Venturing into the Raw foods world: A super yummy vegan ‘Cheese Cake’

I have to confess…until a few months ago I did not know that there were an increasing number of folks in the world who were following a totally ‘raw foods’ diet!  My first reaction was – wow, that’s great – so healthy and ‘no need to cook’!  I looked over a lot of raw food bloggers’ websites  and saw how creative they were getting with their raw food recipes!  Gosh, it is mind boggling! Personally for me I don’t think I can manage a complete raw food diet since I would crave for warm food from time to time!  However, hats off to those who can pull it off and doing well with it.

So anyways as I have started following more raw food bloggers on my instagram, I continue to get inspired by their creations. One of these was the ‘raw cheese cake’ which is only made using nuts, dried fruits and other fruits! Watching numerous such vegan ‘cheese’ cakes and reading their recipes, I have been meaning to try making one for a few weeks now. The fact that I am currently on a AIP (autoimmune protocol) version of the Paleo diet was one reason – cos I am not allowed to eat nuts on this diet :(.  However, last week was hubby dear’s birthday. Him being a lover of cashew nuts , I thought why not give this raw cheese cake a try?

I looked for recipes and found that the basic recipe was pretty much same – nuts and dates for the crust or the base. And then a cashew nut cream filling. Then you can use your imagination for flavors – I decided to use mixed berries to create a two layer cake. And then topped it with a lot of fresh berries.  I also decided to do the crust only with shredded coconut and dates. I was so proud of my creation!  Our rhododendron had just blossomed too and the color of the topping of the cake perfectly matched with the light purple flowers! What a beautiful evening it was – my husband absolutely loved the taste of the cake!  He said it was better than any dairy cheese cake that he had before! The kids also loved it. I also had a couple bites – I had to see the result of my efforts, you see? 🙂  – Creamy, mildly sweet filling combined with the wonderful coconut crust  made for a delectable dessert! Simply superb is my verdict.

Btw, I would like to mention here a few of the bloggers who have inspired me to make this cake and whom I love to follow:

Edgar raw: https://www.instagram.com/edgarraw/?hl=en

Olivia from Lovehealthok : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoCEQG-JcqA

Sophie from A squirrel in the kitchen : http://asquirrelinthekitchen.com

Bringing this raw, vegan cake to the Plant based Potluck party this week.

Venturing into the Raw foods world: A super yummy vegan 'Cheese Cake'
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, sugar free dessert
Cuisine: Vegan raw cake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 9 dates
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • Pinch sea salt
For the Filling:
  • 2 cups cashew nuts soaked overnight
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup mixed berries
Instructions
  1. Soak cashew nuts in warm water and let sit for at least 24 hours.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  3. For making the crust, in a food processor blend all the crust ingredients except the shredded coconut. Then mix this with the shredded coconut in a bowl to form a thick mixture. Press this mixture to the bottom of the pan. Freeze the pan for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling by blending all the filling ingredients (without adding any water) except the berries to get a thick creamy filling.
  5. Pour ¾ of the this filling mixture onto the pan after the base has set. Then to the rest of the filling mixture, add the berries and again blend to get a creamy smooth mixture. Pour this over the top of the white filling layer. Place pan back in freezer for at least 5-6 hours.
  6. Remove pan from freezer about 30 mins before serving the cake.

Christmas Cake (Dry Fruit and Nut Cake)

dsc_1726-1Now this is a cake that I have been meaning to make for ever. I have looked at several recipes over the past few years and saved a few too. But somehow not got around baking it.

Growing up in Mumbai, Plum Cake was a common pantry item. Yes I am serious – you would find store bought Plum cake anytime in our kitchen. It was probably related to my dad’s love for this cake I guess. As a result, whenever we had unexpected guests, they were promptly served some plum cake with tea 🙂  We sisters for some reason over the years began to not like this cake as much – I think it was  a consequence of it being available 12 months of the year I guess 🙂 But now after several years, memories of the moist cake filled with the delicious flavors of dried plums soaked in rum, made me want to try baking it. Plus the fact that I could load it with a ton of healthy ingredients – dried fruits and nuts made it even more attractive.

Early this year I came across a wonderful recipe on Pinterest which specifically had the recipe for Kerala Christmas Cake.  Looking over the recipe and seeing the huge amount of dry fruits it asked for , I knew this was the one I wanted to make. I also made a note that I would replace the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour.  However, in our mad baking frenzy yesterday, I forgot to use whole wheat flour. I did use a wide mix of dry fruits – dried plums(prunes), dates,dried figs,dried cherries, dark raisins and dried cranberries.  img_0014I soaked the dry fruits only 24 hours in advance vs the 1 month in advance that the recipe called for.  I also did not use rum as the recipe called for but used a dash of cherry flavored brandy that I had lying around in my pantry along with some apple juice. I also reduced the quantity of sugar since I was adding so much dried fruit. My kids don’t like too strong orange flavor so I replaced the orange marmalade in the recipe with honey. And just used a dash of orange juice to give a citrusy flavor. Finally I also added pumpkin spice since everyone in my family loves that particular blend of spices.

dsc_1745-1The mixing of the batter was some work and I am glad I had my kiddos helping me. The egg yolks and whites have to be beaten separately etc.  All the hard work paid off and the cake came out simply fabulous.  So flavorful and moist.  And so so rich and delicious. ! The only one downside was that I had not chopped the dry fruits very fine so it was hard to get thin slices of the cake. But that’s after all not such a bad problem to have I guess 🙂

This recipe makes two large cakes and we are bringing these to our Christmas gathering with friends. I am sure these will be devoured in no time!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Christmas Cake (Dry Fruit and Nut Cake)

  • Servings: Makes 2 large round 8-9 inch cakes
  • Time: 60 minutes preparation time and 60 minutes baking time
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Recipe adapted from Lifescoops

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 Cup  – granulated Sugar plus 1 tbsp water
    5 Cups – Dry Fruits(I used mix of dark Raisins, dried Cranberries, dried Cherries, dried Figs, Prunes and Dates)
    1 Cup – Water
    1/4 Cup – Cherry flavored brandy
  • 1/4 cup apple juice

    Ingredients for Cake
    2 1/2 Cups- All Purpose Flour (Maida)
    1 ½ Tsp – Baking powder
    ½ Tsp – Baking Soda
    1/2 Tsp – sea salt
    1 /2 tsp – Allspice
    1/2 Tsp – Cinnamon
    1 Tsp – Pumpkin spice
    —-
    2 and 3/4 sticks (approx 310 gms) – unsalted Butter
    2 cups- granulated Sugar or raw cane sugar
    5 – Egg Yolks
    —-
    1 Tsp- Vanilla essence
    3Tbsp – Honey
    2 tbsp orange juice
    —-
    5 – Egg Whites

    —-
    1 Cup – Chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Directions

Soaking the dried fruits:

  • At least a day or two in advance,  soak the dry fruits. (You can do weeks in advance too)
  • Finely chop the dry fruits and keep aside. In a non-stick sauce pan, add the 2/3 cups sugar along with the tbsp of water and let it heat on medium so that it starts to caramelize. Once the sugar caramelizes or turns into brown color (will take about 10-12 minutes), stir occasionally to mix the sugar to avoid burning. Once all the sugar is caramelized – i.e. turned into brown liquid, take the sauce pan off the heat and carefully add the 1 cup water little by little. Be very careful to avoid splashes as the caramelized sugar would be extremely hot. Stir well.
  • Now Add the chopped dry fruits and reheat mixture until it starts boiling.
  • Take it off the heat and add 1/4 Cup Brandy and 1/4 cup apple juice
  • Let the mixture cool completely; cover the container and keep at room temperature until you bake the cake.

Baking the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F/ 175C
  • Grease 2 cake pans (I used an angel pan and a round 8 inch pan) and line it with parchment paper. Lightly brush with butter. Keep aside.
  • Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices and keep it aside.
  • Mix the butter and sugar together in  stand mixer (or an electric mixer) and add the egg yolk one by one until everything is incorporated.
  • Add the soaked dry fruits along with any liquid and mix.
  • Stir in the flour mixture in batches and mix.
  • Add Vanilla extract, honey, Orange juice
  • In a big bowl, beat the egg white using an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks(for about 5 minutes).
  • Fold the egg whites into the cake batter slowly little at a time.
  • Pour the cake batter into prepared pans and bake for 1 hour or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

dsc_1704-1OK you will not see me baking such treats often. But hey its the holidays! And then what do you do when they come and tell you so excitedly ‘ Mom, you have got to make this cookie – can you guess what is in it? ‘ Hmm…let’s see chocolate chips? ‘ ‘ yes of course, but then what else?’  Me thinks ‘Nuts maybe?’  ‘No mom, you are going in the right direction’ ‘ OK OK why don’t you just tell me?’  ‘Mom, this is insane – there is an Oreo cookie stuffed inside a chocolate chip cookie!, what an awesome creation, isn’t it?, you’ve got to make it for Christmas!’

Oh God, yeah truly awesome calories that’s for sure.! Anyways those cute eyes flickering with so much excitement made me give in. In case you are wondering, that wasn’t my 10 yr old daughter but my 16 year old son! One of his high schooler friends had evidently made one of these cookies and shared with him and his friends.

dsc_1702-1So along with my Christmas Cake baking, which I have been planning to bake this year , we went about baking these ‘ginormouslyamazing’ cookies 🙂 Of course, both of them helped which was great!

So I got the recipe from Tablespoon.com and we baked a couple dozen of these cookies in less than 2 hours. The recipe for the dough was perfect and we carefully placed a cookie dough layer on top and bottom of each oreo cookie and sealed the edges to result in cute, fat cookie dough lumps that baked to become these gigantic stuffed cookies.  For once a year, they are alright to have I guess plus they will be sharing the love with their neighborhood friends so technically my kids will only be eating a couple of these 🙂

Btw the cute small plates in the pics are what my daughter got for me from her class auction! So sweet of her isn’t it? Another reason I guess why I give in to their occasional demand for not-so-healthy treats 🙂 See the 2 hands dunking the cookies in the milk. Aww..I wish my babies weren’t growing up so fast!

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dsc_1705-1For the recipe, please click link below : 

http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/oreo-stuffed-chocolate-chip-cookies/0a222ab7-125d-4310-9a3d-d737e14a4d48

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Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies (Peanut Butter Jelly cookies)


Peanut butter jelly cookies
Last time I asked my husband to get peanut butter for the kids snacks, he got a giant jar of it. Which of course the kids were only too happy about.  But that instantly got me thinking about utilizing this peanut butter into other recipes!  I had also been wanting to bake healthy recipes and had purchased whole wheat pastry flour recently. And so the idea of making peanut butter cookies came to mind. I looked up some recipes but came across this wonderful and healthy recipe from ‘The American Vegetarian Cookbook’ by Marilyn Diamond. This book was a gift to me by my newest friend Debbie who has been ‘Godsend’ soul to me to boost my morale and offer so much support. More about Debbie later. For now let’s go back to the cookies!

This recipe uses healthy whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour and maple syrup instead of sugar for sweetness. So today evening when I had some free time, I decided to try this recipe. I made some changes to her recipe since I wanted to use regular butter instead of margarine and did not want to add almonds additionally. Wanted to stick to only peanuts to keep this ‘peanutty perfect’.

I didn’t add jelly to the whole batch.  So we had a mix of plain peanut butter cookies and PBJ cookies. The kids loved both of them!  The plain ones were a little less sweet than regular cookies they said but they definitely loved it!  They said they loved the texture – crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth kind! Isn’t that wonderful? When you give them no sugar and they say they love it! What more can a mom ask for 🙂

These also seem like perfect to bake and share for the holiday season – Make a large batch for your family and for your friends!

Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies (Peanut Butter Jelly cookies)

  • Servings: Makes about 18 cookies
  • Time: about 30 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

1/2 cup organic creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

strawberry preserves as needed for PBJ cookies

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 375 deg F (or 180 deg C).

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix with a fork to blend well. To that add the melted butter, maple syrup, peanut butter and the vanilla extract.  Using a large spoon or your hands knead into a smooth dough.

In a large tray, arrange small ping pong ball size balls of dough. Using a fork, press the dough ball to flatten it.

To make PBJ cookies, flatten and make a deep indent in the center of the dough ball using your fingers. Place about 1/4 tsp of jelly into the indent.

Bake cookies at 375 Deg F (180 deg C) for between 12-15 minutes or until the base is slightly browned. They may still seem soft on top but will harden on cooling. Let cool for 10 minutes on cooling rack before serving.

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PBJ cookies

 

Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream Cake


dsc_0890The three months of summer just breezed by! I had been on a sabbatical from work yet I don’t know how the months flew by! I spent 5 weeks in India so that explains partly why I felt the time go by so fast.  I spent half the time in kerala undergoing Ayurvedic treatment for my RA and the rest of the time in Mumbai pampered by my family.  Gosh, I really needed that! And now I am back to face reality and work 🙁

Anyways, last week of August was wonderful since it was both my birthday and my daughter’s. I always try to make a special cake for my kids’ birthdays and so was wondering what cake to bake this year. Plus this one was special – my baby girl was turning 10! Before leaving for India I had promised the kids that I would make home made ice cream for them but somehow never got around to it. Hence now an idea came to mind. How about an ice cream cake? And after that,  it was easy to decide the flavors – what better than chocolate cake and strawberry ice cream? After all my daughter loves both – she eats strawberries all year round! And she can never have enough of chocolate! My son helped to make this surprise wonderful cake for her!

Chocolate strawberry ice cream cakeI didn’t waste any time looking for recipes – I decided to bake the chocolate cake using my vegan chocolate cake recipe. And then I made the ice cream base using whipping cream and real strawberries!  The Birthday girl was floored and so were the rest of the neighborhood kiddo gang whom we invited for an impromptu pizza and cake celebration.  Yummy Yum!

Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream Cake

  • Servings: Makes about 10-12 servings
  • Time: about 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

For the chocolate Cake:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup beet puree or apple sauce (or 1/4 cup whole milk)

For the ice cream layer:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can evaporating milk
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp strawberry preserves or jam
  • 1/2 cup strawberry finely chopped (optional)

Method:

Pre heat oven to 350 deg F(180 deg C). Prepare a loaf pan by greasing and dusting lightly with flour.

Mix all the dry ingredients-flours, baking soda,salt,cocoa and sugar in a parchment paper/tray.

In a large mixing bowl add the water, oil,vinegar and vanilla. Add the above dry ingredients to this and mix using an electric mixer(or a stand mixer).  Add the beet puree or apple sauce or milk. Mix till well blended and you get a smooth mixture.

Pour into a loaf pan. Bake at 350deg F (or 180 deg C) for about 20-25 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool.

Once cooled , take the cake out from the pan and cut into two layers horizontally carefully using a sharp serrated knife. Keep aside.

Take a large mixing bowl (or use a stand mixer) and whip the whipping cream, evaporating milk and condensed milk together until creamy. Add the strawberry preserves and the chopped strawberries and mix well.

Now to assemble the cake, take a loaf pan and place a large piece of plastic wrap on it such that there is enough overhang on both sides. Now place one piece of cake on the bottom. Then add half the whipped ice cream mixture. Place the second cake layer on top and add the rest of the ice cream mixture on top. Cover the pan with the plastic wrap that was hanging outside. cover tightly and place cake in the freezer to set for 6-8 hours.

Remove cake from freezer about 30-45 minutes before serving. Place pan on a pan with hot water to get it out quickly. Turn ice cream cake onto serving tray and cut into slices to serve.

Chocolate Strawberry ice cream cake