Sunday, September 21

cheesecake-stuffed chocolate cake

For my parent's 30th wedding anniversary, my siblings and i pooled our money and bought them matching wrist watches. And since I already am the self-declared (and only) baker in the family, I wanted to make something a little extra special. I've been making cakes for every birthdays and anniversary in the family and i figured since this is a milestone and a wedding anniversary, I might as well "marry" two decadent desserts into one. The result is a decadent cheesecake-"stuffed"/swirled chocolate cake. I would have frosted it with chocolate buttercream but i decided against it but if you're that much of a sweet tooth, then go right ahead and frost that baby like crazy. :)

Cheesecake-Swirled Chocolate Cake
Chocolate cake:
half recipe of my devil's food cake

Cheesecake layer/swirl:
one 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 C sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cornstarch
dash of salt
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and brush the sides of the pan with butter or oil. You can also use oil spray.

For the Chocolate cake layer:
Make the devil's food cake recipe as directed and pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Pour the cheesecake batter (recipe below) next.  Pour the rest of the devil's food cake batter on top of the cheesecake layer.  Get a barbecue stick or chopstick and ran it through and around the batter to create swirls. Alternately, you can leave it as it is so that when it bakes, it looks like a chocolate cake but when you slice it, "Surprise!".

Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

For the cheesecake layer:
Beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Add egg mixing until just combined after each addition.

Note: If you want this to be more decadent that it already is, you can frost this with your favorite chocolate buttercream or cheesecake frosting.

Cheesecake recipe adapted from Rita's Recipes

blue cheese and pear crostata

i gotta say, i sometimes surprise myself with the amount of energy I can muster just to do something I put my mind to. I've been wanting to try making berry pies but being in a tropical country, berries are hard to come by or are too expensive.  Apple pies on the other hand are a little too cliche. I wanted to so something edgy for my first try at this pastry so I wanted something different.

A week ago, I was doing my groceries and came upon a wedge of blue cheese which i though was on sale for 72 pesos ($1.67) so i bought it only to realize (while checking on the receipts) was actually priced at 172.00 ($3.97).  When I came back to the store yesterday, I apparently did not see the 1 before the 72.  I really should get my eyes checked.  So since I already have it and do not have anyone else at home to share it with (it just smells too funky for them), I gotta a find a way to milk this cheese for all it's worth. As always, the web always comes to my rescue and it spurted out this recipe from

I used the same exact recipe but made 2 small ones so it would fit my teeny tiny oven.

For the crust:
Ina Garten's Apple Crostata Pastry

For the crostata:
4 small to medium ripe pears
3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tbsp chopped almonds (you can also use walnuts or hazelnuts)
1 tbsp quick oats
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
honey (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Core and cut the pears into small, 1/2-inch chunks. Set aside in a bowl.

Roll out your crust onto a well-floured countertop until you have a rough, 10- to 12-inch circle. Transfer it to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Pour the pears into the middle of the crust, leaving about a 1 1/2-inch border around the edge. Scatter the blue cheese evenly over the top, tucking some pieces under and in between chunks of pear.

Combine the flour, sugar, and nuts in a bowl, then add the butter. Pinch the mixture together with your fingers until the dry ingredients are somewhat pebbly and combined with the butter enough that most pinches hold together.

Pour the topping over the pears. Fold the edges of the crust toward the center, folding it as necessary to create a circle. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Drizzle with honey, if desired, before serving.

Saturday, September 6

orange anise almond biscotti

I tried this recipe 'coz I bought some star anise and was planning to cook something out of it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get around doing it. Work has been so crazy lately and leaving work on time has been next to impossible the past few months.

orange zest, rum, almond extract and vanilla extract getting to know each other.
I am also in the habit of buying ingredients with a vision of a baked good that I can bake with it and since I haven't had the time lately, they piled up in the fridge. When i finally gotten around to it, I had star anise, almonds, rum and oranges at my disposal.

I searched the web and found that oranges and star anise apparently complement each other in terms of flavor. Booze is almost always a good addition to any baked good and nuts are a healthy addition to any cookies. And since I love love coffee, baking biscotti to go with it is the obvious choice. grab a few of these and dip them in coffee and your day have just gotten better. Trust me.

Orange Anise Almond Biscotti

Makes: 40 cookies

2 1/4 all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/3 teaspoon salt 
2 tbsp rum or brandy
3/4 teaspoons anise extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup white sugar 
1/2 c butter, softened 
2 eggs 
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1 tablespoon ground star anise (i took about 3-4 star anise and ground it using a mortar and pestle)
zest of half an orange


1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 F).

2) Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or foil.

3) In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4) In a small bowl combine rum, orange zest and vanilla extract. Set aside.

5) In large mixing bowl beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add dry ingredients and brandy mixture to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in the almonds and ground star anise.

6) Spoon mixture in two 5cm x 30cm lines on prepared trays and then shape into logs using moistened fingertips.

7) Bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 150 degrees C. 
Cut cooled logs on the diagonal into 2cm thick slices using a serrated knife. Lay slices on baking trays. 

8) Bake for about 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes, until dry and slightly brown. Cool completely on cake racks.

9) Store in an airtight container. This will keep for a week (although since my dad also liked them, this one whole batch only lasted for a 3 days)

Adapted from: McCormick

Friday, September 5

espresso muffins with almond oatmeal crumble

I have been planning to drop by one of our program's sites at work but I keep putting it off because there seem to always have a reason for me to stay at my main location. And since the people from there keep waiting for me to show up, these muffins will be my bribe/apology pastry. I just hope they still like me enough that they'll eat these babies and tell me they're good (because they are!).

almond oat crumble

Since I did not have any espresso powder in my pantry, I used instant coffee powder instead and I added some cocoa powder into the original recipe as well. I also added oats to the crumble for good measure. I drizzled these with a chocolate glaze I have left over in the fridge for an extra kick of sweetness.

Coffee Muffins with Almond Oatmeal Crumble
Makes 12 muffins

1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Amond Oatmeal Crumble Topping
Mixed together:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 chopped almonds
2 tbsp quick oats
3 tablespoons flour
1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter

Optional: chocolate glaze for drizzling on top


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl dissolve the instant coffee powder in the boiling water. Add to flour mixture with the butter, egg, milk, and vanilla.

Stir to combine, don't over mix. Batter will be thick.

Fill muffin tin/baking cups 3/4 of the way. Sprinkle with the crumble topping, dividing equally among the muffins, press into batter gently.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. 

Adapted from: Ms. Reeni