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Pumpkin Cheesecake in a Gingersnap Crust

Reviewed: Nov. 28, 2013
I made this yesterday and served it today for dessert after our Thanksgiving dinner - it was a hit! This is a well-written recipe. It actually came out right on the first try without me having to make any major changes. I omitted the nuts because not everyone in my family likes them - this had no ill effects on the outcome. I also used sour cream instead of heavy cream for a little extra flavor. I baked it in a water bath to prevent cracking and it came out beautifully. No, the texture is not as firm as a NY cheesecake, but I think it's appropriate for a pumpkin cheesecake - it's not as if it has a pudding-like texture like those awful no-bake "cheesecakes" - the texture IS lighter, but holds its shape like a proper cheesecake should. In the future, I may try the recommendations of substituting canned pumpkin pie filling and slightly tweaking the spice profile; however, this recipe is still great as is. I will be using it again.
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Jewish Apple Cake I

Reviewed: Mar. 9, 2013
This was my first bundt cake and I must say I am quite pleased with it. The texture is awesome - crispy on the outside and moist and tender inside. I would not recommend making 1 1/2 times the batter as some have suggested. The volume of the cake is just right as is - it bakes into a perfect ring shape. I guess if you wanted more of a volcano shape, you could use more batter, although I'd be afraid it would overflow as it baked. My personal tweaks were as follows: I diced my apples (12 oz. - about 3 medium) and tossed them with 1 tablespoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup brown sugar instead of using the 2 tsp. cinnamon and 5 tsp. white sugar, then folded them into the batter. Having no orange juice, after wracking my brain I decided to use Triple Sec instead (1/2 cup), which seemed to do nicely. I also increased the vanilla to 1 tablespoon and added 1 tsp. nutmeg for extra flavor. Finally, I topped the cake with a simple caramel glaze (1/4 brown sugar + 1/4 cup butter + 1 tsp. milk), which was awesome. The only thing I'd do differently next time is increase the amount of apples (probably a full 16 oz.) and this cake would be truly perfect. BTW, mine baked in only 65 minutes, so keep a close eye on it.
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Crisp Oatmeal Cookies

Reviewed: Dec. 20, 2012
I was drawn to this recipe by the word "crispy" in the title. There are many recipes for soft and chewy oatmeal cookies and few for crispy, which is what I was looking for. Since I wanted a crispy oatmeal raisin cookie that spread out nicely, I omitted the coconut and used raisins instead of chocolate chips. I used butter instead of shortening. To ensure crispness, I used 3/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 brown instead of 1/2 and 1/2, but I think they would've still been fine if I'd stuck to the original proportions. They were nice and crisp and just a tad chewy in the very center. For the desired flavor, I added 1/4 tsp. each of cinnamon and nutmeg. I didn't want them overly brown and crisp on the bottom, so in lieu of greasing the cookie sheet I used parchment paper. Next time I will go half and half on the sugars as per the original recipe, since they got almost too crispy when completely cooled, but I will keep my other tweaks. These cookies taste great! BTW, 12 min. at 350 worked for me. They were a perfect golden brown and the picture they show doesn't do the cookies justice. Almost forgot, added an extra 1/4 cup oats, too, and got about three dozen. You'd have to roll these mighty small to get four.
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Chocolate Cheesecake

Reviewed: Nov. 29, 2012
We just ate this and it is very good! It's rich, as all cheesecakes are meant to be, but not sickeningly rich. I made this into a triple chocolate cheesecake by substituting finely crushed chocolate animal crackers for the graham cracker crumbs (it took 5 oz. of cookies to make 1 1/4 cup of crumbs) and reserving a 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips to sprinkle on the top. A few of the chocolate chips sunk a bit too deep into the batter and caused the surface to crack somewhat near the center, but it was not too much of a detriment. The cheesecake was still very pretty, and delicious! Today is my husband's birthday, and he asked for this triple chocolate cheesecake in lieu of a traditional birthday cake. After eating a piece, he said it was just what he wanted!
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Joey's Peanut Butter Cookies

Reviewed: Nov. 15, 2012
With a few minor tweaks these were almost perfect... sooo much better than the "classic" peanut butter cookies that aren't peanut-buttery enough. I followed the recipe exactly except for omitting the milk, because I wanted to be able to roll them with my hands. The dough was still slightly sticky, but when refrigerated in between batches it was perfect to work with. Baked for 8 minutes at 375 they were a tiny bit over-browned on the bottom, but 10 minutes at 350 was just right. They were sufficiently peanut-buttery, but needed an extra touch of sweetness, so I lightly rolled the remaining cookies in some extra white sugar before criss-crossing, and that was all they needed. This dough is a bit delicate, so let the cookies cool AT LEAST two minutes before removing them from the pan or they may crumble. They need time to set up. Also note that you can't judge the flavor of peanut butter cookies when they're too hot - the full flavor comes through when they are cooled. I believe the handful of people who found these bland mustn't have had enough patience to let the true flavor of these delicious cookies shine through. Once you let them cool COMPLETELY they are soft and chewy and the sandy texture disappears. Enjoy them slowly, if you can, and they are eye-rollingly good - the right combination of peanut-butteriness and sweetness.
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