour on prepared crust and bake for about 45 minutes.
Remove and cool. Prepare ganache.

Heat cream and butter on stove until just before boiling. Remove from stove and pour the mixture over the top of the chocolate. Stir until completely combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat with a wire whisk until combined and smooth. Pour over cooled cheesecake.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Cut into bars and serve.
Makes about 30-50 bars, depending on size.

Recipes can sometimes seem intimidating until you stop, think about what you're doing, and dive in. Case in point: Biscoff cookies. Some people will look at this recipe and immediately decide to skip it because it doesn't call for graham cracker crumbs. You know why it calls for these particular cookies? Because they're amazing, and their crumbs combined with brown sugar and butter will change your life, especially when you add cheesecake and chocolate ganache on top. That's right... don't skip this recipe. Here's the rundown of what I'm using: 1-Cup Prep Bowls, 2-Cup Prep Bowls, Pinch Bowls, Measuring Spoon Set, Adjustable Measuring Spoon, Measuring Cup Set, Small Batter Bowl, Measure-All Cup, Manual Food Processor, Double-Strength Madagascar Vanilla, and a Cutting Board. Yes, I feel like I'm on the Food Network, but that's just a perk of being a Pampered Chef consultant.

I chopped the cookies in the Manual Food Processor, which was easy, easy, easy. After throwing them in a Stainless Mixing Bowl with brown sugar and butter, mixing them with the Mini Mix 'n Scraper, the best crust recipe ever is born. Want a great tip on melting the butter? The Glass Prep Bowls go in the oven, so just let it melt while you get out the rest of the ingredients. It'll be ready by the time you have your cookies chopped. The crust goes in the Rectangular Baker, and this is where things get kind of crazy. (The good kind of crazy.)

It's time for me to introduce you to my sexy Sunbeam Mixmaster. That's right... a stand mixer from the 1950s. My grandmother received this as a Christmas gift from the church my granddaddy pastored, and she used it for years. When the ceramic bowls got too heavy for her to use, she gave it to my mom. Now it's in my kitchen, and it's still rocking things out at twelve different speeds. You'll see more of this in posts to come... trust me. See the Measure-All Cup full of sour cream? This thing is indispensable when it comes to measuring all that gross, sticky stuff you don't want to touch. It also prevents you from wasting about a teaspoon every time you add an ingredient because nothing will be stuck to the walls of a measuring cup.

As the cheesecake layer rests to cool on a Stackable Cooling Rack, I'll get started on the chocolate ganache. I know, as if fab cheesecakes with a Biscoff crust aren't enough... Ok, so chocolate chips are in a Stainless Mixing Bowl, powdered sugar is in a Measuring Cup, and cream is in an Easy Read Measuring Cup. The Cutting Board is keeping my work surface clean, and the 1.5-Qt. Saucepan from the Executive Cookware Collection is ready to do this thing. The Skinny Scraper is perfect for cooking in this pan because it won't melt, and it's easy to get around the corners. It's also perfect for spreading the ganache over the cheesecake layer.

Let's just be quiet for a minute while taking this in.

Ok, I'm ready to keep talking. Note: These must refrigerate overnight. There's no getting around that rule with cheesecake, at least not if you want it to be the best it can be. I'm using the Mini-Serving Spatula to get these out of the Rectangular Baker, and I'm learning really quickly to get that beveled edge under the crust. See where I ripped a couple up when I first started dipping? It's kind of obvious, so I might as well admit it.

These cheesecakes are good. I mean, they're really good. The recipe is straightforward, the presentation is beautiful, and the taste is out of this world. Football, friends, and cheesecake... does it get any better?

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Goat cheese is always the right decision. This is the best bruschetta I've ever had, and that's a big deal when you consider that I'm kind of a bruschetta connoisseur. The key behind this recipe is my obsession with food. Since seeing the movie Julie & Julia, I've thought off and on about the bruschetta Julie makes her husband... the way it's grilling in a pan... the way it looks on the table... the fact that her husband is absolutely smitten by his wife's abilities in the kitchen. So for the last couple of years I've considered bruschetta and how to do it like Julie. I searched high and low, finally stalking the food stylist from the movie (that's difficult to admit), but I never found the actual recipe. Instead, I've created my own version using a couple of different recipes along with the movie's fried bread as inspiration. My friend Ashleigh came to cook with me, and she and I agreed that this is pretty much the most amazing food one can ever eat. Roasted tomato mixture + goat cheese + fried bread. Can it get any better?

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3-4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup goat cheese
8 slices French baguette

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, 1 tbsp. olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. Roast in oven 20 minutes.

While tomato mixture cooks, heat 2-3 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet. Fry bread in oil, browning on each side. Add more oil if necessary.

Spread goat cheese on each bread slice, and top with tomato mixture.

Prepare to swoon.

Fresh tomatoes are vital for this recipe. You'll see what I'm talking about when you pull them out of the oven. I'm draining these in a Stainless Mesh Colander and using the 4 1/2" Serrated Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection to slice them. After throwing them in a Measuring Cup, I'm ready to prepare my other ingredients.

The Dripless Oil Bottle is new this month, and it's legit. I mean, this thing really won't drip oil at all! There's a Vinegar Bottle, too! My oil's in an Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup, and basil and tomatoes are in Measuring Cups. My salt and pepper are in a Pinch Bowl, and I've got garlic ready to go with the Garlic Press. Have you ever used the Pampered Chef Garlic Press? If you're peeling garlic every time you want to add it to a recipe, you're missing out. No more peeling garlic when you use this thing! Moving on... Everything is on the Large Grooved Cutting Board, and it's over my sink to save valuable counter space.

Do I look like a woman on a mission? A mission to get brushetta in my face, perhaps? The mixture is in a Small Batter Bowl, and it's about to roast to perfection on the Medium Bar Pan.

Now the real magic begins. I promise frying the bread takes this recipe to the next level. It also allows a little bit of protection to keep the soggy factor down. When serving appetizers, it's a big deal to have a few recipes that can stand to sit out a bit before getting gross. These slices are in the 10" Executive Skillet from the Executive Cookware Collection, and I'm using the Chef's Tongs to turn them.

Spread goat cheese on the bread, pile on the tomatoes, and watch out. Eat with friends because it's the only way to exercise self control. You've been warned.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Herbed Couscous

I'm the worst side dish poster ever, but it's because I enjoy desserts too much. Weird, but I enjoy eating sides but preparing desserts. Anyway, we all need side dish recipes to avoid ruts, so here's a super simple couscous that compliments many meat dishes, especially Moroccan-Spiced Chicken. This is easy to prepare, and the flavors are subtle enough to avoid overpowering the main course. Plus, it's couscous... and couscous is sexy. Big thanks to Cooking Light for this and the other hundreds of recipes I get from you! Best magazine subscription ever!

Herbed Couscous

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat.
Add onion; saute 2 minutes or until tender.
Stir in couscous; saute 1 minute.
Add broth and salt; bring to a boil.
Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Stir in parsley and thyme.

Yield 4 (3/4-cup) servings

I have to be honest. The original recipe called for shallots, but I needed to use this red onion. Here you see my onion sliced with a 5" Santoku Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection along with the couscous in a Measuring Cup. These ingredients are on the Cutting Board. Quick note on onions and crying: Did you know a lot of your tears are due to dull knives? Using a sharp knife reduces the release of the stuff that makes you cry. Scientific, I know.

The Herb Keeper is no joke. I was skeptical when I saw it, but this really does keep herbs fresh for a long time. Plus, you don't have to fight a plastic bag to get a tbsp. of parsley. I'm using the 4-Qt. Covered Casserole from the Executive Cookware Collection, but you can use something smaller if you'd like. This is just my favorite pot, so it gets tons of use. Now it's even remodeled with fab silicone handles!

As always, get everything measured ahead of time. This is especially important for a quick-moving recipe like this one. Oil is in the Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup, and broth is in a 1-Cup Easy Read Measuring Cup. Salt and thyme are in Measuring Spoons. Is that fresh thyme? No, but it still worked well in this recipe. Just be sure you look for the dry equivalents when subbing dry herbs for fresh. Otherwise you'll ruin a lot of food.

Ok, so make the easiest couscous ever, and tell me if you like it! If you're really awesome, add a few grape tomatoes and feta. That combination makes everything better. Seriously.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Traditional Whoopie Pies

I debated whether to post this recipe today since I just posted Dark German Chocolate Whoopie Pies, but then I decided that made this more appropriate than ever. Since you've got whoopie pies on the brain already, let's make a smooth transition to the real deal. Yes, I'm calling it like I'm seeing it. While there are tons of fabulous new whoopie pie recipes with all kinds of fun fillings, they will never be the original. So here I bring you the traditional pie that inspired the current fad.

Where did I get this recipe? Well, this is one of the many reasons I love my job. I was at a show last week when I began talking about whoopie pies. Rosemary, one of the guests, told me she's from Pennsylvania, and she has a Mennonite heritage. Long story short, she gave me her whoopie pie recipe! Put "whoopie pie recipe" in your search engine, and you'll come up with half a million results. Enjoy searching through those to find anything like this, something which actually came from Pennsylvania. My guess is that most whoopie pie recipes are pretty good, but I have a certain sense of satisfaction knowing I now have one which is truly an original. So thanks, Rosemary! And you were right - These are great!

(Displayed in the Mini Baker from the Stoneware Collection)

Traditional Whoopie Pies

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (1 cup milk + 1 tbsp. vinegar)
1 cup hot water, scant
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cocoa
4 cups flour

2 egg whites, beaten
1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla
4 tbsp. milk
4 tbsp. flour
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 cups shortening

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For pies, cream shortening and sugar; add eggs, and beat well. Add sour milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift flour and cocoa. Mix well into egg mixture.
Combine soda with hot water, and add last.
Drop on prepared sheet, and bake 8 minutes.

For filling, beat egg whites, and set aside. Combine other ingredients, folding in beaten egg whites last.

When cookies are cooled, sandwich filling between two cookies.

Let me start by saying my best friend Elizabeth and I made these on Labor Day. In case you haven't heard, Labor Day in Alabama consisted of tropical storms. Our plan was to skip the lake (like that was even a possibility with a monsoon outside), eat ribs, watch movies, and bake whoopie pies. The day was a complete success, and I've got these pictures to prove it! Baking at Elizabeth's house is great because she's got a ton of Pampered Chef products. I'm using a Small Mix 'n Scraper for the cocoa, and I've got an Adjustable Measuring Spoon, a Classic Batter Bowl, a Measure-All Cup, and Easy Read Measuring Cup, and a couple of 1-Cup Prep Bowls out. The Large Scoop is out to dip the cookies, but that was a bad life choice. The finished products in the above picture are done with the Medium Scoop.

Can you tell I just got rained all over? That's what happens when you grocery shop in a tropical storm. Fortunately, friends loan friends dry shirts... and White Lily aprons. When a recipe tells you to sift ingredients, don't skip the step. No one is above the law when it comes to baking. Can you still get good results? Yes. Should you settle for good when you can sift your way to great? No. Here's one reason I love the Small Mix 'n Scraper. With its rounded head, it acts as a spoon for jobs like this. The sifter you see has been in my family for generations... very appropriate for such a recipe.

This is Elizabeth, and she's on filling duty. You can't tell by her expressive face, but she and I are both struggling to finish everything before the power decides to go out. What looks carefree is actually quite rushed, which is why there are so few pictures of this recipe.

"Get them in the oven before the power goes off!!!!" I'm using the Cookie Sheet and Parchment Paper to hold the world's largest whoopie pies. You should have seen this batch after they came out of the oven. Saucers, people... the pies were the size of saucers. I know that sounds great, but it's really not when you want to fill them with cream. It's more like a huge mess. Live and learn!

Wait - aren't there more pictures of, well, anything? No. The storm outside, the flashing electricity, the complete rib overload... So sorry, but each of these things factored into the decision to skip the pictures. The good news is that we got most of the batter baked before losing power, and then we enjoyed fabulous whoopie pies! You can enjoy them, too.

Thanks again to Rosemary, a great show guest, for sharing this family recipe and allowing me to pass it on to everyone else! I truly appreciate your generosity.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dark German Chocolate Whoopie Pies

I do love a whoopie pie! Take two cakey cookies, sandwich amazing filling between them, and say it's a single serving? Yes, please! The new Chocolate Cookbook was just released this month, and all I can say is wow. I mean, there are some truly delectable desserts in this thing, and I'm looking forward to trying them all! With so many options, why did I choose Dark German Chocolate Whoopie Pies first? Put simply, I had most of the ingredients in my pantry. Call me uninspired, but that's how I figure out what's at the top of my "stuff to try" list.

I took these to my friends Christopher and Elizabeth, and they wholeheartedly approved. Not only were these delicious, but they made for a beautiful presentation. Definitely worthy of gifting for others! The recipe makes 32 pies - seriously - so make them with several people in mind, and feel free to indulge yourself.

Dark German Chocolate Whoopie Pies

2 cups flour
5 tbsp. dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup milk

1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup butter, cut in pieces
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
2 cups pecan halves, toasted and finely chopped

1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line pans with parchment paper.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda.
In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed of electric mixer until well blended. On low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk in two additions. Mix well.

Using level Small Scoop, scoop batter onto prepared pans 2 inches apart. Bake 7-9 minutes or until cookies spring back when lightly pressed. Slide parchment and cookies onto cooling racks.

For filling, combine sugar and salt in saucepan. Gradually whisk in evaporated milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Add butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8-10 minutes or until temperature reaches 160 degrees. Pour into bowl, and add coconut and pecans. Mix well, and refrigerate 1 hour or until cool. Meanwhile, prepare ganache.

For ganache, melt chocolate and cream together over low heat. Cool about 15 minutes or until spreadable.

To assemble, turn cookies bottom side up. Using slightly scant Medium Scoop, scoop filling onto one half, pressing down slightly so filling spreads almost to edge. Spoon 1 tsp. ganache on remaining half of cookies, and place one filled cookie on top of ganache, pressing slightly. Garnish with extra ganache, coconut and pecans, if desired.

Yield 32 whoopie pies

I don't think the flavor would have been nearly the same with a regular cocoa blend, so grab some Hershey's Special Dark, and go to it! (By the way, Hershey's didn't pay or even give me this $3.00 can of cocoa powder for mentioning it. I just like to say Hershey's. Hershey's, Hershey's, Hershey's.) With all the Hershey's talk, it's easy to become distracted from the killer prep work in the background, but here's the rundown: 1-cup Prep Bowl, Measuring Spoon Set, Adjustable Measuring Spoons, Measuring Cup Set, Stainless Mixing Bowl, and Large Cutting Board. I can't stress enough how vital it is to measure everything ahead of time. This recipe takes a while to prepare (fair warning), and it'd be a shame to mess it up because you accidentally doubled the baking soda. I know that seems silly, but things are easily confused once you become distracted by a phone ringing, a child calling, or a Hershey's ad coming on the television. Hershey's.

There is some major egg yolkage going on in this recipe! I mean, I hope you've got a beautiful meringue on your mind because Dark German Chocolate Whoopie Pies are about to leave you with four whites. Here you can see that I'm separating my eggs using the Egg Separator, and I'm doing it over a 2-Cup Prep Bowl. Then I take the yolk, dump it in a 1-Cup Prep Bowl, and get ready for the next egg. I know you're wondering why my larger bowl is full of yellow. Well... because I sometimes make mistakes. I cracked my first egg really hard and stabbed the yolk with the shell. Then I was too lazy to throw it out for the picture. These "whites" will not become a beautiful meringue.

A couple of things here. First of all, I love that the Measuring Spoon Set comes with a 1/2 tbsp. spoon. How great is that? No more 1 1/2 tsp. measurements - just straight for the 1/2 tbsp. from here on out. Second of all, this is the best vanilla you'll ever use in your life, guaranteed. Because the Pampered Pantry's Double-Strength Vanilla goes twice as far as standard brands, you get a huge bang for your buck!

Cookie Sheets are lined with Parchment Paper (which can be used multiple times), and the batter is in a Stainless Mixing Bowl. Dear Small Scoop: Thanks for owning it on all 64 stinking chocolate cookies! I couldn't have remained sane without you.

If you think sweetened coconut is good, try toasting it. Addictive, people! The Medium Bar Pan is good for two cups, but I think I'll spread it in the Large Bar Pan next time for a thinner layer. Coconut is in an Easy-Read Measuring Cup, by the way.

My filling ingredients are ready to go, so now the fun can really begin. Don't you love when your prep area is dominated by a ton of butter? I do. My egg yolks and vanilla are in a 1-Cup Prep Bowl, and I've got evaporated milk in an Easy-Read Measuring Cup. Then sugar in a Measuring Cup along with salt in a Measuring Spoon.

My mixture is in the 3-Qt. Saucepan from the Executive Cookware Collection, and the Silicone Sauce Whisk protects the pan's coating as I "stir constantly 8-10 minutes or until mixture reaches 160 degrees." Speaking of 160 degrees, check out the new Candy Thermometer! This is one thing I was really eager to add to the product line, so I was thrilled to see it introduced! It's got a silicone clip to keep from scratching non-stick pans, and there are other great features I'll let you see for yourself.

The Manual Food Processor makes quick work of chopping the pecans, and they're ready to go in the Stainless Mixing Bowl full of filling. Warning: This filling is absolutely addictive. If you don't watch yourself, you'll eat half the bowl and end up with a mere 16 whoopie pies. Don't do that.

So I know it looks pretty to have this big pile of cookies on the Dots Dinner Plate, but I'm suggesting you avoid piling these on top of one another. They stick and create craters in the unfortunates underneath. This was my first time with this recipe, so I didn't know any better. Regrets!!!

Get all your ingredients together, and get ready to fill whoopie pies! Cookies are on a Dots Dinner Plate, filling is in a Stainless Mixing Bowl with the Medium Scoop, and ganache is in a 2-Cup Prep Bowl. Garnishes are in a 1-Cup Prep Bowl and Pinch Bowl on top of a Cooling Rack.

Settle in, and let assembly begin. These are beautiful, but they taste even better than they look. Make yourself a whoopie pie, and throw one together for each of your thirty-one closest friends while you're at it!

Like the products you saw used?
Shop Online 24/7 at
E-mail me: chefjennylyn[at]
Call me up: (205) 585-2464