14 December 2013

In the Family | Berry Swirl Cheezecake

The snow has me grounded at my grandparents' house after our Army-Navy game party, and I made breakfast/dessert in my cupcake pan which I left here. Since my grandmother bakes frequently, her pans aren't "safe" for me (years of baked-on grease and wheat flour).

Her dessert for our "tailgate" party was the conventional version of cinnamon coffee bars.  Funny story, the last time I wrote about cheesecake, I had just made Chocolate-Covered Katie's Deep-Dish Cinnamon Roll Pie. The 2012 pie turned out tough because I was angry and tight. Tonight I made the pie again in cupcake format. The cupcakes baked up properly puddingy because I am happy and chill. There is substance to Como agua para chocolate!  

For the cheezecake I made for my gluten-free friend's birthday, I doubled the recipe for my yoghurt cheezecake and baked half in a pie plate and half in a muffin tin.

An excellent critic (the kind who gives suggestions for improvement alongside pointing out issues), he noted that the proportion of crust to cake in the cupcakes was off, while the ratio was fine in the pie. I think the issue was that I used two tablespoons of crust for the minis rather than the 1 tablespoon one of my consultant recipes directed.  I prefer more crust on my cheezecake in cake format; I don't own a springform pan to make bottom-crust-only cheezecakes. I guess I take after my mom and grandfather, who both like crust and toast.

Speaking of crust, I baked a sourdough bread on Thursday. VGF bread is notoriously sweet, dense, and crustless. This bread was sour, almost like rye. It was dense, but had I not had to delay a day due to my oven being full of broken glass, it probably wouldn't have been as dense. Nevertheless, I have plenty of teff starter with which to experiment.  When I cut into it on Friday, the crust took muscle to break. Success!

Broken glass is so pretty...

Back to cheezecake. The swirl method of most fruity cheezecakes are like such. Bake a vanilla cheezecake and use a fruit jam to hide the cracks. That's a cover-up of improper cooling technique. Proper cheezecake (and cheesecake) cooling technique is to bring the cake slowly to room temperature. Leave the finished cheezecake in the oven, turn off the oven, and crack the oven door open just a tad. Since you're spending your gas bill on baking things at high temperatures for ungodly amounts of time, you can turn off the heat if you let the hot oven warm the room for a while. Leave the cheezecake in there for an hour, then remove it to a rack outside of the oven to cool completely. Those cracks form when people expose molten hot cheezecake to cold air too quickly. Let the cake coast to a cool and avoid that problem.

Swirl method two is to bake it in. Swirl in the jammy fruit then bake. Simple enough, and it relies on a thicker filling so as not to thin out the dense cheezy goodness.

Swirl three method is to puree said fruit into the filling...and then it's swirled by manufacture but not by presentation.

I combined the methods and strung together three recipes to create this berry madness yoghurt cheezecake.

Berry Swirl Cheezecake
Modified and doubled from http://undead-q.livejournal.com/8238.html

1 1/2 cups VGF graham cracker crumbs
1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice

2 12.3-oz. vacuum-pack silken tofu (firm or extra firm, your call)
1 6-ounce pot nondairy yoghurt (I used vanilla coconut yoghurt)
2 8-ounce tubs vegan cream cheese
1 cup fresh raspberries
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and paper a 12-well muffin tin and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blitz the graham crackers, almonds, and coconut until ground to rough crumbs (if you're using a blender, blitz one ingredient at a time). Stir together in a large bowl with the margarine and syrup until everything is coated and the crust coheres. Press a little bit more than half of the crust into the pie plate. Press about a tablespoon and a half of crust into each muffin well. Save any extra crust crumbs in the fridge for another use (it's good in pumpkin bread). Bake for 7-10 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a medium saucepan on the stove, combine the blueberries, maple syrup, water, and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Cook for until the mixture turns thick and goopy and coats the back of a spoon, about seven minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, blitz the tofu until smooth. Add all the other ingredients and set the machine to "obliterate." Blend until uniformly combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Transfer to the pans, filling the cupcake wells about 3/4 full.

Take a spoon and a butter knife and dollop a little blueberry swirl into each cheezecake. Swirl with the butterknife. Repeat with the cake. Refrigerate extra filling and swirl (or break out another pan and bake more cheezecake, see what I care...).

Bake for 45-50 minutes  or until the cheezecake barely jiggles when the pan is tapped.  The cupcakes bake to completion in about the same time as the cheezecake, so don't open the oven to check them otherwise they will sink like crazy (mine did).  Cool in a partially-opened oven for an hour, then remove to a rack to cool completely to room temperature. Take cooled cupcakes out of the pan and refrigerate them in an airtight container. Cover and refrigerate the cake. Chill for 8 hours or overnight before serving. With the yoghurt cheezecake, overnight refrigeration is ideal. Leaving it in the car all day at freezing temperatures = perfection.

Parting shots:
Chippy (my bro Jamz's and my nickname for Chipotle) has vegan sofritas, which are also gluten-free! They are mad spicy, which is the way we like it.

I was folding laundry today and having some discussion in my head about nice clothing, justifying clothing myself in more than basic gear. "You don't deserve to cover yourself in shitty clothing" said a creepy female voice. It sounded like the softly manipulative voice of the Dawns, a line of dolls I played with a lot when I was younger and had more time. Their faces are blue because my mom and her sister (my fashion-forward aunt) took them swimming.

From the left: Dawn, Gloria, [name I can't remember--Emily?], Angie, Meg, Dale, Jessica, Vanessa, Longlocks, Laurie)

U.S. Navy kilt for the Army-Navy game. Navy won. I drove past the stadium on my way up to NJ.

 Yes, yes, yes, and yes. And we know when to surrender the spoon.

 My grandmother apparently just had to open the drawer in which she kept the wooden spoon and everyone knew to fear her wrath.  One of my spirit guides is my great-grandmother Josephine. Her spoon rack sported some kind of witticism to the effect that criticizing the cook would result in spoon-whipping.
My grandmother gave me her mother-in-law's rolling pin. It is one hefty piece of kitchen equipment. Because it's porous wood, it may be too gluten-imbued for me since it's seen a lot of use. I'll see how I can best clean it because I want to use it to make pierogi, and piecrust, and roll-and-cut cookies.
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