Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Mis Amores! I’ve missed you! It’s been a busy summer, and now that school has started (my son started kindergarten! Crazy!), we’re on a tightly packed schedule.

Soon after Eid ul Fitr, the kids and I left for California to prepare for my brother’s impending wedding festivities. To say the wedding was amazing would be an understatement. Like, understatement of the century.

We’re back now, and in the thick of a standard school year. Although the summer was fun, it is nice to be back home and into a normal routine. It’s nice to have some predictability.

While in California, I got the chance to test out some amazing new recipes. Luckily for me, my mom and brother are both amazing taste testers. I’m excited to recreate some of the stellar recipes that were tested.

Now onto today’s recipe- Chocolate cream cheese frosting. A few days ago I was asked to bake some cupcakes for an Eid ul Adha kids gathering. Surprisingly, I was low on butter but had a few packages of cream cheese (very strange in my home!). I wanted to try my hand at something different, and I’ve seen recipes floating around for a chocolate take on cream cheese frosting. I adapted this recipe and came up with this fabulous frosting! It’s slightly tangy with an amazing chocolate kick. It’s an amazing alternate to regular buttercream!

 

chocolatecreamcheesefrostingpic

 

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: Enough To Frost 2 Dozen Cupcakes

Or a 2-Layer Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

Place cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl, and using a whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and whip on low speed until incorporated. Add cocoa powder and whip on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed to high and whip until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, remembering to scrape the sides of the bowl along the way.

Use as needed.

Refrigerate leftovers.

Note: Frosting may be made and frozen in advance. To use, simply leave on the counter and bring to room temperature. The frosting may need to be whipped lightly to bring back t original consistency.

Creamy Herb Spread

Hello lovers! How has Ramadan been going for you thus far? We’re already 9 days in and I cannot believe it’s going by so fast (but isn’t that what we say every year?)! Alhumdullilah (praise be to God), it’s going well for us. Our son has been going for Taraveeh (special night time prayers at the Mosque) almost every night with my husband, and he loves it. Our local Mosque has arranged a daycare for the kids for while the parents observe prayer, and he loves hanging out with his little buddies there.

I’ve been trying to keep things interesting for Iftar (break-fast time), and I finally got a chance to modify some of this delicious Creamy Herb Spread from The Comfort of Cooking.  It’s an amazingly creamy and flavorful spread that can be used to fill veggies (like mini peppers or cucumbers!), and would also be amazing as a spread used for tea sandwiches. It’s versatile and keeps well in the fridge, and is a fun departure from traditional finger goods!

 

CreamyHerbSpread

Creamy Herb Spread

Yield: 1 – 1 ¼ Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk (by hand or mixer) until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a piping bag and use as needed.

Leftovers must be refrigerated.

 

New York Cheesecake (…and some musings)

I know this is a food blog, and maybe I shouldn’t be delving into these things, but I’ve had a lot on my mind lately…

As we all know, the political climate in America (and around the globe) has been burning hot. Things were simmering for quite some time, but the simmer has erupted into a full boil and is threatening to spill over.

Here in the States, we are looking into the face of a xenophobic, islamophobic, racist, hate-mongering, modern day fascist. The Republican frontrunner (?!) has brought out a very nasty side of our fellow Americans. I am so disappointed and saddened by the way my countrymen have responded to these times of trials and tribulations. Instead of coming together and supporting one another, we are being torn apart.

Places of worship are being desecrated, Muslims are being harassed in the streets and their schools, Muslim women are being targeted for wearing their religious head covering.

People that we grew up with, who know us, are responding to us with vitriol. I just feel so hurt and disappointed.

You guys, we are one. We bleed the same blood. Don’t let hate drive a wedge between us. We are better than that.

***

Cheesecake is something that I’ve been struggling with and wanting to conquer for quite some time. The last time I attempted making a standard cheesecake was in Spring 2013, when my father and mother were visiting. My Papa was a fan of cheesecake, and it was for him that I attempted to take a shot at it. The crust was slightly burnt and super soggy, and the surface was majorly cracked, but my dad savored and relished each bite.

This time around, I made sure to do my research before I got started. I went through and read about various tips and techniques, and I also reached out to the Cheesecake Queen herself, Faaiza of Modest Munchies, for some pointers (take a look at her impressive roundup of cheesecakes!). The following are techniques that will ensure you get the perfect cheesecake:

  • Be sure to grease your pan! Most recipes don’t call for the springform pan to be greased, but to help prevent cracking, make sure you’re greasing the sides. The science behind it is that as the cheesecake cools, it contracts inwards. If the sides aren’t greased, the cake will stick to the sides and crack as it contracts.
  • Use room temperature cream cheese and eggs.
  • After the cream cheese has been mixed well with the sugar, swap out your mixer/whisk for a mixing spoon and gently mix the remaining ingredients. Do not overmix!
  • Once you’ve poured the batter into the pan, tap the pan on the counter a few times. This helps release any air bubbles that could potentially lead to crackage (awesome tip from Faaiza!).
  • Low and slow baking is the way to go! Skip the water bath, and bake according to the directions on the recipe. Once the time is up, turn off the heat, and allow the cheesecake to cool down in the oven itself. The point behind this is that it allows the cheesecake to cool slowly, thus avoiding abrupt temperature changes, and eventual cracks.
  • If all else fails, cover that baby up with some fruit or whipped cream and call it a day 🙂

(Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.)

 

NewYorkCheesecake

New York Cheesecake

Yield: 1 9-inch Cake

Ingredients:

For Cheesecake:

  • 15 leaves graham crackers, crushed
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 pounds (4 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

For Topping:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Make Cheesecake:

Preheat oven to 325°F and set aside a greased 9-inch springform pan.

In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and cinnamon and mix until thoroughly combined. Transfer mixture to prepared springform pan, and press the crumbs onto the bottom. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar and whisk until smooth. Using a mixing spoon, add whipping cream and mix until just combined. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring only until combined. Add sour cream, all-purpose flour, and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into springform pan and tap on the counter a few times to release any air pockets.

Bake for 70 minutes, and then turn off the oven. Allow the cake to cool in the oven, without opening the door, for 6 to 8 hours. Transfer to fridge and chill until ready to serve, at least 4 hours.

Make Topping:

Combine sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Spread evenly over chilled cheesecake.

Cheesecake Cupcakes

Cheesecake is on my bucket-list of recipes to perfect because I’ve only had failed experiences so far.  I’ve followed countless recipes, used water-baths, used “guaranteed” tips, only to be left disappointed.  My biggest issue isn’t the taste, but it’s the giant crack that runs through the center of each and every cheesecake recipe I’ve tried.

::Sigh:: I guess I just have to keep looking!

In the meantime, I’ve been making do with these cute cheesecake cupcakes I found over at Annie’s Eats.  They’re perfectly portioned, and are surprisingly light (as opposed to a traditional dense cheesecake).  The only thing I changed was that instead of a fruit swirl, I topped each cheesecake with a strawberry topping.

If you have any tips or suggestions for me, please leave them in the comment section.  In the meantime, my search for the perfect cheesecake continues!

SwirledCheesecakeCupcakesPic

Swirled Cheesecake Cupcakes

Yield:  12 to 15 Servings

Ingredients:

For Crust:

  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar

For Filling:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature

For Swirl:

  • 3 ounces of raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

Make Crust:

Preheat oven to 325°F and set aside muffin tins fitted with liners.

In a small bowl, combine all of the crust ingredients.  Mix well to make sure all of the dry ingredients are moistened.

Press 1 tablespoon of crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Bake for 5 minutes, or until just set.  Cool on a wire rack.

Make Filling:

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese on medium-high until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Pour batter over crust in each cupcake cavity, filling no more than ¾ of the way up.

Make Berry Puree:

Combine berries and sugar in a bowl and allow it to sit for a few minutes.  Blitz in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds.

Using ½ teaspoon worth of puree, spoon a few dots over the cheesecake batter.  Use a toothpick to lightly swirl and create a marbled effect.

Fill a roasting pan with water and place on the bottom rack of the oven to create a water bath.

Bake cheesecakes until the filling is set, about 22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy New Years’ y’all!  May the new year bring peace, happiness, and health to you all!

One of my goals, as it was last year, is to reduce the amount of food we waste.  Sometimes I’m really good about it, but sometimes I forget about things and by the time I remember it’s too late.

Today’s recipe, a wonderfully moist banana cake with cream cheese frosting, is an amazing way to use up those few dark-brown bananas that have been left to sit on the counter, while their siblings have been happily eaten away 🙂

I found this recipe on my quest to use up a few leftover bananas, and with a name like “The Best Ever Banana Cake,” I was sold.  And after making it, my family was sold too 🙂

 

BananaCakePic

 

 

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield:  1- 9 x 13 Pan

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk (or 1 ½ cups milk + 1 ½ tablespoons vinegar)

For Frosting:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • Nuts, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Make Cake:

Preheat oven to 275°F and set aside a greased 9” x 13” pan.

In a small bowl, mix mashed bananas with lemon juice and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat oil and sugar until thoroughly combined.  Whisk in eggs, mixing well after each addition.  Add vanilla and mix well.

Stir in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk.  Fold in banana mixture.

Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 70 to 80 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before adding frosting.

Make Frosting:

In a large bowl, mix butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until the frosting is smooth.  Spread on cooled cake and garnish with nuts.

Refrigerate any leftovers.