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!!!

M&M Chocolate Cookies…Happy Holidays!!

M&M Chocolate Cookies

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The M&M Chocolate Cookies were laid out with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous time filled with endless laughter and Foodventures!

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M&M Chocolate Cookies
Makes 2½ dozen cookies

Ingredients:

5 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup cocoa powder
1¾ cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ cups M&M candies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate and butter together until melted and smooth. This should be done in 15-20 second intervals, stirring in between to avoid scorching the chocolate. Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs until combined. Whisk in the chocolate mixture and then slowly add in the dry ingredients. Stir in 1 cup of the M&M candies.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop the cookie dough (about 1½ tablespoons each) and place on the sheet a few inches apart. Flatten the dough balls slightly. With the remaining M&Ms, add a few candies to the top/sides of each cookie dough, pressing them slightly in.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until the cookies begin to slightly crack. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

Don’t you just love delish treats that are quick and easy? And when they can be served at a holiday or themed party, it’s even better!

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

With Independence Day quickly approaching, I whipped up a few batches of these beloved Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas to cool down the hot summer days with. I went with some festive sprinkles for a patriotic touch but hey–anything goes!

Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!

ps. I plan on throwing down some baby back ribs that day. What are y’all planning on putting on the grill? :)

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Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas
Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 Bananas, cut in half
8 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1 Teaspoon Vegetable Oil
6 Popsicle Sticks
Toppings (sprinkles, nuts, chopped candies, etc.)

Slide a popsicle stick in each of the banana halves. Place the bananas in the freezer and allow to chill for 2-3 hours. Combine the chocolate with the teaspoon of oil and microwave in 20 second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bananas from the freezer. Dip each of the bananas into the chocolate and gently roll/shake the excess chocolate off. Sprinkle each banana with your choice of topping and rest on a wax paper lined tray. Repeat with the remaining bananas. Once complete, place the tray of bananas in the freezer for approximately one hour until hardened. ENJOY!


Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

I’m Bananas…..

For Nutella.

Shocking— I know.

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

So why not add Nutella to Banana Bread? Seemed like a Win-Nguyen Situation to me.

And it sure was :)

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Nutella Swirled Banana Bread
Makes one 9-inch loaf

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe, soft, darkly speckled large bananas, mashed well
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons Nutella

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C) degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with a wooden spoon in a medium bowl. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Spoon 1/2 the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Spread 1/2 the Nutella on top and lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not over mix. Spoon the rest of the batter on top and repeat with Nutella swirls.

Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.)

Slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated