Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thanksgiving Dessert!

Our dessert table had more stuff than the dinner table

For some people, Thanksgiving is all about the dinner. Well, it has been in my family too, but after finishing culinary school and still not being able to take dinner over, I moved onto desserts. We always had a spread of desserts for the holidays, but they were mostly box mixed cakes, cupcakes, brownies, and jello, all made by my mom or aunt. Well, I boo that b/c there really is only so long a person can go eating boxed mixes. Honestly, I will use the mixes for stuff like cake balls or if I am making something that adds more to it than just what is on the box, but not often. I don't mean to offend those who do, I really hope no one feels that way. I just feel that I've reached my max at making boxed stuff.

So I make desserts from scratch now. And apparently, the baking bug has hit some of my other family members too!

My one cousin has always liked baking things, but she's a senior in high school now, taking way too many AP classes and involved in way too many extracurricular stuff to have time to bake. My other cousin, who is in 6th grade, is really into Food Network and cooking and baking now, so he made cupcakes. He made 48 cupcakes! 24 chocolate and 24 vanilla. Mixed, baked and frosted all by himself! Awesome!!!

My mom made two pans of boxed brownies and my aunt, who wasn't really into baking/cooking lots, made an Ina Garten cheesecake topped w/ berries. It was delicious! Very good for her first time!

I made a pumpkin chocolate cheesecake and the most awesome ever apple pie!!!!
I'll start w/ the awesome apple pie b/c in all honesty, I can't hold back on this baby.

Upside-Down Apple Pie

6 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 refrigerated pie crusts

2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 large apples of your choice, peeled, cored and sliced***


Coat a deep-dish pie plate (I used a 9 inch cake pan) with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. Coat the paper with cooking spray also.
In a small bowl combine 6 tbsp melted butter, brown sugar and pecans. Mix well and spread evenly over the bottom of the pie plate, on top of the parchment. Place one of the crusts in the pie plate, pressing it firmly against the nut mixture and up the sides of the plate. Set aside.

(Since I had a 9 inch cake pan and the pie crust were for 9 inch pies, I had to roll the dough out a little. I thought this worked better anyway b/c the first time I made this it was in a regular pie pan w/ less topping and the crust was too thick and over-powered the pie)

This picture is from the first pie. I used a shallow pan and less topping, the topping REALLY makes the pie.

In a large bowl, combine granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and the remaining 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Mix well. Add the apples in and toss gently to coat. Spoon into the pie crust.

Place the second crust over the apple mixture. Trim and fold the edges together to seal and cut some slits in the top of the crust for venting. Because my cake was so deep I rolled the top layer of dough out some too, so that I could push the edges into the cake pan on the sides that didn't have much overlap and press the two pie dough layers together. I really couldn't fold and seal but I got it closed.

1-1/4 hours or until crust is golden brown in a 375 degree oven. Make sure to place a cookie sheet on the bottom oven rack to catch any drips from the pie. There will be drips since the brown sugar and butter mixture will boil over the sides. I'd also place a piece of foil on top of the cookie sheet to help w/ clean-up.
You want to make sure you have the maximum baking time w/out burning the crust of course. This guarantees that the butter sugar mixture will melt fully and ooze nicely over the pie when you flip it. Also, when I melted the butter in the saucepan, I put the brown sugar in the saucepan and let it melt into the butter for a couple of minutes before putting it into the lined cake pan. Again, another trick to get the sugar to melt better and not be grainy.

Let the pie cool for 5 minutes and then place a plate that is larger than the pie on top of it and flip it over. Use oven gloves as it will still be HOT. Remove the pie plate and gently lift the paper. Allow to cool, but not completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.
(it's way better served warm!!!)

See the yummy melty caramelized gooeyness??? YUM!

Look at all those apples, yummmmmm
Nice huge yummy piece for daddy :)

***For the apples, I cored the apples w/ a corer, then peeled them w/ a veggie peeler, then cut the apple in half, from top to bottom. Then I sliced the halves, not too thinly, as you can see. I did one apple at a time. To keep them from browning, I had a shaker of cinnamon sugar next to me and would shake some over the sliced apples. This is way better than using a bowl of lemon water. That makes the apples to wet and will make your filling less stable. This way, the apples don't brown and you get more cinnamon sugar goodness. :)

On to the awesome cheesecake!!! I used Dorie Greenspan's Tall and Creamy Cheesecake. It is a great base to work with, I've used it many times in the past!

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirled Cheesecake


One box of chocolate teddy grahams
1/2 stick of melted butter


4 (8 oz) pkgs of cream cheese, softened to room temp
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temp
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combo of the two
1/2 melted milk chocolate, slightly cooled
15 oz can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix!)


Spray a 9 inch spring form pan w/ non-stick cooking spray. Wrap the bottom of the pan w/ two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. Set aside.

Crush or grind the cookies, depending on your preference for the crust. Stir the crumbs w/ the melted butter. Press into the prepared pan. Bake the crust at 350 degrees F for 10 min. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F

Put a small saucepan of water on the stove top and bring to a boil. While the water is boiling, make the batter.

Beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft, about 4 mins. W/ the mixer running, add the sugar and continue to beat about another 4 mins, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating a full minute after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the sour cream/heavy cream.

Take out half of the mixture and place in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin to the half in the bowl and fold it into the batter, until completely incorporated. Add the melted (but slightly cooled) milk chocolate to the batter left in the mixing bowl and mix at a low speed until the chocolate is completely incorporated.

Using one measuring cup for each batter, dump a cup full of the pumpkin batter and then a cup full of the chocolate batter on top and then the pumpkin again and keep doing this until all the batter is in the pan. You don't have to make it perfect, it can be lopsided, it can have more of one layer than the other at different parts, it doesn't matter, as long as you dump one at a time on top of the other. It'll look like this:
This is about halfway through filling the pan

Once you've filled the pan w/ all of the batters, place a large roasting pan on the oven rack. Place the cheesecake pan in the middle and then slowly and carefully pour the boiling hot water into the roasting pan. Slowly and carefully push the rack into the oven and bake the cheesecake for 1 1/2 hours.

After the cheesecake has finished backing, turn off the oven and prop open the oven, just enough to let the air escape, like this:
This is what the cheesecake is going to look like inside the oven, sitting there... cooling...
Take the cheesecake out of the roasting pan and allow it to cool to room temp on the counter. Once it has reached room temp, place the cheesecake in the refridgerator for at least 4 hours, but overnight is preferred.

Once you've cooled the cheesecake, carefully remove the springform. Some people use a hair dryer to remove it, but honestly, I just take a very thin knife blade, run it along the inside, careful not to knick the cake and then pop off the springform.

See, the layers aren't perfect, but you can see them, which is cool. And the cheesecake is delicious. Smoothy, creamy, dense, awesome!

It's best cut w/ a long thin knife that has been run under hot water and lightly wiped. You will want to wipe the blade w/ a warm wet towel after each cut, or at least every other cut, to ensure a pretty slice of cheesecake is being placed on the plate. The first piece is always the hardest to get out, so don't be worried if it comes out a mess. The next ones will look better :)


Conor @ HoldtheBeef said...

You've done well with these two desserts, they look positively delicious! Bringing out your skills for Christmas too?

NikiTheo said...

Of course! I can't wait to get a little crazy w/ the red and green food coloring! :)

Wicked Good Dinner said...

Hi Niki - you won the 3-month cookie of the month membership from Wicked Good Dinner!! Send me an email with your full name and shipping address, and I'll forward that to the cookie company :-)


Karine said...

Your desserts sound amazing! Great job :)

Maria said...

Everything sounds delicious, but I am printing that apple pie recipe right now! It looks unbelievably good in those photos ... love, love, love the layers of apples and that topping, mmmmm!

NikiTheo said...

It is hands down the BEST apple pie I've ever had in my life Maria!!!! And I'm not saying that b/c I made it... It really truly is!

Alexandra said...

Whoa. Looks delish.