Monday Musings…. Cheesecake make over

The origin of cheesecake is uncertain, but it is believed that it was served to athletes during the first Olympic games in 776 BC. A recipe for cheesecake was found in a Roman treatise around 200 BC. Centuries later, cheesecake is still a favorite dessert, however if you are trying not to eat dairy, what are you to do?

I remember in my early 20’s I found a Chocolate Chip Cheesecake recipe in Seventeen magazine, ya I read it!  I called it, get a man cake and took it to work… a lot. It was always a tempting treat that soothed taste buds, especially at 4 a.m. for the haggard residents and interns that came through the ICU I worked in. Never mind the crust was made with chocolate chip cookies and butter. The main body of the cake took 5 packages of cream cheese, a couple of cups of chocolate chips… well you get the idea, it was a sugar high! By the way, I never got a man by making the cheesecake, and for that I am thankful, but I digress.

Fast forward, I am not really a dessert eating person. I enjoy a good piece of fruit to satisfy my craving for sweetness, or maybe some good dark chocolate, but I know others really like their dessert and when they decide to eat healthier that is one thing they are concerned about giving up.

Enter non-dairy cheesecake. I made this when I taught the Not So Cheesy class a couple of weeks ago. Just like full fat/dairy cheesecake the base is the easy part, picking the flavorings or add in’s can make your head spin with options. For the class I did a mix of blueberry, bourbon caramel, and chocolate chip (a long way from that one made in my 20’s).IMG_5145These mini versions were such a hit with all who attended that day, I thought I better share with you all. I snagged the recipe from http://minimalistbaker.com  As per my norm, I made a few tweeks, I know, not surprising, but I will share those little tweeks. The big thing about these is that they are temperature sensitive. If they sit out too long you will have pudding over a circle of nuts! The flip, good side, is you can make these ahead, stow in the freezer. You can pull them out and impress guest on a whim! If you use a mini muffin tin it makes 24. That was what I did for the class. It allowed me to make 3 flavors. These are like 2 bites, and really as rich as they are that’s enough for me! I had a little leftover filling, so I made a couple bigger muffin tin size to show you here. Really an easy impressive dessert for guest that you can wow them, with little effort.IMG_5168This is the Bourbon Caramel Cheesecake with a little extra caramel drizzle. The original recipe for the sauce called for sugar and cream, yep, substitution is easy

Bourbon Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup cane sugar

1/4 cup water

1/c cup coconut cream (can of coconut milk, in which I drained off the cream part, don’t buy low-fat, it won’t work)

1 Tbsp. good Kentucky Bourbon

pinch of salt

Place water and sugar in the pan on low heat and swirl it around till sugar dissolves. Take off heat add cream, bourbon and salt till mixed, then back on stove to heat. You will have leftover to drizzle over Cheesecakes, ice-cream, wherever you find the need. Just re-heat before using. Keeps in fridge well.

Now on to the cheesecakes! Like I said I snagged this recipe, so my changes are in red.

7 Ingredient Vegan Cheesecakes

7 ingredient vegan, gluten-free cheesecakes that are creamy, slightly tart, perfectly sweet and 100% irresistible. Better than real cheesecake and the perfect healthy, simple dessert to feed a crowd (or just you).

Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • Crust:
  • 1 cup pitted dates (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes then drained) I didn’t soak
  • 1 cup raw walnuts or almonds
  • pinch of salt
  • Filling:
  • 5 cups raw cashews, quick soaked*
  • 1 large lemon, juiced (scant 1/4 cup) for tartness add more 1TBS more or to taste
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted I added only 2 TBS
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp full fat coconut milk (see instructions for note)
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar or maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
  • 1 teas. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • Optional Flavor Add-Ins:
  • 2 Tbsp salted natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup wild blueberries (fresh or frozen) used frozen
  • 3 Tbsp bourbon caramel sauce

Instructions

  1. Add dates to a food processor and blend until small bits remain and it forms into a ball. Remove and set aside.
  2. Next add nuts and process into a meal. Then add dates back in and blend until a loose dough forms – it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add more almond or walnut meal. Optional: add a pinch of salt to taste.
  3. Lightly grease a standard, 12 slot muffin tin. To make removing the cheesecakes easier, cut strips of parchment paper and lay them in the slots. This creates little tabs that makes removing them easier to pop out once frozen.
  4. Next scoop in heaping 1 Tbsp amounts of crust and press with fingers. To pack it down, use a small glass or the back of a spoon to compact it and really press it down. I found the bottom of a glass works well. If it sticks, separate the crust and the glass with a small piece of parchment. Set in freezer to firm up.
  5. Add all filling ingredients to a blender and mix until very smooth. For the coconut milk, I like to scoop the “cream” off the top because it provides a richer texture. But if yours is already all mixed together, just add it in as is.
  6. You don’t need a Vitamix for this recipe, just a quality blender. I mixed mine for 1 minute, then “liquified” or “pureed” it until silky smooth. If it won’t come together, add a touch more lemon juice or agave or a splash more coconut milk liquid as the liquid should help it blend better.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. If adding peanut butter, add to the blender and mix until thoroughly combined. If flavoring with blueberry or caramel, wait and swirl on top of plain cheesecakes (optional).
  8. Divide filling evenly among the muffin tins. Tap a few times to release any air bubbles, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard – about 4-6 hours.
  9. Once set, remove by tugging on the tabs or loosening them with a butter knife. They should pop right out. Our favorite way to devour these was with a little more caramel and a touch of coconut whipped cream. But they’re perfect as is! Keep in the freezer for up to 1-2 weeks.
  10. Optional: you can set them out for 10 minutes before serving to soften, but I liked them frozen as well.

Notes

*To quick soak cashews, pour boiling hot water over the cashews, soak for 1 hour uncovered, then drain and use as instructed.
*Adapted from Sidesaddle Kitchen (Absolutely smitten with her.)
*Nutrition information does not include toppings or added flavors.
*Prep time does not include freezing (4-6 hours)

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 cheesecake Calories: 324 Fat: 22 g Saturated fat: 8.7 g Carbohydrates: 29 g Sugar: 21 g Sodium: 10 mg Fiber: 2.6 g Protein: 6 g

IMG_5164Ya, it’s that good. I left in the nutritional information that was listed with this recipe. Yes, there is a lot of calories, and they are from fat in these little bites of dreaminess. Guess what? When you look at regular cheesecake the amount of fat can be crazy, and it is all from dairy. The fat you are consuming from this vegan version is in the form of the nuts, and the coconut milk, which by the way are good fat that your brain needs! But this is still a treat, not an everyday place on the plate, but surely that once a week, I made a groovy dinner that needs a little star at the end of it kind of treat!

So make up a few of these and stow them away in the freezer to wow the family, guest or maybe like me, you pull one out plate it up special and celebrate the gift of how eating well helps me live better!

IMG_5167Peace

 

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