9/23/14

0 Kitchen Tip: Soften Brown Sugar in a HURRY!



I live in a dessert.  Occasionally, I will have rock hard sugar, but I love using a Brown Sugar Bear keeper to keep my brown sugar soft.  

However, the brown sugar you see above is DARK brown sugar, and I only use it occasionally for when certain recipes call for it.  When I dumped it out of the bag, it came out in four large chunks.

Thunk.  Thunk.  Thunk. Thunk.

Now, I can either put a piece of apple or a slice of bread in this container with the brown sugar and let it soften the brown sugar over a couple of days, but what if I need the brown sugar NOW?

If you have a wet paper towel, and a microwave, you can soften these large chunks of brown sugar in minutes...not hours.


Cover with a lid and microwave for 20 seconds.  Give it a stir. If you can.

This photo is after about 3- 20 second bursts.  You can see that some of the brown sugar is melting. Not to worry, stir it back in and reduce the microwave bursts to 15 seconds.


This is after about 5 or so total bursts in the microwave.  It is now soft and crumbly, ready to use in my recipe!



Happy Baking!


9/17/14

0 15 Minute "Baked" Chocolate Cheesecake


This cheesecake was "baked" in  15 minutes.

Yes.

Really.

The first cheesecake I ever made took over an hour in the oven and it was runny inside. Cut it open and its "guts" just spilled over the plate. I felt like a failure.

Then I discovered what a "water bath" is in cheesecake making circles when making a Sugar Free NY style cheesecake and noticed the huge difference it makes when making White Chocolate Mini cheesecakes.

After reading that Barbara from Barbara Bakes made a Meyer Lemon Cheesecake and Debby from A Feast for the Eyes made a Biscoff Cheesecake in the PRESSURE COOKER, I decided to test the pressure cooking waters so to speak, using my Cuisinart pressure cooker. I love that this bakes in 15 minutes and does not heat up the house in the summer!

Biscoff Caramel Cheesecake


It helps that this is a small 7" cheesecake. Calorie/portion wise and that it fits in my Cuisinart pressure cooker.  You can find this 7" Springform Pan on Amazon or in some kitchen specialty shops. 


Butter the springform pan, put a piece of parchment paper on it, butter it again, and press the graham cracker crust mixture into the pan. It helps to use a cup or measuring cup with straight sides.


All the filling ingredients are easily mixed in my Cuisinart Prep 7 cup food processor.  I got this processor for a steal (more than 50% off) on Amazon's Black Friday special, so look for it!


2 cups of water are put into the pressure cooker, creating the "water bath" that cheesecakes love.  You will need to create a foil "sling" to be able to lower/raise the cheesecake from the cooker.


The cheesecake "bakes" for 15 minutes on HIGH pressure, with a Natural release for about 10 minutes. The cheesecake will be puffy, almost like a souffle.  Let it cool on a wire rack, then transfer to the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

*if there is a little bit of condensation on top of your cheesecake, blot it lightly with a paper towel.


This is a cheesecake that will easily serve 8 (or more) people.


What you will find with this recipe is a creamy, moist cheesecake that has an intense chocolate flavor. This recipe uses semi-sweet chocolate, so next time, I may try milk chocolate.

A dollop of whip cream will help balance the intensity of the chocolate flavor....


Thanks to Barbara and Debby for inspiring me to make my own cheesecake in the pressure cooker!

Print Friendly and PDF 
PRESSURE COOKER CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
Adapted from NorPro
Ingredients
10 whole graham crackers 5 oz, or 1 cup 
3 T. sugar
3 T. melted butter
1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
½ c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate or milk chocolate, for a milder taste, melted
(put in oven safe dish for 1 min, stir, then 30 sec thereafter till melted)

2c. water for PC

Instructions
Brush pan with melted butter, line with circle of parchment paper, butter again. 
Mix graham crackers with 3 T. sugar, then add melted butter till moistened.
Press evenly into buttered springform pan, on the bottom and up partway the sides.
Chill until firm, 30 min.
Beat cream cheese till smooth, stir in eggs one at a time and stir in melted chocolate.
Pour filling into crust.
Put 2 cups water in PC. Place trivet and with foil sling, place cheesecake inside.
PC High for 15 minutes, turn off heat, wait 7-10 minutes, Quick release steam, remove pan onto wire rack to cool, for one hour. 
Blot any moisture from top of cheesecake, if necessary. Remove the springform ring.

Put in fridge, covered for 4 hrs or overnight.

*If a 6"x3" cheesecake pan is used, increase the cook time by adding 10 minutes. 

9/10/14

0 Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies


I searched high and low and all over the Internet for a chocolate sugar cookie.  What I found was Lia Lola's Chocolate Sugar cookie recipe.


One of my readers suggested that I make this cookie, saying it tastes "like a brownie."   Here is a frosted Lia Lola chocolate sugar cookie next to my soft vanilla sugar cookie.  See the difference? It is about half the size in height.


Her cookie has crisp edges (great for intricate shapes) and a soft, dense interior, much like a brownie. The taste?  Spot on for a chocolate sugar cookie; not to cocoa-y.

However, I wanted the texture of my soft vanilla sugar cookie and made up another test batch, using my vanilla recipe and subbing some of the flour for Hershey's Cocoa.  Now, that's more like it!


The flavor of this cookie is not overly sweet, as the buttercream frosting is plenty sweet.  I frosted a bunch of these fall leaves and gave them to my friends and neighbors for tasting.  The acorn and one of the leaves is a chocolate cookie. The rest are vanilla.


The verdict?

Overwhelmingly, many of the tasters loved the chocolate cookie with vanilla buttercream frosting. The rest loved the serious chocolatey taste of the chocolate frosted chocolate sugar cookies.

So, give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies
(4x6 recipe card download)  (Full page printable recipe)

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