Thursday, December 15, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake

I'm not a huge fan of red velvet cake nor cheesecake even though cheesecake is the dessert I have probably made the most simply because other people(I'm talking about you mommy) request it. I don't like the idea of eating a lot of food coloring and I'm just more excited by cakes and tarts than cheesecake. However, my sister is a fan of both red velvet cake and cheesecake(new york style to be exact). So, when she saw this red velvet cheesecake on my list of recipes to try a few months ago, she promptly requested that I make it for her.

I finally did so this Thanksgiving and I have to say the end result was a success. The red velvet was so good that I'd be willing to make it again and again as cupcakes and layer cakes, even with the food coloring. It had just the right amount of chocolateyness, if there is such a word, but was definitely a red velvet cake and not a chocolate cake. Unfortunately, I didn't have any gel food coloring, so my cake didn't turn out as vibrant as I would have liked. The cheesecake was also really good and came together with the cake quite nicely. Next time, I might put a thin layer of cream cheese frosting between the cheesecake and red velvet cake just so it doesn't separate when cut. However, it looks like Elissa's cake didn't have that problem, so it all depends on the moistness of your cheesecake.

I adapted the recipe to make an 8" cake. I kept the recipe for the cake the same and just baked in smaller cake pans, but reduced the size of the cheesecake because I wanted a higher ratio of cake to cheesecake than the original recipe. I baked my cheesecake in a cake pan lined with parchment rather than a springform pan to ensure that it would be as close to the size of the cake layers as possible.

Red Velvet Cheesecake
Makes an 8" cake
Adapted from 17 and Baking/Saveur/Martha Stewart

Cheesecake - Make the day before you plan to assemble the cake
16 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp milk
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, room temp
1/3 cup sour cream, room temp
3/4 tbsp all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and boil a kettle of water. In a food processor or a mixer, beat the cream cheese until softened. Add the sugar and blend thoroughly until smooth. Mix in the eggs one at a time until just incorporated. Add the salt, milk, and sour cream. Finally, add the flour. Pour into a greased and parchment lined 8 inch cake pan, place in a hot water bath, and bake for about 30-40 minutes until the center is just set. Let cool until warm to the touch. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the cheesecake and refrigerate overnight. Unmold the next day.

Red Velvet Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
2 large eggs, room temp
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar
red gel food coloring, as desired

Grease and line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the flour, baking soda, sugar, and cocoa powder into a bowl. In a mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and vinegar until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on medium low speed until just combined. Mix in as much food coloring as desired. Evenly distribute the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake layers cool for five minutes, then invert and cool completely on a cooling rack. Level off the layers with a serrated knife if necessary.

Next, make the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
10 oz cream cheese, room temp
5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar(sifted, then measured)

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the powdered sugar gradually until it is all incorporated.

To assemble:
Remove the parchment from one of the cake layers and place the cake layer on a serving dish or turntable bottom side down. Flip the layer of cheesecake onto the cake, then remove the parchment. Flip the remaining layer of cake onto the cheesecake and remove the parchment. Trim the sides of the cheesecake so that it is the same size as the cake, if necessary. Crumb coat the cake by spreading a thin coat of frosting over the entire cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Frost the rest of the cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate as desired and refrigerate until serving. The cake can be made ahead and will last several days in the fridge.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Freezer Full of Pocket Pies

Since my last post on pizza pocket pies, I've been on a pocket pie craze. I've been making and filling them with just about everything. So far, I've already made turkey pocket pies with my leftover Thanksgiving turkey, breakfast pocket pies(egg, cheese, bacon, and potatoes), carnitas and corn pocket pies, and potato and pea samosa pocket pies. There doesn't seem to be anything that doesn't taste about a hundred times better wrapped up in tender flaky crust and I just can't stop thinking of new fillings to try out.

Here are some of the fillings that I've tried so far.The recipe for the dough can be found in the last post for pizza pocket pies. For the most part, fillings should be at least partially if not fully cooked through since they won't be in the oven for that much longer. It's also easier to assemble the pies if the filling is not too wet.

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough
Recipe in this post.

Potato and Pea Samosa Filling
Daydreamel Original
Makes enough filling for one batch of dough

4 medium sized russet potatoes
1 cup frozen peas, thawed, rinsed, and drained
1/2 an onion, diced
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste, about 1/2 tsp

Rinse the potatoes, put them in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil until a knife pierces through, but the potatoes are not falling apart. Peel and dice the potatoes. While the potatoes are boiling, saute the onion over medium heat in a pan until golden with about 2 tbsp of oil. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for another minute. Add the spices and cook them for about 30 seconds. Add the diced potatoes and mix until the potatoes are coated evenly with the spice mixture. Saute another 3 minutes, add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Off the heat, mix in the peas. Let cool before filling the pocket pies.

Turkey Filling
Adapted from Mad Hungry
Makes enough filling for half a batch of dough

1 heaped cup cooked turkey, shredded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery (1 large stalk)
1/3 cup chopped carrot (1 carrot)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a heated pan, saute the vegetables with the butter over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour, cook for another minute. Then, add the chicken broth and salt and cook until thickened, about 2 more minutes. Off the heat, stir in the shredded turkey and parmesan. Let cool and refrigerate overnight before using.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mini Pizza Pocket Pies

Golden brown, delicious, and much better than those other pizza pockets found in your local grocery store

I made these mini pocket pies recently for a kids' party and decided to fill them with pizza toppings since I thought it would appeal to the kids. I didn't end up going, but I enjoyed these just the same. The dough is very tender, great for rerolling, and awesomely flaky. I'm excited to try this dough out for apple pocket pies. chicken pocket pies, and anything and everything that comes to mind. You can pretty much use whatever filling you want and make the pies bigger for a meal or smaller as appetizers. They're great for parties since you can make them ahead, freeze them, and then just bake them off the day you need them. They actually taste better when baked straight from the freezer because the crust is flakier.

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough
Adapted from Mad Hungry
Makes about 35 mini pocket pies, 20 larger ones

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup cream
1/2 tsp fine salt(double the amount of coarse salt)
3 cups all purpose flour, more for rolling

Mix together the butter and cream cheese by hand, with a mixer, or in a food processor until relatively well combined. Blend in the cream and salt. Then add the flour, mixing until it just starts to come together. Finish by hand.

Divide into two flattened disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

When ready to assemble, roll the dough out thinly on a floured surface to about 1/8 of an inch or less flouring as needed. You want it to be thin, but not too thin that it will break when filled. Use a glass or a small bowl about 4 inches in diameter to cut out rounds of dough. Cut out rounds about 5 inches in diameter for the bigger pocket pies.

Fill with about 3 tbsp of filling, 1/4 cup for the larger ones. Seal and crimp with a fork or seal in any way that you please. Be sure to seal them tightly as they can open up when baked. Freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment, then place the frozen pocket pies in a ziploc bag for longer storage.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lay the pocket pies out on a sheet pan, brush lightly with egg wash(a beaten egg + 1 tbsp water) and bake for about 35 minutes.

Pizza Filling
1/2 cup pepperoni slices, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup mozzarella, cut into about 1/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp italian seasoning(or mix of dried thyme, oregano, rosemary)
1 tsp granulated garlic
black pepper to taste

Pumpkin Roulade

I've been making this pumpkin roll for several years now and it's become a Thanksgiving/Christmas/holiday season favorite. I went a little crazy the first year making about 8 of them for Thanksgiving and Christmas combined and since then have only made about three a year depending on what other holiday desserts I feel like trying out that year and the number of holiday events I attend. I'll probably be making at least one every holiday season for the foreseeable future since it doesn't seem right to let the holiday season pass by without this cake fitting in somewhere.
I haven't met anyone who doesn't like this cake, okay maybe one or two, but they're few and far between. It's cake and frosting rolled up in a pretty spiral shape, what's not to love. It's also quick and pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Just be sure to have everything(kitchen towel, powdered sugar in a sieve, plenty of space) ready when the cake comes out of the oven so you can flip it over, remove the parchment, and roll it up quickly to prevent cracking. The cake is very moist, maybe even a bit too moist because of the pumpkin, but it's better this way since it may dry up a bit in the fridge, that is if it isn't polished off immediately.
My family likes a higher ratio of cake to frosting, so I keep the cake recipe the same and halve the amount of frosting. The recipe below reflects these changes.

Pumpkin Roulade
Adapted from Ina Garten

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp fine salt(twice the amount of kosher salt)
3 extra large eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
confectioner's sugar for dusting

4 oz mascarpone cheese, room temp
2 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 tbsp heavy cream/milk
pinch of salt
1/4 cup +2 tbsp sifted confectioner's sugar
1/8-1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger(optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 13 by 18 by 1 inch sheet pan. Line with parchment and butter and flour the parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixer with a paddle attachment or with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until pale and thickened. On low, mix in the pumpkin, then the flour mixture. Finish mixing by hand with a spatula and pour into the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until the top springs back when touched.

While the cake is baking, lay out a clean kitchen towel and sift confectioner's sugar over it. Invert the cake onto the towel and peel away the parchment. Sift more confectioner's sugar on it and gently roll it up in the towel. Let cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the mascarpone and cream cheese together until smooth, then add the remaining ingredients and mix together until light and fluffy.

To assemble, unroll the cake, spread with the frosting, and reroll gently. Trim the ends and serve. Cake is best the day it is made.