Wild Blueberry Slab Cheesecake

This week, in classic mid-August Aimée style, I embarked on a few procrastibaking projects as a way to avoid my post-camping laundry and clean-up.

To be fair, I couldn’t wait to get back into the Simple Bites kitchen after a few weeks of travel. As is usually my custom when I road trip, I returned home with a stash of the most beautiful produce I encountered along the way.

This time I brought several pints of wild blueberries, for this Nova Scotia fruit grows wild all over the province and is free for the picking. Clara and I busied ourselves in a patch early one morning and produced enough for our buttermilk pancakes as well as a small store for the cooler.

Since then I’ve muddled a handful into a gin & tonic cocktail and topped a summer edition of my do-ahead muesli, but I saved the majority of them for a special baking project: cheesecake.

[Read more…]

Simple Chilled Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe (vlog)

Thanksgiving is just one week away for us Canadians and around here that means a few constants such as pumpkin desserts, little boys in button-down shirts, and turkey dinner for fifty.

While pie is a staple on the sweet table, I like to round things out with a cool and creamy cheesecake, preferably pumpkin, since they are so plentiful now. A pie is best enjoyed warm from the oven (not always feasible on Turkey Day), but I’m convinced this chilled pumpkin cheesecake only gets better after a day or two in the refrigerator, making it the perfect do-ahead dessert.

I’m keeping this post short because you absolutely must watch my latest vlog. Not only do I demonstrate the easiest cheesecake I’ve ever made, but it is jam-packed full of practical kitchen shortcuts and time-savers! [Read more…]

Blood Orange Cheesecake

Everyone has their favorite go-to recipe. It tends to surface around special occasions and has been around for as long as they can remember. It’s probably won them a few friends, helped to keep a few more, and is the most requested recipe by these friends. It is fail-proof, flexible, and–sigh–fattening.

I recently realized that this perfectly describes my citrus cheesecake recipe. It’s absolutely my ‘go-to’ recipe. I’ve been making it for over ten years now and it has served probably hundreds of people at countless celebrations: graduations, baby showers, and birthdays galore.
Why on earth I haven’t shared it with you yet is beyond me! Please forgive the delay–I haven’t been holding out on you on purpose, really–and be sure to give this cheesecake a go.

My last post was so epic, I’ll keep this one short and sweet.

Feel free to use whatever citrus you have on hand in this recipe I made this cheesecake with blood oranges, which are in season right now, but it’s also lovely with limes, lemons, or clementines.

Blood Orange Cheesecake
makes a 10-inch round, serves between 8 and 16, depending on how generous you are.

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter

675 grams cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
zest and juice of one lemon
zest and juice of one blood orange (or regular orange)
5 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sour cream
juice and zest of one blood orange
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.
For the crust, melt butter and add to crumbs. Mix well and press into a ten-inch springform pan. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until slightly golden. Cool.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream, citrus zest and juice. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition, but not too vigorously. Pour over crumb crust and bake for about 40 minutes. Middle will still be slightly jiggly.

Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring. Cool 15 minutes on the counter.

Meanwhile, prepare topping. Combine sour cream, citrus zest, citrus juice and sugar. Pour over slightly cooled cheesecake and let stand for half an hour at room temperature.
Chill completely. Remove ring and serve.

May Showers and Chocolate Chai Cheesescake

Spring is here and love is in the air! My dear friend Rachel is getting married in just a few weeks to the fabulous Dave, and as the matron of honor, I had the privilege of throwing a little wedding shower for her on the weekend. It’s pretty easy to please ladies with chocolate, so I served it in several forms, the only deviation being some mini strawberry shortcakes.

These desserts, along with some sparkling white sangria (one of my favorite summer drinks) kept the bride-to-be and her friends happy and a good time was had by all!

A chocolate-themed shower is a no-brainer. If only everything about being a matron of honor was that simple.
How will I decide what to do with my hair?
Where will I find the perfect earrings?
And that upcoming speech? Yikes!

Mini Heart-Shaped Strawberry Shortcakes

A classic genoise sheet cake, cut into hearts, brushed with a simple syrup and topped with a strawberry. Just before serving, garnished with whipped cream. Light and elegant.

Chocolate Chai Cheesecake
Recipe below!
Chocolate-Dipped Cherries
The first cherries of the season-I could eat dozens of these simple sweet treats.
Coffee Liquor Truffles
Dark chocolate and Kahlua–oh-so-rich and good.

Gingersnaps and Mayan Chocolate Sparklers
You’ve seen these before!

Chocolate-dipped Strawberries

So, for that cheesecake recipe. At first I was going to make a standard chocolate cheesecake, but as I was in the process of putting it together, I decided to add some chai tea and spices to make it a little more exciting. My favorite cupcake in Montreal is chocolate chai and it’s a combination made in heaven.

The chai and spices are added only to the topping, so they are not too overpowering. Also, I don’t like crust that goes all the way up the sides, but if you do, just one and a half times the recipe for the crust and press it up the sides.

Chocolate Chai Cheesecake
Makes a 10-inch round. Serves 12 generously, 16 modestly.

for crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon

for filling:
500 grams cream cheese (2 pkg Philly), room temp.

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1 cup 35% cream
250 grams semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped or in chips
3 large eggs, room temperature

for the topping:
1 cup chocolate

1 cup 35 % cream
1 chai tea bag (I used Stash Chai Spice)

three green cardamom pods, seeds remove and reserved, shell discarded

1/2 inch cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon whole mace
1/4 tonka bean (optional)

1/2 long pepper (optinal)

Preheat oven to 350F.

For the crust:
Combine all four ingredients and mix well. Spread mixture evenly over the bottom of a 10 inch spring form cheesecake pan.

Use the bottom of a water glass to press crust down and pack firm. Bake 7 minutes and cool.

For the filling:
Melt chocolate and cream slowly in a bain marie. Mix well to ensure there are no lumps. Cool slightly.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in a mixer until creamy. Add vanilla and mix well. With the paddle attachment, slowly mix in melted chocolate mixture and combine well.
Add eggs, one at a time until they are all incorporated. Do not overbeat.

Pour mixture over crust in the spring form pan and place on the middle rack in oven. Bake 40-50 minutes, until the middle is set. Remove from oven and cool completely.

For the glaze:
In a bain marie, gently bring the cream to a boil. Add chai tea bag and let steep for about 10 minutes. Remove and discard bag.
Add chocolate to cream and melt slowly. Combine all spices in a spice grinder and pulse until finely ground.
Add to melted chocolate. Stir well.
Pour over cooled cheesecake and chill until set.

Garnish with shaved chocolate, fresh fruit, chocolate covered coffee beans or topping of your choice.

Enjoy! This cheesecake keeps well for several day as long as it is refrigerated and covered with cling wrap.