Sunday, September 14, 2014

Where Do I Begin????

Wow...I know...it's been forrrrrevvvverrrrrr!! Why the long absence you may ask, well, I have been busy....baking a baby!!

My husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy in June and we are over the moon in love.
You can't tell from the picture, but it is seriously crazy what changes happen to the body while pregnant. About 6 weeks in I broke out in full body hives that looked like huge red welts. It was nuts, but I couldn't complain too much since it only lasted a few days, thank goodness, and I had zero morning sickness.

Then, towards the end of my pregnancy I was retaining so much water the tops of my feet were like memory foam pillows. If you touched them with your finger it would leave an indent that would take a few seconds to disappear, but after all was said and done I would do it all over again to experience the miracle of life. Sorry...totally cheesy, but I swear...it's a magical experience.
So fast forward to 3months later and I am just getting back into the groove of things. I am almost finished with pastry school; my school was nice enough to give me an extension, and I am learning to deal with extreme sleep deprivation.

As a new mommy I am trying to find balance in my life. I am back to work so I am trying to figure out how to find time to bake while also spending time with the loves of my life.

This recipe is actually perfect for busy moms who want to bake something special, but 1.) don't have time to go to the store to get specialty ingredients; and, 2.) just don't have time in general.

It's an adaptation of the strawberries and cream bars I previously made from the awesome blog Cookies and Cups. I love it because it only takes a handful of ingredients that are really staple ingredients in a lot of homes, you can change things to suit your tastes or use what you have on hand and it doesn't take that long to make. 

Plus, it looks impressive and like it took all day, but I managed to whip it up while my baby was taking a little cat nap. 

Spiced Toasted Walnut Tart

Bake Time: 25-30min
Bake Temp: 350 degrees

1 box of Spice Cake Mix (use what you have!)
1/3 cup butter softened
2 eggs, divided
8oz package of cream cheese softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla (or another flavor you like)
1/2 to 3/4 cup walnuts roughly chopped (any kind of nut will do) OPTIONAL (or some berries, or candy...use your imagination)

Essentials: 10 inch tart pan or 13 x 9 baking dish
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your tart pan or baking dish (I used Pam spray) and set it aside. Blend the cake mix, butter, and one egg together in a bowl until combined. Take the mixture, which will look like cookie dough, reserve 1 cup for the topping and pour the rest into your prepared pan or dish. Press it into the bottom and up the sides a bit. Bake it off in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. 

While the crust is baking make the filling by blending the cream cheese, sugar, remaining egg and vanilla in a blender until combined and smooth and set aside.

Once the crust comes out of the oven pour your cream cheese mixture over the crust, sprinkle with the reserved crust crumble and walnuts.  Throw it back in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until it's golden brown and the center is set (my oven took about 27 minutes). 

Once cooled you can pop it in the fridge to chill until it's time to eat. It is a great make-ahead treat and a perfect dessert to take for a dinner party, holiday get together or potluck.  This recipe in particular would be greatly complimented by a cinnamon flavored whipped cream and some fresh berries to give a real depth of flavor and to keep it from being one note. 

Any uneaten portion should be tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge for a midnight snack!

It feels good to be back...I hope you try this recipe and let me know what you think or what changes you have made. 

Happy Baking,
Dani xoxo