Thursday, December 31, 2009

...and a Happy New Year!

So, I guess I'm on a peppermint kick now.  Tonight, my friend Marie (remember her...she LOVES peppermint) came to NJ for dinner.  I made a delicious (if I do say so myself) shrimp and lobster scampi, and my mom, Marie, and myself had a little girls night. Tomorrow is New Years Eve.  We are going to a party at my college roommate, Megan's, house.  She too, LOVES peppermint.  When we were in college, I used to buy her industrial size boxes of york peppermint patties, and the entire box would be gone in a week.  So, the perfect thing to make for dessert for Marie's dinner and to bring to Megan's for New Years was chocolate cupcakes with peppermint buttercream frosting.  I made these last Christmas...but today I did something slightly different.  I added heavy cream to the icing instead of milk.  It resulted in a much creamier buttercream.  I also used a different piping technique.  My mom insisted that I stage the photos to show some residual Christmas cheer.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wow.  It's been almost a month since I've blogged.  Yes, I've been busy...just not really baking or cooking too much.  On black friday, my mom and I took a short break from our day of shopping to stop at the Cheesecake Factory and have lunch.  For dessert, we had their seasonal cheesecake which is a white chocolate peppermint bark cheesecake on a flourless chocolate cake crust topped with white chocolate mousse.  I was in love with this cheesecake and of course I became determined to recreate it.  I consulted with the law school's resident cheesecake connoisseur who gave me a few cheesecake tips.

I decided to do 2 peppermint cheesecakes...mainly because my very good friend Marie is obsessed with chocolate and peppermint and because my other friends always love my baked goods.  For the first one, I followed my cheesecake lady's directions and baked the cheesecake in a water bath.  Since I've never made a full size cheesecake, I had no idea when it was done.  The recipe said to take it out of the oven when the center was "just set", but who knows what that means.  So, I took it out...let it cool to room temp...took away the springform pan and watched it fall apart.  I quickly replaced the pan and stuck it in the fridge over night in the hope that it would set.  It did.  I got it out of the pan the next morning and covered the sides with chocolate chips to cover the mess.

I repeated the process for Christmas Eve with my family.  Don't tell my cheesecake lady, but I skipped the water bath this time.  Yes, the cheesecake cracked...but at least it didn't fall apart...and I topped the whole thing with white chocolate mousse anyway so it looked fine.

So, here's how I did the cheesecake...brownie crust (because I couldn't figure out how to do the flourless chocolate cake crust without it drying out after 1.5 hrs in the oven), white chocolate cheesecake with peppermint swirl, and white chocolate mousse.  We also had the Ciechanowski's famous banana cream pie, lemon bars and red velvet truffles made by Kelly, and my mom's cookies.

 My mom made around 2500 Christmas cookies...all by herself!!!  These are just a fraction of the cookies she made.  Then, she didn't have school all week since we had a now she has 2500 cookies at home...mwhahaha.  Now you see where I get my love of baking.

Santa came to visit my nephew!!!