vegan dark-chocolate + salted caramel cheesecake

Deception is a funny thing. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan, especially when at my own expense, and surely I speak for the majority of the human race here. However, deception is most welcome in one particular instance: dessert. Deceive me all you like. Tell me that dessert is going to be flowing with caramel, studded with crunchy, chocolatey pieces. Brag about its creamy texture and how it can wash my tears away. Tell me its deceptively wholesome – two harmoniously, co-existing words. I’m a big fan.

IMG_1998

Deception describes this very recipe which I’m passing onto you, one that will seem naughty, indulgent, decadent, and believe me, it is, but for all the right reasons. You’ve got cashews and coconut cream lending to the filling’s creamy texture; there’s unrefined rapadura in the silky caramel topping. Oh, and that crunchy base? Heart-healthy nuts and magnesium-rich cocoa. You can’t go wrong. This rich little number is so silky, so smooth, so filling that you’ll only need a little piece to make the world a better place. All the while, you’ll be deceiving yourself.

IMG_2113

vegan dark-chocolate + salted caramel cheesecakeĀ – gluten free, vegan + almost raw (caramel topping is cooked) – makes 1×7″ cheesecake – loosely adapted from Deliciously Raw and Bojon Gourmet

you’ll need…

for the caramel topping:

  • 3/4 cup coconut cream (what’s remaining of a 270ml Ayam-brand can after removing 1/4 cup for the filling below)
  • 1/2 cup rapadura sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • cocoa nibs and sea salt flakes, for presentation

for the base – adapted from Deliciously Raw:

  • 1/2 cup macadamias
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1.5 tsp dark cocoa (increase to 3 or so tsp if using regular/raw cocoa)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 3 Medjool dates, pitted
  • pinch of salt

for the filling – adapted from Bojon Gourmet:

  • 300g cashews, soaked for 8 hours or overnight, drained
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tblsp dark cocoa (increase to 6 is using regular/raw cocoa)
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (I use Ayam brand – the remainder is used in the caramel above)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup melted cocoa butter

here’s what you do…

  1. Begin the caramel by combining all ingredients in a small saucepan and bringing to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and stir occasionally for 20 or so minutes until the caramel has reduced and thickened, then set aside to cool.
  2. While the caramel is cooking, prepare the base. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until mixture is finely chopped and begins to come together. You want the mix to stick together when pressed between your fingers – add another date or two if this does not happen. Press the mix into the bottom of a lined 7-inch springform tin and freeze for now.
  3. For the filling, combine all ingredients except the cocoa butter and blend until smooth. Quickly add the cocoa butter and continue to blend until no more lumps remain (you may need a tamp to keep the mixture moving). Pour the mixture over the base and refrigerate until set (4 hours) or place into the freezer to hasten the process. Keep in the fridge once set.
  4. Spread the cooled caramel over the set cheesecake and sprinkle with cocoa nibs and sea salt upon serving. Lasts 4 or so days in the fridge – if you can keep it that long!
Advertisements

oat + choc chip cookies

I want to blame my pregnancy cravings for my need to have freshly baked cookies within reach at all times, but I know this desire exists equally as much when I am not with child. The making, the baking, the dipping in the milk…it’s all a fantasy of the cookie process that is often lingering in the forefront of my mind.

IMG_20150605_144913

But as you know, one cannot snack on sugary, so-calorie-high-it’ll-make-you-hallucinate cookies all the time for the simple fact it’s not good for you (and one’s teeth might fall out). Good for your soul, yes. Good for your insulin levels and general health, maybe not. So, I’m always trawling for recipes that allow me to bend the rules about just how many cookies I can ingest before I head steadily into a sugar coma. And of course, I’m always conscious about the nutrition side of things. Well, ladies and gents, these are my perfect little morsels of heaven.

IMG_20150605_145032

I’m truly not a fan of the super-sweet cookie, preferring a much more substantial kind, one that could double as an afternoon snack with a glass of milk, and keep me going ’til dinner. These oat cookies are sweet enough to satisfy your cravings, yet wholesome enough and not likely to spike your sugar levels. Oh, and you don’t even need stirring utensils! All you need is the one bowl and your two hands. I’ve amended the recipe from The Healthy Chef, simply to suit my own tastes and because I can’t leave well enough alone. I’m certain you’ll love these, especially when dunked into a tall glass of milk. If you prefer a more chewy cookie, decrease the sugar to 1/3 cup, although they’ll be slightly less sweet of course. I often make them with the lesser amount of sugar during the week for the kids and make a cheeky batch for the hubby and I with that just touch more sugar. We deserve it.

IMG_20150605_144102

oat + choc chip cookies – adapted from The Healthy Chef – makes 12 – wheat free (can be gluten free if oats are certified)

you’ll need…

  • 2 cups/200g rolled oats (traditional style)
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup rapadura sugar (decrease to 1/3 cup for a more chewy, less sweet cookie)
  • 60g melted butter
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g 70% cocoa choc chips

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 150C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine all ingredients except the choc chips, mixing and squishing with your hands until the oats start to stick together. Let mixture rest for a few minutes to allow oats to soften.
  2. Add in the choc chips and mix through. Using an ice-cream or cookie scoop (or simply your hands) form into little mounds and place on the tray. You should have around 11 or 12. I use this OXO Cookie Scoop – it’s a lifesaver.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, checking half way through. Allow to cool on the tray. Serve with a tall glass of milk, at any time of the day you see fit.

choc almond mylk

I often get a craving for nesquik-esque choc milk, the stuff from my childhood. Or even a carton of choc milk from the deli. But once I glance at the ingredients list, I run away scared like a mouse that’s seen a cat-shaped ghost. Alas, when you are pregnant, cravings need sorting out, am I right? I’m 100% right.

IMG_20150202_142618

This choc almond mylk is way more nutritious and delicious than the contents of those edible memories shoved all the way in the back of your head, amongst the dust and cobwebs. Healthy monounsaturated fats, magnesium boost from the cacao and naturally sweetened with dates, what can go wrong? Perfectly plant based, making it perfect for vegans. Bottoms up!

choc almond mylk – serves 1

you’ll need…

  • 1 cup almond milk (preferably homemade – soak 1 cup of almonds for 8-12 hours, rinse then blend with 3 cups of filtered water and strain through cheesecloth, saving the meal for baking)
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao (or cocoa)
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean/1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • pinch of sea salt

here’s what you do…

  1. Place all ingredients into your blender, and blend until smooth. Serve immediately, or keep in the fridge for up to 4 days (providing your almond milk is fresh – it has a 4 day lifespan so work it out!). You might need to give it a shake if you’ve stored it in the fridge, as contents will settle.

hazelnut mocha friands

When you want to make ice-cream, you use egg yolks. But what happens when you make a lot of ice-cream? I know you want to say ‘diabetes’, or ‘your teeth fall out’ or ‘enjoy the new gym membership’, and while they are all viable possibilities, most of the ice-cream I make is shared around enough to avoid me sitting on the couch with the spoon in the tub.

hazelnut mocha friands

So, what happens when you make a lot of ice-cream? You end up with a truckload of egg whites, begging to be whipped, shaped, baked, or all of the above. And it just so happens, if I don’t start using these frozen egg whites in my freezer soon, I won’t have room for much else in there, so friands it is! Not that I’m complaining. My mum has a fear of these little buttery cakes, god knows why, because they are simple to make and you can’t stuff them up (unless you forget to grease your tin – in which case, just eat them right out of the tin, in the most ladylike manner you can fashion). The egg whites need only be lightly whisked, or you can use your kitchen mixer, but they don’t need to be tough, mountainy peaks like you would need when making meringues.

hazelnut mocha friandsThey are guaranteed to be moist with the amount of butter that goes into them, and they are super versatile because you can freeze them and warm them up for a later date, or of course serve them hot out of the oven, if you are lacking in the self control department (guilty as charged). Today I’ve chosen to walk on the dark side, and gone with an old recipe using cocoa, freshly brewed coffee and hazelnut meal. You can’t go wrong. If you don’t have a friand tin, feel free to use a cupcake/muffin tin and use liners to save you from having to grease it. If you are wanting to make these gluten free, substitute the flour for your favourite gluten free flour blend.

hazelnut mocha friands

hazelnut mocha friandsĀ (adapted from The Baking Queen) – makes 12

you’ll need…

  • 6 egg whites
  • 120g hazelnut meal
  • 180g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 230g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80g plain flour (or gluten free flour to make gluten-free)
  • 1 shot fresh espresso
  • 1 tbsp good quality cocoa powder

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and butter/grease friand tin or muffin tin and set aside. In a clean bowl, lightly beat egg whites with a whisk (or stand mixer) for about 2 minutes.
  2. Using a big metal spoon, fold in hazelnut meal, melted butter, icing sugar and flour, until combined.
  3. Mix together coffee and cocoa powder with a dash of warm water. Pour mix into batter and fold through gently until just combined.
  4. Spoon mix evenly into tin and pop into oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until friands are firm on top. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out.
  5. Enjoy.

vanilla cheesecake with salted caramel topping

Go on, wipe the drool off your keyboard – I don’t want to be responsible for your computer malfunctioning. But I do want to be responsible for the delight you’ll shreek when you make this cheesecake. It’s TDF (to die for) and even, as my uncle would say, to KILL for (because really, who wants to die when you could live and still eat cheesecake?). So, where was I…oh yeah, right. This dessert brought the house down – I didn’t have a negative or even so-so response after everyone had licked their plates clean. It came about as I asked my brother, who just so happens to share my birthday albeit 6 years younger, what type of birthday cake he’d like me to make – and he suggested a cheesecake, and I then jumped over the moon. With excitement! I thought, YES I can make that delicious creation I found on tastespotting the other day, combining my favourite, all-time flavour, vanilla, with a touch of salted caramel .

It really was the perfect end to a perfect birthday week of wining, dining and catch-ups. It’s definitely a week I save up for, as it is not only our birthday but also my husbands birthday two days beforehand. Crazy huh? But its a common thing, partners sharing similar, if not the same, birthdates…kinda cool I think. Soulmate material, for sure.

Tangent…and we’re back. So, I love chocolate, cheesecake, vanilla and caramel, and in this creation, these stars perform a fantastic show. I was going to make my own biscuits for the base, as the recipe suggests, but do you think i found the time to?! Hello Arnott’s choc ripple, you made my day!

All in all it was simple to make, just a bit time consuming, but I would do it all over again if i had the chance (and I say that because I really need a reason to make this – its just too rich to eat all on my own!). UPDATE: The filling overflowed as the biscuits didn’t come high enough up the sides of the tin – I have made this again since, and it turned out perfectly, but of course, I have no photographic proof for you!

choc-crusted vanilla cheesecake with salted caramel topping (adapted from The Former Chef)

you’ll need…

(for crust)

500g buttery, chocolate biscuits (i used Arnott’s choc ripple)

1/2 cup flour

120g butter (i found i needed a bit more to make the crust bind)

(for filling)

900g cream cheese @ room temp

1 cup sugar

4 eggs (always use free range)

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1/4 cup milk

(topping)

1 cup sour cream

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla paste

(salted caramel)

1 cup sugar

1 cup cream

60g butter

1tsp fleur de sel (or use sea salt – i finally purchased the fleur de sel and man, does it make a difference)

here’s what you do…

1. grind biscuits in food processor until nice and fine. add the flour and pulse to combine, then add butter and continue to pulse until it reaches the consistency of wet sand.

2. press the crumbs into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan (i lined mine with foil) and then up the sides to form an even crust.

3. preheat fan-forced oven to 150 C.

4. for filling, put the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla and bring just to the boil before turning off. let the milk sit for 15 minutes for the vanilla to infuse.

5. put cream cheese into a bowl (i used my stand mixer) and add the sugar, beating until combined and smooth. add the eggs one at a time, with the mixer on, stopping to scrape down the sides and incorporate ingredients. add the milk/vanilla mix and beat until free of lumps.

6. pour the filling into the pan with the crust, placing the pan onto a lined cookie tray (to catch any buttery drips). bake for 50 min – 1 hour, or until set on top but soft and jiggly in the middle.

7. while that’s happening, mix the sour cream, sugar and vanilla. when the cheesecake is cooked, let it cool for 10 minutes, leaving the oven on, then pour this mix on top and bake for another 10-15 minutes. remove, and let it cool for 1 hour before refrigerating for at least 4 hours.

8. for the topping, melt the sugar in a heavy-based pan, stirring constantly to avoid burning the sugar (i omitted water from my caramel as i found it prevented the sugar from caramelising). once it has all melted and is rich amber/mahogany coloured, pour in the cream and put on very low heat, constantly stirring to melt all the caramel that has hardened from the cream. once all melted, whisk in the butter and salt, and allow to cool.

9. the caramel will be VERY thick and sticky, and i ended up melting it a bit just to liquify it so it could be poured over the cheesecake. it will set quite quickly as it hits the cold cheesecake. then top with a bit of extra fleur de sel, but only right before serving, as the caramel will soak it up if left on there for prolonged periods. enjoy!

choc-banana oat cookies

mm there are so many more delicious, eye-catching ingredients in these biscuits but i didn’t want to overload you all – you will find out about them soon enough. these babies are the result of extensive googling, as i was craving something to have my with cuppa but didn’t want to fall into the trap of the buttery, sugary headache that is commonly called the ‘3pm slump’ – that and the fact that it was only 9.30am and thought that title to be most ill-fitting. so, google i did, and found a few nasties parading as healthy (i.e. ‘healthy oat cookies’ – ok just because they have oats in them doesn’t make up for the 1 cup of white sugar) but eventually tripped over these. light, crunchy, full of goodness – i was cured of my cravings by 10.30am. and again at 3pm, then once more at 4pm. so good! couldn’t resist, and felt that was ok because they were sorta-good-for-you-cookies .

the recipe itself didn’t include the chocolate drizzle on top – but man, it really took the deliciousness to another level. a level on which you are bumping shoulders with the cocoa bean, but not reeeeally getting to know him, because remember, we are trying to be healthy here (although dark chocolate is considered, especially in my books, to be great for your health). i totally recommend getting your hands on some good cold pressed, unrefined, virgin coconut oil, as it’s one of the oils that has a high smoking point – meaning you can fry, bake, do whatever you please, and it won’t go all free-radical on you. its great to use on your skin also, leaving you feel like you’ve just left the beach (remember the tanning oil with coconut in it?).

so alas, here is the super easy recipe – no eggs, no flour…just dried fruit, some seeds, oats and coconut…all bound together with the wonderfruit, bananas!

choc-banana oat cookies (adapted from The Healthy Chef)

you’ll need…

150 g mashed ripe banana
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200g/2 cups rolled oats
50g desiccated coconut (i used 25g coconut and 25g chia seeds – the crunch the seeds imparts is great)
60g sultanas (or any other dried fruit – i used dried figs, chopped up)
90g honey
60 ml (1/4 cup ) olive oil

~100g dark chocolate, melted (for drizzling on cookies once baked)

here’s what you do…

1. preheat oven to 150 C (fan forced – if not fan forced, maybe 160-170C)

2. mix all ingredients until it comes together – then make go ball sized biscuits and flatten them slightly on the baking tray.

3. bake for 30 minutes or until brown.

4. drizzle chocolate onto cookies in whichever fashion you so choose – then resist the temptation to gobble them up. enjoy!