White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

Shari’s Berries products were provided to me free of charge.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links.

White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd CooksIt’s A Nerd Cooks’ birthday week, you guys.  Earlier in the week, I shared these S’mores Cupcakes with you all.

Shari’s Berries reached out to me earlier this month about their Birthday Collection, and sent me a dozen Hand-Dipped Birthday Strawberries, so I figured I’d keep the celebration going!White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd CooksTheir chocolate covered strawberries inspired me to make these White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars.  They are rich, decadent, and perfect for celebrating  a birthday or blogiversary.White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe is slightly modified from My Evil Twin’s Kitchen.

You’ll need:

For the crust – 

  • 30 Oreo cookies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, melted

For the cheesecake –

  • 3-8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 cup white chocolate, melted
  • 13 oz. strawberry jam (this kind of  jam is, well, my jam)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving some hanging over the sides.  This will help you lift the bars out of the pan after they have baked and cooled.  Spray with cooking spray and set aside.

To make the crust – Pulse the Oreo cookies in a food processor or blender until only fine crumbs remain.  Add the melted butter and pulse again until all crumbs are coated in butter.  Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer.  Set aside.

To make the cheesecake – Rinse and dry your food processor/blender.  Add the cream cheese, Greek yogurt/sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.  Process until the mixture is very smooth and creamy (this may take several minutes).

Add the eggs and cornstarch and process until smooth and creamy again.

Add the melted white chocolate, and process for a third time until smooth and creamy.

Pour the cheesecake mixture over the prepared crust and smooth it out in an even layer.

Dollop the strawberry jam onto the cheesecake.  Using a knife or toothpick, swirl the jam throughout the cheesecake.  Be careful to not go too deep, because you’ll mess up the crust.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges are puffed and golden brown, while the center still jiggles a little bit when you shake the pan.  Turn the heat off, but leave the cheesecake in the oven.  Prop the oven door open and allow the cheesecake to cool for an our or so, or until you can handle the pan with your bare hands.  Allow the cheesecake to cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating.

Once chilled (at least 2 hours), you can cut the bars however you’d like.

White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd CooksWhite Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd Cooks

White Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Bars | A Nerd Cooks
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Cinnamon Zucchini Bundt Cake

I like big Bundts and I cannot lie.Cinnamon Zucchini Bundt Cake | A Nerd CooksIt’s quickly getting to be that time of year where gardens are overflowing with zucchini.  This is can be problematic.  There’s only so much zucchini bread that one person can eat.

This cake is a slight departure from zucchini bread.  It’s still sweet, dense, and moist, but has a great cinnamon-y flavor throughout, along with a crunchy cinnamon-sugar layer in the middle. And glaze, of course.  There are also these Zucchini Banana Pecan Muffins, if you prefer muffins.

Really, if nothing else, baking this cake give you an excuse to say/sing things like what I said at the top of this post.Cinnamon Zucchini Bundt Cake | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe comes from If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen.

You’ll need:

For the Bundt cake –

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups zucchini, shredded

For the cinnamon sugar –

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs cinnamon

For the glaze –

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a Bundt pan and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar together for 2 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions.

Add the vanilla extract and melted butter.  Beat for 3 minutes.

In 2 batches, add the flour mixture until it is just incorporated.  Add the shredded zucchini and mix again until just incorporated.

To make the cinnamon swirl, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the batter.  Top with the remaining batter and smooth with a spatula.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife/toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Add more milk if you want a thinner glaze.  Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.

Cinnamon Zucchini Bundt Cake | A Nerd Cooks

Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cake

This is 29, my friends.Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cake | A Nerd Cooks

I celebrated my 29th birthday this past weekend.  And, as luck would have it, the day coincided with a weekend visit from friends.  We spent the long weekend eating, drinking, and taking it easy.Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cake | A Nerd Cooks

I received an Amazon gift card, and picked up several new cookbooks, including: Grandbaby CakesThe Cookies and Cups Cookbook; Layered; and The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime (which was actually a separate gift from our weekend visitors).  I’ve been flipping through them, and have found some amazing recipes.  So expect to see some good stuff from these cookbooks in the near future!Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cake | A Nerd Cooks

Until then, I wanted to share my birthday cake with you.

This one feels almost like cheating, since it’s the combination of two recipes I’ve published previously, but it was too good not to share.

You’ll need:

Once your cake has been frosted, add some more chopped up Oreos for garnish, if you’d like.

Chocolate Guinness Cheesecake with Chocolate Whiskey Ganache

This cheesecake is rich, decadent, and slightly boozy thanks to the addition of Guinness and whiskey. The perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolate Guinness Cheesecake | A Nerd Cooks

I am not even the least bit Irish.  I didn’t wear green today. I will not be drinking a Guinness once I get home from work.

Thank goodness for this cheesecake, because otherwise I’d be failing pretty hard at St. Patrick’s Day.Chocolate Guinness Cheesecake | A Nerd CooksEven though I’m sharing this recipe in honor of the holiday, this cheesecake would be a winner no matter what time of year you made it.Chocolate Guinness Cheesecake | A Nerd Cooks

After some investigation, it turns out I make cheesecake more frequently than I originally thought.  I’ve done:

  1. Peanut butter cheesecake with chocolate ganache;
  2. S’more cheesecake;
  3. Pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon chocolate sauce;
  4. This pumpkin cake/cheesecake/gingersnap crust concoction;
  5. And lastly, a chocolate raspberry stout cheesecake (on which today’s cheesecake is based!)

You’ll need:

For the crust –

  • 12 chocolate graham crackers
  • 5 tbs butter, melted

For the cheesecake –

  • 12 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 24 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Guinness or other stout beer

For the ganache –

  • 8 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbs whiskey

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch round spring form pan with butter and set it aside.

In a blender or food processor, grind the graham crackers into fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles damp sand.  Press the graham cracker crumbs and butter mixture into the bottom of the greased pan in an even layer.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the pan and allow it to cool completely before adding the cheesecake batter.

While the crust par-bakes, melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or in the microwave in 30-second intervals) until smooth.  Set this aside and allow the chocolate to cool slightly

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the room temperature cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, or about 5 minutes.  Add the sugar, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, melted chocolate, and Guinness.  Mix until everything is well combined.  Scrape down the bowl, making sure to get the bottom, and mix again for a few more minutes.

Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust.  Smooth the top with a spatula. Place the cheesecake in the oven. I’d also highly recommend filling a 9×13-inch oven safe baking dish halfway with water, and putting that on another baking rack in teh oven.  The moisture from this other pan will help to keep the cheesecake from cracking.

Bake for 60 minutes. After that time, turn off the oven, crack the door slightly, and allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for another 60 minutes.  After that, remove it to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely.  Cover and stash in the fridge overnight.

Once the cheesecake has fully cooled, you can make the ganache and pour it on top. To make the ganache: add the chopped chocolate and heavy cream to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments until the chocolate has melted completely into the cream. Whisk to combine.

Add the room temperature butter and the whiskey.  Again, whisk to combine.  Let the ganache cool for a bit, until it has thickened slightly.  Pour it on top of the cheesecake.

Chocolate Guinness Cheesecake | A Nerd CooksChocolate Guinness Cheesecake | A Nerd Cooks

Chocolate Guinness Cheesecake | A Nerd Cooks

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Join me in wishing this little blog a very happy 4th birthday!  A Nerd Cooks turned 4 years old yesterday.  Hard to believe that I have a pre-school-aged blog on my hands.
Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache | A Nerd Cooks

What started as a creative outlet and way to keep my sanity during grad school has turned into… well, it’s still those things (except swap “grad school” for “post doc”).

I have so much fun blogging, and hearing from others saying that they enjoy the food that I share makes it that much more fun.Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache | A Nerd Cooks

This cheesecake is my way of sharing my blog-related joy, and celebrating, with you.  It’s a classic flavor combination that can’t miss: peanut butter and chocolate.  You get peanut butter flavor in the cheesecake itself and the salty peanuts on top, and chocolate in the ganache as well as the Oreo cookie crust.

Make it, and soon.  You will be happy that you did.
Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache | A Nerd Cooks

This cheesecake is based on, though modified a bit, the recipe found here, from Buttercream Bakehouse.

You’ll need:

For the crust –

  • 24 Oreo cookies
  • 4 tbs butter, melted

For the cheesecake –

  • 3 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the ganache – 

  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salted and roasted peanuts, optional (Actually, these shouldn’t be optional. They’re fantastic on this cheesecake.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter.  Set aside for a minute.

In a blender or food processor, pulse the Oreo cookies until they are fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter and pulse again until the mixture resembles damp sand.

Pour the Oreo and butter mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.  Lightly press the crust into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the pan and allow it to cool while you make the filling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter on medium speed until completely smooth.

Add the sugars and beat again until well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.  Add the vanilla extract.

Pour the cheesecake filling over the Oreo crust, smoothing the top with a spatula.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center isn’t too jiggly.

Turn off the oven and open the door partway, allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove the cheesecake to a wire rack to allow it to cool completely.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Once the cheesecake has cooled and been refrigerated, add the chopped dark chocolate and heavy cream to a microwave safe dish and microwave in 30 second intervals.  Whisk the mixture between bouts in the microwave until it is completely smooth.

Pour the ganache on top of the cheesecake.  Add salted peanuts.  Slice and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache | A Nerd CooksPeanut Butter Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache | A Nerd Cooks

Still hungry for more cheesecake goodness?

S’mores Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cake with Cheesecake, Gingersnap, and Salted Caramel Topping

Chocolate Raspberry Stout Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Chocolate Sauce

S’mores Cheesecake

I celebrated my birthday last week, and had been in search of the perfect cake for the occasion.  I couldn’t decide what I wanted.  That is, until this cheesecake popped up in my Facebook newsfeed.

S'mores Cheesecake | A Nerd Cooks

S’mores cheesecake.  Yes.

We’ve done the s’more thing before; s’mores cookies are a family/friend favorite.

S'mores Cheesecake | A Nerd Cooks

My parents visited over the weekend, so I made this cheesecake for us to enjoy.

Then, we didn’t even remember to eat it while they were here.  We went out for dinner in Annapolis, had some wine, forgot that this was in the fridge at home, and then ate ice cream.

Sigh.  More for me?

S'mores Cheesecake | A Nerd Cooks

AND.

I have some news.

I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University, so my husband and I will be moving to Durham, NC at the end of the summer!

Yes, we’re trading crabs and Old Bay for barbecue and grits.

Many details are still being worked out: We’re heading down to Durham this weekend to look at apartments and townhouses, my husband is in the process of finding a job, and we’re still very much in the process of deciding how we’ll accomplish the move.

But all of the logistical uncertainties aside, I am incredibly excited about this move.

More details to come!

S'mores Cheesecake | A Nerd Cooks

Now, back to our regularly scheduled cheesecake.  I saw this recipe on the blog Will Cook for Smiles.

You’ll need:

For the crust –

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbs butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

For the cheesecake –

  • 4 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping –

  • 10 oz. hot fudge sauce, warmed
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with foil.  Grease the springform pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and melted butter.  Press the crust into the bottom of the springform pan and halfway up the sides.  Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips and min marshmallows across the bottom of the crust.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy and smooth.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.  Beat again for another minute or two.

Add the corn starch and granulated sugar.  Mix until combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combined.

Add the sour cream, heavy cream, and vanilla extract, beating until everything is well mixed.  Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl at least once.

Transfer the cheesecake batter to the springform pan, spreading it around to make sure that it’s even.

To avoid having the top of the cheesecake crack during baking, you’ll want to use a water bath.  To do this, you’ll set the springform pan inside of a roasting pan or some other oven safe baking pan etc. that is larger than your springform pan.  Add water to the roasting pan/whatever you’re using so that it comes halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Slide the water bath and springform pan into the oven and bake for 90-95 minutes.

Turn the oven off, open the door halfway, and let the cheesecake start to cool for 10 minutes.

Take the cheesecake out of the oven and out of the water bath, and set it on a wire rack.  Wait 10 more minutes.

Run a butter knife between the cheesecake and springform pan to carefully separate it.  Let it cool for another hour.

Spread warmed fudge sauce over the top of the cheesecake.  Top with mini marshmallows in an even layer so that the entire top is covered.

Put the cheesecake under the broiler for about 30 seconds.  Keep an eye on it!  The marshmallows can burn quickly. You just want to get them all toasty looking.

Let the cheesecake cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Slice and serve!

Just a heads up: The marshmallow layer on top is pretty sticky, and can make slicing it in a neat way pretty difficult.

S'mores Cheesecake | A Nerd CooksThis cheesecake is simply outrageous.  It is truly decadent.

S'mores Cheesecake | A Nerd Cooks

Mardi Gras King Cake

A friend traveled to New Orleans for work recently, and had his first taste of King Cake.  He loved it and requested that I make one.  Having never worked with yeasted dough before, I was a little intimidated.Mardi Gras King Cake | A Nerd Cooks

As it turns out, it really isn’t that difficult!  My fears have been mitigated.  Be expecting more yeasty baked treats in the future.  I have my eye on some homemade cinnamon roll recipes.

Mardi Gras King Cake | A Nerd Cooks

I followed the recipe on Joy the Baker’s blog.

Mardi Gras King Cake | A Nerd CooksYou’ll need:

For the dough

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed to ~110 degrees F
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)

For the filling

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt

For the icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • yellow, green, and purple sprinkles
  • tiny plastic baby, to be inserted into the cake after baking

To make the cake, start by heating the milk in a saucepan until it is about 110 degrees F.  Remove it from the heat and whisk in the sugar, yeast, and a tablespoon of the flour.  Mix until both the sugar and the yeast have dissolved.  Let this sit for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast starts to foam.

Once you see that it has started to foam (i.e., bubbles have formed on the surface), whisk in the melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Put the flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Fit the mixer with the dough hook.  Pour all of the wet ingredients at once on top of the dry ingredients.  Stir everything together with a spatula until it is just combined.  Now, mix the dough with the mixer and dough hook on low speed for about 5 minutes.  The dough is going to be pretty sticky.  Fear not!  Just scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure that there are no pockets of flour hiding in there.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside in a draft-free place to let the dough rise.  It should approximately double in size.

While the dough rises, make the filling.  Mix everything together into a smooth paste.  Set aside.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into two equal parts.  One at a time, roll the two parts of dough into rectangles (ish… they can be ovals too) that are 18-20 inches long and 6-8 inches wide.

Spread half of the filling onto each of the dough rectangles/ovals.  Spread it around in a thin, even layer.

Roll both pieces of dough up, cinnamon roll style.  Start from one of the long sides and roll.  You will be left with two “ropes” of dough.  Try to keep them approximately the same thickness the whole way through the rope.

Take these ropes, and twist them together, starting from the center.  Bring the edges around and seal it into a circle.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  While the oven preheats, let the circle of dough hang out on top of the oven, covered loosely with plastic wrap, on top a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for about 30 minutes.

Brush the dough with egg wash.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until everything is puffed up and golden brown.  Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool completely before adding the glaze and sprinkles.

Whisk the ingredients for the glaze together.  It should be thick but still pourable.  Spread on top of the cooled cake.

Decorate with sprinkles!  If you’re into the whole plastic baby thing, don’t forget to sneak it into the cooked cake.

Enjoy!!