Salted Caramel Cheesecake Squares

Ingredients
Crust:

Cooking spray, for spraying the foil
2 sleeves (10 ounces) graham crackers
1/2 cup pecans
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Filling:
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
Caramel Topping:
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Flaky sea salt, for garnish

Directions
Watch how to make this recipe.

Special equipment: a candy thermometer

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Place the graham crackers and pecans into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes crumbs. Add the butter and vanilla and pulse again until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. If they come up the sides, that’s okay!

For the filling: Beat the cream cheese, granulated sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add the sour cream and mix again.

Pour the mixture into the crust, smooth the top and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door, leaving the cheesecake to sit in the oven with the door open for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool for an hour.

For the caramel topping: Add the brown sugar and butter to a pan, set over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Add the condensed milk, corn syrup and vanilla and bring to a boil, stirring continuously.

Place a candy thermometer in the caramel mixture and continue to boil until the caramel reaches 225 degrees F. Turn off the heat and let the caramel cool for about 5 minutes before pouring over the cheesecake.

Allow to set for 2 hours, then cut into squares with a sharp knife. Arrange on a plate and garnish each square with a pinch of sea salt.

Classic Cheesecake

Ingredients
Crust:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch fine salt
Filling:
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups sour cream
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (see Cook’s Note) or extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Topping:
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Berries, optional.

Directions
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.

For the crust: Melt the butter, covered in the microwave, in a medium microwave-safe bowl, or a saucepan. Brush a 9-inch springform pan with some of the butter. Stir the remaining butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom of the pan, taking care to get the crust evenly into the edges. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool. Wrap the bottom and up the sides of the pan with foil and put in a roasting pan.

For the filling: Beat the cream cheese on medium speed with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Add the granulated sugar and beat just until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Slowly beat in the sour cream, then eggs, vanilla and both citrus zests; take care not to over whip. Pour into the cooled crust.

Bring a medium saucepan or kettle of water to a boil. Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don’t pull the rack out of the oven). Pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes—the outside of the cake will set but the center will still be loose.

For the topping: Stir together the sour cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Spread over the top of the cooked cheesecake and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Turn the oven off, cook the cheesecake in the residual heat in the oven for about 1 hour. This gentle finish minimizes the risk of the dreaded crack in your cheesecake.

Remove cheesecake from the roasting pan to a rack. Run a knife around the edges and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Bring cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Remove the springform ring. Dip a knife in warm water, wipe dry before slicing each piece. Serve with berries, if desired.

Raspberry Cheesecake

Ingredients
For the crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the toppings:
1 cup red jelly (not jam), such as currant, raspberry or strawberry
3 half-pints fresh raspberries

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9 1/2 -inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1 inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Test your oven with an oven thermometer to be sure it’s accurate! To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, two at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.

Place the cheesecake on a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.

Melt the jelly in a medium saucepan over low heat. Toss the raspberries in the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Pile the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cheesecake

Ingredients
Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
Serving suggestion: Fresh or Marinated Berries, or Raspberry Sauce

Directions
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust: In a small bowl, mix the cracker crumbs with the melted butter and the sugar together until evenly moistened. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool the pan on a rack.

Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held mixer, cream the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. (Stop mixing and scrape down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed.) Beat in the sour cream. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and cream. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until the top of the cheesecake is lightly browned, but the center still jiggles slightly, about 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving.

To remove the cake from the pan, run a knife or offset spatula around the edges to release the edges from the pan. Open the springform pan and remove the ring.

Cut the cheesecake into wedges and serve with berries or a raspberry sauce if desired.

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

Ingredients
Cooking spray
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Coarse gold sugar, for decorating (optional).

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 24-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners; coat with cooking spray. Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring, until smooth. Whisk in the granulated sugar, vanilla and salt until combined; remove the bowl from the pan. Stir in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until the batter is shiny, about 1 minute.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Whisk the peanut butter, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in another heatproof bowl set over the pot of simmering water until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip.

Let the brownies cool 5 minutes in the pan; make an indentation in the center of each with a teaspoon. Pipe the filling into the indentations.

Make the glaze: Combine the semisweet chocolate and 2 tablespoons cream in a heatproof bowl set over the simmering water. Let sit 3 minutes, then stir until smooth. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar. Slowly stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons cream until pourable. Spoon over the brownies; top with the coarse sugar. Chill until set, 30 minutes.

Photograph by Andrew Purcell
Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Ginormous Toaster Pastry

Ingredients
Two 8-ounce tubes refrigerated seamless crescent dough sheets (see Cook’s Note)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Watch how to make this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Unroll one tube of dough onto one of the prepared baking sheets into a rectangle. Repeat with the other dough and other baking sheet. Refrigerate both while you make the filling.

Combine the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Mix together with your hands or a rubber spatula until completely combined.

Spread the filling on one of the dough rectangles, leaving a 1-inch border. Pick up the other dough rectangle, keeping it on the parchment (it will stick to the parchment, making it easier to transfer). Arrange it parchment-side up on top of the other dough piece to sandwich them together, lining them up as evenly as possible. Peel away the top piece of parchment. Brush the dough with the beaten egg and use a fork to crimp the edges.

Bake until golden brown and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before icing.

Put the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. Stir the milk and vanilla together in a separate bowl, then slowly whisk the milk mixture into the sugar until thick but pourable.

Drizzle the icing over the top of the pastry in a zigzag pattern. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups chocolate chips, 2 Hershey’s chocolate bars, chopped or M&M’S
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional).

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. In another large bowl stir together butter, both sugars, eggs, vanilla and cocoa. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined. Stir chocolate chips and walnuts, if using, and stir to distribute evenly.

For cookies: Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets and bake about 10 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.

For bars: Pat dough into a greased 9 inch square baking pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into squares when cooled

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips, or chunks
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt.

Directions
Evenly position 2 racks in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. (on convection setting if you have it.) Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone sheets. (If you only have 1 baking sheet, let it cool completely between batches.)

Put the butter in a microwave safe bowl, cover and microwave on medium power until melted. (Alternatively melt in a small saucepan.) Cool slightly. Whisk the sugars, eggs, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon; take care not to over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared pans. Wet hands slightly and roll the dough into balls. Space the cookies about 2-inches apart on the pans. Bake, until golden, but still soft in the center, 12 to 16 minutes, depending on how chewy or crunchy you like your cookies. Transfer hot cookies with a spatula to a rack to cool. Serve.

Store cookies in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.

For a Rocky Road Bar:

Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Make the batter as per cookie recipe and fold in 1 cup chopped walnuts along with the chocolate chips. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until the edges are light brown and the batter sets, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly and cover surface with 4 cups marshmallows and 1 cup chocolate chips. Broil at least 8 inches from the heat until marshmallows turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. (Keep an eye on the marshmallows, and turn the pan frequently–they go from golden to char in a wink.) Cool, cut and serve.

Coconut Cake

Ingredients
Coconut cake:

5 eggs, separated
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
Coconut Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Milk, to thin as needed
1 cup unsweetened coconut plus 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted for garnish
1 cup pecans, chopped, plus 1/4 cup pecans, toasted, for garnish
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Special equipment: 3 (8-inch) round cake pans, or 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, floured and greased

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake, whip the egg whites until stiff, but not dry in an electric mixer. Set the whites aside.

Switch to the paddle attachment. In a clean bowl cream the butter with the shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add the yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Sift the flour and baking soda together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat in the coconut and pecans. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites. Do not overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Do not overbake or cake will become too dry. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a rack. Cool completely.

To make the frosting: Cream the cream cheese with the butter in an electric mixer. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. To achieve the spreading consistency you desire, add milk to thin, as needed. Add the vanilla and beat in 1 cup of coconut and the chopped nuts. Frost the cake and sprinkle the toasted coconut and pecans.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
Chocolate Cake:
Softened unsalted butter, for the pans
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 teaspoons chipotle powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Cream Cheese Frosting:
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions
Special equipment: two 9-inch round cake pans

For the chocolate cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Mix the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, chipotle powder, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl until blended. Add the oil, milk, vanilla and eggs and beat with an electric mixer until thoroughly blended, about 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool on a rack 10 minutes, then invert the pans to remove the cakes and cool completely.

For the cream cheese frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until the frosting is very smooth, about 2 minutes.

Spoon 2 cups of the frosting onto the top of one cake layer and smooth evenly with an offset spatula. Top with the second layer. Spoon just enough frosting on top to make a thin but even coating of frosting on top and all along the sides of the cake; it is okay if this frosting gets messy and full of crumbs. Freeze the cake until the frosting is firm, about 10 minutes.

Spoon the remaining frosting onto the cake and smooth evenly over the entire cake with the offset spatula. Dust lightly with cocoa powder and serve.