Posts Tagged 'egg white'

Honey Yogurt Cheesecake Bars with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crusts

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Any cheesecake fans out there? I love the stuff and it always reminds me of two things…

Thing #1 is my mom’s no-bake cheesecake – light and fluffy and so easy to make.  It was a go-to dessert in my house growing up.  My family would top their slices with cherry pie filling, but I always thought – and still do think – that that is SO not the way to go.  No putting fruit on my desserts, no sir.  I’ll take the cheesy goodness all by itself.

Thing #2 is The Cheesecake Factory.  Obvious, yes.  Impersonal, hardly!  I used to LOVE going to Cheesecake.  Hello Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough! My adoration for all things cocoa and PB indeed started at an early age.  Every time we went to TCF, I made sure to save room in my belly to fit a whole slice.  Then I’d roll myself out of the restaurant in a sugary, cheesy, sweet bliss.  Ahh…those were the days.

Anyway, Kristina from Stonyfield Farm recently contacted me to see if I’d like some coupons for free Oikos.  She had spotted me using Greek yogurt back when I made Yogurt Glazed Carrot Cake and thought I might be interested.  Umm…yes please!  I promised to come up with a fun recipe to spotlight my Oikos and – BAM! – cheesecake bars popped right into my mind.  Actually, cheesecake popped in there first, but I don’t have the right pan for that.  So bars it was!

Since Greek yogurt was to play a key role in these cheesecake bars, I let it be my inspiration as well.  I asked myself, what kind of cheesecake bars should I make? Well, I replied – does anyone else have conversations with themselves? what do I like to put in Greek yogurt? Ooh ooh!  I like honey and cinnamon and vanilla… And that’s pretty much how it happened.  Before I knew it, I had created Honey Yogurt Cheesecake Bars with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crusts.

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Here’s the recipe:

Crust:

1 cup whole wheat graham cracker crumbs*

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cheesecake:

16 ounces Neufchatel cheese

1/2 cup honey

1 egg

1 egg white

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* I used MI-DEL Honey Grahams to make my crumbs – 100% whole wheat and sweetened with only honey and molasses.

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray.  To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, canola oil, honey and cinnamon until well-moistened.  Press mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  To make the cheesecake, beat together Neufchatel cheese and honey until well blended.  Add egg and beat well.  Add egg white and beat well.  Add Greek yogurt and vanilla extract and beat well.  Pour mixture on top of graham cracker crust.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Let cool and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.  Makes 16 bars.

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These cheesecake bars were uber cheesy and creamy and subtly sweet.  I enjoyed my bites with a bit of honey drizzled on top – just like in the pics!  Next time I might even add extra honey to the batter.  Yum!

Have you ever baked with Greek yogurt? How do you like to use it?

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Peanut Butter Apple Muffins: Take II

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Ladies and gentlemen…we have a winner!

Remember my Peanut Butter Apple Muffins from last week?  They did not live up to my expectations, so I wasn’t totally pleased.  They needed more peanut butter tastiness.  They needed more sweetness.  But I saw potential in their little muffin crumbs.  I knew they wanted me to be proud of them.  They just needed some help getting there.  And I was determined to provide that help. 

After a baking brainstorm and reading all of your suggestions – thank you! – I formed a plan of attack.  I’d use honey instead of Sucanat.  And I’d swiiiiirl the peanut butter into the batter once it was already in the tins.  To keep the flavor alive! 

Ready, set, GO!

Well, when it came down to it, I made a game-time decision that I believe took these muffins to the right place.  Instead of swirling the PB, I just plopped a glob right into the middle of each muffin.  You gotta go with what you’re feeling, you know?  And I was feeling the glob.  Kristie suggested this and she was right on.

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So here you go peeps.  The new and improved Peanut Butter Apple Muffins:

1/2 cup honey

2 egg whites

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped apples

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together honey, egg whites, unsweetened applesauce and vanilla extract until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix white whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Stir in chopped apples.  Pour half of the batter into 10 muffin wells from the prepared pan.   Place a glob of peanut butter in the middle of each.  Top with remaining batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 10 muffins.

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See the creamy line of peanut butter running through the muffin?  THAT’S what I’m talking about!

These muffins are what I was going for the first time around.  Chunky apples, cinnamon spices, subtle sweetness.  And enough PB to make them stick to the roof of your mouth.  I am now pleased.

Have you ever re-worked a recipe to make it better?

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Peanut Butter Apple Muffins

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You know what I realized the other day?  I’ve only made muffins once for this blog.  Jigga what?!  Muffins are one of my favorite things to bake, so that’s just crazy.  They’re super easy.  They’re totally versatile.  And after you’ve made a batch, you get to eat a sweet treat for breakfast until they’re all gone!  Very awesome.

I decided it was time for the return of the muffin.  Obvi.  Then I went looking for muffinlicious inspiration.  I thought back to my Blueberry Coconut Oaties – modeled after my favorite breakfast.  And it hit me – let’s model these muffins after my favorite snack!  You know what I’m talking about.  What better snack is there than an apple with peanut butter?  None, my friends.  None at all.  And that’s how Peanut Butter Apple Muffins were born.

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I started with this recipe and it became this one:

2 cups chopped apples

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup Sucanat

2 egg whites

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.  Place chopped apples in a bowl, coat with natural peanut butter and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together Sucanat, egg whites, unsweetened applesauce and vanilla extract until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix white whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Stir in peanut butter covered apples.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Makes 10 muffins.

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Chunky apples!  PB coat!

Ok, I’m not gonna lie.  These weren’t the best muffins I’ve ever baked.  They were good, but they weren’t the muffins dreams are made of!   I needed more peanut butter flavor.  And maybe a little more sweetness.  But I’m excited about the idea and I’m not giving up.  I think next time I’ll use honey as the sweetener.  And maybe swirl the peanut butter into the batter once it’s already in the tins.  I tried to keep it separate til the very end instead of stirring it right into the mixture, but I think it got lost anyway.  And peanut butter is not a taste that should ever be lost.  Am I right?

What do you guys think?  Any suggestions to help these muffins be all that they can be?

UPDATE: I reattempted these muffins and the results were great!  Check out the new and improved recipe!

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Chocolate Carrot Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting

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So I’m back in NYC after two gloriously relaxing weeks visiting the fam in St. Louis – hooray for holiday break and vacation days to use up!  I could have stayed even longer – ahh, the life of no responsibility – but I do have to say, it feels good to get back to my usual routine.  Not gonna lie though, I’d be happy to go without the return of work tomorrow!  Oh well, c’est la vie, right?

Before I left STL and between holiday festivities, I made sure to squeeze in some more baking time.  You didn’t really think that Yogurt Glazed Carrot Cake was the only thing I whipped up while I was there, did you?!  That treat was for the sister.  This one’s for the dad.  And it comes with a back-story…

My dad e-mailed me a few weeks ago with a baking proposition.  One day last month, he was finishing up a working lunch with some colleagues when the dessert tray appeared at their table.  A richly dark, moist-looking cake immediately caught his eye.  Upon his asking, the waitress proclaimed it to be a “chocolate carrot cake.”  Now this was something Dad had never heard of before!  Intrigued and delighted, he ordered it on the spot and greatly looked forward to that first taste.

Much to his disappointment, said waitress later returned to inform him that his forthcoming dessert was actually a spice cake, not the carrot cake of his dreams. Well, poor Dad couldn’t get the thought of a chocolate carrot cake out of his mind, so he asked me (repeatedly) to bake one up when I came home.  And bake one up I did.  This version has cream cheese frosting, because that’s the way Dad likes it.

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My recipe for Chocolate Carrot Cake + Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cake:

3 cups grated carrots

3/4 cup agave nectar

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

Frosting:

12 ounces Neufchatel cheese

3 cups unrefined powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together carrots, agave nectar, eggs, egg whites, applesauce and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool in pans.

While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting by blending together Neufchatel cheese, unrefined powdered sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until smooth.  Once cakes cool, spread about a third of the frosting over cake #1.  Place cake #2 on top of cake #1.  Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

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Melty chocolate and carrot specks!

This cake was a huge hit around my house! The chocolate chips gave it some extra special chocolate sweetness and the cream cheese frosting was addicting!  I snuck a lot of licks from the bowl before it got to the cake.  You know, for testing purposes.  And though I made it for Dad, I think Mom may have liked it even more.  After a couple bites and some long, contemplative looks, she declared it the “best thing you’ve made yet.”  Don’t worry, I enjoyed some slices myself before she could polish it all off (j/k Mom, j/k).

What have you seen combined with chocolate that was somewhat surprising?

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Carrot Cake + Yogurt Glaze

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I love visiting my family in St. Louis for lots of reasons…I get to see mom, dad, brother and sister – and dog and cat!  The lazy suburbs are a nice break from the constant go-go-go of New York City.  I get to spread myself out over an entire house rather than a teeny apartment. And I get to bake for a whole group of people instead of just myself!

This last point, my friends, is a very important one.  You see, it’s just me and my roommate at home in NY.   And since she’s not a big fan of sweets – I know, what?! – and I probably shouldn’t eat ALL of what I make by myself, I’ve got to spread the wealth of my oven around to Dan and my friends to make sure every last goody is eaten while it’s still deliciously fresh.  This is where the practical girl in me takes over.  I tend to shy away from baking things that aren’t easily dividable and transportable – it’s always cookies and muffins instead of cakes and pies.  Baking for the family in St. Louis, these little details are non-issues.  Freedom!

So…you can imagine my excitement when I asked my sister what she wanted for our Christmas Eve dessert and she replied without hesitation – carrot cake!  A CAKE!  Hooray!  Apparently she has recently discovered a special fondness towards carrot cake and her college winter break would not be complete without it.  Fine by me!  But I wanted to do a little something different, of course, so I topped the cake with a yogurt glaze instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting.  And to make sure the cake really soaked up that glaze, I poked holes all over it and let the yogurty sweetness ooze in.  I also did a bit of lightening up by using applesauce instead of oil and egg whites instead of some whole eggs.

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Here’s my Yogurt Glazed Carrot Cake recipe, adapted from Baking With Agave Nectar‘s carrot cake:

Cake:

3 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup agave nectar

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

Yogurt Glaze:

1 1/2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together carrots, coconut, agave nectar, eggs, egg whites, applesauce and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until well blended.  Pour batter into prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool in pans. 

While cakes are cooling, prepare yogurt glaze by mixing together Greek yogurt, agave nectar, vanilla extract and salt.  Once cakes cool, poke holes in them using a fork and remove from pans.  Drizzle half of yogurt glaze over cake #1 and sprinkle with half of the walnuts.  Place cake #2 on top of cake #1.  Drizzle remaining glaze over cake and sprinkle with remaining walnuts.  Note: You may want to do this over a wire cooling rack with something underneath to catch the dripping glaze.  Makes for easier clean up! 

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The tip of a cake slice is the best part!

The cake got the approval of the fam!  It was perfectly spiced and super moist, especially where the yogurt glaze seeped into the poked holes.  And that glaze complemented the cake wonderfully.  It was nice and light but still flavorful – I actually thought it tasted a lot like cream cheese!

Are you a carrot cake fan?  What’s your favorite baked good with a vegetable star?  

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Chocolate Peppermint Chewies

REMINDER – Don’t forget to send your BSI recipes to me by tomorrow, December 14 @ 7:00 PM EST!

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I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  I LOVE Christmas.  I love the white holiday lights and decorated store windows.  I love Christmas trees with presents piled underneath.  I love family time and the happy and generous feel of the season.  I love Christmas songs and Christmas movies on TV.  I love cozy fires when it’s snowing outside.  Ok…I realize the White Christmas dream doesn’t come true all that often, but it’s how I imagine the holidays to be anyway.  What can I say – I’m an idealist.

If there’s one flavor I love this time of year more than others, it’s peppermint.  To me, peppermint epitomizes the taste of the holidays.  I mean, really, what would Christmas be without candy canes?!  A little less joyful if you ask me. 

To honor peppermint’s reign over Christmastime, I choose it as this week’s BSI.  And I made Chocolate Peppermint Chewies!

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Whole Foods makes some chocolate cookies that I’ve been eyeing for awhile.  They have no flour and no butter or oil – basically just sugar, cocoa and egg whites.  I’ve never actually tasted them, but they always look awesome and I thought they’d be great cookies to add a little peppermint flair to.  I found this recipe with similar ingredients, so I decided to adapt it and give it a go. 

Here’s my naturalized, peppermintized version: 

2 1/4 cups unrefined powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cocoa powder

3 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

3/4 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix together unrefined powdered sugar, salt and cocoa powder.  In a separate bowl, mix egg whites, vanilla extract and peppermint extract.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with an electric mixer at low speed for 2 minutes – the batter should be shiny and smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to overnight.  Preheat oven to 350*F and spray cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.  Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto cookie sheet.  Don’t flatten and be sure to leave space between the drops – these cookies spread out in the oven!  (Note: I used cooking spray for my cookie sheets and suspect that made them like Slip ‘n Slides for the dough.  I’m thinking using parchment paper instead would prevent major spreadage.)  Bake for 9-10 minutes until tops are glossy and crackly.  Let stand for 3 minutes and remove to cool.  Makes 16 cookies.

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Check out those glossy crackles.

I’ll be honest here, I was a little skeptical of these guys when they came out of the oven – they looked all crunchy and stuff!  But my doubt quickly disappeared after a taste test – they weren’t crunchy in the slightest!  The edges are crispy, but still soft, and the middle is fudgy like a brownie!  And the peppermint flavor was a perfect match for the chocolate goodness.  It left my mouth feeling quite refreshed.

What’s your favorite peppermint treat for the holidays?

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Maple Sweet Potato Cornbread

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Fall is the BEST time for baking.  I seriously believe the season was made just to give us inspiration.  Think of all the flavors and spices – pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg.  Ahh…I can smell an oven seeping with autumn aromas as I type.

I already made Spiced Pumpkin Honey Muffins to express my love for what I deem to be the epitome of fall – Thanksgiving.  But my love overfloweth, and I couldn’t let the holiday come and go without baking up another festive recipe.  So without further ado, I’d like to introduce Maple Sweet Potato Cornbread.

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My Maple Banana Cornbread was such a hit around here that I thought it would be fun to up the fall aspect and transform it into a loaf bursting with seasonal tastes.  Since sweet potato is a favorite Thanksgiving – or anytime! – food of mine, the way to make this happen was obvious.  I substituted sweet potato for banana and the rest, my friends, is history.

Here’s my recipe:

1 cup stone ground cornmeal

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 egg white

1/2 cup skim milk

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together sweet potatoes, maple syrup, egg white and skim milk.  In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, white whole wheat flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  Stir the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture until just blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes.

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Maple!  Sweet potato!  Cornbread!  A trifecta of fall flavors!

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This bread is quite tasty!  Very moist and the essence of sweet potato really comes through.  Compared to my Maple Banana Cornbread, I’d say the sweetness is more subtle – because sweet potato has less natural sugar than banana – and the nutty cornmeal flavor is a bit more subdued.  But it was still very well-received and Dan an official taste tester had a hard time picking which loaf he liked best. 

This would be a great treat to bring along to a holiday dinner.  Will you be baking anything for Thanksgiving this year?  

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