Category Archives: Holidays

Mother’s Day Treats


This  Sunday is Mother’s Day and what better way to say “Mom, I love you” than baking up a batch of treats?  Every woman loves her sweets :).

I will be featuring 3 easy to make treats for today — Pecan Bars, Coconut Macarons and Brownies.  You may choose to be fierce and make all 3 or simply pick your favorite one for your mommy dearest.

Ingredients for Coconut Macaroons:

  • 14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.

Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or 2 teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.

Ingredients for Chewy Pecan Bars:

Crust

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Topping

  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped pecans (about 14 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, leaving 1-inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil. Blend flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt in processor. Add butter and process until mixture begins to clump together. Press dough evenly onto bottom of foil-lined pan. Bake crust until set and light golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand while preparing topping. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Ingredients for Espresso Brownies:
  • 8oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 12 oz butter
  • 12 oz eggs
  • 24 oz sugar
  • 0.12 oz salt
  • 1/2 oz vanilla
  • 1/2 oz instant espresso powder/coffee
  • 16 oz all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Grease and flour two 9″x13″ sheetpans or 3 9″ square pans.  Set aside.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler.  Let the mixture cool to room temperature.  Mix the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla together until well blended, but do not whip.  Whipping to a foam reates more leaveningm resulting in a more crumbly, less fudgy brownie.
Gently fold in with the chocolate mixture.  Sift in the flour and gradually fold in the wet batter and mix thoroughly.  Pour equal amounts into your baking pans and bake for 45-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center.
Ingredients for Ganache Filling:
  • 12 oz of dark chocolate discs or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder/coffee

Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Stir in espresso powder.  Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward.

To assemble brownies, pour the ganache filling evenly onto one sheet pan.  Very carefully take the second sheet pan and place on top of the first, sandwiching both brownies together.
***Helpful til: By freezing/refrigerating the brownie beforehand will make assembly easier.
To make brownie bites, simply cut your brownies with a 2-4″ round cookie cutter.  Dip the tops of the brownies in ganache (see recipe above) and set aside on wax paper.  To finish, drizzle the tops with more ganache and garnish with whipped cream and edible flowers.  You can use different toppings like sprinkles, fruit etc — be creative!
This recipe makes about 16-20 brownie bites.
I hope everyone enjoys their Mother’s Day this weekend.  I am very fortunate to have a wonderful mother who is not only caring and loving but funny as all hell.  I find that the older I become, the more I appreciate my mother — the things that she does, the things that she’s done and I’m sure the many things she will do as I grow up.  It’s hard enough to be a good parent, but a good mother?  Those women deserve more than just a day out of the year.  But in the spirit of Mother’s day don’t forget to tell her all the ways you love her, appreciate her and how lucky you really are to have the best mother in the world.

Also today will be your last chance to enter my giveaway which will end at 7PM. (CT)

The lovely folks of Challenge Butter sent me a loooovely Zoo Animals Pancake Griddle from Nordic Ware($35 value), it is the most ADORABLE thing I’ve ever seen.

And you will win your choice of a 5″x7″ framed and matted color photo from my Spring Flower collection listed below ($50 value).

I will select one winner on Friday, May 7th at 7:00 PM using a random number generator service.  In order to be eligible for this giveaway please:

1. Leave a comment about your favorite Zoo animal and why.

2. Become a fan of Joylicious on Facebook.

3. Follow me on Twitter.

Good Luck!

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Ultimate Sugar Cookies


My goodness it’s good to be back!  Work has been busy (hurray!), but unfortunately has left me with little time to tend to my blog 😦 (booo!).  It’s been a blast though, I feel fortuate to have a job that allows me so much creative/artistic freedom — it is a nice change from scrubbing grease chunks off of kitchen equipment and cleaning out moldy freezers…

At Mealtime Market we’re  selling Iced Sugar Cookies, heart-shaped sugar cookies to be exact! So I have been busily experimenting in the kitchen for the perfect sugar cookie recipe.  After many trials and errors I have finally found the winning recipe for the ultimate sugar cookie!

I think the thing I love most about sugar cookies are that they are so versatile and serve as a great “base” dough .  You can make use these cookies to make some ice cream sandwiches, or even use this recipe to make tart shells for desserts, or the way I like them best — plain, with a nice glass of milk.

I have never used shortening in any cookie recipes before and actually found this recipe on the back of a Crisco shortening label, ( I know, what are the odds?) the only thing I changed was that I used half cake flour and half all purpose flour.

I found that it improved the texture of the cookie by a lot.  Anyways, I gave it a shot and was completely shocked as to how moist, melt-in-your-mouth delicious these cookies were.  INCREDIBLE, some would say…  They are best fresh out of the oven, or you can zap them in the microwave for a few seconds for the best warm sugar cookies you will have ever tasted.

Recipe for the Ultimate Sugar Cookies:

(makes 6 dozen)

  • 1 stick or 1 cup shortening (you can also use butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat shortening and sugar in large bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Beat in egg, milk and vanilla extract until well blended.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture at low speed until well blended.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour for easier handling.

Heat oven to 375F.

Roll 1/3 of dough at a time on lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut dough with 2 to 3-inch floured cookie cutters.  Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Sprinkle with sugar, if desired (I used turbinado sugar).  Bake 5 to 9 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack ( or your stomach).  Frost and decorate as desired.

I actually whipped up a batch just before Collin left for his first international over seas trip (exciting!), you know, so he can have snacky snacks on the plane!  He actually left me a message a couple days ago on my phone calling from Japan saying — “Honey, thank you for the cookies.  They remind me of home.” Aw shucks, come on now! It really made my heart melt 🙂

If any of you are interested in making heart-shaped cookies for Valentine’s day it is really simple to do!  You just have to get a heart-shaped cookie cutter, any size you prefer, if you are going to decorate the cookies I would recommend you picking a big enough cutter where you have ample room to decorate! Cut and bake the dough as listed above and once the cookies are cooled you can decorate them with different colors of royal icing.

Royal icing is basically egg whites, powdered sugar and a little bit of lemon juice.

Place the desired amount of confectioners’ sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat in the egg whites, a little at a time, until the sugar forms a smooth paste.  You will need 2 to 3 oz egg whites per pound of sugar.  Keep unused icing covered with a damp cloth or plastic film at all times to prevent hardening.

I just made pink colored icing — you can make any color you’d like using food coloring.  You pipe the cookies using either a pastry bag with a fine tip or you can make parchment triangles.  You can also use fruit roll ups, sprinkles or small candies to use as decorations as well, have fun with it and like I always say BE CREATIVE! This is a great project for kids or friends and the best part is you get to share your creations at the end, sugar cookies makes anyone happy 🙂

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!


Glad to be back — I have been out of commission for the past week due to a gallbladder infection…ick.  December has been a riot thus far, first bronchitis then the gallbladder infection — thankfully the new year is only a few days away so I will be leaving all bad ju-ju behind. 🙂

I reviewed my resolutions from last year and realized that I have again only achieved a little less than half of my goals so this year opposed to making long-term goals (Running a 10K) I’ve made short-term, easier to reach goals (Run 1 mile/day for 5x a week).  One of my main goals for this year is to lead a healthier lifestyle, through exercise, a proper diet, and a peaceful spirit.  Seeing that I am only in my twenties and I frequently deal with malfunctions with my immune system, the only logical response would be to keep my body in better condition —Your body is your temple…


What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions?
I had a wonderful Christmas — I redecorated my kitchen so now it feels more like a real kitchen opposed to a small cramped horrible mess. I’ve been having a BLAST with my favorite present of all — my new Sony alpha 550 dSLR camera, all thanks to my one and only of course :)!! One of the upsides of being sick was being able to spend plenty of time with Collin’s family and grandparents (Hi Pearl!).  We spent time playing cards, watching movies, playing video games and of course, eating.

I did not have much time to cook but I did make this delicious soup from a leftover ham bone that Collin’s dad gave me!  Perfect for the weather we’re having here in Dallas, can you believe that it’s actually snowing? Anyways, the trick to making this soup delectable is making a stock out of the ham bone first — this is easily done by placing the ham bone and scraps in a large pot of water and simmering at a medium low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours with some onion, a bay leaf and for this stock I used turnips and carrots as well.

I always love using leftover bones, especially ham bones and chicken carcasses — they always make such a savory broth.  By keeping your broth at a low medium heat (the soup should be at a very slight boil), it slowly draws out the proteins (flavor) from the bones, thus ending in a rich decadent broth.  Because I am using mostly root vegetables in this soup, I simply used the scraps and remains of turnips, carrots, rutabagas and onions and later strained them out of the soup — this will add body and character to your broth as well. After straining your broth, don’t forget to reserve the ham meat for the soup!

Ingredients for Winter Vegetable Soup:

(serves 8-10)

  • 8 cups ham broth (see directions above)
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 cup carrots (I used baby carrots), diced
  • 1 cup cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced 1″
  • 2 turnips, peeled and diced 1″
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil at medium heat.  Place the onions in the pan once oil is heated and begin the “caramelization” process.  It is important to cook the onions at the prefect heat, do not burn them, it will ruin the flavor completely!  The key to caramelization is gradually cooking the onions down so that the sugar slowly begins to oxidize, producing a nutty and sweet flavor.  The onions will slowly turn a pale yellow, then eventually a rich brownish yellow or caramel color.  Once it reaches this state, remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat your ham stock at medium heat in a large deep bottomed pot.  Add the cabbage and rutabagas and turnips and cook for 30 minutes, or until very soft.  Next add the carrots and cauliflower and cook for an additional 20 minutes.  By adding vegetables in at different times, it will give your soup a range of texture opposed to soft goopey vegetables at the end.  Since cabbage, turnips and rutabagas tend to taste better when cooked very soft I chose to add them first, then kept a slight firmness and crunch through the carrots and cauliflower.

Add the cream and white pepper along with the caramelized onions, and cook for an additional ten minutes — season with salt and pepper to taste.  I cannot stress this enough, always add salt at the end of cooking soups, this helps keep the delicacy of the broth as well as avoiding the common sin of “over-salting” food.  I like to add salt literally pinches at a time, and taste after each addition until I achieve what I feel is the best flavor.  I always say its better to undersalt food than oversalt it! Garnish with some fresh parsley and you are ready to go 🙂

Aaaah, nothing hits the spot like a good hearty vegetable soup — many thanks to my neighbor Michael for the beautiful cauliflower, it was by far the best one I’ve had all year.  The best part about soup is that it tastes even better after sitting in the fridge for a couple days, all the flavors marinate and develop into full and rich broth.  For once, leftovers taste better than they did initially!

This will probably be my last post for this year, I am looking forward to the New Year — I have good feelings about 2010 🙂  I hope everyone has a very safe and Happy New Year, see you next year yall!!!!!

Simple Delicious Holiday Gifts Pt.1- Truffles


I think the best kind of gifts to give people during the Holidays are ones from the heart, and what better way to express your love than homemade EDIBLE presents?  Nothing beats a happy belly 🙂 I will be featuring 3 different types of edible holiday gifts to give to friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc.  Part one are these beautiful and decadent Holiday Truffle Sampler Box.  You can choose any toppings you’d like to roll your truffles in, I chose toasted pecans,coconut, cocoa, and peppermint.

These were not only easy to assemble but really fun to make.  I bought some chocolate boxes and wrappers from my local craft store and finished the packages with some ribbon and cute little christmas decorations.  If you make these in large batches, they become really cost effective.  I was able to make 64 truffles, 8 per box, and it averaged out to be only $4/box!!

Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Truffle Base:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 24 oz semi-sweet dark chocolate (preferably Ghiradelli)
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream at medium heat until it begins to simmer.  Place the broken up dark chocolate pieces in a large bowl and pour the hot cream ontop.  Add the brandy and vanilla, and allow mixture to sit for 1 minute.  Using a rubber spatula, mix ingredients together until the chocolate is smooth and shiny.  Make sure all chocolate is thoroughly melted, if needed pop it in the microwave for 20 sec intervals if you find chocolate pieces still remaining.

Be sure to Place chocolate mixture in the fridge for 1 hour, or until very firm.  Once it is set, you can either use a tablespoon or a melon baller and scoop chocolate onto parchment paper.  Return to the fridge for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare your toppings for the truffles.  I used a meat mallet to crush up my candy canes and nuts –I cut up a paper grocery bag and put the nuts and candy inbetween the sheets of paper so that pieces of nuts and candy wouldn’t be flying all over the place 🙂 You can also use a towel and if you do not have a meat mallet use a heavy jar.

Remove the truffles from the fridge and shape into balls using your hands.  If you have vinyl/latex gloves, you may use them during this process.  Roll the tuffle balls in the different toppings and place them on a large pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all truffles are coated.  Return chocolates to refrigerator  and allow to sit for at least 1 hour.  Place chocolates in wrappers and assemble in boxes.  Decorate them however you’d like and they are ready to go!

You can also choose to do milk chocolate if you are not a fan of dark and you may also used flavored liqours like Grand Marnier or flavored extracts like peppermint or cinnamon.  Be creative!

I’ll be going to Michigan to visit honey’s grandparents tomorrow — I can’t wait for the snow!!! I have been hearing crazy stories about the temperatures being in the single digits and that frightens me a little bit, I pretty much own zero winter clothes since I live in Texas so wish me luck hahaha.  Happy Holidays yall!

Thanksgiving Feast


The Thanksgiving Feast was a great success — thank you to all my guests for coming! I always enjoy holding a Thanksgiving get together with friends and family every year, it always brings me happiness to cook for the people I love :).  Another big reason is because being Chinese-American, my very Traditional Chinese parents do not celebrate Thanksgiving!   I would always remember getting out of school for Thanksgiving break  yet never going anywhere while all my other friends went out of town.  The day of Thanksgiving I’d watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade with the gigantic Turkey float and that was the only turkey I usually had for the day.  One year my mom made a turkey — I remembered it being in a bag and we had two weeks worth of leftovers since only the three of us ate it.

But then one year during high school, I had a close friend invite me over to have Thanksgiving with her family.  It changed my life — I finally understood why this American holiday was so coveted by so many: there was so much AMAZING FOOD.  I mean there were four different kinds of pie alone, not to mention the countless sides surrounding the gigantic turkey and the delightful appetizers before — it was beautiful.  It wasn’t until then that I finally understood the term “comfort-food“. One of the few times of the year when family gets together and creates one gigantic meal filled with love and memories, creating food that truly brings you comfort to your heart and soul when you eat it.  The anticipation of waiting to sit down and finally digging into the collection of wonderous glorious Thanksgiving food is always my favorite part of the meal — I always plan out my method of attack (potatoes and gravy in the middle, protein on one side, vegetables and misc on the other– potatoes and gravy go with everything) and always make sure to save room for dessert.

I will be making this a two part post since I made quite a long menu — I tend to go overboard at times -_-.  I will be featuring appetizers and cookies  today and the sides tomorrow.   In planning this party, a lot of these items were able to be planned and prepped beforehand so you are not rushing around the day of.  I will show my prep list later on.   Here is the menu that I’ve planned:

Appetizers

  • Rosemary Basil Bruschetta
  • Sweet Potato Phyllo Cups with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Magic Salad
  • Devil Eggs Two Ways – Caviar and Dill + Garlic and Peppercorn

Desserts

  • Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake
  • Fruit Salad with Ginger and Mint
  • Three Kinds of Cookies – Double Chocolate with Peanut Butter Chips, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Cranberry Almond White Chocolate

Let’s start with the Appetizers!

Ingredients for Rosemary Basil Bruschetta: (serves 12)

  • 6 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade (I used Thai Basil)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl mix the vinegar, oil and sugar together until sugar is dissolved.  Combine the remaining ingredients and toss well.  Place in glass container, cover and allow mixture to marinate for 1-2 days. You can make this up to two days ahead of time.

The day of the party, buy some fresh baguettes and slice them at a diagonal.  Brush with olive oil and bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until a light golden brown.  Set aside and cool.  Serve with tomato mixture and garnish with chopped basil.

Prep Time: 10 minutes    Total Cooking Time:30 min

When picking appetizers for your party, remember to pick items that can be pre-made and assembled quickly the day of the party.  These phyllo cups are a great example.  You can make the phyllo cups up to 5 days beforehand — I did it 3 days before and after baking I kept them in an airtight container until the day of the party.  I bought the pumpkin seeds pre toasted, but if needed you can also toast nuts 4-5 days beforehand.  I baked the bacon and made the sweet potato puree the night before — you can make the bacon bits up to 3-4 days before hand keeping them refrigerated in an airtight container.

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Phyllo Cups with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: (serves 12)

  • 12 – phyllo sheets, thawed
  • olive oil to brush
  • 3 sweet potatoes, chopped 1″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 slices Applewood Smoked Bacon, cooked
  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, garnish

For those of you who have never used phyllo, it must be thawed before using.  Do not try to unroll it while it’s frozen or the dough will crack — (I have been impatient and tried this before).

Preheat oven to 350F.  Take any sized muffin pan and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Once the phyllo dough is thawed, be sure to keep the dough moist with a damp kitchen towel — it dries out very easy.  Brush phyllo with oil or butter and using a pizza cutter cut the dough into equal squares similar to the size of the individual muffin tins.  Place two seets of phyllo in each tin and lightly press down.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

For the puree, place the diced sweet potatoes in a large pot of water.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium, cook until soft, about 15 minutes.  Drain and shock with cold water, this will help retain the bright orange color of the potatoes.  Place the potatoes in a food processor and blend in the honey milk and cinnamon.  If the mixture is too thick simply add more milk until you reach the desired consistency.  Place mixture in glass airtight container and refrigerate.  This can be made up to two days ahead.

Prep Time: 10 minutes   Total Cooking Time: 1 hour

The day of the party all you’d have to do is spoon the sweet potato mixture into the phyllo cups and bake at 350F for 5 minutes to reheat.  Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, some bacon bits, and sliced scallions and voila you are done!

I love deviled eggs, the eggs can be boiled and peeled 2 days before hand and the mixture can be made and piped the day of.

Ingredients for Garlic and Peppercorn:

  • 6 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1 large garlic clove crushed
  • 3 tablespoons creme fraiche or heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp green peppercorns crushed, for garnish
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Caviar and Dill Eggs:

  • 6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp caviar plus more for garnish
  • 2 tsp dill, chopped plus more for garnish
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

For the eggs, you can pick to cut them horizontally or vertically, whichever you prefer.  I chose to cut mine horizontally — you would have to slightly cut the base of the eggs so they are able to stand up.  Separate the whites and yolks in large bowls, be careful not to rip the whites.  Carefully place the whites in a cold water bath.  Meanwhile blend the yolks with the ingredients and taste with salt and pepper.

Quick Tips on How to Properly Boil an Egg:

  • Always cover the eggs with COLD water before cooking.
  • Bring the water to a boil and quickly remove from heat.  Allow the eggs to sit for 20 minutes before peeling under cold running water.
  • Eggs that are very fresh tend to be harder to peel, use older eggs if possible.
  • Placing the eggs in a ice water bath may also help with hard to peel eggs.
  • Store peeled hard boiled eggs in a large bowl of cold water, can keep for up to a week.  It is preferable to peel them when you want to use them.

When ready to serve, remove the egg whites and drain on paper towels.  Carefully assemble them on a plate and pipe the two different types of egg fillings.  Garnish and serve cold.  I cut the eggs the night before and made the mixture with the yolks the day of.  Then all I had to worry about was just mixing the yolks and piping my eggs.

Prep Time: 20 minutes   Total Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Now, onto Desserts!

Cheesecake are one of my favorite desserts to make because honestly, who doesn’t love cheesecake?  It can also be made several days in advance and kept covered in a freezer, I made mine 3 days in advance.  This cheesecake is nice and creamy with hints of cinnamon and pumpkin.  I was going to make a maple cream to go with it but ran out of time and went with what I thought were butterscotch but turned out to be peanut butter chips, it actually worked out really well!

Ingredients for Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake: (Serves 12)

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cakes

  • 6 graham crackers or 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Grease the bottoms and sides of the 9-inch springform pan.  Cover the outside of the pan with aluminum foil, making sure to seal the bottom so water does not leak through when you place the cake in a waterbath.  Prepare a roasting pan with 4 inches of water that is deep and large enough to hold the cake pan.  If you are using whole graham crackers, place them in a large ziplock bag and with a rolling pin (I used a wine bottle) crush the crackers until they form fine, uniform crumbs.  Pour crumbs in a bowl and measure out 1 cup.  Add the melted butter and mix evenly with crumbs.  Pour the mixture into the pan and press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the pan using your fingers.  Bake the crust until it turns slightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.  This process allows the crust to dry out so it does not abosrb too much liquid from the filling, leaving you a crunchy crust opposed to a soggy one.

Beat the eggs thoroughly until yolks and whites are well blended.  It is important they are at room temperature so the eggs do not clump with the cream cheese which results in white specks in the cheesecake.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla.  Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on low speed until mixture is well blended, about 1 minute.  Make sure that every bit of the mixture is well beaten, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Add the flour and blend well at a low speed and then add half of the eggs until well incorporated then add remanining half and repeat.  Add the cinnamon, ginger and dark rum and mix just until incoporated.  Add the sour cream and pumpkin until the filling is an even golden orange color.  Set aside.

Pour the filling onto the prebaked crust, using a spatula to scrape all of the mixture from the bowl.  Put the filled springform pan in the roasting pan and slide the roasting pan onto the oven rack.  Slowly fill the roasting pan with water until it reaches about 2 inches up the sides of the springfoam pan.  This process is known as a water bath, it prevents the cheesecake from cracking and gives an even, delicate and moist texture to the cheesecake. 

Bake undisturbed for 551 hour and 20 minutes.  If the cake looks like it is firm, give the pan a gentle shake to see if the batter moves.  Be careful to not splash any water onto the cake! If the top is wobbly, put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes, repeat process until cheesecake is done.  Remove the cheesecake together with the water bath onto a wire rack.  Allow the cheesecake to cool for an hour then lift the springfoam pan from the water.  Remove the foil and allow the cake to cool for an hour longer.  Seal tightly with plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

The day of the party, take the cheesecake out of the freezer and allow it to defrost in fridge.  When ready to serve, run a knife along the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, keeping the knife tightly pressed against the side of the pan.  Release the pan sides and carefully lift off.  Using a thin knife, loosen the crust from the pan bottom and slide onto a serving plate.  For the best results, allow the cheesecake to sit at room temperature a couple hours before serving so the cheesecake can “ripen”.  You can make cheesecake up to a month ahead of time, once defrosted it can last in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Prep Time: 1 hour   Total Cooking Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Now On To Desserts!

Preheat oven to 350F.

Ingredients for Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Beat the butter, sugars and vanilla on medium speed using handheld mixer.  Beat in eggs until light and fluffy.  Mix in flour, baking powder and salt on low speed until well incorporated.  Stir in the oats and chocolate chips and form dough into 2 inch balls.  and place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake 12-14 minutes until edges turn a slight golden brown and center is soft.  Set aside and cool on wire rack.

Ingredients for Double Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granualted sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  In another bowl, mix the flour cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Incorporate well and slowly blend into butter and sugar mixture.  Once dry and wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed, fold in the peanut butter chips.  Roll cookie dough into 2-inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet, leaving about 2″ of space in between each.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients for Cranberry Almond White Chocolate Chip Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light sugar
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup almonds, slivered

In a large bowl cream together sugars and butter until mixed well.  Add in egg and beat until light and fluffy.  In another large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt and slowly incorporate into the wet mixture.  Fold in the oats and cranberries until well incorporated.  Roll dough into 2″ balls and place on cookie sheet 2″ apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Set aside and cool on wire rack.   Makes about 3 dozen.

Cookies are always great to make for parties because cookie dough can be stored in the freezer for a long period of time.  The day of the party or even the night before, all you have to do is cut the dough and bake! You can make different cookie doughs and store them so you will have a variety the day of the party.