Maple Cheesecake

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For this special edition post we are sharing one of our favourites. Maple Cheesecake. This weekend is the Jewish Holiday of Shavout. On this holiday it is traditional to eat dairy, so we’ve deemed this the cheesecake holiday. I love to make cheesecakes for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. We hope you enjoy this one.

This uniquely Canadian cheesecake gets most of its sweet flavour from reduced pure maple syrup.  To make a reduction, place 2 ¼ cups pure maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until it is reduced to 1 ½ cups.  Allow to cool to room temperature before using in batter.

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Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup coconut oil (or 1 stick butter, melted)

For the cake:

4 ½ eight oz. bricks of light cream cheese at room temperature (36 oz. total)
¾ cup brown sugar
4 ½ tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups reduced maple syrup (see above)
1 cup low-fat sour cream (not fat-free)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and combine well.
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Drizzle the coconut oil over the crumb mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

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Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-x13-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray.

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Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

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Cube the cream cheese and place in the cleaned food processor bowl.  Process until creamy and smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

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Add the sugar, flour, and salt and blend until smooth.  IMG_2860.jpg

Add the maple syrup, sour cream and vanilla and process again.  IMG_2862.jpg

Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and process just until blended after each addition.

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Pour the filling into the cooled crust.

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Bake in the oven beside a small glass bowl filled with boiling water (acts as a water bath and reduces cracking).

IMG_2864.jpgAfter 55 minutes, turn the oven off and prop open the door for 15 more minutes before removing the cake.  Allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until ready to serve.

Chocolate Crinkle Sprinkle Cookies

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These fun cookies are from Jessica Merchant’s book, “The Pretty Dish.”  I doubled the recipe as she suggested because I knew that two dozen cookies wouldn’t last long in my house.  They are oil, rather than margarine-based, allowing the use of several types of oil. I used “Sweetapolita” Sprinkle Medley to make them even more fun.

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Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup coconut/grapeseed oil
4 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup assorted rainbow sprinkles

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat together the cocoa, sugar and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

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Add the eggs, one at a time followed by the vanilla.

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Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Batter will be sticky.

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Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

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Place the sprinkles into a small bowl.  Preheat oven to 350F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Using a 3 cm ice cream scoop, form the batter into balls, then dip into the sprinkles.

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Bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool.  Makes 46 cookies.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Grapeseed oil is often used in baking and cooking because it has a higher smoke point. Compared to olive oil, it can be heated to a higher temperature before smoking. Try using it as a replacement next time you fry anything!

Cinnamon Rolls

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These were a first attempt and they turned out perfectly! This are a perfect addition to any brunch and will make your Sunday sweeter for sure. They don’t need the topping, but are delicious with the cream cheese frosting.

The recipe originally comes from: Ambitious Kitchen with some added espresso powder.

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

3/4 cup warm milk (110˚F)
2 1/4 tsp quick rise yeast
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp sugar

For the Filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp espresso powder

For the Frosting:

4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Put warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer and add yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes
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Add sugar, egg, egg yolk, sugar and melted butter. Mix well.

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Add flour and salt. Mix slowly until combined. Then mix with dough hook on medium speed for 8 minutes.

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Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a towel.

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Let rise for 1 and a half hours (until doubled in size)

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Transfer to a floured surface and roll out into 9 x 13 rectangle.

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Spread melted butter.

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Mix sugar, cinnamon, and espresso powder in a bowl.

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Sprinkle on top.

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Roll tightly and place with seam side down on a cutting board or surface.

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Cut into 1 inch pieces with a serrated knife and transfer to a 9×9 square pan, or 9 inch circular pan (springform).

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Let rise for 30-45 minutes.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350˚F (until golden brown)

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Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

While the cinnamon rolls cool, mix frosting ingredients in an electric mixer and frost cinnamon rolls.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Yeast feeds on sugar to activate. For this reason you can’t just mix yeast and water. For breads it’s often yeast, water and sugar. For this recipe I used lactose free milk (because that’s what we had in the house) and realized that because of the lack of lactose, the yeast would not activate. So I tried again with 1 tsp of sugar and it worked perfectly.

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These delicious vegan chocolate chunk cookies are easy to make. Possibly one of the best tasting cookies I have ever made.

These are always a hit and disappear quickly.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
2 ½ sticks (10 oz.) unsalted pareve margarine softened at room temperature
4 tbsp. espresso powder
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips/chunks
¼ cup granulated sugar for dipping

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine, coffee, and sugars until well combined.

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Stir in the flour mixture about ½ cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chunks.

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Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the granulated sugar in a small, shallow bowl. Scoop out about 1 tbsp dough and flatten it slightly into a disk. Dip one side into the granulated sugar and then set the disk, sugar side up, on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the disks about 2 inches apart.

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Bake until the edges start to darken, 12 to 14 minutes.

IMG_2127.jpgLet the cookies cool for 1 to 2 minutes on the baking sheets. Transfer them to paper-towel-lined cooling racks to cool completely.

Yield: 41 cookies.

Science Fact of the Week:

Packing the brown sugar means pushing it firmly into the measuring cup. This compacts the brown sugar to ensure the correct measurement. Otherwise people can end up utilizing incorrect measurements of sugar.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These chocolate chip cookies are from BuzzFeed and are delicious! I modified them a little to be non-dairy. Follow the instructions carefully and they will turn out perfectly. I recommend using a scale to measure ingredients. If you don’t have one, I recommend scooping and levelling the ingredients to ensure they are measured accurately.

These cookies are delicious and disappear rather quickly. I recommend doubling the batch because they are such a hit.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (300g)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup packed LIGHT brown sugar (250 g)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (175 g)
1 3/4 sticks of margarine, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of non-dairy chocolate chips
Flakey Sea Salt

Directions

Mix flour, salt and baking soda.

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Whisk sugars and break and large chunks with your fingers
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Add melted margarine and mix for 1 minute. IMG_0049.jpg

Add eggs one at a time and mix well.

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Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix with a spatula. IMG_0052.jpg

Refrigerate the batter for 10 minutes and then scoop into balls using a cookie scoop. IMG_0058.jpg

Place dough balls on a tray and wrap with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. At this point the balls can also be put in a ziplock bag and frozen for up to 3 months.

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Preheat oven to 375˚F and sprinkle cookies with flakey sea salt.

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Bake for 12-16 minutes. If baking from frozen, may need an additional couple minutes.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Some people ask: “why do we have to refrigerate the cookies, we just want to eat them immediately?!” This is because the butter needs to solidify. This stops cookies from spreading excessively (although these do spread quite a bit)

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

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This easy quick bread can be made with a food processor or mixed by hand. A great use of leftover/ripe bananas that combines the delicious flavours of chocolate and banana. Freezes well when wrapped with one layer of plastic wrap and a second layer of aluminum foil.

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Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large ripe bananas (1 ½ cups mashed)
½ cup liquid coconut oil
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the bananas, oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

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Add the dry ingredients and pulse until just combined.

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Add ¾ cup of the mini chocolate chips and fold in with a spatula.

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Transfer the batter to the lined pan and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup mini chocolate chips over the cake.

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Bake for 60 minutes.

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Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Enjoy!

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Science Fact of the Week:

Cocoa powder has many health benefits as it contains flavonoids. These can help lower the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol. As well, they have the added effect of being a potential anti-depressive agent.

Margarita Granita

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Today’s recipe requires little effort and should be made for any celebration (or for margarita Mondays).

Ingredients:

1 cup tequila
1 cup cointreau
Juice of 5 limes (~1/2 cup)
Juice of 1 lemon (3-4 tbsp)
3-4 cups ice

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender. Pour blended margarita into a 9×13 pan and freeze. At this point you can drink some of it as a celebration for making it this far.

After 3 hours, remove the pan from the freezer and “grate” the frozen margarita with a fork. Spoon into a glass and serve.

Science Fact of the Week:

Alcoholic beverages have a freezing point below that of water (below 0 degrees C). As such, the granita remains partially liquid, because of the alcohol content.

Special Edition: Caramelized Matzo Crunch (Passover)

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In honour of the holiday, we are posting early this weekend and are sharing our recipe for chocolate covered matzah.

I have been making this Marcy Goldman recipe for many years.  It can be made nondairy/pareve by using Passover margarine, however the cottonseed and palm oils used are less than desirable from a health perspective.  As well, the taste is much better when using good quality butter.  There are only FOUR ingredients in this amazing delicacy which we call “crack,” because of its addictive nature.  It can keep in the refrigerator for up to one week in a sealed Ziploc bag.

Ingredients:

5 plain matzos
200 g butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and break the matzos into appropriate sizes so that they can accommodate the cookie sheet.

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Bring the butter and sugar to a boil over medium heat.

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Once the sugar is dissolved, allow the mixture to turn to amber colour.  Take it off the heat and pour the mixture over the matzos.  Bake for 10 minutes.

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Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the matzos and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes.

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Spread the chocolate over the matzos.

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You can quickly set the chocolate matzos in the fridge and then break it up into pieces.

Science Fact of the Week

Matzo is unleavened bread made from flour and water! It can only be in the oven for 18 minutes as beyond this point it is considered to rise. Although matzo is for passover, this is so delicious you might want to eat it year round.

Chocolate Mousse (Passover)

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This recipe is a family favourite, and can be made year round. When people try it they won’t even know its for passover!

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Ingredients:

10.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 large eggs, room temperature, separated
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. kosher for passover brandy or Sabra liqueur
1/3 cup brewed espresso, room temperature

Directions:

In a double boiler, melt chocolate over low heat, then cool slightly.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks with ½ cup sugar until light, about 3 minutes.

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Whisk in olive oil, brandy, espresso and melted chocolate.

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In a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining ¼ cup sugar, whisking until stiff but not dry.

Fold whites into chocolate mixture in stages until no white streaks remain.

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Spoon in a tub/container covered with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.  Makes about 8-10 one cup servings.

I have been making this olive oil chocolate mousse for passover for many years.  Aside from being a delicious tasting dessert, there are no traditional passover ingredients in this dish.  It is dairy free and gluten free.  It keeps in the refrigerator for several days….if it lasts that long.  Feel free to pipe or spoon some nondairy whipping cream on top of each dish.

A couple of years ago I left The Domestic Goddess in charge of putting the brandy in the mousse. She accidentally used a 2 tbsp measuring spoon thinking that it was 1 tbsp. This led to a strong, but still delicious chocolate mousse.

Science Fact of the Week:

Eggs are high in protein and many nutrients! Some choose not to prepare dishes made with raw eggs because of the risk of salmonellosis, but the risk is quite low.

The Best Blueberry Muffins

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These muffins are the best blueberry muffins I’ve ever had. I know this is a serious statement, but I’m not one to say it lightly.

This recipe is originally from Smitten Kitchen, however I swapped a few ingredients to make the recipe non-dairy and doubled it (to make 12 XL muffins). You might think it’s insane to add a teaspoon of sugar to the top of each muffin, but I swear its worth it. Don’t worry about the dough being too thick, it is supposed to be (similar to cookie dough) and feel free to use frozen blueberries.

I used bakery style (fluted) muffin liners which allowed me to overfill these muffins.

Ingredients:

1 stick and 2 tbsp (10 tbsp) margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 and 1/2 cup tofutti sour cream
2 eggs
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups blueberries (I used frozen)
12 tsp turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)

Directions:

Heat oven to 375˚F and line a muffin tin with 12 liners.

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Put melted margarine, sugar, zest, tofutti sour cream and eggs in a bowl and mix well.

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Add baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour, mix well.

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Fold in blueberries.

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Divide batter between muffin cups (let it be a lot) and add 1 tsp turbinado sugar to the top of each muffin.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes until the tops are perfect, crunchy and golden brown.

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These freeze very well and are a great go to muffin recipe. Serve to a crowd or throw them in your lunch to brighten up your day.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Tofutti sour cream is made with a mixture of different types of soy including tofu and don’t any contain dairy. However, it still contains a very similar texture to dairy sour cream because of its products such as carrageenan gum, inulin and rice starch.