Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had two events to attend. One being Thanksgiving over at my Mom and Dad's, the other being my parent's annual "First Saturday After Thanksgiving" party. I'm always the "dessert bringer", so I decided that I wanted to make three different desserts from three different recipe sources!
My first dessert was for Thanksgiving itself. I chose a recipe I found on Pintrest; Martha Stewart's Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears.
I finished up work at 11:00 in the morning the day prior to Thanksgiving to attend my son's "Pie with Parents" event at daycare, then came home to run, clean, do laundry and start baking!
The cheesecake has a lovely Nilla Wafer crust, so I dragged out my trusty food processor and started on that right away!
Once my crust was out of the oven and cooling, I got my other ingredients out and started getting them warmed to room temperature while I attended to my time on the treadmill.
Mmmmmaple Syrup; YUM!
Now I was ready to get to baking my cheesecake! Then I read the recipe a little more closely, and I realized HEY! THIS IS A NO-BAKE, WTF!? A FREAKIN' NO-BAKE?! I haven't come this far in my baking journey to show up to Thanksgiving with a NO BAKE! Now, in years past, no biggie, but I've become arrogant and proud of my baking efforts of late, and I was actually insulted by the idea. Well, not too insulted...I already had all the ingredients and the crust was baked up and ready to go...I might as well do as Martha Stewart commands and press on!
I whipped up my filling, which was delicious! The maple syrup is a nice addition!
There's something special about a bowl of whipped egg whites, don't you think?
Now that the filling was in the crust and happily "Not Baking" in the fridge for the night, it was time to make my roasted pear topping! This is where things got interesting...
I lovingly brushed my pear slices with maple syrup and placed them in the oven for roasting. The roasting part went quite without incident, then it came time to throw them under the broiler...turns out, parchment paper (like it's other paper brethren) is flammable...
Luckily, all you need to do it close the oven door, and the fire will smother itself from lack of oxygen, and the pears were just fine! They had a nice color after their momentary brush with death!
Once gently arranged on the cheesecake, my dessert was actually quite appealing to look at!
The cheesecake was, indeed, very good! But I have some commentary. First, It's difficult to slice with the pears on top because the cheesecake itself is not very dense at all. This is probably due in part to the fact that it was a no-bake.
I think that I would actually like to try and make a traditional, water bath, cheesecake utilizing the same maple flavors and pear topping some time in the future! I'm getting to the point where some culinary experimentation might be in order!!
Now, Thanksgiving dessert aside, it's time for party desserts! I love making the desserts for my parent's party! So much so that I actually start looking for dessert ideas months in advance. This year, I upped the dessert quota from one to two, as I have some family members that (yeah, crazy, I know) don't care for chocolate?! GASP! I suppose it's OK. To each their own right? After all, I don't like mushrooms and I have family that think that it's something of a character flaw, so I guess I won't hold it against them. So. I opted for one chocolate/peanut butter dessert and one non-chocolate dessert.
For my chocolate offering, I chose my favorite go-to dessert gal Heather's Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake! I've wanted to make this ever since I discovered her Sprinkle Bakes blog earlier this year!! It just strikes me as the perfect combination of peanut butter, chocolate cake, caramel and cheesecake!!
If you're planning on making this, heed Heather's warnings! It's a monster and should be made over the course of a few days! I, myself, started on Black Friday (I don't shop with the crazies, I'm more of a Cyber Monday gal, so nothing lost there).
The ceremoniously unwrapped a bag of mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and about 2 bags of caramels and set to work. The recipe uses an entire bag of PB cups and I think I had to slap my husband's hand away more than once!
Next came the cheesecake batter (REAL CHEESECAKE, nothing 'no-bake' in this recipe)! YUM!
So fluffy, so yummy, throwing caution to the wind, I had a spoonful or two of batter, raw eggs be damned! I found this on my pal Linda's Pintrest Page...Sums it up perfectly!
I was happy that I didn't need to do a water bath though! Not that I mind, it's just an extra step! I threw together the caramel sauce in the microwave and got the cake layers baked and topped before getting everything wrapped up and into the freezer for the night!
Now that I was at a stopping point with my Chocolate dessert, it was time to start on my non-chocolate dessert; Lemon Meringue Pie!
I've never made a meringue pie of any kind, too scared to tell you the truth. I've heard the horror stories about filling not setting up, meringue that fails and I just never ventured into that section of the cookbook. However, my Dad has waxed poetic for years about his late mother's famous Lemon Meringue Pie, so I figured, what the hell. No time like the present!
Much to the chagrin of my Mom; Grandma Miller didn't really write down her recipes. She just BAKED. HOW TO PEOPLE DO THAT?!?! My Mom has been trying for YEARS to replicate her apple coffee cake, so I figured I'd just go with the Food Network app that I've had for a few years and search there. I typed in Lemon Meringue Pie and filtered by rating, it came down to a close race between Alton Brown and Paula Deen. After reading the reviews, I opted to go with Ms Deen's recipe, doubling the filling and meringue as per the suggestions I read in the reviews.
I decided that real, fresh squeezed, lemon juice was only appropriate, so I unearthed the citrus-squeezer that I typically reserved for margaritas and got a'squeezing!
I did break down and use one of those refrigerated pie crusts that they sell in the grocery store, simply because I knew that I was going to be doing a lot of baking (and Paula Deen said it would be OK).
Now, time for the meringue! I had made meringue cookies last Christmas, so I wasn't too terribly daunted by the concept. The only thing I really needed help with was making sure that I really had stiff peaks. Thank you Google Images!!!
Now that I had my meringue, I slapped it artistically on top of my pie and threw that bad boy into the oven!
I did heed some of the recommendations in the comments on Paula's recipe page and upped the heat and baking time a bit to make sure that the eggs were cooked all the way (and I was really hoping that everything would set up well)!
Pie out of the oven, garnished and cooled! Pie into the fridge and I into the bed for the night! Hopefully it will taste good for the party! Tomorrow, we assemble the monster Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake!!!
Some much needed sleep later (and once minor incident with the little one, must have been the Mexican food), it was time to get to putting the cheesecake together!
Trimmed and ready to go! Time to make my whipped ganache and ice this baby! The only thing I would change would be making 1 and a half batches of ganache, just to have enough to really go around without having to scrape the bowl! The peanut butter butter cream is really what made this cake beautiful! But keep in mind, you will want to keep this in the freezer! I did have some caramel seeping out through the ganache...
Once sliced and dished out, I think everyone was pleased with the selections! The cheesecake was AMAZING!!! Probably 2000 calories a slice, but amazing none the less! I would make this again in a heartbeat!!
The Lemon Meringue Pie was great as well! The greatest compliment came from my Dad who said it tasted JUST LIKE HIS MOM'S!!! He said that the only difference was that her filling was a tad more yellow in color. Must have been the lemons!
All in all...success all the way around! Score one (or two) in my baking 'YAY ME!' column! Tomorrow, it's back to more baking! I'm heading over to my Mom's to bake cookies with her, my Grandma and sister!