Wednesday, May 27

LIFE | Happy Birthday Clara + NO BAKE Turtle Cheesecake with Brownie Crust

It was Clara's 19th birthday last week.
How is that even possible?
Has it already been a year since her high school graduation party?
And she's now finishing up her first year of college? Stop it.

I could eat a whole cheesecake just thinking about the reality of it all.
In fact, I could likely eat this whole cheesecake...
This delicious, turtle cheesecake with a brownie crust bottom...
Clara's requested birthday dessert this year. 

Honestly...there's no way I could really eat this all by myself because it is incredibly rich.
And trust me when I say I can usually put down some sweets in one sitting - no problem. *wink*
When Clara mentioned wanting this for her birthday dessert this year, I wasn't at all surprised. I mean this isn't the first time she's asked for a cheesecake. (Clara's 15th Birthday + Clara's 17th Birthday) I mentioned the other option of doing an oreo cookie crust vs. the brownie crust but she stuck to her guns.

It's her birthday afterall so there was no pushback from me on her final decision and I was honestly a bit intrigued by the fact that this was a "no bake" cheesecake. I'm used to my all-time family favorite cheesecake recipe in which the oven is required. So I was definitely curious.

Let me just say that we are cheesecake snobs around here.
We are hardly ever satisfied or impressed by store-bought, restaurant-prepared or other homemade cheesecakes we've tried. I think we are just very picky because my mom's secret recipe has us spoiled and is seriously the best on the planet. I don't like or do "cakey" cheesecakes...the ones that are fluffy. I prefer my cheesecakes to be creamy and rich and most of the time I prefer NOT having cherries or strawberries or any type of fruit on them.

Now chocolate...that's a different story.

And chocolate + pecans + caramel...with a Ghirardelli Brownie Crust...
Pretty ridiculous!

So here's the deal.
This cheesecake meets the "creamy and rich" standards and is absolutely delicious.
The fact that it's "no bake", (aside from having to bake the brownie crust first), is an absolute bonus.

If you love cheesecake, caramel, pecans and brownies you should definitely make this Brownie Bottom Turtle Cheesecake by Sprinkle Some Sugar. It's a winner!!

Brownie Bottom Turtle Cheesecake
inspired by Sprinkle Some Sugar
Yield: 1 - 9" cheesecake, approx. 8-10 servings.

Brownie Layer
1 box brownie mix + ingredients listed on the box (Ghirardelli Triple Fudge is what was suggested and is what I used and is what I will buy again for regular brownies - there are chocolate chip chunks in the batter...and it's nothing short of amazing).

Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

Caramel Cheesecake
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup caramel sauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I intentionally left this out - and no one missed it).
pinch nutmeg
4 oz cool whip

chopped pecans (I used approximately a 1/2 cup - if that)
caramel sauce
hot fudge sauce (I chose to make this homemade hot fudge sauce - and it is YUMMY)

Brownie Crust
Grease a 9" springform pan. Using a medium sized bowl, mix all brownie ingredients until smooth, and pour into prepared pan. Bake using the directions on the brownie box or whatever recipe you are following.

Caramel Sauce
While the brownie crust is baking, it's time to make the caramel sauce.
Pour in sugar and water into a small pot. Place on stove on medium-high heat. You will want to whisk and swirl the pot around until all of the sugar is dissolved. Keep swirling the pan often while keeping a close eye on the color of the sugar water. It should turn a light amber color. If you continue letting it cook it will get darker and darker, providing a more rich and bold caramel flavor. How dark you want it is completely up to you - I prefer mine lighter vs. darker.

DO NOT WHISK!  Continue to swirl the pot using the handle so you do not disrupt the caramelization process that's taking place. Don't do it!! You'll have to start over!!

Once the sugar water has reached a color you are satisfied with then it's time to pour in the cream with extreme caution adding it  S L O W L Y and C A R E F U L L Y. The sugar water will bubble like scary-crazy for a few seconds and will settle back down. Now it's time to whisk again...until smoothy. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the butter, vanilla and salt. Set your gorgeous, homemade caramel to the side to let it cool completely and thicken.

Cooling the Brownie Crust
When brownie crust is done baking, remove it from the oven and carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Let the brownie crust cool completely.

Homemade Fudge Sauce
If you are doing a homemade version, now would be a great time to make it while the brownie and caramel are cooling. I use Brown-Eyed Baker's Hot Fudge Sauce recipe - delicious!

Cheesecake Filling
Time to make the cheesecake filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, brown sugar and granulated sugar until blended. Stir in the 3/4 cup of completely cooled caramel sauce and then add the spice(s). Mix well. Gently fold in the cool whip until it's fully incorporated - until you no longer see the white cool whip.

Put the outer ring back on the springform pan. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the baked brownie and spread using a rubber spatula until it's smooth and even. Chill in refrigerator for 3-4 hours. (I say cover after 3-4 hours and continue to chill overnight for best results).

Once chilled, carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Using the leftover homemade caramel sauce and a spoon, drizzle it all over the cheesecake in a crosshatch pattern. (top to bottom first and then left to right). Sprinkle on the pecans - they stick nicely to your caramel. Now drizzle on the hot fudge using the same crosshatch pattern.

When drizzling the caramel + fudge come past the edge and let it drip off the sides of the cheesecake. Your countertop will be messier but your cheesecake will be prettier! Ha!! see photo above.

Place on a pretty cake stand or serving plate.
Add birthday candles if appropriate and then slice and serve.

Keeps in refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container. be completely transparent...
there was one thing I wasn't a huge fan of regarding the outcome of this cheesecake.
(and my family agreed with me).

Look at how thick the brownie crust is compared to the cheesecake filling.

The crust looks perfect from the outer edge but when you cut into the cheesecake and view a piece from the side, it's super thick.
Too thick - in my cheesecake-lovin' opinion
And as much as I LOVE the Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie mix...with it's rich chocolatey taste and those delicious chocolate chips baked inside...omgoodness!!
It really just proved to be too much crust for my taste.
I need crust with my cheesecake...
not cheesecake with my crust.

Here's what I'll be doing differently next time:
1. Trying an Oreo Cookie Crust (1 package of crushed oreos + 1/2 cup melted butter - blended lightly with a fork and pressed into the bottom of a springform pan - no baking needed)
2. Trying a different creative finish for the this Toffee Cheesecake. It's a little more simple so if you prefer more turtle finish then I would stick with the crosshatching shown in this post.
3. Skipping the Homemade Hot Fudge to eliminate one of the steps and just buy a jar instead. Although it was pretty delicious and I still have a large amount left in the fridge. *wink*

Oh I do hope you'll try this delicious cheesecake.
Overall it was a huge hit - aside from the crust being a bit thick.
It's no-bake creamy filling definitely got a thumbs up from my family and I!!

And I'm telling you...that Ghirardelli Brownie Mix!? SO. GOOD.
I will definitely be using that again for our brownie cravings around here.

I let my caramel get a little too dark, when my girls got home from school they all thought there was a pan of chocolate sauce cooling on the counter. I almost made another batch but
lucky for me I used a "special dark" cocoa to make the homemade hot fudge and it turned out WAY dark. The caramel sauce actually looked a lot lighter up against the dark chocolate fudge sauce so it all worked out. You'd never even know from the photos.


Tuesday, May 12

FOUND | Farm Fresh Eggs + Local Co-Op

I recently joined a local co-op to be able to buy organic produce + eggs for a reasonable price.
I used to belong to one many moons ago but the people that ran it ended up moving...or something like that...and for whatever reason, I never looked into another one.

A couple of weeks ago, a neighbor mentioned she had just joined one and emailed me the information. The following week I placed my small first order and here's what I came home with...

Organic local farm fresh eggs, organic hearts of romaine + organic apples.
I was happy with all three items...especially with the eggs...and apples...and romaine.
So yeah...I was happy with everything. *wink*

I have become especially intrigued by the farm fresh eggs, however. Although I had belonged to a co-op previously, I had never bought eggs. I'm not sure why because you would think they would've had them available but I really don't ever recall seeing any. Maybe that was also during the time when eggs were "bad" for you so I wasn't really into them. And now it seems they really aren't that bad for you afterall and we eat a ton of them around our house - especially after learning about Whole30 and successfully completing the program several times.

Anyway, I noticed a few significant differences right away between these eggs and


Friday, May 8

BOOK CLUB | June Selection :: "Find Your Happy" Book + Giveaway

June's PNPF Book Club selection, "Find Your Happy", was inspired by the fact that the month of June marks the 1/2 way point of the year. Yeah. Can you believe we are almost there?

Anyway...I really felt like this would be the perfect book to kind of get re-motivated about the goals + dreams we were all gung ho about at the beginning of the year.

"The path you're on this very moment is going somewhere good."

This book is filled with powerful, thought-provoking words that are sure to energize us and motivate us.

And let's face it...
isn't that the ultimate goal for us "Find your Happy"?

You can order the Find Your Happy book by M.H. Clark right now to make sure you have it by June 1st. can take your chances and win a copy here on the blog!!

That's right, the wonderful folks at Compendium are offering up three copies to three lucky PNPF readers this month. Enter below.

Points = entries. More points = more entries.
Choose only one option or choose ALL of the options to earn points. The more options you select the more number of times your name goes into the hat!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners will be notified via email + names announced on the widget above when selected.

I hope you are enjoying the book selection for May!
It's a beautiful little book and something you can keep out on the coffee table too!

If you are new to the PNPF Book Club read all about how you can jump right in any time and the inspiration behind the easy-read, inspirational selections each month.

Have a beautiful weekend, friends.
See you back here next week!

The exterior of our home is being painted as I type this blog post.
It looks SO different already and it's only been primed with some of the trim work painted.
Looking forward to sharing the before and after pictures.


Tuesday, May 5

FREE | Baking is My Superpower Art Print :: The Cake Blog

The May art print I designed for The Cake Blog is up and ready for you to download.
I chose to create something for all of the baking mamas out honor of Mother's Day!

"Baking is my Superpower + My Apron is My Cape" Art Print

Download the FREE "Baking is My Superpower" Art Print and print, frame, hang or gift it.

While you are there, check out the post  "10 Ways to Spoil Your Mother"  filled with gift ideas for Mother's Day. (I want the macaron kitchen timer, myself).

Also, I'm in love with this "Today Is Your Day" cake Carrie created for a graduation party. And you should totally see the "Yay" cupcakes and photo cookies too!

All of the prep work has been done for painting to begin tomorrow on the exterior of our home.
Stay tuned for after-pictures. (Unless I picked the wrong color). Ha!!


Monday, May 4

GIFT IDEA | I Love You Mom Book by M.H. Clark + Giveaway

If you are fortunate enough to still have your mom here on this earth with you, you are going to want to add this "I Love You Mom" book to your gift list for her.  Although it's perfect for Mother's Day coming up, it's also equally perfect for her birthday, Christmas or even just as a surprise for no reason at all...except with the intention to show her how much you love her.

This sweet question + answer book is filled with space and opportunity to for you truly express gratitude for the things she has done and continues to do, as well as gives you a place to write down the memories and the little things you love about her.

The sweet prompts on the left side of the pages, ("When people tell me I'm so much like you, it's usually because... OR "Even though I sometimes disagree with you, when I look back now, I'm so grateful that you... AND "Looking back, I don't know how you found the energy, but you always managed to...and so many more), make it easy to then share your feelings, thoughts or memories as it relates to the prompt. I just LOVE this whole concept and idea.

In addition to the blank pages provided for you to write your thoughts + answers, there are wonderful quotes within the pages as well.

My own mom will be receiveing a copy of this book along with a pretty kitchen dishtowel + a set of dish cloths from The Vintage Home Studio.  I'm certain we'll also be doing a combined Mother's Day Brunch or something along those lines.

The generous people at Compendium would like to send out a copy of "I Love You Mom" to three different readers. If you'd like to get your name in the pot simply stay tuned to my Instagram feed for a giveaway coming later this afternoon/evening!

If you'd rather skip the giveaway you can just order the I Love You Mom book by M.H. Clark.

LOVE all of the inspiring gifts + books from Compendium. They've gotten a lot of new products in recently and I'll be sharing some more with you soon!

Speaking of books...don't forget we started The Secret Language of Flowers on May 1st.

My mom just recently had to say goodbye to her other Jack Russell, Skippy.  He's been with her (and as part of our family) for 17 years and she's been devastated. Skippy + Maggie were her children and having lost Maggie about 8 months ago, losing Skippy 2 weeks ago was even more difficult. I think she and I should skip the Mother's Day brunch and have a spa day together. We both could use a day of relaxation!





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