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He Who Shall Not Be Named Ruins A Day That I Don’t Feel Like Talking About (I Made Cake)

6 Oct

But not birthday cake. Apparently that would be sad. And I am not one to be sad

This isn’t sad. Neither is this. Nope.

Nope. 

Yeah, so… it’s early October, which can only mean two things: the Fall TV season has started, and my birthday is nigh (as in, today. bleh). And that first thing also apparently means another thing. Ugh:

THE HELL? Who let you back in to ruin my life? I knew it. I felt it. The air was heavy with the scent of apples and terror; there was to be some (*shudder*) Stamos in my doomed future. Just the name, the name alone is upsetting. Jimmy is now well-trained enough to change the channel as soon as he hears either “John Sta-” (changed) or “Uncle Je”-(switched). But seriously, things have been lame lately. I, like many humans, have a tendency to want to cry uncontrollably around my birthday and I sort of don’t know why. It’s not really so much because I feel old– as I drunkenly found out last Saturday night, I can still climb a chain-link fence like a boss (though I also went to bed around 9:30 that night. “Bed” being the F train, but still, I would have been out cold if I had not been roused at my actual stop by my trusted companion). It’s more because I find the passage of time and all that comes with it to be almost too much to handle. So much is different this year, so much that I always thought would be the same– people I thought I’d know forever that I had to let go of, ideas about myself that I’ve had to change, velvet scrunchies becoming popular again. These things can do irreversible damage to one’s psyche. Permission to sleep this year off and come back for the little 3-0? Granted? Yes?

While you ponder, let’s talk about cake. Or, more accurately, Things That Are Greater Than Or Equal To Cake But Are Shaped Like Cake. Guys I didn’t know what to call this monstrosity. WTF Cake seemed like it was probably taken, I’m So So Sad Cake seems too on-the-nose, and Chocolate Chip Cookie/Peanut Butter Cheesecake/Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake with Peanut Butter Ganache seemed… lengthy. So bear with the title.

Not Birthday Cake, Because Apparently Baking Your Own Is Sad

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie layer

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup of butter (I recommend browning it first: set in a saucepan over medium heat, allow to melt and then brown until you start to see little buttery bits and it smells nutty)

1 cup of brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 cup of chocolate chips or chunks

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling, optional

For the Peanut Butter Cheesecake layer

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons of half-and-half

3 to 4 mini peanut butter cups, chopped (yeaaahhhh)

For the Brownie Layer (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, also first post on this blog!)

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of white sugar

10 tablespoons of butter, softened 

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup of flour

Yeah. This is a lot. Shibow never said this would be easy, just that it would be worth it, and NOT SAD AT ALL. Let’s WORK. 

For the cookie layer, preheat oven to 350°F and generously butter an 8×8 round cake pan. Combine all ingredients except coarse salt until batter forms. Gently fold in chocolate chips until distributed evenly. Spread batter in pan, evening out the top with a rubber spatula, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is set and the sides have browned. Sprinkle sea salt on top if using, then let cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. 

GIANT. COOKIE. 

GIANT. COOKIE. 

Let’s work on our brownie layer next, since the oven is already on and we’re the kind of people who want our cake, want it now, and are slightly, disturbingly obsessive about the goals we make when the goals we make are cake-related. Preheat the oven to 325°F this time, and wash out that large bowl you used for the cookie layer, because you’re gonna need it again (fancy rich folks, sure, use another large bowl, whatever, not even bitter at all about it, kudos for making all those good life choices). Cover the bottom and sides of an 8×8 round cake pan with foil. Combine cocoa powder, butter, sugar and salt in bowl and sift together until lightly mixed. Heat in microwave for up to a couple of minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir everything together (alternatively, you can set this over a simmering pot of water as long as you’re not accident prone, which is to say, as long as you’re not me). You can stop when it’s warm but not hot and appears grainy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, with a wooden spoon, until mixture takes on a nice sheen. Stir in flour and beat vigorously until you’ve got yourself a gorgeous batter. Send into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is set and a cake tester comes out with just a few delectable crumbs on it (that you will not immediately lick, for you have manners and know the dangers of Licking Hot Things. It’s late guys. I’m well aware of how accidentally dirty this whole post is, and IDC). Let cool completely before removing from foil and pan.

If you’re not totally done with me yet, let’s work on our cheesecake middle (also what I call my torso, waka-waka?). Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on high until fluffy, then gradually add in sugar until combined. Mix in peanut butter, then slowly add in half-and-half until the mixture is creamy and totally smooth. Gently fold in chopped peanut butter cups and spread into a generously buttered, foil-lined 8×8 cake pan (yes, of course I recommend using the same pan over again thrice. Not the same foil though. We’re not animals). Freeze until completely solid, at least an hour. Remove and sandwich between your giant cookie and giant brownie. Refrigerate while making your ganache. 

Just some previews. idk. The paper towel? I knew this was going to be messy and I wanted napkins nearby, but I figured it would just make sense to have them under the cake, so I could just rip some paper towels off the actual cake to save time. I'm joking. No I'm not. I am. (I'm not)

Just some previews. idk. The paper towel? I knew this was going to be messy and I wanted napkins nearby, but I figured it would just make sense to have them under the cake, so I could just rip some paper towels off the actual cake to save time. I’m joking. No I’m not. I am. (I’m not)

Peanut Butter Ganache

2/3 cup of heavy cream

6 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter

Set chocolate aside in a heatproof bowl. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan until simmering but not boiling. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute before stirring. Continue to stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is shiny. Stir in peanut butter until melted, then immediately pour this glorious nectar over your cake, letting it spill over the sides like the beautiful disaster it is. Refrigerate until ganache has set.

Top with more peanut butter cups if you like (you like). 

Top with more peanut butter cups if you like (you like). 

IT'S SO SHINY

IT’S SO SHINY

Uhhhh…. I know. I’m crazy. This is madness. It’s pure madness. But I needed it, dammit. I needed that glorious, messy, indulgent, unbelievably unhealthy madness.

Pretty much my view for the past couple days, because I love this cake and I am a shut-in.

Pretty much my view for the past couple days, because I love this cake and I am a shut-in.

Oh and other people had this cake and were able to confirm that it was completely not sad but, instead, positively OMG. 

So? Well. Currently I am sippin’ on some serious Courvosier, eating some Not Birthday (and Not Sad) Cake, and listening to Biggie, throwing my hands in the air, because I’mz a true player. Only two of those things are true, and it’s the thing about eating cake and listening to Biggie, because BIGGIE, and also because I have often spoken about how broke I am due to circumstance, the economy and some Star Wars-related purchases I recently made. I guess there are worse ways to spend one’s… regular old Tuesday. Baby. BABAYYYYY.   

 

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“You’d Pass For 18 If You Didn’t Have Such Sad Eyes” (Let’s Take That In With Some Goat Cheese Cake)

11 Jun
doublerainbow

IT’S A DOUBLE RAINBOW!! Captured in Colorado, where marijuana is legal. I can only imagine how many weed-addled brains exploded at the sight of this.

The quoted line in today’s title is probably the truest statement that has ever been spoken about me. If I ever become super famous (LOLOLOL) and decide to punish the world with my memoirs, that will be the title. Unless I’m like 100 by then, in which case it will probably not make sense. Unless I look amazing for 100, which is entirely possible since I’ve seen Interstellar and could totally become an astronaut that stays crazy young by living in a bookcase (to answer your question, indeed I did fall asleep several times during this film).

This has been a trying time for ol’ Shibow. I did finally manage to stop my big brown baby whining and go on an actual vacation, to a couple of cities in Colorado and to Austin, Texas. Both destinations were as hot as I imagine Hell will be (notice I say will since I’m banking on it as a final destination), which I guess led me to believe that I would be able to sweat out my depression in the sauna that is a good chunk of this country. This combined with eating my feelings in breakfast tacos and barbecue seemed like a good plan for the week I was there, and proved successful until my extremely tanned feet landed back on New York soil asphalt. And then I just wanted to do an about-face and hop on another plane away from my troubles. Are there any travel-related companies that need an anxious Indian woman with decent writing skills and a tendency to cry at the drop of a hat for…anything? I also make a pretty mean cheesecake. Eh? EASY SELL if you ask me!

Yeah… let’s just talk more about that cheesecake. The grammarian in me was unsure of whether this should be called a “goat cheesecake,” (makes one think of a goat-flavored dessert, or a goat-shaped one, no?) a “goat cheese cheesecake” (redundant) or a “goat cheese cake” (looks very weird, but…whatevs). I decided to go with the latter because, as I said, WHATEVS. It’s a cheesecake made with goat cheese, homies.

Goat Cheese Cake (makes one 9-inch round cake)

(adapted from Bon Apetit)

butter for greasing pan

3/4 cup of sugar, plus more for sprinkling in pan

12 ounces of softened goat cheese

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

6 large eggs, separated

3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

raspberries or berry of choice, for garnish

 

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Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and butter/sugar a 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl, beat sugar, goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium until the mixture is smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in egg yolks, two at a time, scraping the bowl down with a rubber spatula frequently.  With mixer on low speed, add in flour just until blended.

In a separate, clean medium-sized bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Note that everything you are using must be absolutely clean and dry in order for egg whites to whip properly, as they’re very temperamental (you also need to make sure the room you’re working in never gets too hot).

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Gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture just until blended, then fold the rest of the whites in. Do not overmix.

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Pour batter into pan and tap pan against counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake until the middle jiggles a bit but the sides of the cake are set. Let cool completely in pan.

Once cooled, run a knife around the sides of the pan and release cake from springform pan. Decorate with berries as you wish.

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Full disclosure: this cake was made for Mother’s Day, a month ago (my bad…), because mama loves cheesecake but also loves being healthy, and while I wouldn’t exactly call this vitamin cake, it’s considerably lighter than the regular stuff.

photo (2)

So, does “considerably lighter” mean “considerably grosser?” Absolutely NOT. I honestly thought I would miss the crust, but then I realized what a pain in the ass it can be to make cheesecake crusts sometimes. Also, no one who ate this cake even noticed it was crustless. It had the creamy, tangy taste of regular cheesecake but wasn’t nearly as heavy, meaning everyone felt comfortable going for second (um, third in some cases) slices. Take it from your sad-eyed Aunty Shibow, folks: this is the perfect summer cheesecake.

Leggo My Holiday Depression. That Was Bad. It’s A Post About Waffle Cookies.

17 Dec

Guys. I am so unmotivated that yesterday I decided to randomly take an IQ test to see how much dumber I’ve gotten over the years. Guess what? I’m not dumber at all! I’m smarter by a FULL POINT! And according to the scale, I’m “gifted but too freaking lazy and unmotivated and whiny to do a damn thing about it.” That’s an actual quote from the test! No it’s not! But it might as well be! So, it would be very easy to take the results of that test and beat the crap out of myself. It would, in fact, be the easiest thing. But I’ve slowly started to realize a few things. Maybe it’s the holiday season that’s warmed my cold heart. Maybe it’s the free Glen Hansard show that I creepily found out about and subsequently attended (it was life-changing and mind-blowing, thanks for asking!). Maybe it’s just maturity…but probably not that, since about an hour ago I had a long, angry conversation with my younger sister over a grudge I’ve been holding against a relative who dismembered my Zack Morris doll when he was five. The Zack Morris doll has been replaced. The emotions have not.

This is our Christmas tree. It may not seem like much, but it brings me a disturbing amount of joy.

This is our Christmas tree. It may not seem like much, but it brings me a disturbing amount of joy.

I think this is the time to try and live life as fully as it can possibly be lived. I’m not going to get any younger than I am right this second, so I think it’s time to just will myself to start. I have a habit of waiting– waiting for things to get better, for life to get less stressful, for more money to come in, for my life to measure up to the lives of others, for the fun to just start already. And thanks to that terrible habit, I know I have missed out on some great things. I once read that it’s really, really important to celebrate every good thing that happens to you, because once it’s gone, it’s gone, and you won’t have any way to remember how wonderful you felt if you don’t take even just a moment to be grateful, be surprised, and be happy. So I’m going to try to stop and celebrate every now and then. I figure that I spend so much time and energy complaining (91 posts and counting, guys! How are you all still reading this blog?), that I have some to devote to trying to be happy. I hope you’ll all join me, or at least try to. You know what would help? Waffle cookies. Waffle cookies would help for so many reasons. The first reason is they consist of three of the most awesome things known to man and woman: waffles, cookies, and chocolate. If there is a better triple threat to be found, tell me. But for now, let’s work!

Chocolate Chip Waffle Cookies (makes one dozen cookies)

adapted from How to Simplify

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of white sugar (omit if you want a deeper flavor)

1/2 cup of butter, melted (browned if you want a nuttier flavor, which I did)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)

You need one. I promise.

You need one. I promise.

Now, grease and preheat your waffle iron. If you do not have a waffle iron, please purchase one immediately. It will change your life in only the best ways. Combine your sugar, butter, egg and vanilla and stir until mixed. Stir in flour and baking soda and continue until batter forms. Fold in chocolate chips, then drop batter onto iron by the tablespoon. Close iron, and heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the cookies are a golden brown. Very gently lift cookies using tongs, and place on wire racks to cool. Dust with confectioner’s sugar if you’d like. SONY DSC   SONY DSC     Now, if you have a waffle iron, these will be ridiculously easy. If you do not, these will be impossible, so I’m very sorry and I’d be happy to drop some off at your place if you’d like. Really, I would, because these are so easy and fast and make other people very, very happy. I brought these to work as part of a holiday bucket o’ cookies, and two separate people have asked me to make them again. Now that’s something to celebrate. Speaking of celebrate, I hope you’ll all join me in supporting a good cause this holiday season. No Kid Hungry is a wonderful organization that provides hot meals for children across the country. Did you know that 1 in 5 American children lives in poverty? Twenty percent!!! That breaks my heart. If you can, please donate. If you can’t, please share the link, and either way, have a lovely, lovely holiday season.

Saying Goodbye To An Old Evil Friend….And Saying Hello To Cheesecake

17 Nov

Before I continue, there’s still time to donate any items you can to Sandy victims. From what I’ve been hearing, clothing donations and food donations, while appreciated, are no longer as necessary as money is. Also, many people are in need of cleaning supplies to get their houses back in some semblance of order, so anything you can do would be wonderful. This is probably the best place to do your donating. Thanks!

So it’s about to get real in here, readers.

Today my boyfriend posted some really awful news on my Facebook page. Did you hear? You must have. Do I even need to say it? Ok, fine, since you insist. Hostess is closing.

I need to say that again: HOSTESS IS CLOSING. Oh it hurts me so.

I guess I should tell you all, since I’ve kept it secret long enough. I don’t really care about Hostess treats. I can make my own damn Twinkies, and they sure as hell won’t be preserved and stabilized so as to survive the apocalypse. But Hostess owns Drake’s. When I was in high school, I basically kept Drake’s afloat all by myself. How, you ask? Um… ok… this is sort of humiliating, but as this is my blog and I do have to share stuff sometimes, here goes…

Does anyone else find it odd that the words “artificially flavored” and “freshness guaranteed” are on the same box? How did that escape me back then?

Now, I kind of really hated high school. I went to a pretty competitive, stressful one and was constantly anxious about something. I’m not much different now, but that’s for another sobby post. Anyway, so I was quiet and sad pretty much all the time for the first, oh, three years. And all the time I did not spend with other people was spent with the above handheld pies. They look disgusting, right? I know. But they treated me so well. And they were delicious! They were reliable, they were sweet, and they just kept showing up to comfort me. That might be the saddest thing I’ve ever typed, and I used to write some depressing stuff, man (yep, I’m letting it all hang out for you guys). I actually remember my little sister reaching inside of the box more than once, hoping to taste this glorious treat herself, only to be disappointed and perplexed that there was no pie to grasp. I’m honestly not sure if, to this day, she’s ever had the [dis?]pleasure of tasting one of these. Now as you can see, there are eight pies in each box. No one else in my family was really into these. And there are eight pies in each box. And there were many boxes purchased. I think you understand what I’m trying to tell you.

So, eventually, my dad got hip to my habit. I think it took my pediatrician not-so-gently explaining that my cholesterol was alarmingly bad and that I was starting to get kind of huge. And then the pies were gone from my life. And I haven’t had one since. Nor can I, for I fear relapse.

So now I’m in good standing health-wise, thanks to my abstinence from these fruit-filled Satan squares. I’m happy to have kicked the habit, but, well, I’m also kind of sad that I’ll never see them again. I mean, maybe I would have wanted one, one day. Just a taste, you know? And now I’ll just never even have the option. Farewell, old friends. Ugh, you treated me so poorly. See you in Hell.

Are you as sad as I am? No? Do you really just want to hear about a Peanut Butter Cheesecake I made? You’re right, I understand. Let’s talk about that.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake With Chocolate Ganache Topping (makes one 9″ round cake)

For the crust

1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

6 tablespoons of softened butter

For the cheesecake portion

12 oz of cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup +2 tablespoons of peanut butter (I actually used all-natural, which I found to be amazing, but you can use whatever you’d prefer, just make sure it’s stirred well!)

1 1/2 oz of semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I used chocolate chips)

1 egg

1/2 cup of heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

First, preheat your oven to 350ºF, grease a 9″ springform pan, and bring a large pot of water to a boil. We’ll be using the water as a “bath” for the cheesecake, since this will help keep the air in the oven moist and keep the top of the cheesecake from cracking. Also, cover the of your springform in foil if you’re worried about leaks.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer or hand mixer, cream together cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and chocolate until the mixture is smooth. Mix in your egg, then blend in heavy cream and vanilla until everything is fully combined.

Pour the batter into your springform pan, and place this pan in a larger pan, then pour your boiling water into the larger pan so it reaches about halfway up the sides of the springform. Very carefully place this whole thing into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes– so that it appears almost done but still jiggles around in the center quite a bit.

Now, this is a great tip from the author of this recipe: once you’ve determined the cake is done, don’t remove from the oven. Turn the oven off and let the cake sit in the oven as it cools down, which will allow the cake to cook completely without burning or curdling. This should take about an hour. After the hour’s up, remove the cake from the water bath and allow it to cool on your counter for another hour before placing in the fridge until you’re ready to add your ganache.

Chocolate Ganache (Hell yes)

2 oz of semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup of heavy cream

1 tablespoon of softened butter

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Now, in a small saucepan, bring your heavy cream to a boil and then pour half of it over your chocolate. Let this mixture sit for about 30 seconds, and then gently whisk the mixture in small circles, starting in the middle of the bowl and working your way out in larger circles. Then pour in the remainder of the cream and repeat the circular motions until you’ve got something shiny and smooth. Stir in your butter and mix just until it’s incorporated. Pour the ganache over your cake and refrigerate until it’s been set.

Now, I added some pecan bits to the top to be fancy…do as you please, readers 🙂

Yes, I realize that thing is WAY too close to the edge of the counter, but don’t worry, miraculously nothing awful happened. I’d be pissed after all of the work I put into this cake. So, was it worth the effort? Well, I’m not going to say yes. I’M GOING TO SAY HELL YES. It’s coming close to being an all-time favorite cake. We actually had some guests over after this was made, who agreed that it was super delicious. Fortunately we had a whole half to ourselves once our guests left.

And you know it didn’t go to waste. 😉

Sad Shibow Loves Surprises [Feat. Oreo Cookies]

16 Oct

I love surprises, but I am rarely surprised. Really. Nothin’ gets past Shibow…usually. So when it happens, I tend to really react. Last weekend, Sylvapotamus surprised me with a friends-and-cousins-filled surprise party that was stuffed with pizza, cake and, uh, eventually, whiskey. And then, Pommes Frites. And then, a place called Winners Bar. Maybe that’s all I need to say to convince you all that it was a really fabulous surprise. Thanks to everyone who lied to me about it…you are all excellent human beings.

In addition to that amazing day and night, I received some seriously sweet birthday presents from my lovely friends Atrish, Sofia and Dhanwanti, including a Betty Crocker cookbook, a set of baking pans, AND….

My new Sad Shibow apron!

Yes, I did tear up a little upon receiving this lovely present in the mail. The combination of receiving a gift, receiving it in the mail and having it be one that’s so personal really touched me. And it’s always a surprise to learn that other people actually read and like this blog, even if those people are people that I love. Thank you, you three beautiful ladies. While I’m at it, thank you to everyone who reads and likes/does not hate this blog. Let’s be friends forever.

Was that too gooey and mushy for you guys? Maybe I’m getting sentimental in my old age. Plus it’s been kind of a confusing and hazy week that I guess contributed to me reflecting on all of the awesome in my life. And there’s a lot of awesome. Did you see that apron? Awesomesauce.

I’ve also realized that it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve baked something, which has also probably contributed to my recent moodiness. So, in keeping with the tradition of surprises, I’m making Mini Oreo Cheesecakes. Where’s the surprise, you say? Well, each mini cake has a full Oreo cookie at the bottom. Did I just ruin the it? I’m a loser. Let me make it up to you with a recipe…

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes (Makes 1 dozen)

18 Oreos– 12 left intact and 6 roughly chopped

1 8oz package of either cream cheese or neufchatel cheese

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup of sour cream

Tiny pinch of salt

So, if you’ve clicked over to the original link (By the way, is “Foodbeast” not an amazing blog name?), you’ll notice that I’ve halved the recipe. This is for two reasons: 1. People still think it’s my birthday and won’t stop feeding me, and 2. I live alone and can’t find anyone to eat 30 of these right now. But these idle hands need to create, so let’s do this.

Chopped Oreos: As with most things in life, these were incredibly messy, annoying, and WORTH IT.

Preheat the oven to 275°F. Line a muffin tin with liners and place one whole Oreo at the bottom of each. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer until fully whipped. Gradually mix in the sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl that are certainly splattered with cheesy, sugary goodness (Yay, aprons!) then add the vanilla. Next, beat in the eggs, one at a time, before finally mixing in the sour cream and salt. Stir in the chopped cookies, and pour the mixture into your mouth evenly into each muffin tin.

Bake for 22-25 minutes (mine took a bit longer), until the sides look set and the center still jiggles a bit when you gently shake the pan. If you’re not gentle, you will burn yourself. It will be worth it, but you will burn yourself. Trust. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes, then send into the refrigerator for about 4 hours to cool completely.

So, as you can see, I went a little overboard with the chopped Oreos. I probably used closer to ten cookies, and while I’m a huge fan of all things Oreo, I’d recommend chopping no more than 6 for a dozen mini cheesecakes, if you really want to get a proper Oreo-to-cheesecake ratio. Obviously I was still pretty happy with where I went with these, and I think you will be too.

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