Tag Archives: dessert

Cranberry Bliss Bars

The holidays are over, my waistline is a tiny bit bigger and now that I’m watching what I eat again I thought I would wistfully post about the wonderful goodies I made for Christmas.  Luckily, there are always occasions where you need a little treat, so I’m sure these will appear sometime again before next Christmas.

I love the Cranberry Bliss Bars at Starbucks.  They are only found around this time of year so I was thrilled to spot a recipe for them on Pinterest so I can make them whenever the mood strikes.  While these are not exactly the same, I thought they were quite similar and every bit as wonderful.  Maybe a little fluffier, less dense in the bar part, but I liked it.  Crystallized ginger was an odd ingredient that I hadn’t used before.  You may find it with the dried fruits (at my store it was in the natural foods section).  I took these to two parties and they were a huge hit.

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Cranberry Bliss Bars
( from Your Home Based Mom - http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground powdered ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup minced dried cranberries
1/4 cup quality white chocolate (I used Baker’s, 1-2 squares chopped up)
1/4 cup minced candied (or crystallized) ginger

Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated orange rind

1/4 cup minced dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Grease a 9×13 casserole dish.  Beat together butter and brown sugar, then add eggs and vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add flour, powdered ginger and salt.  Beat well.  Fold in the cranberries, white chocolate, and candied ginger.  Spread batter in pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown.

Cranberry Bliss Bars - bottom layer

Cranberry Bliss Bars – bottom layer

After cake cools, mix all frosting ingredients (except cranberries) and spread over the top of cake.  Sprinkle with cranberries.  Cut into squares or triangles.

cranberryblissbars2

Cranberry Bliss Bars, all ready to slice up into fancy triangles.

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Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake

For Thanksgiving this year we went to my mom’s house for dinner.  As far as cooking goes, what this means for me is that instead of concentrating on the main courses, I got to have fun with desserts and appetizers.  I made this pumpkin cheesecake last year and it was so popular I felt bad for all the other desserts.  This year was no different, although there was some stiff competition (as always) from my cousin Angie’s 3-layer chocolate pie.  Regular pumpkin pie didn’t stand a chance.

The chocolate shortbread crust on this cheesecake is an interesting twist that I really like, but if you prefer a more traditional graham cracker crust, feel free to change it up, or just leave out the cocoa powder for a more straightforward shortbread crust.  Let’s face it, the crust is just a conveyance for the good stuff anyway!

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake. Yum.

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake
(from thehungrymouse.com)

Crust:
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
10 tbsp. butter, diced and softened
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
5 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Filling:
24 oz. cream cheese (that’s 3 8-oz. bricks), at room temperature
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla (or cognac)
1 15-oz. can 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Topping:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan and set aside.  To make crust, put powdered sugar and butter in a mixing bowl and beat until well combined. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt.  Beat until incorporated.  Dough will be uniform and about the consistency of play-doh.  Press into the bottom and sides of springform pan.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Try to get it somewhat even, going up to about 1/2 inch from the top.  Prick holes in the crust all over with a fork (prevents air bubbles from forming as it cooks).  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool while you make the filling.

Chocolate shortbread crust, all ready for some pumpkin love.

Lower oven temperature to 325˚.  In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until blocks are broken up and it’s all creamy.  Add brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and beat well to incorporate.  Add pumpkin.  Add vanilla (or if you want to bump it up a notch, use cognac instead), add flour and pumpkin pie spice and beat gently until combined.  Pour into your cooled crust.  For best results just go up to the edge of the crust.

All ready to go in the oven.

Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, until it looks set, but jiggles just a bit in the center if you move the pan.  Crack open the oven door a few inches and let sit for an additional 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.  Don’t be alarmed if cracks form as it cools, it always happens with mine.  You’re going to cover them up anyway so no worries.  Put it in the fridge to cool completely for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

It may have a crack like the Grand Canyon, but it will be delicious. Trust me.

Beat whipping cream and brown sugar until soft peaks form.  Smooth over top of cheesecake.  Carefully remove the ring from the springform pan to reveal your beautiful cheesecake.  Slice and serve.  Makes one 9-inch cheesecake.

Look at that gorgeous thing. Time to eat!

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Banana Cake Supreme

This weekend marked the last in an exhausting, but tasty, stream of birthday parties during the month of April.  Also noteworthy, this was my favorite one because it was mine!  I think I tasted what seems like a dozen kinds of cake this month.  My mouth says “yum”, but my waistline is saying, “what the hell?” And while I won’t say I am totally sick of cake, for this party I was in the mood for something a little different.  I’ve been having an odd craving for banana cake (odd because usually I’m a chocolate girl).

Playing with the idea of bananas, and chocolate, and ditching the usual frosting for something a little lighter, I came up with this concoction, which I have to say, turned out spectacular!  Once again, I did not find any recipes that even closely resembled what I was thinking of, so I just made one up.  It starts with a box mix, easy peasy.  The three different textures in this cake worked great together and were really different than a regular cake.  I’ll be honest and say I think I undercooked my cake a bit.  Or maybe it was just the addition of the bananas.  It came out of the oven light and fluffy and beautiful and as it cooled it sort of shrunk until it was about half the original height.  I was a little worried about it.  But, sometimes mistakes in cooking are happy accidents.  This made for a slightly denser, brownie-like texture that I actually really liked!

Plan to make this a little early, or the day before, to allow the chocolate layer to harden.  It would be good either way, but that added texture was a nice surprise!  And the fresh whipped cream, slightly sweetened with brown sugar was, well…just icing on the cake!

Banana Cake Supreme. I would have taken a prettier picture, but people ate my photo shoot before I got the chance!

Banana Cake Supreme

1 box of white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 bars bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp. butter
1 pint whipping cream
2-3 tbsp. brown sugar

Make the cake mix according to the package directions.  The one I used called for 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil, and a cup of water.  Add mashed bananas.  Beat on low speed for 2 minutes.  Pour into a casserole dish or large cake pan.  Bake at 350˚ (or whatever the box says) for 35-38 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and put on a cookie sheet or cake plate.  In a glass bowl break up the chocolate into small pieces.  Eat one or two.  Add 1/4 cup whipping cream and butter and microwave for 1 minute.  Stir with a whisk until smooth.  If you still have chunks of unmelted chocolate, nuke it a few seconds more.  Pour chocolate over cake and spread to cover surface.  Cover with plastic and put in the fridge to harden.  I left it in there overnight but a couple of hours should do the trick if you’re short on time.  Just before serving, beat whipping cream with brown sugar until thickened and fluffy.  Pile on top of cake and spread to cover surface.  Eat!

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Blackberry Pear Crisp

Farmer’s market doesn’t open in my town until next month, but an indoor fruit and veggie market just opened recently down the street from me.  They source almost all of their goods (except for citrus) from the local area, so it’s close enough to a farmer’s market for me, with the added bonus that I don’t get rained on while I shop.

This week when I stopped by the fruit market, I saw a beautiful sight, the first blackberries of the year!  They grow like wildfire around here in the summertime, so seeing them automatically makes me think of blue skies and sunshine.  So far this spring, there has been very little blue skies and sunshine, so I looked at these berries and saw hope!  Hope that summer is actually on its way!

In the height of summer when the berries are extra ripe and sweet, I don’t even add sugar when I make this.  But some of these early berries were a little on the tart side, so I added a little just to soften the bite.  The pears also added a little natural sweetness too.  This dessert has the added benefit of being pretty healthy, at least until you top it off with a big scoop of berry ice cream.

Blackberry Pear Crisp

Blackberry Pear Crisp

1 pound blackberries
3 pears, sliced
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup nuts
4 tbsp. butter, cut up in small pieces

Mix fruit and 1 tbsp. sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch in a baking dish.

In a food processor, add flour, remaining sugar, oats, nuts and butter.  Pulse until it resembles large crumbs.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this in a bowl with 2 butter knives.  Sprinkle on top of fruit.  Top with a few more dabs of butter if desired.  Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes (a little longer if needed) until topping begins to brown.  Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Blackberry Pear Crisp a la mode

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