Archive for March, 2011

Pipe Dream #2: To Have a Model-esque Face

This is one of my dear friends. Isn’t she model-esque? I can’t do model faces like that. I’ve tried. I would link you to a couple of  “outtakes” from my senior pictures, but I haven’t reached that level of blogger security yet. In time perhaps.


Long story short, I’m wildly jealous of her fabulous style and facial command. Isn’t she beautiful?


And her hair is just lovely. I like the movement in this shot.



I shot these “Up North” over “Spring Break.” It was about -5 degrees out. Dumb, I know, but it was worth it. I think the only thing that sustained me was remembering the last time we ventured out of the Cities…


We made this.


And saw this.

And everything was pretty much right with the world.

Dreaming of summer,


Pipe Dream #1: To Soften Fats Well – Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

I am refraining from calling this cheesecake the ‘Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake’ because I really resent mass media branding. I blame the U of M Journalism School. Besides, I knew I could come up with a more descriptive name for you all. :]

This cheesecake is super extravagant. I mean, most cheesecakes are super extravagant, but this one ‘takes the cake,’ as they say. My own father could not finish his small sliver. He tells me that this is not because it wasn’t good, it was just “too rich.” Well ok. It’s extravagance is owing to its brownie bottom crust (an interesting deviation from the average graham cracker crust), peanut butter cup filling, peanut butter cheesecake, and chocolate ganache topping.

Some Issues

Alas, a perfect cheesecake is still a pipe dream for me. I had several problems with this recipe.

First of all, I did not wait for the cream cheese I was using to soften to room temperature. This is a baking problem I always have; it probably has deep-seated emotional roots in my high school years or something. Lots of recipes call for butter or cream cheese ‘softened to room temperature.’ Usually, I forget to take the butter out of the fridge several hours before I need it. (Actually, let’s be real. I’m on top of the game if I decide to make something a few hours in advance.) What ends up happening is that I try to cheat and warm it up in the microwave, which leads to butter that is either too melty or too hard. I manage because this only sometimes affects that quality of the recipe.

Cheesecakes, however, require perfectly perfect room temperature fats. Else ya get this:

See those little flecks of white? Yeah. Cream cheese chunks. I probably didn’t scrape down the mixer bowl enough either.

In addition, the recipe calls for a water bath, so the oven temperature moderates and the moisture level is high. Prevents cracks, so they say. I didn’t use one–partly because I didn’t want to have to deal with a leaky springform pan and partly because I actually couldn’t find a dish large enough to hold a springform pan.

The disadvantages of this were twofold. First, I got a nice large crack in the top of my cheesecake. That could be due to a myriad of other reasons, but I’m just assuming it was because of the bath. Second, I overbaked the cake a bit–I checked it 15 minutes before it was supposed to come out and panicked because it was so brown.

Luckily, the recipe made so much ganache that I covered the entire top and burned-ish sides of the cheesecake with ganache. It was the baking equivalent of sweeping the dirt under the rug. And I did it. So…

There’s always next time,


Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

You can definitely use Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for this recipe, but if you want to be pretentious and high-minded about mass media branding’s ill effect on society (read: poor) like me, you can use generic peanut butter cups. If those even exist. Why would they even exist? Not worth asking, I suppose.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-¼ cup Sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons flour
⅓ cups unsweetened cocoa
½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
6 whole peanut butter cups, quartered

2 pounds cream cheese, softened!
5 whole eggs, room temperature!
1-½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup smooth peanut butter
½ cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cups whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
6 peanut butter cups, halved

Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease a 10 inch springform pan with butter. The recipe calls for a 9 inch pan, another reason I overbaked this. If you go with a 9 inch, yours will probably turn out better.

Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with spoon or wire whisk. Add eggs; stir until well blended. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; blend well. Spread in prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until brownie begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Immediately sprinkle the crust with chips and chopped peanut butter cups. Turn the oven down to 325º.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until smooth, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sugar, peanut butter and cream; mix until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour filling onto crust.

Double-wrap the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent water seeping in and place springform pan into a larger baking pan. Pour hot water into the larger pan so that the water comes 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan. Bake 1-1/2 hours, or until firm and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for one hour.

I took mine off the pan bottom using a Macgyver-ed spatula/fork contraption. It was difficult. Go carefully. Then refrigerate for another four hours or overnight before you decorate.

To make the ganache, scald the whipping cream in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the semi-sweet and peanut butter chips. Stir until melted and smooth. Drizzle this over the cake prettily (or glop it all on and fill in the cracks) and then add peanut butter cups around the edge of the cake.

My Pipe Dreams

I have recently been under some pressure to start up a food blog. So I am going to. Not because I am super awesome at writing/baking/photography, but mostly so I can refer people to it when they ask for recipes.

If you read this blog, you will see a bunch of half-baked cookies and poorly frosted cupcakes. That’s fine with me though. The goal is to get better at this. So hopefully, this blog will help me keep track of my failures and successes. Though my hope is vain, maybe I could pipe perfect rosettes someday.

Speaking of making perfect things, I am going to meet with prospective clients tomorrow. To talk about cakes. Wedding cakes. Because they want me to make theirs this June. Heh. More to come on that front later.

Additionally, I have decided to throw up my photos from time to time. I like them. Photographs capture a little bitty glimpse of the glory of God’s creation. I want to get better at this too.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my posts. Whoever ‘you’ are. Whoever you all are. Y’all to whom I am speaking. Whatever.

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