Double Chocolate Cheesecake 

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I am debating starting a Baking With Travis series on this blog because my friend Travis and I got together once again last Wednesday for some baking. We endeavoured to make a chocolate cheesecake. My grandmother recommended Martha Stewart’s triple chocolate cheesecake recipe, but we made a few modifications. 

Ingredients

  • 1 package (9 ounces) chocolate wafer cookies
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Assemble a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a food processor, pulse cookies until finely ground. Then add butter and pulse to moisten. Press crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet, bake 10 minutes, and then set aside. 
  3. Clean food processor. Add cream cheese, sugar, and salt, and blend until smooth. Then, with motor running, add eggs, then sour cream, and finally chocolate. Blend all together until smooth. Pour filling on top of crumbs in pan.
  4. Place pan in a roasting pan, and place roasting pan in oven. Then pour in boiling water to come halfway up the side of the pan. Bake for 1 hour, just until set. Then turn oven off and let cheesecake sit 1 hour in oven without having opening door (to help prevent cracking).  
  5. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan (to help prevent cracking). Leave the cake in the pan, and cool it completely on a wire rack. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  6. Unmold cheesecake. Let it set before serving.
  7. Optional: prepare chocolate ganache topping. 

Chocolate Ganache Topping

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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 

Steps

  1. Break up chocolate into pre-defined sections and place in a medium-sized bowl. 
  2. Bring cream to a boil, and pour over chocolate. Add in salt.
  3. Let it stand for 10 minutes without stirring (Stirring will result in ganache cooling too quickly and becoming grainy). 
  4. Stir until smooth and shiny to break up any remaining pieces of chocolate. 

Cooking notes:

  1. Immediately after arriving at his apartment with all of the ingredients, we realized we did not have a 9-inch springform pan, or any pan really, so Travis was lovely and went out got get a few different pan options. Meanwhile, I worked on crumbling graham crackers for the crust . . . 
  2. We also did not have a food processor so I crumbled the graham crackers by hand. This took way longer than expected and, by the time Travis got back with the cake pans, I had only done about half of the crackers needed. He came up with the ingenious idea of putting them all in a bag and then just whacking them with the sour cream container, and this worked much better. 
  3. The lack of food processor once again became an issue when making the body of the cheesecake because we couldn’t get the cream cheese to mix. I don’t know what microwaving actually does to cream cheese, if anything, but we microwaved it to soften it up. We also had to microwave the chocolate pieces before adding them to this for the same reason, but it worked perfectly fine. 
  4. We also realized too late that we didn’t have a roasting pan. Luckily Travis had make baked macaroni and cheese the night before in a giant pan, so we were able to wash this out and use it. And we had baked macaroni and cheese for dinner . . . yum. 
  5. The pan remedy was brilliant until Travis noticed a hole in the bottom. I found it hilarious at the time, but he had some Canadian Flag packing tape so we put that over the hole, hoping it would stick and hold in the boiling water. 
  6. The tape kind of worked to seal up the hole, but we took the baking tray out halfway through the hour-long cooking in the oven, dumped the water off, put more boiled water in, and stuck it back in the oven. I don’t think the cheesecake suffered from this, and without doing this, the water would have spilled over the edges of the baking sheet and caused a real mess in the oven. 
  7. This part was all on me: I forgot just how long it takes for a cheesecake to set in the refrigerator. To be fair though, the recipe says total time is 2 1/2 hours . . . I think not. We started making the cheesecake at about 6:30, and I left his apartment somewhere around 12am, with the cheesecake in the refrigerator for about 3 hours at that point. 
  8. Finally, the cheesecake kind of fell apart when Travis and his brother tested it the followingimg_0890 night, but it received a 10/10 rating for taste. Overall I think this cheesecake turned out pretty darn good given the ordeals that we encountered while making it. He and I joked at the end of making this that we could film our baking escapades and call them something like Gorilla Baking, because we keep trying out these elaborate recipes with no proper baking tools. What do you think??? Should we do it???

What is your favourite kind of cheesecake??? 

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Vanilla Cupcakes

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Hello there 🙂 🙂

 A few weeks ago, I learned that my friend Travis had never baked cupcakes before in his life. I was completely shocked that he had made it almost 28 years on this planet without ever making them, so we got together last Wednesday to bake. I loved this recipe I got from my grandmother so much that I wanted to share it here. I have no idea where she got it from, but credit to whoever came up with this perfect cupcake recipe. 

Ingredients: 

  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cups milk

Steps: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring eggs and butter to room temperature. Insert cupcake liners into two pans. 
  2. Mix together the salt, flour, and baking powder in a bowl (dry mixture).
  3. In a separate bowl, beat butter. Then add sugar and beat until combined. Continue to beat, and add eggs and vanilla (wet mixture). 
  4. Add part of the dry mixture to the wet mixture and beat. Then add some milk, and beat. Continue this alternation until all of the dry mixture and the milk have been added. Mix well. Then pour into cupcake pans (about half-full).  
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cupcakes are a golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the centre. 
  6. Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pans. 

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And now for the frosting!!!

Ingredients: 

  • ¾ cups butter, softened
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Beat softened butter together with some icing sugar. Add the vanilla and some milk. Then alternate between adding sugar and milk until happy with frosting consistency. Note: If frosting is too thin –> add sugar    If frosting is too thick –> add milk

Cooking notes:

  1. Well, first off, my friend did not own an electric mixer so we picked up two whisks for $3.50, one large and one small, and beat everything together by hand. My arm definitely got a good workout, and by the end of it, only one whisk was left standing; the other was in pieces in the sink. Good to know though that hand beating can do just as good of a job; it just takes a bit longer. 
  2. We found that the cupcakes were not fully baked after 15 minutes, so we left them in for the full 18 minutes.
  3. We also didn’t have a toothpick, so the cupcakes were tested using a sanitized paper clip. Talk about high quality bakeware. 
  4. Finally, I wrote out the recipe wrong, with 8 cups of icing sugar needed for the icing, not 4. We got 4 in, but had enough icing to do probably another 24 cupcakes. Oh well, I can always make a cake and use it up. 

Let me know how you find this recipe if you try it out 🙂 🙂 What have you been baking these days??? 

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Blogmas Day 18: I’m Dreaming of a Christmas Dinner . . .

blogmasbannerHello there lovely readers, and happy 18th day of Blogmas!!!

By this time, many of us have laid out our plans for Christmas Day, whether these include a dinner with family, a party with friends, or a swim in the pool at some tropical island resort. Each year, I spend Christmas Day at my grandparents’ house, opening presents, snacking on some baked goodies, and, of course, indulging in the coveted Christmas turkey dinner.

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This is the delicious feast that awaits my family and I on Christmas Day. My grandmother starts getting the vegetables ready early in the morning, and then the rest of the family comes over in the afternoon to help prepare everything else. Fun fact: the pan that we use to cook the turkey in has been in my family for 5 generations!!! It was my grandfather’s grandmother’s turkey pan, and it has done over 100 years of turkeys.

Our Christmas dinner typically includes carrots, corn, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, peas, homemade buns, stuffing and, of course, turkey and gravy. My grandfather makes the gravy from scratch and it is beyond divine. I swear, I could eat mashed potatoes and my grandfather’s turkey gravy every day and not get sick of it; it is that good.

I love having Christmas dinner with my nearest and dearest, but since not all of my family members can be in town on Christmas Day, we all sit in the living room after dinner and phone those who could not make it to wish them all the best, and thank them for the lovely presents they mailed out.

In the days following Christmas, the leftovers from the giant turkey dinner are combined to make turkey casserole, which is easily my favourite food ever. Plus, then there’s turkey soup to look forward to.

What does your family do on Christmas Day???

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Christmas giveaway here for a chance to win an Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette!!! Giveaway closes December 24th at 11:59pm PST!!!

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Blogmas Day 9: Chocolate Chip Cookies

blogmasbannerHello there all!!!

The last few days have been kind of crazy with Christmasy goings-on and I haven’t been keeping up with my daily Blogmas posts about them. So today, December 13th, will mark the most posts published on Literary and Lovely in one day to date. I’ll do my best to stagger them a little bit so you aren’t bombarded with the last five days of Christmas action, but be prepared: there are more posts to come today, so keep an eye out for them!!!

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Back on December 9th, I met up with a friend and, spur-of-the-moment, we decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies. His kitchen is incredible, decked out with all the bells and whistles, and I had been dying to give baking in it a whirl, so this was so much fun. His aunt uses Irma Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking recipe for her chocolate chip cookies, and they always get eaten before midnight on the day they are baked, so it seemed like a fool-proof way to go. We did, however, make a few alterations to the recipe, which will be shown between *. . .*

Ingredients: 

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • ‘½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  •  ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 °F, and grease or line two cookie sheets. *We did not grease the sheets because my friend’s family typically uses PAM, and I can’t eat it. It was definitely a mistake to bake on an unlined baking sheet, but who doesn’t love less-than-perfect cookies that become testers???*

Step 2: In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until well-mixed.

Step 3: Whisk together the flour and baking soda.

Step 4: Add egg, salt, and vanilla to flour mixture, and stir until well-combined and smooth. *We actually added 1 ½ tsps of vanilla because my friend’s family really likes it, but next time I would stick with just the ½ tsp.*

Step 5: Stir in chocolate chips. *We put in the suggested ½ cup but I would definitely put in at least a full cup next time*

Step 6: Dollop the dough in teaspoons onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. *Pretty sure our drops of dough were larger than a teaspoon . . . *

Step 7: Bake for 11 minutes, then let stand briefly before moving them to a rack to cool.

This recipe makes about 45 cookies. *We didn’t make nearly this many cookies with this recipe, mind you, we had a few people snacking on the cookie dough . . . *

What is your favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe???

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Blogmas Day 8: Homemade Nanaimo Bars

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Good morning all!!!

For anyone who might not know, Nanaimo bars are a three layer dessert featuring a crumb-based layer, a butter icing layer, and to top it off, a melted chocolate layer. A super cool fact is that these delicious no-baking-required treats are named after a west coast city very close to my own home: Nanaimo, British Columbia!

Way back in 1986, the Mayor of Nanaimo, Graeme Roberts, started up a contest to find the best Nanaimo Bar recipe. The contest lasted a month, and almost 100 different recipes were submitted, but the winner was Joyce Hardcastle.

Now I don’t know if my family Nanaimo Bar recipe is the same as Joyce Hardcastle’s, and it hasn’t been recognized by any mayor, but it is the most delicious recipe I have come across, and as a Canadian, I have tried lots!!!

Ingredients: 

  1. Bottom Layer
  • ½ cup butter or ¼ cup margarine
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • I egg beaten
  • ½ cup chocolate chips semi-sweet or 5 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut (finely ground)
  • ½ chopped nuts (optional)

2. Middle Layer

  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • 2tbsp vanilla custard powder
  • 2 tbsp milk (or cream)
  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar

3. Third Layer

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup icing sugar

Steps: 

Step 1: To make the bottom layer, mix butter, sugar, egg, and chipits in a heavy saucepan, and stir until mixed. Then add in crumbs, coconut, and nuts, and press into 9” square pan

Step 2: Cream butter, custard, milk, and icing sugar until smooth and spread evenly over crumb layer. Then chill these two layers in the fridge until set.

Step 3: To make the top later, melt butter and chipits over low heat, then allow to cool. Once cooled but still in liquid state, pour over first two chilled layers..

Step 4: Chill the pan in the refrigerator.

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Another special family recipe, handwritten by my grandmother

And voilà: a super-easy no-baking-required dessert!!! I love adding these to dessert platters, especially at family gatherings because they are the perfect size for snacking, and they always get eaten. The pictures above are of the last few that were left at the end of the day I made them. They went that fast!!! I had set aside a few for photos but somehow the “Do not touch-blog material” sign was misread as “Help yourself to these delicious treats.”

If you haven’t made Nanaimo bars before, give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!!!

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Blogmas Day 2: Christmas Baking

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Good afternoon all!!!

One of my favourite festive things to do is Christmas baking with my grandmother. Every year, we test out new recipes and make old favourites, and for this round of baking we wanted to make one of our traditional recipes: shortbread cookies. They are super easy to make, and so delicious to eat.

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My grandmother’s handwritten recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of butter
  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • 4 cups of flour

Step 1: Mix these ingredients in a bowl until they are smooth.

Step 2: Roll the dough into small balls and press with a fork to create a ribbed design, or cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Depending on how wide your cookie tray is, limit the number of cookies per row to about 4, as they will spread out in the oven and you don’t want them melding together. Although, that would make for one massive cookie . . .

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and then pop them in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Step 4: Enjoy your delicious, warm, home-made shortbread cookies with a cup of hot chocolate or tea.

I love giving these as presents to people, having them out when company comes over, and snacking on them while studying for final exams.

What are you baking this Christmas season???

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