Welcome to Natasha's Creative Confections! If you have stumbled upon this blog page, then you're in for a real treat! One of my favorite things to do is bake. If you choose to read on you will find pictures and recipes of some of the fabulous treats that I have created. So take a look around and enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Uh-Mazing Cheesecake w/ Strawberry Coulis

I've been wanting to make cheesecake from scratch for a long time now, but I've never had a springform pan. I have a few small heart shaped ones, but never a full size before. But my husband recently bought me the 9-in springform pan from the Martha Stewart collection :) So, I decided it was time to have homemade cheesecake (with graham cracker crust, of course!)

There are a lot of cheesecake recipes out there and it was hard to choose one to try. I ended up choosing one I found online (honestly because it sounded simple). It really was simple to make, so I wasn't sure if it was going to be good or not. I made a graham cracker crust because the best cheesecake needs a graham cracker crust! Mixing the crushed grahams with the melted butter and sugar smelled SO good. And then I blended everything else to make the filling. I baked it for awhile, but got a little nervous when it didn't seem as if it was finished after almost an hour. The recipe said the edge would be brown and the middle soft, but the edges looked too brown and the middle didn't look done at all! I was nervous, so I covered it with foil and put it back to bake for a few minutes. It had also risen so high that it cracked around the edge :( I thought it was going to be a disaster. I took it out after the extra 5 minutes and let it cool. I went to check on it after it had cooled for a bit and it settled down and looked really good! The edges were a little dark, but not burnt! I was happy with the way it ended up looking.

I had it chill in the refrigerator overnight so we could have it for dessert tonight. Before serving it I made a strawberry coulis sauce to have with it to add a little color and flavor. I originally wanted to make raspberry coulis, but could not find raspberries anywhere! I decided to use strawberries instead, and it turned out really good! I just pureed strawberries and a little sugar in the food processor and it made this tasty sauce to put on the cheesecake!

It was fluffy and soft and the crust was really good. And the sauce made it! Next time I will make the graham cracker crust thicker, but I was still REALLY impressed with how it all turned out! It tasted very refreshing! :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had an urge to make Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies today. They are one of my favorite things to make because I always know that they'll turn out. It's comforting to know that there are things you can make and always know they'll turn out just the way you want them to. I actually wanted to make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies because they are my favorite cookie, but I didn't have any raisins, so I settled for chocolate chips which are almost just as good. They are very fast and easy, another plus!

I think I had the desire to bake something because I'm reading the book, Eat, Pray, Love right now. Let me rephrase that, I'm not reading the book, I am skimming the parts I like about this woman's journey with food in Italy. I just read the most amazing description about pizza in Naples. I now want to go to Naples and eat at this pizza place. I want to go to Italy and eat all of the food they have there. Anyway, I made Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies instead of pizza because they are much quicker, and I doubt I would be able to recreate this pizza she talks about in the book!

I love reading and learning about all different foods. I actually went to pick up my copy that was on hold of Julie & Julia, the book. I was so excited that it came in today--I couldn't wait to pick it up even though I'm in the middle of reading two other books right now. I can't help myself. The movie has become one of my favorites and I am definitely looking forward to reading the book that it was based on. Hopefully I will learn some more tips about cooking!

I will post the recipe of the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies below:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2- 1 tsp. cinnamon (optional--I personally like them w/ cinnamon!)
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugars in bowl. Beat in 1 egg at a time. Stir in vanilla.
3. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt & cinnamon into separate bowl. Stir mixture into butter/sugar mixture until blended.
4. Mix in oats and chocolate chips.
5. Spoon onto baking sheets.
6. Bake ~12 minutes. Let cool on cooling rack.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

Friday night I was SO excited to make these amazing looking (and sounding!) white chocolate brownies w/ raspberries. I had picked out this recipe earlier in the week to make on Friday and was really looking forward to it.

So, I am usually not a white chocolate person. Honestly, when I think of white chocolate I think of those Hershey's Cookies & Cream bars that were popular several years ago. Those were my first introduction to white chocolate and I was convinced that I didn't like it at all. However, I have come to enjoy it in small doses through white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and TCBY's delicious white chocolate mousse frozen yogurt. I realized that it's not white chocolate that I dislike--it was just that specific candy bar. I am so glad it has pleasantly surprised me :) I also am not a brownie person. I don't really know why--there are just other desserts that I prefer I suppose. But, when I saw a recipe for something so different that was classified as a "brownie", my curiosity got the best of me.

Another amazing thing about these brownies is that they have a meringue topping! I was nervous to make meringue because the last time I attempted to do so was for a meringue cookie recipe that did not turn out so well. They were runny, probably because I didn't whip the egg whites enough. It's something that I am always afraid of screwing up. But, I was going to challenge myself to do it correctly.

So, I began my baking adventure by preparing all of my ingredients. I got to use my new mini food processor to grind almonds that were part of the flour mixture. It was fun to use the food processor! It chopped those almonds so quickly...I was impressed! The next step was to melt the white chocolate with butter in a bowl over boiling water. I carefully (or what I thought was careful) followed the directions. White chocolate is difficult to melt because it burns easily and doesn't move well unless you are there mixing constantly. I was so scared that it was going to harden and burn (because that has happened to me before!) that I didn't pay enough attention to the fact that if the butter and chocolate get too hot, they will separate. I was just about to take the melted ingredients off of the boiling water when I noticed that it looked very yellow (from the butter) and there was this big lump of grimy chocolate sitting beneath it. Whoops...it separated. Of course I didn't have any extra white chocolate so I had to go to the store to pick some more up. I was frustrated because I was all ready with everything to just make the brownies--which really weren't supposed to take very long!

I came back with the new white chocolate bar, chopped it up in the food processor and started the melting process once again. This time I watched it VERY carefully and didn't let it get too hot. So after all this, I was able to proceed in completing the recipe. I got everything mixed up for the batter, added the raspberries and then made the meringue topping. I was very impressed with the meringue. It turned out AMAZING! After the brownies baked and cooled, I added a little powdered sugar to the top. I was looking forward to trying them because they looked good (from the cookbook) and they also looked interesting--like nothing I've ever had before. They were very good. I was glad that they turned out well, after everything :) The only thing that I wish was different is that they looked more professional like the picture in the cookbook. Oh well...I'm still learning!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stars & Stripes

Yesterday was the 4th of July! I usually make some kind of dessert to bring to my family's house, most times it's a homemade pie. This year I wanted to do something different--and a little more festive. I was really excited to try out a new recipe I found from Martha Stewart. I made Blueberry Cupcakes with a sweet cream frosting. They came out so tasty! I was very impressed. I topped the whipped cream frosting with fresh blueberries and strawberries, to give them a little red, white and blue flair of course, and a little powdered sugar. I think most everyone enjoyed them, which made me happy! They were very fun to make. These were a great, refreshing dessert to enjoy on the hot day that it was. Hope everyone had a very happy 4th of July! Look for more recipes and pictures to come soon :)