Easy Sopapilla Cheesecake

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Living in Arizona, the holiday is celebrated by our resident Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. I’ve never been one to take part of “Cinco de Drinko,” as that’s not why the holiday is celebrated. The holiday marks the anniversary of the Mexican Army’s victory against the French in 1862. It is not Mexican Independence Day.

In the US, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican-American culture. Mexico has a rich, diverse food culture outside of the “Tex-Mex” often mistaken for true Mexican food. Though tacos, burritos and the like have Mexican counterparts, I wanted to make food that incorporated traditional Mexican foods.

Sopapillas are a popular dessert in northern Mexico and Latin America, the result of Spanish influence. Sweet dough is fried into a pillowy pastry that is then covered in cinnamon and sugar. I’m still not quite comfortable with frying, so I found this recipe for a faux-sopapilla cheesecake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 8 oz. bricks of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Notes about Ingredients: Frozen puff pastry takes about 30-45 minutes to defrost. For the best results in your baking, your ingredients (egg, cream cheese, sour cream, and butter) should be at room temperature.

Instructions:

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9×13 in. baking dish. Lay the first sheet of puff pastry flat in the bottom of the dish. Do not trim any extra dough. Gently press the pastry to the sides of the dish.

2) Poke holes in the puff pastry with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes.

3) Beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of the sugar. Add the egg, sour cream, and vanilla. Be careful not to overmix.

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4) Remove the crust from the oven. Let it sit for 5 minutes, especially to deflate. Pour the cheesecake mix over the crust.

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5) Top the cream cheese mixture with the other sheet of puff pastry. Gently tuck or press the sides of both sheets together. Brush this pastry with the melted butter.

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6) Mix 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon.  Sprinkle over the melted butter on the pastry sheet.

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7) Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes at room temperature. Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight.

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Final Thoughts: I’m not 100% sure this counts as sopapilla cheesecake, but it was tasty. It was less appealing once it had cooled, but it was sweet and tasty. Once I took the first piece, people were more willing to try (because it “looked weird”). By the end of our potluck, the entire cheesecake was gone.

 

Pecan Pie

Each Thanksgiving I try to take charge of something new or something more complicated. So far I’ve made side dishes (med), cornbread stuffing (yummy), cranberry sauce (disastrous), and several pies. She and I have our own fair share of failures. Last year her pecan pie was over-baked. My apple pie was under-baked.

Pecan pie is a staple for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. My mother is the only person who eats pecan pie at Thanksgiving. Usually she bakes a whole pie for herself to enjoy for the entire week. While many recipes include alcohol, I went for an old-fashioned recipe.


Ingredients: 

  • Pie crust dough (store-bought or homemade)
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups pecan-halves (You can find these in the baking aisle. You don’t have to split them.)

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.

2) Roll out the pie dough onto a lightly floured surface. Trim and crimp crust as desired. Lightly prick the bottom of the crush with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

3) For the pie filling: melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt.

4. Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk into the corn syrup mixture.

Be really careful! If you mixture is too hot, your eggs will scramble! Mine was just a little too hot so there were some heated egg whites. I strained these out with a sieve and it was fine.

5) Put pecans in the pie shell and pour the corn syrup mixture over evenly.

6) Bake until the filling is set (50-60 min.) Cool completely.

Final Thoughts: I’ve never been a big fan of pecan pie, but I stole a bite and loved it! It was fairly easy to make, despite needing a tiny bit more effort than a pumpkin pie. Now that I’ve checked off apple, banana cream, pumpkin, and pecan, which pie should I try next?

Sweet & Tangy Lemon Bars

I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten a homemade lemon bar before, but lemon (well, citrus) is one of my favorite flavors. When this recipe popped up on my Pinterest, I knew I wanted to try it. Some of you may have seen my Instagram post where I posted the failed version of this recipe. Hint: It’s not a lemon bar without lemon juice.  This is a fairly simple and classic recipe with a tangy lemon flavor and rich shortbread crust.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, softened

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups (220 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Optional: powdered sugar

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13 in. baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt for the crust together. Cut the butter into cubes. Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into the dough with a pastry cutter or with your hands. Mix until it’s crumbly and starts to come together. Scoop the mixture into the pre-prepared pan and press into an even layer.

Cubed means just what it says. Cut your butter into cubes! If your butter is at the right temperature, you should be able to cut through it with a butter knife.

 

See the big chunk of butter? I probably could have better incorporated the butter into the dough. I really need to invest in a pastry cutter.

3. Bake the crust for 20-25 min. until the edges are golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven.

4. While the crust is baking, start on the filling. Whisk the sugar and flour together in a bowl. Add in the eggs and lemon juice and mix until well combined. Pour the filling over the crust.

The lemon mixture should be bright yellow (as pictured above). When I tried this recipe and forgot the lemon juice, the mixture was pale.

5. Bake for 18-20 min. until the filling it set. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for an hour. Cover tightly with saran wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

 

6. Remove from the fridge. With a sifter, sift powdered sugar over the top.

I sifted the sugar while the bars were still in the pan to avoid making a big mess.

7. Cut and serve!

Final Thoughts: These were the perfect balance of sweet and tangy! My coworkers gobbled them up. Aesthetically, I wish there were no bubbles on top. I’m curious if I should hit the pan against the counter to remove the extra air. Or does this just happen with the acidity?

Now that summer is here, it may be time to bring back this citrus-y treat.