Blackberry White Chocolate Lime Cheesecake Bars

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My brain is currently undergoing Christmas-scramble.  My thoughts are about gifts, decorations, and crafting.  But of course I also have saved some brain power to think about food.  Holidays bring some of the best food (and an excuse to eat it- only a Scrooge won’t eat that Christmas cookie or eat another piece of bread).

For this month’s Improv Challenge, we had to make something with white chocolate and lime- two of my absolute favorite dessert flavors.  I considered making something akin to a key lime pie but ended up taking some cheesecake bars and adding some deliciously smooth, melted white chocolate and citrus-y lime zest.  Then to top it all off, I swirled in some blackberry preserves- or if you want to be more festive, swirl in some cranberry sauce or raspberry preserves.

Don’t be a Scrooge- make and share these bars!

BLACKBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE LIME CHEESECAKE BARS
Adapted from Handle the Heat

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut in 1 inch cubes

For the Cheesecake:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
Zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces white chocolate, melted
3/4 cup blackberry jam

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 baking pan with foil and grease.

In a food processor combine flour, salt, and brown sugar. Pulse until combined. Sprinkle cold butter cubes on top. Pulse until pea sized crumbs form. Press evenly into prepared baking pan.

In a large bowl combined granulated sugar and lime zest. Rub together. Add cream cheese and beat until combined. While continuing to beat, add eggs, vanilla extract, flour, and salt until combined. Beat in white chocolate until combined. Pour cheesecake batter on top of crust.

Warm blackberry jam on the stove or in the microwave until slightly thinner.  Dollop on top of cheesecake and swirl with a butter knife.

Place 9×9 pan inside a 9×13 pan. Fill the larger pan with hot water to create a water bath. Place in oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. The center should jiggle slightly when shaken, but the edges should be stiffer looking. Cool completely. Store in refrigerator.

Thanks for Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for hosting.  Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

Cranberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding

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Why is bread so wonderful?

I was going to start this post with the question “Do you have any leftover bread?”, but if you have leftover bread sitting around, you aren’t doing life right.

Well, let’s not be so harsh.  As a single gal, I do have problems buying and using up an entire loaf of bread myself.  Let’s not lie, there is an easy fix to this problem of just putting all the bread in my mouth, but I have to cling to some of my last dredges of self control in order to save my binges for sugar.  Thus, why I have several dinner rolls stored in my freezer in case of emergency.

So, say we have some bread laying around.  There are lots of options for what we can do with it.  Slather slices with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, fill  with melted cheese, or stuffed with lots of meat.  Today, we are going to focus on pouring some wonderful custard on top of that bread.  Bread pudding.

Before making this, I had actually never had bread pudding before.  (Another dish mom doesn’t like- mushy foods aren’t her thang).  I definitely enjoyed my first exposure- what is not to love when there is white chocolate and cranberries involved?

CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
Adapted from Honey What’s Cooking

INGREDIENTS

1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup craisins
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, divided
1-2 cups cubed bread
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons walnuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 2 ramekins

In a bowl whisk together egg, milk, vanilla bean seeds, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir in craisins, 6 tablespoons white chocolate chips, and bread.  Let sit for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and light brown sugar.  Mix in walnuts.  Set aside.

Divide bread mixture between ramkins.  Top with streusel.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool slightly (or completely).  Top with remaining white chocolate chips.

Makes 2 ramekins, serves 2.

Raspberry Filled White Chocolate Almond Bars

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This week I have off from classes, and for the first time in a while I don’t really have anything pressing to do.  And I do not know what to do with myself. Besides listen to this song nonstop.

My name is Karen, and I can no longer do nothing.

I used to be able to just literally sit on the couch or at the computer all day long and do nothing.  Well, not nothing.  I had a very important TV schedule I followed.  Since our study didn’t have cable my line up was based on the standard channels as follows: Arthur (yes, the aardvark…), People’s Court, Judge Mathis, Judge Hatchet, All my Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital, and Maury.

I would love to say I have become more cultured and sophisticated in the years since, but I can still get sucked in by a good Real Housewives of wherever marathon.  I know I shouldn’t complain about this slow week and that a few months from now I will be longing for some nothing-ness.  Until then I will have to try and find some fun stuff to do this week.

Luckily for the second half of this week I don’t have to worry about doing nothing since I will blowing out of this one-horse town on a Texas roadtrip! I am excited to explore some cities, spend time with a friend, eat good food, and watch some fireworks.  From a good distance since I have a healthy respect/fear of explosions.

I really am revealing a lot of neurosis today.  Can’t do nothing, have a fear of fireworks. Hello.  For the sake of full disclosure, I also have an irrational fear of butterflies.

Anyway.  These raspberry almond white chocolate bars would be an amazing treat to bring to any BBQ celebrations. This recipe comes from my mom, and I knew whenever she made these for a holiday celebration, we were in for a treat.  Raspberry, white chocolate, and almonds are a threesome I can fully get behind.

No blue, but you got the red and white covered- just sit them next to a big bowl of blueberries or something.

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RASPBERRY FILLED WHITE CHOCOLATE BARS
Adapted from My Mom

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter
12 ounces white chocolate chips, divided
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4-1 cup raspberry jam
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9 inch baking pan.

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add 6 ounces (about 1 cup) of the white chocolate chips. Do not stir and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat eggs until foamy. Slowly add sugar, beating until mixture is lemon colored. Stir in white chocolate chip and butter mixture. Add almond extract, salt, and flour. Mix until just combined. Pour approximately 1/2-3/4 of the mixture into the pan. Bake for 15-17 minutes.

In a small saucepan warm raspberry jam until easily pourable, about 2-3 minutes. Pour on top of warm crust. Spoon teaspoonfuls of remaining batter on top of jam with some jam still showing through. Sprinkle almonds on top. Bake for 25-27 minutes. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Black and White Bars

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I wear a lot of black. And some gray and white. Especially when I am trying to look nice and professional (and hide my true desire to be wearing yoga pants), I always turn to neutrals.

So what do you do when you wear too much black and white? Make desserts to match your outfits obviously. For these bars I took the idea of magic bars, which is basically just pouring sweetened condensed milk on top of sweet toppings, and used my favorite black and white toppings.  And what is one of the best black and white sweets American can offer? My friends, that would be the Oreo. And what is better than just eating an Oreo?  Eating an Oreo with gooey sweet sweetened condensed milk on top.

I think I would eat my first child if they were covered in sweetened condensed milk.

But no worries about that as I am currently not a fan of children (to put it nicely), nor are children often covered in sweetened condensed milk.  Children can sleep safely in their beds tonight without fear of me turning in the the witch from Hansel and Gretel.  I will just eat this dessert instead.

I hope I did not scare anyone away with that eating children comment.  I meant it all in good fun.

Is it really not funny to joke about eating children?  Hm.

Stay tuned for the next recipe that takes these bars and makes them into a treat that Lindsay Lohan would love.  Yes, I will leave you with that gem to ponder.

BLACK AND WHITE BARS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut in 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped Oreos
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 baking pan with foil and grease.

In a food processor combine flour, salt, and brown sugar.  Pulse until combined.  Sprinkle cold butter cubes on top.  Pulse until pea sized crumbs form.  Press evenly into prepared baking pan.

Sprinkle white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips on top.  Sprinkle chopped Oreos and top.  Lightly press down.  Pour sweetened condensed milk on top, tilting the pan to ensure the sweetened condensed milk fully covers the pan.  Bake for 19-23 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Cool completely and cut into bars.  Store in refrigerator

Crepes with Blackberry Sauce and White Chocolate: Improv Challenge

Yes, I do know that Valentine’s Day was last week, but isn’t love around all the time?  There never is a wrong day to enjoy fun shaped food.  This month’s Improv Challenge hosted by Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker was hearts and flours.  I love a good pun, so I went to work brainstorming heart shaped food using flour.  I had grand plans of decadent desserts, but this semester is has been a little crazy.  So instead I turned to plan B, simple crepes topped with a warm blackberry sauce and white chocolate chips.
Crepes are really not hard to make (I feel like I am always saying this, but I promise it’s true).  All you have to do is whip up this basic batter in a blender or food processor, then the world is your oyster (or crepe?).   You can take this basic recipe and make it a sweet crepe by adding vanilla, cinnamon.  Then fill with fruit, cream cheese, chocolate, and more.  Or if you are in a savory mood, you could add fresh herbs or pepper.  Possible savory fillings include mushrooms, goat cheese, brie, chicken, shrimp, and more.  Crepes are a quick way to whip up a million possible flavor combinations.  Of course, crepes with just a little maple syrup and cinnamon are also a delight.
This time around I chose a beautifully red and sweet blackberry sauce and white chocolate chips.  This blackberry sauce would also go great with a sweetened cream cheese if you are able to keep such things in your fridge without them spoiling on you (single gal problems right here).
CREPES WITH BLACKBERRY SAUCE AND WHITE CHOCOLATE
Crepes barely adapted from Cooking Light
Blackberry Sauce from Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS
For the Crepes:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Blackberry Sauce:
1 cup blackberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons granulated sugar, to taste
White chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS
For the Crepes:
In a blender or a food processor combine flour, granulated sugar, salt, milk, water, butter, eggs, adn vanilla extract.  Process until combined.  Chill for at least 1 hour.
Heat a small skillet (approximately 8 inches) over high heat.  Grease pan with butter or nonstick spray.  Pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter in the pan and tilt pan to get a thin coating evenly across the pan.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until golden brown and flip.  Cook the second side 1-2 minutes.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Keep warm.
For the Blackberry Sauce:
In a blender or a food processor combine blackberries, lemon juice, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar.  Adjust the amount of sugar as needed, depending on the sweetness of your fruit.  Process until combined and the berries are slightly broken down.  Transfer to a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Pour sauce on top of crepes.  Top with white chocolate chips.
Serves 4.
Check out all the other entries for this month’s Improv Challenge and check out Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for more information!

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Oreo Mousse Pie

I think we all know each other well enough now that I can admit something freely: I am not so crazy about chocolate.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate chocolate but very rarely crave a chocolatey treat.  I am one of those people whose favorite chocolate is white chocolate.

Every now and then a craving for chocolate hits that must be satisfied immediately.  Now let me tell you a tale of such a time.  It was an innocent holiday party.  The event was slowly coming to an end, and my belly was full of good food.  The desserts were brought out, and since it is rude to refuse any dessert, I took one of each sampling of treats, one being an chocolate mousse pie.  It was love at first bite, and I needed more chocolate.  I finished my piece and feeling unsatisfied went for another.  One lonely chocolate square sat on the serving platter.  But not for long, as it soon took new location in my stomach.  And my chocolate fix began.  I was determined to recreate this glorious pie myself as soon as possible.  I came home, promptly ate two chocolate truffles (no shame), and began my planning.
This pie is wonderful in all it’s Oreo goodness.  An Oreo crust, a layer of chocolate mousse, a layer of Oreos, and a layer of white chocolate mousse.  Perfection.  It does take some time, as each layer needs to set up and the Oreo cookie layer needs to soften, but it is so worth the wait.Warning: this is a messy pie but so delicious.

 

OREO MOUSSE PIE
Adapted from Bon Appetit & Bon Appetit
INGREDIENTS
For the Oreo Crust:
21 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed
4 tablespoons butter, melted
For the Chocolate Mousse:
8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
3 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
For the White Chocolate Mousse:
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons sugar
20-30 Chocolate sandwich cookies
Additional Cookies, for topping
DIRECTIONS
For the Oreo Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9 inch springform pan.In a large bowl combine sandwich cookies and butter.  Stir until moistened.  Push into bottom and about half an inch up the sides of a springform pan.  Bake for 5-7 minutes.  Cool completely.

For Chocolate Mousse:

In a large bowl combine milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate, vanilla extract, and salt.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup of whipping cream to a boil.  Pour over chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.  Let sit to cool slightly, at least 10 minutes.

Pour 2 cups in a large bowl.  Whip until firm peaks form.  Fold whipped cream mixture into chocolate mixture until just combined.  Pour on top of crust . Chill until set, about 3-4 hours.

For the White Chocolate Mousse:

In small bowl combine water and gelatin.  Stir together and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cup whipping cream and white chocolate over medium heat.  Cook until melted, stirring occasionally   Stir in gelatin until combined.  Pour into a bowl.  Stir in 3/4 cup whipping cream.  Chill for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Whip until firm peaks form.

In a separate bowl combine egg whites and salt.  Using clean beaters, beat until foamy.  Gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Fold egg whites into white chocolate mixture.

Add a layer of chocolate sandwich cookies on top of the chocolate mousse, making as thick as you desire.  Pour white chocolate mousse on top.  Chill until set, at least 4 hours.  Remove sides of springform pan carefully.  Garnish with additional chocolate sandwich cookies.

Cranberry Bliss Bars

And the holiday baking continues.  Our family was recently united as my sister finished her first semester of college (!), and in a weird way, everything has gone back to how it used to be.  It feels normal yet different at the same time.  Soon we will be making all our holiday classics: sugar cookies, zucchini casserole, Chocolate Sprinkle Pretzel Bites, and Sausage Cups, but I am still enjoying trying new festive recipes.  These bars are a sweet combination of a blondie, white chocolate, and cranberries all topped with cream cheese frosting.  Yum.

Now, as I do not like coffee (not even the smell of it), I am not a frequenter of Starbucks.  I much prefer to get my caffeine drink fix from a can of Diet Coke.  But I always appreciate a baked good, and really homemade is often going to be better than any store bought treat.  These bars are pretty easy to make and a perfect way for a novice baker to dazzle at any holiday event.  Perhaps they would also go well with a warm cup of coffee on a cold morning, but this I cannot attest to.  I can let you know that they taste excellent with a can of Diet Coke.

With the big C-Day almost here, it’s crunch time, but take some time and enjoy whipping up a new recipe if you can!  Here are some I have tried and loved:

Candied Cinnamon Sugar Walnuts
Chocolate Sprinkle Pretzel Bites
Black and White Cranberry Pie
Individual Pecan Pie
Blueberry and Sour Cream Pie
Cookie Dough Truffles
Chocolate Fudge
English Toffee
Salted Caramel Bark
Chocolate Brigadeiros
Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Tart
New York Cheesecake
Orange Cranberry Cookies
Fruitcake Cookies
Hazelnut Macarons with Nutella Buttercream
Gingerbread
Fig and Strawberry Baklava
Cranberry Turtle Bars`

CRANBERRY BLISS BARS
Slightly Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything via RecipeGirl
INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
6 ounces white chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 ounces white chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.   Line a 9 x 11 baking pan with aluminium foil.

In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave.  Stir in light brown sugar and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Mix in vanilla extract and eggs.  Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed together.  Fold in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.   Pour dough into pan and spread out evenly.  Bake for 19-21 minutes, until edges are just golden brown.  Cool completely.

In a bowl beat cream cheese for 1 minute.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat.  Gradually add the melted white chocolate and beat until combined. Fold in orange zest. Spread frosting in even layer over bars. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top.

Chill for 30 minutes to allow frosting to set.  Using the aluminium foil, remove from pan.  Cut into small bars or triangles.  Keep refrigerated.

Black and White Cranberry Pie

Oh my god, you guys, as I write this I am in a heavenly pie coma.  This pie was absolutely divine with a crunchy chocolate crust, a smooth sweet white chocolate ganache, and a sweet but a little tart cranberries.  Ho, ho, ho indeed.
I love holiday parties.  Really, I love the entire month of December.  I have been lucky enough for the past years to have a good chunk of vacation from school in order to spend time spreading holiday cheer.  I love spending time shopping, baking, wrapping, and decorating.  And holiday parties provide a much needed outlet for my festive activities (my family can only eat so many cookies and open so many gifts by themselves).
I had bookmarked this pie to make over a year ago, but my family is just not as huge a fan of cranberries as I am.  Luckily, I had a holiday party with my fellow tutors I had worked with this semester, and the opportunity to bake this pie could not be passed up.  Although the temperature was in the 80’s and my air conditioning was on, this pie definitely helped put me in the holiday spirit.  Christmas in Texas, folks, can always be made better with pie.
BLACK AND WHITE CRANBERRY PIE
Pie Adapted from The Pastry Queen via Pink Parsley
Crust slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
INGREDIENTS

For the Chocolate Crust:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
Pinch of Salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
1 egg yolk
4-5 tablespoons ice water

For the Pie:
2 cups cranberries, rinsed
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
16 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter

DIRECTIONS

For the Crust:

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.  Process until mixed.  Add butter and process until crumbs are formed.  Add egg yolk and 3 tablespoons water.  Process, adding a tablespoon of water as needed, until a soft dough forms.  Press into disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll dough in a 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface with a piece of parchment paper on top.  Place on 9 inch pie pan and press down.  Cut off any overhang and crimp as desired.  Prick the bottom of a pie with a form.  Freeze for 20 minutes.

Line pie with butter aluminium foil and fill with dried beans.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove pie weights and aluminium foil.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until bottom of crust is dry.  Let cool for 30 minutes.

For the Pie:

While the crust cools, combine cranberries, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook for 5-8 minutes until cranberries have softened but not popped.  Pour in colander to remove excess liquid as needed.  Taste and add additional sugar if desired.

Place chopped white chocolate in a large measuring cup or bowl.  In another saucepan, combine heavy cream, corn syrup, and butter.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Pour over white chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Stir in cranberries.  Pour mixture into pie crust.  Chill at least 1 1/2 hours, or overnight.