Banana Cheesecake Bites

Seriously!! I find it hard to believe we have reached September 1st already. Not that I don’t love the fall colors coming up but …..

What’s not to love about the traditional baked cheesecakes but the no-bake variety does have its own merits. Not only do you skip the long baking time, but you also get a smooth, creamy texture. Just a few ingredients and a little mixer time and you’re done. Chill and serve!

Cheesecake is always a crowd-pleaser, its even been called the perfect dessert by some. This recipe adds a nice bit of spice which stems from its gingersnap cookie crust and the creaminess definitely comes from the pudding/cream cheese filling combo.

Brion & I thought these ‘bites’ tasted the best when the cheesecakes came directly from the freezer then top them with the fresh bananas, caramel & whipped cream. Of course, that means they are available at any given time!!

Print Recipe
Banana Cheesecake Bites
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Ingredients
Gingersnap Crust
Caramel Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Gingersnap Crust
Caramel Sauce
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, combine gingersnap crumbs & pecans. Drizzle in melted butter & mix well. Press crumb mixture into 24 cheesecake mini cup pans. Bake for 7 minutes or until light brown, cool completely. You can skip the baking step if you wish.
Filling
  1. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy & no lumps remain. Add sugar & beat until combined. Add heavy cream & vanilla & beat until medium-stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together pudding mix & milk. Let pudding stand for 3 minutes in the fridge until thickened. Fold into cheesecake mixture until combined.
  3. Fill each of the 24 cups & smooth the tops. At this point you can either refrigerate until very firm (at least 6 hours) or freeze. Once they are firm, remove from pans to serving plates & add banana slices, caramel drizzle, whipped topping & a cherry. Or freeze, remove from pans & store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to garnish & serve.
Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter & milk to a gentle boil & cook until thickened, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat; add rum extract.
Recipe Notes
  • The newspaper ad at the bottom of the blog was from the fifties when this idea for a pudding cheesecake was created.

Peach Cookies or Pesche

It’s that wonderful time of year when there is an abundance of fresh fruit available so why not make the most of it?! Peaches are a favorite of mine, not only because of their great taste but they have such versatility in their uses. Just for something different today, I want to take the peach idea in a whole different direction. These beautiful, old fashioned pastries were very popular in the 1980’s. They are known for their unique look that resembles a fresh peach with a flavor that is delicately sweet and buttery. Traditionally served at Italian wedding showers, Pesche (or peach), are now served at any celebration and may be found throughout many countries in Europe.

Peach cookies are two cookie domes, carved on the inside and paired together to hold a dollop of custard. Once assembled, they are dipped in Alchermes, a crimson colored liqueur infused with a blend of anise flowers, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, jasmine, mace, nutmeg, orange peel, sugar and vanilla. These ingredients are stepped in alcohol, which is then flavored with rose water. Alchermes gives these pastries a vibrant pink hue and a unique, light alcohol flavor that combines custard and cookie beautifully. To further enhance the peach resemblance, they are rolled in a sanding sugar.

Alchermes is a very ancient liqueur of Arabic origin. It’s main feature is an unmistakable scarlet color, which was originally acquired by adding ‘kermes’, a scale insect that eat oak trees. Modern alchermes liqueurs no longer use the kermes insect. Alchermes was created in the Frati’ Convent at Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy.

These peach cookies are an impressive dessert, perfect for special summer occasions. You can use any filling you choose such as a pastry cream, lemon curd, limoncello or just plain nutella spread. Since it is almost impossible to find the alchermes liqueur in Canada, I’ve listed a few substitutes that can be used instead.

Print Recipe
Peach Cookies or Pesche
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Ingredients
Coating
Servings
Ingredients
Coating
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients; stir in reserved crumbs. Spoon into center holes of cookies & press together to form a peach.
Coating
  1. In a shallow bowl, combine lemon & peach gelatin powder. Place package of strawberry gelatin in another bowl. Place sugar in a third bowl.
Assembling
  1. Working with one cookie at a time, spritz cookie with a bit of water. Dip in lemon mixture, then in strawberry gelatin & then in sugar. Spritz with additional water & add more gelatin as needed to create desired 'peach blush' effect. Place on a wire rack to dry for an hour. Attach mint leaves to top of each cookie with additional preserves. Store in refrigerator.
Recipe Notes
  • Alchermes can be substituted for a peach liqueur or Chambord raspberry liqueur. For my peach cookies, I kept it simple & used a combination of jello powders to replicate the traditional idea.

Wild Blueberry Lemon Drops

Spring is definitely in the air, so bring on those fresh spring flavors. One that comes to my mind is lemon — zesty and full of some spring ‘zing’. My first thought is to pair lemon with some wild blueberries. I realize we are a long way from blueberry harvest time but the good news is that WILD blueberries are as good frozen as they are fresh. None of the nutritional values or antioxidant goodness is lost by freezing.

Canada is the world’s largest producer of ‘low-bush’ blueberries, which is another name for the wild blueberries native to eastern North America. They grow best on treeless land or on land that has been burned over. Growers do not plant them but instead manage wild stands that spread naturally by means of underground runners. The berries are often not uniform in appearance since managed fields can have several distinct runner systems.

The wild blueberries have a sweeter, tangier more intense flavor than their cultivated cousins. Harvest time comes in late August to early September, generally only lasting a few weeks.

This simple little dessert lets us get into the summer blueberry ‘season’ a little earlier and still has all the flavor.


Print Recipe


Wild Blueberry Lemon Drops

Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!

Course dessert

Servings


Ingredients
Pastry

Streusal

Course dessert

Servings


Ingredients
Pastry

Streusal

Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!


Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, combine butter & powdered sugar; cream well then stir in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients, gradually add to creamed mixture; blend well. Line the muffin pan size of your choice with paper cups. Divide dough into balls, placing one into each cup. With your fingers, press dough evenly up sides & on bottom of paper cups. Refrigerate until filling & streusal are made.

Streusal
  1. In a small dish, combine streusal ingredients until mixture forms coarse crumbs.

Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Gently rinse & dry blueberries. In a small bowl, combine all other filling ingredients & whisk together until smooth. FOLD in blueberries. Divide filling evenly between pastry shells. Top with streusal & a spoon full of lemon curd. Bake about 25 minutes, (filling will rise slightly when set). Remove from oven. If you prefer, add a bit more lemon curd. Once tarts are cool, remove from pan. The paper cups will come off easily, leaving a pretty little corrugated design.

Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies

Boxed instant pudding mixes have become an ingredient in many recipes from cake, cookies and pie to trifle and salad. In 1975, a salad recipe was developed by Kraft Kitchens, using two of their products, jell-o instant pistachio pudding and Cool Whip. It was called ‘Pistachio Pineapple Delight’. It seems though, that a forerunner to this salad was one using a lime jell-o powder instead of a pistachio pudding mix.

The lime gelatin / pineapple combination evolved over at least four decades. Research shows the salad on a menu in 1931 as well as another recipe from 1948 that contained NO marshmallows. In 1957, a pineapple pie recipe was printed with a filling made from the same ingredients as the salad.

This particular salad was a huge favorite of our family when I was growing up. One year, family friends that had been invited to Christmas dinner, asked if this salad had something to do with our German heritage because it always appeared on special occasions. It is hard to figure out where this dish belongs — dessert or salad? The fact that it is not so sweet you can get away with having it as a side dish but at the same time, it could also be enjoyed as a light dessert.

I have to be honest, I like both versions — lime or pistachio. Just for something different, I’m using the pistachio pudding mix in cookies and giving them a chocolate cream cheese center.

Print Recipe
Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add the egg & extracts; combine then stir in flour & dry pudding mix. Combine well but do not over mix.
  2. Form dough into 1 1/2-inch balls then roll in finely chopped pecans. Place on cookie sheet; make a thumbprint indentation on the top of each cookie. Bake for about 10-11 minutes; remove from oven & press each indent again, slightly. Remove to wire rack & cool.
Chocolate Filling
  1. While cookies are baking, Combine cream cheese & butter in a small bowl until smooth. Add sugar, cocoa powder & vanilla; beat until very creamy. If filling is to thick add a bit of milk to get the desired consistency. Divide filling between cooled cookies. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Strawberry Yogurt Parfaits / Chocolate Cheesecake Squares

With Valentines Day almost here, I decided to do a prelude post with a few dessert ideas.

In the food industry, this day was always fun to prepare food for. Definitely a more intimate  occasion, all revolving around chocolate, ‘hearts’ and roses. Strangely enough, every time Brion and I have tried to go out for supper on Valentines we usually come home wondering why we did that. The restaurants were packed, the wait is long, the music is loud, etc, etc. Nonetheless, I’m always happiest if I can prepare a ‘special meal’ for us to enjoy at home. That being said, my choice of dessert for this Valentines Day are Strawberry Yogurt Parfaits with Chocolate Cheesecake Squares.  

The fresh strawberry compote has a nice lemony tang that pairs well with the creamy Greek vanilla yogurt. Brion isn’t much for cheesecake but just loves these chocolate cheesecake squares.

 

Print Recipe
Strawberry Yogurt Parfaits / Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, Greek
Servings
Ingredients
Strawberry Compote
Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, Greek
Servings
Ingredients
Strawberry Compote
Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Strawberry-Yogurt Parfaits
  1. Rinse, hull & slice strawberries. Zest & juice lemon. In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, water, lemon juice, zest & cornstarch. Add strawberries, mixing gently while bringing to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool.
  2. In parfait glasses, spoon layers of strawberry compote & Greek yogurt. Garnish with a strawberry leaf if desired. Refrigerate until serving time.
Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
  1. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper so cheesecake can easily be lifted out later. In a small bowl, combine the graham crumbs, pecans & butter. Press into prepared pan; set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar & sour cream until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in vanilla. Pour over crust.
  2. Bake at 325 F. for 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate until chilled. Freeze overnight.
  3. Melt chocolate & shortening; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Using parchment paper, lift cheesecake out of pan. Gently peel off paper; cut into 49 squares. Remove a few pieces at a time for dipping; keep remaining squares refrigerated until ready to dip.
  4. Using a toothpick, completely dip squares, one at a time, in melted chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets; spoon about 1 tsp chocolate over each, reheating chocolate if needed to finish dipping. Let stand for 20 minutes or until set. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Yield 49 squares.

Sour Cream Blueberry Tarts

I’m not sure, but when it comes to blueberries, I don’t think there is a food category they can’t be used in.

Blueberries date back to the early 1600’s when they were dried and ground to make seasonings for meats, soups and stews. As a remedy, infused blueberry leaves become a tonic, while the juice was made into a sweet cough syrup. Blueberries rank highest of any fruit for antioxidants which can have a positive effect on the heart, brain, stomach, bladder and many more organs and tissues.

Although blueberry growers have increased, the price of fresh blueberries remains fairly high. While in ‘season’ its hard to resist these little ‘blue pearls’. You don’t have to look to far to find endless amounts of blueberry recipes for everything imaginable. These Sour Cream Blueberry Tarts  have been an old standby recipe for me that never fails to get great reviews.

Print Recipe
Sour Cream Blueberry Tarts
Don't you love the flowers --- straight out of my garden!
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Pecan Shortbread Tart Shells
Tart Filling
White Streusal Topping
Course dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Pecan Shortbread Tart Shells
Tart Filling
White Streusal Topping
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Pastry Shells
  1. In a large bowl, combine butter & powdered sugar; cream well. Add flavorings & combine. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture. Blend well. Using a 12-cup regular muffin tin, line with paper cups. Divide dough into 12 balls. Place one in each cup. With fingers, press dough evenly up sides & on bottom of paper cups. Set aside in fridge.
White Streusal Topping
  1. In a small dish, combine streusal ingredients until mixture forms coarse crumbs.
Tart Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Gently rinse & dry blueberries. In a small bowl, combine all other filling ingredients & whisk together until smooth. Fold in blueberries. Divide filling evenly among the 12 pastry shells. Top with streusal & bake for about 25 minutes. ( Filling will rise slightly when set). Remove from oven; let cool for 5-10 minutes. Once cooled remove tarts from pan. The paper cups will come off easily, leaving a pretty little corrugated design.
Recipe Notes
  • Using fat free sour cream & egg substitute (simply egg whites) in the filling works well for reducing calories.
  • If you need a smaller amount of tarts, the recipe divides in half without problem.

Fresh Fruit Pizza

The quintessential summer BBQ dessert! Fruit pizza is like a giant cookie, covered with luscious cream, layered with colorful fresh fruit, topped with glaze and a drizzle of chocolate, if you please.

If you have been following my blogs, you have probably already noticed, choice is something I’m big on. Fruit pizza is a classic dessert with so many possibilities. I have always enjoyed to start with the original idea of a recipe and see how many ways I can vary it without getting too involved or requiring a lot of extra ingredients and time.

Since CANADA DAY celebrations are right around the corner I thought it was a good time to enjoy Fruit Pizza personalized’Here are some ideas to mix and match to your liking.

Print Recipe
Fresh Fruit Pizza
Personalize not only with ingredient choices but the design as well
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Ingredients
Classic Shortbread or Pecan Shortbread Crust
Oatmeal Crust
Frozen Puff Pastry OR Crescent Roll Dough
Cream Cheese Topping
Cool Whip / Custard Topping
Honey - Yogurt Topping
Citrus Glaze
Pineapple Glaze
Fresh Fruit (use whatever fruit you prefer)
Chocolate Drizzle (optional)
Servings
Ingredients
Classic Shortbread or Pecan Shortbread Crust
Oatmeal Crust
Frozen Puff Pastry OR Crescent Roll Dough
Cream Cheese Topping
Cool Whip / Custard Topping
Honey - Yogurt Topping
Citrus Glaze
Pineapple Glaze
Fresh Fruit (use whatever fruit you prefer)
Chocolate Drizzle (optional)
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
For Shortbread & Oatmeal Crusts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 12-inch pizza pan or cookie sheet. In a large bowl, cream butter & sugar until light. Add any flavorings. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon or hand mixer until well blended. Press dough into pan & prick with a fork. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden. Allow to cool completely.
Frozen Puff Pastry
  1. Follow package directions. Cool completely & place on serving tray.
Crescent Roll Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Pinch together crescent roll dough as you press into a 12-inch pizza pan. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden. Cool completely.
Cream Cheese Topping
  1. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, lime juice concentrate & sugar until smooth.
Cool Whip/Custard Topping
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together dry pudding mix & milk for 2 minutes. Fold in Cool Whip.
Honey - Yogurt Topping
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt & honey.
Citrus & Pineapple Glaze
  1. In a small saucepan, combine ingredients. Cook over medium heat until thickens. Remove from heat & cool slightly. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the fruit with glaze. FOR PRESERVE GLAZE: mix preserves with water & brush onto fruit.
TO ASSEMBLE FRUIT PIZZA
  1. Spread topping of choice onto cooled crust & arrange fruit onto. Brush with glaze of choice. Melt chocolate in a bowl over boiling water. Dip a large spoon into chocolate; drizzle, quickly letting the chocolate fall in thin ribbons from the end of the spoon. If chocolate seems to stiff, add a drop of vegetable oil. Let pizza stand until chocolate is firm.