Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Delicious Holiday Dessert: Pumpkin Cheesecake with Praline Topping

A couple weeks ago I was pondering over what dessert I was going to make for my family's Thanksgiving and of coarse, a Southern Living recipe it is. They are my go-to for holiday desserts  because they are so good! The only reason why I made it was because of the praline topping. I have been a big fan of praline ever since I had praline ice cream at the Ice Cream Factory and praline bars at Kirchoff's Bakery. AMAZING. Overall, it turned out so delicious. My mother and I swear that it only tastes good with the topping, or else it wouldn't be as enjoyable. It took me a few hours to make it, because I am a perfectionist when making things. I had only one challenge: when do I know when it's done baking? When you bake a cake, you stick a tooth pick in the middle to know whether or not it's done, but what about a cheesecake? How do you determine? As they say, you learn as you do things, and that I did. I noticed when I would go to take it out of the oven, that it would jiggle, and it also didn't look brown on top. I had to sit in for a while longer until it looked brown and wasn't as jiggly. After you leave it out to cool, it rises down and gets firm, so don't panic if it's still a little bit jiggly when you move it around.



2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • Preparations:

    1. Preheat oven to 325°. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Press mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

    2. Beat cream cheese and next 2 ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended and smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin and lemon juice, beating until blended. Pour batter into prepared crust. (Pan will be very full.)
    3. Bake at 325° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until almost set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven, with door closed, 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

    4. Remove sides and bottom of pan, and transfer cheesecake to a serving plate. Prepare Praline Topping; immediately pour slowly over top of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/4 inch of edge. Garnish, if desired.



    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1/3 cup whipping cream
    1/4 cup butter
    1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Boil, stirring occasionally, 1 minute; remove from heat. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Let stand 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Use immediately.



    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Paula Deen's Pumpkin Bars: Another Thanksgiving Specialty

    In my yearbook class at my high school, we occasionally throw "food parties" to celebrate the holidays or really...just any celebration of something. This recent "food party" was for Thanksgiving! I had homework to do the night before the party, so I wanted to make a dessert that was simple, delicious, and Thanksgiving appropriate. After looking through many recipes on Food Network's website and Southern Living's, I found the perfect, tasty treat on Food Network! I'm sure you've read the title and know the winner was Pumpkin Bars! Honestly, any recipe by Paula Deen HAS to be great, lets face it. When I looked at the picture, the frosting on top of the bars is what really got me. Although, Paula Deen calls it a, "bar", it's more like a cake. Either way, they are delicious and perfect to serve for Thanksgiving. Yes, I know Thanksgiving is over...but doesn't hurt to try it, especially if you have a can of pumpkin that went unused! Now some people don't like pumpkin, and I'm somewhat the same. It depends on how strong the pumpkin is in the dessert. I used a little less pumpkin than what the recipe called for, because I don't like it to be strong. In the end, they turned out perfect! They had a wonderful taste and cut out so nicely.


    • 4 eggs
    • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 15-ounce can pumpkin
    • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.

    Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.

    (I added the dry ingredients a little at a time.)

     Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

    To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

    Recipe from:

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    Chocolate-Caramel-Pecan Pie: A Thanksgiving MUST

    My boyfriend's mother showed me the most amazing recipe in Southern Living magazine the other day. Chocolate-Caramel-Pecan Pie. I knew when I saw it, it would be perfect for my church's Thanksgiving dinner. The picture of the pie in the magazine looked inviting with the gooey chocolate and caramel hanging off the fork. It looked so appropriate for Thanksgiving. So...I tried it out...and it's definitely a keeper. All of it was gone when I went to pick up my pie pan! I recieved compliments of how delicious it was a few times. Keep in mind, this is Southern Living's recipe, not mine! The ingredients and preparations are from their website. I give all credit to them for this yummy dessert.

    BTW: Before you began, I didn't use a 10-inch deep-dish tart pan. I didn't own one, so I used a 9-inch pan. I also didn't use their instructions on the pie crust; I used the instructions on the side of the refrigerated piecrust box. You can basically not use steps 2 and 3. If you do own that pan, and want to do those steps, then go ahead!

    • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves and pieces
    • 1 (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts
    • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream, divided $
    • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup sugar, divided
    • 1 large egg
    • 28 caramels
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring halfway through. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes). Increase oven temperature to 425°.

    2. Unroll piecrusts; stack on a lightly floured surface. Roll stacked piecrusts into a 12-inch circle. Fit piecrust into a 10-inch deep-dish tart pan with removable bottom; press into fluted edges. Trim off excess crust along edges. Line piecrust with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place pan on a foil-lined baking sheet.

    3. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Remove weights and foil, and bake 4 more minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack (about 15 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
    4. Microwave chocolate morsels and 1/4 cup cream in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.

    5. Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth. Add 1 egg, beating at low speed just until blended. Add chocolate mixture, beating just until blended. Spoon batter into prepared crust.

    6. Microwave caramels, butter, and remaining 1/4 cup cream in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk together 2 eggs, vanilla, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar; whisk into caramel mixture until blended. Stir in pecans; spoon over chocolate mixture in prepared crust.

    7. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until center is almost set, shielding edges with aluminum foil after 45 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2 hours).



    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Peanut Butter Crackers Dipped in White Chocolate

    My club at school, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), planned a Thanksgiving meal for the pastors in our area. I typically would bake something, but I wasn't going to be there that day. I also decided since I had no time because of school, that I would make something delicious and easy. Peanut butter crackers dipped in white chocolate are so good. They are a favorite among my friends and my mom. They are also the perfect snack when you want something a bit salty and sweet. When I got my container back from the meal, they were all gone! It's so hard not to eat more than one. These little cookies take 15 minutes to make.
    Ritz Crackers
    Jif Peanut Butter
    White Chocolate Bark

    Step One:
    Create your peanut butter crackers.

    Step Two:
    Break up your white chocolate and melt it. You can melt it in a double boiler or in the microwave. I did mine in the microwave for 1 minute and would stop it half way to stir.  (Repeat again.) Sometimes white chocolate can easily seize when it has too much heat; make sure you take a break to stir!

    Step Three:
    The messiest step. Take your peanut butter crackers and dip them in the white chocolate and sit them on a pan to dry. It usually takes 5-10 minutes for them to dry.


    Later this week, my next blog post will be what dessert I'm cooking for Thanksgiving, so keep checking up on the blog!