Apple Browned Butter Cheesecake Brunettes

Ok, one: these were not very photogenic. They taste much better than they look. Please believe me. Two: I’m very bad. I’m backed up on recipes and I have so many that I never got around to posting (from the previous 2 months when we had free hotel room stays at Foxwoods MGM Grand 2 days every week–yes, that was probably the most amazing 2 months ever). Which leads me to a confession I want to make: lately, with the weather getting nicer, I’ve been feeling less inspired to be creative with baking. I want simplicity, possibly because I feel like eating “lighter” when the warmer weather comes around, and possibly because it’s less work and I still haven’t done my spring cleaning yet.

These came about one cold night in March when my dad gave me a jar of Apple Butter and said,”Go home and bake something with this.” I love a challenge, especially when I’m hibernating in my kitchen and keeping myself warm near the stove. There’s also something about cheesecake when it’s cold outside that is so perfect to me. I have no idea why? Is there a scientific explanation behind that? Am I the only one?

I could just be tired. At this time yesterday, I wasn’t even asleep yet. Yes, my love for the morning and my love for late at night when this timezone is asleep don’t go well together. Determined to not have that happen again, I tried to go to sleep at around 2am. I don’t know what happened. I got a couple hours of sleep, and finally got out of bed around 6:30, surrendering to my urge to be up in the morning instead of pretending I was still able to sleep. So here I am; my body a bit confused at itself, going back in time to the end of March. When it was still very cold.

Originally, I expected this to be a “blondie”, but with the browned butter, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon, it ended up looking like a brunette. Only made sense. Hey, what do you get when an apple pie walks into a room, meets a cheesecake…..nevermind, I won’t even attempt to be funny right now.

Apple Browned Butter Cheesecake Brunettes

Makes 12 cheesecake “brunettes”

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

For Apple Butter Cheesecake Topping

  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup apple butter (I used Whole Earth All Natural Tap’nApple Apple Butter Spread)

1. Melt 9 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks) into a skillet (not non-stick) over medium heat. Whisk continuously and the butter will begin to bubble within a couple of minutes. When the bubbling slows down and it begins to foam, watch carefully as the butter begins to slowly brown. It will look as though a red powder has formed underneath the melted butter. At this point, you can take it off the heat, and transfer to a large heat safe bowl (or just do the next step directly in the pan and then transfer to a large bowl once it’s cooled a bit)

2. Add the dark brown sugar and granulated sugar directly to the butter and mix.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl and set aside.

4. Add vanilla and room temperature egg to the butter and sugar mixture, combine thoroughly.

5. Cut softened cream cheese into cubes and place into a bowl with 1 egg yolk and sugar. Mix on medium speed with an electric or handheld mixer until fully combined and creamy. Add the apple butter and mix to fully incorporate.

6. Line a 9″ square pan with aluminum foil and grease with nonstick cooking spray. Allow foil to overhang the sides, so there will be easy removal once brownies are cooked and cooled.

7. In 3 batches, combine flour mixture to the wet mixture until
fully mixed together.

8. Pour batter into lined and greased pan, spread evenly. Top
with cheesecake mixture and also spread that evenly.

9. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven on the middle rack for about 25-30 minutes, or until cheesecake on top is fully set. (Mine needed more time, so I covered the pan with tin foil and placed it on the lower middle rack to finish baking, but check on it at 25 minutes first.)

9. Once done, cool pan on wire rack for 10-15 minutes until set enough to lift out of pan. Grabbing the tin foil overhang, lift out of the pan and allow to fully cool on wire rack. Then cut into squares, and enjoy!

18 Comments

Filed under Bars, Cheese

Our Favorite Coffee Crumb Cake

This coffee crumb cake is so good, it’s becoming a problem. Usually I get tired of eating the same thing every day. This has been (somehow) sitting around for almost three days now. One piece remains. I’ve been eating it for breakfast every day….and snack…and late night snack. Not only is that unusual for me, but the terrible thing is I could make another one right now and continue eating it every day. There are no eggs in this recipe. There is only 2 tablespoons of butter, and the only reason there’s butter is because I didn’t have any Earth Balance. I’ve been curious to try it, but A. I can’t find it in any store and Whole Foods is 30 minutes away, and B. I’m kind of broke. Since I didn’t want to use all butter (I would have, if I had Earth Balance, the way the recipe at VeganYumYum does), I tried making the crumb topping with only canola oil. The result was a not so good texture or flavor. Instead, I decided to use 2 tablespoons of butter to give it a nice flavor and texture, but the rest is canola oil. The crumbs are even better than before.

I’ve made Cook’s Illustrated’s New York Style Coffee Crumb Cake more times than I care to count, with the exception that I used sour cream like the recipe over at Smitten Kitchen. My boyfriend Manuel always said to me,”It can be better.” That obviously frustrated me, and after x amount of times of making it and tweaking the recipe slightly every time, I finally decided to look up a vegan crumb cake and found this recipe. You can imagine how much Manuel thought I was wasting my time making this. If you can’t please a man with a recipe with butter, is it possible to please him with a version without? Apparently, it is. This may be a rare case. The short prepping from him before I put it in the oven went the same as it always does when he doesn’t think something will come out good, but tries to be consoling about it. Me: “It’s going to taste good, don’t worry.” Manuel: “Alriight babe, good luck! Just don’t be upset if it doesn’t come out the way you want it to.” Me:*ticked off look on my face*. Thankfully, this one won him over. The original recipe wasn’t rocket science and it wasn’t even difficult to make–but after making this version, which is beyond super easy, I’m kind of like,”Whyy didn’t I know about this recipe before?!” Plus, it’s cheaper to make. It’s healthier. And….more delicious? (that wasn’t a question, just bewilderment)

Deep down, I knew that Cook’s Illustrated’s version wasn’t perfect. The cake was never anything super special on it’s own, and the crumbs were always a little bit too crunchy for me. So one thing I changed was the amount of flour in the crumb topping. It was way too much, even when I used cake flour it never produced the crumbs I wanted. I didn’t want mush on top, but I wanted something that had the big chunks of crumbs but then melted in my mouth with sugary-cinnamon-y-ness. I think I got that part down in this recipe, and I didn’t even use cake flour.

I am so happy that I found this wonderful recipe on VeganYumYum. I changed a few things here and there, but this is officially my go-to coffee crumb cake recipe. It’s not even what I consider,”A recipe for health conscious eaters”. It’s just yummy. The cake is moist, fluffy, and my favorite thing about this crumb cake is that is gets better every day. Manuel tried it, and immediately said,”This is the best one yet.” “I TOLD you” was my response, even though I too had my doubts. I was just happy to be right this time.

Me = a happy girl.

Our Favorite Coffee Crumb Cake (“Almost vegan”) – adapted from VeganYumYum

Serves 9 (8×8″ square pan)

Crumb Topping

  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (you can use Earth Balance Margarine if you want)
  • 5 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 Cup canola oil
  • 1/3 Cup coconut milk+ 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Powdered Sugar, for dusting

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line an 8×8 square pan with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Or, if you don’t have aluminum foil, spray the insides of the pan well with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Mix the melted, warm unsalted butter (or Earth Balance Margarine), canola oil, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the flour and blend thoroughly to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes, while making the cake batter.

3. Mix cornstarch with water in a small separate bowl until thoroughly mixed, let sit.

4. Mix coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla in another small separate bowl.

5. Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder until fully combined in a mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla mixture. Then add the cornstarch and water mixture. Mix everything together until fully combined and smooth, but don’t overmix past that point.

6. Pour batter into prepared greased pan. Break off large chunks of the crumb topping mixture (they don’t have to be exact same sized, just good sized pieces) and lightly sprinkle them evenly over the batter. (I like to take a big piece in my hand, and just rub it with my fingers and let the pieces break off over the top of the batter into random sized crumbs, instead of spending a lot of time rolling out pieces of crumbs).

7. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Original recipe says up to 50 minutes, but mine was done within 35.

8. Allow to cool (unlike me) completely before eating. Or not. :) Don’t forget to sprinkle with powdered sugar, makes it prettier.

17 Comments

Filed under Cake, crumb cake, Favorites

Happy Easter! Carrot Coconut Layer Cake

My dad loves carrot cake. Particularly (mostly) this one. The cake is super moist and flavorful, and the cream cheese frosting makes it divine. I remembered that since it’s Easter (doh), I should probably contribute a recipe to the blog in celebration. Pastel colors? I has none. I know, I’m like the only person with a baking blog in this country without any pastel colors for Easter. Then I found these pictures lingering on my computer…and it suddenly clicked. I thought,”Easter…bunny…carrots…carrot cake!” I cheated though. I totally forgot to buy carrots at the grocery store, so that I could make this for tomorrow. (Ok, that’s a lie–it didn’t even occur to me to make this.) Therefore, I am providing these pictures from a couple of months ago…before I got a tad but better at taking pictures. I never wanted to do this, but I’m going to make an exception because this recipe cannot wait for my trip to the grocery store. I shall share it with you NOW! Trust me, it’s delicious. I might just have to hop to the store tomorrow as fast as I can tomorrow so that I can make this for my family again.

Carrot Coconut Layer Cake
Makes 2 9 inch cakes (for a layer cake)

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I sifted mine first)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients – adapted from ‘The Essential Baker

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter the edges and bottom of two 9″ cake pans, and line the bottom of both with parchment paper.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl until well combined.

3. In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and vegetable oil until well combined and then, blend in eggs one at a time until fully mixed.

4. Slowly add in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and beat until well combined. Mix in the grated carrots and shredded coconut until fully incorporated.

5. Pour batter evenly into the 9″ cake pans about 2/3 of the way full. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cakes with be puffed up and browned on top.

6. Cool in pans for at least 15 minutes and then transfer over to cooling racks with a baking sheet underneath. Allow to fully cool and make the cream cheese frosting, by mixing the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

HAPPY EASTER!

30 Comments

Filed under Cake, Easter, Favorites

Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve made these 3 times (or was it 4?…) in the past week. Even though I’ve had a hard time chewing things, these have been soft enough for me to chew. I made a mini batch last night for a family get together and instead of a tablespoon measuring spoon baking at 8 minutes, I did a teaspoon worth of dough for each cookie and they took only 4 1/2-5 minutes to bake. Not only were they adorable, but everyone literally ate them up. Since it was up against the key lime pie with chocolate graham cracker crust (I’ve made the key lime pie more than 4 times now from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown recipe, but I only had chocolate grahams this time) and pecan bars that are the best recipe for those who think,”I love pecan pie, but I don’t want to make a pie crust“, like myself (recipe will be up eventually!), these were a success to say the least.

My family kept taking another vegan oatmeal cookie and saying,”Mmmm” and “I heard ‘vegan’ and thought it would be gross, but they’re delicious.” I guess I’m going to be making them again for tomorrow night. Although, the key lime pie and pecan bars did not go unnoticed. My boyfriend continued eating some that I left at home for us until 2am, and he was blaming me for his addiction. He said something along the ridiculous lines of,”I have pecan bar obsessive compulsive disorder.” I don’t remember exactly how he worded it (I was tired), but it’s too bad because I’m pretty sure it was direct quote-worthy.

These are soft and chewy cookies, the way I like them. My boyfriend prefers crunchy, so you could add a couple of minutes to the baking time, if that’s your preference too. They are so easy, and they are definitely a way of introducing people to a vegan recipe for those who don’t know what vegan is, would never think to try anything vegan, or just to make a healthier cookie. There’s no eggs and no butter, that is not a bad thing! I’ve done some thinking about the whole vegan diet. I picture myself walking by a bakery and saying,”Oh darn, guess I can’t have a cannoli or a piece of cheesecake.” –or being in the presence of my mom’s famous cucumber and dill bread bowl (which is going down tomorrow night) or her also very famous taco dip and stare at it and say,”Sorry mom, it’s too bad that has cream cheese and sour cream in it.” I love being able to eat ice cream, or chocolate cake, or whipped cream. I know there’s vegan ice cream and vegan chocolate cake, but I’m struggling between wanting to do something that I feel like is the right thing on one hand and being intimidated by the changes I’d have to make (which does mean spending more money) and what I want to eat on the other. I believe a vegan diet is healthier than what I’m eating now, but I have many conflicting thoughts on it at the moment. I actually wrote an entire post during the day that this was on my mind the most, and have it saved in my drafts. Since my last post was my first non-recipe post, I didn’t want to bore everyone with more rambling (which is what I’m doing now).

So, maybe in the future I will post it. For now, here’s the vegan oatmeal cookies. P.S. You don’t have to be vegan to make vegan cookies, and you don’t have to avoid vegan recipes just because you’re not planning on going vegan. I think we all hear these names like,”vegetarian” and “vegan” and we think,”Nah, I’m not going to be vegan, why would I make anything vegan?” Well, it just may be yummy! In my opinion, these are pretty darn yummy. People have told me they like them better than regular oatmeal cookies! Also, it doesn’t have to be made with tofu to be vegan (to all you tofu dislikers). Try these and enjoy!

Vegan Oatmeal Cookies – adapted from Alicia Silverstone’s ‘The Kind Diet‘ (I found the recipe at ParisPastry)
The recipe says it makes 10-12 cookies for regular size, but I made a half batch once of tablespoon sized dough and got about that many. Also, the mini batch made over 40 cookies for me.

    Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup maple sugar (you could also use dark brown sugar, but then I don’t think it’s technically vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup raisins, chopped walnuts, or chocolate chips (optional, and the chocolate chips I have aren’t vegan)

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Combine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the syrup, oil and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Fold in the raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips, if you’re using them.

3. Scoop out a tablespoon size amount of dough (use a measuring spoon to be exact) if you want regular size cookies, or a teaspoon size for mini cookies (the dough will look like it won’t even become a cookie, but it will!) Using your hands, roll the dough into balls and place on the baking sheet. Press down slightly to flatten the tops. For tablespoon size cookies, bake for about 8-10 minutes or until very lightly browned. For teaspoon sized mini cookies, bake for about 5 minutes. Tip: Allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack, because they will be so soft and fragile, they won’t hold their shape.

4. Allow to fully cool, and then eat & enjoy!

19 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Vegan

Wisdom Teeth Extraction + Vegan Curiosity?

All 4. 2 impacted. Fun! ;) I got them removed on Monday morning. I was a nervous wreck. I have always had a fear of dentists, of surgery, and of anesthesia…so you mix all 3 together and let’s just say it was a good thing they had me take a tranquilizer the night before and an hour before. I somehow was composed enough that when I went into the surgery room, I said,”I forgot to brush my teeth this morning, is there somewhere I can brush my teeth?“. They said it was fine, but that there was a bathroom at the end of the hall that I could use. I walk almost drunkily to the bathroom and look around. There’s the toilet. There’s the sink. There’s the mirror. No toothbrush. No toothpaste. Oh, snap. In my drowsy state, I had assumed they would have some in there since they told me I could brush my teeth in the bathroom. Instead of walking back in and requesting a toothbrush and toothpaste, I decided I was much too tired to care and simply said, “Oops, I forgot my toothbrush.” Yeah, like I didn’t realize before walking to the bathroom that I didn’t even bring one with me. I’m so clever. I proceeded to lie down in the chair.

I began to panic once they started strapping me in, as if I was in some insane asylum. “This is for this”, “This is for that”…oh gosh. This is actually happening. My surgeon rolled up my sleeve and inserted something into my arm. I asked what it was and he said it was what was going to put me to sleep. Just before I had time to freak out about it, I remember suddenly being in a dream. A few seconds later, I remember a yellow room. Blur. My boyfriend on my right and a woman on my left. I remember talking to them, but I don’t remember what I said. I thought it was a dream, but apparently, it was me coming out of anesthesia. The next hour also felt like a dream. Wheelchair. Gauze out of my mouth. Why is my lip like this? We’re at CVS. My dad is on the phone saying I’m being difficult. I’m laughing. I feel high. I’ve never been high before, am I high? I’m home. I’m taking my meds. I feel more high. Wow my lip is fat.

Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Food Related, Vegan