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Recipe: Sparkling Pear Champagne Cocktail

This sparkling cocktail is the perfect way to ring in the New Year or any special occasion.

2 cocktails

2 oz pear juice (no added sugar)
2 oz Poire Williams (pear brandy)
8 oz chilled dry Champagne or sparkling wine (Prosecco or Cava)
thinly sliced fresh pear, for garnish (optional)

Pour the pear juice and Poire Williams into two Champagne flutes. Top with Champagne. Garnish with fresh pear slices.

~ Marla Meridith

Americana No-Bake Cheesecake

I love to make special desserts for the holidays, especially for July 4th. This Americana No-Bake Cheesecake will impress all your guests and it’s super easy to make ahead of time.

10-12 servings

–for the crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 full sheets) you can also us ginger snaps or chocolate wafers
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted, unsalted butter
baking spray
–for the filling
1 1/4 cups cold heavy whipping cream
3 (8 ounce) blocks full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
–for the topping
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries

Prepare the crust: Pulse the graham crackers (or your preferred cookies) in a food processor until you have a consistent crumb. Pulse in the sugar and butter until well combined. Spray a 9″ or 10″ springform pan with baking spray. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan, using your palms to make sure it’s firmly packed. Refrigerate while you are making the filling, 15-20 minutes.
Prepare the filling: Whip the cream in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until you have stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and place in the fridge.
In the same bowl, you don’t have to rinse it, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Scraping down the sides of the bowl with a soft rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, beat in the confectioners sugar, sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla bean paste until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Be sure that there are no lumps of cream cheese in the mixture.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the whipped cream being sure not to over mix, you don’t want to cream to deflate.
Scoop the cheesecake mixture over the crust. Smooth out the top with an offset spatula. Decorate with the berries.
Refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours up to two days. Serve cold.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Southern Banana Pudding

Southern Banana Pudding recipe. What makes this dessert so extra special is the rich and creamy homemade vanilla pudding layered with vanilla wafers and sliced bananas. Thats all topped off with pillows of meringue.

8-10 servings

–vanilla pudding
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
–meringue topping
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 box vanilla wafers
3-4 bananas, depending on size
ground cinnamon or nutmeg for dusting

Preheat the broiler with the rack in the middle.
Make the pudding: In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, milk, egg yolks together. Stir constantly, until mixture just begins to bubble about 10-15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and whisk for another minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, salt and butter. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Make the meringue: Simmer 1 inch of water in a saucepan. Place the egg whites, 1/2 cup of sugar and cream of tartar in a heat proof stand mixer bowl. Place this bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot about 3 minutes. Place the bowl in the stand mixer fitted with the whisk and beat until stiff peaks form about 5-7 minutes.
Line an oven safe pie dish or 13×9 inch pan with a layer of vanilla wafers. Place 1/2 banana slices over that. Pour 1/2 of the custard over the cookies and bananas. Layer with more cookies, bananas and pudding. Finally, layer on the meringue with a spatula, spreading with flicks of the wrist to make peaks.
Broil for 3-7 minutes until the peaks of the meringue are a nice golden brown. Dust with cinnamon or nutmeg if desired. Ready to serve at any temperature.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Blissful Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes

We love this Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes recipe for Valentine’s Day and anytime you want to tell someone you love them with a chocolate sweet treat!

12 mini cheesecakes

–for the crust
1 cup ginger snap crumbs
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
pinch of salt
–for the filling
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs, whites and yolks separated at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
dash of granulated sugar
–for the topping
1 bag (11.5 ounce) semi-sweet, milk or white chocolate chips
fresh strawberries
spinkles
–you will also need
standard sized cupcake liners

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F with the rack in the middle.
In the bowl of a food processor pulse the ginger snaps, melted butter, brown sugar and salt until you have a fine crumb. Place the cupcake liners in a standard sized 12 part cupcake/muffin tin and press equal amounts of the cookie mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner until it is all used up. Bake for 8 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚. Let the cookie crust cool a bit while you work on the batter.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the cream cheese, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla extract. Beat in the yolks one at a time. Make sure the mixture is well combined, transfer to a large clean bowl. Clean the bowl of the mixer.
With the stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the whisk attachment until you have soft peaks. Add the extra dash of granulated sugar. Continue to whisk for another 30 seconds.
Fold the egg whites gently into the cream cheese mixture with a spatula. The batter should be smooth and it will thin out.
Evenly divide the batter into the 12 cupcake liners until they are just about full. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. The filling will collapse a bit while the cheesecakes rest. Place the cheesecakes in the refrigerator to chill for 1-2 hours.
After the cheesecakes have cooled, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or carefully in the microwave.
Drizzle some chocolate onto the top of a cheesecake, while the chocolate is melty place a chocolate dipped strawberry on top. Continue with this process until you have covered and strawberried every cheesecake. Gently place some sprinkles over the tops if desired while the chocolate is still warm. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: Mini Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe for Mini Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting will satisfy all chocolate lovers dreams!

about 3 dozen cupcakes

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, leveled
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
–Frosting: Cream Cheese Frosting or Chocolate Frosting
https://newmm2019.wpengine.com/recipe/the-ultimate-cream-cheese-frosting/
https://newmm2019.wpengine.com/recipe/super-sexy-chocolate-frosting/

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack in the middle.
Make the frosting with either the Chocolate or Cream Cheese flavors, set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, using a spatula combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and buttermilk until smooth.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and stir with a spatula until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Place mini cupcake liners in the muffin pan. Fill the liners only halfway (no more!)
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out virtually crumb free.
Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
You can frost with a spatula or a piping bag with tip. Top with a few mini chocolate chips or sprinkles.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, covered for up to 5 days.

You want the eggs, butter and buttermilk at room temperature so they mix together consistently and so that you don’t cook the eggs while mixing.

~ Marla Meridith

Recipe: The Ultimate Cream Cheese Frosting

This is our absolute favorite Ultimate Cream Cheese Frosting recipe for cupcakes, cake & frosted cookies. Comes together in just 3 minutes!

2 1/2 cups frosting

1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 cups powdered sugar

With the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla paste on medium speed until smooth.
Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar a cup at a time.
Mix until well combined. Increase the speed back to medium once the sugar is blended in.
Whip until creamy and well combined.

~ Marla Meridith