Raw Cheesecake with Strawberries and Chocolate Crust

raw cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate crust

raw cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate crust

It’s Father’s Day and I wanted to show my love by making a dessert. My initial inspiration was the gorgeous fresh strawberries in my fridge. Strawberries … chocolate is fantastic with strawberries … hmmm … chocolate cookie crust … what goes in the crust … cheesecake … Yes, I have it! A raw cheesecake from cocoa butter in a chocolate crust with strawberry on top. The chocolatey cocoa butter ties to the chocolate crust, and strawberry jam swirled into the cheesecake echoes the strawberry jam on top.

My cheesecake recipe search found a filling that was already vegan, and raw. The changes I made were to I bump up its tart flavor so it wouldn’t be too sweet when the jam was added in. This filling went with a simple cookie crust recipe I had. I chose a baked crust, but a raw one would work just as well. Strawberry jam and fresh strawberries were added, with a bit of shaved chocolate as a garnish. It was a dessert worthy of any special man.

Raw Cheesecake with Strawberries and Chocolate Crust with a nod to Deliciously Raw Kitchen

cookie crust
8 chocolate cookies (I used Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Crunchy Cookies)
1-2 tsp vegan margarine, melted
cheesecake filling
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for two hours or up to 24 covered in water in the refrigerator
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
5 TBS agave syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBS lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp liquid lecithin (this is very sticky, so coat measuring spoon with oil first)
2.75 oz melted cocoa butter
5 TBS strawberry jam, divided
garnishes
fresh strawberry slices
chocolate curls

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 6” tart pan with cooking spray; a pan with a removable bottom is easiest for serving. Put the cookies in a food processor with 1 teaspoon melted margarine. Process until the mixture looks like damp sand and just holds together when pinched between your fingers. If needed, add additional margarine and process again. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the tart pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling: Rinse soaked cashews under cold running water. Place drained cashews in a blender together with the milk, agave syrup, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and lecithin. Blend until smooth, then add melted cacao butter and blend again. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of jam. Spoon filling into the cooled crust and chill until firm.

raw cheesecake with strawberries

raw cheesecake with strawberries

To garnish: Put remaining 2 tablespoons of jam in a bowl and stir vigorously until spreadable. Spoon gently over the chilled cheesecake. Decorate the cheesecake with fresh strawberry slices and chocolate curls.

Until next time, happy baking!

Strawberry Mini Muffins of Love

strawberry mini muffinsToday is the day of love. Strawberry muffins sounded like a good recipe as they follow the love theme. But I wanted to spread lots of love so I made mini muffins. I gave them to friends and neighbors so everyone could feel good today. Bring on the love…

This recipe was pretty healthy to start, but I upped the ante by swapping some whole wheat flour for white. For high altitude I reduced baking soda and powder but added milk and flour. Then, to keep the muffins from turning pink, I strained the cut up strawberries so their juice wouldn’t color the batter (it will go into a smoothie).

Strawberry Mini Muffins of Love adapted from GoDairyFree.org
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup vegan sugar
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup + 1 TBS plain dairy-free milk
⅓ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and cut up and strained
Preheat oven to 375°F and line a mini muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, oil, and vanilla. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients but do not over mix. A few small lumps in the batter are fine. Fold in thawed strawberries. Divide batter between prepared muffin tins, not quite filling the cups. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins sit for 10 minutes, then remove them from the tin to a cooling rack. Makes 28 mini muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

Valentine’s Day and Chocolate Musings

chocolate strawberries

Image courtesy of Lindsey Turner at flickr.com

Ah, Valentine’s Day and the smell of chocolate is in the air. A traditional holiday treat is truffles and I often make them this time of year. But they aren’t baked and this IS a blog about baking. Fortunately, most of my recipe posts contain chocolate so any would be fantastic for the Holiday of Love. Red Velvet Cupcakes are a winner, as well as Chocolate Mousse Pie, although I would take a simple chocolate strawberry. Both of these ingredients are considered aphrodisiacs so they are right on the mark.

My goal has been to try and find healthier recipes to bake this year. The chocolate covered strawberries alluded to above aren’t baked, but they can be eaten alongside a healthy cookie and still fall into the “healthier” category. They also have the all important ingredient of chocolate that my husband demands to be in all desserts. (He took last week’s healthy Tahini Oat Cookies and dipped the last few in chocolate just as an experiment.)

I would like to know if you, dear reader and baked treat lover, have any recipes you would like me to experiment with to make healthier. They don’t need to contain chocolate but if they do they will get eaten faster at my house. Is there a baked good that you want to see me adapt?

Audrey’s Naked Chocolate Cake

Audrey's Naked Chocolate CakeThis baking experience began as a friend’s Facebook post. She showed a photo of a Naked Chocolate Cake and I took that as a challenge to make it high altitude and vegan. I enjoy a challenge, and it looked yummy. Also, I had some new cake pans that I needed to test.

To make the cake at altitude, I added flour and milk and reduced the baking powder. To take into account the short, layer-cake pans, I sliced the strawberries so they wouldn’t topple the cake. I baked at a lower temperature for a shorter time. And, with the small layers, I tried one to see if the cake came out. This will make four layers, or three layers and a snack.

The original recipe called for homemade whipped cream. I couldn’t achieve a thick enough cream to hold up the cake without using coconut cream, which I don’t like, so I used the vegan stuff in a can. I made up for it by making my own chocolate syrup. Feel free to use store-bought syrup, or you can make your own, too.

Audrey’s Naked Chocolate Cake adapted from The Food Network
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup vanilla soy yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 TBS whole wheat flour
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup + 1 TBS soy milk
1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 pint raspberries
whipped cream
chocolate syrup (recipe to follow)
Preheat oven to 325 F and spray four round, mini layer-cake cake pans. Pour coconut oil into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add in brown sugar, applesauce, yogurt and vanilla extract, and mix until combined. In a separate bowl sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.
With mixer on low, slowly add a third of the dry ingredients into the applesauce mixture, alternating with milk. Keep alternating until dry ingredients and milk are gone. Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in chopped chocolate by hand. Divide batter between cake pans. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes or until an inserted toothpick is removed clean. Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
To assemble, place a cooled layer of cake on a cake plate and cover in whipped cream and some chocolate syrup. Take fruit and spread it on cake out to the edges. Pay attention to how you place fruit on the edge so it looks nice and doesn’t fall out. Once cake is covered in fruit, place next layer of cake on top. Fill in with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and fruit. Place final layer of cake on top. Place a mound of whipped cream and fruit on top. Drizzle chocolate sauce over the cake and chill.
Chocolate Syrup
1 cup dates, sliced
water
2 TBS cocoa powder
Place dates in a bowl with water to cover. Soak for 5 minutes. Put dates and their soaking water in a high speed blender. Add cocoa powder and blend until a syrup forms. Add extra water as needed. You will probably have some leftover, but that’s not a bad thing.

Until next time, happy baking!

Summer Celebration Strawberry Cheesecake

strawberry cheesecakeOn this summer solstice, strawberries are sweet and fresh and make a perfect dessert. A cheesecake would make a beautiful way to present them, or so I thought. I tried several types of recipes – entirely raw, with a cashew cream base, with macadamia nuts – and none of them turned out quite right. I couldn’t get textures and flavors that were reminiscent of a classic cheesecake. Admittedly I had never made a cheesecake before, vegan or not, but I didn’t think it should be this hard.

After much trial and error, which included a gummy dessert that was inedible, I decided to combine the parts of recipes that I liked to make the perfect whole. I chose a baked crust that added hemp seeds for a change of taste and then combined it with a strawberry cheesecake recipe where I replaced vegan items for their non-vegan counterparts. With a few more minor tweaks, including more flour for altitude and blueberries as a colorful garnish, I achieved a cheesecake worthy of a summer celebration.

Summer Celebration Strawberry Cheesecake adapted from a Hemp Hearts Crust and a Strawberry Cheesecake
CRUST
1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS almond flour
1/2 cup hemp seeds, lightly crushed
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
5 TBS coconut oil, melted
2 TBS agave nectar
STRAWBERRY TOPPING
1 pound fresh or frozen strawberries, washed and stemmed
1/4 cup vegan sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1/4 oz vegan gelatin, strawberry flavored or unflavored
CHEESECAKE
1 pound vegan cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup vegan confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups strawberry topping (see above)
1/2 cup soy creamer
blueberries for garnish
For crust: Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together almond flour, hemp seeds, salt and cinnamon. Stir in coconut oil and agave nectar. Using your hands, spread mixture into a greased 9” springform pan. Flatten using the bottom of a glass. Bake for 12-13 minutes, until golden brown along the edges. Set aside to cool.
For strawberry topping: In a pot, add strawberries, sugar, vanilla bean pod and seeds and 2 TBS water. Cook over medium heat until strawberries are soft. Remove vanilla bean pod and use an immersion blender to puree the fruit. Sprinkle gelatin over 2 TBS cold water in a small bowl. Allow it to sit for 2 minutes. Transfer gelatin to the strawberries and gently cook over low heat, whisking just until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Reserve 3/4 cup strawberry mixture for the cake top.
For cheesecake: In a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-low speed with paddle attachment until smooth. Add vanilla extract. Add strawberry topping, except reserved 3/4 cup. In a separate bowl, whisk creamer. Replace stand mixer attachment with the whisk attachment. Add creamer to cheesecake batter and whisk until it is all combined. Pour cheesecake into prepared pan. Tap pan gently on counter to bring any air bubbles to surface. Let it sit, uncovered, in refrigerator for 2 hours or until it is set to the touch. Once cheesecake is set, pour remaining 3/4 cup strawberry topping over it. If the topping has set up in pot, gently heat it for a minute, just until it is pourable. Place the cheesecake back into the refrigerator and allow to set, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, or until the topping is set. Decorate with blueberries. At this point it is ready to serve or you can cover the cheesecake with plastic and it can sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Before unlocking the springform pan, run a knife around edge of the cheesecake to loosen it.

Until next time, happy baking!