Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes

A Feteful Life: Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes

My husband is not a big sweets person. It drives me nuts! I have a super sweet tooth, so whenever I make a dessert at home, he’ll have just a taste (to humor me) and I end up eating or tossing out the rest of it. But it was his birthday yesterday and, despite his general ambivalence towards sweets, he does love a good peanut butter chocolate combo. So I wanted to make him something sweet to celebrate and came across a super easy (as in, my kids made most of it) no bake recipe for peanut butter cup cheesecake. To help keep those servings small, I mini-sized them. It was delicious and just the right serving size. I see a good use of excess Halloween candy in our future ….

Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes (slightly adapted from Beyond Frosting)
makes 10 servings (3.6″ ramekins)

Ingredients
For the crust
– 2 cups sandwich cookie crumbs
– 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
– 1 package (8oz) cream cheese
– 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
– 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
-1 package (8oz) whipped topping (thawed)
– 10 peanut butter cups (chopped)

For the garnish
– 6 peanut butter cups (chopped)
– 1/4 cup caramel sauce

Directions
1. Remove the filling from the sandwich cookies and discard. Use a food processor to crush the cookies into a fine crumb. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl and our over cookie crumbs. Still well until combined.

2. Place a large spoonful into the bottom of each ramekin, using a spoon to compress into crust. Set aside.

3. Whip cream cheese using a mixer set on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add peanut butter and continue to beat until well mixed.

4. Add vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream, increasing mixing speed to medium high and whip for 2-3 minutes. Once combined, add whipped topping and beat into batter. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as you mix.

5. Chop peanut buter cups into small pieces and mix into batter by hand. Spoon filling into prepared ramekins and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

6. Top with additional peanut butter cup pieces and caramel drizzle.

DIY Candied Jewels

A Feteful Life: DIY Candied Jewels

While I’m getting a bit sad that warmer weather will be on its way out soon (although it has been super hot and humid around DC lately and I won’t be sorry to see that go), I love love to see fall jewel tones make their arrival. Couple that with my general love of all things sparkly and a real sweet tooth (it is some serious kind of cruel that Halloween candy is already in stores), I thought I’d try my hand at making some edible candied jewels. Now, as I’ve said before, I’m really not much of a baker. I just lack the ability to measure exactly and patiently work in that particular arena of the kitchen. And while I love how these candied jewels turned out, they certainly pushed my frustration meter to the limit. It took me lots and lots of tries to get a good batch and, even then, I’d make a random bad one. They’re not difficult, but they require some time to concentrate. I do think they’d be beautiful as a lovely little favor packaged up in a glassine bag, served alongside a cup of cider or hot toddy, or even topping a plain cake. So set aside some time to slow down and try them yourself!

DIY Candied Jewels (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup water
– 2 tablespoons corn syrup
– gel paste food coloring
– 1/8 teaspoon of flavor extract, such as lemon, orange or cinnamon (optional)
– cooking spray

Other Equipment
– hard candy gem molds (such as these)
– candy thermometer
– pyrex measuring cup

Directions
1.  Spray molds lightly with cooking spray and set atop waxed paper or aluminum foil.

2. Bring sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Heat until mixture reaches 300 on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat immediately and add 1-2 drops of food coloring and 1/8 teaspoon of flavor extract if using. Transfer mixture to a pyrex measuring cup and let settle for 15-30 seconds.

3. Slowly pour mixture into candy molds sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Fill molds until just below the top. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Tips
– Make sure the mixture is heated to exactly 300 and then remove quickly from the heat source. If it’s under that temperature, the candy will be sticky. If over, the mixture will caramelize.
– Pour less than you think will fill a mold cavity to start out — the mixture expands a bit once its in there.
– If candy hardens inside of your saucepan and/or pyrex measuring cup, fill the saucepan with water, place measuring cup inside, and bring to a boil. Discard water once residue melts.

A Feteful Life: DIY Candied Jewels

A Feteful Life: DIY Candied Jewels

A Feteful Life: DIY Candied Jewels

Cocktail Hour: Chocolate Gelato Stout Float

A Feteful Life: Chocolate Gelato Stout Flout

I’ve seen a number of different alcoholic floats floating around this summer and wanted to give one a try. My entire family (OK, me. And the kids because I keep taking them with me as an excuse) has been addicted to gelato this summer. And I thought chocolate gelato + stout would be a fabulous combo. Is it a drink? Is it a dessert? It doesn’t matter: it’s delicious.

Chocolate Gelato Stout Float (A Feteful Life)

Ingredients
– 1 pint chocolate gelato
– 1 bottle good quality stout

Directions
Fill a chilled pint glass 3/4 of the way with gelato. Pour in stout to the top. Devour.

Cocktail Hour: Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

Ooooweeee. It’s been HOT around here lately. Boozy pops have been on my cocktail to-do list for a while and this weather seemed like the perfect opportunity. I had a hard time deciding what kind of pop to make though — it might be hot, but this time of year also means so, so much fresh fruit. Part of the problem was that I came across a whole rainbow full of yummy ice pops from 84th and 3rd, all of which seemed relatively simple and didn’t require adding sugar (so paleo/primal peeps who drink some alcohol, these are perfect for you). But I spotted one that called for dark rum and I had a teensy bit of Myer’s Jamaican Dark Rum to use up and a whole lot of Jamaican vacation withdrawal. So I went with that. The original recipe didn’t call for basil, but I was a little worried it would be too sweet with all that coconut milk (even without adding sugar, I find coconut milk a tad sweet sometimes). And I think the addition was a good call — the basil gave it the perfect balance.

Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops (slightly adapted from 84th & 3rd)
Makes 4 ice pops

Ingredients
– 1 cup fresh blueberries
– 1/4 cup orange juice
– 3/4 cup coconut milk
– 6 large basil leaves, chiffonade
– 2 tbsp dark rum

Directions
Simmer berries and juice for 5 minutes. Blend berry mix, 1/2 basil chiffonade, and coconut milk in blender until smooth. Stir in dark rum and remaining chiffonade. Pour into ice pop molds (I used these) and freeze overnight.

* if you are making some non-boozy pops as well, follow same directions omitting rum.

A Feteful Life: Bluberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Boozy Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Pops

A Feteful Life: Blueberry Coconut Basil Pops

 

 

Coffee Granita with Whipped Cream

A Feteful Life: Coffee Granita with Whipped CreamI am obsessed with coffee. I love it all… hot, cold, latte, cappuccino, ice cream, etc. You name it, I love it. But there’s one coffee confection that I have yet to try but have always wanted to… coffee granita. If you’re not familiar with a granita, think of it as part shaved ice, part slushy, all amazing. So since we are melting under another heat wave in the Nation’s Capital, I decided that this was the week to give this cold dessert a try. And, it was AMAZING!

The flavor of the slightly sweet frozen coffee with the creamy and rich whipped cream reminded me a bit of tiramisu but not nearly as heavy. While I will definitely be making this dessert again because it is ridiculously simple, it should be noted that it does require some of your time – raking the freezing coffee every 30-40 minutes over the course of 2-3 hours. It’s not hard work but the periodic raking ensures that your coffee freezes in light and fluffy crystals.

A Feteful Life: Coffee Granita with Whipped CreamA Feteful Life: Coffee Granita with Whipped CreamA Feteful Life: Coffee Granita with Whipped CreamA Feteful Life: Coffee Granita with Whipped CreamCoffee Granita (adapted from Ina Garten)

Ingredients

2 cups strongly brewed coffee or espresso, lukewarm
1/4 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for 1/2 but I don’t think that’s necessary)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur, like Kahlua
Sweetened Whippped Cream (recipe below)

Directions

Combine the coffee, sugar, coffee liqueur, and vanilla and stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour the mixture in a flat pan that’s about 9 by 9-inches. Place the pan in the freezer for one hour, until it starts to become slushy around the edges. Rake the mixture with a large fork to break up the crystals and place it back into the freezer. Every 30 minutes, rake the mixture until it is completely frozen and granular throughout. Freeze until ready to serve. Spoon the granita into glasses and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Sweetened Whipped Cream (from Ina Garten)

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium and then high speed until the cream just forms stiff peaks.

Wine Soaked Strawberries with Basil

A Feteful Life: Wine & Basil Soaked StrawberriesStrawberry season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier about that – they are by far my favorite fruit. I’ve been buying them in bulk lately so finding new ways to use up all of those berries before they go bad is my new mission in life. And, this recipe for wine soaked strawberries is the easiest way to make use of a few pints while making one elegant and delicious dish. I served mine over some amazing vanilla gelato but they would be equally good with some marscapone cheese or fresh whipped cream. However you choose to serve these berries, I promise they won’t disappoint!

A Feteful Life: Wine Soaked Strawberries with Basil

A Feteful Life: Wine Soaked Strawberries with BasilWine Soaked Strawberries with Basil (by A Feteful Life)

Ingredients

1.5 cups of red wine (I used a Cabernet but a fruity Zinfandel or Merlot would be great as well)
1/4 cup sugar
1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest from one lemon
5 large basil leaves

Directions

In a large bowl add the sugar and one large basil leaf. Slightly muddle to release some of the basil’s flavor. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and wine. Slowly whisk to combine. Add the strawberries to the wine mixture and let the them soak at room temperature for 30-60 minutes and then transfer to the refrigerator for about an hour. Don’t let the strawberries soak for more than 2-3 hours or they will start to become too mushy. Before serving, garnish the berries with chiffonaded basil and some of the remaining lemon zest.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day Dessert: Chocolate Guinness Mousse

A Feteful: Chocolate Guinness Mousse

Two things: (1) Happy St. Patrick’s Day!; and (2) For the love of all things Irish, go make this Chocolate Guinness Mousse RIGHT NOW. It is out of this world good and earned high praise in my house, including: “Wow. This is good. This is like restaurant good.” and “Mommy, we are renaming this day Mommy Pudding Day! You and Ms. Suzanne should open up a sweet shop.” You’ll have to put some good work into it — there’s a lot of whisking involved — but it is worth it. The recipe I followed was for a pudding, but mine came out so dense and rich, it has to be a mousse. And I served it in small appetizer/cocktail glasses because of that. I also ended up making a straight whipped cream for the top (slightly over whipped, actually — you want soft peaks), instead of incorporating the Guinness syrup called for — I thought it would just be too much. But give it a go yourself and see what’s what.

Chocolate Guinness Mousse (slightly adapted from Epicurious)
(makes 15, 3-oz appetizer/cocktail glass servings, with a little extra)

Ingredients
8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1, 14.9-ounce can Guinness Draught
3 ounces heavy cream
7 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate (70 – 72% cacao), finely chopped

Directions

In large nonreactive mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar.

Open can of Guinness and slowly pour into 4-cup measuring cup, pouring down side of cup to reduce foaming. Pour half of Guinness (about 7/8 cup) into heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan (drink the remaining Guinness yourself if not saving it for the whipped cream). Add 2 1/4 cups cream and whisk to combine. Set over medium heat and heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbles just begin to form at edges. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and whisk until smooth.

Slowly pour hot chocolate mixture into eggs, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Return mixture to saucepan and set over moderately low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and coats back of spoon, about 15 minutes. (Pudding will look separated.) Pour into blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Divide pudding among glasses, leaving space at top of each. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set.

Beat remaining cream until soft peaks form. Divide cream among 6 glasses of pudding and serve.

A Feteful Life: Chocolate Guinness Mousse

A Feteful Life: Chocolate Guinness Mousse

Vanilla Almond Milk Chia Pudding

A Feteful Life: Chia Seed Pudding

I don’t know about you, but with all the holidays and snowdays this winter, my sweet tooth has been out of control. In an effort to get myself back on the paleo track and in my skinny skinny jeans, I tried making a sweet treat that was still somewhat healthy. I’ve bought chia pudding before, but never made it, and I had NO idea how easy it was to whip up. A little bit of planning and a few ingredients is all you need. It’s super versatile — you can make it as sweet and add as many goodies as you want. Now put down those cookies and try it.

Vanilla Almond Milk Chia Pudding (serves 2)

Ingredients
1 cup vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tbls raw honey
handful of berries
small bit of something chocolate (I used a few dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds)

Directions
Combine the almond milk in a glass jar with chia seeds. Cover and shake, shake, shake. Let sit about 10-15 minutes and shake, shake, shake some more. Place covered in refrigerator overnight. Mix in honey and then top with berries and something sweet.

Raspberry Ice Box Cake

A Feteful Life: Raspberry Ice Box Cake

Ok, seriously, you need to make this dessert. The inspiration for this dessert comes from the famed Magnolia Bakery in NYC where they have made this vintage dessert relevant again. I first made it for New Year’s Eve this year and adapted it into a chocolate mint combination. It was a huge hit and I was told that I must blog about it! Well, here it is but this time I made a pretty pale pink raspberry version in honor of Valentine’s Day next week.

A Feteful Life: Raspberry Ice Box Cake

Raspberry Ice Box Cake 

Ingredients

2 pints heavy whipping cream (4 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar (use 3 tablespoons if you aren’t using the raspberry puree)
1 tablespoon vanilla (or substitute with your favorite flavor, I used 1 tbsp mint extract originally)
raspberry puree from recipe below
1 1/2 boxes Nabisco chocolate wafer

Directions

In an electric mixer whip the cream, sugar & vanilla until it reaches medium peaks. Fold in the raspberry puree until fully incorporated (or don’t fully incorporate and leave the pretty white and red streaks).

To assemble the cake, start by determining the diameter of your cake. Take a wafer and place it in the middle and then encircle it with 6 wafers. Once you know how wide a circle you will be creating, remove the cookies and spread out a layer of whipped cream approximately the size of that circle. Now, lay your first level of cookies (1 in the middle, six around). Spread 1/8″ to 1/4″ layer of whipped cream over the cookies leaving a bit of the edge uncovered. Now add another layer of cookies but this time be sure to offset the cookies on this level (see photo above). Cover with more whipped cream and continue to add offset layers to your hearts content (I did nine layers). Be sure to finish with whipped cream and smooth out the top layer. I decorated mine with some raspberries and chopped dark chocolate so you know what flavors you’re in for but it would be just as pretty on its own.

Let the cake sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of 5 hours — all day or even overnight would be even better. Enjoy!

* Note – You will have some left over whipped cream but I found that if I halved the recipe you don’t really have enough.

Raspberry Puree

Ingredients

2 pints fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar

Directions

Add the raspberries and sugar to a medium non-reactive saucepan. Start with the temperature on low, stirring and pressing on the raspberries to help them release their juices. Once they are mostly liquified, turn up the head to a light bowl until the sauce thickens a bit (about 3-5 minutes).

Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a heat proof bowl. Let cool before you add to the whipped cream.