No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

My husband is not a huge sweets fan, but for a special occasion, he will indulge a little bit. He does like chocolate and peanut butter, so I made this cheesecake for his birthday this year. Since his birthday is in August and it is super-hot in August, I’ve been avoiding using my oven as much as possible. This dessert is perfect for that because you don’t need to use an oven at all.

1 16 oz package of peanut butter sandwich cookies

1 stick of butter, melted

3 8 oz blocks of cream cheese, room temp

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Splash of lemon juice

½ cup peanut butter, melted

8 oz chocolate chips, melted

peanut butter chips and chocolate syrup for garnish

In a food processor, crush the peanut butter cookies until they are turned into crumbs. With the processor still on, drizzle in the melted butter until all is combined and looks like wet sand.

Press into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan and put in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to set.

Wash out the food processor and add the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Process until smooth.

Divide the batter into thirds. Mix the melted chocolate into one third, mix the melted peanut butter into another third, and leave the last third plain.

Take the crust out of the fridge and start layering the filling. I just did a big scoop of each filling on top of the other over and over until it was all used up. Then, take a knife and swirl it all around and smooth it out until it fills up the crust.

Decorate with the peanut butter chips and chocolate drizzle.

Let it sit in the fridge for 4 hours to overnight to set.

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Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I just wanted to share an alternative to this White Chocolate Cranberry cookie. Just follow the recipe the same way, but substitute chopped up dried cherries for the cranberries and semisweet chocolate chunks for the white chocolate. It makes for a really yummy flavor combination!

Food on the Table

To me, white chocolate and cranberry are food soul mates. They just belong together. And they make for perfect Christmas treat bedfellows. You can make just about any dessert white chocolate-cranberry and not only would people love it, but it would look super festive on any table or cookie tray.

These are just a twist on a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe which I usually adapt from Nestle.

Fun Fact: The chocolate chip cookie was invented by a woman named Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938. She owned a restaurant called the Toll House Inn. During WWII, soldiers from Massachusettes (where the Toll House Inn was located), shared the chocolate chip cookies from their care packages with other soldiers. Soon they were requesting them from their families who then inundated Ms. Wakefield with requests for her recipe! After her recipe became so popular, she contacted Nestle and struck a deal: they…

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Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies (Poland/Eastern Europe/Sweden)

I had plans to bake this weekend. Big plans! But as usual, other commitments got in the way and I got off to a late start. Tomorrow will be a baking extravaganza, but for today, I got started with my Rocky Road Fudge and these thumbprint cookies. 

Thumbprint cookies may not necessarily be strictly part of a holiday culture, but they don make great holiday cookies because they are so pretty to look at and the flavor combinations can vary greatly. 

There is some dispute about where these cookies actually come from. Some say they originate from Poland, some say they were the creation of Eastern European Jews. Others still say they are a variation of the Swedish cookie Hallongrotta which translates to “raspberry cave” because of the placement of the jam.

Thumbprint cookies are named because you form the dough and use your thumb to create a divot where the filling goes. Fillings are usually jam but can really be anything.

For this particular recipe, I took the easy way out. I don’t know about you, but my schedule tends to get packed around this time of year and making multiple batches of cookies and treats makes me want to take some shortcuts here and there. That’s why these are so perfect.

I simply made a variation on cake mix cookies

I used 1 box of chocolate cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and an extra 1/4 cup of flour. Mix together until combined. 

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use your thumb to lightly press the balls down. Since these aren’t normal thumbprint cookies, the indent won’t actually stay, but the slight flattening is what you want anyway.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes.

While they are still warm, press in a peppermint Kiss. They will start to melt, but leave them alone and as they cool, the Kisses will solidify again.

This is a fun job for the kiddos.

I made 2 dozen cookies in about 30 minutes this way and they taste delicious so no one will know that you took a shortcut. But even if they did, no one would care.

They would just ask for more! 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I have a friend from high school who is now the owner of a very successful bakery. Seriously, her stuff is amazing. If I were her, I’d probably weigh about 1000 pounds just from samples of her dreamy cookies and cupcakes. Which is probably why she’s such a health nut.

It’s really funny, actually, because even though she runs a bakery, she is so in tuned to her and her family’s health. Her Instagram photos from her bakery account are chock full of cupcakes and cookies and chocolate and frosting and mini pies and sweets galore. Her personal Instagram is chock full of her cute kids and all the healthy, organic, good-for-you foods you can imagine. It’s quite the dichotomy. 

The food she makes always looks so yummy, so I try to remember and make mental notes. She recently posted about making chocolate peanut butter ice cream from an organic food blog she reads. That was all I needed to hear. Chocolate and Peanut Butter? Ice cream? And, knowing my friend, good for you? I’m in. 

I finally had a free afternoon, so I decided to try a couple new recipes I’d been eyeing: honey roasted chickpeas and this ice cream. The roasted chickpeas were a total bust. I thought they were going to turn out a lot different than they did and I just really didn’t like the texture. So, sorry, no crispy chickpea recipe from me. But then I made this ice cream, which was super easy and turned out SOOOOO Good!! And my kids loved it! 

You will need an ice cream maker for this recipe, but even if you don’t have one, you should think about getting one. They have lots of varieties that run the size and price range gamut. Homemade ice cream just blows the store-bought stuff out of the water. It had been awhile since I’d made some myself, and doing this made me want to make it more often. Plus, it’s a lot of fun for the kids. They love watching it come together.

This recipe is adapted from Deliciously Organic 

1 can coconut milk (I used lite, but I’ll bet if you used full fat, it would be even creamier)

¼ cup cocoa powder

½ cup honey

½ cup smooth peanut butter (I used the all-natural kind)

In a saucepan, mix together the coconut milk, cocoa powder, and honey over medium heat until combined well and the mixture comes to a simmer.

Remove from heat and add ½ of the peanut butter. Mix into the coconut milk mixture until well combined.  


Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the mixture through it into a bowl. Cover the bowl tightly and put in the fridge for about 2 hours.

When ready, freeze the mixture according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. This wasn’t in the recipe, but while the ice cream was mixing and getting thick and ice creamy, I drizzled in the rest of the peanut butter in an attempt to get a peanut butter swirl in the final product. I think I put it in too soon because it just ended up getting mixed into the ice cream, so it was delicious, but not swirly.

If you choose not to do this, just add all the peanut butter at the same time in the earlier step.

Pour the finished ice cream into a container and let it set up in the freezer for about an hour or so before serving. It will still be soft.

The kiddos LOVED it!

If you are going to serve it the next day, I would suggest taking it out of the freezer for a little bit before you plan on serving it because it will get hard. Based on the texture from it being in the freezer overnight, I would think this mixture would make excellent popsicles.

Italian Love Cake 

I first saw this cake on Valerie Bertinelli’s cooking show on Food Network. It looked really good when she made it, so I saved the recipe to my Pinterest board and then, as with most Pinterest pins, promptly forgot all about it. 

When it came time to make a meal for my friends who just had their baby, I found myself going with an Italian theme (lasagna, Caesar salad, garlic bread). I wanted to make dessert too and randomly this cake popped into my head. 

Valerie called it “Sicilian Love Cake” on her show so I thought “Perfect. An Italian cake to go with the Italian dinner!” Well, when I Googled “Sicilian Love Cake” all I got was Valerie’s recipe. I did find a few others for “Italian Love Cake” so I assumed that she just tweaked the name a little because she’s Sicilian. I changed my Google search accordingly and as it turns out, there is no real reason why this cake is called Italian Love Cake. It just is. Maybe because of the ricotta and mascarpone? Italian cheeses = Italian cake? 

That reminds me of a funny-ish story. Growing up, my mom used to make these things called Tamale Buns. They were a recipe from her grandmother and they are delicious. They sound really weird and you will think I’m completely off my rocker, but I promise they are really good: It’s dinner rolls carved out into little vessels. The filling is a mix of tomato soup, corn kernels, diced green chiles, chopped hard-boiled egg, and cheese. This is all baked in the oven. I know, I know. Report me to the foodie police, it sounds bizarre, but I promise it’s good. Anyway, the point of me bringing it up is that apparently, my great grandmother, being the small-town Utah woman she was, called them Tamale buns because they had green chiles in them. Chiles = Mexican = Tamales. Insert eye roll here. That’s what I thought of when I read why this cake is called Italian Love cake. 

Italian cheese = Italian cake

Green chiles = Mexican meal 

All settled on how that works? Good. 

This cake is really simple and it looked really yummy. Since I was giving it to friends, I couldn’t have a piece myself, but I did lick the spatula when I made the frosting, and OMG!!!! You guys, it was heavenly. I think it may be my new go-to chocolate frosting for anything. Cookies, cakes, eating off the spoon. Anything.

Sicilian Love Cake by Valerie Bertinelli

As found on FoodNetwork.com 

CAKE:

1 box chocolate cake mix, plus the ingredients called for in the directions 

MASCARPONE-RICOTTA FILLING 

28 oz ricotta cheese

4 oz mascarpone

3 eggs

¾ cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt 

COCOA-MASCARPONE FROSTING 

10 oz mascarpone

1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)

1 box instant chocolate pudding mix (3.9 oz)

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat the oven according the directions on the cake mix. Prep the cake batter according the directions on the box and pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Set aside. (Don’t bake it yet).

Make the filling: Combine the ricotta, mascarpone, eggs, sugar, and salt in a mixer and whisk until smooth. Gently pour the filling onto the top of the chocolate cake batter so the top is completely white. Maybe I didn’t do mine “gently” enough, but the top of my cake batter was not completely white. Not even close. The idea is when you bake the cake, the cheese filling settles to the bottom and make a layer. According to my friends who ate it, it worked, so I guess it was fine how I did it.

Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the chocolate layer has risen to the top, about 50-60 minutes. Let the cake cool completely.

Make the frosting: Whisk together the mascarpone, milk, chocolate pudding mix, and sugar until smooth. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the cake and serve.

Again, I’m sorry I don’t have a final picture of the cake showing the layers, but I was told this one was delicious too! There is a nice photo on the Food Network site though!

And take my word for it… make a little extra frosting!

Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Icing

I will admit, there was a time, in my college-aged youth where I had an Irish Car Bomb or two… or three.

The drink is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is “bomb” style drink, meaning you drop a shot of one drink into another drink and chug it. With ICB, you have to chug it really fast, because the shot part of the drink is a mix of Jameson Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream and when the Bailey’s hits the Guinness, it will start to curdle if left in there too long. You basically have to drink the whole thing before the curdling begins. Fun game, right? And a way to get royally f’d up quickly.

Another fun game? Try ordering this in an Irish bar. At best, you won’t get served one. At worse, you might get a punch in the face. The Irish Car Bomb is so named because of 1. the Bomb shot effect, and 2. the “explosion”. The whole thing reminiscent of what is known as “The Troubles,” a very sad and, well, troubling part of Irish history.

The conflict in Ireland is well documented. Car bombs were the weapon of choice for the Irish Republican Army’s fight against Northern Ireland. One day, July 21, 1972, was known as “Bloody Friday.” The IRA set off about 20 bombs all over Belfast. Nine people were killed.

There isn’t really anything wrong with the drink itself, but due to the controversial nature of the name, perhaps we call start calling it something different?

That all being said, this drink is definitely a young man’s game. Cake, however, is definitely something I can do! This was really good too. You can definitely taste the beer and whiskey and bailey’s but it’s not overpowering, so even if you are not a drinker, you will still like this cake.

Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Icing

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 12 oz bottle Guinness Stout (not Draught)
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 stick softened butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 full mini bottle Bailey’s Irish Cream

Mix together the cake mix, the beer, the eggs, and the oil. You are basically just substituting the water that the mix usually calls for for the beer.

In a small bowl, add the chocolate chips. Microwave for 30 seconds and add a splash of milk or heavy cream. Microwave in further 30 second increments until melted and smooth. Add the Jameson and mix in.  I just bought one of these small bottles because we are more Jack Daniel’s people, but whatever size you buy, you just need a tablespoon.

Pour half the cake mix into a well greased bundt pan. Then drizzle in the chocolate and Jameson mixture.Top with the rest of the cake mix. Using a skewer or a knife, swirl the Whiskey Chocolate into the cake mix.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

For the icing, mix together 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Add the entire mini bottle of Bailey’s. I think it was 50ml.

Blend until smooth.  I wanted more of an icing, so I left it on the thinner side. If you want a thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar to reach your desired consistency.

When the cake is done, let it cool for a few minutes. Run a knife along the outer edge to loosen it up and invert it onto a plate.

I put the icing on while it was warm so it would melt over the cake. If you were going for a more frosted look, let the cake cool completely before putting the frosting on.

Either way, you gotta include the green sprinkles. Can’t be getting pinched!!

Perfect Chocolate Brownies 

I posted this recipe back in September and I was so happy with how they turned out. If you remember, it was my first baking recipe that I created on my own. (Click on the link at the end of the post to see the original recipe)

I wanted to make them again for today’s Super Bowl party, but I made a few tweaks and I think they turned out even better!

1. I added an extra 1/4 cup of flour
2. I added 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips
3. Instead of swirling the Nutella in the batter, I baked the brownies and spread the Nutella on top like a frosting. While the brownies are still hot, drop the Nutella on brownies and let it melt a little bit, then just spread it out. I used about 1/2 a jar of Nutella.


  
 These turned out so good! I hope the plate lasts until I get to the party….

Food on the Table

I have been having so much fun making up recipes for this blog! It feel creative and I love the idea of a recipe being my own. I’ve found that creating cooking recipes isn’t as difficult because most dishes are very forgiving as long as you know what flavors go well together and what flavors will or will not overpower the others.
Baking is a totally different story. Baking is very precise. Baking requires an exact amount of each ingredient in order for the whole thing to turn out right. I’ve always followed baking recipes to the letter (of course some additions like nuts to cookies and brownies are fine).
Recently, I’ve been trying to teach myself Ratio Baking which is pretty much just how it sounds. There are basic ratios of fat to flour to liquid for most baking recipes. For example, the ratio for a basic muffin batter…

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