Browsing Category: desserts

No-bake lime cheesecake shooters

lime-cheesecake-shooters-vert-500
I love recipes that are elegant enough to serve for special occasions, but easy enough to make every day! And yummy enough that you want to. These no-bake lime cheesecake shooters qualify on all counts! We make them at least once a week. It gives us a little sugar-free treat after dinner, which really helps cut down on those late-night snacks.
You’re going to be amazed at how simple the crust is. And it’s low-carb and gluten-free!
And did I mention easy?

A note about dishes to serve them in… I’ve served these in little half-pint Mason jars, which is very cute. But I also like the way they look as “shooters.” And by the way… my shooter glasses are really just candle votives from Hobby Lobby. The number of servings you get out of this recipe depends on what size dishes you serve it in. If you’re planning this for a special occasion, you might want to experiment ahead of time to see how it works out for you.

Then — oh, darn! — you’ll have to eat your test batch. Oh well, do it for science!

Recipe for:
No-bake lime cheesecake shooters

Printable: lime cheesecake shooters

makes 6-8, depending on serving sizes

1/2 c. pecan pieces
8 oz. cream cheese
zest of one lime
juice of one lime (or 1/2 or 3/4, depending on how sour you like things)
3-4 scoops of stevia extract powder, OR 4 pkts. Splenda (or other sweetener, equivalent to 8 tsp of sugar)
1/2 t. vanilla
2 drops yellow food coloring (optional)*
1 drop green food coloring (optional)*
1/4 c. cream
whipped cream:
1/2 c. cream
1 pkt. Splenda
1/2 t. vanilla

* If you’d like to avoid food coloring but still color the dessert, you may substitute 1 or 2 Tablespoons of avocado. Get the brightest green part, and make sure it’s smashed and stirred until there are NO lumps. If it’s fully incorporated into the mixture, it will stay green for a few days. However, any lumps, even tiny ones, will turn brown.

—–

This crazy-simple crust is made of: pecans! That’s it! No butter needed.

In the photo below, you can see two different blender blades that came with my favorite kitchen gadget. The four-bladed piece (shown at the top of the photo) chops things up from coarse to fairly fine, depending on how long you run it. The shorter, two-bladed one (on the left) minces things down to a fine powder or — in the case of nuts — butter.
lime-ch-chopper-parts

In the pic below you can see the difference. The left-hand image shows the pecans after running them with the four-blade piece for a few seconds. This would work just fine for crust if this is all you have. But if you have the second kind of blade, you can grind the pecan pieces until they’re so fine they begin to stick together, like in the image on the right, below. This gives you something with the look and consistency of a crust made of graham crackers and butter. Neat, huh?!

pecans-2-stage-chop
Then you just place about 1 tablespoon of ground nuts in the bottom of your serving vessel, and tamp it down with the top of a bottle (securely capped and very clean, of course).
lime-ch-crust-packing

Set those aside while you prep the filling.

If you want a few pieces of lime peeling for garnish, make sure you slice off a couple thin slabs of peel before you grate off any lime zest. Then just slice them up into little slivers and set aside. (I don’t recommend eating these. I love sour, but that’s too much even for me!)

lime-peel-slivers

Now you can zest the lime, and proceed with combining it along with the cream cheese, lime juice, vanilla and sweetener. (And food coloring or avocado, if you want. See note at bottom of ingredient list for info about using avocado.)

Whip this all up till it gets past looking like cottage cheese (top part of the image below), and starts to look smooth and creamy (bottom image).

lime-ch-mixture

Then in a separate small bowl, whip the 1/4 cup of cream just until it’s stiff enough that pulling the beater out leaves a hole that doesn’t fill in. Don’t whip too much longer, or you’ll wind up with butter.

whipped-cream
Gently beat that whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Taste, and adjust. Too sour? Add sweetener. Too sweet? Add a little more lime.
Then, combine the remaining cream, vanilla and sweetener, and beat in the same way, but don’t add it to the mixture.
Taste it: if it’s not sweet enough for you, and if you won’t be topping it with sweetened whipped cream, add more sugar/sweetener. (Now that I’m adjusted to living without sugar, I’m more sensitized to the taste, so I tend to under-sweeten things.)
Now, assemble!
Sorry; I forgot to take assembly pictures. I think I must have been overcome with hunger!
It’s pretty simple; you can pipe the stuff in, using a baggie with the corner snipped off, or you can just carefully spoon it in. Lime filling first, then the whipped cream. And top with the garnish, if that’s your plan.
lime-cheesecake-shooters-horiz-500
You can also make a lemon version, using the zest and juice of half a lemon, and omitting the green food coloring.
Either one is perfect for spring or summer. Mother’s Day, Easter, bridal showers, graduation parties.
Or just a little something after dinner on Tuesday to keep you from raiding the pantry at midnight!
Update 2: Here’s the nutrition info, via myfitnesspal.com; this is for a single serving (one of eight servings), with the crust, but with NO whipped cream.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving   Servings 8
Calories 163
Total Fat 16 g
Saturated Fat 7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Sodium 87 mg
Potassium 95 mg
Total Carbohydrate 3 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 3 g

Check out my sugar-free cookbook – now just $3.99…

sugar-free dessert cookbook now available
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Peanut butter cups – homemade!

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Today’s post is a guest appearance by our dear daughter, Annica. Which can only mean one thing: There will be carbs!
Hello, blogosphere! There’s a new sheriff in town. By which I mean I am taking over my mom’s blog for a day! If you follow the blog (the wonderful, magnificent, glorious thing that is “oh, that’s tasty!”) you’ll know that I’ve been mentioned before – in passing. I’m a poor, malnourished college student, so when I come home, my parents make sure I am well fed. And I always help them along with a culinary splurge or two of my own. 😉
At the beginning of spring break, my dad announced that he was absolutely, definitely not going to bake anything sweet while I was home, and he would appreciate it if I would do the same. He didn’t want my Rushmore-sized sweet tooth undermining his diet – understandably so. (I’ve done it before, and I regret to say, I’m all too likely to do it again.) 
Well, fast-forward to yesterday, when he says: “Hey, we should bake something to mail up to your brother.” And if some of the mail-destined sweets happen to “accidentally” make their way into our mouths, well… (Diet be damned, apparently!)
Today I head back to dorm food and Easy Mac, so yeah, I was good with making something sweet!
We debated for a few minutes about what to make, and finally settled on homemade peanut butter cups. I’d made them before, and I knew that while my brother is a fan of Reese’s, he no longer would be after eating one of these babies. (Yes, they are that good.)
I went onto allrecipes.com and pulled up this recipe. Plus side: it only calls for four ingredients, all of which are easily found in any pantry in America. (You can dress it up with additions, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.) Down side: it takes a while to make, and if you want to stay clean … well, that ain’t gonna happen, flat out.
Start by melting half of a standard 11.5 oz bag of chocolate chips: milk, white, or dark. (I’m usually a dark chocolate gal – the darker the better – but peanut butter goes well with any percentage. I can honestly say I have no preference.) We used chocolate chips, but also threw in some Ghiardelli chocolate bars.
I used our double boiler, because our microwave is now sitting in my dorm room, 158 miles away. Kinda inconvenient. But you could just put the chips in a plastic baggie and nuke them on the lowest setting until they’re almost melted. You’ll want to be careful to take them out just a little bit early, though. Over-heated chocolate gets thick and muddy, and you don’t want that near your peanut butter!
Fill a mini muffin tin with mini muffin liners. A helpful hint: the smaller the ridges on them, the better. If your muffin liners have deep ridges, they’ll be harder to peel off.
If you melted your chocolate in a plastic baggie, congratulations! You have automatically completed the next step! If you didn’t, transfer your melted chocolate to a plastic baggie and snip off just the tip of one corner. This is where the mess begins, if you’re not careful. Here’s where the mess begins even if you are careful!
Fill each muffin cup about a quarter to a third full of chocolate. It wouldn’t hurt to spray them with a bit of Pam, either. You will want easy access to these things, so anything you can do to make them easier to peel, go for it!
Next, smush the chocolate up the sides. It helps to move your spoon up and in a diagonal motion, not just straight up. Moving it in a diagonal way helps to get the chocolate into the ridges. Be careful not to leave any holes in the chocolate in the bottom of the cup.
Once you’ve finished this, pop them in the icebox to harden up.
Next up, the peanut butter filling, a.k.a. the easiest thing to make in the world! Just mix up a cup of peanut butter, (I used Kroger’s natural creamy because it consists of peanuts and salt only,) ¼ teaspoon of salt, and half a cup of powdered sugar. Some reviewers suggested adding graham cracker crumbs, in order to get that signature Reese’s texture. I personally am not a fan of the texture, but if you are, then this would be the way to go.
Once this is mixed up and your shells are hardened, (which only takes a few minutes) take a spoon or a scoop, — I used a scoop that equals about 2 T. — and plop the peanut butter mixture into the shells.
You might need to flatten the PB out a little, with the back of a spoon, or clean fingers.
Melt some more chocolate, then transfer to a plastic baggie as before. Snip off the corner, and cover the peanut butter with chocolate. I suggest going from the outside in. That way, the peanut butter doesn’t cave, and the chocolate has a chance to meld together. 
Smooth the tops off (if you want), stick ’em in the fridge to harden, and you got yourself a treat to rival an all-American classic!
And just for kicks, how about these weirdos? Yes, the beauty you see before you is nothing less than bacon peanut butter cups.
My dad is a voracious lover of all meat, especially if that meat has been smoked, and especially if that meat is bacon! We were going to make chocolate-covered bacon, but then I ended up using all of the chocolate on the peanut butter cups. Oops! So we figured, why not get a little bit funky and throw some bacon on the peanut butter cups!
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how well these turned out! You can hardly taste the bacon; it just adds a little bit of saltiness that complements the bitterness of the chocolate nicely, and brings out the saltiness of the peanut butter. If I make these again, however, I’ll mix the bacon in with the peanut butter.
I hope you enjoyed my guest blog! Now it’s back to school for me! (With some of these little delights stowed away in my suitcase…)
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Nut tarts, the sequel

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I previously shared a recipe for one of our family’s favorite sweet treats, which we call nut tarts.

In the past, I’ve always made them as large wedges cut out of a 12″ pie. But I wanted to experiment with making smaller pieces. You can’t just cut the wedges thinner, because they’d get too fragile near the point. And all the points would break off. And then someone would have to eat those.

So this is a brief instruction in assembling and slicing them a different way. The original recipe is here, and up to the point where you begin rolling out the crust, nothing changes.

Instead of rolling the crust into a 12″ circle, I aimed for more of a rectangle shape, which was roughly 12″ in the longer direction. Then I marked the bottom crust lightly with a spatula to show where I was going to trim it. Then I spread the nuts to about 3/4 to 1″ away from that mark, in two rows, leaving about 2″ between the rows.

Then I lightly moistened the perimeter and center, and laid the second crust over this and pressed it gently down all over. Is it just me, or does this look sort of creepy?

Then I trimmed the excess crust away, leaving a rectangle-y  shape. I rolled out the excess dough for a bonus treat, but that’s completely optional. I sprinkled the nut tarts lightly and the extra dough generously with cinnamon sugar. Oh, and the photo doesn’t show this, but I pricked the top crust down the middle with a fork.

Then into the oven to bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and delicious!

I cut one piece into wedges and the other into bars. The holes I made with the fork ended up making the top crusts crack apart there and some of the pieces break in two, so I would do that differently next time.

I may or may not have eaten the broken piece.

I think next time, I’ll do wedges, but make the fork pokes closer to the wide end, like this:

Aren’t you glad you can learn from my failures instead of making your own?

The way I cut these, I didn’t end up with too many more pieces than in the original method, but they are sturdier. And cuter! And every bit as tasty!

Almond poppy seed shortbread

shortbread-finished

This recipe has been in my favorites file for decades. Back when I made bunches of Christmas cookies every year, this was in the mix year after year, and it was a big hit at our recent birthday party. It makes a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread with a subtle almond flavor.

Don’t be alarmed if you sneak a taste of the dough and it seems a little bland. The shortbread itself is not very sweet, but that is purposely so, to balance out the sweetness of the glaze. If you want to try making these without the glaze, you’ll probably want to double the sugar, at least.

Recipe: Almond Poppy Seed Shortbread

1/2 c. + 2 T. real butter
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3 T. sugar
1 T. poppy seeds
almond glaze (see  below)

Take 1/2 c. of butter and soften it slightly; just enough to make it mashable. Mash it with a fork, then sprinkle the almond extract over and mash some more to work the extract through the butter. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and poppy seeds. With a pastry blender, cut in the almond-butter until mixture resembles large crumbs.

shortbread-crumb-size

Try forming the dough into a ball; if it will not all stick together, cut in another tablespoon of soften butter. Test it again, and keep adding butter a little at a time until all the dough sticks together when pressed into a ball.

shortbread-needs-butter

Once you have it worked into one large ball, place the dough on a cookie sheet. Because this dough is so buttery, you don’t need to grease the pan or use parchment.

shortbread-rolling-1

Begin patting the dough out and flatten it. It may crumble apart in places. Just pat them back together.

shortbread-rolling-2

After it’s patted out, use a rolling pin to smooth the surface more.

shortbread-rolling-3

As the edges crumble apart, periodically gather and pat them back into the circle.

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Use the rolling pin to make the top smooth, and your hands to pat things back together, alternating between the two as needed. Work the dough gently until it’s a circle approximately 8″ in diameter, and 1/2″ thick.

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For cutting the pieces, you can just eyeball it, or, if you want very uniform pieces, use a ruler to measure and a toothpick to mark spacing in the dough.

shortbread-grid-marked

Then use the ruler as a straightedge guide, and a pizza cutter to make the slices. I cut this batch into 16 squares, but you could also cut them into bars or diamonds. You don’t need to separate the squares before baking.

shortbread-straightedge

Bake in 325 F oven 25 to 35 minutes, until edges just start to brown.

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Remove from oven and slice through again with the pizza cutter, in the same place as your first cuts.

shortbread-recut

An offset spatula works great for moving these delicate little square cookies.

shortbread-spatula

Let cookies cool completely. Drizzle with almond glaze. (Recipe below.) To avoid the globby drizzles seen on the left here, don’t start your drizzle on top of a cookie. Start the drizzle just a bit off to the side, then when it becomes a thinner, uniform stream, move over the cookie and wave the spoon gently but quickly back and forth as you move along over the cookies.

shortbread-drizzle

Ain’t they purty?!

Makes 16 cookies (plus a few scraps!) if cut into 1.5″ squares.

Almond Glaze
1.5 T. milk
1/4 t. almond extract
1 c. sifted powdered sugar

Combine milk and almond extract. Add to powdered sugar and mix thorough. Add a little more milk if necessary to make of glazing consistency.

This makes enough glaze to cover two batches of dough.

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Recipe review: tiramisu cups (quick & easy!)

tiramisu-heroB-500
I recently did a recipe round-up of a dozen cute little dessert shots. One of those made the final cut for the special birthday party we hosted last week: tiramisu cups from Sprinkle Bakes. Or, as my daughter calls them, “tirami-shooters.”
I chose these because: A) they’re so gosh-darn cute, B) they’re super easy, and C) who doesn’t love tiramisu?
Sprinkle Bakes uses a mixture of sour cream and cream cheese in place of the traditional but hard-to-find (and more expensive) mascarpone. I do wish I’d thought to purchase a large star tip for that finessed look when piping the creamy stuff on, but had to make do with a plastic baggie with one corner snipped off. It doesn’t affect taste though, does it?
You may notice that there’s chocolate in mine…. I couldn’t find lady fingers at my grocery store, and didn’t feel like taking the longer trip to a specialty store, so I subbed Milk Chocolate Milanos — which are basically just ladyfingers sandwiched with chocolate. When the tiramisu had sat at room temp for a while, these worked okay because the chocolate became somewhat soft. But when they were served straight out of the fridge, it didn’t work so well, because the chocolate hardened and interfered with the creamy, fluffy texture that is tiramisu. So, next time, I will start hunting earlier and go farther afield to find real ladyfingers. Or if I’m feeling especially industrious, make my own.
But these are simple, and darling, and delicious. I will certainly be making them again!

Birthday cake in a jar!

the-bday-spread

My mother-in-law turned 80 last week. She’s quite the inspirational woman: she got a black belt in tai-kwon-do when she was in her 50’s; she did foster care for rescued dogs for several years, and retired from that a few months ago, at which point she had taken in more than 50 dogs. She goes to yoga class regularly, and just recently retired from her part-time job in a vet clinic — but is having second thoughts about retirement.

She certainly deserved a big to-do!

So we had the family over yesterday for a dessert bar. I posted a few weeks ago about several cookies I was considering, and more recently about desserts in jars, and a few of those contenders made the final cut. I’ll be doing a post about some of the other treats later this week (including the almond poppyseed shortbread that was a huge hit), but today I’m going to focus on the birthday cake in a jar.

You can’t spend five minutes on Pinterest without running into some sort of dessert in a jar, and I love the trend! Oddly enough, though, I couldn’t find any recipes for what I had in mind, so here are instructions for it.

tomato-paste-6ozMy first task was to find a type of jar and a type of cookie or pastry cutter that would fit that jar. I love the little “shooter” desserts, but I couldn’t find any cutters that small. Well, except for the set of 12 from Williams-Sonoma that cost $17. Overkill! After checking out a few possibilities, I discovered that a 6 oz. can of tomato paste is the perfect size to fit inside a 4 oz. mason jar. I just removed both the top and the bottom, emptied it, removed the label, and washed the can thoroughly.

I baked one box mix of “Fun-fetti” cake in a 10×15″ pan, according to package directions. I checked it at about 18 minutes, then again every three to five minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center came out clean. I let it cool on the counter for several hours.

Here’s my daughter using the fancy-schmancy cutter I “made”; it worked great. She would just twist it down into the cake…

b-day-cake-cutting-500then poke it out of the cutter into the jar. Some of the pieces needed to be pressed down into the jar a little further, to make contact with the bottom.

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Once they were all jarred up, we frosted them. My daughter made a half batch of this wedding cake frosting, but using only 2.5 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Then she just loaded this up into a gallon plastic baggie, snipped off one corner, and used it like a pastry bag.

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She experimented with the design: some she did in a spiral, some she did in a fat squiggle.

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All that was left was to add the sprinkles and candles. While applying the sprinkles, set the jars on a cookie sheet or other solid tray, so the sprinkles that miss the mark are collected in one place — not rolling off the counter onto the floor.

We placed one candle in each jar, just for decor, then loaded one of them up with eight candles for the guest of honor.

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These were an especially big hit with the little kids at the party — my great nieces and nephews. (I hadn’t thought of this benefit beforehand, but these little jar cakes are also much neater to eat than a cupcake.) I can’t believe I missed the opportunity to get a pic of that cuteness! Well, this one will have to do…

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Recipe roundup: one dozen delish dessert shots

shots-tiramisu
shots-tiramisu
shots-coconut-lime
shots-strawberry-shortcake
(I think I’d put a mini Reese’s cup on top.)
shots-pb-chocolate
shots-pots-de-creme
I’ve made this, but subbed homemade whipped cream for the stuff in a tub. It rocks!
(Here’s my version, made with lime: lime cheesecake shooters.)
shots-raspberry-cheesecake
shots-lemon-berry
shots-lemon-meringue
shots-key-lime
(No recipe, but it looks like it’s just carrot cake and cream cheese frosting, layered.)
shots-carrot-cake
I’m thinking this blackberry cobbler from MyRecipes could be adapted.
shots-blackberry-cobbler
Just pour into shot glasses after stirring and cooling.
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Nut tarts

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My kids have very different tastes: if one of them likes something, odds are, the other one won’t. One likes hamburger; the other doesn’t. One of them loves cheese, the other one hates it. If you ask them, “Where would you like to go in Europe?” one wants Ireland, the other Italy. Even some sweets don’t get a unanimous vote.
But EVERYone loves these!
And what’s not to love? A honeyed nut filling between two layers of flaky crust, these treats are like the love-child of baklava and Pop Tarts! But store-bought pie crusts make these so much easier to put together than dealing with layers of phyllo.
I like to use English walnuts for the filling, but you can use pecans, pistachios, or a mix.
These nutty wedges are perfect for shipping, because:
– Once cooked and cooled, they’re pretty sturdy,
– They’re very flat, and
– They fit nicely in a box when you pack them as in the top photo above.
I just shipped some to my college kids a few days ago. I wrapped two pieces at a time in cling wrap, then placed one layer of these on top of a couple layers of bubble wrap, topped that with a bag of their favorite chips — and they were intact when they arrived!

Recipe: Nut Tarts

1 package refrigerated ready-made pie crust (2 crusts)
1-1/4 c. nuts, chopped to smaller than pea-size
        (English walnuts, pecans, pistachios or a mix)
1/4 c. sugar
3 T. honey
1 t. lemon juice
milk (optional)
cinnamon-sugar (optional)
Set crusts out to come to room temperature, following package directions. Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a medium bowl, stir together nuts, sugar, honey and lemon juice; stir till well mixed.
nut-tart-mixing-500
Roll both pie crusts out till 12” in diameter. Roll the bottom crust out on the cookie sheet you’ll be baking on. Roll the second crust out on something that will let you transfer it easily. A flexible silicone mat works great for this.
Spoon the nut mixture onto the bottom crust, then, using buttered fingers, spread it carefully to about 3/4” from the edge. Spread as evenly as you can, but there will still be spots where you can see the crust; that’s okay.
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Then, top this with the second crust: line up one edge of the crust, roll the mat and top crust across the filled bottom crust, then peel the mat back off.
nut-tart-crust-assembly
Using your fingers or a basting brush, moisten the perimeter of the bottom crust with a little water, and then press to seal the edges. Crimp edges with a fork, if you like. If you want, you can also trim off excess crust to make a neat, even edge.
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Optional, and purely cosmetic; you can do none, one, or any combination. Prick top crust in a decorative pattern with a fork, knife or skewer. Brush top with a little milk; sprinkle cinnamon sugar over it.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, till crust is lightly browned. Remove and let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Let cool completely. Cut into 12 or 16 wedges. I cut it into fourth first, then divide each of those into three slices (for 12 servings) or four slices (for 16).
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Flaky, gooey, YUM!
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