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Tag Archives: Recipe

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

This Caramel Apple Cheesecake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser this holiday season–it features a delicate graham cracker crust, a rich apple spice filling, and is topped with crunchy struesel and gooey, homemade caramel!

Delicate graham cracker crust with a rich apple spice filling, topped with crunchy struesel and gooey caramel!

For as long as I can remember, one of the dessert options at Thanksgiving has been pumpkin cheesecake. Before I took to the kitchen, my mom always made a no-bake version and it was really good! Then a few years ago, I discovered the art of cheesecake-making from scratch and took charge of holiday desserts–Pumpkin with Chocolate Ganache for Thanksgiving and Chocolate Peppermint for Christmas.

The other thing is that fall and Christmas are my absolute jam and I’m very stringent about holding to all the family traditions. But then this Caramel Apple Cheesecake happened. And after some discussion and family taste-testing, we’ve concluded it needs to make an appearance at this Thanksgiving. Give the recipe a try and I bet you’ll be wanting to do the same! It’s pretty involved though, so read through the whole thing before getting started.

Other Cheesecake Recipes to Try:

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

This Caramel Apple Cheesecake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser this holiday season–it features a delicate graham cracker crust, a rich apple spice filling, and is topped with crunchy struesel and gooey, homemade caramel!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, cake, caramel, cheesecake, fall dessert, streusel
Servings: 8 slices
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Filling

  • 2-3 Wealthy apples (or your favorite pie apple)
  • cinnamon and sugar to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp butter divided
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Penzeys ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Penzeys ground nutmeg
  • Pinch Penzeys ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Struesel Topping

  • ¼ cup cold butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp white sugar

Caramel Sauce

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 ½ tsp arrowroot starch
  • ¼ cup dark maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp sucanat
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

Crust

  • First, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch spring from pan with canola spray or melted coconut oil/butter.
  • Then put the graham crackers in a food processor and grind until they are just small crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse a few more times.
  • In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Finally, press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Struesel

  • Combine the flour and sugar. Then cut in the butter and using a pastry blender (or by hand) break up the butter into pea-size pieces. Set aside until the cheesecake is ready to bake.

Filling

  • In a frying pan, melt 1-2 Tbs. of butter. Add the apples with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Sauté until easily pierced with a fork. (They should be soft, but not applesauce.) Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add approximately an inch of water to the bottom of a double boiler and melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips on medium heat. Stir every few minutes and be sure not to get any water in the chocolate. When the chips are melted, remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbs. of melted butter. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a large, deep bowl, combine the somewhat-cooled white chocolate mixture, cream cheese, sugar, maple syrup, spices and salt. Use an stand or hand mixer to mix all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl every so often to ensure that everything is well combined. Don't to use the slowest setting and do not over mix. Gently fold in the prepared apples.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Scoop the filling in the spring form pan and using a small offset spatula, smooth it out until even. Sprinkle the struesel over the top.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, making sure to not open the oven! Any rapid change in temperature or humidity can lead to cracking and caving.
  • Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for another 30 minutes, still not opening the door. When the time is up, remove from oven and let the cheesecake cool for approximately 30 more minutes before letting it chill and set up in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

Caramel Sauce

  • While the cheesecake is cooling, whisk the arrowroot starch and 2 tbsp of cream in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat the rest of the cream, maple syrup, sucanat, and sugar. Whisk often and bring to a boil. After 10 seconds of boiling, add the butter.
  • Decrease heat and simmer for 10 minutes, continuing to whisk. Add the slurry and gently boil another minute or two. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt.
  • After it is somewhat cooled, it can be drizzled over the entire cheesecake or added to individual slices. Enjoy!

Notes on Caramel Apple Cheesecake:

When selecting white chocolate, make sure it actually contains cocoa butter and is free from hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. (I get mine at Trader Joe’s.)

It’s important to make sure the base of of the spring-form pan is right side up. However, even if it is, it’s still possible for butter to leak out the bottom. To prevent a major mess, line a baking sheet with foil and place it under the cake pan.

Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature before use so that it mixes smoothly. It will also help prevent the need to over-mix which can cause the cheesecake to cave in.

Whatever you do, do not open the oven until it is time to take it out. I know it’s tempting, but you just have to trust me on this one! It is imperative that the pan is put together correctly and a baking sheet is below the pan. Otherwise you may have to open the oven to clean up burned butter as the house fills with haze…yes, I learned this the hard way.

Don’t cover the cheesecake until it is totally cool to prevent condensation from collecting on top and don’t release the sides until it has set up for 3 hours in the fridge.

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Eggless Bronco Bread

As I was making Eggless Bronco Bread this weekend, I was having a hard time trying to figure out what time of year it’s best suited for. After all, blueberries are a summer fruit and citrus is winter. But then I remembered that it’s Bronco bread, so clearly it’s appropriate right now! I’m not even a Bronco’s fan, but I am a fan of this bread and I think I just found a way to justify making it in the summer, fall, and winter.

Somehow, nothing seems to say “fall” quite like football season. Not that football is at all my favorite part about fall. But it’s one of those things I like to have on in the background even though I never actually pay attention or know what’s happening during the game. Mainly because on quiet, relaxing weekends when there’s enough downtime to have it on, chances are I’ll be busy baking in the kitchen!

The perfect quick bread for summer, fall, and winter!

Also, another reason this bread is perfect for fall is that it pairs wonderfully with a piping hot cup of Purity coffee on a crisp October morning. (Click the link to learn more about this amazing coffee!) Anyway, Eggless Bronco Bread is absolutely delicious and you won’t even miss the eggs. It’s sweet, moist, and bursting with flavor! Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Similar recipes you’ll enjoy:

Vegan Cranberry Orange Muffins

Orange-Raisin Irish Soda Bread

Cranberry Orange Scones

Eggless Bronco Bread

Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: blueberry, bread, easy, orange, pastry
Servings: 12
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • ½ tbsp orange zest

Flax Egg

  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
  • Next, whisk the flax seed with hot water to make a flax egg and let stand 5-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk butter, water, orange juice, and zest in a medium bowl. Add the “egg” and mix well.
  • Finally, add dry ingredients and once mixed, fold in blueberries.
  • Pour into
    prepared loaf pan and bake for about 70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread

Growing up, banana muffins were always one of my favorite treats, but with the rate at which we went through bananas, we hardly ever had any that lasted until they were overripe. (They called me “Monkey” for a reason!) However, now my husband and I always seem to have plenty of overripe bananas on hand, so this Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread is our go-to recipe.

The bread features warm fall spices, rich dark chocolate, and a splash of rum for good measure. I adapted the recipe from Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked-Up Banana Bread, but use coconut oil and a flax egg to make it vegan. I also reduce the sugar, use whole wheat pastry flour, substitute rum for bourbon, and add a generous dose of chocolate for good measure.

In addition, I just want to add a side note about freezing bananas. Previously frozen bananas work great in this recipe, but you’ll want them to get to room temperature first. The coconut oil with it’s high freezing point will start to solidify shortly after adding it to the bananas. However, if you aren’t concerned with making it a vegan recipe, you could always use melted butter and then it should be less of an issue.

I hope you give Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread a try and I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below! Happy fall baking!

Similar Recipes to Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread:

Eggless Bronco Bread

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins

Ingredients

1 Tbs. ground flaxseed

3 Tbs. hot water

3 large, ripe, mashed bananas

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup white sugar

1 Tbs. molasses

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 Tbs. spiced rum (optional)

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk the flaxseed and hot water to make an “egg”. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the mashed banana and coconut oil.* Then add the sugar, molasses, vanilla, and rum (if using).

Add the spices followed by the baking soda and salt. Finally, add the flour and mix until just combined, being sure not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake for about 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

*Note: Make sure the bananas aren’t cold if they were previously frozen. Coconut oil has high freezing point and will start to solidify if the other ingredients aren’t at room temperature.

Couscous Salad with Kale and Blueberries

Even though it’s a week after Labor Day and the kids are back in school (myself included), there’ll still be plenty of nice weekends to cookout and have picnics. This couscous salad is light and fresh and is the perfect side dish to any meal. Not only that, but it’s super quick and easy for those rushed evenings you need something fast and preferably healthy. Go ahead and give it a try–I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below! Enjoy!

Ingredients

Salad

1 cup Israeli pearl couscous, dry

6 cups chopped kale (thick stems removed)

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

4 oz queso fresco, crumbled

1 avocado, diced (optional)

Dressing

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 Tbs raw honey

1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Let cool and place it in a large bowl. Combine with the kale, blueberries, chickpeas, cheese, and avocado (if using).

In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Enjoy!

Adapted from the Kristine’s Kitchen recipe: Kale Quinoa Salad with Blueberries

Milk and Honey™ Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy Thursday, everyone! I’m really excited to finally be posting this cupcake recipe. It’s one I actually made a while back in collaboration with Lauren and the Foreign and Milk and Honey™. Lauren (my sister) and her friend Julia (aka the foreign) are lifestyle bloggers who create a bunch of fun cocktails. One of their favorite products is Milk and Honey™ which is a cream liqueur made of date honey.

In these chocolate cupcakes, I use the Milk and Honey™ kind of like you would use Irish cream. I added some to the whipped cream filling and in the rich chocolate frosting for a little extra spike. Of course, you can always omit the alcohol to make these kid-friendly or if you just want a milder flavor.

Ingredients

Cupcakes

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup brewed Purity Coffee (must be hot)

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vinegar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup melted butter

Filling

8 oz. heavy cream

1/4 cup Milk and Honey ™ cream liquer

1/4 cup powdered sugar

3/4 tsp. vanilla

Frosting

Powdered sugar

Unsweetened cocoa

Butter

Milk and Honey ™

Cream or half and half

Directions

Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12 count muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Bloom the cocoa powder by dissolving it in the hot coffee. Let stand for 2-3 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add the vinegar, vanilla, melted butter, and coffee/cocoa mixture. Stir until combined.

Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter and bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

When the cupcakes are cool, use a cupcake corer (or a small spoon/knife) to remove the center of each cupcake. Set aside the cake that’s removed.

Filling

Using a hand or stand mixer, start by whipping the cream. As it starts to stiffen, add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Once they are mixed in, add the Milk and Honey ™ cream liqueur and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Adjust the amount of liqueur per your preferences.

Scoop the whipped cream into a piping bag with a coupler attached. No tip is necessary. Pipe the whipped cream into the middle of the cupcakes and cover the top with the cake that was removed.

Frosting

Start by adding about 4 cups of powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer and add a few tablespoons of Dutch cocoa powder about 1/3 cup of softened butter. For the liquid, you can use any combination of cream and Milk and Honey ™. (We opted for more liquer and less cream, but it all depends on how strong you like it!)

Whip the frosting until it is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Adjust the amount of cocoa to get the desired degree of chocolate flavor. If it’s too thick, add more liquid and if it’s too soft add more sugar. Finally, scoop the frosting into a piping bag equipped with Wilton tip 1M and swirl the frosting over each cupcake. Enjoy!

Lemon Garlic Salmon with Roasted Asparagus

Today I want to share a new salmon recipe that’s perfect for this time of year when asparagus is in season! This is also a great option for Friday night if you’re craving fish, but want a heart-healthy option instead of beer-battered fish fry. It’s a very simple recipe, super quick, but loaded with flavor! If you want to work ahead and get even more flavor, you could try marinating the salmon with the lemon and garlic beforehand.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Asparagus

1 bunch fresh asparagus

1 clove garlic

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Salmon

2 large wild caught salmon fillets (or four small ones)

2 cloves garlic

1 small lemon

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice asparagus into 4 inch spears and arrange on a baking sheet. Mince one clove of garlic and sprinkle on the asparagus. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, rotating the pieces every 15 minutes. Cooking time varies based on the size of asparagus.

While the asparagus is roasting, prepare the salmon. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (if not non-stick) and lightly grease with olive oil. Mince two cloves of garlic and zest the lemon. Place salmon fillets in the pan skin down. Sprinkle with garlic and lemon zest. Then squeeze the lemon juice on the salmon and add salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The fillets should be opaque and flaky when done. Enjoy!

Baked Asparagus Risotto

You always know when it’s spring in my family because that’s when there’s fresh, wild asparagus incorporated into nearly every dish. Asparagus was never something we would buy at the store when I was growing up since we always had so much of it growing around our property. Because of that, we only ate it seasonally, but we sure made the most out of asparagus season!

Sometimes we would just have it grilled or steamed with melted butter on top. Other times it would be pureed in asparagus soup or added to my mom’s famous veggie lasagna (hopefully a post on this coming soon). But one of my favorite spring dishes has always been asparagus risotto.

During my time volunteering at Healthy Community Kitchens, I learned how to make authentic risotto. It was only then that I realized that this recipe isn’t true risotto. That being said, risotto is one of those dishes that has to be very precise and takes some time to master. So while I work on developing that skill, enjoy this simpler baked version!

Makes 4, 1 cup servings

Ingredients

1 Tbs olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup uncooked Arborio rice

8 cup spinach leaves (about 4 oz)

2 cup vegetable broth*

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)

1/2 cup fresh, grated Parmesan cheese, divided (2 oz)

1 1/2 cup diagonally sliced asparagus (about 1 inch pieces) **

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook 4 minutes or until tender. Add rice and stir well. Stir in spinach, broth, salt, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Stir in asparagus and sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed.

Notes

*Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth to make it vegetarian.

**Also try substituting half of the asparagus with peas (as pictured).

Mocha Cheesecake

This egg-less mocha cheesecake is actually one I made a while ago, but never got around to sharing the recipe. So here it is! It features a classic graham cracker crust and a chocolate filling with a hint of coffee. I chose to top it off with a drizzle of coffee infused glaze.

In case you’re wondering what type of coffee to use, I always recommend Purity Coffee. Purity is certified organic and lab tested for mold and mycotoxins. It is also higher in antioxidants than other conventional coffees. You can learn more about all the wonderful health benefits here! In the meantime, enjoy 10% off your first order by using promo code ROOTS.

As you read through the recipe, you make notice that there are no amounts listed for the glaze ingredients. If you’ve been following my blog for while, you probably know my philosophy on frostings, icings, and glazes: no recipe needed! Just add a little of this and a little of that until it’s just how you like it. Worst case scenario, you keep adding more until you have a lot more frosting than you really need 🙂 Enjoy!

Ingredients

Crust

1 tsp. sugar

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil or butter

Filling

1 cup dark chocolate chips

2 Tbs. melted coconut oil or butter

2 8-oz. packages of 1/3 fat cream cheese (room temperature)

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbs. coffee reduction

1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa

2 tsp. pure vanilla

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Glaze

Coffee reduction

Powdered sugar

Milk

Directions

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 inch spring-form pan with canola spray or melted coconut oil/butter.

Put the graham crackers in a food processor and grind until they are just small crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse a few more times.

In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted coconut oil or butter. Then press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Prepare the coffee reduction using this recipe. Set aside.

Add approximately an inch of water to the bottom of a double boiler and melt 1 cup of dark chocolate chips on medium heat. Stir every few minutes and be sure not to get any water in the chocolate. When the chocolate chips are melted, remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbs. of melted butter or coconut oil. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large, deep bowl, combine the somewhat-cooled chocolate mixture, cream cheese, sugar, coffee reduction, cocoa, vanilla, and salt. Use an electric mixture to mix all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides every so often to ensure that everything is well combined. Be sure not to use the slowest setting and do not over mix.

Put the filling in the spring form pan and using a small offset spatula, smooth out the filling until it is even across the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, making sure to not open the oven! Any rapid change in temperature or humidity can lead to cracking and caving.

Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for another 30 minutes, still not opening the door. When the time is up, let the cheesecake cool for approximately 30 more minutes before letting it chill and set up in the refrigerator for at least three hours and up to overnight.

While the cheesecake is cooling, it’s time to start the glaze! In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, coffee reduction, and milk. Adjust the amounts to achieve your desired consistency. When the cake is cool, drizzle with glaze and enjoy!

Tips

Make sure you put together the spring form pan correctly. Otherwise, oil from the crust will leak into the oven causing a huge mess. I’ve learned this the hard way. Three times to be exact.

Line a baking sheet with foil and put the spring form pan on it while baking. This will prevent any major mess in the event that some leakage does occur.

Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature so that it mixes smoothly.

Again, whatever you do, do not open the oven until it is time to take it out. I know it’s tempting, but this is crucial to cheesecake success! This is also where it becomes imperative that the pan is put together correctly and a baking sheet is below the pan. If you have to open the oven to clean up burned butter as the house fills with haze, the cheesecake will surely cave in the middle. (Yes, I also learned this the hard way.)

But in the unfortunate event that the cake does cave in, all is not lost! The glaze will make it less noticeable and it will still taste great!

Don’t cover the cheesecake in the fridge until it is totally cool to prevent condensation from collecting on top. If this does happen, dab it off with a paper towel.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

Good morning! Today I’d like to share a simple banana snack cake recipe. It tastes like banana bread, but has a light, fluffy cake texture. I chose to use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose and to reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup to make it a little healthier.

You may also notice the aquafaba in the ingredients list. I go into this in a little more detail in my post on egg substitutes, but it’s basically just the water from the can of garbanzo beans.

The original cake recipe (from Brown Eyed Baker) also suggests topping it with cream cheese frosting. But you know what? I don’t think it needs it. Wait…what?? Me?! Saying it doesn’t need frosting?! I know that probably comes a shock, because if you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you’ve probably gathered that I love all things frosting, glaze, and ganache. But I honestly think the cake is sweet enough and moist enough on it’s own and the cream cheese was just a bit too tangy for me. (Maybe I just didn’t have enough sugar in the frosting 😉) That being said, if you want to make it more of a dessert cake than a snack cake, by all means go ahead and add some frosting! Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. aquafaba*
  • 1 cup mashed, ripe bananas (2 to 3 medium bananas)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

Grease a square 8 inch baking pan and preheat the oven to 350° F.

Before measuring any other ingredients, mash the banana to ensure you have the right amount. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a recipe and finding out you don’t have enough of something!

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the aquafaba, bananas, and vanilla.

Now, stirring by hand, alternate between adding the milk and dry ingredient mixture until a batter comes together. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (with the exception of some melted chocolate). Rotate the pan in the oven halfway through baking.

The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to 5.

*This amount of aquafaba is equivalent to 2 whole eggs.

Merlot Chocolate Cheesecake

I know, it’s another cheesecake post on what’s technically a clean eating blog. 🤷‍♀️🍷🍫But yesterday I teamed up with my sister Lauren and her friend Julia from Lauren and the Foreign to bring to you this rich, decadent cake. The base is an egg-free, chocolate cheesecake on a delicate graham cracker crust. Then I topped it with a sweet, homemade merlot reduction. It’s the perfect combination of cheese, chocolate and wine!

Be sure to click on the link above watch Lauren and the Foreign’s YouTube channel and check out their Instagram here!

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 tsp. sugar

1/4 cup melted coconut oil or butter

Filling

1 cup dark chocolate chips

2 Tbs. melted coconut oil or butter

2 8-oz. packages of 1/3 fat cream cheese (room temperature)

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbs. raw honey

1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa

2 tsp. pure vanilla

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Topping

1/2 cup merlot

1 cup sugar

Directions

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 inch spring-form pan with canola spray or melted coconut oil/butter.

Put the graham crackers in a food processor and grind until they are just small crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse a few more times.

In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted coconut oil or butter. Then press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Add approximately an inch of water to the bottom of a double boiler and melt 1 cup of dark chocolate chips on medium heat. Stir every few minutes and be sure not to get any water in the chocolate. When the chocolate chips are melted, remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbs. of melted butter or coconut oil. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large, deep bowl, combine the somewhat-cooled chocolate mixture, cream cheese, sugar, honey, cocoa, vanilla, and salt. Use an electric mixture to mix all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides every so often to ensure that everything is well combined. Be sure not to use the slowest setting and do not over mix.

Put the filling in the spring form pan and using a small offset spatula, smooth out the filling until it is even across the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, making sure to not open the oven! Any rapid change in temperature or humidity can lead to cracking and caving.

Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for another 30 minutes, still not opening the door. When the time is up, let the cheesecake cool for approximately 30 more minutes before letting it chill and set up in the refrigerator for at least three hours and up to overnight.

While the cheesecake is baking, it is time to start the reduction! In a saucepan, add the sugar and merlot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for three minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool and set up.

Pour the merlot reduction on the cheesecake and smooth it out with a small offset spatula. Enjoy!

Tips

Make sure you put together the spring form pan correctly. Otherwise, oil from the crust will leak into the oven causing a huge mess. I’ve learned this the hard way. Three times to be exact.

Line a baking sheet with foil and put the spring form pan on it while baking. This will prevent any major mess in the event that some leakage does occur.

Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature so that it mixes smoothly.

Again, whatever you do, do not open the oven until it is time to take it out. I know it’s tempting, but this is crucial to cheesecake success! This is also where it becomes imperative that the pan is put together correctly and a baking sheet is below the pan. If you have to open the oven to clean up burned butter as the house fills with haze, the cheesecake will surely cave in the middle. (Yes, I also learned this the hard way.)

If the cake does cave in, the ganache will likely fill the crater, but not the edges. What you can do to remedy the situation is make a little buttercream frosting and pipe a boarder around the cake. No one will know that it’s caved in and you get frosting too!

Don’t cover the cheesecake in the fridge until it is totally cool to prevent condensation from collecting on top. If this does happen, dab it off with a paper towel.