23/7/2014

Blueberry Lime Vegan Cheesecake

If you search for cheesecake recipes on this blog you will find NONE. Yeah, I know. How come I've never published any cheesecake recipe before?! Ridiculous, shameful, weird...and if you wanna make me feel even more guilty feel free to add more negative adjectives, hehe.
Now, seriously, since I started to develop this passion for baking I have baked several cheesecakes (and let me add, with great success) but for some strange reason I haven't shared any of my recipes with you, until now! 
I guess the reason behind this cheesecake-less blog is that since I started to take care of my cholesterol levels some years ago I cut back on butter, full-fat cream cheese and dairy products in general (nowadays I removed butter and almost all dairy from my diet). As you know traditional cheesecakes contain butter, cream cheese, heavy cream...etc. and I can't (well, I should not) eat them, that's why I stopped baking cheesecakes.
I always try to make healthier food choices and use natural, organic, wholesome ingredients for each recipe I share with all my readers. I love to cook everything from scratch, give a healthier twist to my favorite classic bakery recipes and replace certain ingredients for others with more benefits for our bodies. 
I hope you forgive me for not posting a cheesecake recipe before, I'm sure you will after you see (and try!) this Blueberry Lime Vegan Cheesecake. It's by far, and I kid you not, the best cheesecake I have ever tasted. My mom is not a fan of cheesecakes (she's quite picky when it comes to cheese-based desserts) and she loved this one! The cake was gone in less than two days and not a single crumb was left! 
It's extremely creamy, not overwhelmingly sweet or tangy, with a nice stay-in-place crumb that will let you cut beautiful slices. It was so good I couldn't stop tasting the batter, it was like having a yummy and refreshing milkshake that you could drink with a straw. 
You can come up with as many variations as you wish and replace the blueberries for your favorite fruits, use a different jam, make a chocolatey crust and substitute the lime zest and juice for orange, lemon...try different versions and find your favorite one!


PS: this blog will remain open during the summer holidays! Because beach, fun and bakery are totally compatible. ;-) 


Blueberry Lime Vegan Cheesecake

Ingredients
(Makes one 8-inch/20 cm cheesecake)
Filling:
1/2 cup unroasted cashews, soaked in water overnight.
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana.
14 ounces (400g) silken tofu, drained.
2 tbsp coconut oil, at room temperature.
2/3 cup sugar.
4 tsp cornstarch.
1/4 tsp fine sea salt.
4 tbsp lime juice.
Grated zest of 1 lime.

Crust:
1 1/4 cups finely ground graham cracker or any vegan cookie crumbs.
3 tbsp sugar.
4 tbsp melted coconut oil.
2 tbsp soy milk.

Topping:
Wild berry jam.
Fresh blueberries.


Directions
- To make the cookie crust:
Preheat oven to 350 ºF (180 ºC) and lightly spray a 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Place the cookies in your food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs.
In a medium mizing bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and sugar. Drizzle in the melted coconut oil and mix well to ensure the crumbs are moist. Pour in the soy milk and stir again to combine all ingredients and form a crumbly dough. You might need to use your hands to blend the mixture and get a crumbly dough.
Pour the crumbs into the springform pan and press them very firmly into the sides of the pan first and pat into the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes until firm. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Let the crust cool before filling.
Leave the oven on at the same temperature because you'll be baking the cheesecake just a few minutes after.
- To make the filling:
Drain the soaked cashews and tofu. In a blender place the cashews, mashed banana, tofu, coconut oil, sugar, cornstarch, sea salt, lime juice and lime zest. Blend all ingredients together until completely smooth and you don't see any small bit of cashews.
Pour the batter over the crust and tap it lightly on the counter to get rid of the large air bubbles.
Bake the cheesecake for 50 minutes approximately, until the edges are golden and the top is lightly puffed and still looks a bit 'wet'. 
Let the cake cool before adding the topping. 
- To decorate:
Scoop out the desired amount of jam and spread evenly on the top of the cake working from the center and spreading it to the edges.
Sprinkle fresh blueberries over the cheesecake.
Move the cake to the fridge and let it cool overnight for best results.






17/7/2014

Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies

Ladies and gents, I bring you today the most delicious brownies you will ever stuff your face with! Yes, they are THAT good. So rich, so fudgy, so soft...and filled with chunks of mixed nuts and dark chocolate.
No one (and I mean NO ONE) will ever guess these are vegan. In fact, wether you follow a vegan/vegetarian diet or not once you try this recipe there's no turning back, this has become my absolute favorite brownie recipe and as I'm typing these words I've just remembered there are still a few squares left in the fridge...so you can guess what I'm gonna do at the end of this post, right?! ;-)
It's almost Friday, the weekend's right around the corner and we suddenly feel happier (and relieved, as if the weekend would last forever) so why don't you indulge yourself with some real chocolatey goodness. Bake these brownies and melt of pleasure, trust me...you won't regret it, plus you won't need any super fancy or where-the-heck-do-I-find-this ingredients. 
I've said that before but I'll never get tired of saying it over and over again, 'Vegan Chocolate' by the super nice and mega-talented vegan chef Fran Costigan is the best cookbook gracing my bookshelf. Like I told to one of my Instagram followers when she asked me where I got the recipe for my vegan Sachertorte: "this book it's full of drool-worthy recipes", all the recipes are amazing and I can assure you that you'll always get picture-perfect desserts*.

Receta en español aquí!



Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies
(Recipe from the book 'Vegan Chocolate' by Fran Costigan)

Ingredients
(makes one 8x8-inch (20x20-cm) square pan)
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour.
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour.
1/2 cup unsweetened pure cocoa powder.
1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp granulated sugar.
1/4 cup whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered.
2 tbsp cornstarch.
1 tsp baking powder.
1/2 tsp fine sea salt.
1/4 cup plsu 2 tbsp mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil.
1/2 cup maple syrup.
1/4 cup soy milk (or any nondairy milk).
2 tsp pure vanilla extract.
Heaping 1/2 cup dark chocolate mini chunks.
1/3 cup mix of walnuts, pecan and macadamia nuts, lightly toasted.




Directions
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease an 8x8-inch/20x20-cm square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl sift together the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, whole cane sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt and stir with a whisk to aerate the mixture. If any small bits remain in the sifter, add them to the mixture.
Whisk the oil, maple syrup, soy milk, and vanilla in a separate mixing bowl until completely combined and lightly foamy. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until the batter (which should be thick) is smooth. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
Stir in the chocolate chunks, macadamia and pecan nuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and spread into an even layer with an angled metal spatula.
Bake for 23 minutes approximately until the top is set but not too dry (although it has to look dry) and the sides have started to pull away from the pan. If you're not really sure if the brownie is already cooked I highly recommend you to insert a wooden tester diagonally into the brownies. If the tester comes out coated with butter but not wet that means the brownie is perfectly baked! 
Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack. 
Let it cool completely at room temperature. Don't panic if the middle of the cake sinks a bit as it cools, that usually happens with very fudgy brownies but once it's cold you can push the sides down to level the cake if you like. Mine just sinked a tiny bit in the middle but naturally leveled by itself as it was cooling.
Keep the brownies in the refrigerator (inside a covered container), these brownies will stay fudgy even if you freeze them (they make the perfect cake for ice cream sandwiches and awesome chunks too!). 
It's very important that you wait until they are very cold to cut them into squares.







*Check out the following recipes I've already published from Fran's cookbook:






8/7/2014

No-Bake Chocolate Energy Bars

Looks like the heat is finally (FINALLY!) here to stay in Barcelona. Oh how I've missed the long summer days, drinking cold, homemade lemonade late at night, laying on the couch while seeing the lights from the small boats on the sea...and wearing summer dresses!
Raw desserts are perfect when you don't feel like turning on your oven because it's so hot that you already feel your home has turned into a big oven. There are lots of amazing and tasty recipes that will please everyone. 
I'm a newbie when it comes to raw recipes and so far I've tried some bars and small bites but I'm pretty happy with the results. 
I called these bars 'No-Bake Energy Bars' because to actually make them 100% raw you'll need to use raw cacao but I couldn't find it so I used pure cocoa powder. They taste equally awesome but I don't want to get in trouble with purists raw vegans, hehe. So I'm being honest and I'm telling you that hey, maybe I was a bit rebel by using cocoa powder instead of raw cacao but sometimes being an outlaw is fun (insert mischievous laugh here). No oven was harmed during the making of these bars so we can all agree to call them No-Bake Chocolate Energy Bars
Now let me tell you how delicious, chocolatey and packed with seeds, fruits, nuts and energy they are! Even if you're not a fan of dates (I'm not very keen on them, to be honest) you won't notice a strong date flavor, only a great chocolate-nut taste.
I love them for breakfast but they are the perfect snack before or after a workout session. Be careful cause they are so darn addictive you will want to have more than one bar...and if you're on a diet remember that dates and nut butters are pretty high in calories. Anyway, the ones I made were chunky enough to make you feel full with just one.
I'm not really sure if it's easy to find almond butter where you live...I still haven't found any natural almond butter in the grocery stores here in Barcelona (apart from peanut butter) so I did a little research and made my own homemade almond butter. Even though it's quite a messy thing to do (specially if you don't have a powerful food processor like me) it's totally worth it! The flavor, the aroma...truly a delight! You'll need some patience until the almonds are so much blended they become butter. This took me up to 30 minutes. 
These bars don't need to be refrigerated, however, I did it. If the temperature is high (it's summer here) I recommend you to store them in the fridge so they'll firm up and won't start to get too soft once you have them in your hands. Just try it and if you see they become hard as rocks then store them in the typical cookie glass jar or an airtight container at room temperature.
You can add/replace the seeds and nuts and make your own version. For example, you can add puffed quinoa to get a chewy-crisp texture or make a yummy topping with crushed almonds and maple syrup.

Now I'm off to make a recipes list and pick one for my next post! ;-)

Receta en español aquí!



No-Bake Chocolate Energy Bars
(Vegan, Raw, Dairy-free, Sugar-free)

Ingredients
1 cup almond butter.*
6 medjool dates, softened and chopped.
1/4 cup water (the soaking water from the dates).
1/4 cup pure cocoa powder.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
3 tbsp maple syrup (or agave syrup).
2 cups rolled oats.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts.
1/2 cup chopped dried blueberries.
1/4 cup chia seeds.
pinch of Himalayan salt.
-For the topping:
1/2 cup dried natural coconut. 

*To make the almond butter you'll need around 2 cups of almonds. 


Directions
- To make the almond butter:
Place the almonds in food processor and blend until the almonds have released their oil and you get a butter texture. You will have to process for around 20 minutes (or less, depending on how powerful is your blender/food processor). You will need to stop frequently and scrape down the sides of the food processor.
- To make the energy bars:
Place almond butter, dates, dates water, cocoa powder, cinnamon and maple syrup in food processor and pulse together just until all ingredients are combined. Remove to a mixing bowl.
Stir in rolled oats, walnuts, chia seeds, dried blueberries and salt. I recommend to use your hands to mix them cause this will get sticky and the mixing process will be quicker.
Spread around 1/4 cup of the dried coconut in an 20x20 cm baking pan (8x8 inch, the typical brownie pan). Press the mixture on top of the topping and level. Sprinkle the rest of the dried coconut and press in with a rubber spatula to ensure the bottom and the top are covered.
Remove from pan and cut into bars. If the temperature is high, store in the fridge around 30 minutes before removing and cutting the pieces.





26/6/2014

Pistachio and Chocolate Chip Bread

I love mixing pistachios with dark chocolate so much. Every time after trying out a new recipe with success I start making a list of possible variations and there's always a 'pistachio version'. I think "hmm, these cookies will taste great with some pistachios" or "why don't we try to decorate this cake with chopped pistachios next time?". 
I'm not very fond of simple white bread, I like my bread wholesome, with nuts, cereals, dried fruits, etc. The complexity of flavors is far more interesting and there are so many different kinds of combinations. One I am very obsessed with is bread with dates, apricots, almonds and hazelnuts....so darn addictive! 
This loaf bread is perfect for a breakfast to enjoy alone or with some of your favorite jams (I prefer to eat a big slice 'au naturel') or for a picnic. It's very tender and not too crumbly so you'll get really nice slices.
If you don't like pistachios it tastes as good with walnuts or your favorite nuts, just let your imagination run and try different combinations!

Receta en español aquí!


Pistachio and Chocolate Chip Bread
(Recipe adapted from the book 'Pan' by Xavier Barriga)

Ingredients

4 cups (500g) bread flour.
Scant 1/2 tbsp (8g) salt.
2 tsp approx. (1 sachet of 5.5g) dry yeast.
1 cup plus 1/4 cup (300ml) water.
3/4 cup (125g) pistachios, shelled.
3/4 cup (125g) dark chocolate chips.
A dash of cinnamon.

Directions

In a large mixing bowl mix together the flour, dry yeast, cinnamon, salt and water. Combine all ingredients until the flour has absorbed all the water and we get a paste-like dough. Then it's time to place the dough on your working surface dusted with some flour and start hand-kneading until we get a soft and elastic dough.


Right before finishing the kneading add in the chocolate chips and pistachios. A good trick is to roll out the dough a bit and sprinkle the chips/nuts all over. Knead the bread a bit more until the chocolate chips and pistachios are well distributed.


Transfer dough ball into a large bowl covered with a damp cloth. Let it rest 90 minutes in a warm place free from air drafts, until it has doubled in volume.
Once the dough has risen knead the bread just a bit more (to release excess gas), shape it and put it in the loaf pan. Cover and let it rest for 30 to 40 minutes (until it has almost doubled in volume again).


Halfway through the resting time preheat oven to 482 ºF (250 ºC) and place a pan of water inside to get steam.
Right before baking the bread lower the temperature to 410 ºF (210 ºC) and score the bread (make a cut along the length of the loaf).
Bake 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.


Let the bread cool inside the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.





12/6/2014

Brioche Cake with Pine Nuts (Coquetes de Pinyons)

I was testing this brioche recipe a couple days ago to see if it was a 'keeper' cause the ones I tried before were good but quite average-quality after all. They would come out good but would get too dry the day after baking them and also I was looking for a healthier, lighter version with no butter.
Well, at first I didn't think to write a blog post about this recipe but these brioche-style mini cakes came out so good that they deserve to have their 15 minutes of fame! ;-)
Not too sweet, very tender and super spongy...right what I wanted, and the dough has zero butter so that means I will be making these cuties again in less than two weeks to celebrate Midsummer's Eve (what we call in Spain 'Noche de San Juan' which translates to St. John's Eve) on the 24th of June.
One year ago I published these two recipes of other typical cakes (called 'Coques' here in Catalonia) that we also eat that day/night, there are also many other versions of the recipe I'm sharing today: you can decorate them with Confectioner's Custard (Crème Pâtissière or French pastry cream) on top, add candied fruits or fill them with chocolate mousse, marzipan and even whipped cream. My favorite one is the brioche cake with vanilla custard and pine nuts on top; I personally like to enjoy it with a glass of super cold champagne. So festive and so yummy!
I will try to bring you more brioche-style cake recipes as soon as I bake them next week...if I can hide them away in a secret corner of my kitchen, where no one at home can reach them. Because once you grab a piece of these tender cakes you can't stop! 

Receta en español aquí!



Brioche Cake with Pine Nuts
(recipe from the book 'Brioixeria' by Xavier Barriga)

Ingredients
(makes 7 brioches)
2 cups (265g) bread flour.
1/3 cup (65g) sugar.
1/4 cup (32,5g) potato starch (or cornstarch).
1 egg.
3 tbsp plus 2 tsp (55ml) extra virgin olive oil.
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp (75ml) water.
1 tbsp approximately (0.5 oz/15g) fresh yeast.
zest of half lemon (or a little less).
zest of half orange (or a little less).
-To decorate:
1 egg.
salt.
pine nuts.
confectioner's sugar.

Directions
I highly suggest you to use your stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment to work the dough. I like to end the mixing/kneading process by hand to ensure it has the right consistency and elasticity and to avoid over-mixing.
Place all ingredients, except olive oil and fresh yeast, in the bowl of your stand mixer (remember to use the hook attachment).
Mix all ingredients and work the dough until you get a quite hard dough ball, gradually add in olive oil without stopping the mixer until it has absorbed all the oil.
Dissolve in a few drops of water the fresh yeast and add it to the dough. Work the dough for 3 more minutes approximately until the yeast is fully incorporated. If the dough gets too hard/dry you can add a bit more water but I didn't find it necessary.
Place the dough ball in a large bowl greased with olive oil and covered with a damp cloth. Let it rest for 90 minutes. It is very important to have patience and respect the resting times. 
Divide the dough in 7 portions (each ball should weigh around 2.8 oz/80grams), form small balls and let them rest 30 minutes in a warm place free from air drafts.
Dust the working surface with some flour and roll out the dough balls to form flat and oval-shaped pieces.
Place the cakes in a parchment-lined baking sheet leavin enough space between them so they'll rise.
Brush the tops with the beaten egg (salted).
Sprinkle a generous amount of pine nuts over top and press lightly to adhere.
Let the cakes rise (leaven) for 90 minutes approximately.
Preheat oven to 428 ºF (220º C).
Once the cakes have risen and look fluffy dust with confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar) and bake them for 12 minutes until the bases get brown (not too dark) and golden/dark golden on top.







This recipe is linked to the #CookBlogShare party of SuperGolden Bakes.