Independence Day Cheesecake

Happy Independence Day America! I’m so grateful that this was a holiday weekend for two reasons: One: We just picked a bunch of fresh blueberries that needed to be used. Two: A summer holiday gives me an excuse to make cheesecake! This blueberry cheesecake is simply delicious, the fresh blueberries add just the right mix of tang and pizzazz. And because this dessert contains fresh fruit, it is instantly healthy and contains absolutely no calories! Sigh, in my dreams at least, not in the mirror….In the past I’ve found that some people like their cheesecake really sweet, others like it plain and simple, then there are those of us who have mastered just the right flavor balance between plain and sweet. A truly good cheesecake is one that is mildly sweet, and OH SO CREAMY…….May I just take this moment to relish in the glory of the Kitchen-Aid hand mixer? Yes? Thank you. I mean come on, that thing is one in a million. It makes this cheesecake dangerously creamy and perfectly smooth. There is nothing like having a good hand mixer, it is your friend, your comrade, and your all-around wonder tool. There is nothing it can’t do! Enough about kitchen tools, let us use them to create!

The Ingredients: 16 oz. softened cream cheese, 16 oz. softened whipped topping, 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1 stick melted butter, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup fine grain organic sugar, 1 cup fresh blueberries.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter with a fork in the bottom of a casserole pan or baking dish. Press it flat and make sure there are no lumps. Refrigerate while you make the filling. Add the softened cream cheese to a large mixing bowl, mix on high speed with your hand mixer until smooth. Gradually add in the whipped topping and sugar(s), mixing on medium speed between additions. Mix on high for an additional five minutes or so. When the filling is thick, smooth, and lusciously creamy, spread it evenly atop your crust and refrigerate for a few hours until chilled. Serves 8-10 (depending on who is serving it);).

Disclaimers: I know the flag isn’t perfect, only perfectionists can make a perfect flag. Ignore the many holes where fingers tasted the filling, they add character and a rustic flair. At least that’s what I tell myself. If I hadn’t decided to take this photo in the sunlight you never would have been able to see them.;)

And there she is! A perfectly imperfect cheesecake!

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Strawberry Pretzel Cheesecake

Up here in the mountain country strawberries are ripe for the picking. I tell you what, there is nothing like picking your own berries and turning them into delicious treats. There’s just something about fresh fruit that says ‘summer’, don’t you think? Whether it be peaches, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries. I decided to use this in season deliciousness as an excuse to make a cold dessert that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Strawberry Pretzel Cheesecake is smooth, creamy, and delicious with salty sweet hints of pretzel. And because of the addition of strawberries, it has zero calories and is therefore healthy!;) There is no better way to get your serving of fruits for the day! This episode of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef, The Health Inspector, and Friar Tyst.

The Chef: “Mr. Health Inspector, your thoughts on cheesecake?” The Health Inspector: “Well it’s pretty good I guess.” The Chef: “Except for the strawberries, right?” The Health Inspector: “Well you know how it is.”

The Chef: “Friar Tyst, first of all let me thank you for your excellent sous chef assistance. Second of all, what to you think of the flavor combination?” Friar Tyst: “I thought it tasted like cheese!” The Chef: “Granted, anything else?” Friar Tyst: “I thought it tasted like strawberries.” 

The Ingredients: 1 stick butter, 1 to 2 cups crushed pretzels, additional 1/2 cup roughly chopped pretzels,  1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, 2 bars plain cream cheese, 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 8 oz. tub whipped topping, 2 cups halved strawberries.

Melt the butter at 30 second intervals in your microwave. Using a fork, combine it with the crushed pretzels and graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of a large rectangular pan. Press the crust down firmly and refrigerate for one hour. Using a hand mixer, mix together softened cream cheese and whipped topping until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, mixing between each addition. Place 1 cup of strawberries atop the crust. Top these with the cheesecake filling. Now add the remaining strawberries and chopped pretzels. Refrigerate for three to four hours, or until you are ready to serve it. Serves 6-8 (if they’re not ‘starving’)

Beautiful food, delicious food……CHEESECAKE GOODNESS!!!!

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Layered Milano Cheesecake

First of all I want you to know, that before this week I have never laid my taste buds on a Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie. Second of all I want you to know that that, has all, changed. I never knew, I’m telling you I never knew, that those things were so good! Who knew that a buttery sandwich cookie with chocolate ganache in the middle could be so delicious!?! I promise you that you will see my personal recipe for those wonders here on this blog sometime in the near future. But for now, you must be satisfied with this no=bake cheesecake containing said delights. My family loves cheesecake, we’ve made more variations of cold desserts than the colors in Joseph’s coat. I would always choose a no-bake cheesecake over the traditional, you know why? The no-bake is creamier, uses less ingredients, and takes half of the time. So without further ado, I give you, Chocolate Milano Cheesecake.

The Crust: 21-27 Milano cookies, 4 cinnamon graham crackers (optional).

Break all but nine of the cookies in half and line the bottom of a casserole pan with them. If using, break the graham crackers into fourths and fill in the gaps.

Classic Cheesecake Layer: 8 oz. plain cream-cheese, 8 oz. whipped topping, 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar.

Make sure the whipped topping and cream-cheese are at room temperature. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor, pulse until smooth and creamy. Spoon the mixture atop the cookies, being careful not to disturb the loose crust. Break the remaining cookies into small pieces and sprinkle evenly atop the classic cheesecake layer. Place the cheesecake into your refrigerator while you make the next layer.

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Layer: 8 oz. cream-cheese, 8 oz. whipped topping, 1/2 to 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 to 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.

Make sure the whipped topping and cream-cheese are at room temperature. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor, pulse until smooth and creamy. Spoon the mixture atop the first layer, being careful not to disturb the cookie bits underneath. Refrigerate for several hours or until thoroughly chilled. Before serving, grate three chocolate wafer cookies over the top for garnish (optional).

Just look at that cake!

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Creamy Layered Cookie Cake

The Health Inspector’s birthday was yesterday, and to celebrate I made him a Creamy Layered Cookie Cake. Our family has always had a thing for chocolaty, creamy, refrigerator desserts. There’s just something about them, maybe it’s the simplicity, maybe it’s our Baptist heritage, maybe it’s our love of chocolate…..the truth is that it’s all of the above. Anyway, here is a dessert sure to wow you family, your friends, your relatives, your neighbors, your co-workers, your acquaintances, and basically everyone that isn’t on a diet! Happy Birthday Mr. Health Inspector!

The Ingredients: 3 dozen Homekist Chocolate sandwich cookies, 1 stick butter, 2 large boxes instant chocolate pudding, 3 1/2  cups coconut milk,  1 cup cream cheese, 3 cups Cool Whip, 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar.

Melt butter and pour it and 30 of the cookies into the bowl of your food processor, pulse until smooth. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a large casserole pan, place the crust into your refrigerator while you make the other layers. Pour pudding mix into the bowl of your food processor, add half of the milk and half of the pudding mix, pulse until combined. Add the remaining milk and pudding, pulse until well combined (no lumps). Spread the pudding evenly atop the crust. Combine Cool Whip, sugar, and cream cheese in the bowl of your food processor, pulse until well combined (no lumps). Add the remaining cookies to the mixture and blend until they are completely crushed. Spread cream cheese mixture atop the pudding layer. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Does this look good or does this look GOOD?

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Chocolate Coma Cake

WARNING: Consuming too much of this cake may or may not put you in a chocolate coma.

WARNING: This cake is not low-calorie, low-fat, low-sugar, and may or may not have been prepared around nuts. But the good news is, I think it’s gluten free!

That being said, you’re going to love this cold dessert! I only make it once a year, and I would recommend the same habit to you. Unless you plan on gaining ten pounds or so (just saying). Chocolate Coma cake is only for EXTREME chocolate lovers. As in, at a holiday dinner or potluck you would never choose to eat a dessert that does not contain chocolate. Now that I have listed all the possible precautions, let me tell you how to make it!

How to Get a Chocolate Coma: 2-3 dozen Homekist chocolate sandwich cookies, 1 stick melted butter, 16 oz. plain cream cheese, 16 oz. Cool Whip, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (depending on your taste), 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1 1/4 cups half and half, 1 giant Hershey’s dark chocolate bar, handful of semisweet chocolate chips. For the crust, pulse chocolate cookies and melted butter in the bowl of your food processor until just combined. Press into the bottom of a large casserole pan.

Chocolate Cheesecake Layer: Combine Cool Whip and cream cheese in the bowl of your food processor, pulse until smooth. Add the cocoa and confectioner’s sugar. Pulse until combined. Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture evenly over the top of the crust. Refrigerate for one hour.

Chocolate Ganache Topping: Heat half and half in a small pot over medium heat until the mixture is too hot to touch, but not boiling. Add chocolate bar and chocolate chips, stir continuously until the chocolate is melted. If the mixture seems too thin, add a tablespoon of cocoa to help it thicken more quickly. After the mixture has been cooking for 5 minutes, remove it from heat and pour it into a small bowl. Refrigerate the chocolate ganache for an hour. Skim the film off of the ganache before pouring it over the cheesecake layer. Pour an additional cup of cookie crumbs over the top of the cake, the crumbs will absorb the excess moisture. Serve when thoroughly chilled. Enjoy!

In the dark….

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In the light….

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