Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

My daughter-in-law, Yulia, is pregnant and has some serious cravings. She didn’t ask for any expensive presents for her birthday. All she wanted was a birthday cheesecake—not just any cheesecake, but a caramel pecan cheesecake. Well, it sounded good, but none of my favorite recipe books had that recipe.

I never let a little thing like a recipe get in my way. I looked on the cream cheese carton and found a basic recipe for cheese cake, but it didn’t have a crust. Next I checked the cover of the graham cracker box. There it was.

I headed for the refrigerator hoping my final two ingredients would be there. The pecans, already chopped, were waiting in the crisper. Now if I could just find some caramel syrup. I looked up and down the door where the sauces and dressings were stored but no caramel syrup. Since I didn’t want to go shopping, I would just have to make my own. Why not? I’ve made plenty of sauces in my time. I found the perfect caramel sauce recipe in an old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. If you can imagine it, you can make it. Let’s get started.

Graham cracker crust:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place 8 whole graham crackers in a large zip lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.Pour crumbs into a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and half a stick of melted butter. Stir until combined. Press onto the sides and bottom of a 9 inch ungreased pie plate. Place in preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, but leave the oven heat on.

Cream cheese filling:
In a large bowl combine 2- 8oz. packages soft cream cheese until smooth. Add ½ cup sour cream, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 slightly beaten eggs,  Then combine ingredients until creamy. Pour into graham cracker crust and return the cheesecake to the oven. Bake 25-30 minutes, until set. Remove from oven and allow cake to cool completely.

Caramel sauce:
In a heavy saucepan, combine1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Add ¼ cup of water, 1/3 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons corn syrup. Cook at medium temperature and stir until it comes to a boil. Lower temperature to simmer and continue to stir for 2 minutes until it begins to thicken. Remove from stove, and add 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Toast ½ cup chopped pecans, sprinkle on top of cooled cheese cake and drizzle with plenty of caramel sauce. Refrigerate leftovers—if there are any.

This scrumptious cake calmed the cravings of a pregnant woman and was half eaten before we could take a picture.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pumpkin Cookies

Recently, my six-year-old granddaughter called me with a special request:

“Grandma, could you give me your recipe for pumpkin cookies? I want to make them for Thanksgiving.”

“I’d love to, Sweetheart.” And so the search for pumpkin cookies began.

Then I looked in the memoir cookbook that I’m writing. In the chapter about Halloween—there it was—pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin is a popular vegetable October through December so you have time to bake with pumpkin before the year is over.  

I emailed the recipe to my daughter and granddaughter so they could make pumpkin cookies and decided to make some myself. I smiled all the way through the process thinking they were making pumpkin cookies just like me.  If you are lucky enough to have grandchildren or children to bake with, thank your lucky stars and have fun with these yummy cookies. We did.

                                                   Pumpkin Cookies
1 cup of oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon each:
ground ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and salt
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups flour
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)


1. Combine first four ingredients and mix in a large bowl.

2. Then sift together and add: ground ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, salt, cinnamon, soda, flour.

3. Add pecans if you choose.

3. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto greased baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes until light brown. Remove when done and allow to cool 10 minutes before removing to towel covered with wax paper. Cool completely then frost with cream cheese icing. This recipe makes about 31/2 dozen cookies. Let the children decorate with colored sugar—in December try red and green. Top with orange sprinkles in October and November. Enjoy!