Favorite Cheesecake

Crumb crust
8 ounces finely ground graham crackers
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling
5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Crumb crust: Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and sides, stopping one inch below rim, of a buttered 9 1/2-inch springform pan. Chill in refrigerator while preparing filling.

Filling: Preheat oven to 475 F degrees. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, flour and zest until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs/yolks – one at a time, beating on low speed until incorporated, scraping bowl between additions.

Put springform pan with crust on a cookie sheet to catch any spillover. Pour filling into crust (will fill to very top of springform pan) and place in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. Watch carefully so that top doesn’t brown too quickly. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees and continue baking until cake is mostly firm (center will still be slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 to 1.5 hours more.

Run a knife around the top edge of the cake to loosen it and cool the cake completely in springform on a rack, then chill it, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

Top with fresh berries and enjoy!

Raspberry White Chocolate Mousse

Serves 16

10 oz Frozen Raspberries

2 Tbsp Sugar

1 3/4 Cups Heavy Cream

6 oz White Chocolate Chips

16 Mint Leaves

16 Fresh Raspberries

Process raspberries in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain mixture into a small bowl, discard seeds. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.

In a saucepan on low heat, warm 1/4 cup of heavy cream and white chocolate, stirring until melted. Let cool until lukewarm. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whip remaining 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream to soft peaks. Slowly fold into melted chocolate mixture until combined.

Layer into dishes and serve with raspberry sauce. Garnish with mint leaves and fresh raspberries.

Toffee Bark

Makes 1 1/4 pounds

*requires candy thermometer

8 oz Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar

3/4 Cup Chopped Pecans

1 Cup Butter

1 Cup Sugar

1 Tbsp Water

1/8 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pecans for 6-8 minutes.

Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside.

In a saucepan, cook butter, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat until temperature reaches 305, hard-crack sage, stirring occasionally. When the mixture becomes dark golden brown, immediately remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture into prepared cookie sheet (it may not fill the sheet). Cool at room temp until hard, about 45 min.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Spread chocolate over cooled toffee and sprinkle with pecans. Let set at room temp for at least an hour. Break into pieces and store at room temp for up to a month.

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Ganache

2 Cups Flour

2 1/2 Cups Sugar

3/4 Cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Salt

1 Cup Coconut Oil

1 Cup Sour Cream

1 1/2 Cups Water

2 Tbsp. White Vinegar

1 tsp. Vanilla

2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottom with waxed paper, spray paper.

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add oil and sour cream, whisk. Beat in water, vinegar, and vanilla. Whisk in eggs until blended. When batter is mixed well pour in prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes (3-8″ pans). Let cool in pans for 20 minutes, invert onto wire racks, peel off wax paper, and place in freezer while preparing frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting

10 oz Cream Cheese, room temp

1 Stick of Butter, room temp

5 Cups Confectioners Sugar

2/3 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter

Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add in confectioners sugar, mixing thoroughly. Continue to beat on medium until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.

Add peanut butter and beat until blended.

Frost cake. If having issues with crumbs, do a crumb coat and place in the freezer to firm up before adding another layer of frosting.

Chocolate Ganache

8 oz Semisweet Chocolate Chips

3 Tbsp Smooth Peanut Butter

2 Tbsp Honey

1/2 Cup Half & Half

Combine chocolate, peanut butter, and honey into a double boiler. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth.

Remove from heat and whisk in half and half, beating until smooth.

Cool slightly. Pour over frosted cake while still warm.

Banana Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana Cake
350 degrees
Bake 35 minutes
Cool 10 minutes

2/3 cup shortening
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups or 3 fully ripe bananas
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Place shortening in mixing bowl, sift in cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add mashed bananas and 2/3 cup buttermilk. Mix until moistened, beat 2 minutes at medium speed on electric mixer. Add 1/3 cup buttermilk and 2 eggs. Beat 2 minutes longer. If desired fold in walnuts and chocolate chips. Bake in 2 greased and lightly floured 9″ round pans.

Cream Cheese frosting

Double this

Ingredients
1 cup butter (softened)
16 oz cream cheese (softened)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 lb powdered sugar

Instructions
Beat the butter and cream cheese until nice and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and sifted powdered sugar and beat until nice and smooth. Test the consistency of the frosting. Too thin? Add powdered sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. 
Too thick? Add a teaspoon of milk at a time.
Frost cakes or cupcakes as desired.

Hanger Steak with Red Wine Sauce

Ingredients

For the Steak
2 7-oz hanger steaks
salt and crushed black pepper
oil
For the Wine Sauce
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp butter (cold)
1 small bottle (or a glassful, or the equivalent of a cupful) of dry red wine
1 small container (about 1 cup’s worth) beef stock (chicken stock will work too, if you have some lying around)
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

Instructions

Season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides (I like very coarsely ground pepper for this) and leave at room temperature.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over low heat for about 5 minutes until hot. Turn the heat to high and leave for 1 minute. Add in a splash of oil (enough to almost coat the bottom of the pan) and leave for 30 seconds. Add the steaks to the pan and cook for 2 1/2 minutes per side (for rare) or 3 minutes per side (for medium rare).
Allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly, and against the grain.
To make the sauce
Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan, add the shallot, and cook until just translucent. Lower the heat to medium, add the wine and cook until almost all the wine has evaporated (it should just be covering the shallots), about 5 minutes. Add in the beef stock and cook until reduced by half, about 5 more minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and continue once the steak is resting.
Reheat the sauce and add the mustard. Swirl to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add the final tablespoon of cold butter and swirl the pan (don’t stir!) until it’s melted into the sauce.