{sms} made brownies, had a party

Almost 40 people celebrated happiness, freedom, and the new year with me on Saturday. Between the prepping and the cleaning, I was very busy this weekend. The party was a success, with lots of great food and friends.

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays selection is Black Bottom Brownies and is hosted by Cynthia of Bakingtherapist’s Blog. It’s brownie layer topped with a cheesecake layer sprinkled with chocolate chips.

For the recipe, visit Cynthia’s blog or buy the book!

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{twd} cheesecake!

I was so excited for Christmas this year. In my family we celebrate Christmas Eve and go our separate ways on Christmas Day. This year was my first time hosting Christmas Eve dinner. Since I was hosting, I got to choose the menu. And since I only cook vegetarian, I chose a vegetarian menu. This was exciting because it was going to be the first 100% vegetarian Christmas Eve.

It took me awhile to figure out the menu–looking through magazines and my cookbooks. I knew I would have dessert in the bag–I can always count on Dorie Greenspan and Tuesdays with Dorie for a great pick. I finally found my menu in Sunset Magazine‘s Best of 2009 Holiday Issue.

Well, guess what?? My parents showed up with a HAM. Yes, a ham. They came in with a dome-shaped thing covered in foil and I asked suspiciously, “What is that??!”. Can you believe it?

At least I had plenty of dessert and Veuve Cliquot to console me.

the offending ham

Thank you to Margaret of Tea and Scones for hosting this week. The cheesecake was delicious, baked beautitully, and was a hit with the family. I topped my cheesecake with crushed candy cane to make it a bit festive. If you would like the recipe, please visit Margaret’s blog or buy the book!

{twd} espresso cheesecake brownies

I wanted to love these. I really did. I mean, you all know, I love coffee. I also love cheesecake and brownies always make me swoon. To be fair, this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe–Espresso Cheesecake Brownies–tasted good. The combination of the a brownie with espresso cheesecake topped with a sweetened sour cream frosting was wonderful. They were a big hit with everyone–but me. I think the problem was that there was too much cheesecake to brownie. Because I love all the components in this dessert I want to try it again, but next time decrease the amount of cheesecake by half. Oh, and become a better swirler. My swirling could use a little help.

Thank you to Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell for hosting this week’s selection. For the recipe, visit her blog or buy the book.

*edited to add: I sprinkled espresso sugar on top of the brownies.

{sms} Lemon Boysenberry Mini-Cheesecakes

I have many different sizes of springform pans. I have an 8-inch, a 9-inch, a 10-inch. I even have a 4-inch. However, I currently don’t have access to those pans and my Mother doesn’t have any at all.

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays group bake–the Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake with Cornmeal Crumble Crust–calls for a 9-inch springform pan. I wasn’t going to buy another 9-inch and wasn’t too sure of my baking abilities to use a non-springform pan, so I conveniently used my situation to buy a new pan I’ve had on my wishlist. O:) I bought a mini-cheesecake pan. Besides, we all know co-workers like individual servings.

I made a 1/2 a recipe for crust, filling, and berry topping. In retrospect, I should have only made a 1/3 or maybe even a 1/4 of the filling. After pouring the filling into the mini-cheesecake wells, I had a bunch left over.

No blueberries at the farmers’ market, so I used boysenberries. Boysenberries have a very short season–typically the month of July–so grab them if you see them. They are very sweet and juicy. Because boysenberries have large seeds, I strained the syrup to remove the seeds.

The crunch from the cornmeal in the crust provided a nice contrast to the creaminess of the cheesecake and the lemon juice and zest livened up the filling. These were very successful with the hordes here, so successful that it turns out I don’t have any to bring into work.

Thank you to Eliana of a Chica Bakes for picking this week’s selection. If you would like the recipe buy the book or visit Eliana’s blog.

{db} “cheese”cake

It’s time for a Daring Bakers challenge again!

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Raw Vegan Cheesecake

When I first read the challenge, I knew I wanted to make a vegan cheesecake. I’ve been dabbling in vegan baking and cooking and I’ve made traditional cheesecakes in the past. I decided to challenge myself by baking a vegan cheesecake. I read the Alternative Baker’s Forum at The Daring Kitchen and researched different recipes. I then found one for a RAW vegan cheesecake at Vegetarian Times. I’ve never made a raw dessert either, well, except fruit.

So, I made a Raw Cashew Cheesecake. The recipe uses raw macadamia nuts and dates for the crust and raw cashews, raw agave nectar, coconut oil, & lime juice for the filling. The result was a suprisingly light-tasting and refreshing dessert.

However, because of all the nuts and coconut oil it is not a low-calorie or low-fat dessert. One slice, like the one pictured, has 360 calories and 30 grams of fat.

You can find the recipe for it HERE.

Raw Vegan Cheesecake