Thin Mints Chocolate Cheesecake ….Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thin Mints Chocolate Cheesecake

Yeah….I went there.

I just had to do it.

Thin Mints Chocolate Cheesecake

It wouldn’t be a Girl Scouts Cookies season if I didn’t bake something with them. I typically make some type of cupcake with the various cookies like my Thin Mints Cupcakes, Samoa Cupcakes, and Tagalong Cupcakes.

Thin Mints Chocolate Cheesecake

But this year, I wanted to change it up a bit. And since my siblings and I decided to pay tribute to the Emerald Isle for our Sunday Family Dinner yesterday, I knew I had to take the opportunity to use one of my favorites in our dessert– Thin Mints.

This time, in cheesecake form.

Thin Mints Chocolate Cheesecake

It all started with the crust that was made purely from melted butter and ground Thin Mints. Then, I took my standard cheesecake filling recipe and mixed it with melted dark chocolate. I poured a layer of the chocolate cheesecake filling over the crust and then sprinkled in mint & dark chocolate chips (more mint chip flavor, the better!). Another layer of the chocolate cheesecake filling gets poured on top and then a heavy sprinkle of chopped Thin Mints gets topped on that. The remaining chocolate cheesecake filling gets poured in and then it gets baked for about 50 minutes.

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Once baked, the cheesecake sets and ages overnight. And finally it all gets topped with mint scented whipped cream, even MORE Thin Mints and shamrock sprinkles. It is St. Patrick’s Day, after all!

Thin Mints Chocolate Cheesecake

This beauty was the perfect, decadent end to our Irish inspired Family Dinner. And although it was in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, it would be spectacular for any occasion—birthdays, holidays,…..or just because you’re a Thin Mints monster.

May the luck o’ the Irish be with you today—HAPPY ST.PATRICK’S DAY!!!!!!

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Thin Mints Chocolate Cheesecake
Makes one 9-inch Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:
11 ounces Thin Mints Cookies
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
cooking spray

Filling:
8 ounces quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate and mint chips (or other chocolate mint candies of your choice)
1 cup chopped Thin Mints Cookies

Mint Scented Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract.

Garnish:
Thin Mints Cookies
sprinkles
Preheat oven to 325 ˚F.

Prepare the crust. In a food processor, pulse the Thin Mints Cookies until they are well ground. Pour them into a bowl and mix them with the melted butter until moistened and resembles the texture of wet sand. Cover a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and press the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan and about one inch up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and cool to room temperature.

In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave until smooth. Do this in 20 second intervals, stirring in between to ensure that you do not scorch the chocolate. Cool the chocolate mixture until room temperature.

Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and sour cream until its light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the sugar.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add  the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Mix until well combined.

Pour 1/3 of the filling over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the dark chocolate and mint chips over the filling before pouring another 1/3 on top. Sprinkle the chopped Thin Mints Cookies over the top and then cover with the remaining filling. Gentle rap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven with a pan half full of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is set. Turn off the oven and allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door propped open for about 30 minutes. (To prop the oven door, I use a wooden handled spoon to keep it ajar a few inches). Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.  Allow the cake to cool for an additional 30 minutes.  Wrap well with plastic film and foil. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Carefully remove the sides of the pan by running a hot knife around the outside of the cake.

When you are ready to serve, prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Add in the mint extract and whip until combined.

Pipe the whipped cream on top of the cheesecake and garnish with additional cookies and sprinkles. Enjoy!

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownies

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownies

When I saw Nestle’s Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels, I knew I just had to have them—in my brownies :)

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownies

I started these little goodies with my basic brownie batter and added mint extract along with the morsels. It’s really a no fuss recipe and the flavors were scrumptious. Chocolate and mint are a classic winning combo.

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownies

And since they’re such a quick dessert to whip up, they are the perfect last minute addition to your holiday events.

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Mint Chocolate Chip Brownies

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter
1½ cups chocolate, roughly chopped
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon mint extract
2 eggs
¾ cup flour
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup dark chocolate and mint chips (or other chocolate mint candies of your choice)
½ tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper for easy removal. Cover parchment paper with cooking spray.

In a heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate in the microwave until smooth. Do this in 20 second intervals, stirring in between to ensure that you do not scorch the chocolate. Cool the chocolate mixture until room temperature. Stir in brown sugar, vanilla extract and mint extract. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, until mixture is glossy and smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Stir in the dry ingredients into the the chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in 3/4 cup of the dark chocolate and mint chips. Spread the brownie batter evenly in pan. Sprinkle the remaining dark chocolate and mint chips over the top of the brownie batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the brownies completely before dusting the tops with the powdered sugar. Cut into squares and serve.

Day 3 of A Week of Holiday Cocktails – Mint Chocolate Martinis

Mint Chocolate Martinis

Is it a dessert?

Is it a cocktail?

Who the heck cares because it’s ridiculously amazing!

Mint Chocolate Martinis

These decadent martinis are the TRUTH as they combine the rich flavors of chocolate and mint — one of my favorite flavor combos. And with 5 different spirits in it, you know the Holiday spirit will be flowing should you serve these at your upcoming festivities.

Since these martinis are on the sweeter side, you can also opt to serve them as a dessert to avoid any baking or fussy pastries–not a bad idea if you’re trying to avoid unnecessary stress during holiday entertaining.

Mint Chocolate Martinis

We’ve got a bunch of little munchkins in my family so I’m often mixing up cocktails for the adults and mocktails for the kiddos. To make a non-alcoholic spin on these Mint Chocolate Martinis, fill a shaker with chocolate syrup, milk, a splash of heavy cream, dash of vanilla extract and a drop of mint extract. Shake it all up and strain into glasses–but don’t forget the candy cane rims!

Cheers to all!

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Mint Chocolate Martinis

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 candy canes
ice
3 ounces vanilla vodka
2 ounces Bailey’s® Mint Chocolate Irish cream
2 ounces
Kahlúa
1 ounce creme de cacao
splash of peppermint schnapps
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

In a food processor, grind the candy canes until it becomes the texture of sand. Pour the candy on to a small plate. Wet the rim of each glass with water and roll the edge into the candy canes.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the vodka, Bailey’s®, Kahlúa, creme de cacao and peppermint schnapps. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Swirl the inside of 2 glasses with the chocolate syrup and strain the contents of the cocktail shaker between the two. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Tart with Fresh Raspberries

Double Chocolate Tart

Thanksgiving is rather an epic eating marathon for my family. Sure, I think many folks could say the same but what differentiates our clan is that the menu is always a fusion of traditional Thanksgiving fare with delectable Vietnamese dishes. The best of both worlds in my opinion.

We must have went through at least 5-6 different courses this year—flipping back and forth between different cuisines and let me tell ya, thank goodness I had my stretchy pants on :)

But in all fairness, I was trying to load up for our impending Black Friday shenanigans. Which, for the record, was an 18-hour marathon of shopping….I’m totally not exaggerating.

I definitely got my cardio in!

Double Chocolate Tart

For Thanksgiving, I ended up bringing two desserts. The first were mini Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting. I had initially wanted to make a Coconut Cake but opted for mini cuppies so that we didn’t have to hassle with slicing up a layered cake. Plus the minis let people grab a bite of sweetness without feeling that extra guilt. A version of the recipe can be found here.

The second dessert I made was a Double Chocolate Tart that I topped with fresh raspberries. It’s a spin off of my original Chocolate Raspberry Tart. But since I’m a chocoholic, the old version just wouldn’t do so I added cocoa to the crust and then filled it with a truffle like ganache. Boom.

And the truth is I actually hadn’t planned on posting this tart but I’ve received several requests for the recipe since I shared the pic on Facebook. So please excuse the grainy photo as I just quickly snapped a few photos with my phone that day.

But I promise you, janky photo or not, the tart is just delish. It’s deeply rich and just a small slice will definitely fulfill any chocoholic’s needs. It also pairs wonderfully with a glass of deep, dry red wine or a cup of coffee.

And guess what? Since you can make it the day before, it’s PERFECT for any Holiday entertaining you may be planning.

A definite Win-Nguyen :)

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Double Chocolate Tart with Fresh Raspberries
Makes 1 10-inch tart

Ingredients:

Chocolate Shortbread Crust
cooking spray
1½ cups flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup confectioner sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Filling
1½ cups heavy cream
10 ounces dark chocolate (60% Cacao), roughly chopped
*Fresh Raspberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using cooking spray, grease a 10 inch tart pan.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. In a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Slowly begin incorporating in flour mixture a few spoonfuls at a time. When the dough begins to come together, transfer to the prepared tart pan and press dough into it. The dough will be quite soft. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork and place in freezer for at least 10 minutes to let rest. Once chilled, line the tart with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes, until edges are lightly set. Carefully remove the parchment paper from the pie and place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until center of tart is firm. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

Using a double boiler, heat the cream until it’s very hot but not boiling. Remove from stove and add the chocolate. Gently stir the mixture until all the chocolate is melted and smooth. You should have a beautiful glossy mixture when finished.  Pour the chocolate filling into the thoroughly cooled baked crusts.  Carefully tap the side of the pan to even out the filling. Leave tart on the counter to cool (about 30 minutes) and then move to the refrigerator to chill for an additional 2 or 3 hours. The filling should be firm when done.

Remove the tart from refrigerator and carefully slide out the outer pan ring. Transfer tart to serving platter and garnish with raspberries. ENJOY!

Macadamia-Java-Chip Ice Cream for King’s Hawaiian

Macadamia-Java-Chip Ice Cream

I scream, You scream…

We all scream for Ice Cream!

With Summer in full effect, the heat has been blazing here in Southern California. Somewhat uncomfortable at times but it’s the perfect Ice Cream weather!

Channeling the flavors of the islands, I put together this onolicious Macadamia-Java-Chip Ice Cream for the King’s Hawaiian O’hana. The recipe is quite simple to pull together and is packed full of the balanced island flavors of coffee, chocolate, and rich macadamia nuts. Click here to find my post and recipe for the KH O’hana as this is the perfect way to end the week.

Happy Aloha Friday Friends!!!

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache

Chocolate is a beautiful thing—don’t you think? The Mayans and Aztecs sure thought so.

Rich, deep….just bliss.

Whipped Ganache

So how can you possibly make it even better?

Top chocolate with chocolate.

Now we’re talking!

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache

These cuppies are decadently rich with the deep flavor of cocoa. Due to the tangy sour cream, it’s not only incredibly moist but perfectly balanced. As for the frosting, what better than an uber chocolatey whipped ganache? So simple, so much chocolate.

A chocoholic’s dream.

Swoon……

But be warned—come equipped with a tall glass of milk.

And with that Friends– Happy 1st Day of Summer & National Flip Flop Day!!!

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Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache
Makes approximately 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strongly brewed coffee, room temperature
14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur, optional
sprinkles, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in cupcake pans.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.

In a mixing stand with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar for 2-3 minutes until they become a pale yellow. Add the oil, sour cream, coffee, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fill each of the cups ¾ the way up.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

While the cupcakes cool, prepare the ganache frosting.

Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Remove and pour the scalded cream through a fine-meshed sieve directly into the bowl of the chopped chocolate. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 4-5 minutes. Gently whisk the mixture until the ganache is smooth and glossy. Whisk in coffee liqueur, optional. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes until the ganache has slightly chilled.

Transfer the ganache to the bowl of a mixing stand. With the whisk attachment, whisk until the ganache becomes light and fluffy. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe on top of the cooled cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles.

Matcha (Green Tea) Icebox Cheesecake

Green Tea "Icebox" Cheesecake

Have you ever made an icebox cheesecake? They’re actually quite easy and don’t require a finicky water bath. In lieu of eggs, the filling utilizes gelatin to help it set. The end results? Something quite light and fluffy that won’t leave you feeling too heavy at the end of the meal.

Green Tea "Icebox" Cheesecake

This particular icebox cheesecake is flavored with matcha– a finely ground green tea powder. It’s quite floral and has a slightly bitter taste which is why it pairs so well with the chocolate crust. Depending on the quality of the matcha that you use, you may want to add more than the recipe lists to oompf up the flavor.

My fam-bam are fans of green tea so we served big slices of this cheesecake with heaping scoops of green tea ice cream at our last Family Dinner. But if you prefer, you can serve it with dollops of fresh whipped cream or by itself.

Totally Oishii.

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Matcha (Green Tea) Icebox Cheesecake
Serve 8-10

Ingredients:

2½ cups chocolate cookie/wafer crumbs (I used Oreos)
1 cup + 1 heaping tablespoon sugar, divided
4 tablespoons melted butter
1¼ cups chilled heavy cream
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon matcha (green tea) powder, more for dusting
2¼ teaspoons gelatin powder
¼ cup water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cover a 10-inch springform pan with a light layer of cooking spray. Combine the cookie/wafer crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar and butter until moistened and resembles the texture of wet sand. Press crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Set the whipped cream aside.

Using a clean bowl, whip the cream cheese using the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the remaining sugar, stopping every so now and then to scrape down the sides.

Heat the milk until it is hot but not boiling. Whisk in the matcha until full incorporated. Turn the mixer with the cream cheese on low and slowly stream in the cooled milk mixture. Mix until just combined.

In a small bowl, bloom the gelatin in the water.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Fold until just combined. Add the gelatin and gently fold in. *If the gelatin has hardened, microwave for 10 seconds until it becomes liquid again before adding into the cheesecake mixture.

Pour the cheesecake filling over the cooled crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight.

Before serving, gently release the springform pan ring. Dust the top with additional matcha powder and serve.

Adapted from Dessert First

Samoa Cupcakes…and those savvy Girl Scouts

Samoa Cupcakes

When it comes to cookies, I’ve always believed that the Girl Scouts could hustle. I mean, c’mon now. Adorable little girls, pleading for some philanthropic cause while slinging delicious cookies. A no brainer!

And every year, you could always count me in for at least a box or two of those delectable bites. But alas, two years ago, my fate was sealed.

Yup. My niece, Maya, had joined the Scouts. I was in trouble.

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Look at that face! Who could say “no“?

Although, more accurately, I think she started as a “Daisy”—a neophyte Girl Scout, I think. Thus my 1-2 boxes of cookies has now grown to 6, 7, 8….. Ugh–you get my drift.

Samoa Cupcakes

But how can you really blame me? I’m a sucker for my little buggers and when they’ve got cookies, I’ve got no chance.

The cookies are delicious on their own and even frozen. But every so now and then, I try to rework the beloved Girl Scout cookie into a cupcake like my Tagalong Cupcakes (a cookie on the bottom and top), Thin Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes (cookies in the batter and on top), and finally these Samoa Cupcakes.

Samoa Cupcakes

These cuppies are my tribute to the Samoa Cookie (and Maya)—a chocolate cupcake topped with a caramel cream cheese frosting, rolled in toasted coconut flakes, topped with a chocolate drizzle and half a Samoa cookie. Yup…I went there.

So friends, as long as Maya is a Scout, you can count on an annual Girl Scout themed cuppie. With that said, anyone else having flashbacks of Shelley Long in Troop Beverly Hills?

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Samoa Cupcakes
Makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter
5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup strongly brewed hot coffee
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 heaping tablespoons caramel sauce
4-5 cups sifted confectioner sugar (varies due to preferred frosting consistency)

Toppings
1½ cups toasted coconut flakes
¼ cup melted chocolate
12 Samoa® Cookies, sliced in half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in muffin pans.

Place finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour hot coffee over it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. Remove plastic and stir until smooth.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. In electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs until it becomes pale yellow. Beat in oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly incorporate the melted chocolate. In increments, add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Pour batter into the lined cups–about 3/4 way. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add caramel sauce and then gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, ¼ cup at a time. Continue adding sugar until desire consistency.

Fill a pastry bag and pipe frosting on top of cooled cupcakes. Roll the tops of the cupcakes in the toasted coconut flakes. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the tops and then garnish with ½ a Samoa® cookie. Enjoy!

Parisian Macarons with Chocolate Ganache…ooh la, la!

Parisian Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

Have I ever mentioned that I ADORE Parisian Macarons?

Oh…. maybe just once? Twice? A gazillion times?

Well …these darling meringue based cookies are just delish! Want to learn more? Click here to read my post for our friends at Safest Choice® Eggs where I share my tips for Macarons success!

Enjoy!

Sweet Treats from 2012 and Happy New Year!!

Alice in Wonderland Chocolate Cupcakes

With just a few hours left in 2012, I wanted to wish you and your loved ones Happiness, Joy, Endless Laughter and epic Foodventures! May 2013 be everything you wish it to be and more.

I also wanted to show some sweet treats that I pulled together in 2012 but didn’t get a chance to share with you before.

Alice in Wonderland Chocolate Cupcakes

Alice in Wonderland  themed cupcakes for my niece’s Birthday Tea Party. Chocolate Cupcakes frosted with Vanilla Buttercream with toppers that were molded from fondant and edible markers

Mini White Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Cheesecake

Mini White Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Cheesecakes

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chiffon Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Chocolate Soccer Cupcakes

Soccer Themed Chocolate Cupcakes for my nephew’s 3rd birthday

Chocolate Soccer Cupcakes

Toppers made with fondant and painted with gel food colors, royal icing and edible markers

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Vanilla Bean Chiffon Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream topped with handmade White Chocolate Shell Candies for a Beach Themed Bridal Shower

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Lemon Curd & Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 layer Vanilla Bean Wedding Cake filled with Lemon Curd and frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream in a “ribbon” pattern

Vanilla Cake Pops

Vanilla Cake Pops for a Bridal Shower

Chocolate Raspberry Petal Cake

3 layer rich Chocolate Cake filled with Raspberry Coulis and frosted with Chocolate Buttercream in a “petal” pattern for my niece’s birthday party

Chocolate Raspberry Petal Cake

Creating a “petal” pattern with Chocolate Buttercream

And with that, I’m off to the countdown with friends and bubbly. Here’s to a delicious 2012 and Cheers to all of the wonderful things to come in 2013! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!