Philadelphia Cheesecake of the Year Contest

Cheesecake is one of those desserts that you either love or hate. I spent the good part of my childhood thinking that I hated it, but once I started making it myself, I knew just how far that was from the truth. I am a self-proclaimed lover of all of the richest desserts you can possibly shove into your mouth and cheesecake fits the bill perfectly. My most recent eureka moment was combining two of my favourite desserts, Nanaimo bars and cheesecake to create none other than a Nanaimo bar cheesecake. Hello! It has the perfect balance of chocolate and cream cheese to make your taste buds content for days. Well maybe not days – maybe only hours before you need another slice.

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Have you come up with a cheesecake recipe like my Nanaimo car cheesecake that you think could win the cheesecake of the year? If so, you most definitely have to head on over and enter The Philadelphia Cheesecake of the Year contest. Prizes include:

  • a FREE brick of Philadelphia Cream Cheese for the first 250 eligible entrants, so you can keep making and devouring even more cheesecake.
  • Round-trip flights to Toronto for the top 5 finalists to compete in the Cheesecake of the Year bake off at the Kraft Kitchens.
  • $5000 awarded to 1 grand prize winner who will also be crowned the title of 2014 Cheesecake of the Year and featured in a national print campaign. Talk about bragging rights!

To enter, all you have to do is submit your original cheesecake recipe made with Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, along with a photo of your finished cheesecake masterpiece. All entries will be judged by a panel of Kraft judges based on select criteria. If you still have questions, full contest details, rules and terms/conditions are available online.

Whether you have made Nanaimo bar cheesecake, classic chocolate cheesecake, coconut lime white chocolate cheesecake, or anything in between, submit your recipe today for a chance to win great prizes and the ultimate title of The Philadelphia Cheesecake of the Year!

Disclaimer: This post was brought to you by Kraft Canada via sheblogs. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kraft Canada.

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

I need a slice of this Nanaimo bar cheesecake right now. I need it badly. Bring on the stress eating. At the moment I am in the midst of planning a trip to Europe. Holy heck is it a lot of work. I shouldn’t be stressed (trips are supposed to be fun, right?) but I am. I have spent the past 3 days straight trying to solidify all of my hotel bookings. When you are planning to hit up 6 countries, that’s a lot of different hotels to worry about. I wish I could be the type of person who just wings it and finds places as they go, but I end up planning every last thing down to the minute. Probably the last second actually. I figure that is better than getting somewhere and realizing you don’t have a place to sleep. Anyways, that is my life right now. I should be doing other things ex. studying for my GRE. I have to get through that first before I can go on vacation, yet vacation still seems more important. My priorities are skewed, I know.

More about this Nanaimo bar cheesecake though. I thought this was my own brilliant brain-child until I Googled it and realized it had already been done. Can you do anything that is original anymore? Apparently not. That doesn’t make it any less super-duper though. It’s got your classic cocoa/coconut/graham cracker crust on the bottom. Instead of the next layer being pure, sugary, yellow icing, I substituted cheesecake, dying the batter with custard powder for that Nanaimo bar look. Top it all off with chocolate ganache and you’ve got yourself an amalgamation of the 2 finest desserts money can buy.

Nanaimo Bar CheesecakeNanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
2 of the best desserts combined; nanaimo bars and cheesecake!
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil (if needed)
  • 1 pound Philadelphia light cream cheese
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. custard powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bar chocolate (70g)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Heat your oven to 350F. Line an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper, both on the bottom and the sides.
  2. To make the crust, combine the melted butter, cocoa, graham cracker crumbs and coconut. If the mixture is too dry, at the 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil to help it hold together. Press it into the bottom of the lined pan and bake at 350F for 5-7 minutes.
  3. When the crust comes out, turn the oven down to 325F. Fill a loaf pan (or any other oven-proof dish) with hot water and put it on the bottom rack of the oven. This helps to prevent the cheesecake from cracking.
  4. To make the filling, beat the Philadelphia cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sugar and continue to beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Next add the custard powder and then the eggs, one at a time.
  5. Pour the prepared filling into the pan on top of the crust. Bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes, or until set around the edges while remaining slightly jiggly in the centre. Cool to room temperature before topping with chocolate ganache.
  6. To make the ganache topping, heat up the cream. Pour it over the chocolate to melt it and then pour this over the cooled cheesecake.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before you are ready to slice and serve.

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

Banana Nutella Cheesecake

Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Do you ever wonder what life would be like if {fill in the blank}? For instance, what if I had gone to culinary school at SAIT here in Calgary rather than the CIC in PEI? Would I still be cooking? What if I had gone into psychology first? Would I have switched to culinary instead?
Those are some pretty deep life questions and totally hypothetical. I don’t regret any of my decisions, it’s just interesting to consider the alternatives, had I gone down a different path.
Here is another life-altering “what if”; what if I had never discovered Nutella? What would my life look like then?  I probably wouldn’t have an addiction to the chocolate hazelnut spread, for one thing. Can you believe that my first time trying it was at the breakfast buffet of an all-inclusive resort in Mexico? Weird right? I came back home and the first thing on the grocery list was Nutella. I’ve tried to cut back a bit. I figure it’s not the healthiest thing to have on my toast for breakfast every morning but every now and then you’ve got to splurge. The best days are when the jar is almost empty and I get to sit there with a spoon, scraping out every last morsel. More accurately, I think I stand there with a knife, chocolate smeared across my face – there’s no finesse when it comes to cleaning out the Nutella jar.
Nutella in dessert? Make that, a cheesecake with banana oat crust? Mmhmm, we are doing it; banana Nutella cheesecake. Made with light cream cheese, no added sugar in the crust and only 1/4 cup of brown sugar in the filling (along with the Nutella), my Nutella slathered toast is probably worse in terms of nutritional value. But let’s face it, when eating Nutella do we really care about nutrition? Probably not.
I don’t know what my life would have been like without Nutella (pretty sad and pathetic really) but I sure don’t want to imagine living without it now! Maybe that’s a bit extreme, I probably would have survived. I would not have had this banana Nutella cheesecake, but I would have survived. You don’t know what you don’t know so if I had never been exposed to it, I wouldn’t have a clue what I was missing. Perhaps it would have been better that way…
Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Banana Nutella Cheesecake

Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Serves 4

Ingredients

Crust
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup rolled oats

Filling
1 package (1/2 lb.) light cream cheese
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2-3 tbsp. Nutella (or as much as you need/want)

Instructions

1. Heat your oven to 325F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
2. To make the crust, mix together the mashed banana and oats. Press this into your prepared loaf pan.
3. Make the filling by beating the cream cheese until smooth (either an electric hand or stand mixer works best). Once there are no lumps, add the brown sugar and beat again until smooth.
4. Add the egg, beating on low speed until it is fully incorporated.
5. Scrape this mixture into your loaf pan, right on top of the crust.
6. Distribute about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dollops of Nutella equally around the cheesecake batter. Then use a knife to swirl it in.
7. Bake at 325F for about 25 minutes. The cheesecake should be fully set around the edges but still remain slightly jiggly in the centre.
8. Cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Let it chill for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving the banana Nutella cheesecake.

Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Banana Nutella Cheesecake

Skinny Cheesecake Brownie Bites

skinny cheesecake brownie bites
skinny cheesecake brownie bites

Let’s be real here, some days you just want a big, fat slab of whatever chocolately, over-the-top rich deliciousness you can get your hands on. No matter what the caloric cost, you are going to eat it and not feel any guilt whatsoever. Cue the fat kid cake. To me, that type of indulgence is perfectly healthy every once in awhile.

But for those days when you still need your sugar fix without eating some sort of gut-bomb dessert, there has to be some lighter alternatives. That’s where today’s recipe comes in.

Baking with applesauce is not a new idea. I’ve added it to brownies before and regularly use it in muffins and cookies of all varieties (like these chocolate oatmeal ones).

Back to the brownie idea, applesauce can be substituted for some (not all) of the butter to help reduce the fat content. It will produce a brownie that is lighter than your traditional melted butter/melted chocolate recipe but where do you think all of that dense fudgy-ness is coming from? If you guessed melted butter/melted chocolate, you are basically a genius.

So what do we do to combat this and add in that extra richness? Well we don’t just make brownie bites, we make skinny cheesecake brownie bites. Now we can all have our brownies and eat them too! Ready, set, go!

skinny cheesecake brownie bites
skinny cheesecake brownie bites
Skinny Cheesecake Brownie Bites

Makes 16

Brownie Batter

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Heat your oven to 350F. Prepare a 24 cup mini muffin tin by spraying it with PAM or other cooking spray. Whisk together the brown sugar, white sugar, egg, applesauce, oil and vanilla bean paste. Add the remaining dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Portion the batter into the greased mini muffin tins (you can use a mini cookie scoop or just a spoon). Then put a dollop of cheesecake batter on top of each (see recipe below). Depending on how you want the brownie bites to look you can swirl the cheesecake in with a toothpick (that’s what I did) or you can pipe it onto one side of the brownie batter to create a half white/half brown effect. Bake at 350F for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool before removing them from the muffin tins. If you try to do it too soon you run the risk of them falling apart, they are on the delicate side. And if you find that they aren’t coming out, gently run a knife around the outside of each and prod them out with a little encouragement. Talk nicely to the brownie bites while you do this and they will be kind to you (hopefully). Enjoy!

Cheesecake Batter

4 oz. light cream cheese
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract if you can’t find it)
1 egg yolk

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add in the vanilla and egg yolk, beating until everything is incorporated. Dollop on top of brownie batter and bake!

Chocolate Cheesecake – Fun Facts and All!

I was informed last night that today is National Cheesecake Day. And it just so happens that I made chocolate cheesecake this past weekend (clearly I’m psychic), thus I figured today would be an appropriate time to post the recipe.
Also, in honor of the festivities (hmm are there actually cheesecake day festivities? I don’t really know…) I have put together a few cheesecake fun facts. Here we go:
– Cheesecake apparently originated in ancient Greece. Anthropologists have even dug up cheese molds there to prove it.
– The largest cheesecake ever made was close to 5000 pounds, almost 2000 pounds of which was purely cream cheese.
– Paula Deen made a recipe for deep-fried cheesecake. But are we really surprised?
– Vancouver cheesecake is a variation on your typical recipe which doesn’t use a crust. No crust? Blasphemy.
Saks Fifth Avenue sells cheesecakes online costing upwards of $300. Because that is a totally reasonable purchase…
– The good folks over at Serious Eats tried every single cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory a little while back. That’s 33 different types of cheesecake if you’re keeping track. And averaging $7 a slice, that’s over $230 worth of cheesecake. Holy moly!
– And this last point is totally unrelated to cheesecake, but it is something that everyone should know. I just found out the other day and I kind of feel as though my life up until this point has been a lie. Are you ready for this existence-altering revelation? Haagen-Dazs was invented in the Bronx. No, not Germany or Switzerland or even Denmark as the name suggests. The friggin’ Bronx! If you don’t believe me, look it up. Or don’t and try to maintain your innocence.
Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate Cheesecake
makes 9 mini cheesecakes

1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
3 tbsp. melted butter
250g (1 package) light cream cheese
1/4 cup white sugar
2 ounces (about 60g or 6 squares of Lindt) milk chocolate, melted
1 egg

Fill a muffin tin with 9 muffin cup liners (parchment paper also works here). For the crust, combine the melted butter and cookie crumbs until thoroughly moistened, like wet sand. Distribute the mixture amongst the 9 tins and press it into the bottom of each. Bake at 350F for 5-7 minutes. Remove the crusts and turn the oven down to 325F.

Meanwhile blend the cream cheese and sugar until smooth – no lumps people, no one wants lumpy cheesecake! Add the melted chocolate. Once it is incorporated, add the egg and beat again until smooth. Portion the filling into the pre-baked crusts. Bake at 325F for 20-22 minutes. The cheesecakes should be set around the edges but still slightly wobbly in the middle. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature. Then you can pop them out of the muffin tins and refrigerate until firm, at least an hour. Serve with fresh berries or cherries or salted caramel or just pop them into your mouth like little 2 bite brownies. Except they’re 2 bite cheesecakes. Well maybe 3 or 4 bites, but who’s counting?