Friday, May 27, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake w/ Chocolate Ganache

You ever do something so great that you seriously have to step back and be like, "Yea, I'm pretty freaking awesome."

Well, that's how I felt after I made this delicious cheesecake/cake, but this blog post is not about that.

While I want to tell you how EVERYBODY who ate it had nothing but rave reviews to say about it, I won't because this fabulous cake that you-must-make-as-soon-as-possible was not the star of the event I made it for.

The star of the night was my older brother Che who was graduating with his graduate degrees in business from Johns Hopkins this past Tuesday.

The Graduate at dinner!

Now, back to that issue of doing something so great that you need to step back and admire yourself.

Che is not like that at all.

He doesn't ever mention his many accomplishments, rarely wants to be celebrated on his birthdays and generally has a low key kind of swag.

I usually allow him to be nonchalant about certain things, but I was NOT letting him be blasé about this.

This was an accomplishment!

This used to be my favorite picture of Che and I...

Our family didn't even know he was hustling double time to get both his Masters in Marketing Science as well as his Masters in Business Administration in 2 years.

We showed up and saw in the program that his name was printed under both degrees and our jaws dropped.

He is so cool! I love that guy! 

I can't tell you how proud we are of him and I cannot wait to see his success play out in the business sector because he seriously has such a knack for it. :)

...but now this one definitely is

I made this red velvet cheesecake/cake becuase I thought it was a special enough dessert to make for such an important day, and let me tell you it did not dissapoint.

All  of the flavors went together perfectly and the added layer of chocolate ganache made the cake even that much more decadent.

Make it for the next special event or person in your life and they will love you for it.  :)

Dee. Lish. No, like for real.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

Cheesecake Filling: From Cheesecake Factory Secret Recipe
4 8-ounce pkgs. cream cheese
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
½ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 eggs
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place a large pan or oven-safe skillet (that the cheesecake pan will fit inside) filled with about ½-inch of water into the oven while it preheats. This will be your water bath.

Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese with sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Blend mixture for a couple of minutes or until the ingredients are smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and then add them to the cream cheese mixture. Blend the mixture just enough to integrate the eggs.

Carefully place the cheesecake into the preheated water bath. Bake for 12 minutes at 475 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake turns a light brown or tan color. Remove the cheesecake from the oven to cool. Cover and chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Red Velvet Cake recipe: From Cakeman Raven


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 - 8 inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and flour.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.

Using a mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.

Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart.

Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 oz white chocolate chips melted (optional, I just always add white chocolate becuase I like the flavor)

In a mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add the vanilla and mix briefly until fluffy. If you choose to, add in 1 oz or so of white chocolate chips.

Chocolate Ganache:

In a medium saucepan melt 1/2 cup of heavy cream with about 8 oz. of semisweet chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly until it glossy and melted. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, stir it again and then pour over the cake letting it drip naturally. I added a really tiny bit of corn syrup in it to make it glossier. 

Place the first layer of red velvet cake on the bottom of the cake plate. Add frosting to use as glue and then place the frozen cheesecake on top. Put more frosting on top of that followed by the last layer of red velvet cake.

Ice the cake. (I did a crumb coat first, placed the cake in the fridge to harden a little, and then iced it fully)

Pour the ganache on top  and thenstick it in the fridge until ready about 30 minutes before you're ready to serve. (I actually let this sit in the car for about 2 hours during the ceremony and it was fine!)

Linked To:
Sweet as Sugar Cookies
Mangoes and Chutney
Something Swanky
Well Seasoned Life
Cupcake Apothecary

Monday, May 23, 2011

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake

This past week a Shake Shack opened up in Washington, DC and it has been all the talk.

The Shake Shack is a burger joint that has your typical fast foods and snacks as well as shakes that they make using custard.

They're aight...

Like I said, the Shack was all the talk and I heard about it at work, on the metro, at the gym and standing in line at the bank.

While everyone was talking up the Shack, all I could think about was Stand Burger and their awesome shakes.

Once upon a time I used to live in New York City--one of my favorite places in the entire world---and on those horrible days after work when I thought I deserved a treat for putting up with one of the worst companies I have ever had the displeasure of working for, I would hightail it out of the Bronx, go past my place on the West Side, and take the train down to Union Square to get a milkshake at Stand.

It was my secret.

Those shakes  are u-n-r-e-a-l!

They're made with creamy gelato and every sip you take makes you feel that all is right in the world.

My favorite is the Toasted Marshmallow shake and sometime last year it became pretty well known.

I was happy that people now knew about it, but was kinda sad at the same time---my little treat had become mainstream, but it's cool.

A good thing that came out of it was that the recipe became readily available and many people, including myself, can now make it on a regular basis.


I never ended up finding my blender and so I often have to use my food processor to "blend"---is that bad? LOL.

This shake is absolutely delicious!  It's a kicked up vanilla shake and I love how you distinctly taste the toastiness of the marshmallows.


Please make this if you have a bag of marshmallows lying around---you will love it!

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake--adapted from Gourmet
  • 3 scoops vanilla ice cream or gelato
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 large dollop of sour cream
  • 10  marshmallows plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream

Toast marshamllows under a broiler or use a flame and do it old-school style

Put the milk, sour cream, and then ice cream in a blender and blend until combined.

Add the marshmallows and blend some more

Pour shake into a glass, top with more whipped cream, break the last two marshmallows on top, and serve with an extra-wide straw.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

**Thank you for all your nice comments  on my Red Velvet Krispie Treats. Everyone seemed to like them.  :)
Nothing beats a perfect chocolate chip cookie and these are my FAVORITE recipe that I found on Georgia's blog, The Comfort of Cooking. These cookies always come out crispy at the edges, but chewy in the middle. They have the perfect amount of sweetness and I am always happy when I take a bite out of one :) The recipe is at the end of this post.

Now, onto this tag.

I found it online and figured, why not? You're supposed to be 'tagged' in order to do this but I bypassed that technicality. Enjoy learning 25 facts about me.  :)
Question 1: Do you have any pets ?
No. Although, I MAY want to get a dog in the future. A big dog --like a Great Dane or German Shepherd.

Question 2: Name three things that are physically close to you:
1.Remote control
2.My dinner
3. Book

Question 3: What's the weather like right now?
Really rainy and thunderstorm-y. Kinda cozy.

Questions 4: Do you drive ? If so, have you crashed?
Yes, since I was 15. I crashed into a tree once after my brakes gave out when I was 16. It was REALLY scary, but thankfully I wasn't hurt.

Question 5: What time did you wake up this morning ?

Question 6: When was the last time you showered ?
This morning

Question 7: What was the last movie that you saw ?
Bridesmaids---it was funny!

Question 8: What does you last text message say?
"cool, let's do it"

Question 9: What is your ringtone?Typical telephone ring--I'm not a fan of ringtones.

Question 10: Have you ever been to a different country?
Yes, I have been blessed to have gone to many different countries around Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean.

Question 11: Do you like sushi?
One of my favorite foods EVER!!

Question 12: Where do you buy your groceries?
Trader Joe's and Giant.

13: Have you ever taken any medication to help you fall asleep faster?
Yep. Used to take NyQuil sometimes  in college. 

Question 14: How many siblings do you have ? 2 wonderful brothers. One is older and the other is younger. I LOVE being the only girl. :)

Question 15: Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?

Question 16: How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
25!! Woot! I fully embrace every birthday and getting older.

Question 17: Do you wear contacts or glasses?
Sigh.I just became a 4-eyes. :/ I'm learning to embrace that.

Question 18: Do you colour your hair ? 
No. I did when I was a freshman in college and my hair fell out! It's finally back so, no more.

Question 19: Tell me something you are planing to do today:
Well, it's the end of the day and I've done everything including buying frivolous items, lol. I guess whats next is to shower and go to bed.

Question 20: When was the last time you cried?
Tonight---There was an episode of "Little House on the Prairie" on where Mr. Edwards and Grace decided to adopt the Widow Snyder's kids after she died. It was beautiful.

Question 21: What is your perfect pizza topping?
Fresh mozzarella and basil. Add in a couple of meatballs too if you can.  :)

Question 22: Which do you prefer, hamburger or cheeseburger ?
Cheese, duh.

Question 23: Have you ever had an all-nighter ?
Not for studying--hanging out with the ladies  and such, yea.

Question 24: What is your eye colour ?
Dark brown.

Question 25: Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?
Yep! I'm weaning myself off of Diet Coke though. (I'm currently sipping on some so I'm kinda failing, lol)

Makes about 4 dozen cookies
Ingredients1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sea or table salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups/16 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until very creamy (If using an electric mixer, beat 4 minutes on medium speed).

Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until very creamy, about 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour. Cookie batter should be somewhat thick. Finally, add chocolate chips and mix well. If you want, refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to harden it a little and make it easier to work with.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough two inches apart onto a baking sheet lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, or lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

Transfer cookies to a wire rack or a cool surface. Wait about 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats

It all started when I made Jessica's Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats this past Thursday.

As I was mixing the ingredients and letting them set so I could bring them in for my co-worker's birthday the next day, I began to think of the many different flavor combination's that I could make when adding cake mix to rice krispy treats.




Red Velvet? --Yes!

I LOVE red velvet desserts. I loved them before they were cool.

As a 7th and 8th grader my friend Njeri would make red velvet cake for fun, and since we were 12 year old kids with nothing to do and no one willing to take us ANYWHERE, we'd just sit at her house eating cake and other fattening foods. 

It was kind of irresponsible.

I was a really chubby kid and had no business doing that. Like, at all. Yeesh...Wanna see little chubby Jihane? Look  below.



My mom, bless her heart, put me in dance class to get some exercise, but I'd go to dance classes and move my body, then go to my friends' houses and eat a ton of cake. 

Counter productive...

LOL! As embarrassing as it is I do love that picture though. It's so funny! Horrible, LOL!

Anyways, back to the Krispy Treats.

I figured that they should have a hint of chocolate flavoring and cream cheese mixed in somehow so I added red velvet cake mix and mini chocolate chips to the batter, and then made a thin icing of white chocolate and cream cheese to spread on top.

These were SO EASY to make and they're good!

I liked them a lot and so did my maintenance man who ate about 3 of them while he TRIED to fix my AC unit. Still not working by the way--next time, treats AFTER he completes the task.

They do taste Red Velvet-y especially with the cream cheese icing on top.

As you know already, a recipe developer I am not. So, if anyone decides to make these and could think of improvements, let me know!   :)

  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 10oz bag of mini  marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup of Red Velvet cake mix sifted to remove lumps
  • 4-6 cups of rice krispies cereal. (I like my treats sticky, so I veer towards 4-5 cups)
  • 4 oz of cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips (more or less depending on how much chocolate flavor you want) plus more for the top of the treats
  • 2-3 oz of white chocolate (I used Wilton's vanilla candy melts because they were closer to reach than the white chocolate in my cupboard and they worked out.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of heavy cream

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan under medium heat and then add in the marshmallows until they are melted. Add the cake mix and stir until everything is incorporated. Add in the cereal and keep stirring. Don't let it burn and if you need to, remove the pan from the heat.

2. After everything is mixed, throw in desired amount of mini chocolate chips, mix and then  transfer it to an 8x8 square pan that has been buttered  or sprayed or lined with wax paper.

3. Let the mixture cool and get started on the icing.

4. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave or on top of a double boiler. When melted, mix in the cream cheese until the mixture is smooth. **I like more of a cream cheese taste so if needed, add in more cream cheese until you reach desired flavor.**

5. Add the heavy cream to thin out the mixture,or if it is thin enough omit it all together.

6. Spread the mixture onto the cooled krispy treats and then sprinkle more mini chocolate chips on top. Stick the pan back in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set the icing.

7. Slice and enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chocolate Eclairs

What is my problem?

Who just decides to make eclairs on a random day?

I do! 

Pâte à Choux--fancy word for pastry dough

I had absolutely no social engagement to take these to---I just wanted to try and see if I could make them.

So, I looked for a recipe, bought some of the ingredients that I was missing and went to work.

It was rainy and dreary this past Sunday and I couldn't be happier baking these eclairs in my cozy apartment while listening to my newly rediscovered Spice Girls "SPICEWORLD" CD.


The pastry cream was delicious! Almost ate it all before I filled the eclairs.

Anyways, these eclairs are  not difficult at all to make--only time consuming.

You have to make the pastry and then bake the pastry. Cook the pudding, then chill the pudding. Fill the pastry then dip the pastry (in chocolate) ---all in the name of chocolate eclairs, but THEY ARE WORTH IT.

I was really happy with the way they turned out--too happy.

That could be dangerous for me, so I took the majority of them to work to get them out of my place.

I'm so nice.

I got the recipe from a great blog, Cupcakes with Sprinkles . I followed it exactly except that I added vanilla beans to the pastry cream.

All in all, these chocolate eclairs are superb!

Drizzled some with white chocolate!

Recipe--As seen on Cupcakes with Sprinkles Blog

Recipe Adapted From:

1 cup Water
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Sugar
1 cup Flour
4 Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

2. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, take the pan off the heat. Stirring with a spoon, add the flour and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.

3. Scrape the mixture into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or you can use a hand mixer. Mix at medium speed. With the mixer running, add the 4 eggs, 1 at a time. Stop mixing after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough will be thick, but should fall slowly from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl.

4. Use a Ziploc bag and cut a hole in the corner, pipe fat lengths of dough approx. 4" by 1 1/2" onto the lined baking sheet, leave about 2 inches of space between them. Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps of dough that remain on the surface. Bake for 35 minutes. Don't open the oven door too often during baking. Let cool on the baking sheet. 

5. Fit a medium-size plain pastry tip over your index finger and use it to make a hole in the end of each eclair (or you can just use your fingertip). Using a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size tip, gently pipe the custard into the eclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside, don’t stuff them full.

Vanilla Pudding
Recipe Source:
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Whole Milk
3 Egg Yolks, beaten
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 1/4 teaspoons Vanilla

1. In a saucepan combine the sugar, flour and salt. Gently stir in the milk. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. Cook for 2 minutes.

2. Remove saucepan from burner. Stir in a third of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately add egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Cook for 2 more minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. 

3. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap placing it directly on the pudding so a film doesn't develop. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.

Pastry Cream
Recipe Source:

Vanilla Pudding (above)
1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
When the vanilla pudding is chilled, whip the cream to form soft peaks and gently fold it into the vanilla pudding. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.

Chocolate Frosting
Recipe Source: Taste of Home
2 oz Semisweet Chocolate
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 1/4 cups Powdered Sugar
3 Tablespoons Hot Water

Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, stir until smooth. Stir in sugar and add water to make it smooth. Dip eclairs in chocolate.