Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Cream Cheese Spread

sun-dried tomato cream cheese spread - trust in kim

This cream cheese spread makes a great appetizer with a loaf of fresh bread or crackers. A friend of mine used to always buy this spread when we were having wine and appies, and another friend, Sarah, makes her own delicious version. This recipe is a combination of what I guessed to be the ingredients in the store-bought version, and some tips from Sarah.

The one difference with my recipe is that I made my own oven-dried cherry tomatoes. I make up a big batch, and they keep for a long time in the fridge.

Make this recipe at least an hour ahead of time so the flavours have a chance to mingle.

What you need:

  • 1 – 250 gram tub of spreadable cream cheese (or Tofutti non-dairy cream cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • a few sun-dried cherry tomatoes packed in  olive oil (or oven-roasted to make it even better)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • a few sprigs fresh basil, chopped
  • a little freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. Combine the mayonnaise and cream cheese.
  2. Chop and add the cherry tomatoes, minced garlic, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Taste and adjust the amounts of anything you think you need more of.
  4. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  5. Garnish with a sprig of basil, and serve with a loaf of freshly baked bread or crackers of your choice.

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

chocolate and cream cheese brownie - trust in kim

These chocolate cheesecake brownies are from an old handwritten recipe in a book I started over twenty years ago to store my recipes. All I have is the recipe with no reference, so I can’t give proper credit to whomever created this one. But it was always a crowd pleaser, and it made a lot of people very happy when I brought it to work yesterday. I like the cream cheese part, but for me the brownie is the shining star – it is dense and rich and chocolatey.

Although the recipe has two steps, it is really easy and quite quick to whip up.  I like recipes that don’t require softening the butter before beginning, because I always forget to take it out of the fridge ahead of time and then have to wait a long time for it to soften.  In this one you melt the butter, so no need to soften. You do, however, need to soften the cream cheese – but I cheated by putting it in the microwave for a few seconds.

Instead of regular cream cheese I used Tofutti.  It turned out fine, but I think it is better with the real thing.  Tofutti is a great product, but in this case it ended up being a little thinner than I would have liked.

What you need for the cream cheese layer:

  • 250 grams cream cheese (not the spreadable kind)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

What you need for the brownie layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

What you do:

  1. Grease a 9-inch baking pan with a little butter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  3. In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, then gradually add the sugar, egg and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.
  4. To make the brownie layer melt the butter, then pour it into another mixing bowl.  Stir in the cocoa.
  5. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and 2 eggs. I use the same beaters that still have a little bit of the cream cheese mixture on them to beat this – no need to wash in between, speeds things up!
  6. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together (in reality I don’t do this very often, but you can do it if you want.) Mix until combined.
  7. Pour the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth it down.  Then pour the cream cheese mixture over top of it. I like to run a knife through it to mix the two up a little.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes.  I like to go with the shorter amount of time because I really like them when they are moist. Everybody else seems to agree!

 

Coconut Carrot Cake with Creamcheese White Chocolate Icing

coconut carrot cake - trust in kim

I can’t really believe I haven’t posted this one before.  I’ve been making it for years, and it is a favourite for many people.  The recipe comes from the Rebar Cookbook, which was put out by a great little vegetarian restaurant in Victoria, BC.  There is a bit of work involved in this cake, but just chopping and grating a few things, nothing too technical.  It also makes nice cupcakes or a 9 x 13 cake.

What you need:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) crushed pineapple
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice

What you need for the icing:

  • 9 oz ( 270 grams) cream cheese (firm block, not spreadable) room temperature – very important
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 oz (90 grams) white chocolate
  • 3 cups icing sugar, sifted (could cut back to 2 & 1/2 cups)

What you do:

  1. Butter and flour two 8″ round cake pans.  I like to  cut out circles of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pans for easy removal.  Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Combine the grated carrot, pineapple, coconut and chopped walnuts in a large bowl.
  3. In a mixing bowl beat the sugars with the eggs. Add the vanilla and beat on high-speed until the volume has tripled. With the beater on low-speed, pour the oil in slowly to blend it in.
  4.  Combine the remaining dry ingredients and gently stir them into the egg mixture. Fold in the carrot mixture. Divide the batter among the cake pans and smooth the tops.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes sit in the pan for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto cooling racks.
  6. After the cakes have cooled, prepare the icing.  Begin by melting the white chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat and set aside to cool a little while you do the next part.
  7. Beat the room temperature cream cheese on high-speed until smooth and fluffy, then blend in the vanilla and butter.  Add the melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and mix on high until smooth and fluffy (I added the chocolate when it was too warm, and I couldn’t get to the fluffy stage.  I put it in the fridge for 10 minutes and that solved the problem). Slowly add the icing sugar, stopping to scrape down the sides now and then. Beat on high until the icing  is light and fluffy; about 3 minutes.
  8. Spread the bottom layer of the cake with one-third of the icing, smoothing it evenly to the edges. Chill for 10 minutes. Place the top cake layer on and frost the top and sides. I garnished it with white chocolate curls, but my next choice was to make a border of chopped walnuts around the edge.  Toasted coconut or a decorative piped border are other options.
  9. Store refrigerated where it will keep for up to 4 days.

carrot cake - trust in kim

Fig & Anise Crisps

Terra Breads makes this fabulous fig and anise bread.  I just made up a mixture of olive oil and maple syrup, brushed it on and toasted it to makes these darlings.  They were delicious with some salty olive tapenade on top to play off the sweetness of the figs and maple syrup.

What you need:

part of a loaf of fig & anise bread, thinly sliced

olive oil

maple syrup

What you do:

1.  As thinly as you can, slice the bread.  Place the slices onto a baking sheet.

2.  Mix some olive oil with some maple syrup, less syrup than oil.

3.  Brush a little of the mixture onto each piece of bread.

4.  Toast them in the oven on about 250-300F, watching closely so they don’t burn.

They were great with the olive tapenade, but I would imagine a sharp cheese or some cream cheese would be fantastic.