Taste of Pumpkin Pie

>> Monday, January 31, 2011

On the last day of January, I reflect fondly on the past holiday season.  Nothing beats having a slice of creamy, fresh out of the oven pumpkin pie.  It's still January, right?  The smell of cinnamon floats from the oven straight to this blog page, I just need to add some scratch and sniff capability.  This was made with Big E and C, and Big E did a wonderful job putting the whipped cream perfectly on the slice of pie.  It was delicious.  Hopefully you can enjoy this too before the winter season ends!

We used the recipe found here

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. 
  2. Mix pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in a bowl until the mixture is smooth. 
  3. Pour into the crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes.  The pie is ready when a knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. 
  5. Cool before serving.


The Perfect Volcano Cake

>> Friday, January 28, 2011

Volcano cake without dry ice

Last week was my boyfriend's nephews 5th birthday, and my boyfriend's sister, Lindsay, asked me to help her with the cake.  They were going for a dinosaur theme and wanted to do a volcano for the cake.  Sounded like a lot of fun, and it's Lindsay, so of course I was going to help.  It didn't sound like it'd be too difficult, and Lindsay did a LOT of research (so much so that she didn't know what to do anymore!).  Well, we did a trial run, and I think that really SAVED us.  And now I can share with you what we did and learned to get the perfect volcano cake for your next party.  And, I must say, we played around a LOT with the dry ice with our trial run because dry ice is REALLY COOL.  We played around with it so much, we had to buy more the next day for the actual birthday (well that and it evaporated too much).  Seriously, every cake could have dry ice incorporated into it.

With the dry ice.  Unfortunately I don't have a sharp photo with the dry ice because I was capturing the faces.  But you get the idea!

As far as the ingredients, we used all store bought stuff - cake mixes, frosting.  Maybe I would've tried to find a recipe to make from scratch, but I had no time, and honestly, this made it much easier, especially since we essentially made it twice.  But anyway, here it goes!

3 boxes of cake mix (we did  2 chocolate, and 1 yellow cake, but you could do all yellow.  I would have at least one chocolate cake for the top though.  I will explain this later)
1 8-inch circle pan (This is the top layer.  Use chocolate cake for this)
1 bundt pan (Middle layer, we used yellow cake)
1 9-inch circle pan (bottom layer)
1 cyndrical container for the lava/steam (we used a glass cup.  this is best if the sides are straight)
1 metal cookie sheet (or anything else sturdy that will fit the cake)

3 containers of ready to use icing in chocolate
1 container of white icing
Red gel food coloring (the one used for cakes.  This is important as it'll get you a nice intense red color)
Red sugar sprinkles (I like the added texture, but this is optional)
Chocolate sprinkles for dirt (also optional)

  1. Bake cakes according to directions.  Let cool in pan to room temperature.
  2. Level cakes that are the bottom or middle layer.  If the top layer cake is domed, that's ok b/c it' looks more like a mountain.  Save any chocolate cake pieces.  Eat all yellow cake pieces.  (I ate a lot while making these cakes!)
  3. Using cylindrical container as a guide or to cut, cut hole in each layer in the center.  I inverted the cup and just pressed it into the cake to make my hole.  Worked like a charm.  (I eyeballed the center, and this can be fixed in the next step if you don't like the hole)
  4. Stack cakes onto cookie sheet lining up the holes - bottom, middle bundt, top dome up.  You could ice in between, but we didn't.  After lining up the holes, if they don't look centered, center the cakes as you like, and slide the cup down the hole again.  It should shave off the cake and be better.
  5. Take a serrated knife and start cutting the cake so it looks like a mountain.  Most of the part I cut was the top layer at an angle.  Again, save all chocolate pieces.
  6. Place cup into hole.  You want the top of the cup to be flush with the top of the volcano.  This will ensure that the steam from the dry ice flows evenly across the volcano.  In our trial run, we had a ridged hole, and the steam would go to the lowest point and not go across the whole volcano.  We used oreo cookies in the bottom of the hole to get the proper height.  If your cup is too tall for the cake, use a smaller cup. :)
  7. Start icing the mountain with the chocolate icing.  You didn't have to do a crumb layer, but I was being careful, especially when I was icing the yellow cake layer.  But it's ok to have crumbs because it'll just look like dirt on the mountain!  We will cover it up anyway.
  8. Ice around the mountain onto the cookie sheet for the ground.  Doesn't have to be the whole cookie sheet, but we just used any remaining chocolate icing.
  9. Now for all those chocolate cake pieces you've been saving.  Crumble them up in a bowl.  Doesn't have to be all, and you can crumble them as you need more.  Sprinkle the crumbs on the ground frosting.  If your volcano is pretty vertical, you'll need to take a handful of crumbs and run your hand along the volcano.  I took a handful, started at the base, and ran my hand upwards.  You have to do this gently, else you'll get frosting all over your hand.  It's really running your hand across the volcano, not so much pressing the crumbs in.  And it doesn't have to be 100% covered, but do it to your liking.  You can also use the chocolate sprinkles now too.
  10. Now for the lava!  You can make a few different colors, but we just went with red.  I didn't measure any of this, but it's flexible.  Take about 3/4 of a cup of the white frosting and add about a teaspoon of the red food gel.  I added probably about a teaspoon of milk because in the trial run, it cooled/dried up really quickly.  Mix it up, and place it in the microwave until it's melted (we did 20 seconds on high).  If it's not RED, then add more of the red food gel until it's the color you like.  If it's cooled during this time, stick it in the microwave again (do like 5 seconds at a time).  
  11. Using a spoon, dribble the lava from the top of the volcano and let it fall down the volcano naturally.  Dribble it from the top so that you also cover the edge of the cup.  Let some drip into the cup.  After this, you can place any plastic dinosaurs if you're going for a dinosaur theme around the cake.  Otherwise, you're done until show time!
  12. Show time! We learned the hard way that you should light candles that are on the tray after you show off the volcano/steam part.  This is because the candles will be blown out by a lot of steam coming off of the dry ice.  So HOLD OFF on candles until after show time! Now you're ready for the dry ice.  Drop some dry ice into the cup.  Take some hot water and put it in.  You should experiment with this at home because it's just really cool.  And if you put too much water, you'll just soak your cake.  But the cool part is, if you put enough water so that it's close to the rim, you'll see RED LAVA, because of the red icing you put into the cup earlier.  But you'll see the Red lava when you cut into the cake, so that's still cool.  See below for photo!
  13. Cut and eat cake!  
Don't the layers look nice!  And we weren't expecting the lava look in the center, so that was a great surprise!

As far as the dry ice, where to get it.  You really should just call your local grocery/liquor store and ask around.  That's how Lindsay found it, and I think they found this Robert's Oxygen place that sold it, and also a local wine/beer place that had it.  But to get it to steam, just add hot water to it, and it starts steaming and bubbling.  We were advised not to touch the dry ice with out any protection (we just scooped it with a spoon), as apparently, you can get frostbite from touching dry ice.  In any case, it was super cool to see.  I suggested maybe next year we could do a Batman themed party and make a cave with the steam coming out! :) But we shall see about that.

Anyway, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!  Also, if you make one, upload a photo of your volcano blog to our new flickr group! http://www.flickr.com/groups/dessertnight/



Berry Blue Blueberry Cheesecake

>> Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crappy photo of a delicious blueberry cheesecake

I love blueberries, but Stuart LOVES blueberries... and cheesecake.  So for his birthday (I may just be a tad late on this post), we decided to try our hand at a Blueberry Cheesecake!  I had made a Toffee cheesecake once before, and didn't like how it turned out, so I was apprehensive about our mission.  But MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Isn't graham cracker crust THE BEST?

We didn't stray much from the recipe.  Instead of measuring out 3 cups total blueberries, we used 2 packages of frozen blueberries and a handful of fresh blueberries in the sauce.  One interesting thing about this recipe is the use of sour cream for the topping, but honestly, I couldn't really notice it.  I think next time I would like to incorporate blueberries within the cheesecake.  I prefer whole blueberries as opposed to a sauce layer (that was baked).  But I guess that's just my preference. 

Anyway, adapted recipe from myrecipes.com, originally a Cooking Light recipe.


  • Crust:
  • 2/3  cup  graham cracker crumbs (about 5 cookie sheets)
  • 2/3  cup  reduced-fat vanilla wafer crumbs (about 20 cookies)
  • 3  tablespoons  sugar
  • 3  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 1 package of frozen blueberries minus roughly a cup of blueberries
  • 1  tablespoon  cornstarch
  • 2 1/2  (8-ounce) blocks fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1  (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  cornstarch
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 5  large eggs
  • Topping:
  • 1 1/2  cups  fat-free sour cream
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • Sauce:
  • 1/4  cup  sugar
  • 1/4  cup  water
  • Roughly 1 cup of frozen blueberries + some fresh blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. To prepare crust, combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Drizzle with butter; toss with a fork until moist. Firmly press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes; cool on a wire rack.
3. To prepare filling, combine 2 1/2 cups blueberries and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a food processor, and process until smooth. Place puree in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 6 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Cool slightly. Reserve 1/2 cup blueberry puree for sauce; set remaining 1 cup blueberry puree aside.
4. Place cheeses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed for 3 minutes or until smooth. Combine 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and salt. Add sugar mixture to cheese mixture; beat well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour batter over prepared crust. Pour 1 cup blueberry puree over batter; gently swirl with a knife. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Remove cheesecake from oven (do not turn oven off); place cheesecake on a wire rack.
5. To prepare topping, combine sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl, stirring well. Spread sour cream mixture evenly over cheesecake. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around outside edge. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 8 hours. Remove sides of springform pan.
6. To prepare sauce, combine reserved 1/2 cup blueberry puree, 1/4 cup sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes or until sauce is thick, stirring constantly. Gently fold in 1 cup blueberries. Remove from heat, and cool. Serve sauce with cheesecake.


The Great Pumpkin Cookie

>> Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The great pumpkin cookie is the dessert you’ve been waiting all year for.   Fresh out of the oven, the cookie’s exterior crust provides a crisp cover to a soft, moist cookie that crumbles like a cake.  Whether it’s the texture or the taste, this cookie is a delight to eat.  The mild cinnamon flavor is enhanced by a coating of sweet icing.  As usual, you can have some fun with the icing – striping cookies or dousing them with sugary goodness.  Of course, I left a few cookies plain for those who like less sugar.  I brought these to the last girl’s night, and they were a hit!

The recipe was adapted from here


Cookie Recipe
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  2. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to the mixture, and beat until creamy.  
  3. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. To make the icing: Mix confectioners' sugar, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve desired icing consistency.  Once the cookies are cool, use a fork to ice the cookies.


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