Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cheesecake Factory's Oreo Cheesecake

This copycat cheesecake takes inspiration from the childhood favorite ice cream flavor. I love how it looks decorated with Oreos on top. It's fun, festive and delicious. My family loves cheesecake, so I'm always experimenting with different kinds. This one was not too sweet or rich, but delicious all the same. As with all cheesecake recipes, it is best to start with all ingredients at room temperature.

I have nothing but good memories at the Cheesecake Factory. One of my favorites is when my husband and I went there on one of our first few dates. The server was really friendly and chatty. He told my husband (then-boyfriend) what a great couple we were and how comfortable we seemed with each other. He thought we had been together much longer than just a few months. Well, not long after that, my husband proposed to me and we are now married! I guess the server had good intuition.

I hope you enjoy this cheesecake as much as we did!

Cheesecake Factory Oreo Cheesecake
Makes one 9" cake

1 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 - 8oz blocks cream cheese (1 1/2 lbs)
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sour cream
5 Oreo cookies (coarsely chopped)

Oreo cookies
Chocolate shavings
Whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Mix melted butter with Oreo crumbs and press in the bottom of a greased 9 inch springform pan. Cover bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides with crumbs. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

3. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Keep mixer on a low setting during the mixing and beating process. Add sugar gradually and continue beating cream cheese until mixed through. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until blended. Stir vanilla, salt and flour into cream cheese and egg mixture. Add the sour cream.

4. Fold in the 5 coarsely chopped Oreo cookies with a rubber spatula. Pour mixture into springform pan.

5. Bake for 1 hr 15 minutes. Turn off the oven, prop the door open several inches and let the cheese cake stay in the oven for one hour.

6. Decorate with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and Oreos.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls

Two of the very yummiest baked goods are cinnamon rolls and banana bread. When you combine them into Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls, they become total awesomeness! Finish them off with cream cheese frosting and you've got some pretty amazing buns!

These rolls have pureed bananas mixed right into the dough. A great recipe to keep on hand for those overripe bananas, especially now that the weather is getting warmer and bananas are ripening faster. A smattering of chopped walnuts adds a great crunch and contrast to the gooey cinnamon-y filling.

Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12 | adapted from Cooking Classy

3 very ripe bananas
1 tsp lemon juice
2/3 cup milk
3 Tbsp butter, diced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk
3 3/4 cups bread flour, divided
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder

6 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
6 Tbsp butter, softened
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 - 3 tsp milk

1. Puree bananas in a food processor with 1 tsp lemon juice until mixture is smooth and no chunks remain, set aside (you should have just over 1 1/3 cups pureed bananas).

2. Heat milk and 3 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Cook stirring occasionally until butter has melted. Remove from heat and pour mixture into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Whisk in vegetable oil and allow mixture to cool to 110 degrees F. Whisk in yeast, stirring until dissolved and allow to rest 5 minutes. With the paddle attachment, mix in granulated sugar, salt, egg yolk, 2 cups bread flour and pureed bananas. Switch mixer to a hook attachment, add 1 1/2 cups bread flour and sprinkle in cornstarch, then knead mixture on medium low speed until a smooth and elastic dough forms (dough will be sticky). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

3. In a small bowl whisk together light-brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts (if using). Set aside. In a separate small bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup bread flour and baking powder. Return bowl with dough to electric stand mixer, pour in flour/baking powder mixture and knead dough with hook attachment until mixture is well blended and smooth. Roll dough out on a floured surface (dough should be slightly sticky so I floured the surface fairly generously) to a 16 x 20 inch rectangle. Using the back of a spoon, spread 6 Tbsp melted butter evenly over the top of the dough. Sprinkle top evenly with brown sugar mixture and spread into an even layer, coming within a 1/2 inch of all edges.

4. Starting on the 16" side, snugly roll dough to opposite end. Cut rolled dough into 12 equal pieces. Arrange rolls in a buttered 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Cover baking dish and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (I do this during the last 10 minutes of rising) and bake rolls in preheated oven for 22 - 26 minutes until golden. Cool slightly then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric and mixer, whip together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Pour in milk and mix until well blended.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pull-Apart Cheese Bread

This bread is as much fun to make as it is to eat. Kids love to help wrap the dough around the cubes of cheese and dip the pieces in butter before dropping them in the baking pan.

Once baked, the bread can be sliced for sandwiches (as shown in the picture) or pulled apart, bubble bread style. As a prettier alternative, you could use a bundt pan instead of two loaf pans.

The recipe called for frozen bread dough, but I made my own bread dough instead. Just select a dough recipe that makes enough for 2 loaves. I prefer this made with white bread dough as opposed to whole wheat bread dough, but either would work.

Pull Apart Cheese Bread
2 loaves | adapted from Bon Appetit

2 loaves frozen bread dough (store bought or home made)
32 (half-inch) cubes mild cheddar cheese
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp parsley flakes

1. Cut thawed bread dough into 32 equal pieces.

2. Combine melted butter, parmesan, oregano, garlic salt, and parsley in a small bowl.

3. Wrap each piece of dough around 1 cube of cheese, dip in butter mixture. Place dough balls overlapping each other in two greased loaf pans.

4. Let rise 1 1/2 hours, then bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.