Oatmeal Cream Pies

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Happy Monday!

My husband was away fishing for a week, so I wanted to make him something that I knew would make him excited to come home (besides me). And so, I decided to make these Oatmeal Cream Pies that he rates a 10/10. He’s hard to impress, but these sure do it!

As a child, I remember coming home from school and being elated to open up a pre-packaged snack like a “Cosmic Brownie” (anyone remember those colorful round sprinkles?) or an “Oatmeal Cream Pie”. I was overjoyed. The marshmallow, creamy filling with the earthy, brown sugar laden oats always made my day. The Moon Pies came as a close second growing up as well..graham cracker, chocolate outside, and marshmallow inside–the perfect instant smore.

And as much as the nostalgia waves can entice me to want to go for those snacks again, I much prefer making them from scratch, especially these Oatmeal Cream Pies. Sorry, Little Debbie, but I need you to step aside.

These Oatmeal Cream Pies are absolutely perfect. The cookie itself is very soft from the molasses, butter, and brown sugar. The filling is gooey and sweet to contrast the hearty oats.

Major Tips: It is essential to make sure you absolutely wait for the cookies to be completed cooled before moving them and/or applying the filling! They will fall apart otherwise! Also, do NOT overmix–you don’t want to toughen the batter! Last tip: Make sure you space out the cookies as specified in the recipe otherwise they will spread into one another.

This dessert is so easy to make, and they take almost no time to prepare.  They bake for 7-9 minutes, which means you can have your dessert ready in about 30 minutes or less, including cooling time. You don’t need to be a slave to your oven to make these, making it appealing to make all year long, including the summer!

These are great to make ahead as the cookie itself will not dry out. If you bring these to a party, you’ll definitely be a hit! You’ll be making everyone reminisce their childhood, but you’ll be taking over that memory with the bakery-like freshness from this homemade version. Enjoy! 🙂

Ingredients for 8 sandwiches (this recipe can be doubled easily!)

Cookies
1 cup light brown sugar, packed 1 cup butter, melted
1⁄3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 cups old-fashioned oat, or quick oat

Filling
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk, or heavy cream (you may need to add more if the consistency is too thick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup marshmallow creme (Fluff, Jet-puffed–whatever you can find. Tip: If it says 7 ounces on the jar, it will work–so need to buy two containers!)                                            1/4 cup of powdered sugar **(optional–the marshamallow creme makes this sweet enough for sure)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar until well combined.
3. Add the molasses, vanilla, and eggs, and whisk thoroughly.
4. Sift in the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until just combined.
5. Add the oats and mix until incorporated. Be careful not to overmix the batter or it might result in tougher cookies.
6. Using an ice cream scoop (or about 2 tablespoons), scoop out cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving about 3 inches (8 cm) between each one. You may also use a silicone pat if you have one as well!
7. Bake for 7-9 minutes. The cookies will still be very soft, so be sure to let them cool thoroughly. Be sure to let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about two to three minutes before moving to a cooling rack so they don’t fall apart.
8. While cooling, make the filling by beating the butter, milk, vanilla, and marshmallow fluff until well combined. I used my immersion blender, but a hand blender or stand mixer would work fine as well.
9. Once the cookies are cooled, put a spoonful of the filling on one cookie and sandwich with another. Repeat until all the sandwiches are made.

 

Kahlua Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust (Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot)

Chocolate Cheesecakeimage2

Happy Wednesday!

My brother loves chocolate cheesecake, and my father, once an avid baker, would normally heed the request. However, my father has fallen off the baking trail for a while, and the torch has been passed to me. I was told I needed to make this chocolate cheesecake for his belated birthday celebration, or I would be excommunicated from the family forever.

*Not exactly, but my family’s cunning use of guilt could be perceived as such!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love making cheesecake, but it’s very time consuming. My typical cheesecake takes me a solid 2 1/2-3 hours to prep and bake, and an overnight time for the cake the set up. It’s so hot in July, and I try my best not to turn on my oven unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Luckily, I recently purchased an Instant Pot on Amazon Prime Day, the latest crave in the pressure cooker community. I was hesitant to purchase one because I don’t like to buy gimmicky, unnecessary appliances–ever. But I did enough research and was intrigued with the idea that the Instant Pot could not only expedite cooking though the powers of pressure cooking, but it can also act as a slow cooker, a yogurt maker, and it has a sauté option to help sear meat, and  to help get a kickstart on aromatics. It sounded too good to be true, and although I don’t think it is a machine that would replace my trusty stovetop and oven for good, it’s definitely a winner. Especially for custardy desserts like cheesecake!

When I saw this pressure cooker could be used for cheesecake, I was skeptical. But I was also intrigued because I thought about my cardinal rule for making cheesecake: I always create a waterbath to prevent cracks and general overcooking. The pressure cooker, or in my case, the Instant Pot, is essentially steaming my cheesecake just the same by putting two cups of water underneath the rack-raised cheesecake. Because it’s a countertop appliance, I am not raising the temperature in my apartment one bit! No oven needed! Additionally, because it is a pressure cooker, my cheesecake only needed 28 minutes of active cooking time versus the hours I have wasted before.

If you’ve made cheesecakes before, you know the usual drill: bake the cheesecake for an hour, open the oven door while shutting off the heat for another hour, and then you need to cool it on a rack for some time. With this appliance, or any other pressure cooker, you can make your cheesecake and cool it in under an hour. And if you’re afraid that a pressure cooker is going to texturally change the cheesecake–it doesn’t. It tastes as if you baked in the oven, and this way it is guaranteed to be silky, creamy, and smooth!

My one note of caution is this: remember the inactive times associated with a pressure cooker. Yes, pressure cookers advertise times that seem incredible, like this one–but it takes time for the pressure cooker to “preheat” (about 10-15 minutes), and most importantly, time for the machine to depressurize (super important–you NEVER want to open your pressure cooker prematurely–it’s dangerous!), which is approximately 15-20 minutes depending on what you’re making. Because this cheesecake has two cups of water, it does not take too long at all to depressurize. And whatever you do, don’t rush the process! Do not do a so-called quick release–the cheesecake is continuing to cook as it is depressurizing, and this amount of steam release is not gentle enough for this dessert.

In a nutshell, the convenience of the instant pot and the perfected results is making me forgo the use of my oven for a cheesecake ever again! For this recipe, you don’t even have to bake the crust either as it’s prepared and then set in the freezer for ten minutes!

In addition to having excellent cooking results, this cheesecake is of course powered by great ingredients. I use Kahlua (or any coffee-based liqueur) to enhance the chocolate flavor. I also use my higher end vanilla extract. My favorite is Nielsen-Massey’s  Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, which you can easily grab on Amazon.

I also believe in using good chocolate, but for some reason, I find this triple chocolate needs the milk chocolate to distinguish itself from the bittersweet ganache topping and the oreo crust. If you prefer a different chocolate, go for it!

Other recommended equipment (helpful, but not necessary): Food Processor (I have an immersion blender, so I have a small hand food processor attachment I use to crush the oreos) and my trusty Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. Also, make sure you know what size pan you’re using because a larger cheesecake cannot be made in the pressure cooker as it is too large. A 7 inch springform pan is a must!

Ingredients

Crust
    • 20 whole Oreo cookies (yes, even the white part!)
    • 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted then cooled
Cheesecake
    • 1 lb room temperature cream cheese, room temperature for two hours
    • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup white sugar
    • 1 whole egg – room temperature
    • 2 egg yolks – room temperature
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 8 oz of chocolate (I used Hershey’s milk chocolate, but you can use bittersweet chocolate if that’s your preference)
    • 1 tsp higher end vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon of Kahlua or coffee-based liqueur
    • 1 tbsp flour (optional–I did not use this)
    • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
Ganache
  • 3/4 cup  bittersweet chocolate chips (or a bar–you’re just melting it, so it does not matter)
  • 3 oz heavy whipping cream (or half and half)

Instructions

    1. Spray the 7″ springform pan with cooking spray.
    2. Add two cups of water to the instant pot and place the rack on the bottom.
    3. Make a tin foil sling to lift the cheesecake in and out of the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Essentially, you are folding a piece of tin that’s long enough to be able scoop out your cheesecake.
Crust
    1. In a food processor, combine the whole Oreo cookies and the butter. If you don’t have a food processor, put the cookies in a plastic bag and break them up with a heavy item like a rolling pin, until you have fine crumbs.
    2. Pour the crumb butter mixture into the bottom of the pan and pat until it is evenly distributed on the bottom. Put in freezer for 10 minutes.
Cheesecake
    1. In a food processor or stand mixer (I use my stand mixer for this step), mix the cream cheese with dark brown sugar, white sugar, and cocoa powder.
    2. Once combined, add one egg followed by the two egg yolks.
    3. Add the melted chocolate and sour cream.
    4. Continually scrape the bowl down. Add Kahlua, vanilla, and flour  (flour is optional) and mix until creamy.
    5. Pour mixture into the springform pan and smooth with a spatula.
    6. Place pan on the tin foil sling and slowly lower into the Instant Pot.
    7. Set Instant Pot to maximum pressure for 28 minutes.
    8. Once done, turn machine off and let it return to normal pressure for 15 minutes.
    9. Unlock lid and use sling to transfer pan to cooling rack for an hour.
    10. Chill in refrigerator overnight.
Ganache
    1. Put the 3/4 cup of chocolate in a bowl.
    2. Heat the heavy whipping cream to a simmer. Pour over chocolate.
    3. Chocolate will melt, stir until incorporated. Once incorporated, use a spatula and spread over the top of the cake.
    4. Put back in refrigerator to cool.
    5. If you like, use a vegetable peeler and slide the peeler on chocolate for chocolate curls for garnish and/or crumble some oreos!
Recipe Source (but modified by Lei Mangia): SerenaLissy.com

 

Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream

Blueberryzucchini

 

Happy Saturday!

I haven’t blogged again a while. Life has been changing so fast for me lately; I can barely keep up! Moving, new employment opportunities, and an upcoming wedding is enough to stall my recipes.  I just had my bachelorette party last night, and even though I am exhausted, I am not only making this cake, but I am also writing about it. If I can make this cake on only a few hours sleep, know that you can too. This is easy and delicious. Zucchini cake is perfect for summer baking as zucchini is plentiful and in season!

My future mother-in-law told me about this recipe. A woman from her church made this Blueberry Zucchini Cake, and she told me that it was a huge hit. I do believe in the power in numbers; that is, if you bring a dish or eat a dish at a potluck and almost everyone is coming back for seconds, that means that it’s a dish worth recreating yourself. She wanted the recipe, and the woman from her church gave it to her; here’s the original recipe.

If you love zucchini bread, you will love this cake. Zucchini has a lot of water, and thus, it makes for incredibly moist baked goods. I also think the inclusion of oil in this recipe also helps assure you that you’ll have a good bite. In addition, the amount of flour and eggs makes this cake dense, but I think it works well. Lemon and blueberry are always a great marriage; the perfect balance of sweet and tart. I was a little alarmed when I saw that there is four cups of powdered sugar for the icing, but it makes a firm icing that I think is necessary for the texture of the cake, and the sugar isn’t as overpowering as one may think.

Lastly, this zucchini cake made me remember why I love a food processor. My mother-in-law and I made this cake using the food processor for two purposes: 1.) to shred the zucchini quickly and evenly, and 2.) to whip up the lemon buttercream. If you do not have a food processor, go get one immediately. It’s a very underused kitchen tool that I think needs to be brought out more than once in a great while. It makes the prep work of cooking and baking such a breeze!

P.S If you make too much zucchini, freeze it in a ziplock bag. You could make my favorite zucchini fritters, too. They’re latka style and tasty!

Zucchini Cake

    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
    • 2 1/4 cups sugar
    • 2 cups shredded zucchini (depending on the size of your zucchini, you will need 1-2 pieces of zucchini)
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1 pint blueberries (tossed in 1 tsp flour so they don’t sink down into your cake!)
Lemon Buttercream
  • 1 cup butter, (2 sticks, 8 ounces) at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • juice of one lemon (buy two just in case you don’t have enough juice)

Directions

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan. Preferably, use a dark pan (but if you only have glass, it’s okay; just watch your edges!
  3. You will make your cake first; while your cake is cooling in the refrigerator, then you make your icing!
  4. Prep your ingredients. Cut a zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut off the ends of the zucchini and discard. Slice your zucchini halves into smaller pieces to throw into your food processor. Use the shredding attachment until you get two cups. Do not drain the liquid.
  5. Once you have shredded your zucchini, beat the eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar until well blended. Fold in the zucchini.
  6. Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to combine. Slowly add it to the wet mixture, mixing just enough to blend. I add about 1/3 of the flour at a time, sometimes 1/4 of the flour. DO NOT OVERMIX! IT WILL BE CHEWY OTHERWISE!
  7. Fold in the blueberries, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, just until the top is turning golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it. Cool on a rack. You may need to cook the cake more
  8. To make the frosting, put the softened butter into the bowl of a food processor and process until creamy. Add the sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, processing till smooth after each addition. After the second cup of sugar, add in the lemon juice. Scrape down the sides of the machine as necessary. Adjust the texture by adding a little more lemon or a little more sugar depending on your taste.
  9. Frost the cooled cake and store in the refrigerator.
  10. Enjoy with company; it’s your new easy to make and eat potluck dessert. 🙂

 

Bacardi Gold Spiked Peach Trifles

Bacardi Gold

Happy Saturday!

I love to cook; I like to bake, but people–it’s summer. All the recipes should be easy, light, and fun. More time should be spent outdoors than in during this time of year. Today’s post will make sure that you are enjoying life instead of slave driving in the kitchen (although I have a lot of fun in here, usually!) This recipe is tasty, fun, and easy. It’s particularly a crowd pleaser because of the booze (I used Bacardi Gold Rum)–alcohol in desserts always piques people’s interest. Now if you need to sober up this recipe, not to worry–this tastes fine with lesser or no alcohol, too.

I made this trifle last week to complement my future Mother In Law’s grilled kebabs. Her friend made this really awesome bean and rice salad (yes, rice can be made into a salad–I will post that recipe eventually), and I figured I would make dessert. I wanted to utilize the peaches that she had on the counter, and my mind went immediately to the trifle. It’s so easy, and it’s great to make ahead! Store bought pound cake makes this recipe nice because you won’t need to turn on your oven, either!

For those of you who don’t know what a trifle is, essentially it’s a layered dessert that traditionally has alternates sponge cake, fruit, and custard/pudding filling in a “trifle” (which is a large glass bowl that’s used for entertaining). I find that the trifle bowl does look lovely for presentation, but once you dig into it to scoop some out, it gets messy and ruins all the beauty you destroyed in preparing it. To me, I rather make the dessert more fun by making this into individual servings. Because mine have booze, I like to put these in martini glasses. Alternatively, you could use a smaller pudding cup as well. Any smaller glass can do!

For this trifle, I am using vanilla pudding, pound cake, and sweet, ripened peaches. They are perfectly paired for summer, and they take almost no time to prepare.

These peach trifles are not only easy to make, but they are easy to devour. As many of my readers know, I don’t always look for the simplest recipes to make. I always complicate things to make it gain just the slightest edge in flavor. I have made this trifle many times in many variations. When I feel like I need more of a challenge, I will substitute the pudding out and actually create a vanilla bean custard instead. But the truth…is in the pudding.

Yes, I used (gasp) pudding mix, and to make my crime worsened, I even used INSTANT PUDDING. You can get a soft set from instant pudding in about 5 minutes by simply whisking whole milk and the pudding powder. When the pool or the ocean is calling my name, I rather not turn on the stove and waste an extra 20, 30 minutes. If you really feel guilty about not making “real pudding,” by all means, go traditionally here. Or go gourmet like I’ve done before and make a fine custard. Up to you, peaches. 🙂

Lastly, I do believe in the authenticity of whipped cream being fresh. You do not prepare the whipped cream until you’re about to serve, but every thing else could made ahead. I usually make this about 4-5 hours before serving.

By the way, if you are drawn to this because of the alcohol, I would like to say that there is flexibility in which type of alcohol you use as well. When I made this recipe originally, I used Jim Bean (this is a southern inspired recipe that calls for bourbon). I personally think the rum is more summery, and it complements the peaches very well, but using bourbon is perfectly acceptable; that’s what I used last year! Rum and cake are always a great pairing, just ask the Caribbean natives! 🙂

Grocery List

1 (3 1/2-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix (or you can use the larger package if you plan on making more)
2 cups milk
6-8 large fresh peaches, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 (20-ounce) package pound cake
1/3 cup gold rum (I used Bacardi)**–Again, if you want to leave the booze out, that’s perfectly fine!
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

 

Simple Directions (Recipe makes 6-8 individual servings)

1.) Prepare pudding mix according to package directions, using 2 cups milk. Cover and chill 5 minutes in the refrigerator.

2.) Peel the skin off your peaches. Once the peaches are peeled, slice them into a cubed dice. Discard the pit and skins.

3.) If your peaches aren’t particularly sweet, toss diced peaches with granulated sugar (1-3 teaspoons, depending on sweetness of the peaches in their natural state.) Taste to make sure.

4.) Cut pound cake into cubes. Place half of cake cubes on bottom of a martini class; drizzle evenly with half of gold rum.

5.) Next, spoon half of peach mixture evenly over cake cubes. Spread half of pudding over peaches. Repeat with remaining cake cube, rum, peach mixture, and pudding. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

6.) Upon being ready to serve, beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over trifle; sprinkle with almonds. Enjoy!