Sweets

Tahini Rice Krispie Treats

 
The two most important days
in your life
are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.
— Mark Twain
 

The other day, I was spinning. Not physically spinning, but mentally. Within the past six months I have studied for and passed my life/health insurance license, started a new job, moved into a new apartment, and countless other things. And with each task came a dozen small ones. For the past six months, I feel as I haven’t even taken a moment to breathe.

I haven’t been going to gym, I haven’t been eating very well, I haven’t been sleeping very well, and most of all, I haven’t been thinking very well. My mind feels like it is in a constant fog. I have been forgetful and confused. Things in my life changed and I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) keep up with it all.

I stopped going to the gym because I didn’t want to wake up at 4 am. I stopped eating as healthy I had been because it was easier to buy pre-made food. I slept less because I wasn’t used to my new schedule. All of these things had easy fixes but for whatever reason I was unwilling to adjust.

Jacob and I had a long talk about all of these things because it wasn’t just me who couldn’t adjust. We both struggled with all of the big changes and it was really starting to take a toll on our well being. After our talk we decided that we would start going to the gym again, start up a healthier diet, and overall take better care of ourselves. It’s easier for me to do it if Jake is doing it too because he is so encouraging and wonderful. I love him.

So, my next goal with this blog is to start sharing some healthier recipes on here. Whenever I make a dessert recipe, I test it at least two times and that’s TWO BATCHES of sweets that I have to taste test. I usually bring some over to my family members or even to work, but still! Trust me, there will still be PLENTY of sweet things to come, but I think a wholesome recipe every now and again won’t hurt anyone!

Aaaaand this weeks recipe is: Tahini Rice Krispie Treats! because I couldn’t help myself but share this recipe before I try out some healthier ones. These Tahini Rice Krispie Treats are so freaking good. They are chewy, slightly ‘krispie’, marshmallow-y, and yes, tahini-y.

To be honest, I never really liked rice krispie treats as a kid. I ate them if they were around because I was a kid but I always they were overly sweet and I wasn’t a big fan of marshmallows. But, if you know anything about me as a baker, you know that I will always try to recreate those old “hated” recipes into something I will like.

The idea for these Tahini Rice Krispie Treats came about because I love tahini. Tahini is sesame seed paste, like peanut butter but made with sesame seeds! It is slightly bitter which pairs perfectly with overly sweet desserts (cough cough rice krispie treats). This recipe uses tahini in both the marshmallow mixture that coats the rice cereal and in the caramel sauce that is slathered on top.

If you’ve never made rice krispie treats before, they are very easy to make. All you do is melt some butter, marshmallows, and tahini and then mix it into some rice krispie cereal. You then press it into a 9x13” pan and refrigerate until cool. While that’s cooling, you’ll prepare your tahini caramel sauce. If you’ve never made caramel before it can look a little intimidating. Trust me, I was scared my first time too but Bon Appetit has great video you can watch here. The recipe is a basic caramel sauce recipe and you just add a couple tablespoons of tahini in at the end. You then pour it on top of the rice krispie treats and put back in the fridge until it is completely set. The last thing you have to do is slice them into squares and enjoy!

These Tahini Rice Krispie Treats are the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and bitter. I brought the extras to work and well, SOME people may have referred to them as “the special rice krispie treats”. Needless to say, everyone loved them. Even Jake agreed that they were very good even though he, “hated them as a kid”.

So, if you need a quick treat to bring to your next event, these Tahini Rice Krispie Treats are it! If you try this recipe or any other recipes from A Common Kitchen, please share your photos and/or feedback. I’d love to hear from you! Happy baking everyone.

Xx


Tahini Rice Krispie Treats


Ingredients:

For the Rice Krispie Treats

  • 6 Cups Rice Cereal (such as Rice Krispies)

  • 6 Tablespoons Butter (plus extra for buttering the pan)

  • 6 Tablespoons Tahini Paste

  • 6 Cups Mini Marshmallows

For the Tahini Caramel Sauce

  • 1 Cup Sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons Water

  • 1⁄8 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

  • ½ Cup Heavy Cream

  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, cubed

  • 3 Tablespoons Tahini

Directions:

Make the Rice Krispie Treats:

  1. Butter a 9x13” baking dish and line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch over-hang above the long sides of the pan— this allows you to easily remove the rice krispies without having to tip the whole pan upside down.

  2. In a large bowl add the rice cereal and set aside.

  3. In a medium sized saucepan, add the butter and tahini and turn the heat to medium. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is fully melted and evenly combined with the tahini. Add in the marshmallows and cook, stirring occasionally, until fully melted and no solid pieces of marshmallow remain, about 2 minutes.

  4. Dump the melted marshmallow mixture into the bowl with the rice cereal and mix using a rubbed spatula until each piece of rice cereal is coated in the tahini marshmallow mixture.

  5. Dump the rice krispie mixture into the baking dish and gently flatten it out into one even layer.

  6. Refrigerate until completely cooled, about 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the tahini caramel sauce.

Make the Tahini Caramel Sauce:

  1. Have your heavy cream, butter, and tahini next to the stove so its ready for you to use. In a medium sized heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine the sugar, water, and cream of tartar. Give everything a good mix to fully combine. Turn the heat to medium and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula. 

    3. Once the mixture has started to rapidly bubble and most of the water has evaporated, lower the heat to medium-low and cook the caramel, swishing the pan around (don't stir it at this point) until the caramel has changed colors to a deep amber and you can start to smell the caramel notes, 3-4 minutes.

    4. Turn off the heat and remove the saucepan from the oven. Slowly and carefully drizzle in the heavy cream, whisking constantly. Be careful while adding the cream because the caramel tends to splatter. Add in the butter one tablespoon at a time and whisk fully in between each tablespoon. Next, add in the tahini and stir until fully combined.

  2. If the caramel seizes up slightly, don’t panic. Just return the pot to the stove and heat over medium-low until the caramel becomes loose again.

  3. Transfer the caramel to a bowl to cool down.

To Assemble:

  1. Remove the rice krispie treats from the fridge.

  2. Pour all of the tahini caramel sauce over the top of the rice krispie treats and use a small offset spatula to spread it all the way to the edges and to flatten it out.

  3. Place the rice krispies back into the fridge and let cool completely, about 1-1.5 hours.

  4. Once the Tahini Rice Krispie Treats are fully set, remove them using the over hang of parchment paper and place them on to a large cutting board. Cut in to 2x2” squares, sprinkle a little bit of fleur de sel on top, and enjoy!

Heart-Shaped Strawberry Churros (with Bittersweet Chocolate Dipping Sauce)

 
The meeting of two personalities
is like the contact of two chemical substances:
if there is any reaction,
both are transformed.
— Carl Jung
 

Welcome back to A Common Kitchen this week everyone. I was absent for two weeks and I apologize. We were moving into a new apartment and one week all of my baking equipment was packed in boxes and the next week it was scattered all throughout my apartment and I couldn’t locate most of it. Now we are all settled in and the apartment is no longer a complete mess.

If you didn’t know, Jake and I got engaged one year ago (February 9, 2018) so I wanted to make him a special treat to celebrate. These Heart-Shaped Strawberry Churros with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce are the perfect treat to make this year for Valentine’s Day!

They are fairly simple to make and they require just one tricky step: deep frying. A churros is basically just a simple pâte à choux dough, like what you would make an eclair or cream puff out of, that you pipe in to heart shapes, freeze, and then deep fry. Pâte à choux can seem hard to get right but I think this recipe is pretty full-proof. Just follow the directions closely and you’ll have perfect churros each time!

Instead of tossing the churros in your typical cinnamon sugar mixture, I decided to replace the cinnamon with crushed up freeze dried strawberries. I love this because your churros taste like strawberries and it makes them bright pink in color, perfect for Valentine’s Day! You can find freeze dried strawberries at almost every grocery store nowadays but I buy mine from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I just take the whole bag and pulse it in a food processor until you have a fine powder and then I run it through a fine mesh sieve (to catch any big pieces) and mix that in with the sugar.

Like I mentioned earlier, the only ‘tricky’ step in this recipe is the deep frying. Not that deep frying in it of itself is hard, it’s just that having a big pot of hot oil right in front of you can be a little intimidating. I find that so long as you have a thermometer to test the oil with, you’ll be good. I went many years without using a thermometer and I did just fine but having one handy gives you peace of mind. You just want the oil to stay around 350℉ and you’ll be good.

Once you have deep fried each churro to be perfectly golden brown, I let them sit on a paper towel for a minute to get the excess oil off and then toss them in the strawberry sugar, coating every crevice! I decided to serve these with a warm Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce because it’s reminiscent of the classic Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

These Heart-Shaped Strawberry Churros with Bittersweet Chocolate Dipping Sauce were absolutely delicious. The churros were light, chewy, and perfectly sweetened. The strawberry sugar was a nice change from your typical cinnamon/sugar combo and I loved the color that it added to these. The bittersweet chocolate sauce was warm, decadent, and the bittersweet-ness of the chocolate was a perfect balance to the rich and sugary churros.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks' recipe. I was so excited to make these and they turned out perfect! If you try this recipe, or any recipe, please let me know how it turned out and share your photos with me on Instagram (@acommonkitchen). I would love to hear from you! Have a wonderful weekend and happy Valentine’s Day.

Xx


Heart-Shaped Strawberry Churros (with Bittersweet Chocolate Dipping Sauce)


Makes about 12 Churros

Ingredients:

For the Churros

  • 1 Bag of Freeze Dried Strawberries

  • 1 ½ Cups + 1 Tablespoon White Granulated Sugar

  • ½ Cup Water

  • ½ Cup Milk (any percentage will do but I always use Whole)

  • 6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cubed

  • ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 1 Vanilla Bean, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out

  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour

  • 3 Large Eggs, room temperature

  • Vegetable Oil for frying, I use about 4 cups but it will depend on the size of your pot

For the Bittersweet Chocolate Dipping Sauce

  • 4 Ounce Bar Bittersweet Dark Chocolate (at least 60%)

  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream

  • Pinch of Kosher Salt

Directions:

For the Churros:

  1. In the bowl of a small food processor, add the freeze dried strawberries and pulse until they ground into a fine powder. Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the powder to through it to catch any large lumps. Discard the large pieces.

  2. In a 9x13” inch baking dish, add the freeze dried strawberry powder and 1 ½ cups of sugar. Stir until fully combined. Set aside.

  3. In a medium sized saucepan, add the water, milk, butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds and turn the heat to medium. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted and the mixture is just barely simmering.

  4. Add in the flour all at once, stirring constantly, until the mixture gathers into a ball. Continue to cook the dough for about one minute— you will start to see a “film” form on the bottom of the bottom of the pan, this means it’s ready.

  5. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and let it cool for 4-5 minutes (don’t add the eggs to the hot dough or else they will scramble and you’ll have to start over). Once the dough is slightly cooled, add the eggs one at time, incorporating each egg fully before adding the next. Note, the dough will look very wet and broken up when you first add the eggs but just keep stirring and it will come together. Transfer the dough to a large piping bag fitted with a large open-star piping tip (Wilton 6B).

  6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Holding the piping bag parallel to the baking sheet, pipe out heart shapes, starting at the bottom point, and connecting back at that same point. You can make them as big or small as you’d like, mine were about 4 inches from top to bottom.

  7. Once you have piped out all of the churros, put them into the freezer until they are solid enough that you pick them up off the parchment paper without them sticking or tearing, about 15 minutes.

  8. While the churros are chilling, add your oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot (I use my Le Creuset 5.5 Qt Dutch Oven). You want about 3 inches of oil. Turn the heat to medium/medium-high, adjusting as needed, until the oil reaches 350℉ on a thermometer.

  9. Once the churros are properly chilled, remove them from the freezer and very carefully add them one at a time to the hot oil (I like to use kitchen tongs to gently place them in the oil to avoid any burns), adding 3-4 churros at a time so you don’t overcrowd the pot. Cook the churros for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, then carefully flip them over and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes more. Carefully remove the churros from the oil with a spider whisk and place them on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining raw churros.

  10. Once all of the churros are fried, working one at a time, place a churro into your strawberry sugar mixture and and gently toss it around to cover the entire churro. Transfer to a clean plate or serving dish and repeat with the remaining churros.

For the Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

  1. Finely chop the chocolate bar with a sharp knife and transfer to a heat proof bowl.

  2. In a small saucepan, add the heavy cream and salt and turn the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the cream just begins to simmer— do NOT let it boil.

  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, making sure to cover each piece, and let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Whisk the mixture until it’s evenly combined and smooth.

  4. Pour the warm bittersweet chocolate sauce into a serving bowl.

  5. Dip the churros into the warm chocolate sauce and enjoy!

    * These churros are best served fresh and the same day they are made.

Banana Cream "Pie" Tart

 
I saw
that my life
was a vast glowing empty page
and I could do anything
I wanted
— Jack Kerouac
 

Welcome back to A Common Kitchen this week everyone!

As you may (or may not) know if you’ve read some of my last couple posts, Jake and I are moving within the next couple weeks. So, to say the least, our lives have been a bit crazy. Our apartment is a mess, boxes everywhere, everything half packed or strewn about.

Everything is a mess, but a welcome one at that. I am excited for all of it. It means that we will be moving on to yet another apartment, and hopefully we will keep this one for a while (fingers crossed).

And whenever we move the last room that gets packed is, of course, the kitchen. And I mean it, I do not pack a single thing until the last day. All of my mixing bowls, piping bags, offset spatulas, and sprinkles. They all stay unpacked until the very day we move.

Because, you see, cooking and baking keep me sane. I can’t tell you why but it has always been cathartic to me. I get to think of a recipe and make it. I create it, myself. And then I get to share it with you. And each week when I hit the “publish” button I wait with anticipation, hoping that you will love each recipe I create.

Recently, I had a reader (it feels so weird saying that!) who made my Strawberry-not-so-short Cake and she took the time to comment on the recipe giving me feedback and suggestions and I was so giddy. It was such an odd feeling, knowing that someone saw my pictures somewhere, clicked the link to get to A Common Kitchen, liked the pictures and the recipe so much that they actually made it and shared it with people. There isn’t another emotion I can liken it to besides sheer happiness.

When I first started this blog, it was an empty page for me. I didn’t know where or what it would lead to. And now it’s been almost exactly a year since I posted my first recipe and I have seen so much improvement in both my recipe development and food photography. And on a much deeper level, I feel proud of myself. Proud for sticking with it, posting recipes (almost) consistently every week, and not stopping every time I was in a ‘creative block’.

You see, I want to make this blog my full time job because it is what I love to do. I can do anything I want with it, and it is all mine. So thank you for one year full of successes, fails, and good food.

Xx Bella


Banana Cream "Pie" Tart


Special Tools:

Ingredients:

For the Crust

  • 1 ½ Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs

  • ⅓ Cup White Granulated Sugar

  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • ¼ Ground Nutmeg (optional)

  • 6 Tablespoons Butter, melted

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • ½ Cup White Granulated Sugar

  • ¼ Cup Cornstarch

  • ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 2 Cups Whole Milk

  • 4 Egg Yolks

  • Seeds from ½ of a Vanilla Bean

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, cut into ½ inch cubes

For the Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 1 ½ Cups Heavy Cream, very cold

  • 2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar

  • Seeds from ½ of a Vanilla Bean

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 Bananas, sliced to ¼ inch thickness

Directions:

For the Crust

  1. In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and nutmeg and whisk to combine.

  2. Add the butter and mix until evenly combined.

  3. Dump all of the crust into the tart shell and use your fingers to press the crust into the bottom, corners, and up the sides of the tart tin.

  4. Place the crust into the freezer and chill until ready to use.

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, add the sugar, cornstarch, and salt and whisk until there are no lumps of cornstarch.

  2. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg yolks and vanilla bean seeds until fully combined. Pour the egg + milk mixture slowly into the sugar + cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until you have a lump-free mixture.

  3. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard is thick like pudding. Take the custard off the heat and stir in the cubed butter until evenly combined.

  4. Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the custard through the sieve and into the bowl— this will catch any lumps that may have formed during the cooking process.

  5. Cover the custard with plastic wrap, making sure that the plastic wrap touches the entire surface of the custard to prevent a ‘film’ from forming on the top of it.

  6. Refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours.

For the Vanilla Whipped Cream

  1. Once the custard is completely chilled, start preparing the Vanilla Whipped Cream.

  2. In a large chilled bowl, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean seeds. Whisk the cream until you have medium-stiff peaks, about 4-5 minutes.

  3. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip and set aside.

To Assemble

  1. Take the chilled tart shell out of the freezer.

  2. Place a single flat layer of bananas on the bottom.

  3. Spoon the Vanilla Pastry Cream on top of the bananas and smooth it out with the back of the spoon so it’s flat on top.

  4. Pipe little ‘blobs’ of Vanilla Whipped Cream on top the pastry cream, using as much or as little as you prefer (I like to use it all!)

  5. Carefully place the tart in to the fridge and chill for at least two hours.

    * This Banana Cream Tart tastes best after it has chilled overnight but you can get away with chilling it for only two hours. If you have the time, assemble the tart without making or using the Vanilla Whipped Cream and chill it overnight. Then, about 30 minutes before you plan to serve it, make the whipped cream, pipe it onto the tart, and chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

Campari Chocolate Truffles


 
I was waiting for something extraordinary to happen but as the years wasted on nothing ever did unless I caused it
— Charles Bukowski
 

Welcome back to A Common Kitchen this week everyone. In celebration of it officially being the holiday season I am kicking it off with a very easy but extremely delicious treat! This week I am sharing my recipe for Campari Chocolate Truffles. This recipe if perfect because it requires only five ingredients and take under and hour to make!

If you have never had chocolate truffles, they are those little melt-in-your-mouth chocolate candies that you get at Godiva or other specialty chocolate shops. However, some of these shops charge $3-4 for ONE chocolate truffle. My solution? Make my own at home. And to do this all you need to know is that they are extremely easy to make and require only four ingredients: good quality dark chocolate, heavy cream, kosher salt, and in this specific recipe, Campari. A chocolate truffle is basically just a very thick chocolate ganache enrobed in tempered chocolate, cocoa powder, and various other coatings. They are melt-in-your-mouth delicious and are super easy to make and no one will guess that they took you less than an hour to make! 

These Campari Chocolate Truffles are unique in that they use and ingredient you may not be familiar with: Campari. If you have never had it, Campari is a liqueur, more specifically, it is what's known as an apértif, and is made by infusing fruits and herbs in alcohol. I was introduced to this liqueur by my wonderful husband, Jacob. He has liked Campari for years and after two years of dating, he finally bought a bottle. I admittedly cannot drink more than half an ounce of liqueur without feeling sick so it's not something I drink often, however, Campari has such a unique taste so I have wanted to use it in a dessert recipe for a long time now. 

As I was developing recipes using Campari, I knew that I wanted to pair it with dark chocolate. I thought that the bitterness of the chocolate would pair perfectly with the fruity and herby notes and I was right! These Campari Chocolate Truffles are rich and decadent and the Campari flavor is subtle. 

I didn't want to overwhelm the truffles with the Camapari so after a bit of testing I found that two tablespoons is the perfect amount. You taste the Campari once the chocolate starts to melt and it is subtle but not lost completely. You certainly can add or remove one tablespoon if you wish to do so but I highly recommend sticking with two tablespoons. 

As for decorating these little treats, I decided to toss the truffles in a good quality dutch processed cocoa powder. I didn't want to worry about tempering chocolate and dipping all of the truffles in it because, come on, who has time to temper chocolate? The great thing about"technique" is that they still look very elegant. This may be my new favorite way to decorate my chocolate truffles because of the ease and simplicity.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks recipe for Campari Chocolate Truffles. This simple, delicious, and elegant dessert is one that will become a staple in my household. I also plan on giving these out as Christmas gifts because everyone loves a homemade eatable gift! If you try this recipe please share your photos with me, I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting A Common Kitchen this week everyone! Xx


Campari Chocolate Truffles


Ingredients: 

  • 8 Ounces Good Quality Dark Chocolate— at least 60%, finely chopped

  • ½ Cup Heavy Cream

  • 2 Tablespoons Campari

  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • ½ Cup Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder

Directions:

  1. In a heat proof bowl, add the chopped chocolate and set aside.

  2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the heavy cream, Campari, salt. Heat the cream over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until simmering— not boiling.

  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, making sure to completely cover each piece of chocolate. Let sit for two full minutes— this allows to chocolate to warm up. Whisk   until fully combined and smooth.

  4. Pour the ganache into a loaf pan and put in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.

  5. Once cooled, scoop rounded ½ tablespoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet. With (or without) disposable gloves on, roll each piece of ganache in between your hands into spheres.

  6. Place the dutch cocoa powder into a shallow bowl. Toss each truffle in the cocoa powder until fully coated and place back onto the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining truffles. Place the baking sheet back into the fridge and let cool for 15 minutes before enjoying.

Maple Pecan Cheesecake


 
We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploration
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
— T.S. Elliot
 

Welcome back to A Common Kitchen this week everyone! I am very excited to share this recipe for my Maple Pecan Cheesecake. This recipe is just in time for Thanksgiving and is sure to wow your guests this year.

I have always been a big lover of cheesecake. Well, good cheesecake. The truth is that most cheesecake isn’t all that good. Over the course of many years and many, many cheesecakes, I have found that they are either too sweet, too dry, or both.

Well folks, today I have a solution for you: Maple Pecan Cheesecake.

The graham cracker crust is really simple and easy to make. It is slightly different than your average “plain graham cracker pie crust”, however. It contains roughly chopped pecans which adds a slight crunchiness and nuttiness to the crust. I don’t like how most crust on cheesecakes are so dense that they end up being soggy. I think this happens when the moisture from the cheesecake seeps into the crust. In this recipe, I bake the crust before adding the filling and then it gets baked again when the whole cheesecake goes into the oven, and voilà! Perfect crust! I also opted to use browned butter which takes a little extra time but is worth it. After all, when is browned butter never a good idea? The browned butter and pecans create a crust with a hint of nuttiness that pairs perfectly with the maple in the filling and glaze.

This Maple Cheesecake Filling is moist, dense, smooth, tangy, and perfectly sweetened. There are a couple notes on this particular part of the recipe that I would like to go over because they are crucial to getting the perfect cheesecake.

Notes:

  1. Room Temperature Ingredients: It is absolutely crucial to use room temperature ingredients. To be honest, I never used to wait the extra time for my ingredients to come up to temp. The reason for doing this is because colder ingredients require longer mixing times to come up to temp, therefore incorporating more and more air into the filling. This creates an airy cheesecake that tends to crack after baking. Always allow your ingredients to come up to room temperature before starting on the filling. It makes all the difference, trust me.

  2. Use Pure Maple Syrup. As weird as it sounds, I didn’t know that there was real maple syrup and the flavored corn syrup that you get in those cute cabin-shaped bottles. You really need to use pure maple syrup in this recipe. It will taste and react differently if you don’t use the real thing. Luckily you can get really good quality maple syrup for under $8 at most grocery stores nowadays.

  3. Use Powdered Sugar. I got the idea to use powdered sugar because a while back when I was researching cookies (yes I do research on cookies) I found that granulated sugar is often creamed together with butter, creating air and lift to recipes. Since air is a cheesecakes worst enemy, I decided to try this recipe with powdered sugar and to my surprise, it worked!

  4. Crème Fraîche. It is a tangy cultured cream that is very similar to sour cream. I like using crème fraîche because it has a higher fat content so the cheesecake is even more dense and rich, score! Crème Fraîche is easy to find nowadays but you certainly can use sour cream if need be.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and give it a try for your Thanksgiving dessert this year! If you try this recipe, or any of my recipes, please take photos and share them with me on Instagram (@acommonkitchen). I would love to see your creations and to say hello! Thanks for visiting the blog this week, see you again next week!

Xx Bella


Maple Pecan Cheesecake


Ingredients:

For the Pecan Crust

  • 1 ½ Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs

  • ½ Cup Finely Chopped Pecans

  • ¼ Cup White Granulated Sugar

  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 10 Tablespoons Browned Butter

For the Maple Cheesecake Filling

  • 32 Ounces Full Fat Cream Cheese, room temperature

  • 1 ½ Cup Crème Fraîche, room temperature

  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons Flour

  • ¼ Cup Maple Syrup

  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 4 Large Eggs, room temperature

For the Maple Glaze:

  • 2 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted

  • 6 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

  • 4 Tablespoons Heavy Cream (or more if needed)

For the Candied Pecan Topping

  • 1 Cup Halved Pecans

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter

  • ¼ Cup Maple Syrup

  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Directions:

For the Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºf. Line the outside of a 9 inch springform pan tightly with a couple pieces of foil (this reduces any chances of the cheesecake seeping out of the pan).

  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and melt it, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook the butter until is browns and has a nutty aroma, about five minutes.

  3. In a bowl, add the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, sugar, and salt and whisk until evenly combined. Add the melted browned butter and mix until combined.

  4. Dump the graham cracker crust evenly into the bottom of the springform pan. Using your fingers or a flat bottomed measuring cup, press the crust firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan (try to get it as even as you can).

  5. Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to while you prepare the filling. Turn the oven down to 325ºf.

For the Filling:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese on low speed (setting 2 on my stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Add in the créme fraîche, sugar, flour, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and mix on medium low for one minute.

  2. With the mixer on low, add in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix on low for 30 seconds.

  3. Set a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl and pour the cheesecake mixture through it, discarding any big lumps. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the springform pan. Tap the cheesecake on the counter 5-6 times to release any air pockets.

  4. Place the cheesecake into the center of a large roasting. Fill the roasting pan up halfway with boiling water— this creates a water-bath that allows the cheesecake to cook more evenly.

  5. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, refrigerate the cheesecake until fully chilled— 3 hours at the least or preferably overnight.

For the Maple Glaze:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, add the powdered sugar, maple syrup, heavy cream and whisk until the glaze is completely smooth and no lumps of powdered sugar remain. Add more heavy cream if necessary, the consistency should be something like a nice thick honey. Cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to use.

For the Candied Pecans

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, toast the pecans over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes or until they start to smell toasty and aromatic.

  2. Turn the heat down to medium and add the butter and toss until the butter is fully melted and coating the pecans.

  3. Add in the maple syrup and salt and stir to evenly combine all of the ingredients. Continue to cook the pecans until the mixture is thick and glossy, about three minutes.

  4. Dump the pecans onto a sheet of parchment paper and let cool completely.

To Assemble:

  1. Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and place it on a cake stand or plate. Pour the glaze on top and use an offset spatula to evenly spread it on the top of the cheesecake, but don’t let it overflow and go down the sides. Top with the candied pecans, slice, serve, and enjoy!

Classic Tiramisu

I must admit, I am a sucker for the classics. Classic desserts in particular. There is one dessert that I have been making for years and will continue to make for the rest of my life and that is the Italian Classic Tiramisu. If you have never had a slice of Tiramisu before, to put it simply, you are missing out on one of the finer things in life.

If you haven’t had Classic Tiramisu, it is a coffee flavored Italian dessert consisting of layers of lady fingers dipped in espresso and coffee liqueur, a creamy mascarpone filling, and dusted with cocoa powder.

In my opinion, there are two keys to getting the perfect tiramisu:

  1. Use quality ingredients.

  2. Let the Tiramisu rest overnight.

First, the ingredients. Tiramisu is actually a very cheap dessert to make. The only ingredients are espresso, coffee liqueur, egg yolks, sugar, salt, mascarpone, heavy cream, and cocoa powder. All cheap ingredients but they all make the biggest difference in the final taste of your Tiramisu.

The first two ingredients, espresso and coffee liqueur, are the hardest two to get right. I make espresso at home with a Moka Pot. However, I know a lot of people don’t have one of these handy machines so the next best thing is to go to your favorite local coffee shop and get freshly brewed espresso there. You will need two full cups of espresso in this recipe. The nest ingredient is coffee liqueur. You can use any brand you prefer, most liquor stores carry various brands at various price points. I picked up a bottle of Cafe Lolita at my state liquor store for only $6.99! Other good options would be Kahlúa or Patrón Xo Coffee Liqueur, which most stores should have. If you need help picking one out, ask an employee at the store and they should be able to point out some good options. If you can’t have or prefer not to consume alcohol, you can omit it completely and replace with an extra half cup of espresso. It will taste just as delicious!

The next component to a great Tiramisu is the creamy mascarpone filling. Mascarpone Cheese is basically just Italian Cream Cheese but less tangy. You can find Mascarpone at most grocery stores nowadays. The key is to check the ingredient list, there should be three ingredients; milk, cream, and citric acid. Any other ingredients and it’s probably not a good quality product. Trader Joe’s has one and it’s only $2.99.

The last ingredient that you want to be the best quality possible is the cocoa powder. I highly suggest using Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder which has more depth of flavor and is darker than natural cocoa powder. You can also find this at almost any grocery store nowadays.

And as for the second tip, it is crucial to let the Tiramisu rest overnight. Doing so allows the individual layers of the dish to develop a better flavor and if cut into too soon, the Tiramisu will fall apart. If you are in a pinch, you can refrigerate it for an absolute minimum of four hours, but I highly suggest overnight.

This Tiramisu is a classic dessert and it never lasts long because everyone enjoys it so much. It is a perfect dessert for anytime of the year and if you are looking for a crowd pleaser, this is your dessert.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks recipe and if you did let me know on Instagram (@acommonkitchen) because I would love to hear from you!


Classic Tiramisu


Makes one Tiramisu

Ingredients:

  • 6 Large Egg Yolks

  • 1 Cup White Granulated Sugar

  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 1 ¼ Cups Mascarpone Cheese, softened

  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream

  • 2 Packages Lady Fingers *See Note

  • 2 Cups Freshly Brewed Espresso, chilled completely

  • ½ Cup Coffee Liqueur *See Note

  • 3 Tablespoons Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder

Directions:

  1. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl and place over a medium sized pot that is at a gentle simmer over medium heat (this is called a double boiler!). Whisk the eggs constantly for 8-10 minutes or until the yolks register 165ºf on an instant read thermometer. The yolk mixture should be slightly thickened and it should leave a ribbon on the surface when you drop some of the mixture back into the bowl. Remove from the heat and whip until the mixture is thick and a pale yellow color and cooled down. Add in the mascarpone and mix until fully incorporated.

  2. Add the heavy cream to a bowl and whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the mascarpone/egg mixture with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain. Transfer ½ of the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Set aside.

  3. Pour the espresso and coffee liquere into a shallow dish and dip the lady fingers into it, about one second on each side (you do NOT want to over-soak them) and arrange them in a single layer in an 8x8" baking dish, cutting any down with a knife to fit the the dish.

  4. Spoon ½ (half of what is in the bowl since half is already in a piping bag) of the mascarpone filling on top of the lady fingers and spread it out into an even layer with an offset spatula. Repeat with the second layer. For the third and final layer, add a single layer of lady fingers and pipe large blobs of the mascarpone filling on the top to cover it completely. This step is optional and you certainly can just spread a flat layer of the mascarpone filling on top, I just like the way it looks piped on.

  5. Refrigerate the tiramisu for no less than 4 hours and preferably overnight. *See Note

  6. Once the Tiramisu has chilled, remove it from the fridge and place it on top of some plastic wrap, parchment paper, or paper towels. Using a tiny fine mesh sieve, dust the entire top of the Tiramisu with the cocoa powder.

  7. Slice and enjoy!

 

Notes:

  1. You can find Italian Lady Fingers at most grocery stores nowadays. I know that Whole Foods usually has them and most chain grocery stores do, usually in the isle with the pasta or Italian foods. If you can't find them at any local grocery stores, try calling a local Italian deli, they almost always have them. If all else fails, Amazon has some right here

  2. You can buy any brand of coffee liqueur that you prefer. I used Café Lolita but Kahlúa works just fine and is probably the most common brand. If you don’t or can’t consume alcohol, feel free to completely omit the alcohol all together,I have made it both ways and it will still taste just as delicious. Just replace the liqueur with equal amounts of espresso.

  3. Without a proper rest in the fridge, the tiramisu will fall apart when you cut into it and try to remove a slice.

One-Bowl Raspberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

 
Normality is a paved road:
It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.
— Vincent Van Gogh
 

I have been feeling a little lazy lately. I think that it is a combination of working my normal job, running errands, and everything else I need to do within a single week. I haven't been able to get up when my alarm goes off and therefor the rest of my day ends up feeling a bit rushed. I'm not complaining, it's just how life is for now. And honestly i'm okay with it. Even though I feel like I never get all of the things done that I wish to, my life is great right now. 

I feel much happier than I ever have. I am (semi) newly married, have a great apartment, am able to pay bills with no worries, and there are many many others things that I have to be thankful for. Even though I feel overwhelmed and even lazy sometimes, I push through it. I am always happy to sit down at the end of the day and drink a glass of wine with Jacob. He makes me extremely happy. 

Anyways, on weeks that I am feeling a little lazy I always opt to make a batch of cookies. They are easier and faster to make than a cake, pie, or pastry. Almost all of my cookie recipes are one-bowl too! That makes for a super easy clean up. I love making simple cookie dough bases and then switch up the add-ins depending on what I have in my pantry. 

This weeks recipe is Raspberry and White Chocolate Shortbread cookies. They are simple, easy, and delicious. The best part; you only use ONE bowl! Well, I use my KitchenAid stand mixer, but still, ONE BOWL. Once you have made the dough you shape it into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours. To make the cookies even better, once they are chilled you give the log of dough a light egg wash and cover it in raspberry sugar. All you have left to do is slice and bake the cookies. This recipe is so easy and so delicious. 

The shortbread base is slightly different than a normal shortbread recipe. Shortbread usually contains only butter, powdered sugar, and flour. I use a combination of brown and white sugar in this recipe and I love the texture that is created by using the blend of the two sugars. The cookies end up being buttery, crumbly, and a little bit crunchy around the edges. 

I decided to use some new add-ins that I hadn't used in a cookie recipe before. While I was at Trader Joe's this week, I noticed they had some new kinds of freeze dried fruits that I hadn't seen before. They had fiji apples, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, and raspberries. I absolutely love raspberries so I thought I would use them in the cookies. I decided to add white chocolate chunks because raspberry and white chocolate is a classic pair that I really enjoy. 

These One-Bowl Raspberry and White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies are the perfect summer treat. They require just a small list of ingredients but pack a ton of flavor. This may end up being one of my favorite cookie recipes but honestly, I love cookies so much that it would be hard to pick just one favorite. If you try this recipe please share your photos with me on Instagram or Pinterest @acommonkitchen! I would love to see all of your photos. Thanks for visiting A Common Kitchen this week everyone! 

 


One-Bowl Raspberry and White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


Ingredients:

12 Tablespoons Butter, room temperature

2/3 Cup Brown Sugar, tightly packed 

1/4 Cup White Granulated Sugar

1/2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour 

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 Cup Freeze Dried Raspberries, coarsely chopped in a food processor*

4 Ounces High Quality White Chocolate, coarsely chopped** 

1 Egg + 1 Teaspoon Milk, whisked

1/2 Cup Raw Cane Sugar

1/4 Freeze Dried Raspberries, finely ground***

Kosher Salt (to sprinkle on top)

 

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and kosher salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. 

2. Add in the flour and baking soda and mix on medium speed until fully combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for another 30 seconds. 

3. Add in the crushed freeze dried raspberries and white chocolate chunks and mix on the lowest speed just until combined. 

4. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dump the dough on top of it. Gather the dough and form a ball. Knead the dough for 15-20 seconds or until it comes together. Form the dough into a log with a diameter of about 1 1/2 inches. It should be about 12 inches long. Wrap the dough tightly and refrigerate for 2 hours. 

5. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 325ºf and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Remove the dough from the fridge and take off the plastic wrap. Using a pastry brush, brush the dough very lightly on every side with the egg wash. Place the raw cane sugar and finely ground raspberries into a small sheet pan and mix them until fully combined. Roll the cookie dough in the sugar until the log is fully coated on all sides. Place the dough on a cutting board and using a sharp knife, cut the cookies about 1/2 inch thick. You should get about 20-22 cookies. 

7. Place the cookies on the baking sheets 1 inch apart from each other. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a tiny bit of kosher salt.

8. Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes or until the edges just start to turn golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them sit on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes. Transfer them to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Enjoy!

The cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to five days. 

Notes:

* Place the raspberries in a small food processor and pulse two or three times. You want a mix of small and large pieces. 

**I used a Ghirardelli White Chocolate bar that weighs 4 ounces. I just chop it up into pieces, some big, some small. You can use the same amount of white chocolate chips if you prefer. 

*** In a food processor, grind the raspberries into a very fine powder then run through a fine mesh sieve to catch the seeds.