Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cheesecake

I've been waiting & waiting for my brother-in-law's birthday so I could make this cheesecake.  I saw a version of it a few months back and knew it would be the perfect cake for him.  Chocolate.  Caramel.  Pecans.  Cheesecake.  Delicious.
I did decide to make a couple of changes; I wanted to use a salted caramel sauce - because it's my fav.  And I went with a New York style cheesecake from Annie's Eats because it sounded just too good not to try.  The final combination of everything - amazing!  Everyone in my family loved it. And I'm feeling sad that our leftovers are gone already.  :(

Happiest birthday to Justin {aka Uncle Jojo}!!  

Also, that night while I was praying with the boys, I said, "thank you for Uncle Jojo and that we got to celebrate his birthday and help him to have a great year". When I was done, Linc said, "why'd you say for Uncle Jojo to have a great ear, what's wrong with his ear?"  Haa!! Love it!

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cheesecake

For the crust:
32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs
5 1/3 tbsp. salted butter, melted and cooled

Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Combine the Oreo crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl and stir until all of the crumbs are moistened. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Put the crust in the freezer to set while preparing filling.


2 1/2 lb. (5 8-oz. pkgs.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate {cut or break into small pieces if not using chips}
1 tsp. vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Place the chocolate and vegetable oil in small microwaveable bowl, and heat in the microwave on medium for one minute. Stir. If needed, continue heating and stirring the chocolate in 30-second increments until completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.
Pour about 1/3 of the cheesecake filling into a medium bowl and add the cooled melted chocolate. Stir until combined.
Remove crust from freezer and set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills in case the pan leaks. Pour the chocolate cheesecake filling into the crust first, then pour the remaining filling into the crust up to the brim of the crust/pan {you may not need to pour in all the cheesecake filling depending on the size of the pan you used}. Bake 10 minutes; without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, prepare the caramel.

Salted Caramel:

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter cubed
2/3 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

Melt the sugar over medium high heat in a large pot. Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. Add the butter and stir it in until melted. Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted. Remove from heat and let cool. {If you still have some lumps in the caramel after it has cooled - strain it through a fine mesh strainer}.  Store, covered, in the fridge.


8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Let stand 1-2 minutes, then whisk together until a smooth, thick ganache is formed.
Let the ganache sit to thicken a bit so that it is suitable for spreading. (To speed thickening, place the bowl in the fridge or freezer and whisk every 10 minutes to ensure even cooling until the desired consistency is reached.)

Roasted Pecans:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and roast for about 10-15 minutes or until browned and fragrant.  Let cool.

Assembly: Remove cheesecake from fridge.  Place it on a plate or cake stand.  Remove the sides of the spring form pan.  Pour the salted caramel on top of the cake {as much as you would like}.  Put back in fridge.  Meanwhile, prepare the ganache.  Once the ganache is made, remove the cheesecake from the fridge and pour ganache on top of the caramel layer {as much as you would like}.  Garnish with roasted pecans.

Source: cheesecake adapted from Call Me Cupcake and Annie's Eats, salted caramel - my cupcakes, ganache adapted from Annie's Eats

Friday, April 20, 2012

Girls Getaway

Last weekend, Marla & I had a Girls Getaway.  We booked a room at a fancy-schmancy hotel {got a deal through Hotwire}, booked massages, made some yummy treats and headed out.  

Mar posing on the king size bed for a picture I was sending mom 
{um, how is she eight months preggers and looking that tiny??!}

After spending quite a while on Urban Spoon and Yelp, we decided to try this mexican restaurant out.
Neither of us were very impressed though.

Every girl's trip must include {at least one} stop at Wegmans. 
Stocking up on some good coffee and my creamer.   

I made s'mores bars and cookies 'n cream bars for our trip

One of the exciting things we had planned was finally getting to watch Downton Abbey.  We've both heard a lot of good things about the show and started watching season 1 {we only managed to get 2 episodes in over the weekend...we were tired mamas and couldn't stay up very late}.  Those 2 shows got us hooked though.

Another must for a good girl's trip - some thrifting!

We ate lunch at The Towpath Cafe along the canal - they have great vegetarian panini's

{There was a massage thrown in here - but didn't take pictures of that. Awkward.  
But that was also a highlight of the trip.}  

One of my favorite places to visit - Moonlight Creamery

Because of this - salted caramel ice cream {although I do wish they made theirs w/o nuts!}

We tried hard to get a picture of ourselves in front of the creamery

I made my first trip ever to Anthropologie.  I know people, I know - I'm a little behind.  {Also, I think this was the first time I've been in a mall in a few years}.  And oh my word, I have been missing out {with Anthro - not the mall}.  I think this is the only store besides Salvation Army that I could walk out of with my cart over loaded.  However my wallet won't really allow that....

We stopped in at H&M and this picture is why I don't bother to shop at the mall.  You can't tell very well from this picture, but this dress and mine were so alike.  Mine was less than $2...the other $18 {I think}.  See, who needs the mall?  {Plus mine was better because it's vintage & has a pocket}  

There was a lot of singing in the car to some old-school songs.  {Um, I can't sing & take pictures of myself at the same time...}  Particularly, this song.  Seriously.  Learn the words, sing along, and then tell me there's a better song to sing along with.  

Saturday's dinner was pizza & cheesy bread.  Not cheese bread.  Cheesy bread.  {Marla tried ordering cheese bread and it confused the girl on the phone....big difference Mar, big difference}

Artichoke garlic pizza - pretty good.  {Not such a fan of the cheesy bread}

Busted an instagrammer

Just taking some pictures of myself in the bathroom.  

Working it. 

Made a stop for donuts - I never ended up eating mine {Mar, how were they?} so I can't tell ya whether this place was any good or not.  Based on looks though, they seemed like regular old donuts you would get from anywhere.  Why is there not a good donut place around here?  So far, I've only been to two donut places that have amazing donuts.  Mary's Bakery in Inlet, NY and Oram's in Beaver Falls, PA.  That's it.  Two places.  What is the deal people?  I want amazing donuts at my door step!!  {Apple cider donuts from apple farms are in a different category and we have a great place nearby}  Ugh - and now I really just want a donut.  Moving on...

We did, however, find a new awesome bagel place, Balsam Bagels.  Soo good.  I had a rosemary & olive oil bagel with roasted red pepper cream cheese.  Wishing that this place was a little closer to home too.  

Stopped at this barn sale on the way home.  One of my favorite places to shop.  And I've decided I need to spend an entire weekend just thrift barn sales, garage sales, estate sales, thrift shops.  Ahhh - that would be a dreamy weekend - who's in?

Finally home with our babers.  {Levi & Fabs kept pushing each other while we were trying to take this photo...ha!}

Had such a fun weekend with my big seester.  So blessed to have sisters that are my best friends too {we missed our little Gingy-bean though....girls getaway to CA?}.  We're thinking this needs to be a monthly thing.  ;)  I'm sure the guys would be all for it.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Little Fashion :: Malacai's Style

Cait took these pictures of Malacai last week and I just love them.  They reflect his personality so well.  My little Cai-guy, so mischievous, yet such a little charmer.  {And such a little tough guy!}
Recently, after putting Malacai to bed, I heard him creeping down the stairs.  I went and asked him what he was doing and he told me he needed to pee.  I told him he had just went a few minutes ago and he needed to go to bed, but he insisted.  So I told him to go into the bathroom and go.  After about a minute, I went in to check on him and he was just standing in the bathroom.  I started scolding him for just standing around and that he needed to go to the bathroom and get back to bed.  In the midst of my scolding, he looked up at me with a little smile on his face and said, "you look pretty".  Haa!!  I had to leave the bathroom because I didn't want him to see me laughing.  That boy...always charming his way out of trouble.

Button down: vintage, thrifted
Batman tee: vintage, thrifted
Jeans: hand-me-downs? thrifted? {probably both}
Converse: thrifted

Photos by my lovely step-daughter, Cait.  Isn't she the best?  Be sure to check out her blog and facebook page.  I'm thinking she should just start taking all my pictures for my blog.  ;)

Linking up with Small Style

Monday, April 16, 2012

S'mores Bars

I have a new dessert obsession.  These s'mores bars.  They are so amazingly good.  First, you have all the ingredients used in a s'more - can't go wrong there.  Then you add in a caramel layer...and oh my, addiction.
The first time I made these, my sweet little niece was in the hospital and I wanted a yummy treat to share with my sister and brother-in-law.  We stood around Fabienne's bed, munching on these bars, and decided that although they were pretty fantastic as is, I could tweak the recipe a little bit, just to give it a little something extra.  {We even had Justin's mom on video chat offering her advice!  Getting advice from a southern baker is always a good idea.  :) }  That extra mainly being salted butter and a little bit of vanilla.  So make sure to use salted butter for that little extra something.  :)

S'mores Bars

18 sheets of graham crackers
2 sticks salted butter, chilled
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups mini marshmallows
4 hershey chocolate bars
1 cup milk choc chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12x16x1-inch* cookie sheet with aluminum foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang over the ends, and spray foil with cooking spray. Line graham crackers up on the foil so that the sides are touching.  {Make sure the entire bottom of the pan is covered - I break mine up near the edges to squeeze them in}.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and mixture comes just to a boil (about 4-6 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and pour evenly over crackers. Bake 5 to 6 minutes, or until bubbly.

Remove pan from oven and immediately sprinkle mini marshmallows, chocolate bar pieces, and chocolate chips over the crackers.

Return pan to oven for another 3-5 minutes, or until marshmallows begin to soften and puff up. Remove from oven, then set oven to broil. Give your oven a couple of minutes to heat up to broil if it needs it. Return pan to oven and broil for 30-60 seconds {or however long it takes to get nice & golden - watch carefully!}
Cool completely. Lift from pan using foil edges; cut into bars and enjoy!

*Doesn't have to be this exact size, just close - don't run out and buy a new cookie sheet.  Unless you don't own one, then by all means, run.

Source: slightly adapted from Bakergirl

All photos by Cait McGrath, aren't they fantastic?!  Thanks Cait!!  {Be sure to check out her blog & photography facebook page}

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Style :: Vintage Easter Dress

I hope you had a lovely Easter.  We sure did.  The sun was shining {for most of the day}.  My baby brother was home for the weekend.  Lots of fun, laughs, good food and love.

Got my handsome little men to join me for the photo shoot.

And how about a few out-takes?

Malacai slipped and fell while we taking pictures....

and Mama thought it was funny.  I am always amused by people falling {yes, even myself.  Especially myself}.  Laughing at my kids falling does seem a little inappropriate though.  I just can't help myself.   Do you ever laugh at your kids spills, or am I the only cruel mama out there?

Still amused by the fall...

Dress: vintage, thrifted
Sweater: vintage, thrifted
Necklace: thrifted
Shoes & Ring: from Cait
Chick Easter Basket: Target
Nail Polish: Wet n Wild - I Need A Refresh-Mint

Linking up: Monday Mingle, The Pleated Poppy

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


1.&2. a fun little vintage book we have  3. a masked cow tipper  4. coloring  5. getting ready to sell  6. snack - avalanche bars  7. another masked boy  8. sobbing into the couch - it was a rough afternoon for this little one  9. happy that daddy is home  10. date night!


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