Salted Caramel Pecan Cheesecake


Hello friends! I’ve been extremely busy lately, with the ending of the first semester of school, exam week, marking, planning for the second semester of school, and moving my classroom. Thank you for being so patient with me, I promise this cheesecake is worth it.

As some of you may know, before starting teaching, I spent 8 years working in the restaurant industry. The last restaurant I worked for, Moxie’s, a well-known chain up in Canada, had a dessert almost identical to this one. However, for a recent staff meeting, I decided to make my take on the Salted Caramel Pecan Cheesecake.

This recipe is two recipes amalgamated together, as well as my own few touches… therefore, I consider the final recipe all mine. I’ll still link to the original recipes I used, but I’ll post my “changed” recipe below. I used the crust recipe from here, and changed it. This is the filling recipe that I used, again, changing it as I needed it.

I will let you know, all you health-conscious people out there – this recipe is gluten-free! My principal is actually unable to eat gluten, and I really wanted to make cheesecake, so I took a page out of the Moxie’s playbook and decided to make the crust of the cheesecake out of pecans. Because I was never in the kitchen of Moxie’s, I never knew the recipe, so I found one online and went with that, adding in my own touches here and there.

I was SO sad, because I forgot to take a picture of the whole cheesecake, and I was so proud because the cheesecake didn’t even crack! Usually, because my oven is old and temperamental, any cheesecakes I make end up cracking, but this one didn’t! It was so beautiful and I’m mad at myself for forgetting… Oh well… Next time!

P.S. This cheesecake was awesome. I rarely make cheesecake, because when I do, I’m the only one who eats it (unless I give it away). This one was DECADENT, but incredible. It was perfect.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 10-inch cheesecake

For the salted caramel:

1 c. sugar
6 tbsp. butter, room temperature
½ c. heavy cream
1 tsp. salt

For the crust:

2 c. pecans, coarsely chopped or ground
1 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ c. butter

For the filling:

36 oz. (or 1 kg. or 2½lbs.) cream cheese, room temperature
1½ c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
4 eggs
½ c. sour cream
¼ c. heavy cream
½ – ¾ c. homemade salted caramel (depending on preference)

To make the salted caramel, have the cream, butter and salt ready to go near your stove. Make sure the cream and butter is room temperature, and the butter is divided up into tablespoons so you can add a tablespoon at a time.

Place the sugar in a medium saucepan. With the heat on medium-medium high, stir sugar constantly with a wooden spoon or a heat-resistant rubber spatula. Sugar should start to melt, and become a deep amber colour. Keep stirring, and do not let sugar burn.

When all the lumps have melted, turn the heat down to low and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, adding the next tablespoon when the first one is melted. It is very important – STIR THE CARAMEL CONSTANTLY. Once the butter is incorporated,take off the heat and add the cream and the salt. **If the caramel starts to seize up when adding the cream, the cream was too cold! Make folding motions (as if to “fold in” the cream) if this happens, keeping the caramel moving. Do this until the cream becomes incorporated into the caramel, and you have a thick sauce.

Transfer caramel to an air-safe container, and let cool. Caramel will thicken more as it cools.

To make the cheesecake, preheat oven to 375°F. Line a springform pan with parchment paper (the bottom and sides), and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the pecans, sugar, and salt, and toss with a fork to combine. In a small, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and add to the pecans. Toss to combine, then press into the prepared springform pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then let cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

Lower oven heat to 325°F. Fill 1-2 metal loaf pans or roasting pans with warm or hot water, and put in the lower rack of your oven.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the cream cheese and beat until fluffy. Add the sugar and eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add in the sour cream and heavy cream, and beat again. Finally, add in the salted caramel. Add in amount of salted caramel to your personal taste. I added half a cup in first, then added a bit more because I wanted a stronger caramel flavour in the cheesecake.

Beat all ingredients so that caramel is incorporated throughout the filling and filling is smooth, not lumpy.

Pour cheesecake filling into springform pan. Place pan in preheated oven (on the middle rack).

Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, then turn the oven off. Leave the cheesecake to finish cooking in the warm oven until the cheesecake is room temperature. Transfer cheesecake to refrigerator, and chill completely before slicing with a hot knife and serving.

Garnish cheesecake with leftover caramel sauce.

Nanaimo Bar Tart


Well, another original recipe. This recipe came about quite suddenly. Paul and I had been talking about tortes and tarts, and my mind just started wandering when Paul went to work.

I wondered if a Nanaimo Bar Tart could possibly work, and started thinking…. I took a shortbread recipe for the crust, and changed it up a bit, as well as using the custard powder and turning it into a thick custard, topping it off with a smooth chocolate topping.


I threw it all in the fridge to set up. That was the hard part – waiting for it to set to make sure that everything tasted good and worked together. However, the waiting and experimentation paid off, because WOW did taste good!

The tart turned out very good, but very rich, and already I’m cursing the slightly-bigger-than-normal piece that I cut for myself and finished with gusto because it was just THAT good. Either way, if you are a Nanaimo Bar fan, then this tart should be right up your alley!

Enjoy an original recipe! 🙂

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-9 inch tart

For the tart shell:

1 c. butter
1¼ c. flour
¾c. coconut
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa

For the custard layer:

¼ c. plus 1 tbsp. custard powder
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. sugar
2½ c. milk

For the chocolate layer:

½ c. butter
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium microwave safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Add in the flour, coconut, sugar, and cocoa. Mix together until combined, and press into the tart pan and up the sides, trying to make as uniform and even as possible.

Bake the tart shell in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, and set aside to cool while making the filling.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the custard powder and sugar, then gradually pour in the vanilla and milk while whisking to create a cohesive sauce with no lumps. Whisk over a medium heat until a full boil and the custard thickens, whisking frequently. Once the custard thickens, pour into the cooled tart shell and let thicken and cool.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the butter and chocolate chips and melt on short bursts, combining until smooth.

Once the custard has thickened more, and formed a skin on top, pour the chocolate over top of the tart and even out, being careful not to mix the custard into the chocolate.

Let cool and set completely, in the fridge or on a wire rack, then slice and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

Pear Cake with Chai Caramel Frosting

A friend of mine celebrated a birthday the other day, and I wanted to surprise her with a cake! I decided to take to Pinterest, and found a few different recipes that struck my fancy. I decided to make up my own cake with a few different things, so I decided on a Pear Cake with a Chai Caramel Frosting.

I told her this, and her response was “I mean the pear is a little odd… [but] I like your masterpieces they always turn out delicious!”

The frosting idea I found from this pie recipe, and the flavours sounded so delicious, that I couldn’t resist. I actually found different recipe that I put together, so I’m considering this cake an original recipe! However, I did find the cake recipe here, the base frosting recipe here, and I made a few changes to make it my own.

I have a small jar of Chai spice, and it is AMAZING. All the flavours of Chai in spice form, so I don’t have to brew tea or steep Chai tea bags in parts of my recipes when I want that beautiful Chai flavour.

Holy man this cake turned out so good! The flavour of the pear wasn’t too intense at all, just nice and subtle, but still there, and the Chai and caramel flavours worked so well together. It was such a gorgeous cake and flavour pairing. As I told the lucky birthday girl, “I’m getting cake envy, and I made my own birthday cake!”

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8 inch cake

For the cake:

6 ripe pears, medium sized
¾ c. brown sugar
¾ c. sugar
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 eggs
½ c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla

For the frosting:

1 c. butter, at room temperature
2 c. icing sugar
1 c. caramel sauce, homemade or storebought
1-2 tsp. Chai spice* (depending on preference)

To make the cake, peel, slice and core pears, and toss in a medium bowl with sugars. Leave for 1 hour, then puree in a blender.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8 or 9 inch cake pans, or three 6 inch cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add in the pear puree, eggs, oil and vanilla, and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter evenly into the prepared cake pans, and bake for 30-33, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in pans about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream the butter until fluffy in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add in the icing sugar and beat until incorporated and fluffier. Add in the caramel, beat again. Add in the Chai spice*, starting with 1 teaspoon, and adding more if you want the Chai flavour stronger.

Once cakes are completely cool, level them, then layer the cakes with the frosting. Frost inside layers of the cake, then the outside and top. Slice and serve.

*An alternative for the Chai spice could be Chai tea ground very fine.

Gingerbread Cream Pie with Cinnamon Meringue


I told you this was coming! I’m a crazy woman. I came up with the idea of a gingerbread cream pie a few weeks back. I searched high and low on Pinterest, to no avail. See, I’m picky when it comes to recipes. There were recipes for Gingerbread Cream Pie, but they all started with pre-made pie crusts and whipped topping. (I’m weird, but I can taste the fake of pre-made oil based whipped topping. Phhhhfffffflllllcckkk. It’s gross.)

Also, these pictures are terrible. I apologize, but there was no way to get a clean slice. I did the best I could. As is life. Oh well.

Anyways, because I didn’t love the recipes I found, I decided to make one myself!! How exciting. Paul was over the moon when I told him what I was going to make. Excited might be an understatement.

I didn’t want to start from scratch, so I actually took some inspiration from this recipe, of Kitchen Magpie fame. I pretty much used her recipe and made my own changes to make it Gingerbread pie.

Cream pies are usually custard based, so flapper pie was the perfect base for this Gingerbread Cream Pie. I just changed a few things. First, I asked Paul’s opinion for a crumb crust or pastry crust. He voted hands down for crumb crust, so I made a decision – gingersnaps, or something else? I ended up going with the something else – speculaas, a Dutch spice cookie. (If you’ve ever had Cookie Butter from anywhere, that’s what speculaas is but in actual cookie form.)

I crushed up the speculaas and mixed it with butter to form a crumb crust. I baked the crust, then added my Gingerbread inspiration to the rest of the pie, and BAM. Gingerbread Cream Pie with Cinnamon Meringue. You. Are. Welcome. 🙂 (But seriously, go try this pie!)

Ingredients:

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

For the crust:

1¼ c. speculaas cookies, crushed (you can use gingersnaps)
¼ c. butter, melted

For the filling:

2½ c. milk
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
3 tbsp. Fancy molasses
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cardamom

For the meringue:

3 egg whites
¼ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and crushed cookies. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a medium saucepan, combine all of the filling ingredients. Whisk together until cohesive. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Mixture should become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and when a finger is run down the spoon, the mixture does not fill in the gap.

Set aside to cool while making the meringue. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Add in the cinnamon, and beat again to evenly distribute the cinnamon.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust. Top with dollops of meringue, using a knife to gently push the meringue in an even layer across the pie. Swipe up through the meringue with small strokes to make small peaks across the top of the pie.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until meringue peaks are turning golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack until room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator.

S’mores Truffles

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My dear readers! It has been almost a month since my last post! I am terribly sorry! After Paul’s birthday, I kept meaning to bake something, and write a blog post, but life kept getting in the way. Paul and I celebrated our anniversary, it was Mother’s Day, and we have been working like crazy. All things considered, I am here now, and blogging, and that’s what matters, right?
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For this baking idea, it came about in a different way than normal. This is an original recipe created entirely by me, so I can attest to its successes and failures. There are other recipes for S’mores Truffles out there, but I wanted to do something different.
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A friend of ours recently gave me a bag of Marshmallow candy melts. These melts are excellent for coating candies and truffles, and I decided to put a Sugar and Spice spin on the classic S’more combination. The truffles are actually three different layers. The center is marshmallow and graham cracker pieces melted together rice krispie style, and formed into balls. The middle layer is a decadent chocolate ganache. The outer layer is a mixture of marshmallow candy melts and white chocolate to form a nice smooth shell. I sprinkled graham cracker crumbs on the tops of the truffles to finish them.
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I didn’t know how many the recipe made, so I ended up making a ton. I mean, a TON. Almost 10 dozen truffles. Yeah. I maybe overdid it a bit. Oh well. Truffles for all! Please, feel free to halve the recipe, because I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to be gifted S’mores truffles in the next little bit.

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 90 pieces

For the center:

3 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1 10 oz. bag marshmallows (I just used one whole bag of the regular sized marshmallows)
18 graham crackers, coarsely crushed

For the ganache:

2½ c heavy cream
22 oz. semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate, chips or chopped (I used a mixture of both)

For the candy shell:

1 10 oz. bag marshmallow flavour candy melts
6 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1 graham cracker, crushed for garnish

In a large, microwave safe bowl, place chocolate for ganache. Heat cream in a saucepan or in a microwave safe liquid measuring cup, until almost boiling. Pour cream over chocolate, let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. If chocolate is still lumpy, heat in the microwave for 10-15 second intervals, whisking after each heating, until ganache is smooth. Place in fridge or freezer to solidify and cool completely before using. Line 2-3 pans with parchment paper (depending on if you halved the recipe) and set aside.

For the graham marshmallow center, melt butter and vanilla together in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted, then take off heat immediately. Add the coarse graham crumbs, and stir until evenly mixed.

Butter your hands (or spray with non-stick cooking spray), then form the marshmallow mixture into small balls. Let cool on the pans lined with parchment.

When ganache is cool and almost solid, use an ice cream scoop, a teaspoon, or your hands to wrap ganache around the marshmallow graham balls. Place back on parchment, and repeat until all ganache is used and all graham balls are covered. If ganache becomes too unworkable, place back in the fridge or freezer to solidify again. Refrigerate truffles if ganache needs to be cooled again. (I had to do this about 3 or 4 times. Again, I made 90 truffles, so it took me a while.) After all truffles are coated in ganache, refrigerate until firm.

Crush 1 graham cracker in a mortar and pestle, or with fingers, into crumbs. When truffles are coated and firm, melt candy melts and white chocolate together in a microwave safe bowl until smooth. Let sit for 2 minutes to cool. Dip truffles in the candy shell mixture one at a time, then sprinkle with the crushed graham crumbs.

**Because of the amount of truffles I made, I only had enough candy shell to dip 1/3 of the truffles completely. I drizzled the candy melt mixture over the rest of the truffle mixture. Depending on how you want your truffles, you can multiply the candy shell, or just leave it as a drizzle for all truffles.**

Refrigerate until candy shell is solid, then serve.