Chocolate-Chip Toffee Cheesecake

Delectable. Phenomenal. Decadent. 

I really wish that I could claim this one as my own, but my only claim to it is that it was made in my kitchen. The true chef behind this one – my brother. He stayed with us for a few days last week for an interview and decided to make dinner one day while my husband and I were both at work. We came home to homemade bread bowls, soup, and this cheesecake as dessert. I could get used to this!

Words aside, this cheesecake is definitely a show-stopper. I am not sure that any of these words can really describe how delicious it was. Decadent, but totally worth it. I am sure it would be well received to finish out any holiday party that you may encounter. Enjoy

(Printable Recipe)

Chocolate-Chip Toffee Cheesecake
Barely adapted from food.com

Ingredients: 
Crust:
1-1/4 cups chocolate animal crackers, crushed
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling:
2 (8oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups Skor English toffee bits (from 2 8-oz bags)

Topping:
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
caramel ice cream topping 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the cracker crumbs, 2 Tbsp. sugar, and butter. In an ungreased 9-inch springform pan, press the crumb mixture in the bottom and 1 to 1-1/2 inches up the side. 

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and the vanilla with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the toffee bits for garnish. Gently stir remaining toffee bits into the cream cheese mixture. Pour the mixture into the crust. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until set. Turn oven off; leave door open 4 inches. Cool the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes. 

Remove the cheesecake from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Without releasing or removing the sides of the pan, run a metal spatula along the sides of the cheesecake to loosen. Cool 30 more minutes. Run metal spatula along the sides of the cheesecake to loosen again. Refrigerate uncovered until thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours.

In a small microwavable bowl, microwave 1/2 cup chocolate chips and whipping cream uncovered on high 20-30 seconds or until chips are melted and can be stirred smooth. Cool 5 minutes. Spread the topping evenly over the cheesecake. Sprinkle the reserved 2 tablespoons of toffee bits around the outer edge of the cheesecake. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips over the middle of the cheesecake. Refrigerate until the topping is set, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with caramel ice cream topping. Remove the sides of the pan and serve.

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Club: Baked – Buckeyes

My mom called the other day mentioning that she saw a girl wearing a shirt saying, “Once a Husker, always a Husker.” She really wanted to get one for me since we have moved away from Nebraska, but the store had already sold out of them by the time she found it. Being a “true Husker girl” I have never made nor tried a Buckeye candy, but I decided to embrace my full B1G 10 spirit and give these a shot (j/k) 🙂

Named after an opposing mascot or not, these little candies crafted of peanut butter and chocolate are not something to pass up. Karen from Karen’s Cookies Cakes & More is hosting this week’s Club: Baked recipe, and as usual, I had a lot of fun making something that I otherwise wouldn’t have chosen. 

They were really simple to make. Mix together the peanut butter part. Melt the chocolate. Dip, set, and eat. As we were forewarned in the book, the peanut butter mixture was a little dry, but I was able to push it into a ball with my hands pretty easily. The hardest part about these for me proved to be waiting for the chocolate to set. I moved a few of them too soon, but it was nothing a quick set in the refrigerator couldn’t fix. I could see these being a great recipe for when you need something quickly but still want it to be a hit. Just proves it is hard to go wrong with that classic peanut butter-chocolate combination.

Be sure to stop by the Club: Baked page to see the results for the other bloggers. I am thinking this will be a delicious week for everyone involved!

Club: Baked – Sunday Night Cake

The next Club: Baked recipe was chosen by one of my favorite bloggers, Julie from Little Bit of Everything. I first met Julie through SMS, and she was the first blogger that I knew in my town. We have since moved to a new state (from NE to AZ), but I still love looking through Julie’s recipes!  

In the book, they talk about how this is one of their favorite cakes. While fancy layer cakes are nice, they take a lot of time and patience to make. Sometimes it is nice to make a cake in a pan, frost it, and eat! That’s exactly what this cake is. It is a white-cinnamon base topped with a dark chocolate, pudding-like frosting. We really enjoyed the cake portion. The recipe called for a 9×9-inch pan, but I baked mine in a 8×8-inch pan. I had to add about 10 minutes to the bake time called for in the recipe, but it seemed to work okay. My cake turned out a little dense, but it was definitely still nice and moist! In my opinion, the frosting was just okay, but this may be due to the fact that I don’t tend to gravitate towards chocolate-heavy recipes. I also think I may have let the frosting beat in the mixer just a little too long because the butter almost started to separate, so I would recommend to stick to the 2-3 minutes called for in the recipe. If dark chocolate is your thing, you’d probably love this frosting as it is chocolatey and pudding-like, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. 

But, don’t let my chocolate aversions keep you from trying out this cake. We were already discussing other possible frosting ideas for the cake. I’m thinking maybe a cinnamon buttercream or even a cream cheese frosting would be great! Be sure to stop by the Club: Baked page to check out the other cakes. I know there are some other ladies there that are chocolate lovers, so they may have a better review of the frosting 🙂 Enjoy!

Club: Baked – Chocolate Mint Thumbprint Cookies

Mother nature was against me last night. I was on track to get these cookies finished and photographed before I lost my daylight, and instead we got a monsoon that made it dark about 45 minutes before the sun usually sets. I am really not being dramatic calling it a monsoon either. You should see how hard it rains when it finally decides to down here!

Weather aside, this is our next recipe for Club: Baked hosted by Jamie of Random Acts of Food. I am a cookie girl, so I was excited to see how the first cookie recipe in the book panned out. Overall, I think the process of putting these together went quite smooth. I used 72% dark chocolate and white chocolate that I picked up from Trader Joes and the Andes mint pieces (baking isle) for the mint chocolate. I did opt to use my standard cocoa instead of Dutch processed cocoa, as I really don’t bake with chocolate that much. My only problem was trying to press a “thumbprint” in the cookies without causing them to crack. It is harder than it sounds! Even with a few cracks, my cookies all held the white chocolate ganache without leaking 🙂 

My makeshift double-boiler set up.

Halving the recipe left me with 14 cookies (I’ve noticed my yields have been quite different than the listed yields in the recipes). I didn’t try one as I am much for most chocolate goodies, but I can tell you that my husband wouldn’t even share a bite of his 🙂 The rest of them are headed to work today with him. Thanks to Jamie for hosting and be sure to stop by the Club: Baked page to check out the round-up!

Grandma’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I never grew up with a garden. Always a couple tomato plants but never much else. When my parents moved into their current house when I was about 13, we tried one summer. Mom was weeding and pulled up all but one of the carrots that we had planted and that is about how the garden went the rest of the summer too (although not all of it was our fault). 

Despite my lack of experience with anything green, when we finished our backyard this spring, a garden was on our short list of must-haves. By the time it was finished in mid-April, we were about a month late (for Arizona standards) getting our plants in the ground, but we decided to give it a go anyway. I have to say I have been pretty impressed. We have gotten herbs, cucumbers, tons of little yellow bell tomatoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, jalapenos, little bell peppers, and zucchini so far. Still waiting on our watermelon! You can tell that we were late planting as much of our produce has been small. That is everything but the zucchini! Check out this monster! (Those tiles on our counter are at least a foot in length). I am glad that we decided to only plant one zucchini plant!

So what does one do with a surplus of zucchini? Well, we have been grilling much of it, but there is only so much grilled zucchini that two people can eat! I was talking to my mom one day, and she mentioned that my grandma has a recipe for a chocolate zucchini cake that everyone always loved. I can assure you it didn’t take me to long to decide on that recipe as a destination for this monster, and after a quick phone call to my aunt for the recipe, I was armed and ready to go. 

I grated my zucchini by hand using the smaller portion of a cheese grater as I wanted the pieces to incorporate better into the batter. I can tell you that 2 cups of grated zucchini still left me with about 1/3 of this baby! As anticipated, the cake turned out great! Can you ever expect anything less from a “grandma recipe?” My aunt said that grandma usually frosted the cake with a chocolate cream cheese frosting. I went with a standard chocolate frosting that I will post below because I never keep cream cheese in the house, but if you want to make a cream cheese version, by all means send me some 🙂 Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Grandma’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake
From Grandma F.

Ingredients:
Cake:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup oil
1-3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups peeled, finely grated zucchini (I left the peel on)
2-1/2 cups flour
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2-3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional: I added these)

Chocolate Frosting:
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick spray and set aside. Add the cake ingredients in the order shown (except for the chocolate chips if using) to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix and beat on low speed for 4 minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed. Gently fold in chocolate chips if using. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

For the frosting, mix the cocoa, butter, and milk. Add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Frost the cake once cool.

Linked to Sweet Tooth Fridays

March Cookie Carnival: Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal Cookies

Our Cookie Carnival recipes this month were both loaded with a special ingredient — chocolate! Both Chocolate Mint Sandwiches and Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal Cookies were on the March menu. While this thought might be pure bliss for many, I usually shy away from chocolate-based desserts. Don’t get me wrong, I love things like chocolate chip cookies, but if given the choice between chocolate and vanilla, I will go for the vanilla every single time. Oddly enough, several days ago, my husband decided that he was craving brownies to go along with his ice cream, thus we decided to give these cookies a go (see below for his cookie-ice cream creation). 

Our verdict: the cookies on their own were just okay. Of course, they were good when served straight out of the oven with ice cream, but the ones that I baked separately as traditional cookies were a little eh. They weren’t bad, but they also are not a cookie that I will be moving to my “make again” list. To be completely fair, I did change the recipe by increasing the butter-cream cheese ratio because I was a little short on the amount of cream cheese called for in the recipe, however I don’t think this would have greatly affected the taste. 

 You win some, you lose some, and I think that my experience with these cookies is more personal taste than anything else. Check out the others’ results after the 1st of April on Tami’s blog. I’ve seen a couple other bloggers, including Tami, that have made these cookies and really enjoyed them! 

(Printable Recipe)

Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal Cookie
From QuakerOats.com

Ingredients:
1 pkg. (8oz) cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 cups oats (quick or old fashioned)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
powdered sugar (optional)

In a large bowl, combine flour and baking soda; set aside. In a separate large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and sugars until creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla; beat well. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Stir in the flour and baking soda mixture. Add oats and nuts (if using). Stir until just incorporated. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place cookies 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are almost set. Centers should still be moist. Do not overbake. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Store tightly covered.

Yield: 6 dozen

Top Chef: Just Desserts Chocolate Chip Cookie

food network chocolate chip cookies2

Well, it’s Fat Tuesday. What I don’t have is a New Orleans-inspired recipe, but what I do have to share today is a GREAT recipe for any of you that may be giving up chocolate or (gasp) sweets for the next several weeks. To all of you – you have one more night. This recipe is absolutely doable. Bake them!

This chocolate chip cookie recipe is one of many that I have saved including a couple Alton Brown recipes, the Levain Bakery cookie, and the New York Times chocolate chip cookies among others (I really should have a chocolate chip cookie bake-off to determine our favorite). I think I may have originally chosen this recipe so that I could use my new kitchen scale. However, I have already made them twice – once as a batch of cookie dough that my husband could keep in the freezer while I was still gone and the second time as one of the first three things I made in my kitchen after returning home. In reality, I had one cookie the first time when I mixed up the dough for him over Christmas break and was thinking about these babies for 2 months until I could make them again. 

food network chocolate chip cookie dough
food network chocolate chip cookies stacked

This recipe results in a TON of large, slightly chewy cookies studded with a fair amount of chocolate. Don’t let the initial amount of butter scare you. The yield from this recipe is huge, so you may want to half the recipe for a more manageable number of cookies. The recipe is different from other chocolate chip cookie recipes that I’ve tried in that you melt the butter, it has a lot more egg yolks than usual, it lists the ingredients by weight, and there’s a hefty amount of salt in the recipe. I added vanilla because I always do. The sugar ratio is also severely weighted towards brown sugar which gives them a nice caramel flavor after they are baked. That flavor combined with the salt in the dough might be one of my favorite things about these cookies. It’s that perfect sweet-salty combo.

My biggest (and only) complaint is that these cookies baked up rather flat on my second go-round. The first time we baked the balls of dough straight out of the freezer, and the cookies seemed to retain their height a little better than when I baked the fresh dough the second time. I would be curious to see if some time in the refrigerator would help this? Either way, I’ve got a lot more chocolate chip cookie recipes to try although these may be the last ones I ever make if it was up to my husband =)

I’ve linked this post up to Sweets for Saturday! Check out all the goodies over there. Yum!

food network chocoalte chip cookie topped with ice cream

(Printable Recipe)

Top Chef: Just Desserts Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Eric Wolitzky’s recipe on bravotv.com

Ingredients:
1-1/2 c. butter (3 sticks)
200 gm granulated sugar (1 cup)
400 gm brown sugar (2 very tightly packed cups)
21 ounces of flour (4-2/3 cup)
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1-3/4 tsp. table salt (recipe calls for 1 Tbsp. Kosher salt)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
21 ounces chocolate, chopped into chunks (I used chips – it’s what we had)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Melt the butter on the stove in a small saucepan. Allow to cool slightly. Beat sugars and melted butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each addition. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt with a whisk. Mix in by hand until just combined. Mix in chocolate chips or chunks. 

Roll dough into desired sized balls and press down slightly on the baking sheet. We liked these as larger cookies (at least tablespoon-sized balls of dough). Bake for approximately 14 minutes or until golden brown (less time if making smaller cookies). Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes then cool completely on a wire rack. 

If desired, the dough can be frozen after rolling it into balls. Place the balls of dough on a cookie sheet so that they are not touching and freeze until solid. Store the balls of dough in a freezer-style ziploc bag until ready to use. They can be baked directly from the freezer. I do not know how long they will keep. My husband’s supply lasted only a couple of weeks =)

Final Countdown to Christmas #4: Dad’s Milk Chocolate Fudge

This is another one of those recipes that has endured years and years of Christmases in our family, however this one has always been my Dad’s thing. I can remember having to stand on a step-stool in order to see over the edge of the stove so that I could help. 

In the years since my husband has been around (which is actually quite a few Christmases in itself!), it has become one of his favorite Christmas treats. I can’t blame him. Out of all the different kinds of fudge that I’ve tried, this one is definitely my favorite. We had some trouble finding marshmallow creme this year and actually drove around to three different grocery stores to find it. The fudge is worth it. 

The recipe that we use is based of the fantasy fudge recipe that is listed on the back of the container of Kraft marshmallow creme. Our main swap is that we always use milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet or dark chips, and that is exactly the reason that I love it so much. The other modification is in cooking time. We never use a candy thermometer, so we usually just cook it for 5-6 minutes instead of the 4 listed on the can. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Dad’s Milk Chocolate Fudge
Adapted from Kraft Fantasy Fudge

Ingredients:
3/4 c. (1-1/2 sticks) butter
3 c. sugar
2/3 c. (5oz can) evaporated milk
1 (12oz) pkg. milk chocolate chips
1 (7oz) jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla extract 

Grease a 9×13-inch pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Combine butter, sugar, and evaporated milk in a 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5-6 minutes while continuing to stir. Remove from the heat and stir in the marshmallow creme and chocolate chips. Mix in the vanilla.

Pour into the prepared pan. Cool and cut into squares.

Final Countdown to Christmas: Peanut Butter Temptations

Ever play that game 2 truths and a lie where someone tells you 3 things about themselves, one of which is a lie, and then you have to guess which one isn’t true? Let’s give it a shot. 1) I only have 2 rotations left! 2) I am completely done Christmas shopping and almost done with Christmas baking. 3) I am in Arizona and will be here until after New Years!

Which one is it? Well, as you can probably guess by my lack of posts, I have quite a bit of Christmas baking left to do. As an apology for my absenteeism, I’m putting together a Final Countdown to Christmas baking list for any of you who are finding yourselves in a similar situation. Bring on the butter and sugar!

The first cookie up is one that has been associated with Christmas at my house for as long as I can remember. Definitely well before I was old enough to bake them on my own. When we were kids, my brother and I were responsible for unwrapping the mini Reese’s cups. The only way we could eat any of the candies is if they were smashed, so as you can imagine, we always found quite a few in the bottom of the bag that happened to be “smashed.”

The reason for the perennial appearance of these cookies is more than tradition. They taste awesome and are always well received anywhere I have have taken them. If you are a fan of the peanut butter and chocolate combination, these are a must! You’ll need a mini-muffin pan, but I promise the purchase is worth it. Happy baking! 

(Printable Recipe)

Peanut Butter Temptations
From Mom

Ingredients:
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. peanut butter cups

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 mini-muffin tins with non-stick spray and set aside. Beat the butter, peanut butter and sugars together until light and creamy. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and add to the dough. You may need to add a little bit extra flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Roll the dough into balls and place in the pans. Bake for 8 minutes. The cookies will not look very brown, but they will be cooked through. You do not want to overbake these. 

Immediately press a peanut butter cup into each cookie. Cool and let the peanut butter cups set up completely before removing from the pan with the help of a plastic knife. These can be made with 1 mini-muffin pan, but the pan and cookies need to cool completely before baking a second batch.

Yield: approximately 30 cookies


Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Well, I found out that today was National Pumpkin Day, and who was I to argue? Technically, I didn’t make these muffins today, but there has to be some kind of participation points for sharing a pumpkin recipe. I mean, how would we be able to enjoy pumpkin treats if there were no recipes?

Anyway, all silliness aside. Last week I was cruising the blogs looking for “healthier” muffin recipes when I came across this recipe on Mary Ann’s blog Meet Me in the Kitchen. I wanted to make a “thank you treat” for the medical team that I had been working with for the past 4 weeks, but I wanted something a little healthier since it was going to be served for breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and make my fair share of loaded baked goods, but I’m not a big fan of foods that appear to be healthy but really aren’t. If I am going to eat 400 calories for breakfast, then I might as well have had a cinnamon roll =)

The verdict – the muffins were great and were devoured by my teammates. The pumpkin kept them nice and moist, and no one even knew that had whole grains and were low-fat until I told them. Better yet, the mini chocolate chips made them just sweet enough. That my friends is success. Check out Mary Ann’s blog for the recipe. I made them exactly as written only doubling the recipe to get a few more muffins. It’s a little late now for Pumpkin Day (which is absolutely my fault), but I won’t tell =)  Enjoy!