Thursday, January 15, 2015

Happy Birthday Sugar & Pickles!

Sugar & Pickles - Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Crystallized Cranberries
Sugar & Pickles - Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Crystallized Cranberries
It's a very Happy Blog Birthday around here!

Today Sugar & Pickles is celebrating five years of blogging! Holy moly... Sometimes I just can't believe how fast time flies! I apologize for all the extra exclamation marks.

This past year has been full of amazing milestones. It's really made me step back and evaluate things in my personal life and on Sugar & Pickles. There's just simply so much I want to do and get accomplished this year. I'm not saying it's a resolution (you know how I feel about those)... It's more of a "Honey Do List" if you will.

My goal this year for this blog is to connect more with readers. As I may have mentioned before, some of the readers on this blog are family members from across the globe. The other half are wonderful people that stumbled upon this little blog and stayed to read what we've been up to. By the way, Thank you! Thank you for your patience and hanging in there when I went months without writing.

Life sometimes gets away from me. Running your own business can be very demanding and I usually have so many things going on at once. My attention can get a little divided and sometimes this little space doesn't get the love it should be. My husband likes to call it... ShayDD.

Let's celebrate this new year of blogging and us connecting more on this space. So! Let's eat cheesecake! To be more specific, let's share a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Crystallized Cranberries.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Crystallized Cranberries
yields: 6" cake

Equipment you'll need:
  • 6" Straight-Side Cake Pan
  • 9" Straight-Side Cake Pan
  • Food Processor or Coffee Grinder
  • Parchment Paper
  • Slotted Spoon or Spider Skimmer
  • Heat-Proof Bowl
  • Rimmed Cookie Sheet
  • Wire Cooling Rack
  • Pie Weights or Dry Beans
  • Electric Mixer
  • Tea Kettle

For the Ground Almonds:
1/2 cup Slivered Almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Add slivered almonds onto cookie sheet in a thin layer. Bake almonds until lightly toasted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

In a small food processor or a coffee grinder; grind the almonds until it looks like coarse meal or coarse sand. Make sure that the almonds are completely cool or you'll make toasted almond butter. Measure out a 1/3 cup of ground almonds and set aside. You'll have extra ground almonds.

[hint: Top your yogurt or salad with the extra ground almonds. I also love to top pasta with ground almonds]

For the Crust:
1 cup (120 grams) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup (28 grams) Freshly Ground Almonds
2 tablespoons (28 grams) Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
6 tablespoons (90 grams) Unsalted Butter, cold and diced

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Lightly butter a 6" straight-side cake pan and set aside.

Whisk together flour, ground almonds, sugar, and salt. With a pastry blender or rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand or coarse meal. The dough should hold together when squeezed. If the dough is too crumbly, sprinkle a teaspoon or two of cold water.

Press the dough firmly to the bottom of your prepared 6" cake pan. Be sure to press the crust almost all the way up the sides of the cake pan. Cover the crust with parchment paper and add pie weights or dry beans. Bake the crust until just set or beginning to turn slightly golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the filling.

For the Filling:
8 ounces (226 grams) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) Granulated Sugar
2 tablespoons (28 grams) Heavy Cream
1 Large Eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Paste
1 teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice

Reduce the oven to 325°F.

In the bowl of your electric mixer; cream sugar and cream cheese together until smooth. Add egg and be sure to scrap the sides of your bowl to ensure that the egg and cheese mixture is mixed well. Add the cream, vanilla and lemon juice; mix until incorporated.

While making the filling, bring water to a boil in a tea kettle.

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the pre-baked crust. Put your unbaked cheesecake pan inside a 9" straight-side cake pan. Pull the oven rack slightly and place the pans in the middle of the rack. At this time, your water should have come to a boil. Carefully pour the water into the 9" cake pan and gently push the oven rack back into the oven. Please be very careful not to allow any water to spill into the cheesecake.

Bake the cheesecake until just set, but with a slight giggle; about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven gently not to allow any water into the cheesecake and let cool for at least 1 hour. Loosen the edges gently with a butter knife. Place a piece of parchment paper over the cheesecake and your hand on top of the parchment paper. Carefully invert the pan onto your hand to remove the cheesecake. Immediately turn the cheesecake right-side up onto a serving plate. Carefully remove the parchment paper. Chill the cheesecake in the fridge overnight or for at least 6 to 8 hours.

For the Topping:
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Cranberries

Pour the cranberries in a heat-proof bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar to make a simple syrup. Simmer the sugar over medium-low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. The simple syrup should be crystal clear. Slowly and carefully pour the hot simple syrup over the cranberries and stir to make sure all of the cranberries are coated.

Allow the cranberries to sit in simple syrup to sweeten for about 2 hours. The longer the cranberries sit in the syrup, the sweeter they become (I like a nice sweet/tart contrast, so 2 hours worked nicely for me). Be sure to stir the cranberries often within the 2 hour time span.

Place about 3 to 4 tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl and set aside.

Nest the cooling wire within a rimmed cookie sheet. Using a spider skimmer (my favorite kitchen utensil) or slotted spoon, spread the cranberries onto the cooling wire. Be sure that the cranberries aren't touching each other. Allow the excess simple syrup to drip off the cranberries, about 8 to 10 minutes. It's very important that you allow the extra syrup to drip off the cranberries or the end result will be clumpy cranberries instead of sugar dusted cranberries.  

[hint: You can make the cranberries one ahead. Cover the cranberry and simple syrup bowl with shrink wrap and place it the fridge overnight. Be sure to stir the cranberries often. Save the extra simple syrup for more cranberries or better yet... for cocktails!]

Enjoy the rest of your day! ~ Shay

Sugar & Pickles - Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Crystallized Cranberries

Sugar & Pickles - Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Crystallized Cranberries

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