Saturday, June 21, 2014

Celebrate Rhubarb Season with this No-Bake Rhubarb Cheesecake

This light summer dessert offers great taste and is made with coconut sugar, so it has less cane sugar than your average cheesecake. Even better, this no-bake cake means that you will not need to turn on your oven and heat up your house during the hot summer months.

The Rhubarb is flourishing this month, so hurry up and pick some, then start baking!


You need: No-Bake Rhubarb Cheesecake

Graham Cookie Crust:
  1. 2 cups graham cookie crumbs
  2. 1/3 cup of coconut sugar
  3. 1/3 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:
  • 2 packages of cream cheese (250g), softened
  • 2/3 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract (or 1 tsp ground vanilla beans)
  • 1.5 cups of whipping cream
  • 2 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 1/3 cup of coconut sugar or agave nectar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

Topping Instructions:

We are starting with the final touch, the topping, because it needs time to cool completely before placing it on the finished cake, or it will melt your cake.
  1. Place chopped rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a saucepan on the stovetop. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly for 10 to 15 minutes while it simmers on the stove.  If you want a thicker sauce, you can add 1 tbsp. of cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp. of cold water  to the mixture in the last five minutes of cooking, but this will change the consistency so be sure you keep stirring or the bottom may burn.
  2. Take off heat and let cool for 1/2 hour. Then refrigerate until cold.

Crust Instructions:
  1. Prepare an 8" Springform pan by lining it with parchment paper and brushing it with butter (you can also use a large 10" Glass Pie pan for this recipe, if you plan to serve it from the pan).
  2. Melt your butter in the microwave or over a double boiler.
  3. Place your graham crumbs in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Toss in the coconut sugar and stir briefly.
  5. Add the melted butter and stir.
  6. Press the moistened mixture into the bottom of the Springform pan and up the sides.
  7. Bake in a 350 degree F pre-heated oven for 12 minutes (take out when the edges are just starting to brown)
  8. Let cool on a rack on the counter for 1/2 hour then place in the refrigerator to fully cool until ready to fill.

Cheesecake Filling Instructions:
  1. With a stand or hand mixer, whip the whipping cream in a cold bowl (it helps to freeze or refrigerate it for a few minutes first).  Once hard peaks are formed (not lumpy, if it is lumpy it is over-whipped).
  2. Place the whipped cream in the refrigerator while you prepare the cream cheese.
  3. Remove all wrapping and soften 2 packages of cream cheese in the microwave for 15 seconds.
  4. Whip at medium-to-high speed for 30 seconds in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer if that is what you have).
  5. Stir fully (get bottom bits stirred back in) and whip again for 30 second intervals until it is soft and fluffy.
  6. Add half the sugar and whip for 30 seconds.  Stir fully again.
  7. Add the remaining sugar and whip again, stirring fully until the mixture is lump free and mixed.
  8. Add half of the whipped cream and with your mixer on low, mix it in.
  9. Add the other half of the whipped cream and simply stir or fold it in.
  10. Pour the contents immediately onto the crust and fill the Springform pan. Smooth out the top with your spatula and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour until set.
Top the Cake:
  • Beads of buttercream around the top edges of the cake will significantly help to contain the rhubarb topping, but this is completely optional. If you want to decorate with buttercream, a cinnamon buttercream pairs nicely (add 1 tbsp. cinnamon to a large batch of vanilla buttercream) or a coconut buttercream. 
  • If you are serving the cake from the pan, buttercream is unnecessary. So you can simply place the rhubarb topping on the cake and spread it around carefully.
  • Sprinkle a little coconut and white chocolate chunks on top, or just some more of the graham cookie crust if you have any left.

To add chocolate:
If you want to add some chocolate, mix white chocolate chunks in with some shredded coconut.  Cover the sides of the cake with a cinnamon or vanilla buttercream and press the coconut-white chocolate mixture into the sides of the cake.

To change up the fruit:
Follow the same instructions above for everything, except change the fruit to strawberry, cherry, raspberry, blueberry, mango, etc. Once you have the basic cheesecake down, you can create whatever flavour combination that you like!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Spice Up Your Plain Jane Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe!

Do you always make the same vanilla cheesecake with a fruit topping, like cherry, strawberry or blueberry?  Maybe it is time to spice up that cheesecake by adding a little umph to the batter.

Start with your best cheesecake recipe.  This recipe by Kraft is a pretty good starting point (just ignore the topping ingredients) and then try any of the following:

Make it Pumpkin-Spiced:
  • For a pumpkin-spiced cheesecake that tastes like an awesome pumpkin pie, simply add 2 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of mace to your vanilla cake batter.  You can also add a few tablespoons of Molasses to give it a brown sugar flavour like a true pumpkin pie should have.
  • Top with a cinnamon-spiced pumpkin topping (simmer 2 cups chopped pumpkin, 1 tbsp. cornstarch, 2/3 cup brown sugar on stove top for about 15 minutes, constantly stirring).
  • You could also top it with a pumpkin-spiced buttercream by adding the same spices (as above) to your homemade or store-bought buttercream.
  • Make it chocolaty by topping it with a milk chocolate ganache (milk chocolate pairs best with pumpkin spice).
  • If you really want to change up your cheesecake and get that full pumpkin pie flavour, try this PIECAKEN.

Make it an Oreo Cheesecake:
  • Crumble up 1 cup of Oreo cookies and mix it into the cake batter just before you pour it in the pan. For a darker cookies-and-cream look, also add in 1/4 cup of Oreo Crumbs.
  • Top it with a semi-sweet ganache for a chocolaty finish!

Make it a Triple Chocolate Chip Cheesecake:
  • Stir in 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips and 1/2 cup white chocolate chips into the batter just before pouring it into the pan. Make a dark chocolate ganache topping and stir in swirls of melted milk and white chocolate for a decorative topping.
The key is to EXPERIMENT with flavours. You can never go wrong with cheesecake!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thomas Cake for a Boy's Birthday Party

This Thomas Cake was inspired by a boy who loves the Thomas show and it was based on a toy the same size and shape. With a whole lot of coloured fondant, it came together fairly easily. I used a round glass to cut the shape for Thomas' face and head and a variety of other odd objects in the kitchen to cut all the other parts.  The back of a small paint brush was used to texture Thomas' mouth and cheeks.

What's inside?

 The 'Thomas' cake is made of rice treats and rice cereal held together with melted organic chocolate (a more gourmet way of making rice treats!).

The 'grass' cake base is filled with chocolate, chocolate chunks and an all natural buttercream.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Simple Nautical Theme Birthday Cake with a Chocolate Buttercream Recipe!

This 1st birthday cake was covered in a blue water-colour vanilla buttercream for taste, and decorated with sailboats made of fondant to enhance the overall look.

Simple enlarge and print the picture on the right and cut out the sailboat shapes.  Then use those paper shapes to overlay on your red and white fondant and trace with a knife to make your fondant sailboat.  Press the fondant shapes into the softened buttercream to stick (do this before refrigerating your buttercream, or they will not stick).

For the circles in the red fondant, I used the back end of a decorator tip to make them!

What's inside?  Chocolate cake with a rich, all natural chocolate buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream Recipe:
  1. Whip 1 lb (454g) of softened, room-temperature butter in a stand mixer until fluffy (be sure to stir the bottom and mix again).
  2. Whip in 1/2 cup of canola oil until well blended and light and fluffy. 
  3. Add 4 cups of sifted icing sugar and 3/4 cup of sifted cocoa powder slowly to your mixer while on low. Stir with a spatula regularly to ensure the butter mixture on the bottom is well mixed and lump free.
  4. Whip on high for a few minutes until fluffy.  Ice between the layers of the cake with it immediately or, if making in advance, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and maintain at room temperature, then whip or beat it on high for 30 seconds to get it fluffy again so it is easy to work with while icing the cake.
Voila! A chocolaty buttercream that is not too sweet, and just the right amount of chocolate taste.