Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies - Candy Coated Culinista

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies – Candy Coated Culinista

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and this is a recipe I have made many a time and for many different occasions and this is always a favourite.

Yield/Serving: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 30 – 35 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Red Velvet Brownies

• ¾ cups unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tbsp red food coloring
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp white vinegar
• 3 eggs
• 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
Cheesecake Filling
• 340g container cream cheese, softened
• 3 tbsp sugar
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 1 large egg yolk

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, food coloring and salt, stirring to combine. Then stir in the white vinegar.
4. Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl, and then stir them into the brownie batter.
5. Fold in the flour until just combined, then pour the batter into the prepared pan, reserving 1/3 of the batter for the topping.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a handheld electric mixer), blend together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk until well combined.
7. Spread the cream cheese mixture in an even layer over the brownie batter then top the cream cheese with dollops of the remaining brownie batter. Using a sharp knife, swirl the cream cheese together with the dollops of brownie batter.
8. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes.
9. Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before lifting the parchment out of the pan then slicing and serving.

• Serve with a scoop of French Vanilla Ice cream.
• Add more food colouring if you want the brownies to be redder. I don’t like to add to much dye to my baking so I held back here.
• I made these twice in a couple of weeks and found that the ones I baked in a glass Pyrex 9” x 9” dish came out more fudgey and moist than the ones I baked in a steel pan made for brownies specifically. (The ones with the grid make, so each slice is the perfect size). I prefer the Pyrex and suggest saving your money unless you got them on clearance like I did. This pan seemed to work much better for my blondies than brownies. Unless you prefer your brownies to be more dense.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I not a fan of cheesecake, but this is the first cheesecake like recipe I could eat and say I enjoyed every bite. The mix of brownie and cream cheese lessened the “cheesecakey” taste. The brownie was dense and rich and decadent. All the taste testers loved it. I got told I’m running their diet; this is sooooo delicious; I’m taking one home for my BF; but he’ll be lucky if he actually get this and so one. Brownies to me is very subjective as to how you like to enjoy your brownie on the brownie spectrum.

Tea Diaries: Infuse Cafe

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café - Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 3 Gerrard Square Mall – Main Floor – 1000 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, Ontario M4M 3G6
Hours: Monday – Friday: 10am – 9pm; Saturday: 9:30am – 6pm; Sunday: 11am – 6pm;

I was invited to my first instameet up and got introduced to Infuse Café’s at their second location in Gerrard Square. I had actually browsed the café for a quick moment on Boxing Day when shopping; but I didn’t have a moment to grab a tea; but a this launch party I got to learn all there is to the Infuse Café. Infuse Café combines organic and fair trade ingredients with industry leading technology; which results is a one of a kind tea experience. Rich, bold and robust flavours are layered using the RAIN technology. If you have ever had a tea that smells when you open up a container; but then the tea doesn’t really taste of that fruit anymore when you drink the actually tea – this is your new cafe. RAIN technology is the Reverse Atmospheric Infusion technology that uses vacuums to remove the air that is trapped in organic materials cellular structure; this result in a more flavourful tea profile. The Bkon Craft Brewer is a machine that uses the RAIN technology to give the purist cuppa. This machine costs $14,000 – $16,000 totalling $22,000 total including the technician flying in from San Francisco and installing the machine. Infuse Café has the only 4 Bkon Craft Brewers in the area and has exclusivity on the device for the next 4 years.

Tasting for the night included blueberry hibiscus ice tea and infuses signature coffee iced. Each tea takes about 120 seconds to make and a special algorithm is used to make each tea; which is steeped just under the boiling temperature to not scorch the teas leaving resulting in a harsh flavour. These machines can also create alcoholic drinks and it takes out the alcohol flavour and ups the value and taste; and if you are a coffee lover more caffeine is extracted than the normal brewing process.

A tea demo was provided by World Tea Podcaster TJ Williamson showing steeped and un-steeped processes. This gave us all some insight into the art of Japanese tea making and I will add this podcast to my feed.

At both locations Cecelia’s Cheesecakes are the perfect treat to accompany your tea. The cheesecakes are light and airy with a hint of cheese. Each is beautifully decorated and I think Japanese style cheesecake may be the way to go for me regarding cheesecakes.
I went back yesterday to try two more teas which were the customer favourite White Peach Blossom tea and the Tropical Crimson which reminds me of Caribbean sorrel with is vibrant deep red hue. I enjoyed my hot tea unsweetened and it tasted delicious. It was light and I could smell the peach. The iced tea had very little ice in it which was great as the tea wasn’t watered down.
Loose leaf tea and tea sets are also on sale and the barista’s couldn’t be any more friendly or helpful. I think I have found a new tea shop in my neighbourhood to frequent. The beverages whether tea or coffee hot or iced is rich, strong, robust, bold and flavourful but not overpowering; it just taste pure.

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café - Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café – Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café - Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café – Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café - Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café – Candy Coated Culinista

Cecelia's Cheesecakes  - Candy Coated Culinista

Cecelia’s Cheesecakes – Candy Coated Culinista

World Tea Podcast  - Candy Coated Culinista

World Tea Podcast – Candy Coated Culinista

Classic Christmas Cranberry Clementine Cheesecake

Classic Christmas Cranberry Clementine Cheesecake - Candy Coated Culinista

Classic Christmas Cranberry Clementine Cheesecake


Nothing beats a little alliteration and nothing beats this recipe. Why do you ask? Because if this recipe can change a cheesecake hater like myself into a maybe sorta casual cheesecake lover then you have a winner. I have never ever liked cheesecake even though my dad and everyone around me absolutely loves it I never found the appeal. Cheese and desserts are just weird to me; but maybe it’s the Christmas twist that has me loving this recipe so much. Either way I’m moving one step in the right direction.

Yield/Serving: 8
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 1 hr 5 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Slightly altered from Chatelaine

• 1 cup graham crackers crumbs
• 1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
• 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
• 3 – 250g cream cheese, room temperature
• ½ cup sour cream
• 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
• 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
• 2 tsp vanilla paste
• 4 eggs
Cranberry Clementine Sauce
• 2 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
• ¼ cup clementine juice
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• ¼ cup water
• 1 tbsp clementine zest

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Lightly spray a 9” springform pan with cooking oil and line with parchment paper; ensuring parchment comes up the sides.
3. Wrap with foil (to keep water from leaking through during baking).
4. Stir gram and chocolate cracker together with butter and pressed over bottom of springform pan.
5. Set in fridge until ready for use.
6. Boil a kettle of water.
7. In an electric mixer using the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and sour cream on medium speed until smooth.
8. Add in sugar, flour, vanilla and the eggs one at a time until just incorporated.
9. Place springform pan in the middle of a roasting pan and pour cream cheese mixture over the crust.
10. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the pan.
11. Bake for about 1 hour and 5 minutes or until almost set and the springform pan jiggles.
12. Remove pan and run a knife around the edges to prevents cracking and let cool for 30 min.
13. Remove springform from roasting pan along with foil and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours or overnight.
14. Using a small saucepan, stir cranberries, clementine juice, sugar and water until cranberries burst and sugar has dissolved, about 8 to 10 minutes.
15. Let sauce cool to room temperature and then pour over cheesecake.
16. Zest clementine’s overtop, slice and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I can honestly say this is the only cheesecake I have been able to tolerate. Maybe because I made it or maybe because it’s the perfect Christmas combination; either way I’m happy with how it turned out. I decided to add chocolate crumbs to add another layer. I took this up to my dad’s early Saturday morning and by noon cheesecake was being enjoyed prior to brunch and I already had a request to make this for Christmas by another family member. I couldn’t believe how well received it was and that it was eaten before brunch. When I was baking it I found that it seemed a little too jiggly and I keep cooking it for about an hour longer. Now I’m not sure if I should have continued as the top had a distinct colour differentiation from the rest of the cheesecake; but I was afraid of undercooking this and making people sick.

Spiderweb Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Spiderweb Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie - Candy Coated Culinista

This Halloween themed dessert is filled with all the good seasonal ingredients to make it the perfect autumn treat. Also chocolate and cheese never hurts either right?

Yield/Serving: 8
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 1hr.
Difficulty level is: Medium

For Crust
• 2 cups chocolate cookies, crumbled
• ¼ cup unsalted butter melted
For Pumpkin Filling
• 3 eggs
• 1- 15oz. can of packed pumpkin puree
• ½ cup (1 can) condensed milk
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp ground cloves
• 1/8 tsp ground ginger
• 1/8 ground nutmeg
• ¼ tsp sea salt
For Cheesecake Filling
• 8oz. cream cheese
• ½ cup white sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 egg

For Crust
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Using a food processor, crumble chocolate cookie crumbs.
3. In a small prep bowl melt the butter using a microwave.
4. Add the butter into the cookie crumbs and combine until evenly coated.
5. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of 9” pie plate.
For Pumpkin Filling
6. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and add pumpkin puree, condensed milk, spices and combine until smooth.
For Cheesecake Filling
7. Using an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment beat cream cheese until softened, add the sugar and incorporate the vanilla extract and egg.
8. Pour the pumpkin filling into the cookie crust.
9. Pour the cream cheese filling into a piping bag.
Make the Spider Web Design:
10. Pipe concentric circles of cream cheese around the pie.
11. Using a clean knife drag the blade of the knife 8 to 10 lines from the outside of the pie to the centre. (ensure you clean off the knife after each line is made)
12. Bake at 300°F for 60 minutes.
13. Let cool and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This tasted amazing from my reviews, but for me I was left disappointed. Towards the outside of the pie it had set, but the interior was still unset even though I gave it a day to set. I thought I was giving the pie enough time and the crust was stuck pretty well to the pie plate also. When I got home I put the leftovers in the freezer and it firmed up much better, so if I had a blast chiller this would have turned out great. I was really hoping for a prettier spider web then what I made, but for my first try at decorating a pie I can’t be too hard on myself, even though I like to be. I think overall the mixture was just a tad too runny and possible a smaller pie tray would help with the soft middle and maybe one less egg and more cream cheese.

Lemony Letdowns: Vanilla Cheesecake Fudge Attempt 1, 2, 3 (my “white whale”)

Have you ever seen a recipe you love? I mean everything about it, the idea, the name, the concept, the picture it drums up in your mind. Now as you may or may not know I’m not a fan of cheese cake, yet I make cheesecake for others. I really wanted this fudge recipe to work so badly, but for some reason it would not set. Mr. C. and I are suspecting it the cream cheese that won’t allow this to set, and that’s the main ingredient. So what is a Culinista to do? She keeps trying and trying to re-invent this recipe until it works, or until she goes crazy (“white whale”). Every time I do this recipe I get a little glimmer of hope, I say “I think this one’s going to work” only for it to be dashed away in the morning when I open the fridge to see an un-set mess before me. So I then say “maybe I can fast set it in the freezer.” To my chagrin this also doesn’t help and I am left stumped and sad.

I have read articles on “the chemistry of fudge” and yet I cannot get this to work. I sometimes want to give up, but then cream cheese goes on sale and its attempt # (fill in the appropriate number here.) The only good thing to come out of this is that on attempt 2, I learned the concept of re-purposing my disasters. Until then I was only re-purposing food sauces, and other ingredients.

Yield/Serving: 12 – 24 pieces (depending on size)
Difficulty level is: I’m going to say hard as this was a huge colossal fail or this type of fudge is not meant for me.

Attempt 1: From. Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to make at home by Nina Wanat
• 4 cups of sugar
• ½ cup corn syrup
• 6 ounces of milk
• 1 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds only
• 4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese
• ¼ tsp kosher salt
• 1/3 cup dried fruit, such as cherries or blueberries.

1. Oil an 8” round cake pan.
2. Bring the sugar, corn syrup, milk, and vanilla seeds to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula. Boil to 250°F, stirring frequently. The syrup will become a light brown colour.
3. Pour mixture into a 9” x 13” baking pan, and let cool to 120°F, about 20 minutes.
4. Scrape the syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer, and add the cream cheese and salt. Mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment for 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl, and then mix on high-speed until the mixture thickens slightly and begins to hold its shape, about 10 minutes.
5. Pour into prepared cake pan, and sprinkle with dried fruit. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
6. Unmold from the pan and cut in wedge-shaped cake slices. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

This was a complete and utter failure. It never set and was runny in the pan in the freezer. The dried fruits sunk to the bottom of the pan so I ended up tossing it out.

Attempt 2
• 4 cups of sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds only
• 4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese
• ¼ tsp kosher salt
• 1/3 cup dried fruit, such as cherries or blueberries.

My variation
1. Put sugar, vanilla bean, cream cheese and salt together in mixer and mix until recipe thickens.
2. Pour into a pie dish or pan lined with plastic wrap and lightly oiled to set in fridge.
3. Add dried fruits and allow to set overnight.

My second attempt was less wet as I wanted to see if I could get it to firm up with less liquid in the recipe; but it still wouldn’t set.

Attempt 3
A fudge recipe that has worked for me before.
• 1 package of cream cheese
• 1 ½ cup white chocolate chopped then melted in microwave in 30 sec intervals stirring every time
• 1 container of vanilla or cream cheese frosting (454g)
• 4 drops of vanilla extract

1. Put all ingredients together in mixer and mix until recipe thickens.
2. Pour into a pie dish or pan lines with plastic wrap and lightly oiled to set in fridge. (Overnight to a day)
3. Depends on your altitude, humidity, fridge setting. Or try freezer. Like I said this is a temperamental foe.

My result was the best yet, but still a little too soft. This recipe was a total experiment on my end, I tossed all caution to the wind and winged it with the very limited confection knowledge I have.

Please Don’t Enjoy

My thoughts
I’m not going to give up, I will keep trying every once and awhile. Check back here for more trials and errors.

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