The words used to describe a cheesecake from my favorite restaurant in Athens, Georgia.
For those of you that don’t know, I am a proud alumna of the University of Georgia located in Athens. I spent some of the best years of my life there. Life made that much better because my sister, Jenny, soon followed me to UGA. Jenny and I are two years apart and seriously the best of friends. We’re those weird sisters that never fight and never get tired of each other. I don’t know what I'd do without her! (Love you, Jenny!)
On Jenny’s first birthday at UGA, I took her to Last Resort Grill for dinner. Man, I love that place. Their salmon & grits are amaaaazing! Anyways, once it came time for dessert, we decided to order one thing to share. We asked the waiter for a recommendation because we are an extremely indecisive duo. He said, “Get the White Chocolate Cheesecake. It’s life-changing.” I have to admit, Jenny and I were a little skeptical of this bold statement, but we ordered it to find out.
One bite. Life changed. Dude totally knew what he was talking about.
Going to Last Resort for our birthdays became a tradition and we always got that dang cheesecake.
Now, I’m here in LA and Jenny is out in Colorado, an officer in the Army. Life has taken us in different directions but we’re still as close as ever and we still dream about Last Resort’s White Chocolate Cheesecake.
Two weekends ago, I went to visit Jenny for a weekend. Since it was a midpoint between our birthdays, we planned to recreate our beloved cheesecake to celebrate. We had a great time in the kitchen & it was torture waiting for the cheesecake to chill & set.
Then came the moment of truth. First bites. Looks. Smiles. Even better than we remembered!
Please make this cheesecake and share it with your family & friends. We all deserve a life-changing dessert every now and then.
Ingredients: For the Chocolate Cookie Crust: 10 ounces chocolate cookie crumbs 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake: 3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature 1 1/4 cups sugar 1/2 cup heavy cream 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped 5 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract pinch salt boiling water (for the water bath)
For the White Chocolate Ganache: 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped 1/2 cup heavy cream
Directions: For the Chocolate Cookie Crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine chocolate cookie crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl. In a 9-inch springform pan, press cookie mixture into the bottom and up the sides about 1 1/2 inches. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Cheesecake: Reduce oven to 325 degrees F. Place cooled pan on a couple large squares of aluminum foil. Wrap foil up the sides of the pan to waterproof.
Place the chopped white chocolate into a heat safe bowl and set aside. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring heavy cream to a simmer. Pour hot cream over the white chocolate, making sure the chocolate is completely covered. Let stand for one minute then gently stir the chocolate until completely melted.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in sugar and beat well, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add the white chocolate mixture. Once combined, reduce mixer speed to low and add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and salt.
Pour cheesecake batter into the prepared pan.
Set the cheesecake pan into a large roasting or baking pan and place it in the oven. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, filling it about one inch high (be careful not to go over the aluminum foil). Bake for one hour. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven for one more hour, until the center is just set (when you gently shake the pan, the center should be jiggly).Remove cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
For the White Chocolate Ganache: Place the chopped white chocolate into a heat safe bowl and set aside. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring heavy cream to a simmer. Pour hot cream over the white chocolate, making sure the chocolate is completely covered. Let stand for one minute then gently stir the chocolate until completely melted. Let sit until it reaches desired consistency (it will thicken as it cools).
Pour over top of the chilled cheesecake. Serve & enjoy!
*NOTES: - I used about 10 Oreo 100-calorie packs for the crust. - The chocolate cookie crumbs can be made with a food processor or by placing the cookies in a plastic bag and crushing with a rolling pin or other heavy object. - To store, keep the cheesecake in the refrigerator.
Source: cheesecake slightly adapted fromNot So Humble Pie, crust & ganache are my own
Happy Friday friends! I’m very excited to announce the winner of the giveaway!
The winner of the McCormick Halloween Baking Kit is:
Julie Scott Laws
Congratulations, Julie! I will be contacting you by email so that McCormick can send out your baking kit. Thank you so much to everyone that entered!
Now, on to these adorable ghost cupcakes. Seriously, how cute are they?
To make them, I used the same chocolate cupcakes from the spider & jack-o-lantern cupcakes. (Lazy? Yes, yes I am. Actually, let’s call it resourceful. Okay cool.) I frosted the tops with black frosting (also from the other cupcakes) and I made a marshmallow buttercream for the ghosts. I made little ghost faces with more of the black frosting.
Look at the cute chubby one!
I had so much fun sharing all of my Halloween cupcakes this week! I hope you get a chance to try them out for your Halloween celebration!
makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but cool
3.5 ounces (half of a container) Marshmallow Fluff
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter & sugar until lightened in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add in marshmallow fluff & vanilla (if using) and mix until combined.
When you think of Halloween, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? For me, it's jack-o-lanterns. I always loved carving pumpkins when my sister and I were growing up. I loved the smell of fresh pumpkins, scraping out all of the seeds and picking out a pattern to carve. And for some reason, I always managed to cut myself. Apparently I have been honing my talents of being clumsy & careless for quite some time.
I guess another reason I really like jack-o-lanterns is because they are the least scary part about Halloween. You see, as much as I love Halloween, I am a huge scaredy cat. Like, the "I get scared walking around Party City" kind of scaredy cat. Or the "I refuse to watch any scary movies" kind. Actually, at one point I started to like watching some scary movies. Enter "Saw II". I am still traumatized from that movie & I saw it like, 6 years ago. The puppet thingy on the tricycle, Jigsaw... yeah, totally the creepiest thing ever! And don't even think about asking me to go to something called "Fright Fest" or "Horror Night".
Anyways, to make these jack-o-lantern cupcakes, I used the same chocolate cupcake from the Spooky Spider Cupcakes. For the frosting, I used McCormick red & yellow food coloring to dye some vanilla buttercream orange. After frosting the cupcakes with the orange frosting, I used some left-over black frosting from the spider cupcakes to make the faces. Just "carve" any kind of pattern you like. I made some classic jack-o-lanterns & a Jack Skellington (with a nice Jersey glow).
Today is the last day to enter for the McCormick Halloween Giveaway! The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm PST tonight & you can find all of the details here. GIVEAWAY ENDED
Make sure you check back tomorrow as I will be announcing the winner of the giveaway & sharing one final Halloween cupcake. Thanks for stopping by!
I'm actually a little confused why I decided to make creepy spider cupcakes. I hate spiders. Rather, I am deathly afraid of them and have thus diagnosed myself with arachnophobia. I feel like it's a pretty accurate self-diagnosis considering all of the screaming, crying & running around like a crazy person that happens when I see a spider... I know, I'm embarrassing. I once jumped out of a moving car because there was a spider on my head. True story!
Despite my personal issues, I had a ton of fun making these. The body of the spider is a delicious chocolate cupcake topped with black frosting and chocolate sprinkles. To make the frosting, I used the vanilla buttercream recipe from my Funfetti Cupcakes and added McCormick Black Food Coloring. For the eyes, I used red Dots candy that I pinched off small pieces of and rolled into "evil" eyes. I found some cute silicone baking cups with spider legs that were perfect for these. You can use black shoestring licorice (or pipe cleaners, although inedible) for the legs as well.
Look at how creepy they are! Eeeep!
Tomorrow I will be sharing some fun Jack O'Lantern Cupcakes. Come back and check it out!
Oh, and don't forget about the McCormick Halloween Giveaway! You can find all the details here.GIVEAWAY ENDED
Chocolate Cupcakes makes 24 cupcakes Printer-Friendly Version Ingredients: 1/2 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder 1/2 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon hot water 2 1/4 cups flour 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 sticks PLUS 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 2/3 cups sugar 3 large eggs, at room temperature 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 3/4 cup low-fat sour cream (or regular) 1/2 - 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with liners.
In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and whisk to blend. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, cook butter and sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 5-6 minutes. Increase speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and cocoa mixture, beating until smooth.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the sour cream in two batches and mixing just until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
As you can tell, I sort of have a thing for cupcakes. So when McCormick sent me a Halloween baking kit to review their products and make fun Halloween cupakes, I was so excited!
Even more exciting, the sweet people at McCormick want to send a Halloween baking kit to one of my lucky readers!!
The kit includes:
- McCormick Assorted Food Coloring
- McCormick Black Food Coloring
- McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
- Le Creuset Mini Spatula
- Mu Kitchen Oven Mitt
- Silicone Baking Sheet
- Wilton Cupcake Liners
- Assorted Halloween Candy
- "Tricks for your Treats" Halloween Decorating Ideas
To enter, leave a comment telling me your favorite Halloween candy. Please provide your email address so that I can contact you. The giveaway ends Thursday, October 20 at 11:59pm PST. One winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced here Friday, October 21. GIVEAWAY ENDED.
To earn extra entries, leave a separate comment if you:
1. Like Sweet Peony on Facebook
2. Follow Sweet Peony on Twitter
3. Subscribe to Sweet Peony via email (on my homepage) or RSS
4. Like McCormick on Facebook & tell them Sweet Peony sent you
5. Facebook or Tweet this Giveaway *For SIX entries, please leave SIX comments.
A big thank you to McCormick for sending me the Halloween baking kit! I had such a great time decorating my Halloween cupcakes!
Make sure to come back tomorrow for the first of three Halloween cupcake ideas... Spooky Spiders! Good luck and thank you for stopping by!
I'm finally getting around to sharing my first pumpkin recipe of the season. I know I'm way behind other bloggers who have been posting pumpkin recipes since the beginning of September, but I just wasn't ready yet. We went to Halloween Time at Disneyland this past weekend and the mountains of pumpkins they had around the park seriously made me hungry for pumpkin. And after our first dose of chilly weather, I'm totally ready. Ironically, we have had multiple 90-degree days this week. It's the middle of October. *tear*
I think pumpkin is one of those flavors that people either love or they don't. I adore pumpkin but Matt, on the other hand, is a pumpkin hater. I hear lots of guys don't like pumpkin, so maybe it's a guy thing? Either way, these are really yummy and are more like little cakelets than cookies. Like I said, puffy pumpkin pillows. I may or may not have proceeded to eat half a pan of cookies once I tasted how light & fluffy they were. The spices complement the pumpkin perfectly and together they scream fall. I don't really think I need to mention how the cream cheese frosting just takes these over the top.
Oooh and I made cute little cakelet sandwiches too! They're the perfect way to justify eating two cookies at once. Pumpkin lover or not, I hope you'll give these cookies a try. They are fantastic!
Ingredients: 4 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter flavored shortening 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 1/4 cups white sugar 3/4 cup light brown sugar 2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix) 2 eggs Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream shortening, butter, sugars and pumpkin on medium speed until light & fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs & mix well until thoroughly combined and creamy. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Drop cookie batter by heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Flatten tops slightly. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost cooled cookies with cream cheesing frosting (recipe below). Cream Cheese Frosting 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened but cool 4 ounces (1/2 block) cream cheese, cold 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional) Directions: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and cream cheese on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Add in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, if using, and blend until moistened. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat frosting for 2 minutes until smooth & fluffy. Frost cookies as desired.
I know I've started off a little cupcake crazy and I promise to share other desserts with you soon. But first, let me introduce you to the only vanilla cupcake recipe you will ever need. Please believe me when I tell you that these vanilla bean cupcakes are the most delicious cupcakes I have ever had!
Usually I will adapt a recipe to suit my taste. This is the very first recipe that I will keep exactly as it is. (Thank you to Jamie at My Baking Addictionfor coming up with this winner!) The cupcake is extremely light and fluffy with a delicate crumb and just the right amount of vanilla flavor. I love how you can see the little flecks of vanilla bean all throughout. Topped off with vanilla bean buttercream, it's perfection!
1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature 4 large egg whites, at room temperature 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 vanilla bean (split lengthwise & seeds scraped out) 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with liners.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and egg whites. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium-high until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the wet ingredients in two batches and mixing just until incorporated.
Scrape down the bowl, then increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes to ensure proper aeration.
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frost with vanilla bean buttercream (recipe below) and decorate as desired.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened but cool 1 vanilla bean (split lengthwise & seeds scraped out) 5 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (to help maintain bright white color) 3-5 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and vanilla beans on medium-high until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Add in vanilla and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk, blending until moistened. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat frosting for 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add additional heavy cream or milk 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is to thin, add powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time until it thickens.
Tonight is the Season 4 finale of Breaking Bad. Matt & I are huge fans of Breaking Bad. It is such an intense show with amazing acting. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it! Without dishing out any spoilers, the product made in the show is a blue crystal meth, hence Blue Crystal Cupcakes.
Check back tomorrow for the recipe for the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes I used for these. Enjoy the show!
Fall and I have never been the best of friends. But since moving to LA a little over two years ago, I've started to look forward to fall and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe I've realized that fall actually does have a lot to offer. Or maybe it's simply because I finally get to wear my favorite boots again. But I have a feeling that the reason I've started to welcome fall with open arms is because our apartment has no a/c. Have I mentioned that I love to bake? Well, my baking does not take a summer vacation.
(read: apartment temperature ≥ a furnace)
Now that the weather is finally cooling, I'm excited to start on my fall baking! I absolutely love s'mores so I knew that I had to share something s'mores-y first. These s'mores cupcakes are so good & so much fun to make! They consist of a chocolate cake sandwiched between a graham cracker crust and a fluffy marshmallow frosting. And the fun part is you get to toast the marshmallow frosting with a kitchen torch! (*Note: Please use caution while using a kitchen torch as cupcake liners are made of paper and are flammable. I do not recommend doing a kitchen torch dance as you may return to find your cupcakes on fire. Your husband may then mandate "adult supervision" for future kitchen torch uses.)
Seriously though, these are some of the most delicious cupcakes I have tasted and I keep looking for excuses to make them. I hope you'll try them too!
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 sheets) 1/4 cup sugar 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
For the cake: 2 cups PLUS 2 tablespoons sugar 1 3/4 cups flour 3/4 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon cocoa powder 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 1 cup whole milk 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup boiling water
For the marshmallow frosting: 8 large egg whites, at room temperature 2 cups sugar 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (to help maintain bright white color)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with liners.
To make the graham cracker crust: In a small mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter, stirring well to combine. Place about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to pack the crumbs. (I used a vitamin bottle wrapped in plastic wrap.) Sprinkle a small amount of chopped chocolate on top of the graham cracker crust. Bake for 5 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and maintain the oven temperature.
To make the cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on low speed just to combine. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla. With the mixer speed on low, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl, then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the boiling water and stir to combine (batter will be very thin). Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. To make the frosting: Combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a large heatproof bowl. Place bowl on top of a saucepan filled with water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat the mixture over simmering water, whisking constantly until the sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes, or until the temperature reads 140 degrees F on a thermometer). Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed and gradually increase to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form (about 5-7 minutes). Add vanilla and mix until combined. Use immediately.
Frost cupcakes as desired. Toast marshmallow frosting with a kitchen torch.
*NOTES: - The graham cracker crumbs can be made with a food processor or by placing the crackers in a plastic bag and crushing with a rolling pin or other heavy object. - I transferred the batter to a spouted mixing bowl to easily fill the cupcake liners. - There was enough left-over batter to make at least 4 regular sized or 12 mini cupcakes. You can adjust the amounts for the graham cracker crust accordingly. - Optional garnish include chocolate squares and graham cracker segments.
To celebrate my new blog, I made fun cupcakes. Funfetti cupcakes to be exact. And not the kind from the box (even though those are totally delicious). These are homemade and even more delicious!
I can remember eating my very first funfetti cupcake... I was amazed how it had brightly colored specks everywhere. I absolutely loved that. Until recently, I never realized that a funfetti cupcake was essentially a vanilla cupcake with sprinkles mixed in. Don't judge me. Make these super easy, yummy, sprinkle-y cupcakes instead! I promise you won't regret it.
1 1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter 1 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1/3 cup milk 1/4 cup assorted colored sprinkles + more for sprinkling on frosting
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with liners.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Lower speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the milk and mixing just until incorporated. Fold in sprinkles with a rubber spatula.
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with vanilla buttercream (recipe below) and top with sprinkles.
Vanilla Buttercream Ingredients: 2 sticks butter, softened but cool 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (to help maintain bright white color) 1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk (if needed)
Directions: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, cream butter on medium-high until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Add vanilla then increase mixer speed to medium-high, beating 2-3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. If the frosting is too thick, add heavy cream or milk 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is to thin, gradually add powdered sugar until it thickens.