Strawberry cream cheese tart

Our NYE dinner was a great meal, so I know there had to be a great dessert. So I immediately knew to check out Annie’s Eats! Sure enough I found a great tart that while has a lot of steps is quite easy to make. And boy was this great. Everyone raved about it!



For the crust: (I used pre made as it was 82 degrees here today. Too hot to roll out dough! )
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. heavy cream
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

For the ganache:
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. milk or cream

For topping:
Fresh strawberries, sliced (approximately 12 oz.)
Melted bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, for drizzling (optional)

To make the tart shell, whisk together the egg yolk, cream and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Process briefly to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; process to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about fifteen 1-second pulses. With the machine running, add the egg mixture and process until the dough just comes together, about 12 seconds. Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6-inch disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. (If refrigerated for more than an hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable.) Unwrap and roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan. Mold the dough to the sides of the tart pan and remove the excess off the top. Set the dough-lined tart pan on a large plate and freeze for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to middle position. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Set the dough-lined tart pan on a baking sheet, press a 12-inch square of foil into the frozen shell and over the edge, and fill with pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 5-8 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit 1-2 minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms. If there are still bits of unmelted chocolate, microwave in 10 second intervals, whisking in between, until the ganache is completely smooth. Whisk in the butter. Spread the ganache in a thin even layer over the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Allow the ganache to set before proceeding.

To make the filling, beat together the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl on medium-high speed until smooth. Blend in the vanilla and milk or cream. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled ganache in the tart shell.

Starting from the outside and working toward the center, place the sliced strawberries in concentric circles slightly overlapping each other. Gently press the berries into the cream cheese mixture to help keep them in place. Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired. Chill until ready to serve.


Apple Pie Cupcakes

Another hit from Annie’s Eats for the party we went to this weekend. This was the 2nd small batch I made. Like the Caramel Cupcakes, I have been meaning to make these for a while but never found the time, until now. These were FABULOUS and well liked! HAPPY FALL!


For the cupcakes:
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk

 For the apple filling:
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. cinnamon
2-3 tbsp. sugar
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

 For decorating:
vanilla buttercream (I used 3/4 of a batch)

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. 
In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the vanilla extract and mix well to combine.  Add in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined. 
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3-3/4 full.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 22 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pans.  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
To make the apple filling, heat the butter a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the cinnamon and sugar and cook for a minute, until the mixture begins to bubble.  Lower the heat to medium and stir in the apples.  Mix well.  Cook until the apples are somewhat tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.
While the apple mixture is cooling, use the cone method to remove a chunk from the center of each cupcake, making sure to leave a rim around the top of the cupcake.  Fill the holes with the cooled apple mixture.  To decorate, top each cupcake with a swirl of vanilla buttercream.

Apple crumb top pie

While my in-laws were visting a couple of their friends came up to visit us. We had a great day grilling steaks, chit-chatting and catching up. With a great visit I wanted not only great apps, dinner but a great dessert! I wanted to make an apple pie but change it up a bit. I used my normal apple pie recipe but instead used a crumb top as the top layer. Here is my apple pie recipe and crumb top below. I baked it as I would my normal pie recipe dictates!


Ingredients for crumb top:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine topping ingredients until crumbly; sprinkle over top of pie. Bake as directed. Let cool a bit before serving if serving warm.

Double Chocolate Pecan Pie

For yet another holiday get together, I wanted some type of new dessert. I had been making a lot of cookies, cupcakes, biscotti, and tarts, that a pie sounded perfect. I had seen this recipe on Annie’s Eats from William Sonoma and Baking Illustrated. I was hesitant to make this as pie crust isnt my thing, but it came out pretty well, just shrunk up a bit more than expected. The chocolate took a simple pie to perfection!


For the crust:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into medium cubes (about 16 pieces)
3 tbsp. ice cold water

For the filling:
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
½ cup corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the cubes of butter to the bowl and mix on low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal and the largest chunks of butter are not much larger than peas.  Add the water to the bowl and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until chilled.
On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the pie dough out into a 12-inch round.  Transfer the round to a 9-inch pie plate by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the pie pan.  Trim the edges as necessary and create a fluted pattern using a finger to make the indentations.  Freeze the dough-lined pie plate until firm and very cold, about 30 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to lower middle position and heat the oven to 375° F.  Remove the dough-lined plate from the freezer, press a sheet of foil inside the pie shell and fill with ceramic baking beads.  Bake about 30 minutes, until the dough looks dry and light in color.  Carefully remove the foil and weights.  Continue baking the crust 5-6 minutes more, until light golden brown.
While the pie crust is baking, make the filling.  Melt the butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Remove the bowl from the double boiler but maintain the simmering water.  Stir in the sugar and salt with a wooden spoon until the butter is absorbed.  Beat in the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla.  Return the bowl to the double boiler and heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is shiny and hot to the touch, about 130° F on an instant-read thermometer.  Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans.
As soon as the pie shell comes out of the oven, lower the oven temperature to 275° F.  Pour the filling into the pie shell.  Scatter the chopped chocolate pieces over the filling and press into the filling with the back of a spoon.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven about 50-60 minutes, until the pie looks set but slightly soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed with the back of a spoon.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 4 hours.

Star shaped apple hand pies

Every year for H birthday, he requests apple pie. I love making it for him, but each year now we also throw a huge 4th of July party at the same time (his bday is July 5th). So making a ton of pies in this heat was getting to be a huge chore, but I did it anyway cuz I love him so. But this year, I found a way to make his homemade apple pie, but with a lot less baking time and will be able to make a ton for all of our guests!!! I recently was in my local William-Sonoma, my home away from home LOL, and found this pie mold. They have it in star shape or heart shape. I picked up the star shape to go along with our 4th of July themed birthday party! I did test them this week to make sure they come out ok and are easy to make a ton of and are delicious. This recipe makes about 8-10 hand pies, so I will double the recipe for our group!! Our 4th party will be fabulous now!





Pie crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt, plus a pinch
2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 to 8 Tbs. ice water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the flour, the 1 tsp. salt and the 2 Tbs. granulated sugar on low speed for 10 seconds. Add the butter and beat until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 1 1/2 minutes more. Add the 6 Tbs. ice water, reduce the speed to low and beat for 20 seconds. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water, 1 tsp. at a time, and beat for 5 seconds after each addition. Divide the dough in half, wrap with plastic wrap and shape each into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Apple filling (or choose your own filling..the possibilities are endless..would be good as a savory meat pie too for an app!)
2-4 Macintosh or similar apples peeled and diced
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cups sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Toss all ingredients together in a sauce pan. Cook until bubbly and the apples begin to soften. Take off heat and let cool.

To assemble:
Roll out dough. Cut 4 star shapes and 4 star shapes with tiny star cut out. Put solid star on bottom of pie mold. Fill with1-2 tbsp of filling. Place decorative star piece on top and fold over pie mold and squeeze tight. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Once done with all, bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 mins. I also used a milk wash to top the pies withfor a golden crust. Once baked, let cool completely. Top with decorative sugars and serve!

Key Lime Cheesecake

For our final dinner party this week, we were doing it up a bit nicer with steak, china, and good wine. I wanted a nicer dessert and when I came across this recipe for a Key Lime Cheesecake, I knew this would be the one. I like the idea of key lime for H out of town co-workers as it would give them a bit of Florida greatness before they left. We are so lucky in FL here to have an endless supply of great fruits, especially these wonderful key limes. This cheesecake came together easily and I was proud to ease my cheesecake worries once again. For some reason making cheesecake always scares me, but they always come out great. This recipe is a copy cat recipe of the Key Lime Cheesecake found at the Cheesecake Factory!



1¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup sugar
3 x 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1  tsp vanilla
½ cup fresh lime juice, about 5 limes worth (If using key limes or juice, use half as much)
3 eggs
whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine crumbs, butter and 1 tbsp sugar in a bowl. Stir well to coat all crumbs. Keep it crumbly.

When the crumb mixture seems ready, press the crumbs onto the bottom and half way up the sides of an 8″ springform pan. Then, place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Do not turn off the oven.

In large bowl combine the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla. Mix with electric mixer until smooth. Add the lime juice and eggs and continue to beat till smooth and creamy. Once ready, pour filling into crust.

Place the pie in the oven and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. If top is turning light brown, then the pie is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until room temperature. Then, put the pie into the refrigerator to chill.

Once chilled, remove the pan sides and cut. Serve with whipped cream.

Strawberry Margarita Pie-July 09 Tasty Tools Springform pans

I recently saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats and knew to instantly mark it for future use. The recipe sounded and looked delicious and would be a perfect dessert to any Mexican meal. Well the opportunity to make it came sooner than I thought. This week H had several work dinners that we were putting on and one of the nights I decided to go Mexican. This pie was a WONDERFUL ending to our enchilada meal! Check out Annie’s Blog for more delicious recipes! Annie adapted this recipe from, Manchester Highlands Inn  via Hostess with the Mostess
I am also submitting this to Joelen’s Culinary Adventures tasty tools monthly blog event. Check out her blog at the end of the month for all the tasty tools recipes for Springform pans!



For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
6 tbsp. tequila
1/4 cup triple sec
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
Zest of one lime
2 cups heavy cream

For garnish:
Fresh strawberries
Lime slices or wedges

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment, as well as the sides of the springform.  In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar.  Add the melted butter and toss with a fork until well combined.  Transfer the mixture to the springform pan and evenly cover the sides and bottom of the pan with crumbs (use the bottom of a ramekin to even the bottom crust).  Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  

To make the filling, combine the strawberries, sugar, condensed milk, tequila, triple sec, lime juice and lime zest in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.  Transfer to a large bowl.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Add one third of the whipped cream to the puree and gently fold in with a rubber spatula.  Stir in the remaining cream.  

Pour the filling into the crust, cover, and freeze until firm at least overnight.  To remove the springform sides, wrap a towel soaked in hot water around the outside of the pan for 10-15 seconds.  Carefully remove the sides of the pan.  Before serving, garnish with fresh strawberries and lime slices as desired.  To serve, slice with a hot, dry sharp knife, wiping the blade between slices.