PB&J Cheesecake with Poured Ganache (how-to video).

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Peanut Butter and Jelly is a staple in most children’s diets. In fact, I just read that Americans will consume billions, with a B, of them every year. I can believe it, since my kids picked it for lunch 9 out of 10 times, until very recently. I’ve gone through what must be 100s of pounds of peanut butter and even more jelly. They’re certainly easy to make, which saved me lots of time in the mornings before school, but I felt a little guilty packing it for them EVERY day. I mostly dreaded other parents finding out that my kids ate the same thing over and over. In my head I wanted them to eat bento boxes, with carved vegetables and seaweed salad, but, it was their lunch, their choice and they loved PB&J. The truth is that I love it too; almost everyone does, if we’re honest. Here’s a cheesecake that has all the fond memories of those childhood sandwiches, but it’s way more decadent and sophisticated.

Once in a while I find a new product that changes the way I cook and bake. I felt this way about the Silpat and the Microplane Grater when they first hit the restaurant kitchen scene. It was a eureka moment, since both saved time, money and provided results like nothing I’d used. This Lekue 9-Inch Springform Pan may be the coolest new toy in my kitchen. It is made by Lekue and uses the same technology as the beloved silicone mats. The base is made of ceramic, so it is lovely enough to serve on, which eliminates the need to remove the cake from the base. That, in itself, is brilliant, but the silicone also gives insurance that the cake will not stick to the sides, so there is no holding your breath as you remove it. I baked this cheesecake without a water bath. I need to test to see if it is waterproof, but that is asking a lot of a springform pan and I would continue to wrap the bottom in foil if I used it in water.

 

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Chocolate-Ginger Marbled Cheesecake “Bars”

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Here I am, screeching in at the very last moment, with the Daring Baker’s Challenge. I adore cheesecake and this was a great challenge presented by Jenny. Basically she told us to come up with any variety of cheesecake we wanted. I have to admit that I went to my culinary muses and asked them what they thought. My husband came up with a combination of ginger and chocolate, he was also very insistent that they be bars and not a big cake. Here, in the Midwest, any sweet cut into a square is called a “bar.” It changes this rather sophisticated flavor combination into an after school treat instead of a plated dessert. My sons Henri and Charlie whole-heartedly agreed, and then ran outside to skateboard as quickly as possible. It is very helpful to have opinionated muses.

I have to say he came up with a real winner! The rich chocolate ganache mixed with the ginger cheesecake batter sits on top of a dark chocolate and crystallized ginger crust. Marbling the two flavors and cutting them into bars makes them pure fun! I shared them with several neighbors to keep me from eating the entire batch.

The winner of the Le Creuset baking dish is announced below.

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Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sugared Cranberries! (The Apron Winner is…)

This past week I taught several classes on bread baking. We made breads from my book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day that fit the cooling weather, like oatmeal pumpkin bread. The recipe calls for a roasted “pie” pumpkin, but only uses 1 cup of it. I promised all the wonderful people in my class that I would come up with a way to use the rest of that pumpkin puree and share it here. Every year at this time I make a Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake, in fact I make a few of them, by demand. It tastes like the richest, creamiest pumpkin pie you will ever eat. Even people who swear they don’t like pumpkin love this cheesecake.

I topped it with some beautiful red fruits, including sugared cranberries. The tartness combined with the crisp sugar coating is a perfect compliment to the smoothness of the cake. Keep reading and I’ll show you how.

Before I make the cheesecake I want to THANK YOU all for the fantastic well wishes during this eventful month! The winner of the Zoë bakes apron by Crooked Brook is… (more…)

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Key Lime Cheesecake with Home-Made Graham Cracker Crust

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Bright, citrusy and rich enough to satisfy even in the cold of February! I was in the mood for cheesecake, something smooth and velvety but not too sweet. Key Limes are readily available right now and have the magical ability to transport us to a warmer place of bright colors and sunshine, if only for a moment!

You can certainly use packaged graham crackers but why not make your own, it is so easy and the flavor is so much more impressive! I like to bake my cheesecake in a cake pan instead of a spring form pan. I bake it in a water bath and find the cake pan easier to deal with. Getting the cheesecake out of the pan is easy if you follow my directions! (more…)

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