How Murray Saved Christmas

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

South of the North Pole in the U.S. of A., my family’s been prepping for the big holiday. We’ve decked the halls and trimmed the tree, and watched every special on our TV. You can’t knock the classics ’cause they’re all works of art, but I’m thinking more modern and funny and smart. It’s How Murray Saved Christmas that we’ve come to hold dear and we take bets on how often we’ll watch it each year. That’s it. I’m done with the rhyming. Hey, it’s tough stuff and I shouldn’t be doing it without a poetic license. But that doesn’t stop the residents of Stinky Cigars. (I know, doesn’t that just sound like the perfect place to live?) The town honors a banner with two smelly (cigar) butts on it. Oh, and it just gets better. Turns out, Stinky Cigars is home to many holiday stars with so much pride, they’ll kill half the day singing their town anthem. I’m pretty sure that place was made for me. Actually, my siblings and I feel that everything about How Murray Saved Christmas was made for us. It’s over the top and hilariously odd, but it means well. (Wow. That does kind of describe us.) I love how it turns the typical holiday stuff on its head. Santa isn’t the hero, he’s a likeable jerk. (“He’s a great guy outside the office.”) Then an elf causes him to get a concussion which leaves a grumpy diner owner as the only person qualified to be a St. Nick Substitute. (I feel bad for Santa, but I’m a big fan of Queen Hannah of Bananaland.) I think it’s safe to say that this special is one of a kind.

With Murray Weiner being the owner of a bustling holiday diner, we see a lot of his handy work in this special, from chili and roast beef to a lean pastrami sandwich with coleslaw and a triple-thick chocolate milkshake. Murray may have Antisocial claustrophobic paranoid neurosis, (I can’t help but sing that like Doc Holiday!) but he can sure cook. Even when The April Fool orders compact discs on rye, Murray doesn’t disappoint. I wasn’t allowed to make that. My sister also banned me from making Edison Elf’s pizza and spaghetti racket. (“It’s wasteful and dirty and terribly rude.”) That’s fine because I got to try making Murray’s chocolate chip cheesecake. It looks incredible and if anyone knows his dairy products, it’s Murray.

Recipe makes one 9-inch cheesecake.

Ingredients

Crust:

25 Oreo cookies (About 2 cups)

5 tablespoons butter, melted

 

Filling

2 ½ pounds cream cheese, room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup sour cream, room temperature

5 large eggs, room temperature

2 egg yolks, room temperature

1 cup roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate chips or mini chips

Boiling water for water bath

 

Ganache

8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup heavy cream

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack positioned in the lower third of the oven.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Cut two large pieces of foil and crisscross them. Place the springform pan in the center of the foil and wrap the edges around the sides of the pan.

Crust:

In a food processor, pulse the cookies until they form fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse until the mixture holds together when pressed. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and press evenly into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust until it is fragrant and set, 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Filling:

In a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is light and smooth. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips

Ganache:

Place the dark chocolate into a food processor. Pour the heavy cream into a microwave-safe bowl and heat until it begins to simmer, 3-4 minutes. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Pulse until the chocolate mixture is smooth.

Putting It All Together:

Pour the cheesecake filling over the cooled crust and evenly spread. Place the springform pan into a roasting pan or large baking dish. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform and place in the oven.

Bake the cheesecake until the edges are set and the center slightly jiggles, 55-60 minutes. Turn off the oven and crack open the door. Let the cheesecake cool for one hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath and unwrap the foil. Cool completely on a wire rack. Chill the cheesecake, uncovered, in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Prepare the ganache and allow it to cool slightly before evenly pouring over the cheesecake. Allow the ganache to spill over and cover the sides as well. Chill the cheesecake, uncovered, until the ganache is set, about 4 hours. Now it’s finally ready to be sliced and served!

murray-cheesecake-2murray-choc-chip-cheese-2

Santa gives Murray’s chocolate chip cheesecake credit for making him fat. Yep, I’m pretty sure the same thing’s going to happen to me. Whether it’s making cheesecakes or deliveries, The Milkman’s still got it. Murray proves that when he’s giving out presents. And he has such a good time, his curmudgeonly shell melts away and he delivers gifts to everyone in the world, regardless of behavior or religion. See, there’s some warm and fuzzy holiday feels in this too. And Murray wraps up with an ending that’s sweet. I’d love to type more, but I’ve got cheesecake to eat.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

 

Lupin the 3rd vs. Detective Conan: The Movie

 


Lemon Pie and Iced Coffee

I’ve been watching cartoons from all over the world my entire life, but for some strange reason, I had trouble wrapping my head around that fact. I just assumed that all cartoons were made in America, even though I knew that many of them had ties to other countries. When I was 12, I was introduced to Adult Swim’s anime library and finally everything clicked into place. I realized the differences between animation from country to country and truly began to not just watch cartoons, but respect them. Two of the shows that left a lasting impression on me were Lupin the 3rd (I started off with Part II, but I love them all.) and Case Closed/Detective Conan. Thieves and detectives were already in my wheelhouse, so there was no way that I’d not like them. Many years and hundreds of episodes later, I’m still hopelessly in love with these series. And just when I thought it’d be impossible for me to love them anymore than I already did, they made a crossover. And then they did it again! I was so excited, I screamed. It’s a good thing that the movie has subtitles because I giggle so much when I watch it that people have trouble hearing what’s being said.

The giggles get even worse when it’s just Conan and Jigen together. “Papa’s sorry.” is my favorite line in the entire movie. I’d love a special with just the two of them. During the course of their little one-on-one at the hotel, Jigen orders Conan an iced coffee and he’s given a piece of lemon pie. After all, he looks like a nice little kid who’s just picking up his Papa. Conan/Shinichi loves lemon pie and iced coffee, so it’s tough for him to pass up. There’s a large percentage of myself that’s made up of pie and iced coffee, so I totally get it.

Recipe makes one 9-inch pie.

Ingredients

Crust:

1 ¾ cups cake flour

1 cup powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into chunks

1 large egg

 

Filling:

2 (14 ounce) cans of sweetened condensed milk

3 egg yolks

¾ cup fresh lemon juice, from 3-4 lemons (You can use either Meyer lemons or regular ones.)

1/8 teaspoon salt

 

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Iced Coffee:

Coffee-beans or ground (I know it’s vague, but people have their own preferences when it comes to amount and flavor.)

Ice

 

Directions

Iced Coffee:

Use a scale to measure out enough ice to equal half of the total liquid volume. My iced coffee was 8 ounces, so that means I measured out 4 ounces of ice. Measure out and grind the amount of coffee you want. Brew your coffee directly over ice. I’m a cheater and I filled a heat-safe glass with the 4 ounces of ice, added a little sweetener, and brewed straight into it using my Keurig. I added more ice afterwards.

Crust:

In a food processor, pulse cake flour, powdered sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg and pulse until dough just comes together when pressed. If the dough is too dry, add ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, and pulse again. Form dough into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Let dough chill until firm, 30 minutes to an hour.

Unwrap dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough anywhere from 10 to 14 inches across and place in a pie tin. Gently press dough into place. Trim excess dough or fold it back on itself. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place parchment paper over the crust and fill the crust with pie weights, dried beans, or something similar. Bake the crust until set and beginning to brown, 10 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and let cool.

Filling:

In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and salt until well combined. Gradually whisk in lemon juice.

Whipped Cream:

Chill a metal bowl and whisk in the freezer for 10 minutes. I just used the ones from my stand mixer. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl and add the sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until the cream just forms stiff peaks.

Putting It All Together:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pour filling into crust. Bake until the filling is just set, 15-20 minutes. There should still be some jiggle in the middle. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Chill the pie for at least 3 hours.

Top pie with whipped cream. You can chill the pie again for up to an hour or go ahead and serve with a glass of iced coffee!

DSC_1061 (4)Lupin Conan Pie

I’ve never made a lemon cream pie before, but after tasting it, I’ll never be able to live without it. I feel the same way about this movie and the individual franchises. If only detecting and thieving were as easy and fun as Conan and Lupin make them look. I’d stop what I’m doing right now and go pursue one of those careers. Or both. I can’t decide which I like better, even though one of them is against the law. Maybe I’ll just meet them somewhere in the middle and become like Inspector Zenigata. (On second thought, maybe not.)

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Freakazoid!

 

Episode: Candle Jack

Pumpkin Pie

Happy Fall! This time of year has always been my favorite because it’s the “Goldilocks’ Standard” of the seasons. It’s just right! Plus there’s that little spooky feeling floating in the air. It’s the perfect time to sit around a campfire and scare the snot out of each other with stories about Sinbad getting another TV show. Oh, you don’t do that? Well, surely you must talk about Candle Jack? You know, the for real boogeyman guy with the bag on his head? Yeah, that guy. He’s one of my top Freakazoid! villains. (The Lobe wins out by a smidge.) When I was younger, I used to call him Candle Blank, so he couldn’t spirit me away, even though I thought it might be kind of fun. He’s just so gosh darn adorable!

And one thing that goes hand in hand with Fall and Candle Jack is perfectly plump pumpkin pie. That’s his weakness. Out of everything in the entire universe, that’s his weakness. How can you not like the guy? Just like the show. It’s so stupidly funny, that I still bust a gut whenever I think about it. My parents just stop and stare and wonder what on earth is wrong with me. Even I don’t know the answer to that, but I better take it easy on the laughter or I won’t be able to enjoy this pie.

Recipe makes one 9-inch pie.

 Ingredients

 Crust:

1 ¼ cups flour

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into chunks

2 tablespoons ice water, plus 1 or 2 more tablespoons if needed

Filling:

2 cups fresh (cooked and mashed) or canned pumpkin

¾ cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons molasses

1 ½ cups half-&-half

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger

 

Directions

 Crust:

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse until dough just comes together when pressed. If the dough is too dry, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse again. Form dough into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Let dough chill until firm, 30 minutes to an hour.

Filling:

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, egg yolk, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in pumpkin and molasses. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Gradually stir in half-&-half.

Putting It All Together:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Unwrap dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough anywhere from 10 to 14 inches across and place in a pie tin. Gently press dough into place. Trim excess dough or fold it back on itself. Crimp edge for a more decorative look.

Pour filling into pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 1 hour, or until skewer inserted in it comes out clean. Cool pie on a wire rack for 2 hours. Refrigerate or serve it up!

DSC_0406 (2) DSC_0384 (2)

This pumpkin pie is definitely something to scream about. A happy kind of scream. Not a scary, Scream-O-Vision type. Forget the steel, mortar, and bricks. All you need to catch me is the pie. I’ll even go along willingly. And now you know the rest of the blog. Good day!

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

 

 

 

Mickey’s Birthday Party

Birthday Cake

 I have no idea how I did it, but when I was a kid, I hardly ever slept. I couldn’t afford to. There was too much TV to watch. As time slowly crept to the wee hours of each morning and everyone else was asleep, I could be found in my living room huddled next to my television set. Some of my favorite things to watch on late-night TV were classic cartoon shorts. It didn’t matter who made them, how old they were, or if they were black and white or colored. I was captivated by them. That hasn’t changed. Yeah, I could’ve just waited a few hours and watched cartoons at a more “reasonable” time, but that’s not me. Watching cartoons alone in the dark really gave me a sense of companionship with the characters on my screen. I really felt like I was best friends with Mickey Mouse and the gang. We would go to the beach or try to catch ghosts. I was even invited to Mickey’s birthday party.

This is one of my absolute favorite Mickey Mouse cartoons, but not because of the birthday boy. Goofy and his cake escapades completely stole the show. That poor guy! I’ve had days just like his. You bake and bake, but nothing ever comes out right. When you’re finally happy with it or you just break down and buy a cake, you happen to trip and it collides with your friend. Thankfully, that didn’t happen with my cake. I’m not too great at decorating cakes, so it’s not the prettiest, but I felt like being a little ambitious in honor of my very own birthday.

 

Ingredients

 Cake:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 ¾ cups cake flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup milk, room temperature

 Marshmallow Fondant

 8 ounces of marshmallows

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar, sifted

Pink food coloring

Buttercream Icing

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

½ cup shortening

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar, sifted

Red food coloring

 

Directions

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 6-inch, an 8-inch, and a 10-inch cake pan.

Cake:

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, combine milk and vanilla. In a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk alternatingly, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Divide batter amongst pans. Gently tap or drop pans on the counter to remove air pockets. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cake is tested. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and wrap completely in plastic wrap. This will help keep your cakes moist. Cool completely on baking racks.

Marshmallow Fondant:

Melt marshmallows in a large bowl in a microwave for 1 minute, stirring at the 30 second mark. Stir water and vanilla extract into marshmallows. Stir in powdered sugar a cup at a time until sticky dough is formed. Dust counter with remaining powdered sugar and turn out dough. You may want to rub your hands with shortening or butter to keep them from sticking to the dough. Knead dough until smooth, workable, and no longer sticky. This can take up to 10 minutes. Then it’s ready to use. You can also make this the night before. Just wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill. Allow it to warm up to room temperature before trying to work the dough.

Buttercream Icing:

In a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening until fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Beat powdered sugar in, a little at a time. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add milk. If the icing is too thick, add more milk, ½ teaspoon at a time.

Putting It All Together:

Unwrap cooled cakes. Cut cakes to size and even out, if needed. Cover the cakes with enough icing to hold in the crumbs and allow the fondant to stick. Roll fondant out as thin as you can without tearing it. Cover bottom cake tier with fondant and smooth out sides so there are no creases. Remove excess fondant. Smooth out edges with hands or tools. Repeat with the other cakes and stack.

Knead a small amount of pink food coloring into some remaining fondant. Shape small pieces of pink fondant into flowers or roll and cut out with a small flower cookie cutter. Scoop some icing into a piping bag with a large tip and pipe icing onto the sides of each tier and the top of the cake. Place fondant flowers on the cake. Add some red food coloring to a small bit of remaining icing and scoop red icing into piping bag with a thin tip. Pipe out “Happy Birthday” onto the side of the cake. Light some candles and get ready to sing!

Variations: You can always use different sized cake pans if you want larger edges or a larger cake in general. The cake I made is very light in color, so if you want a more brown cake, add a little brown food coloring to the batter when you’re alternating the wet and dry ingredients. If you want to completely change it up, make whatever kind of cake you like best. You can also use pre-made fondant or icing if you’re pressed for time or just don’t feel like making any. Icing can also be made without the butter. Just double the shortening for even whiter icing. That’s the way my mom does it.

You can just use buttercream if you don’t care for fondant. After you initially ice the cakes, chill for at least 10 minutes. Dollop more icing on and spread until even and smooth. Chill the cakes again before you stack them and add the details.

Since I was making this cake for just myself, I did single layer tiers, but typical tiered cakes have multiple layers. (And are much bigger and more work.) Just double everything, spread icing between cake layers, stack, cover the tier with icing, and move on to the next one.

Mickey cake DSC_0290 (2)

The cake’s not as big as Mickey’s, but it suits this birthday girl just fine. At least I’m not covered in it. Although I wouldn’t be too terribly upset. It’s still cake and it’s delicious even if it’s ugly or smashed. Hey, Mickey didn’t seem that heartbroken when he accidentally got his cake all to himself, now did he?

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

 

Courage the Cowardly Dog

Episode: King of Flan

Flantasy Flan

Whenever my parents would ask us kids where we’d like to go on vacation, we would always say Nowhere. And by that, we always meant Kansas. We didn’t actually want to vacation in Kansas, but creepy stuff supposedly happens there and we wanted to see it for ourselves. Our request was always shot down, but at least we could watch Courage and see the place through his eyes. Honestly, I’m a huge chicken and probably would’ve cried if I ever came face-to-face with King Ramses or Benton Tarantella. So thank you, Mom and Dad!

While I was safe on my couch, poor, little Courage had to deal with all kinds of horrors on his own. Be it a weremole or an abominable snowman or chickens from outer space. All for Muriel’s sake, but sometimes the scariest thing on the farm is Muriel herself. Like when she and Eustace become violent, thieving flan maniacs after being brainwashed by a Flantasy Flan commercial. The whole brainwashing bit doesn’t sound too bad for a marketing strategy, minus the whole violent, thieving part. “Buy Flantasy Flan.” Catchy. But the self-proclaimed King of Flan didn’t have to hypnotize anyone. Flan is delicious.

Recipe makes 5 flan.

 Ingredients

Caramel

½ cup sugar

 Custard

¾ cup sugar

3 cups milk

4 large eggs

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

Yellow Food Coloring

 

Directions

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place 5 six-ounce ramekins in a deep baking dish or roasting pan.

Caramel

Add ½ cup of sugar to a saucepan on low heat. Without stirring the sugar, let it melt until it turns amber. Remove from heat and quickly pour caramel into each ramekin. Swirl each around to coat bottoms evenly.

Custard

Heat milk and ¼ cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble and steam, about 5 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil.

Whisk together eggs, salt, and remaining ½ cup of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk a small amount (about a ladle) of milk mixture into eggs to temper them. Whisk in 2 to 3 more ladles, one at a time. Now add egg mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture and whisk to combine. Strain custard through a sieve into a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Add vanilla and a small amount of yellow food coloring.

Divide custard among the ramekins and add boiling water to the dish/pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until custard is set.

Remove the dish/pan from the oven and take ramekins out of the water bath. Let cool until room temperature. Chill for 4 hours. If you’re impatient, at least let them chill for 1 hour. When ready to eat, run a knife around the edge of the ramekin. Place a small plate over the ramekin and invert them. When you lift up the ramekin, the flan should be jiggly and covered in caramelly goodness. Grab a spoon and dig in!

Courage FlanDSC_0247 (2)

Oops! I’d much rather make my own flan than buy the pre-made stuff. Sorry, King of Flan. You lost one customer, along with all of Nowhere. Oh, well. That’s one less problem for Courage to deal with. That is, until someone or something comes lurking around that farmhouse.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!