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12/22/16

Holiday Strawberry Cheesecake

The countdown has begun! There are approximately three days until Christmas!? Okay, it just hit me... Last year I did a wonderful red velvet cheesecake that you all absolutely loved. This year I decided to go with a classic cheesecake and a holiday favorite, strawberry swirl. This simple recipe bakes up a fluffy and rich cheesecake with a perfect balance of tangy and sweet.

I wanted to finish it with a simple design that wouldn't take away from its' beauty but compliment it, so I topped this cake off with chocolate buttercream pine cones. Not to any surprise I ended up falling in love with the combination of the strawberry cheesecake flavor with the chocolate frosting. 

Trust me, you can opt-out the pine cones for fresh strawberries and still have a gorgeous and professional quality cheesecake that will impress. Because Christmas is this coming Sunday, I made one two days ago and stored it in an airtight container to freeze and thaw on Christmas day. 

This is a part of my 12 Days of Christmas on YouTube! So, be sure to view the tutorial below and subscribe to the channel to keep up to date with my other fun and creative Christmas inspired bakes.



Ingredients:
2 8oz. cream cheese
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
squeeze of lemon juice
Strawberry sauce:
1/2 c strawberries
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c water
1 tbsp sugar
Graham Cracker Crust:
2 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp butter
Tools:
Toothpick
6" or 7" springform pan
hot water bath
foil
blender
Standing or handheld mixer
DIRECTIONS
STEP 1: STRAWBERRY SAUCE

Add all strawberry sauce ingredients (berries, sugar, water, cornstarch) to a blender. Blend until completely smooth. Add to a small sauce pot and allow to bring to a boil. When the sauce thickens, remove from the heat and allow to cool.


STEP 2: CHEESECAKE BATTER



In a mixing bowl:
Start by creaming both packages of cream cheese (room temperature), beat for about two minutes. Then, scrap down the sides of the bowl and continue to beat the cream cheese until completely smooth. 

Keep doing this for as long as necessary. Add sugar and mix for one minute. Add flavorings (vanilla, lemon) and add one egg. Allow to mix for thirty seconds then add the second egg and beat until the batter is smooth (between 1-2 minutes).

STEP 3: STRAWBERRY SWIRL
Graham Cracker Crust:
Crush and combine graham cracker crumbs with butter. Add to the bottom of a springform pan and use a cup to pat the crumbs down into a crust.

Cheesecake:
Fill the pan with the batter halfway. Carefully spoon about half of the strawberry sauce onto the batter and smooth out. Slowly and carefully pour the rest of the batter over the sauce and tap and wiggle the pan to allow the batter to settle.
Spoon dollops of the sauce onto the top of the cheesecake. Drag a toothpick or knife through the sauce to create the swirl. Wrap the bottom of the pan with foil and carefully place the cheesecake into a hot water bath. I used a 9 inch cake pan filled half way with hot water. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-80 minutes or until firmer when wiggled.

STEP 4: Holiday Touch





Put green buttercream in a small sandwich bag and cut off a small bit of the corner to make a piping bag.
Once the cake has fully cooled pipe a long strong around half of the cake. Then, pipe small sprigs stemming from that buttercream strand. This is going to be your pine tree branch. If any of this is confusing please watch the tutorial for a better description.
Buttercream pine cones:
Fill a piping bag up with chocolate frosting and use a leaf tip (I used #67). Start by piping a large mound in the center of a rose nail on a parchment square. Then pipe a small circle at the top of the mound by turning the rose nail. From that circle, pipe short small layers of leaves until you reach the base of the rose nail. These will be the tops of the pine cones.
Make as many as you think you'll want (as well as couple extra) then freeze for fifteen minutes. When ready, add them to the pine tree branch and extend the length of the pine cones by piping more leaves onto the actual cake. By doing this you can make your pine cones as short or as long as you'd like.

I piped bunches of berries in between the pine cones by piping a dot of white frosting then a small dot of red frosting in the center.
This completes the cheesecake! I hope you all enjoy and check out my Youtube channel. Happy Holidays!

12/18/16

Caramel Apple Cheesecake


It's the best of both worlds! Rich caramel apples and decadent fluffy spiced cheesecake. This is such an amazing recipe that you have to try. Watch the video tutorial below and subscribe to the channel for great cake and dessert ideas!

Double or triple this recipe for a larger cheesecake. I used a 6" Spring-form pan.

Ingredients:
2 lg eggs
8 oz. cream cheesecake
1 C sour cream
1 apple
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Caramel Sauce:
1/2 stick butter
1/3 C whole or 2% milk
1/2 C brown sugar
Crust:
1 C spiced cookie crumbs
3 graham crackers (into crumbs)
2 tbsp melted butter (for a firmer crust)


Step 1: Cheesecake Batter





Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a standing mixer: Beat room temperature cream cheese for a couple of minutes until smooth. With a spatula, scrap down the sides of the bowl and beat again. Add the eggs one at a time and mixing for 30 seconds after each egg. Once again scrape down the sides of the bowl, add spices and vanilla extract and mix one last time.

STEP 2: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE


Thinly slice an apple and set aside. I only used half for this recipe but a whole would've been even better. They cooked beautifully and added a great flavor to the cheesecake that I would've enjoyed more of.
Crust: Crush cookie crumbs, and add butter (optional), combine and add to the bottom of a spring-form pan. Use the bottom of a cup to pat cookie crumbs down into a firm crust. Wrap the cheesecake pan in a piece of foil. Add half of the batter then fill with apple slices and finish with the remaining batter and any the last of apple slices.
I put my 6 in. spring-form pan into an 8 in. cake pan and filled it halfway with hot water. Bake at 325 for about 1 hour or until there is no jiggle when wiggled.

STEP 3: CARAMEL SAUCE AND FINISHING

 In a small sauce pot add all caramel sauce ingredients. Stir and cook on medium heat until smooth.
When the cheesecake has baked and cooled, spoon the sauce over the cake and allow to drizzle down the sides.
I often have caramel apples in my fridge so I sliced one up then and also stuck the stick in the center. Lastly I topped the cake off with chopped peanuts.