Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

There were more, but they were devoured by the time I got my camera out

You really don’t have to read further than the name to be hooked.  I found these cookies on one of my new favorite blogs, BrownEyedBaker, and they were fantastic. I did make some alterations;  I chose to go for crushed chocolate graham crackers instead of crushed Oreos and I’m happy I did because these had a creamy and milky enough taste without the added Oreo filling.  Plus, it’s healthier and, while I’m not a health-nut when it comes to dessert, if the healthier option tastes just as good (if not better), then why not go for it?

These cookies are incredibly easy and simple, but they have that little extra something that makes them interesting and special.  They taste exactly like an Oreo cookie, chocolatey but also milky.  In fact, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies a few days later and discovered the Oreo cheesecake cookies taste exactly like a fresh chocolate chip cookie dipped in milk.

These cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy-soft on the inside.  The cream cheese really does a fantastic job of keeping these babies moist and soft even after spending a couple days out and uncovered.  Plus it gives the cookies their unique and intriguing creaminess.  This is one of my new favorite recipes and perfect for summer gatherings.  It’s certain to impress and leave nothing but cookie crumbs on the plate.

OREO CHEESECAKE COOKIES:

Yields 1 dozen cookies (you’ll want the whole batch!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped to chocolate-chip sized pieces)
  • 1/2 cup (aprox.) crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner.
  2. Cream together your butter and your cream cheese in a medium until smooth and well-combined.
  3. Add in your sugar and vanilla, mixing until they’re well-combined.
  4. Add in your flour and mix on low until it’s just incorporated.
  5. Use a plastic or wooden spoon to stir in your chopped chocolate.
  6. Pour your chocolate graham cracker crumbs onto a plate and, using an ice-cream scoop to scoop up your cookie dough, roll your cookie dough banks in the crushed graham crackers until thoroughly coated.  Place on the baking sheet 1-2 inches apart (they spread out a bit, but not too much).
  7. Bake for 10 – 13 minutes, until the edges are golden (it is a little hard to tell when these are done, but you want them still a little soft when you take them out so that they’re not too crunchy when they cool).
  8. Let them cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Tips:
Because the cookies get rolled in crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs, it can be a little challenging to see when they’re done.  It took me a couple batches to figure out how long to bake them since it’s tough to see the edges turn golden.  I’ve decided that at 10 minutes, they’re coming out, even if they look a little soft (they’ll firm up and bake a little more on the sheet).
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Raspberry-Swirl Cheesecake vs. Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake

It has been way too long since I’ve made cheesecake.  It’s probably my third favorite dessert (second being brownies, and first being whatever I haven’t tried on the menu yet).  After doing a brief search through my saved recipes and through some of my favorite sites for new recipes, I quickly narrowed it down to some ten candidates.  My head was whirling in cheesecake-baking excitement.  I gave word of my upcoming cheesecake expedition to my mother, who promptly replied “keep it to one pan”.  I was crushed; ten cheesecakes would not fit into one pan.  But, two could.  So, I chose raspberry and caramel-macchiato to be pan-mates (later, I discovered that they went rather well together, but that was a happy accident).

The raspberry cheesecake comes from the fabulous Ms. Stewart.  It is a tartly sweet, wonderfully summery dessert with a smooth and creamy texture.  The caramel macchiato cheesecake comes from AllRecipes and actually has a taste to match its title (I was surprised).  This cheesecake is a bit denser, with a rich texture and a smoky-sweet coffee flavor.  I topped it with a luxurious caramel sauce recipe from SavorySweetLife (I have included the recipe in this post)

RASPBERRY SWIRL CHEESECAKE:

(original yields one 9″ cake, but I halved this version)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cups + 5 tbs sugar
  • 4 oz raspberries
  • 16 oz (2 packages) cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used Slovakian rum since we ran out of vanilla)
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)

Directions: 

  1. Toss your raspberries into a food processor for about 30 seconds till they’re smoothly pureed. Strain the raspberry puree through fine sieve into a small bowl and throw out what remains in the sieve.  Whisk in 2 tbs of your sugar.
  2. Into a medium sized bowl, beat your cream cheese until fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add in your remaining 1/2 cup + 3 tbs sugar slowly and steadily.
  3. Mix in your salt and vanilla (or rum) and, when they’ve combined, mix in your eggs, one by one (careful no to over mix, only stir until just combined).
  4. Your batter is ready to be poured into your crust (directions for creating and baking a half-and-half cheesecake are listed after the Caramel Macchiato recipe)
  5. After pouring in the batter, drop tablespoons of the raspberry puree on top and swirl with a toothpick

CARAMEL MACCHIATO CHEESECAKE:

(original yields one 9″ cake, but I halved this version)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 eggs
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 1/8 cup brewed espresso (strong coffee will work, too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used rum in this one, as well)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, beat your cream cheese until fluffy. Slowly add in your sugar and keep beating until well-blended.
  2. Mix in your eggs, one by one, and beat well after each one. Then, mix in your sour cream, espresso, and vanilla/rum.
  3. Your second batter is ready to be poured into your crust
  4. Before you serve your cheesecake, top it with caramel sauce (it is, after all, a caramel macchiato cheesecake)
Baking Your Half-and-Half Cheesecake:
  1. Bake/make your crust
  2. Preheat your oven to 325°F
  3. You’ll want to get a piece of sturdy paper material (I used a strip cut from a pastry box) that’s not too thick for your divider.  You can use something plastic, metal, etc. for it, just remember that whatever it is, it will be touching your cake so make sure it’s sanitary.
  4. Fit the divider into your pan (trim the divider if necessary) after you’ve baked your crust and secure it to make sure it stays put while you pour your batter (it’s easiest to have someone hold the divider while you pour).
  5. Carefully, steadily, pour the first batter into one half of the pan.  Then, do the same with the second batter.
  6. Pull the divider out and, voila, two cheesecakes in one pan.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 50-65 minutes, until the cheesecake is set but still a little wobbly near the center.

CARAMEL SAUCE:

Yields 2 cups (and you’ll want all of it)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (heat for about 30 seconds in your microwave till lukewarm)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (heat for about 30 seconds in your microwave till lukewarm)
  • 2 tbs rum (use actual rum, not vanilla)

Directions:

  1. In a small or medium saucepan, cook your sugar and water over medium-high heat.  Monitor your syrup carefully until it changes colors around the edges to an amber-brown (350°F on a candy thermometer)
  2. When your syrup changes color, remove it from the heat and stir the mixture quickly with a wooden spoon or whisk (this keeps the syrup from burning).
  3. Continue stirring and carefully pour in 1/2 cup of warmed heavy cream and your butter (I just warmed my butter with/in the cream to make it easier).  This will make your mixture froth and spit, but stir on until everything is dissolved.
  4. Once the sugar’s completely dissolved, add in your 1/4 cup of warmed heavy cream and your rum, stirring until your caramel sauce is smooth.
  5. Once it’s cooled just a little bit, pour the sauce carefully into a heat proof jar and let it cool.
  6. Before topping the caramel macchiato cheesecake, warm the caramel in the microwave until pourable but not too hot.

Review:

Starting first with Ms. Stewart’s raspberry-swirl cheesecake, this fantastic dessert was top-notch.  Ms. Stewart has yet to disappoint, and this tart little treat was absolutely wonderful.  It had the perfect, sweet creaminess of a fine cheesecake with the playful tartness of raspberries.  The base was smooth, creamy, and indulgent, without being overly dense or heavy.  The flavor from the raspberry top came through the whole cake to give it a sweet, fresh flavor.   The recipe is simple, easy, and yields a stunningly gorgeous cheesecake just right for a summer treat.

The caramel macchiato cheesecake was luxuriously delicious and held its own against the fabulous raspberry-swirl.  The deep, smoky flavor from the coffee really comes through in this dessert.  I was a bit surprised at how much it tasted like a real caramel macchiato; the blend of sweet cream and dark coffee hit the perfect note.  The body of the cake was rich, dense, and utterly luscious.  It had the classic thickness of a cheesecake, but without feeling heavy.  This recipe was also simple and painless with an incredible result.  The caramel drizzled on top was perfect and neatly brought together this fantastic coffee-flavored indulgence.

The caramel sauce was sinful, dark, richly-flavored, and delicious.  I don’t think I’ll be using any other recipe from now on.  The caramel was rich, thick, and smooth with a deep and intense flavor.  There is a complexity and depth to this caramel that is truly extraordinary.  I will be topping everything I can with this from now on.

*Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten what exact recipe I used for the crust.  It was one of these two and it was absolutely fantastic:

CRUST 1:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
CRUST 2:
  • 1 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F
  2. Mix together all of your ingredients and press evenly into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan
  3. Bake your crust for 8 to 10 minutes.  Wait till cooled before pouring in batter.

Sweet Lemon Pancakes

I was home this past weekend and had a request for more pancakes, so I decided to try something new.  This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe, but I added a little twist to it.  Instead of plain pancakes, I decided to go with lemon and I added in some cognac for a little extra something.

These pancakes are light and springlike, perfect for a summer breakfast outside on a sunny day.  They’re even better garnished with a little lemon zest and a light touch of maple syrup.

SWEET LEMON PANCAKES:

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (or vegetable oil, but that makes for a drier pancake)
  • zest of one large lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flower
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:  

  1. In a medium bowl, beat your eggs and milk until they become light and foamy (about 3 minutes at high speed of an electric mixer, though I did this step by hand with a whisk)
  2. Stir in the melted butter (or vegetable oil), then the brandy and lemon zest
  3. In a separate, small bowl, whisk the salt, baking powder, flour, and sugar together
  4. Mix your dry mixture into your wet batter, stirring until just incorporated (some small lumps are ok). Now let your batter stand and thicken for about 15 minutes (it’s ok to skip this step, I did and they turned out fine)
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat and brush a light coating of vegetable oil or butter over it. You’ll know it’s hot enough when a drop of water sizzles and evaporates immediately.
  6. Using a small ladle (or measure 1/4 cupfuls of batter) drop batter into the center of your pan.  I usually spread mine out a bit so that they’re a little thinner.  Bubbles will form and break, but the best way to check is to simply lift the pancake a bit with a spatula and when the bottom is golden-brown, flip it.
  7. For an extra lemony taste, grate some more zest on top of each pancake.  Serve with your favorite topping (I recommend just a touch of maple syrup)
Tips:

Only flip the pancake once

Using a feather pastry brush or paper, brush your skillet with a light coat of vegetable oil/butter to ensure crispy (rather than soggy) pancakes

To keep your pancakes warm, preheat the oven to 200°F and place each pancake on a baking sheet inside when you take it off the skillet.  Open the oven door every now and then to keep the oven cooler and prevent your pancakes from drying out.

Review:

These pancakes were to die for.  The recipe yields light, sweet, summery pancakes.  The lemon zest gives them a fresh and irresistible taste, while the brandy plays in rich undertones.  The batter is simple, non-fussy, and delicious all by itself.  The pancakes fry up a nice gentle crisp on the edges, with a sweet, fluffy, and tender middle.  They’re fantastic with a little maple syrup, but absolutely divine just by themselves as well.  These pancakes are the perfect spring breakfast, served outside on a weathered wood table with white linen napkins, all lit up by morning sunshine.  I know what I’ll be eating all summer long.

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

I found this recipe a while ago in the massive clutter-pile of food articles on my mother’s desk and I had been waiting to make it until raspberries were in season. But, staring at the gorgeous picture on the recipe, I just couldn’t wait any longer and so I made it a little ahead of schedule.

I was very excited to try this dessert (fun fact: it’s named after a ballet dancer and originated in New Zealand) as my mother had never made one (very surprising) and my father had never eaten one (more surprising). I was a little hesitant since the dessert is meringue-based (and I really, really hate meringues), but it was a simply fantastic little treat.

This recipe is simple and turned out perfectly, but from my pavlova research (courtesy of Google) I have found that there are several things that can go wrong with this dessert (and often do). The two biggest problems seemed to be with having your egg whites refuse to whip up (or having them collapse after the other ingredients were added in) and having the entire pavlova collapse once it was taken out of the oven. The solutions I found to these are at the bottom of this post (under tips); they were simple to do and I’m sure they worked since I didn’t experience any of these minor disasters.

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova with Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries:
Recipe:

(base)

  • 6 egg whites (room temp.)
  • 300g powdered sugar (careful if you want to reduce the sugar, it may affect how well it whips up)
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped to smallish bits (I chopped mine to roughly the size of average chocolate chips, but don’t use actual chocolate chips, because they don’t incorporate or flavor the cake as well as chopped chocolate)

(topping)

  • 500ml heavy cream (this really depends on how much whip cream you want on top)
  • 500g raspberries (again, this one’s more to taste/looks)
  • 2–3 tablespoons coarsely grated dark chocolate (same as above)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large, shallow baking pan with a silpat pad (you can also use a similar non-stick mat or a baking sheet, this is just what I used)
  2. Beat your egg whites into peaks (the recipe was vague on what kind of peaks, so I did them somewhere between soft and stiff and it worked just fine). Little by little add in the sugar
  3. žAdd in the cocoa a tablespoon at a time, then add the balsamic vinegar (some recipes have you fold in the cocoa, but I beat it in)
  4. Fold in the chopped chocolate, take care not to crush your egg whites
  5. žPile the batter onto the baking sheet into a pile and carefully round and smooth out to a 9inch circle. You want a slight indent in the center, but don’t go gouging out a hole; it’s a slight indent
  6. Now, turn your oven down to 300°F, and set your pan (with the pavlova in it, of course) into the center of your oven. Bake for about 1 hour (mine took about 45 minutes, but my oven bakes a little faster than most). It’s done when the top is springy and it looks like every online picture of a chocolate pavlova. Careful checking this dessert; it’s very delicate, so only open your oven if you absolutely have to and try to open it as little as possible.
  7. žWhen your pavlova is done, turn the oven off and open the door slightly to let the pavlova cool off (we just stuck a sturdy wooden spoon in the door to prop it open about an inch or two). Slight cracking may occur.
  8. žWhen it’s cooled, take it out and either invert it onto a serving platter or carefully transfer it on (I had my gracious mother help me with this one, and we opted to transfer it by lifting it on the silpat liner and carefully folding the liner away until I was left holding the pavlova. This definitely requires two pairs of hands)
  9. žRight before you’re ready to serve, whip up the heavy cream (you can add in some powdered sugar, but you’d essentially be sugaring a meringue and that’s most definitely not necessary). If you’re not planning on eating the entire pavlova in one sitting, I’d cut slices first (which, as you will see, is easier said than done) and then put the topping on those pieces. Otherwise, your cream will sit on the pavlova and make it soggy, etc.
  10. Finish it off with the raspberries (side note: I’m not a huge raspberry fan, but they really are the perfect thing for this dessert. While other berries would be pleasant, the raspberries are essential) and the grated chocolate

Review:

After reading all about pavlovas, I was a little nervous about this dessert, but this recipe made it easy. While the original was a little vague in the directions and obviously was meant for more savvy bakers (hopefully, I’ve managed to simplify it a bit), the final project was fantastic. The outside is sugary and crunchy, while the inside is sticky and, dare I say it, almost a little gooey. While the base of the cake is sweet (unsurprising since it’s essentially just egg whites and sugar), the plain whipped cream topping and raspberries make it refreshing and very summer-y. One of the best things about it is how fun it is to eat; it’s definitely a different gastronomic experience than other desserts. The crisp top and the gooey bottom mixed with the creamy topping make for a very enjoyable texture experience, while you get the play of flavors from the sweet cocoa of the base and the freshly-tart burst from the raspberries (I imagine this is even more incredible when the raspberries are actually in season). My favorite part is how light this dessert is; I had a sizable slice and I didn’t feel the slightest bit full from it. There is serious danger of eating the entire cake.

Tips:

Keep your egg whites pure. Make sure absolutely no oil touches them and no egg yolk gets in. Make sure your bowl, beaters, wooden spoon, and whatever other implements touch them are clean, clean, clean. And keep your fingers out of the bowl!

Egg whites whip up better when they’re at room temperature, so leave your eggs out for 30 minutes or so.

After your pavlova is baked, turn the oven off, but leave the pavlova in the oven. Just crack the door a bit and let it cool off in there. This should prevent it from collapsing.

When transferring your pavlova to a serving platter, be very gentle, they are extremely fragile (especially the bigger they are).

Not mine, found this one off google!