Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

One of the best things about being married and having family close by is hosting Thanksgiving, because even though I don’t eat turkey, I’ve always really loved the holiday. Aaron makes the turkey and I make everything else and get to indulge in foods that my mom always deemed to bland for consumption when I was a kid. When your in-laws aren’t Indian, they don’t feel the need to douse the mashed potatoes in Tobasco and add chili paste to the green beans.

After hosting our first Thanksgiving last year, it was clear that oven space is prime, so not only is a raw pie healthier, it’s more practical. Plus, it is so so easy, and this is the one time of year when easier always wins for me. God knows I cannot be trusted to roll out a pie crust under pressure. I swear pie crust can smell fear, and after the pumpkin pie disaster of 2011, give me a press in pie crust recipe any day.

Raw Pumpkin CheesecakeRaw Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe has been a long time coming, mostly because the first time I made this cheesecake and removed it from the pan, the filling completely oozed out the sides and onto the floor. I’ve often said that I have no shame when it comes to desserts, but even I won’t lick cheesecake remains off the ground.

Gloopy cheesecake didn’t keep me down for long, though. I’ve tweaked this recipe a couple of times since then, so not only will it hold it’s shape now, but it will taste so good that even your pumpkin hating hubby will eat it and enjoy it! Ok, I can’t guarantee that, but mine certainly did. If you’re not concerned about the pie being raw, you can roast the pumpkin and use the puree instead of the raw shredded pumpkin. I plan to try it that way for my own Thanksgiving table.

As for the soy lecithin being raw, I’ve done some research and I’m still not 100 percent sure. Apparently sunflower lecithin is raw and a good alternative for those with soy allergies. I’ve never tried it, but I would love to hear your results if you do.

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

 

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Serving Size: One 6-inch cheesecake

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 1 cup pitted medjool or deglet dates
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • For the Filling
  • 1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight
  • 2 cups shredded butternut squash or pumpkin (the small pie pumpkin, not the carving kind) soaked for 2-3 hours and drained
  • 1/2 cup raw agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup raw nut milk
  • 1/4 cup carrot juice (optional) for color
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (use refined if you don't want coconut flavor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO soy lecithin
  • For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 24 hours
  • 1 tablespoon raw agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

    For the Crust:
  1. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and process until they come together into a ball. The mixture should be pliable.
  2. Press the mixture into a 6 x 3 inch springform or cheesecake pan and set aside.
  3. For the Filling:
  4. In a high powdered blender, combine the cashews, shredded pumpkin, agave, nut milk, carrot juice, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and blend for about 5-10 minutes until completely smooth.
  5. Add the coconut oil and soy lecithin and blend for an additional 15 seconds until smooth (don't over blend here or the coconut oil will start to solidify).
  6. Pour the mixture over the crust and tap the pan against the counter a few times to knock out any air bubbles.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
  8. Top with coconut whipped cream (recipe follows), cinnamon, and pecans.
  9. For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
  10. Open the can of chilled coconut milk and scoop out the hardened cream into a bowl (you can save the coconut water for smoothies).
  11. Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut cream until fluffy.
  12. Add the agave and vanilla and beat to combine.
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-Coconut whipped cream recipe adapted from Oh She Glows.
-I’ve tried several brands of coconut milk, and some separate better than others. I’ve had the best luck with the Thai Kitchen brand.
-If you don’t want to use the carrot juice, you can add an additional 1/4 cup of nut milk to the filling
-I recently swapped out my broken springform pan for a cheesecake pan and found it much easier to use.

Spiced Apple, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Cupcakes

Apple Walnut Goat Cheese Cupcakes

These cupcakes were inspired by pizza. I know that sounds weird, but we like to make our own pizza at home, and Aaron and I both love a pizza that is topped with thinly sliced granny smith apples, toasted walnuts, and big globs of goat cheese. Sounds strange, but it works.

The cupcake epiphany happened as I was drizzling honey on leftover goat cheese and spooning it into my mouth and thinking how good the combo would be as frosting. I wish I could explain to you how much I love this honey goat cheese frosting. Maybe someday in the future, food blogs will offer a tasting feature, but for now, you’ll just have to make it. I think I’m going to start adding goat cheese to all of my cream cheese frostings from now on, because it really adds something special. It would be pretty great on pumpkin, carrot, or even red velvet cupcakes, but I liked the fact that these apple cupcakes were slightly different from the standard cupcake fare.

Since these cupcakes have cream cheese and goat cheese in the frosting, you shouldn’t leave them at room temperature for more than a few hours. However, the frosting doesn’t get too firm in the fridge and the cupcakes don’t dry out too easily, so you don’t need to bring them to room temp before eating them. Instant gratification = :) Most cupcakes are best when they’re fresh, but I actually liked these better on day 2 and even 3. I can’t tell you how long they keep after that, because they disappeared pretty quickly.

Apple Walnut Goat Cheese Cupcakes

As for the sugared walnuts, make sure you separate them while they are cooling on the parchment. Otherwise, you’ll end up with walnut clusters that look kind of antlers. But hey, they’re festive, right?

Spiced Apple, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Spiced Apple Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups packed (about 2 small) peeled and coarsely grated tart apples, such as Granny Smith (I pulsed mine in the food processor a few times).
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • For the Honey Goat Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) soft goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup (115 grams) confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For the Sugared Walnuts:
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Spiced Apple Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line a cupcake pan with 12 paper lines.
  2. In a large bowl,whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and salt.
  3. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
  4. Stir in the grated apples and walnuts.
  5. Divide the batter between the 12 paper liners and bake 17-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.
  7. For the Honey Goat Cheese Frosting:
  8. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, goat cheese, and butter on medium speed until fluffy.
  9. Add the confectioner's sugar and beat on low to combine.
  10. Turn up the mixer to medium and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  11. Add the honey and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  12. Put the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.
  13. Top each cupcake with a sugared walnut (recipe below).
  14. For the Sugared Walnuts:
  15. In a small skillet, combine the sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt.
  16. Heat on medium and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles thick caramel.
  17. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts.
  18. Spread the mixture onto parchment paper to cool.
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Cupcake recipe adapted from myrecipes.com
Sugared walnut recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Cinnamon Caramel Pecan Cake

Butter Pecan Cake

It’s October, which means two things.

1. The entire series of Gilmore Girls is now on Netflix, so I will never again be a productive human being.
2. The house must always smell like cinnamon and toasty pecans.

The mall where I grew up used to have stands of cinnamon candied pecans around the holidays, so it just doesn’t feel like fall without that heavenly smell. I suppose a scented candle would suffice, but baking has a better end result, so here’s yet another excuse to bake a cake. I don’t think Aaron has ever repeated, “Something smells good,” as much as when I was making all the components to this cake. It really is everything that’s good about fall wrapped up in one lovely little layer cake package- layers of buttery cake with toasted pecans, a brown sugar and cinnamon frosting, and a caramel sauce that’s spiked with some rum. What could be bad about that?

Butter Pecan Cake
Butter Pecan Cake
Butter Pecan Cake

When I was getting ready to make the caramel sauce for this cake, I realized I was out of cream, so I decided to try this version which uses brown sugar and evaporated milk. Unlike the traditional method, this one is practically foolproof. There’s very minimal chance of burning the sauce or yourself (both of which I have done), and while the flavor is not quite as complex as the recipe I usually use, it still beats the crap out of the store bought variety. I added a healthy dose of vanilla, a big pinch of salt, and stirred in a couple of tablespoons of rum at the end to give it some more depth. If it’s your first time making caramel, this recipe is a good option.

Oh, and before I go, let’s talk about this brown sugar and cinnamon swiss buttercream for a sec. Make it, frost your cake with it, and don’t worry if you have leftovers. Spread it on cinnamon rolls, toast, spoon it into your mouth while watching Gilmore Girls, bathe in it, whatever. I always err on the side of extra frosting since I like a smooth finish to my cakes, and I assure that the leftovers never made it to the freezer.

For the caramel sauce recipe, click here. I added 2 tablespoons of rum along with the vanilla extract.

Cinnamon Caramel Pecan Cake

Yield: One 4 layer 8-inch cake

Ingredients

    For the Butter Pecan Cake:
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 cups (140 grams) chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 1/3 cups (270 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • For the Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 10 ounces (280 grams or about 10 large) egg whites (I used liquid egg whites)
  • 1 1/2 cups (330 grams) light brown sugar, packed
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 US sticks (3 cups or 680 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

    For the Butter Pecan Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Place the melted butter and pecans in a baking pan, stir to coat the pecans, and bake 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Grease and line 2 8-inch baking pans with parchment paper.
  4. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium high for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  6. Turn the mixer town to medium and beat the eggs in one at a time until incorporated.
  7. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
  8. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  9. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and the milk into the creamed mixture in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  10. Stir in 1 cup of the toasted pecans.
  11. Divide the batter between the 2 pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Watch the cake carefully at the end of the baking time as it can over bake and dry out quickly.
  12. Cool on wire racks for about 10-15 minutes.
  13. Run a knife around the edge of the cake pans and turn the cakes out on the wire racks to cool completely.
  14. For the Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  15. In a large bowl (I used the bowl of my stand mixer), combine the egg whites, brown sugar, and salt.
  16. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk often. The water should not touch the bowl, since it's the steam that will be heating the egg whites. If they heat up too fast, you'll end up with scrambled eggs.
  17. Using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture to 160 degrees fahrenheit while continuing to whisk the mixture. 160 degrees is for food safety issues. If you use pasteurized egg whites, you can stop heating around 120-140 degrees until the sugar has dissolved.
  18. Remove the egg whites from the heat and use a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on medium high until stiff peaks form and the meringue has doubled in volume (about 8-10 minutes). At this point, the meringue should look stiff and glossy, and the bowl should be neutral (not warm) to the touch. If your meringue is still warm, you'll run into problems later.
  19. Turn the mixer down to low and mix in the cubes of softened butter, one at a time until they become incorporated into the mixture.
  20. It may look curdled at first, but continue mixing until the frosting has become smooth.
  21. Add the vanilla extract and cinnamon and beat to combine.
  22. To Assemble the Cake:
  23. Split the cake layer in half horizontal with the knife to divide them.
  24. Place one layer of the cake on an 8-inch cake board.
  25. With an offset spatula, spread about 1 cup of the frosting on top of the first layer, followed by about 1/3 cup of the caramel sauce (If the caramel difficult to spread, warm it up slightly in the microwave and use a piping bag to drizzle it on the buttercream).
  26. Repeat this process with the second and third layer, spreading another 1 cup of the frosting and 1/3 cup of caramel on top of each.
  27. Place the 4th layer of cake on top.
  28. Place the cake on a turntable, and apply a thin layer of the frosting on the sides and the top of the cake to lock in the crumbs.
  29. Let the frosting set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  30. Apply the remainder of the frosting to the sides and top of the cake, using an offset spatula and a bench scraper to smooth out the sides.
  31. Put the cake in the fridge for another 1/2 hour-1 hour to let the frosting set. (This will keep the frosting from melting when you add the caramel sauce and help control the "drippiness" of the caramel).
  32. If the caramel sauce has gotten too thick, microwave it 10 second intervals until it is slightly runny but not hot.
  33. Pour small amounts of caramel sauce over the top of the cake until is starts to gently run down the sides.
  34. Smooth the top of the cake out with an offset spatula if necessary.
  35. Top with the remaining toasted pecans and serve at room temperature.
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Notes:
Cake recipe adapted from Taste of Home.
You can halve this recipe to make a 4 layer 5-inch cake (like the one you see pictured here). Reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes.