Posts tagged cheesecake

DIY Greek yogurt

It’s Greek yogurt week here at MKES! Lately, I’ve been throwing it into just about everything. I even came up with a yummy banana chocolate chip Greek yogurt cake last night that my kids loved. (I’ll post that next.) But before you go out and buy tubs of Greek yogurt at Costco like me, why not make it yourself? Jessie Voigts, Ph.D., owner and creative force behind Wandering Educators (if you haven’t checked out the site yet, you should!), graciously passed along her method for making Greek yogurt at home and one of her recipes for Greek yogurt cheesecake.

Here’s her take on making one of my favorite foods:

We eat  yogurt every day – cook with it, bake with it, make smoothies, eat it with rhubarb sauce, make dips…well, the list goes on and on. But do you know what is in some commercial yogurt? More than just milk and yogurt starter. Making your own yogurt is easy, economical, and you know exactly what goes into it – yogurt, and milk. Once you get started, you’ll never buy yogurt again!

Yogurt

It’s easiest if you have a yogurt incubator, available online or in thrift stores for a few dollars. If you don’t have one, that’s ok. You can still make yogurt easily.

Equipment you will need:

A large pyrex measuring cup (8 cups) or a pan

A glass candy thermometer

A yogurt incubator with jars, or 2 quart jars, a towel, and a small cooler.

Heat 2 quarts of milk to 175 degrees. I do this in the microwave. In my microwave, it is 19 minutes at 80% power. You can also heat it on medium low on your stove, but this requires careful tending. Once it is at 175, sit on the counter and cool until it is 110 degrees. You’ll see a film on the top of the milk. Remove it with a  fork right before the next step.

When the milk is at 110 degrees, stir in 2 T of yogurt. This can be storebought yogurt or homemade yogurt. If you have Greek yogurt, even better. Whisk the milk and yogurt until the yogurt is dissolved. Pour into your containers and place in your yogurt incubator. Or, pour into your 2 quart jars, wrap in a towel, and put in a small cooler. The point is to keep it at a low temperature for 12 hours, so the yogurt cultures can grow. Once your twelve hours are up, put the jars into the refrigerator and let sit for another 12 hours, to firm up. Eat and enjoy! Be sure to make your next batch of yogurt before you run out – you’ll need 2 Tablespoons to start your next batch.

To Make Greek Yogurt:

Put a strainer over a bowl, and line your strainer with a coffee filter (or doubled up cheesecloth). Pour in your yogurt and let sit for a few hours. If it is warm out, or you need to let it sit overnight, place it in the fridge. The whey will drain out (you can use this for other purposes, but I just throw it out. No haters, please). You’ll be left with nice, thick Greek yogurt.

Recipe: Yogurt cheesecake

Here’s a delicious, easy, and healthy recipe using Greek yogurt.

2 c Greek yogurt

2 T sugar (or to taste. You might want 1/4 c or more)

1 t vanilla

2 beaten eggs

If desired, a graham cracker crust

Mix up the yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Pour into a baking dish (pie plate, 8×8 glass dish) with or without a graham cracker crust. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until the middle stops jiggling.  Cool and refrigerate for 4+ hours. Serve with fruit or jam.

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Dark chocolate apricot cheesecake with blackberry sauce

Chocolate. Make that dark chocolate. That’s what Happy Valentine’s Day are all about. If you’re looking for something decadent and special come February 14th, this is one show-stopper of a dessert. And the best part is you can make it a couple days ahead of time: it’s even better after it’s had time to–in Mr. Squid’s words–”densify.”
I actually made this dessert by request awhile back for my tween’s birthday cake. But I was getting bored doing the same-old cheesecake; I wanted to have some fun with the recipe.
So I was looking for a few ways to tweak my classic recipe and I thought of a common dessert combination from Viennese desserts where apricots are the fruit of choice with chocolate, instead of strawberries or raspberries. I like a hint of tartness to desserts so along with subbing apricot jam for raspberry, I also decided to forgo the regular whipped cream on top with a fresh blackberry sauce instead. That said, you can’t even taste the apricot in the final cake, it just intensifies the depth of the dark chocolate.
You’re intrigued, right? I hope so. This was by far my favorite cheesecake I’ve ever made. Ever.
Note: Another update to this recipe was trying to make it just a smidge healthier. I know, this wouldn’t qualify for a light recipe by any stretch of the imagination but I used Neufchatel cream cheese instead of the full fat variety and I nixed the whip cream for a fruit sauce. Small steps, right?

Okay, one more note: Please don’t let these directions scare you, just being thorough here because I believe in cheesecakes without cracks, and a waterbath is the way to go.

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes + 75 minutes baking + 60 minutes cooling

Servings: 12

Ingredients
Crust
9 ounces chocolate wafers
3 tablespoons butter, melted (lower fat butter works well too!)
Cheesecake
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chips are fine
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup apricot jam
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese (Neufchatel recommended)
*Make sure the cheese is at room temperature
¾ cups sugar (I used 2/3 this time)
4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Sauce

2 cups blackberries (thawed or fresh)

1 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

lemon (optional)

Directions
For the crust: In a food processor, grind up the chocolate wafers (I also add just a touch of salt). I use Pepperidge Farms chocolate goldfish as the base for my crust—they’re not overly sweet like Oreos with cream filling. Add the melted butter to the crushed cookies. Here’s the tricky part. You’ll need a 9-inch springform pan. Surround the outside of the pan with aluminum foil (I’ll explain more on this later.) Cut a round piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom part of the pan. Spray the pan with cooking spray then insert the paper and spray again. Press the cookie crumbs into the pan and half way up the sides with your fingers (I’ve tried this with spoons, but frankly fingers are best). Put the crust into the fridge while you prepare the filling.
For the filling:
Preheat the over to 325 degrees. In a large, glass measuring bowl, melt the chocolate and the heavy cream together in the microwave. Melt the two slowly. I usually start at half the power level for around two minutes. When the chips start to lose their shape, I finish the melting process by stirring the mixture vigorously. Add the jam to the chocolate mixture, stir and let it cool about 10 minutes.
In another large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and the sugar. As I noted in the directions, it’s key to have the cream cheese at room temperature. (Eggs, too!) Beat the sugar and cream cheese for at least 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Now, add the vanilla and the chocolate-apricot mixture. Beat all the ingredients together for at least 5 minutes (I set a timer).
Constructing a waterbathConstructing a waterbath: Here’s another tricky part—creating a water bath for your cheesecake. water bath keeps your cheesecake dense and smooth instead of dry. You’ll need a large, glass baking dish. I wish I had a larger one, but my biggest is 9×11” so I have to improvise. (I also add a larger, cookie baking pan under the casserole dish to make it easier to get it into and out of the oven.) make several aluminum balls and place them in the center of the baking dish because the casserole dish isn’t wide enough. Next, gently press the springform pan into the casserole dish. Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust, making surethat your aluminum balls stay in place and keep your pan level. Add about a half an inch of water to the bottom of the casserole dish (not into your cheesecake!). Carefully put the whole contraption into the preheated oven.
Make sure the foil comes all the way upBake for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours or until the cheesecake just jiggles in the center. Once the cheesecake is set, turn off and leave the door open. Wait one hour and then remove the cheesecake. Carefully pull it out of the water bath. Gently release the springform mechanism, but don’t remove it. Use a butter knife to separate the crust from the pan (this will ensure that the top doesn’t crack). Put your cheesecake into the fridge for at least one day before serving.

For the sauce: Place the water, sugar, and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture thickens and just barely become syrupy (about 4 minutes on my power burner). Pour the berries into the hot mixture and simmer until the berries start to break apart. Use a handheld immersion blender to liquify the berries. Alternatively, you can pour the sauce into a blender. Adjust the seasonings: I like my sauce tart so I added 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon red raspberry vinegar. You might like adding orange zest or a bit of juice to add a hint of sourness and interest to the sauce. Cool to room temperature before serving. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Note: I’ve had this recipe for years, it comes from an old recipe book called 365 Great Chocolate Desserts by Natalie Haughton

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Mother’s Day Mini-Cheesecakes 3 Ways

Cheesecake. For birthdays, holidays, my kids always request cheesecake. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love making them, but to do ‘em right you have to follow a few tricks–including baking it for over an hour. A traditional cheesecake can take a better part of a day to make. Yikes! I just don’t have that amount of time.

Solution? Minis. (I know, I know, I’m really into baking things in miniature). I can now, make a dozen awe-inspiring cheesecakes in the same amount of time it takes for brownies. And the recipe is simple enough that my kids can make these.

What I like about my little discovery is that you’re not stuck with just one flavor–mix raspberry jam into one, miniature chocolate chips (there I go again) into another. Extra pecans? Throw ‘em in a couple.

Get the idea? What’s in your cupboard you’ve been wanting to get rid of use creatively in a recipe? Here are three ideas, I’m sure you’ll come up with more. Better yet, pass your ideas along to you Mother’s Day baking crew.

Light:

Follow the basic recipe below, substituting fat-free or Neufchatel cream cheese (1/3 less fat than regular) and low fat graham crackers for the crust. (Sorry no picture here–I went for a happy-calorie medium, with Neufchatel cream cheese and regular crumbs for the crust:)

I put a layer of caramel sauce on before adding the chocolate ganache

Turtle:

Instead of graham cracker crumbs, use crushed pecan sandies. Stir pecans into the batter. Before serving the cheesecakes, top with caramel sauce, and chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Lovers:

For the crust, try chocolate graham crackers (I used chocolate animal crackers, mmmm). And make this addition: melt 1/2 cup high quality chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons heavy cream in a glass measuring cup by heating it half power for 90 seconds in the microwave, then stir. Let the mixture cool then add it with the cream cheese batter (you might also want to add 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder; I went with my black onyx powder). Serve with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder.

Is your crew not the cooking type? Check out these Mother’s Day gifts that moms over at Motherboard received. I love the story of the little boy that bought his mom the best present ever (or so he thought)–a racing car magazine.

Now for that mini-cheesecake recipe…

Basic Recipe

Ingredients

Crust

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (chocolate or regular)

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

Filling

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature

¾ cup white sugar

2 eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until you have fine crumbs.
  3. Add the melted butter into the crumb mixture. Mix to combine.
  4. Lightly grease 8, 6-ounce ramekins (or you can use muffin papers).
  5. Divide the crust into the 8-10  containers and firmly press the crust into the bottom and a little bit up the sides.
  6. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
  7. For the filling, mix the cheese on high until creamy. Add the sugar and then the eggs, making sure to combine.
  8. Mix for 5 minutes straight to fully incorporate all of the ingredients.
  9. Scoop the batter into the containers, making sure that they aren’t overly full.
  10. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the batter barely giggles.
  11. Cool and then refrigerate over night.

Your turn–what are some of your favorite Mother’s Day memories? Or do you have a special request for the big day (besides mini-cheesecakes)?

Hungry yet?

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