Baking Through the Alphabet: C is for Crème Brûlée Cheesecake Bars

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First things first, SWITCHFOOT.

For those of you who know me, Switchfoot is my favorite band. They’re an alternative rock band from San Diego, and they play good music with good lyrics.

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A few weeks ago, my friends and I drove up to Santa Barbara for their Fading West tour. We met up with another friend there, and the four of us went to the concert together. It’s my third time seeing them (I saw them this past June at the San Diego Fair and last fall in Anaheim), but it was different because the first half was the premiere of the surfing documentary they just finished. Who knew a surfing documentary would be that exciting, huh? They had a short set after the movie. After the concert, we decided to flock down their tour bus in  hopes of seeing them before they left. We caught Jerome Fontamillas, who’s the instrumental genius and plays (I swear) everything. We got his autograph and a picture with him!

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We were able to catch Jon Foreman, the lead singer, and he was kind enough to give whoever was there an after show at the back of the venue. I’ll embed the video I got at the end of the post. But seriously, these guys just seem so genuine! I mean, I haven’t met them before, but the way they write and make and talk about music is so pure and amazing. VIP next round, maybe! Good music, good weather, good company. ‘Twas a good weekend indeed.

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BUT ENOUGH ABOUT SWITCHFOOT.

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Crème. Brûlée. Cheesecake. Bars.

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Creamy cheesecake topped with a beautiful brûlée.

Cheesecake meets crème brûlée.

Deliciousness meets even more deliciousness.

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It’s as good as it sounds and looks. There’s just something satisfying about tapping a brûlée-d top and watching it crack. And it’s even more satisfying when you know you’re digging into rich, creamy cheesecake (also satisfying when you’re eating actual crème brûlée too…but you get the picture. right?). It’s definitely simple; no custards/egg yolks, no having to heat up cream or anything, no water baths. The crust is thick, the filling is luscious and creamy, and the the tangy-ness of the cream cheese is paired perfectly with the sweetness of the sugar in the cheesecake and from the crème brûlée topping. The cheesecake bars aren’t too sweet at all, and they’re super quick and easy to make. It just requires the extra step of torching the tops, but hey, it’s always fun to play with a torch, right? =) (definitely be safe, people!!)

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Crème Brûlée Cheesecake Bars
Makes one 8×8 square pan
From Handle the Heat

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
9 whole graham crackers
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (I used 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Brûlée Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1. For the Crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil, and leave an overhang for easy removal later.

2. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse until moistened. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and set. Let the crust cool and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

3. For the cheesecake: Beat the cream cheese until smooth (you can use either an electric mixture or a food processor). Add the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla bean/extract, and salt, and beat until smooth and well combined.

4. Pour the mixture into the pan, and bake for about 45 minutes, until the cheesecake is set and still slightly jiggly in the center (don’t worry, it’ll set as it cools). Be careful to not overbake. Let the cheesecake cool completely in the pan, then cover and chill until firm.

5. When the cheesecake is firm, cut into squares. I cut off the edges of my cheesecake so I could have a smooth top to form the brûlée.

6. On a heat-safe work surface, sprinkle the tops of each square with sugar, and being careful, torch the tops with a kitchen torch until it turns a deep amber color. If you want a thicker brûlée top, sprinkle more sugar on top. You can refrigerate the cheesecakes, but the brûlée will start to soften as it sits in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Until next time,
Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!
P.S. =)
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Baking Through the Alphabet: B is for Blueberry and Cream Cookies (A Momofuku Recipe)

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I’m back. One month and 8 days later. At this rate, I’ll finish my “baking through the alphabet” series in two years…hopefully that won’t happen! I know I haven’t been baking too much this past quarter. My friends ask me how my alphabet series is coming along, and I always say “I’m still on the letter A…but I’m getting there!” And I’m there now, starting with B! Making baby steps.

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I’m eight weeks into my fall quarter, so that means two more weeks of school (or 1.5, I should say), then finals week, then WINTER BREAK! Not that I’ll be doing a lot, but it’ll be nice to be back home during the week. This quarter has been one of the craziest yet, but not in the usual way. LIFE has been crazy, I should say. But hey, I’m still breathing, I still have my salvation, life is good.

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It took me foreverrrrrrr to decide what to do for the letter B. I wanted to do bo luo baos, but was too lazy to go buy bread flour. I wanted to make banana cream pie, but making a pie just seemed so tedious (I’ve never made a pie before! One of these days…). So there I was, flipping through my favorites section on foodgawker, when I found this–Momofuku’s blueberry and cream cookies. I’ve never had anything from the Milk Bar (AKA Momofuku Milk Bar), and I only heard about them through Facebook (I think a friend posted about them or something). But from what I hear and read, baked goodies from there are supposed to be really good. And I find their recipes online, and they’re super interesting and incorporate all these different things to it like “cereal milk” and “cornflake crunch.” Intriguing huh!

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These cookies are really good–trust me. The edges are crisp and the center is chewy, just the way I like them. It’s not too sweet, and the blueberries add a nice tartness to the cookies. They remind me of a blueberry muffin top. These cookies are different than your normal recipe; there’s an extra step of adding “milk crumbs,” which is just nonfat dry milk powder, butter, and white chocolate. It’s an extra step, but I think it’s totally worth it! It adds a different taste to the cookies, and it’s the “cream” aspect for your blueberry and cream cookies! Don’t worry, making the milk crumbs is easy; it kind of reminds me of making a graham cracker crust for a cheesecake. DO IT. It adds this extra “milky” taste in the cookies that you really don’t find in other ones, and I like it and it’s delicious! They’re thick and chewy, and I love the cracked aspect on top of the cookies. I have no idea what the real cookies are supposed to taste like, but if my cookie is supposed to be a copycat of the ones from the store, then the real ones must be HECKA GOOD.

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Blueberry and Cream Cookies
Makes 12 to 17 Cookies
From Momofuku Milk Bar

Ingredients:

225 g (16 tbs) butter, at room temperature
150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
150 g (2/3 cup) light brown sugar
100 g (1/4 cup) glucose, or 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 eggs
320 g (2 cups) flour
2 g (1/2 tsp) baking powder
1.5 g (1/4 tsp) baking soda
6 g (1 1/2 tsp) kosher salt
1/2 recipe milk crumbs, recipe follows
130 g (3/4 cup) dried blueberries

1. Cream together the butter, sugars, and glucose (or light corn syrup) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I used an electric mixer) on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

2. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than a minute. Don’t overmix the dough, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. On low speed (I did this part by hand), add the milk crumbs and mix until they’re incorporated, no more than 30 seconds. Add the dried blueberries, and mix them in for 30 seconds.

4. Portion out the cookie dough into balls (mine were probably 1.5-2 tablespoons, or use a 2 3/4 oz ice cream scoop) onto parchment-lined (I used Silpat) sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie balls flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. I rolled the dough into balls after I refrigerated it, then refrigerated the dough balls again. Make sure you don’t bake them from room temperature, or they won’t bake correctly!

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the chilled dough balls at least 4-inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes until faintly browned on the edges but bright yellow in the center. Rotate your pans halfway through if necessary. The cookies should puff, crackle, and spread. 

6. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans. The cookies will keep fresh at room temperature for five days. Enjoy!

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Milk Crumbs
Makes about 250 g (2 1/4 cups)

Ingredients:

40 g (1/2 cup) milk powder
40 g (1/4 cup) flour
12 g (2 tbs) cornstarch
25 g (2 tbs) sugar
2 g (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted
20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
90 g (3 oz) white chocolate, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the 40 g (1/2 cup) milk powder, flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter, and stir until a mixture starts to come together and forms small clusters.

3. Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. The crumbs should sandy, and (as the site puts it) your kitchen should smell like buttery heaven. Let the crumbs cool completely.

4. Crumble any crumb clusters that are larger than 1/2 inch in diameter. Put the crumbs in a medium bowl, and mix in the 20 g milk powder until it is evenly distributed.

5. Pour the white chocolate over the crumbs, and toss until the clusters are coated with the chocolate. Keep tossing them every five minutes until the chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to a month.

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!