Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

So, as is not uncommon, this year my birthday fell on Passover. The first night, to be exact. So, of course, I made cake. Flourless chocolate cake “crust,” raspberry cheesecake layer, and classic vanilla bean cheesecake layer. I made this cake the last time my birthday fell on Passover, too, decorating with chocolate curls. This year, I went all-out with chocolate ganache and shiny glazed raspberries.

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Oreo Red Velvet Brownies

Will someone please just tell all the other brownies that they’ve lost and they should just go home? Because these oreo red velvet cheescake brownies will win every single time.

 Red velvet brownies. Why? Just do it, okay.  Start off with a dense, red velvet base.

Generous cheesecake swirl on top. 

 Oreos. Oreos, Oreo crumbs, Oreo pieces. Everywhere. These brownies are incredibly decadent but you’ll keep going back for more. Guaranteed crowd pleaser!

Raspberry Brownie Bites

Let’s dress up a classic dessert – brownies – and get them all ready to go to a party, shall we?

I baked my favorite brownie recipe, by Smitten Kitchen, of course, into this awesome brownie bite pan.  It’s basically a mini cupcake pan, but with squares. It’s pretty shallow, which makes for perfect, bite-sized desserts.

After baking, I melted some dark chocolate and thinned it a bit with vegetable oil so it’s be nice and runny. I dunked some of the squares into the chocolate, lets the extra drip, and let them set on a piece of wax paper.  Not only does the chocolate coating taste great, but it also helps to seal in the freshness and moisture. You can see the chocolate covered ones below; they look like petit fours.

Some got chocolate ganache heaped on top of the brownie bites instead of a complete coating. 

And the white cloud of deliciousness you see is marshmallow fluff.  I was in a hurry so I didn’t have time to make frosting, plus the brownies were being served at a dairy-free event and I didn’t want to mess with margarine frosting, but I’m really happy with how the fluff looked and tasted.

They were topped off with fresh raspberries. 

The little squares looked like perfectly delicious gems. Next time, I think I’ll try a light glaze on top of the berries to make them really shine. Chocolatey, fruity, sweet and chewy.

And they’re so small that you can try one or two [every time you walk by the fridge].

Winter Wonderland Gingerbread House

With all the snow from Nemo, I thought it might be a good time to post the snowy gingerbread bread house my mother and I made over the holidays.

For the first time, we made the gingerbread house from scratch and cut out the pieces! And of coruse, if I’m going to go through the trouble of making the gingerbread and cutting the pieces, it’s going to be more than just a little square house. Below is a front view of our Victorian-style gingerbread cottage.  

We used Sweetopia’s simple, delicious, and sturdy gingerbread recipe and scaled up this amazing pattern by 100%

Here’s a closeup of the front. The Roof is made of those delicious Pirouette Chocolate cookies (so hard to keep from eating them!) And the door is marshmallow. The mailbox is a white chocolate coated wafer cookie on a green candy stick and the little gold balls are edible sugar dragees.

And here’s the back view. Little baby peanut butter cups as decoration along the roof, a marshmallow chimny, and green m&m’s (the mint flavor) along the back. Plus dragees for a little more sparkle  

Ice cream cone trees (take a pointy cone, turn it over, and pipe green textured frosting on) and a pond in the back. We found these cute gummy candies as decoration and used Amy’s graham cracker bunnies to give the scene some life.  Can you find the set of bunnies who are well, particularly loving?

The pond is jolly rancher – we crushed them up, put them in a pile/circle on tinfoil, and watched the like a hawk as they were melting in the oven. Once they cooled, it was just a matter of peeling off the pond and plopping it into the board.

The ice-skating marks were made by running a wet paintbrush over the pond after it had been (accidentally over-dusted) in powdered sugar.

No winter gingerbread scene would be complete without a snowman. See the little pretzel fence in the back ground? That fence kept falling over, but we finally got it to almost stay up…

Jelly beans along the side.  We bought the candy a few days after Christmas when it was all on sale!

And the whole back view. The snow on top is powdered sugar and, on top of the roof, roral icing smeared on thick.

The front bay is lined with Mike & Ike’s as well as green chewy disks. Not sure what brand they were, but they were definitely delicious. The walkway is made of mini peanut butter cups and cut-up cinnamon and chocolate marshmallows. I didn’t even know they made marshmallows in those flavors and sold them at the supermarket; must have been a seasonal thing.

The windows, by the way, were made using that same crushed jolly ranchers method. I cut the holes for the windows before baking and cleaned them up more right after the gingerbread came out of the oven. Once the giant cookies has cooled, I sprinkles the jolly rancher pieces in the holes and popped them back in the over for a bit until they had melted. It’s hard to see because there’s no light in the house,but the effect was really cool and looked like beautiful stained glass. 

And the front view once more.  With every year comes a new gingerbread house. I’d better start thinking about how to top this one!

Yummy Mousse/Chocolate/Cheesecake/Raspberry Thing

I don’t really have a name for this fabulous dessert, so I’ll just explain what’s in it, layer by later.

At the bottom, I cut out a ring of flourless chocolate cake.

Above the chocolate cake layer is a tin but decadent layer of dark chocolate ganache.

The pink layer is a tart raspberry mousse, made with raspberry and whipped cream. That was my favorite and I used the leftovers to fill a cake. So tasty and it helped lighten up this super-rich dessert quite a bit.

The chocolate layer in the middle is a mixture of mini chocolate chips and chocolate ganache. This added some nice texture with a crunch from the chips.

The light layer almost at the top is vanilla bean cheesecake. Deliciously perfect.

It’s all drenched in gooey chocolate ganache.

And drizzled with homemade raspberry sauce.

I was happy with how all the elements went together nicely. Even though this was a very rich dessert, most of us completely polished off out plates! Next I have to try this with a layer of ice cream…

More Macarons – Lemon, Strawberry, Chocolate, and Mint

I went crazy with the macarons and made about 100 little sandwiches over the course of one weekend.

 3 flavors of shells: lemon, chocolate, and strawberry.

The lemon shell was made with fresh lemon zest (easy peasy) but the strawberry was a bit more complicated.

Strawberry. I made this flavor by slicing strawberries very thin and baking the berries in the oven at a low temperature for a few hours to dehydrate them. When they were dry, I put them in the blender to turn them into intensely flavored strawberry powder and mixed that in with the macaroni batter.

3 kinds of fillings: swiss meringue butter cream, strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate mint.

The strawberry cheesecake was made using my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe and adding fresh strawberry puree.

The chocolate mint is a mint infused chocolate ganache. I soaked fresh mint leaves in simmering milk before making the ganache and combined with the dark chocolate it was the perfect hint of flavor.

These french macarons were gobbled up in no time.

They have a fabulous crunch on the outside but are soft and almost cake-like on the inside. 

 After 100 of these, I think I’m done with macarons for at least the next week.

Coffee Cake, Maddie Style

I made coffee cake. This coffee cake, to be precise.

It was for a picnic and I wanted them to be bite sized, easy to clean up, and even easier to eat.

So of course, I made coffee cake in mini cupcake pans.

The cake was incredibly tender and moist.

But you know the topping is always everyone’s favorite part. Cinnamon, brown sugar, toasted walnuts, and mini chocolate chips.

Use your favorite coffee cake recipe and they’re perfect for brunch or your own picnic!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Candy Cake

I swear, I really was planning on taking pictures of the inside of this cake. During the party I cut a nice slice and put it aside, promising myself that I’d take more pictures in the morning. Then my suitemates and I ate it. I’d apologize to you, but it was so tasty that I really don’t feel all that badly about it.

The cake had 3 layers: chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter swirl.

Layered with chocolate peanut butter ganache (just add some peanut butter and extra cream to your favorite ganache recipe) and chocolate peanut butter cream cheese frosting.

As you can see, it’s decorated in kit-kat bars, Hershey’s kisses, and colorful m&m’s.

And tied off with a ribbon, because you know I can’t resist.

This lovely cake was made for a candy-loving friend’s birthday.

The decoration was incredibly fast and easy – took only about 20 minutes total!

This cake was incredibly rich – perfect with a glass of milk around a table with friends.