Cheesecake Diamonds – or – Squares

Mom used to make these long ago, and recently I had cause to resurrect them from the recipe graveyard.  Yes, they are really 1980-ish, but yes, they are really good.  I’ve updated the recipe to our more modern methods.

Cheesecake Diamonds, 9 x 13 pan (quantity can be halved)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor place:
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup walnuts
Process until walnuts are small bits, but still recognizable.  Melt 10 Tablespoons butter, then, with food processor running, pour melted butter into flour mixture, letting it mix about 20 seconds.  Don’t overmix–you want it to remain kind of loose.  Pour this out into a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Scoop out 1 full cup of this topping and reserve.  Press the remainder down firmly and evenly into pan.  Bake for 12-15 minutes in hot oven.  [NOTE: if using a glass pan, set oven temperature to 325.]

In a separate bowl, mix together:
2 softened 8-ounce packages cream cheese (I use Trader Joe’s), and 1 cup granulated sugar until creamy.

Add:
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup milk (4 Tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat well. Spread over baked bottom crust (crust doesn’t need to cool).

To reserved topping, add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, mix.  Sprinkle over the filling.  Return to the oven and bake 25 minutes more.  Cool, then cut into diamonds or squares. Keep refridgerated.

To cut into diamonds, make parallel cuts the length of the pan.  Then cut across them at a 45 degree angle, forming diamonds.  There will be odd-shaped pieces in the corners: Cook’s taste!

Store in refridgerator.

(You know how to cut into squares.)

Apple Pudding

Who knows where I got this recipe, but it’s been a favorite of mine to serve at Christmas for just about forever.  For Thanksgiving it was always pumpkin and mincemeat pie, and for Christmas, it’s Gingerbread Cake and this.  It’s a moist cake with strands of fresh apple, crunchy walnuts and an old-fashioned English-cake-pudding texture.  It’s best served with Elizabeth’s Lemon Butter Sauce.

(Double the quantity for 9 x 13 pan)

1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 large apples, peeled, cored and grated
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped nuts

Sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and nutmeg in one bowl.  In another bowl, whip together thoroughly: butter, sugar and egg until light and fluffy.

Add the grated apples to the egg mixture then blend in flour mixture.  Lastly add nuts and stir until blended.  Bake in greased 9 x 9 pan at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.  Do Not Overbake!

Gingerbread Cake

(Photo here, later, but imagine a square of dark gingerbread cake)

I lived in Texas for four very warm years, as I was always surprised at how long into November I wanted to have the air conditioning running.  It made it hard to get into the “holiday spirit” when trying to bake pumpkin pies when it was 85 degrees outside.  A few of us got together one Christmas and decided to recreate An Olde English Repast for our ladies church program, figuring by going back to the Dickensian source would alleviate our homesickness for some frosty weather.  We made roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, corn pudding, a moist apple cake and of course, a Gingerbread Cake. I found the recipe in an old Sunset recipes book, which is so old, it’s falling apart.  We served it with Elizabeth’s Lemon Butter Sauce.

1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup salad oil
1 cup molasses (I use the green label kind)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups white flour
2 eggs, well-beaten

In a bowl, combine the sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir in the salad oil, then the molasses, mixing well.  Mix the soda into the boiling water and immediately stir into the mixture.  Gradually blend in the lfou, to prevent lumping.  Then mix in the eggs.

Turn into a greased 9×13 pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes (Use 325 degrees for glass pans).  Makes 12 generous servings.

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing

One day last month when I was trolling through my Google Reader, link led to link led to a site where a librarian for the Los Angeles Library System had determined to make better use of her bundt pan, and so was posting a bundt cake a day.  I found her early in the cycle and never returned, but did harvest this recipe, orginally published in November 2005 in Gourmet Magazine (may it Rest In Peace–and I was just about to subscribe to it, too!).

The other night we had three guests for dinner and I needed a quick dessert.  I whipped this up (yes, it’s really easy, though the mixing of the pumpkin with the buttermilk is unconventional), drizzled the frosting over the top and it was a hit at dinner.  I cut up the extra pieces, gave some away and Dave’s been taking a slice in his lunch all week.

yield: Makes 12 servings

For cake

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
For icing
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Special equipment: a 10-inch nonstick bundt pan (3 quart)

Preparation

Make cake:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks) and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

Make icing:
While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.

Cooks’ note: Cake can be made 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.