Brownie Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Let’s start the first week of the new year in style!  Despite all the healthy eating that is about to ensue, it’s important to have a classy, spectacular dessert on the ready.  This is that dessert.  I don’t do a lot of “dinner party” desserts like cakes or pies or full cheesecakes because they can be difficult to serve and are not very portable.

Also, they are a lot of work and not always worth the effort.  This cheesecake is simple, stunning, and totally worth the effort.  Trust me on this one – a show-stopping dessert in three easy steps!

First we start with my favorite brownie recipe as a base.  It’s rich, full of chocolate flavor, and ease when made in a saucepan on the stove.  Next, the no-bake cheesecake portion whips up in a flash in the stand mixer and is smooth and creamy.  Mini chocolate chips add a bit of crunch.  Obviously the cheesecake needs a topping and it’s ganache to the rescue; a soft and decadent treat on top.

This brownie cheesecake was shared with college friends at our annual holiday gathering and was a hit!  A little slice goes a long way.  I personally enjoyed the cheesecake cold, for breakfast, throughout the week.  But who doesn’t enjoy cheesecake for breakfast, lol!

One Year Ago – What I Learned This Week #13

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Brownie Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

adapted from Bake or Break

Yield – 12-16 servings

Brownie Base

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake Layer

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup mini chocolate chips


1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup chocolate chips

pinch of salt

  1. Brownie Base – Preheat the oven to 325 ˚F.  Grease a 9 or 10” circular pan a removable bottom.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter, 1/2 cup sugar, water, and instant coffee.  When melted add in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and stir until combined and melted.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla one at a time and stir to combine.  Add in the flour, soda, and salt mixing until just combined.
  4. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes until the top is shiny    and a toothpick comes out almost clean.  DO NOT OVER BAKE!
  5. Let cool completely.
  6. Cheesecake Layer – In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until you reach stiff peaks.  Transfer to another bowl.
  7. Add the cream cheese and 1 cup sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, no need to clean the whipped cream out of the bowl.  Beat together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla.
  8. Fold in the whipped cream and the chocolate chips.
  9. Spread evenly over the brownie base.
  10. Ganache – Bring 1/2 cup cream to scalding and then pour over the 3/4 cup chocolate chips.  Let sit 5 minutes.
  11. Stir until the chocolate chips are completely melted and then spread evenly over the cheesecake layer.
  12. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before cutting and serving.

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Filed under Cake, Ridiculous

Easy Vegetable and Bean Soup

Easy Bean and Veggie Soup | Pale YellowLet’s start our New Year right; veggies and bean.  Easy and delicious.   Healthful.  A recipe so good and tasty I made it several times throughout the fall.  Since a batch makes so many servings, it makes a for a simple week of lunches.  I love the different textures from the veggies and beans; the lentils make the soup seem almost creamy.

Easy Bean and Veggie Soup | Pale YellowCan we talk about how weird 2015 seems?  I type it lot for work, but it seems like this mysterious time of the future.  It’s hard coming to terms with this new year, I’m losing track of years and how much time has passed?  Is this what it feels like to get older?  My mom has been talking about her and my dad’s trip to NC for their “30th” wedding anniversary this spring.  Here’s the issue, I’m already 30 and they’ll be celebrating 35 years.  Oh the confusion and fun!  Maybe eating loads and load so bean and veggie soup will improve memory!

Easy Bean and Veggie Soup | Pale YellowOne Year Ago – Apple Cider Doughnuts

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Easy Vegetable and Bean Soup

Pale Yellow Original

Yield – 4-5 lunch servings


2/3 cup dried lentils, I used red & green

2/3 cup dried beans, I used black & pinto

1 dried bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 ounces chopped white onion, I used frozen

5 ounces chopped red & green pepper, I used frozen

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 quart (4 cups) low-sodium vegetable stock

2 generous pinches of salt

plenty of freshly cracked pepper

  1. The night before add the lentils and beans to a 1-quart mason jar with the bay leaf.  Add water to fill and let the beans soak overnight.
  2. Add the olive oil to a medium soup pot with a lid to let heat.  Saute the onions and peppers until soft.  Stir in the carrots and celery.
  3. Drain and rinse the legumes and add to the pot with the bay leaf.  Stir in the vegetable stock and season generously.  Lentils need a lot of salt.
  4. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, letting the soup simmer on low.  Check the doneness of the beans, they should squish in your fingers when cooked through.
  5. Let cool and portion for this week’s lunches!

*Alternatively, add the drained beans, veggies, stock, and seasoning to a crock pot and cook on high for 5 hours.  Check the beans for doneness.  Even easier!Easy Bean and Veggie Soup | Pale Yellow

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Best of 2014

After all the hits of 2013, 2014 was a little slow on Pale Yellow.  However, after checking my stats from WordPress, I’m actually up 9,000 views from last year.  So after all, not a bad year.  There was a lot of quinoa salads and overnight oats; not as many cupcakes.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for three years and this past one was the most stressful.  Going back to school has cut into my free time drastically.  Imagine that, lol!  I hope 2015 allows me to focus on quality or quantity because I still enjoy this hobby very much!

Here are the top 1o posts from 2014 (all made it 2013, whoops!):

  1. Vanilla Pudding Shotsvanilla pudding shots // pale yellow
  2. DIY Blue Print Juice Cleansejuice cleanse {blue print} // pale yellow
  3. Lemon Loaf CakeLemon Loaf Cake // Pale Yellow
  4. Chewy M &  M CookiesChewy M & M Cookies | Pale Yellow
  5. Mudslide Pudding Shotsmudslide pudding shots | pale yellow {chocolate pudding with kahula and vodka served with a cookie spoon}
  6. Almond Pulp Breakfast Barsalmond pulp breakfast bars // pale yellow
  7. Strawberry Cupcakesstrawberry cupcakes | pale yellow {a vanilla cake with fresh strawberries, a fresh strawberry filling, & strawberry swiss meringue buttercream}
  8. Green Apple Juice {Blue Print Green}green apple juice // pale yellow
  9. Peanut Butter Cup CheesecakesPeanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes | Pale Yellow
  10. Sumbitches Cookiessumbitches cookies | pale yellow { Peanut butter, caramel, and chocolate chip cookies inspired by HIMYM}

And here are my favorite 10 posts in reverse chronological order (all from 2014, lol):

  1. Eggnog Cheesecake BarsEggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale Yellow
  2. Cranberry Brie Bitescranberry brie bites | pale yellow
  3. Pumpkin Bread PuddingPumpkin Bread Pudding | Pale Yellow
  4. Smoke Paprika Kale ChipsSmoked Paprika Kale Chips | Pale Yellow
  5. Pumpkin RollPumpkin Roll | Pale Yellow
  6. Zucchini Fries with Chipotle Garlic MayoZucchini Fries with Chipotle Garlic Mayo | Pale Yellow
  7. Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Saladbuffalo chicken quinoa salad | pale yellow
  8. Onion Jam Pizzaonion jam pizza | pale yellow
  9. Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Barsbrown butter chocolate chip cookie bars | pale yellow
  10. Bourbon Butterscotch PuddingBourbon Butterscotch Pudding | Pale Yellow

Here is to more baking, cooking, and blogging in 2015!  It’s going to be a great year!

Two Years Ago – Sugar Cookie Santas

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes

Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale Yellow This summer I spent almost three solid weeks with my family and despite the sad circumstances, it was lovely to spend so much time with my mom, aunts, cousins, and the rest of the crew.  Maybe that is why I needed to go back to Michigan for Thanksgiving, I was craving all the family time.  My first week in Michigan for Christmas has been filled with a ton of family togetherness and I’ve adored every minute of it!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale YellowLast Saturday started with my mom and I sharing a bit of wine, Sunday was the birthday party for my cousin’s and grandpa, Monday was cookie baking & a MSU basketball game, Wednesday/Thursday consisted of Christmas shenanigans, and Friday was a family fun day at the Henry Ford Museum and Slows BBQ.  And the rest of the weekend was filled with friend time.  Needless to say, it has been busy and a blast!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale YellowDespite the busy, there has been plenty of time for baking; there is always time for baking!  My cousin requested something with chocolate and fruit and this is what I came up with at the last minute.  I’m not personally a fan of cherry, but the rest of the family really enjoyed these little cupcakes.  The chocolate cupcake base is a perfection of soft, moist, rich crumbs that is super moist and flavorful; a truly light chocolate cupcake.  The frosting is not too sweet, but is creamy and full of cherry flavor.  The chocolate-covered maraschino cherry is a bit messy (and would be much cuter with a stem), but a delightful garnish!  It’s cupcake time for all your cherry-loving cupcake friends!Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale YellowPrint the Recipe!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes

Inspired by Confections of a Foodie Bride

Adapted from Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Swirl Frosting and Tie Dye Cupcakes

Yield – 30 mini cupcakes


Chocolate Cupcakes

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/8 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup hot coffee

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, soda, powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix together on low with the paddle attachment.
  3. Beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined and then scrape down the sides.
  4. Turn on the mixer and add the hot coffee slowly until well combined.
  5. Fill cupcakes liners with 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Turn out of the cupcake tin and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Covered Cherries

1 jar maraschino cherries (about 30)

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate

  1. Drain the cherries and save the juice.
  2. Melt the chocolate in double boiler.
  3. Dip each cherry halfway in the chocolate and place on wax paper to cool.  Refrigerate to harden completely.

Whipped Cherry Frosting

1 1/2 cups whole milk

7 1/2 tablespoons flour

juice from 1 jar of maraschino cherries

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and flour.  Keep whisking until the mixture becomes smooth and thick resembling pancake batter.  Pour in the cherry juice little, by little while mixing to keep the mixture thick.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – the mixture will stay grainy, it’ll be ok.
  4. Add in the cooled flour/milk mixture and beat until the entire frosting is light and fluffy and no longer gritty.  If the frosting is runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and then rewhip.
  5. Add to a piping bag with a large round tip and pipe a dollop.
  6. Place a chocolate covered cherry on top.Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale Yellow

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Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale YellowCan we do one more holiday cookie?  Let’s do another holiday cookie!  I’m sure there are plenty of you out there with more holiday parties to attend this weekend and I want to make sure you have fresh cookies for your tray.  If you can snag a bag of these kisses, they may be 50% off, double bonus – easy Christmas Cookies with on-sale ingredients!

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale YellowThese cookies were made for the annual cookie exchange and caroling event with my church group.  The weird thing about this event is that in the past I would be embarrassed about singing out in the open and openly celebrating the season, yet something has changed.  Without irony and without embarrassment I can celebrate and rejoice in my faith!  And it was fun and filled me with the holiday spirit (and Spirit).  A great night!

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale YellowAn easy cookie with a brownie-ish base and a  kiss on top, nothing can go wrong.  The cookies are a little bit crispy and a little bit chewy.  A minty chocolate kiss on top is the perfect compliment.  Either whip up a batch  this weekend or save them for next year, no matter what, this a wonderful cookie! Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale Yellow

Two Years Ago – Sugar Cookie Trees and Wreaths

Print the Recipe!

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms

Adapted from Buckeye Cookies

Yield – 36 cookies


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 eggs

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

36 Hershey Mint Chocolate Truffle Kisses, unwrapped

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a double boiler, melt the the chocolate and butter until smooth.  Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar in a medium bowl.
  3. Slowly add the melted chocolate to the eggs, stirring the whole time until well incorporated.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir until completely mixed in.
  5. Use a 1-tablespoon scoop to portion the dough on the parchment-lined cookie sheet.  The cookies do not spread much, so the dough can be fairly close together.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just set.  Let sit on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  7. Place a kiss in the center of each cookie.  Allow to cool completely, the kisses will melt and re-harden.Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale Yellow

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Filed under Chocolate, Christmas, Cookies

Gingerbread Squares

Gingerbread Squares | Pale YellowMerry Christmas!  I’m about to jump in my Christmas Eve dress and try out some red lipstick for the first time and head over to my cousin’s for dinner.  The cookie trays are finished and the presents are wrapped.  The champagne is being chilled for tomorrow’s mimosas and I’m ready to rock this holiday.  It’s hard to believe Christmas is already upon us.

Gingerbread Squares | Pale YellowLet’s do gingerbread without the men or the houses.  Let’s get back to gingerbread in its simplest form – a flavorful, gingery bread.  That is what we have here.  Tons of flavor in little bites.  There is molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and a little clove for kick.  The squares are soft and chewy, everything you want from a gingerbread.  These are a delightful addition to the holiday tray, a perfect compliment to all the other cookies.  Let the holidays begin!Gingerbread Squares | Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Gingerbread Squares

Adapted from Buns in my Oven

Yield – 48 squares


2/3 cup butter, room temperature + extra for greasing

1 3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

2 cups flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and grease a 9×13” pan with butter.  Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the bottom with overhang on two sides, grease that as well.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and molasses until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. Add the vanilla, salt, soda, powder, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl.
  4. Add the flour and mix on low until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let cool completely before cutting.Gingerbread Squares | Pale Yellow

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Filed under Christmas, Cookies, Not Chocolate

Salted Caramel Fudge

Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale YellowIt’s been a busy weekend.  Friday I ran around and did important things like oil changes and gift giving and packing.  Saturday was spent driving back to Michigan and listening to Serial.  I listened to the whole series in a day and I believe that is the best way to do it; it made the drive much, much easier.  I’m satisfied that Sarah gave her opinion and I agree with her, but look forward to what the future can hold.  Saturday night was filled with family silliness and Sunday was my cousins’ and grandpa’s birthday party.  Needless to say, it has been a non-stop start to Christmas break!

Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale YellowWhenever I arrive in Michigan, one of the first things I do is load up on wine.  Every trip has lots of get-togethers and parties and wine is essential.  So I went Trader Joes and was a little bit judged.  “Are you hosting this holiday or is it just for you?”  Totally just for me!  I laugh it off as a “home for the holidays” type of situations, but really Trader Joes?  You know we go there for your cheap and delicious wine!

Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale YellowI don’t think I bought enough wine PS, it’s going to be a long two weeks!  At least there is plenty of fudge to eat.  I wanted to make homemade fudge from scratch without any sweetened condensed milk.  I cheated a bit and used caramel squares, but I think that is okay since my candy thermometer was already engaged elsewhere!  The fudge is rich, creamy and sweet.  The caramel topping is perfectly salty and lovingly sticky.  Despite the number of steps involved, you get a lot of fudge for your efforts.  Holidays = fudge, make it happen!Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Salted Caramel Fudge

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Inspired by Amy’s Cooking Adventure

Yield – 96 pieces


1/2 cup  (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups packed dark brown sugar

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

1/2 cups mini marshmallows

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

10 ounce bag caramels, unwrapped

2 tablespoons heavy cream

fancy sea salt for sprinkling

  1. Spray a 9×13” pan with baking spray and then line with parchment paper leaving 2 wings.  Spray the parchment paper as well.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt together the butter, brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, and salt over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture simmers for about three minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Stir in the chocolate chips until melted.
  3. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the heat of the mixture.  Cook until it reaches 234 ˚F.  Remove from the heat and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the fudge is cooling, melt the caramels with the heavy cream.  Stir and heat until the caramels are melted and smooth.
  5. Back to the chocolate fudge; stir in the marshmallows and vanilla.   Stir for at least five minutes until the mixture is lighter and fluffy.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Pour the caramel over the top and swirl with a knife.
  7. Sprinkle generously with fancy sea salt.
  8. Let cool for about 20 minutes before refrigerating to cool completely.  Cut into squares and enjoy!Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale Yellow

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Filed under Sweet Treats, Truffles & Marshmallows