desserts

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

 Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies // Beckham & Belle

This recipe is quite the cheat but makes for a great dessert when you’re in a time crunch… and you can’t really go wrong when we’re talking about chocolate and cheesecake… Yes, it starts with a boxed brownie mix, but if you get a good box like Ghirardelli and take an extra minute to whip up homemade frosting, no one will be able to tell the difference.

Ingredients
 
1 Box Brownie mix, preferably Ghirardelli Triple Fudge + ingredients to prepare per the box instructions
Cheesecake Batter:
2, 8oz. pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. milk
2 eggs
Chocolate Frosting:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 2/3 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. milk
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan.
Prepare the brownie batter according to the box directions. *Note: if given the option for cakey vs. fudgy, prepare the fudgy version. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan, reserving approximately 1/3 of the batter.
Prepare the cheesecake batter by beating the cream cheese and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Add the flour, vanilla, milk, and two eggs, beating until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter. Spoon the remaining brownie batter on top of the cheesecake batter and cut through the batter of both to create swirls or a marbleized look.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
While the brownies are baking, prepare the frosting. To prepare, cream the butter until smooth. Beat in the cocoa. With the hand mixer set to medium, add the powdered sugar and milk, alternating between the two. Finally, add the vanilla.
Once the brownies have cooled, frost, cut, and indulge.
Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies // Beckham & Belle
 Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies // Beckham & Belle
If you came here for the cheesecake, also check out the below recipes:

 

Andes Mint Christmas Tree Cookies

With Christmas just a few days away, I’m going for easy over hard. Simple over complicated. Quick over slow (at least when it comes to cooking and baking). Every year, the holidays come and go too quickly for my liking. It is absolutely my favorite time of the year, so I always try to make the most of it and pack just a wee bit too much activity and fun into our schedules. This doesn’t leave me with too much time to bake, but since treats are an essential component of celebrating, I take some shortcuts. These cookies are a good example. Using store-bought (gasp!) sugar cookie dough, I can cut out the chunk of time it would take me to whip them up from scratch. That moves us right to the step where my daughter can start to pitch in and help cut out the tree shapes. Instead of the traditional sugar cookie icing, we ice these with melted wafers and then generously top with chopped Andes mint chocolate bars.

Andes Mint Christmas Tree Cookies

Ingredients

1 roll of grocery store sugar cookie dough (or you can make your own!)
6 oz. white melting wafers (or green, if you can find them)
green food dye (if wafers are white)
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup of chopped Andes chocolates

Directions

Roll out your cookie dough and cut into Christmas tree shapes. Bake according to package directions.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Start on your icing. Melt wafers in the microwave, in 30 second increments, stirring between heatings. Once wafers are melted and smooth, stir in a few drops of green food dye (Note: you can skip this step if you found green wafers). Stir in your peppermint extract.

Using a butter knife, spread icing onto each cookie. While still soft, top with Andes bits and press in gently so that they adhere.

Allow to cool / harden. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

My Favorite Christmas Treat: The Nanaimo Bar

Christmas baking is in full swing at my house. So far we’ve made a couple Cranberry Orange Loaves,  some Andes Mint Christmas Tree Cookies (recipe coming soon), and a big batch of these Nanaimo bars, which are my absolute favorite. I can honestly say that I have had nanaimo bars every year at Christmas since I could eat solid foods. You see, Christmas just isn’t Christmas to me without these delicious treats.

Nanaimo bars are a Canadian delicacy (IMHO!) and originate from a town on the west coast of Canada, in the province of British Columbia. One day I will make a pilgrimage there. They consist of three layers – a chocolate, coconut and nut base, a creamy custard/icing type filling and then a layer of chocolate ganache on top. In my opinion (and in the opinion of many others), you MUST use Bird’s custard powder which is a British product but available in the international section of many grocery stores.

The original recipe calls for uncooked egg in the base of the squares, which my family has never been comfortable with since it’s common for these to sit out on a plate for hours while we graze. So there are a few modifications to the original recipe, also including a slightly thicker chocolate layer and a base made of pecans in place of walnuts. Here it is!

My Favorite Christmas Treat: The Nanaimo Bar

Ingredients

Base Layer

1/2 cup of salted butter
2 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Custard Layer


3 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
3 Tbsp Bird’s custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Chocolate Ganache Topping

5 oz. baking chocolate (Ghirardelli is my favorite)
1  1/2 Tbsp butter

Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Mix in all other ingredients and return to heat. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool. When room temperature, transfer mixture into a square (8×8 or 9×9) baking pan, ideally lined with parchment paper (or you can spray with baking spray).

Press mixture down so that it is compact. Cool in fridge for 30-60 minutes.

Start on your custard filling. Beat together butter, milk, custard and icing sugar until smooth.

Remove base layer from fridge, gently spread on custard/icing layer and return to fridge. In the meantime, start on your ganache layer. Melt chocolate and butter in small saucepan until smooth. 
Remove pan from fridge, pour on ganache layer and gently spread and smooth with a spatula. Return to fridge for 1-2 hours to allow chocolate to harden.
These squares are pretty rich, so I generally cut fairly small pieces. Hope you love them as much as I do!

Happy Thanksgiving! Mini “Pumpkin” Pies

I don’t know about your kids, but mine aren’t fans of pumpkin. Well, they’re not fans of EATING pumpkins. Picking, carving … all good. Just not eating them. They also don’t really like nuts.  So, unfortunately for them, the typical Thanksgiving dessert offerings don’t hold much appeal.

What do they both like? COOKIES! (They will scream for them). So I had the idea to bake them up some faux pumpkin pies. In miniature, of course, because kids love everything little!

These were especially easy because I often keep frozen sugar cookie dough in my freezer, so I could move straight to the baking step. Our favorite sugar cookie recipes can be found on our Pinterest “Treats” board, here.

I opted for a cream cheese-type icing/filling since both kids do indeed like cheesecake. They were a hit!

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!! If you’re looking for a REAL pumpkin recipe – and one of our faves – try our Pumpkin Pie Streusel Coffee Cake!

Mini “Pumpkin” Pies







Ingredients

For the cookie cups
1 log of store-bought cookie dough, or use your own recipe

Filling
4 oz. cream cheese
3 TBSP sour cream
2-2 1/2 cups of icing (powdered) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Orange food dye or yellow and red food dye

Directions

First, use a greased muffin tin to form mini pie shells with the cookie dough. Put enough dough in each muffin spot for a thick base, plus dough to go halfway up the sides.

Bake as directed, usually for about 10-12 minutes. If centers have puffed up, press down with the back side of a spoon. Allow to cool.

Beat cream cheese, sour cream until incorporated.

Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and mix. Add in your food dye to achieve an orange (pumpkin-ish) color.

Remove cookie cups from pan. Spoon filling into cups and chill for at least 60 minutes.

Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Enjoy!

12 Weeks of Christmas: Cranberry Orange Bread

Steph and I have admittedly been a little remiss in pacing our 12 Weeks of Christmas series. We’ll be kicking it into high gear over the next couple of weeks to catch ourselves up.

For this installment, I bring you the most delicious Cranberry Orange Bread. Unlike the Doll Clothes Armoire, this is not something you’re going to want to wrap up for the kiddos BUT it does make a pretty great neighbor gift, especially when wrapped festively. (See above).

With a generous amount of orange zest, fresh cranberries and a little bit of sour cream (my secret ingredient for delicious cakes and breads … see here and here for additional examples), this cake tastes and smells like Christmas morning.

The recipe is for one loaf, so definitely do the math if you’re planning on gifting this to several neighbors.

Cranberry Orange Bread






2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
zest of one orange

1/4 cup of softened butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (you should get enough from the orange you zest above)

1 cup of roughly chopped cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together dry ingredients, add orange zest, and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar together. Beat in egg. Incorporate sour cream, and then the orange juice.

Mix cranberries into flour mixture. Add wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

Pour into greased loaf pan and cook for about 45 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Serve warm and drizzle honey on top for added sweetness.