Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Desserts

Whew! Well we made it through Christmas, and all of my preparations seemed to pay off... except for my poor sick little girl, who was not her happy little self these past two days.  But she got to eat ice cream, so I think that in the end it was all ok!  And I was happy because I received a sewing machine from my mom (even though I do not know how to use it), AND my desserts turned out!

As shown above, I made Layered Peppermint Cheesecake from Southern Living.  This cake takes forever to make!  Do not expect to whip this thing up in an hour.  You have to make cheesecake, cake, and the frosting with cool downs and freezing of parts, so it really is a make a few days ahead of time sort of dessert.  That was why I was so upset that my cheesecakes broke and I had to go to the store in order to re-make everything.  But all in all it is an awesome cake, very decadent, and it looks fancy.  The frosting is a white chocolate mousse.  Don't forget to keep whisking during the cool down (I whisked every 5 minutes or so)!

Recipe by Melodie Belcher; Lagrange, Georgia,
Here are the ingredients:

Peppermint Cheesecake Layers:
  • 3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2/3 cup crushed hard peppermint candies 
 Sour Cream Cake Layers:
  • 1 (18.25-oz.) package white cake mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
White Chocolate Mousse Frosting:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white chocolate morsels
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Garnishes: White chocolate curls, peppermint candies

1. Prepare Peppermint Cheesecake Layers: Preheat oven to 325°. Line bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil. Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp. butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until creamy and smooth. Add 3 eggs, l at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add flour and next 3 ingredients, beating until blended. Fold in candies. Pour batter into prepared pans. Place cake pans in a large pan; add water to pan to depth of 1 inch.

2. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until set. Remove from oven to wire racks; cool completely in pans (about 1 hour). Cover cheesecakes (do not remove from pans), and freeze 4 to 6 hours or until frozen solid. Lift frozen cheesecakes from pans, using foil sides as handles. Gently remove foil from cheesecakes. Wrap in plastic wrap, and return to freezer until ready to assemble cake.

3. Prepare Sour Cream Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°. Beat cake mix, next 3 ingredients, and 1/2 cup water at low speed with an electric mixer 30 seconds or just until moistened; beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans.

4. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

5. Prepare White Chocolate Mousse Frosting: Cook 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Add morsels; cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes), whisking occasionally.

6. Beat cream and 2 tsp. vanilla at high speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Gradually fold white chocolate mixture into whipped cream mixture, folding until mixture reaches spreading consistency.

7. Assemble Cake: Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Top with 1 frozen cheesecake layer. Top with second cake layer and remaining cheesecake layer. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish, if desired.

Peppermint cheesecake and sour cream vanilla cake layers.  Yep... it is a five layer cake!

I also made Chocolaty Peppermint Cupcakes from Better Homes and Garden.  These were great, but I accidentally used regular size chocolate chips, and it really added to difficulties with getting the cupcakes out of the tins without falling apart, and also when cutting in half... so moral of the story...get the mini sized chips!  I also felt the batter was a little on the "dry" side, so might remedy that the next time I make these.

We were not lacking in desserts this evening!

Chocolaty Cupcake Batter:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup cold water
2 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
Creamy Peppermint Frosting
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candies

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

2. In a very large bowl, beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup sugar and the vanilla. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and water to shortening mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

3. Thoroughly wash beaters. In a large bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold one-fourth of the beaten egg whites into chocolate batter to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining beaten egg whites. Gently fold in chocolate pieces. Divide among the prepared muffin cups.

4. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

5. Up to 4 hours before serving, prepare Creamy Peppermint Frosting. Cut cupcakes in half horizontally. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the frosting onto the bottom of each cupcake. Replace cupcake tops, pressing gently to spread frosting to edges.

6. Place the 1/4 cup crushed candies on a sheet of waxed paper. Roll sides of cupcakes in crushed candies to coat the exposed frosting. Pipe or spread the remaining frosting onto tops of cupcakes. If desired, sprinkle with additional crushed peppermint candies. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Creamy Peppermint Frosting:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 7 ounce jar marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl, combine butter, marshmallow creme, and peppermint extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in milk. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach spreading consistency. (I added 2 teaspoons of milk here)

For Christmas Eve I had made the Eggnog Trifle from Taste of Home... to be honest I wasn't in love with it, because it is made with raspberry preserves.  I tasted good, but not quite the taste I was looking for in a Christmas dessert.  I also made the dish with a huge trifle bowl, so I wasn't able to layer it as much as I wanted.  But the whipped eggnog and cream part tasted pretty good.


3/4 cup cold milk 
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding milk
 2 cups eggnog 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped, divided 
1 loaf-shaped angel food cake (10-1/2 ounces) or sponge cake 
1 cup raspberry jam or preserves
 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
Maraschino cherry halves


1. In a bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix until blended. Gradually add eggnog; mix well. Fold in extract and 1 cup whipped cream; set aside.

2. Cut cake into 1/2-in. slices; place a fourth in a 2-qt. serving bowl. Top with 1/3 cup jam. Spoon 1 cup of eggnog mixture over all. Repeat twice. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

3. Fold sugar and vanilla into remaining whipped cream; spoon on top of trifle. Garnish with cherries. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Now... time to relax and enjoy my other favorite present... a gift card to Barnes and Noble so that I can restock my Nook!  Merry Christmas!


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