Pumpkin Cheesecake and Tiramisu

Posted by on Dec 7, 2010 in Recipe | 4 comments

While the entrée may be dubbed the star of the meal, we all know in our heart of hearts that dessert is what we’re secretly waiting for. Not only is a sweet treat looked forward to by many, but it also makes a nice excuse to gather round with a cup of hot coffee/tea in hand to help settle the meal with some pleasant chatter. Also, let’s keep in mind that dessert is the last impression guests leave with! So let’s make it special. Here are two simple recipes that are quick enough to make that you should be able to easily squeeze it in your busy schedule and whip it up without a problem. Pumpkin Cheesecake Ingredients: For the crust – 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs 3 tbsp brown sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 stick melted butter For the filling – 3 (8 0z) packages cream cheese 1 (15 oz) can pureed pumpkin 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk 1/4 cup sour cream 1 1/2 cup sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg 2 tbsp all purpose flour 1 tsp vanilla extract Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For the crust: Combine the crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the melted butter and mix evenly so that all of the crumbs are moist and coated. Press down firmly into a 9-inch springform pan. I use the bottom of a measuring cup and spread out so that the crust climbs up the sides of the pan as well. For the filling: Beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs and egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and spices. Mix well, then add the flour and vanilla. Make sure everything is incorporated evenly before pouring the batter into the crust. Spread out evenly and bake for 1 hour. Let cool for a few minutes before sliding a knife around the edge of the crust to separate it from the pan. This keeps the pie from staying nicely shaped while cooling, otherwise it may end up breaking as it cools. Cover in plastic wrap and cool for at least 4 hours before serving.   Tiramisu Ingredients: 6 egg yolks 3 tbsp sugar 1 lb mascarpone cheese 1 1/2 cup strong espresso (cooled) 2 tsp dark rum 24 packaged ladyfingers unsweetened cocoa, ground cinnamon, fruit (optional) Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until it’s thick and pale. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix until smooth. Add 1 tbsp of espresso and combine thoroughly. Add the remaining espresso in a separate dish with the rum. Dip each lady finger into the espresso on both sides. You’ll want to dip and turn quickly since the ladyfingers will get soggy and start falling apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of your preferred serving dish and start layering the bottom of the dish. Feel free to break them in half if needed. Spread an even layer of the mascarpone mixture over the lady fingers before adding yet another layer of ladyfingers on top. Repeat as many times as you’d like (or are able to). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (lasts up to 8 hours). Before serving, powder the top with unsweetened cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, and decorate with your preferred fruit. Enjoy~! ~ AJ ~ Photographs taken and provided by AnnMarie...

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From fail to WIN

Posted by on Sep 14, 2010 in Recipe | 5 comments

So, as a few of you may know, I attempted to make brownies on Sunday (9/12/10) following a new recipe that I had [of course] tweaked. Let me just say that I rarely watch television, and when I do it’s usually FoodNetwork that’s playing…and I love Barefoot Contessa and her recipes. Ina Garten’s recipes have never failed me thus far – till now that is. After being requested to make brownies, I hopped on trusty ol’ FoodNetwork.com and searched for a recipe that called out to me. Ina’s Peanut Swirl Brownies seemed perfect. Not too sweet, but still fudgey enough to satisfy a sweet tooth and a serious brownie craving. The result? Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Crumbling Tower of Chocolate. Upon taking it out of the oven, it looked perfect. Once I tried to run a knife through it, my confidence was starting to falter. These were definitely not like any other brownies I’ve made before. Crumbling and falling apart, I was eating it out of a bowl instead of eating it on the go. Despite its inability to stay in one piece for more than a minute, it was still moist and dense in the places with peanut butter swirls. Truthfully, it didn’t taste half bad, but a brownie that was actually a crumbling piece of chocolate was a failure in my book. So here’s where I confess my faults. I’ve never had too much trouble with new recipes before, my own ‘inventions’ and ‘concoctions’ are usually pretty tasty [though perhaps not plated to be aesthetically pleasing], and how could I mess up making such a simple recipe like brownies?! It was mind-boggling. And so I whined and sulked and pouted and complained about my “brownie depression” to everyone who cared (and didn’t care) to listen. Eventually, a good friend of mine gave me the best idea. Why not make a trifle? Carissa, did I ever tell you that you’re a brilliant genius? Encouraged and determined to redeem my baking/cooking skills, I managed to transform my fail brownies into a giant bowl of trifle that impressed even me. So? What do you think? Pretty nice, eh? Okay, so it may not be that pretty but I tried my best. Anyway, now that I’m done telling my tale I shall let you readers do the judging for yourself with the following two recipes… I still don’t know if the ‘brownies’ came out the way they were due to my fiddling with the recipe or due to my oven not cooking evenly. Either way, here’s my version of the recipe. Peanut Swirl Brownies Ingredients: 4 sticks unsalted butter 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels 8 oz unsweetened chocolate 6 extra large eggs 3 tbsp instant coffee granules 3 tbsp vanilla extract 2 cups sugar 2 cups flour 1 cup chunky peanut butter 1/2 cup chopped pecans Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a double boiler (or a makeshift one as I did), melt the butter and chocolate over simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water or else the chocolate may burn. In a large bowl, mix the coffee, vanilla, sugar, flour, and nuts (nuts don’t have to be pecans, whatever you prefer is fine). Mix in eggs one at a time. Once the chocolate mixture is all melted, pour it into the batter and mix well. Grease your baking sheet/pan with a light layer of butter. After pouring the chocolate batter into the baking pan, use two spoons to evenly place dollops of peanut butter on top of...

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Only Seventeen

Posted by on Sep 6, 2010 in Miscellaneous, Recipe | 17 comments

To most of you out there, today’s Labor Day – the holiday that occurs every year on the first Monday of September. However, to the Hwang family September 6th holds another meaning as well. While it may not always occur on a Monday, it usually happens close enough. Today, my baby sister turns seventeen. =] For those of you who attended the birthday bbq yesterday, you already know this. For those of you who couldn’t make it… Happy Birthday Jasmine~! Holidays are meant to be celebrated grandly, and birthdays are no exception. This means pulling out the nifty little trinkets to fancy things up a bit. For breakfast, I attempted to beautify boring old waffles and pancakes with molds…and completely failed with the eggs. With the help of a few purchases that I obtained in Taiwan, I was able to mutilate transform pancakes into unnatural star and heart shapes. The recipe for the batter? I’ll admit it, I cheated and used Aunt Jemima’s instant mix – with an added splash of cinnamon and nutmeg. But hey, Aunt Jemima knows her stuff when it comes to pancakes and waffles! As for the misshapen eggs? I was trying to squish them into star shapes but it turns out that either: the mold I was using was too big or the eggs were too small because the closest thing I got to a star were really round flowers. Yea… Now that I’m done stating my failures, let’s move on to the actual stars that appeared after brunch! Being a tea fanatic (just a little) I had the idea of making cake with tea. I was sure I’d stumbled across sweets like that before but couldn’t remember where and so I turned to Food Network and was rewarded with Tea Cakes with Earl Grey Icing. Mmm, sounds like a winner already. Now to put it to the test. As with all recipes, I tweaked it a bit and since I wasn’t making cupcakes but actual cakes the baking time was quite different as well. The end result? Take a look for yourself and then tell me if you want the recipe or not. ;) Looking good ain’t it? I think so too. So, without further ado, here’s S.S.Munchies’ first recipe from yours truly. Chocolate Cake with Earl Grey Icing Ingredients For the Cupcakes:   3/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces 1 cup sugar 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 4 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract For the Icing: 1 cup sugar 4 egg whites 2 bags Earl Grey tea First thing’s first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Boil some water in a pot and then let it simmer. Mix the chocolate and butter in a glass or ceramic bowl (metal works too but it’ll get hot) and place the bowl over the pot. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the surface of the water! This works as a makeshift double-boiler and the chocolate and butter will melt slowly and evenly. Mix the sugar and flour in a separate bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and soon you should have a creamy batter. Vanilla extract comes last (and I always like adding a little bit extra). Pour the chocolate concoction in and make sure to mix well…and your cake batter is done! I used little individual cake molds but it’s really the same no matter what you decide to bake in. Keep in mind that you should always only fill the pan 3/4 full as it will rise while baking. If you’re not...

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