Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake

I know I’ve been a little AWOL lately. The holidays wore me out, and I found myself in a bit of a recipe rut afterwards. But over the weekend I got into the kitchen and made this insanely delicious cheesecake,  and I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you guys!

Rich, decadent, and chocolaty – pretty much all the points I expect to be touched by a good cheesecake. It baked beautifully, not splitting or cracking. It had a nice height too, which I love…there’s nothing more pitiful than a severely squat cheesecake.

The addition of espresso and Kahlua added a real depth of flavor to the chocolate, which isn’t that much of a shock. Whenever I bake a chocolate dessert in the kitchen, the recipe almost always includes coffee, in one form or another…

I served with a Kahlua whipped cream and garnished with crushed up chocolate covered espresso beans. The little bites of crunchiness against the smooth creaminess of the cheesecake was divine!

Definitely a keeper.

Souce: adapted from Allrecipes

Homemade Peanut Brittle

Candy making, of any kind, was always something I was terrified of in the kitchen. I eased myself into it with Salted Caramel Sauce, then pushed myself a little further when I made Vanilla Bean Caramels for the first time. After those two things, I wasn’t scared of it anymore. The next thing I wanted to conquer was peanut brittle, which is one of the husband’s favorite thing on the planet.

My mom used to make cashew brittle all the time at Christmas, as a homemade treat for gift-giving, and it was delicious. But, I’d say my standard for peanut brittle was set when I first had See’s. Buttery, chock-full of peanuts, and tender to the bite – it was everything that a peanut brittle should be. After trying several recipes, I’ve narrowed it down to this one as coming the closest to what I’ve been searching for.

I like to use Spanish peanuts (still in their skins) for my peanut brittle. I usually find them around the bulk nut section of the produce department this time of year. But, I’ve also made it with regular old cocktail peanuts.

I usually make a couple batches to give as gifts, as it can be made well in advance. And folks are usually happy to receive something other than cookies. You can also swap out the peanuts for cashews, or even mix. Just keep a very close eye on it once you’ve added the nuts, as the temperature rises very quickly towards the end of cooking time!

Source: adapted from Food.com

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As I mentioned on Friday’s post, I joined in on a really fun virtual cookie swap with some other bloggers. These gals really came through with a whole slew of different and delicious cookies!

I’m always looking for something new to bake each year, to go along with our traditional favorites – and all of these look like sweet treats my family would enjoy. I know yours will too! I just hope I have time to bake them all before Christmas…

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Festive Shortbread Bites

I’d seen these little festive Shortbread Bites pop up in my Facebook feed several times over the past couple weeks. I immediately was smitten. I mean, seriously, how cute are they? While I love shortbread, it’s so rich that a whole cookie can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. But, one perfect little bite? How can one resist that?

The recipe for the shortbread is on-point. Tender, buttery, and crumbly – it really is a little perfect little bite of  baked perfection. The key is to knead the dough with your hands until it comes together. Use the mixer to break down the butter, but then your hands to bring it all together. When you dump the mix out of the work bowl it will be crumbly – don’t despair! After a few scrunches in your palms, the butter warms and makes a dough that is easy to work with.

I loved the flecks of color through-out the bites. Looking forward to making this with different colored nonpareils for other holidays as well – pink & red for Valentine’s, pastels for Easter, purple and orange for Halloween! I’ll definitely be making them again before the year is over for gift bags as well. There’s nothing better than homemade goodies to give as gifts!

Speaking of which, make sure you check back here on Sunday for a cookie swap party that I’m doing with some fellow blogger friends. There will be some great ideas to add to your “must bake” list this year! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Source: adapted from Good Housekeeping