Thursday, November 25, 2010

The One with My New Favorite Thing

In honor of Oprah's Favorite Things Show (hilarious reactions, if you haven't seen it), I would like to introduce you to one of my new favorite things: A Mini Cheesecake Pan! (Sorry to say you won't all be getting one at the end of this blog, but if you love it as much as I do, you can buy your own here). It makes the cutest little cheesecakes (and I love cute little things, which might explain part of why I love this pan so much)!
To fully appreciate the genius of the mini cheesecake pan, you need to see the pan before anything is baked in it. The pan is kind of like a cupcake pan - you can bake 12 at a time - but the bottoms are different. There is a hole in the bottom of each cup, like this...
Before baking, you put a little disk over the top of each hole...

Next step is making the crust - basically just graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and a little brown sugar mixed together. Put a heaping tablespoon in each cup, then moosh it down so that some of the crumbs spread up the sides. (I used a mini tupperware cup, which worked really well). It should look like this...
Then, pick your filling. I made 2 different kinds - one pumpkin, the other chocolate peanut butter. Use all of the batter to fill up the cups - they will be super full, but don't worry, they kind of shrink down as they cool when they come out of the oven.

Filled up with batter and ready to bake.

After they are baked, ready to cool.

The great thing about these mini cheesecakes is that they aren't complicated to bake, like a full size cheesecake, where you have to have a springform pan, a roasting pan to put it in, and then leave it sitting in the oven forever!
The only tricky part comes after baking, when you have to get them out of the pan. This is where the holes in the bottom come in handy. After they cool for about 20 minutes in the pan, you take your finger and poke it up through the hole in the bottom to push the cheesecake out.

Be careful, because as the cheesecake starts to pop out, it also starts to tip over, so be ready with your other hand to grab it!

 The finished cheesecakes are adorable - and I think they will be even cuter with a little whipped cream on top when we eat them later tonight!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

More Scones!

I still haven't had enough pumpkin treats yet, so after making pumpkin cupcakes, pancakes, and cakeballs, I decided to make some pumpkin scones (stay tuned for mini pumpkin cheesecakes, too). I went searching for a recipe and found one that claimed to be better than Starbucks. I've never had pumpkin scones from Starbucks, but I thought they sounded good.

I got the recipe from and I mostly followed it, except for a few minor details...1. I used whole wheat white flour, 2. Instead of half-and-half, I used skim milk 3. I kept adding more milk because the dough was so crumbly.

They turned out pretty tasty, and I think they look kind of pretty on the baking rack.
I made 2 different kinds of glaze to go on them. One just powdered sugar and milk with some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The other molasses, milk, and powdered sugar. They were both pretty tasty!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The One with the Scones

I know most of you just read the title and pronounced "scones" like it rhymes with cones. Allow me to instruct you on the correct pronunciation: It's really "scones" like it rhymes with cons (like a con artist). How do I know this, you might ask? From spending time in the "Mother Country" (AKA Scotland), where my Great Auntie Grace and Uncle Bill owned a book shop/tea room and sold scones for many years. So now that you know, feel free to instruct others. (Just continue calling them scones, rhymes with cones, at Starbucks otherwise they look at you like you're crazy.)

Anyway, my mom's work has been CRAZY lately, so I thought they deserved a special treat. I decided to whip up a batch of "Sara's Scones" for her to share. This recipe is from a friend of my aunt. Her sister, Sara, came up with the recipe. It is such a simple recipe, but also really tasty. Everytime I make these, they are a hit! So here's the basic recipe...
  • 3 c. flour (I use whole wheat white flour and I actually use a little less than 3 cups or it's too crumbly)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. filler: cinnamon chips, craisins, blueberries, etc... (I like to use cinnamon chips, buy them at Mejer)
  • 2 c. heavy cream (save a little for brushing on top)
  • Extra sugar for sprinkling on top
1. Mix the dry ingredients with whatever filler you choose. I actually like to use a little more than 1/2 a cup, FYI. Then add the cream. It will be a little crumbly, like this...

2. Split the dough into 2 balls and use a little flour to form each half into a ball. Then just kind of smoosh it down onto the counter so that it is a flat circle, like this...

3. There are 2 options for scone shapes: triangles or circles. In the Mother Country, scones are mostly circles, but around here they seem to be mostly rectangle. To make rectangles, cut the circle into 8 triangles (you can also cut those triangles in half for mini scones).

3a. To make circles, I use these great circle cutters I bought in Scotland. I love them for so many reasons: the fun color, the great handles, the crinkle edges...

4. Once they are cut, put them on a cookie sheet or pizza stone, and brush them with the leftover cream. I don't actually have a brush, so I just dump a little on with a spoon and kind of smear it around. Then sprinkle some sugar on top of each one. I like to use what I call "Big Sugar".

5. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes (make sure to check on them for browning early).

They come out looking good, no matter what shape they were when they went in!

Grab yourself some tea, and go enjoy your scones (and make sure you pronounce it correctly!)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The One With All the Pumpkin!

A few weeks ago when I was making all the cake balls, I had some leftover pumpkin in the fridge from making pumpkin pancakes. I thought, how great would pumpkin cake balls be?! So I went in search of a good recipe. I found this super easy, super good one at Bake at 360. All you do is get a cake mix (hopefully one with 2 box tops like the one I got, so then you can give them to me, so my class can win!) Mix that together with...

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp allspice (I didn't have any, but I don't think it made a difference)
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs (Actually, I only used 3 and it turned out fine)

Bake the cake, then crumble it up and mix it with cream cheese frosting (I used a can, with box tops, since it was just for cake balls). Roll them, freeze them, dip them (see more detailed instructions here), and you have...
Pumpkin Cake Balls!

These were so good, (and I also really liked the way the cake tasted all by itself), that I decided to make some pumpkin cupcakes using the same recipe. This time instead of using canned frosting, I made some spiced cream cheese frosting to go on top (so much better than canned). I also wanted to make frosting because, the last time I was at Whole Foods, I discovered fair trade powdered sugar and it was ON SALE!

So not only did these cupcakes taste great, they also helped out the sugar makers farmers producers.
I added a candy corn on top to finish it off, but I kind of like this picutre with the little pumpkin in the background (look close, you'll see it!) Happy Fall!