Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I dressed mine up with tinted coconut grass and a fondant bunny looking for his carrots. It was one of the desserts for our family Easter dinner.
It was tasty, but not the best cheesecake I have ever had. It was very creamy and mild in flavor. I like my cheesecake to have bit more twang to it. My piece was also very soft from sitting out for for a few hours. I think it would have been better cold from the fridge.
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a spring form pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.
Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!
Some variations from the recipe creator:
** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries - heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stove top blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon - cook until berries burst, then cool)
** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel - take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website - just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).
** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.
** Mexican Turtle - add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.
** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of "coins" of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.
Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):
**Key lime - add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.
**Cheesecakelets - put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.
Overall it was a very good and easy recipe and I would like to try some of the other variations in the future. If you make it, let me know how you like it. And check out the Daring Bakers' blog roll to see what creations other members have come up with.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Don't forget I will be in Alvin (suburb of Houston), Texas (if I live through this week, LOL) next Sunday and Monday, May 3-4, for the Pearland Cake Society Day of Sharing and mini classes.
Please come see us. We have so much fun in our classes it borders on ridiculous!
Click here for more info!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I got back from the DOS in Winnie, Tx and boy did we have fun! Of course there was torrential rain and flooding while we were there. What is it with the severe weather everywhere I travel to? Maybe God is trying to tell me to stay my butt home? Nah.
I do a lot of my details with icing build up instead of actually cutting into the cake, this makes it sooooo much easier! This isn't a very good pic, but you can see what is taking place. I did smooth it more after this pic was taken also!!!
While the paint is drying, I fix my little boards that are gonna go under the cake. So when it's dry, I place it on the 'taped on both sides' blocks so it doesn't go anywhere!!!!!
Then on to the painted and window details. Windows were fondant covered with an edible image. Gradient fill. Nothing fancy!!! Outlined with airbrush black and silver dust.
From here it is all details which take the majority of the time. The wheels were gumpaste painted black also!!!!
And the finished product!!!
Friday, April 17, 2009
I did not want to go away for the weekend and leave you guys on the heels of the negativity of yesterday's post. Wendy is always telling me to work on having positive chi. Or maybe she said she likes chai tea. I am not sure. But anyway, in order to lighten my aura, and drive out the negative energy (and to calm down Janel Waters, tee hee)....I leave you with some very good news.
My first couple of attempts at a topsy turvy cake style. The fondant on the one above literally just slid down the side of the cake. I had a good 2 inches of fondant under those folds at the bottom.
MY DEAR SWEET WONDERFUL SUGAR FRIENDS:
I am totally blown away by the outpouring of comments and emails in support of me after yesterday's post. Your love, encouragement, and kind words have filled my humble heart with a warmth and joy you cannot imagine.
I hesitated to bring this into my blog, but I just felt the need to get my thoughts out to the person in question. I never expected nor anticipated such a wonderful outpouring of support. I want you all to know that I treasure each and every word you have written to me. Honestly, I feel undeserving of such.
I absolutely love what I do. Making cakes and teaching the art has fulfilled me in a way no other aspect of my life has. I THANK YOU for giving me the opportunity to continue to do what I love. I will keep going as long as you want me to, or my poor old tired body gives out. Whichever comes first.
So now, this chapter of the SugarEd story is over. This issue will get no more attention from me, and now we can get back to the important stuff:
THE CAKE PAR-TAY!
I am off to Texas this weekend to demo and vendor, and I will check back in with you awesome people next week!
PS. Remind me to never piss any of you off! LOL
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Hello Sugar Friends!
This post is directed to only one person that I have no way of contacting, so this is my only recourse. I hate to take this to a public forum, but it is time that I speak up. All of my wonderful and loyal customers and blog readers... please forgive my indulgence here.
I have been getting anonymous "self-destructing emails" from someone who is not happy with my participation on a particular cake message board. I did not even know self destructing emails existed until I got the first one. Once you open it, the message cannot be copied and pasted, there is no return email address, and then in about 60 seconds the whole email disappears and cannot be traced.
To the coward who can be so judgmental of my activities, but does not have the guts to write me in first person:
I have no idea why my postings on a cake message board are of such importance to you. I am not ashamed of any activities I participate in. If you have such a serious problem with me, then at least have the integrity to contact me directly. At least when I write something, I do not hide behind an anonymous email service. You are a coward of the highest degree, and you have no affect on my life whatsoever. In addition, this is the last time I will acknowledge or respond to your childish behavior.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Once upon a time there were 3 sisters that grew up in the city of New Orleans with their 2 older brothers and parents. They were not exactly poor, but things were very tight, as they were living on one modest accountant's salary. Melba, the mom, knew how to make every penny stretch. She was very frugal. There were never any treats like candy, soda, chips, or cookies in the house. Those things were reserved for very special occasions.
Since vacations were out of the budget, the family would make day trips a few times a summer to a nearby state park. The kids would swim in the Bogafalaya river and play on the sandy beach. Melba would pack an ice chest and picnic basket and they would spend the day swimming, eating, and relaxing.
On one particular trip to the river, Melba really splurged and bought a bag of fresh cherries. Not a big bag, mind you. But this was still a really special treat for the kids to get such an extravagance.
So on this particular day, after lunch, the 2 youngest sisters, Sharon and Janice, decided to go for a nice long swim, anticipating their refreshing treat of cherries upon their return. They wanted to save them for the just the right moment, to enjoy them to their fullest. So after their nice swim in the river, they happily skipped back to the picnic table, excited about the luscious fruit that awaited them. But alas, to their dismay, they discovered that their older sister Barbara (aka the Cherry Hog) had eaten them all! All of them! All that was left was a bag of pits and stems.
Needless to say the 2 little sisters were disappointed..... no, devastated..... no, scarred for life! Despite years in therapy and reading many self help books, they have not been able to work through the trauma of this event. In this tragic story they did not live happily ever after. So needless to say, to this day they give Barbara grief about it any chance they can get.
Sharon and CH.
And fresh boiled shrimp! It was so yummy!
The cake was yummy and enjoyed by all. We had a wonderful day of boating, eating, and playing board games.
PS. Remember you can click on the photos for a larger view.
Edited to add comments from my 2 sisters:
Janice Mary said...
This is Janice, the middle sister. What Sharon was too kind to tell you is that in that picture of the three of us with the cake...just before we took a bite, Cherry Hog wisked it away and ate the whole thing! This time pit and stem and all! She can't help herself.
April 14, 2009 1:47 PM
Hey, the CH here. I have to admit that I do not remember eating those cherries. I absolutely love fresh cherries to this day, so it kind of doesn't surprise me, but I know there must have been a reason because I can't believe my Mother would have let me eat them all. Like, maybe I thought everyone else had had some already, or maybe I made a deal to wash the dishes if she let me have them all. I don't know. Awesome cake, huh!! I can't believe how much it looks like a real cherry. That was really a cool surprise. Sharon lured me upstairs while they brought the cake in from the car. And very tasty too! OK, gotta go eat some cherries. Later.
April 14, 2009 1:54 PM
Saturday, April 11, 2009
It just would not be Easter without chocolate bunnies, right? I just had to share with you these adorable chocolate boxes I made.
(Edited to add: Unfortunately this mold has been discontinued, but you can use these technique with all chocolate molds)
They are so cute filled up with candies. And you can eat the whole box! Gotta love that.
Then fill both cavities with melted chocolate in the color of your choice. Make sure the chocolate is cool to the touch. If it is too warm, it will melt your colored accents and they will run and smear. And then you will cry, and have to start all over again.
Edited to clarify: The above mold is the 2 pieces of the box. One side is the top, and the other side is the bottom part of the box with the cavity for the candies already in there. When you unmold it, the 2 pieces come out as you see in the finished product. I apologize for not getting a photo of the bottom part of the mold empty.