Cream Cheese

AZ Cookbook is 2 + Cream Cheese-Swirled Brownies

Cream Cheese-Swirled Brownies

Today AZ Cookbook is 2 years and 2 days old! Yay! For some odd reason I thought the blogiversary, that is the 2 years mark, was today, but after checking back on my It’s official now post I realized it was on January 23. Bummer. But it’s ok. Better than skipping the 1st blogiversary altogether last year, only to remember about it 2 months later. I didn’t’ post anything back then not to embarrass myself.

But in any case. I can’t believe how fast the 2 years of blogging have passed! So far for me, it’s been an exciting journey that I want to continue for as long as I can. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for supporting my blog – for making this journey truly amazing and unforgettable. Here’s to all of you – luscious cream cheese-swirled brownies. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese-Swirled Brownies
From: Cooking Light, December 2007

Yields 24-28 brownies

If you want moist and fudgy brownies, take care not to overbake. I have made these brownies twice over the past couple months, both with different results. The first time, I overbaked them and they turned out somewhat hard and crumbly. The second time, I baked them until they  felt slightly underbaked to touch – the result was much better – moist and fudgy as good  brownies should be. If you are don’t care much for calories, you can certainly use full fat milk or cream cheese.

1   1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 6   3/4 ounces)
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
2 large eggs
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 large egg white

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1  3/4 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and  microwave at high for 45 seconds or until melted, stirring once.

Combine milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs, stirring well with a whisk.

Add chocolate mixture and milk mixture to flour mixture, then beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Spoon batter evenly into a 13 X 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, cheese, and egg white in a medium bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended using clean, dry beaters. Drizzle cream cheese mixture evenly over chocolate mixture. Swirl batters together using the tip of a knife.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until  batter begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely on a wide rack before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

Strawberry Cheesecake – Daring Bakers Challenge

Strawberry Cheesecake - Daring Bakers Challenge

Here it comes again – another sweet and delicious DB treat. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. Abbey is Jenny’s friend. She tweaked and played with a basic cheesecake recipe and perfected it. Well, what can I say? Abbey, you did an excellent job. This was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had and made. Absolutely loved it!

I chose to stick to the original recipe for the most part, but still tweaked it a little to have a touch of my own and turned the cake into Strawberry Cheesecake. I used Amaretti liquor in the batter. I also topped the baked cake with sour-cream-sugar coating that was left to harden in the oven during the cake’s cooling time. Sliced fresh strawberries and sprigs of fresh mint (courtesy of our backyard) planted on top of the cake were the finishing touches.

My cake baked beautifully and didn’t have any cracks on top. I really loved the texture and the taste of this cheesecake – it was baked well but was still somewhat soft and creamy inside and was really really delicious. I served this cheesecake at hubby’s B-day and received a shower of compliments for it. I would like to share these compliments with Abbey, the creator of this recipe and Jenny who shared it with us, the Daring Bakers. Thank you, ladies, for the fantastic challenge!

Dear readers, here’s your chance to take a gastronomic tour to the land of delectable cheesecakes baked by my fellow daring bakers. Click HERE and enjoy!

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
Recipe based on Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake

For the Crust:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz), at room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp Amaretto liqueur

For the Topping:
2 cups (16 oz / 450 g) sour cream
¼ cup (2 oz/60g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
thinly sliced fresh strawberries

You will also need:
A springform pan (10 inches wide, 3 inches tall).

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your spring form pan. Press the crust just into the bottom (you can also press it up the sides of the pan too). Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. Cover bottom of your spring form pan securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake for about 50 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for 30 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, sugar and vanilla and stir well. Remove the cheesecake from the oven after 30 minutes of cooling, then using a spatula, gently and evenly spread the sour cream mixture over the entire surface of the cake. Put the cake back in the oven to continue to cool for another 30 minutes. During this time the sour cream will slightly set. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. When completely chilled, remove the sides of the spring form pan and leave the bottom part under the cake. Top the cake with fresh strawberry slices and serve.

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