Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Orange You Glad I Made This?"

I have officially stumbled upon the MOST AMAZING RECIPE FOR CHEESECAKE EVER CREATED! I'm talking...the Cheesecake Factory should probably beg the lady who created this for the rights to is TOO GOOD!

What is this magical recipe you may ask? Orange White Chocolate Cheesecake from Taste of Home! I made this recipe last weekend to take to my parents' yearly picnic/cookout with their "Old Fart Bible Study Group" at church. And yes, that's what they call themselves I'm not being mean. Anyway, this dessert was seriously GONE in less than 10 minutes. It was BEAUTIFUL so everyone wanted to try it...and they all just RAVED about how wonderful it was. I must was the best cheesecake I've ever had!

I went out and bought a springform pan from Bed Bath and Beyond to do this Cheesecake. I had never used one before. I was rather shocked when the bottom dropped out while I was playing with it. I didn't know the thing came apart! I brought it home and made the dreaded crust. I...HATE...MAKING...CRUSTS! MOST crust recipies I've tried I normally have to double to get enough coverage of the pan. I was happy that this one had PLENTY of crust mixture to go around...but I just do not understand how to make the sides thick enough to stand up....yet without falling apart! Everytime I added more crust mixture to thicken the sides...the whole side fell down. Finally I got it to stick enough and was as thick as it was going to I was happy. I popped it in the oven and then let it cool for a few hours while we went to dinner and to The Fresh Market!

Anyway...after I came back home I made the cheesecake filling itself. I used my Mom's KitchenAid Stand Mixer that I stole (Okay, maybe I didn't STEAL it. I BORROWED it. But she just doesn't know that I'm never giving it back!) to mix up all of the ingredients. I LOVE THIS MIXER. It makes life much easier, let me tell you! Can you believe that my mother only used it twice in the few years she's had it? I've only had it a few weeks and I've already used it like 5 times! Now I want to buy all of the accessories! It made the process so much easier! I very quickly whipped it all together and poured it into my crust and stuck it in the oven for an hour and 10 minutes. I took it out and LOOK HOW TALL IT GOT? I was shocked at the big tumor in the middle. I kept hoping that the middle would fall so that it would be a lot easier to add the frosting! (I know...since when does somebody want their cake to FALL?)

I let the cake sit and come to room temperature for two hours and then took it out of the springform pan and trimmed the sides of the crust down so it would look even and nice! I think it makes the Cheesecake look so much more "clean". The uneven sides annoyed me!

I then mixed the topping and spread it on top of the cheesecake. It gave the Cheesecake a wonderful glazed look after baking it for 6 minutes and popping it in the fridge for an hour to harden. (This picture was taken before putting it in the fridge.) This topping is what gives the Cheesecake it's orange flavor. There's NOTHING orange in the actual Cheesecake filling...just the topping! It makes the Cheesecake more light and refreshing!

After letting the topping harden for an hour I took the Cheesecake out of the fridge and decorated it with the mandarin orange segments. What a BEAUTIFUL addition! I then put it in my "cake carrier" and popped it back in the fridge overnight (the recipe says for at least 4 hours...but after all the waiting for this Cheesecake off and was bed time for me!).

Overall, this was a BEAUTIFUL Cheesecake and it tasted JUST as good as it looked...if not BETTER! The filling itself was very fluffy and the topping made it refreshing and light almost. This will definitely be something I'll make again when I have A LOT OF TIME...and want to impress people!
***UPDATE*** I almost forgot the MOST important part! Well, at least to me! It the process of moving the cheesecake from the sheet pan under the spring form pan that the recipe calls knuckle scraped the 450 degree pan and BAM...a blister. I nice big one too! This has inspired me to include an injury/mishap list on my blog. Please look for it and any updates to is located on the right side of the page under the purple "about me" box! Enjoy seeing what a klutz I can be!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hershey's Chocolate World!

Casey and I ventured to MD this weekend to see my good friend Lauren get married and to visit my Uncle Michael and his family. time to cook! Although, I did manage to make some Berry Shortbread Dreams last weekend to take to my parents' house for the holiday. I also took the leftovers with me to work and they were a big hit. They were very good...but the icing was WAY too "almondy" for my liking. The cookie itself was very good...but I think there was way too much almond extract in the icing drizzle. Here's a pic of the cookies (I forgot to take pics during the process because I didn't think I'd be using it for my blog).

While we were in MD, we decided to venture up to PA to see Hershey's Chocolate World! The weather was HORRIBLE and it made the drive up there quite interesting...but we got there and back in one piece. Chocolate World was...neat. I definitely would not go see it a second time, but it was a cool experience. We went on a little "ride" that showed us everything, like where the beans come from and the different flavors in the products, the machinery Hershey uses to produce their products and a lot of fun other stuff. It was pretty cool to learn how it all works! There was also a HUGE candy shop where you could get any type of candy Hershey produces and almost any kind of paraphernalia you could dream of.
And this would be the section to skip if you get grossed out easily. I'm going to share a little "TMI". While in Hershey's Chocolate body proved the link between women and chocolate. I am the girl who has never been "regular" and hardly EVER gets my "time of the month." Well friends, "Aunt Flo" appeared right then and there in the middle of Chocolate if the chocolate gods themselves had summoned her. WEIRD, huh?

We got off of the "ride" and this lady asked us if she could ask us some questions. We said sure...and she wanted to know what kind of candy we had bought or consumed in the last year. She then wanted to know if Casey could be a "taste tester" for her. He jumped at the opportunity! (Can you believe picky-butt husband???) Anyway, he tasted two different types of candy that he told me was apparently a new kind of Jolly Rancher...but with a starburst consistency. He really enjoyed the first one and HATED the second. He had to take a questionnaire about his preferences. It was pretty cool!

While at Chocolate World we also took the "Chocolate Tasting Adventure" where we got to taste different types of chocolate and describe each. Each had a different level of cacao. We learned how the levels of cacao influences the taste, "sound" and smell of each of the chocolates. I must admit when they weren't trying to make things "cute and family friendly" it was pretty interesting.

We left Chocolate World and headed to the Hershey museum where we learned about the life of Mr. Hershey. I was not impressed...but I think Casey thought it was interesting. I thought the coolest part was in the gift shop where they had a MASSIVE amount of Chocolate Recipe Books! I went through a few and they were pretty awesome. There's no use buying one though...because Casey isn't a huge chocolate fan!

By the time we were done with Mr. Hershey's life we headed to The Hotel Hershey for dinner at Harvest. I got a Salmon Burger (it was pretty dry actually) and then I wanted to get something SUPER chocolately for dessert (I mean...c'mon....I'm in HERSHEY, PA!). I then ordered the "All About Chocolate"...and it was AWESOME! The description is, "Five layers of rich moist Devils Food Cake are filled with creamy chocolate mousseline of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate ganache frosted with a dark chocolate glaze. Every chocolate lovers dream come true." Isn't it pretty? It tastes as good as it looks!

I was also very impressed about the streetlamps in Hershey. They were SO VERY COOL! Every other lamp was a wrapped Hershey kiss...and then the others were the chocolate kiss. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

Anyway, other than Hershey...we went to Lauren's wedding and also "stalked" Frank (the creator of Postsecret) by visiting his mailbox and taking pictures! We didn't really get to see a lot of my family while we were there...they were busy and we were too! But, I know that we'll see them again soon so it's okay. I can't wait to spend more time with them!

To see a few more pics of our trip to MD, Lauren's wedding, Hershey's Chocolate World and Frank's (the Postsecret creator) mailbox...go HERE.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mission Impoachable???

Ever since seeing the movie, "Julie & Julia" I knew I wanted to try my hand at poaching an egg. I decided this week that today would be the day! I combed through different recipes including a poached egg and decided that I would try my hand at eggs benedict. Neither Casey or I have ever had eggs benedict, but I've always wanted to try it. I went to to try and find a good recipe. I looked through each recipe and finally selected this one because it seemed to have the best reviews for hollandaise sauce. Most were rated as "too eggy" or "too buttery". This one had wonderful reviews, so I printed it out and headed to the store!

Can you believe that only these few ingredients can produce eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce? I thought it would be a lot more!

I started off by "browning" the canadian bacon. I could only find this presliced/prepackaged canadian bacon...and I chose the sweet maple because I love the extra taste of maple in my breakfast foods. It was DELICIOUS!

Next I started making the hollandaise sauce. First you whisk the lemon juice and the egg yolks vigorously until they double in size. WHEW! Talk about sore arms! Then you transfer the liquid into a double boiler and slowly whisk in the melted butter. Once it is incorporated you vigorously whisk again until the sauce thickens and doubles in size again. Good poor arm! lol. But, it turned out well...and I was psyched.

Next, on to POACHING EGGS! *dun dun dun* I was VERY intimidated about the process so I watched this video of Alton Brown poaching eggs quite a few times. I followed his instructions exactly (except the part about the water being 190 degrees exactly...because I didn't think I had a thermometer to use). The first batch turned out well I thought, but then Casey mentioned that he had a meat thermometer, so I did the process a second time just so I could make sure that the eggs were fully cooked! I'm a little scared about food poisoning since I had it once my Junior year of college and thought I was going to DIE (thanks to the Panera on Jefferson for that...ugh!). Anyway, the second time worked just as well as the first...but I felt a little better about eating the eggs this time since I knew the water was at the exact temperature! These pictures are actually of the first batch...I forgot to take a picture of the second batch before I made the eggs benedict!

I popped the english muffins in the toaster really quickly and then assembled the eggs benedict! I felt like my hollandaise sauce might've gotten a little thick while I was poaching the eggs...but it still worked. I spooned it over the eggs and VOILA...EGGS BENEDICT! I was so proud! Isn't it pretty? My very first try at poaching eggs and I did it! HOORAY! And you want to know the very best part? CASEY ATE IT! My pickybutt husband actually ATE IT! I just knew that he was going to hate it and I would've gone to all that trouble for nothing! But he surprised me and I'm very happy that he ate it! YAY!