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!

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.

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.

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.

Israeli Style Granola

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This granola is based on a recipe from Macheneh Yehuda in Jerusalem.  Once you have tasted this granola, you probably won’t make it any other way.  Tastes great on its own as a snack, and of course, goes well with yogurt.  This recipe can be gluten-free by using gluten-free oats.

Ingredients:

½ cup coconut oil
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup date honey
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
6 cups rolled oats
2 cups each of whole raw almonds and hazelnuts
1 cup large flake coconut
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup each of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried currants

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine oil, sugar, honey, cinnamon and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves.

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In a large bowl, combined oats, almonds, hazelnuts, coconut, cashews, and pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds.

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Pour sugar mixture on top and stir well. Spread on the two baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes.  Flip mixture, add cranberries and currants and bake for another 20 minutes or longer until golden brown.

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Science Fact of the Week:

This granola uses tons of natural ingredients to make a delicious granola with many flavours. The almonds in this granola have healthy fats, fibre, and protein, leading this to be a nutritious snack. Throw this on top of some yogurt for a delicious and nutritious breakfast.

Texas Sheet Cake

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This large rich and delicious chocolate cake is a nut-free version of the pecan covered Texas sheet cake which has been made in the U.S. for years. One unique feature of this recipe is that the frosting is warm when spread over the hot cake immediately after it comes out of the oven. The frosting and cake blend together into one layer as the cake cools.

For the cake:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup nondairy sour cream (Tofutti)
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp. unsalted pareve margarine (1/2 stick)
¾ cup grapeseed/olive/canola oil
¾ cup water
½ cup cocoa powder

For the Icing:

1 stick unsalted pareve margarine (8 tbsp)
½ cup Nutriwhip
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp. corn syrup
3 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
sprinkles

Directions:

For the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray an 18×13 –inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.  Combine the first 4 dry ingredients in a large bowl.

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Whisk the eggs, yolks, vanilla, and sour cream in another bowl until smooth.

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Heat the chocolate, margarine, oil, water and cocoa in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 3-5 minutes.

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Whisk the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture.

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Whisk the egg mixture into the batter.

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Pour into the prepared baking sheet.

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Bake for 18 minutes.

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For the Icing:

About 5 minutes before the cake is done, heat the margarine, Nutriwhip, cocoa, and corn syrup in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

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Off the heat, whisk in the icing sugar and vanilla.

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Spread the warm icing evenly over the hot cake. Cover the cake with any type of sprinkles.

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Let the cake cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, then refrigerate until the icing is set, about 1 hour longer.

Science Fact of the Week:

 

Sour cream is considered an odd ingredient to put in baked goods, however is is considered a standard ingredient for Texas sheet cake. It provides extra moisture and creaminess to the cake.

Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pies

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A much easier way to make lemon meringue pie…adapted from Smitten Kitchen, there are 3 easy steps and the final product is quite impressive.  This gluten-free dessert can also be made for Passover by substituting the Nutriwhip with a Kosher for Passover whipping cream, and by omitting the cream of tartar.

Ingredients:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
2 lemons zested
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 large egg yolks
5 tbsp. unsalted pareve margarine
2 cups Nutriwhip

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until they hold soft peaks.

Very gradually add the sugar, then the salt, beating the whole time, and continue whipping the whites until they hold thick, glossy peaks.

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Spread the meringue to about a ¼-to-1/2-inch thickness on the prepared sheet.

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Bake for 90 minutes, until the meringue slab is dry and firm but not browned on top.  Let the slab cool completely at room temperature.

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To make the lemon curd, combine the sugar and zest in a bowl of a double boiler and use your fingertips to rub them together to release the flavour from the peel.

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Add the lemon juice, egg yolks and margarine, and set the bowl over an inch of boiling water.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to gel or thicken slightly.  Remove from the heat, and strain through a fine-mesh sieve.  Place plastic wrap directly over the lemon mixture and refrigerate until ready to use (up to one week in advance).

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Whip the “cream” until it holds soft peaks in the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

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To assemble, crumble a little of the meringue into each of 9 glasses, dollop with whipped “cream,” and top with a spoonful of the lemon curd. Repeat the layers and then top off with a little crumbled meringue.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Science Fact of the Week

When you beat egg whites, you are mixing air into them. Meringues are light and airy desserts, and it is important not to over whip the egg whites. It is commonly said to whip the egg whites until they have stiff glossy peaks. Beyond this point the eggs can be over whipped, creating a grainy and dull texture.

Raisin Bran Muffins

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These muffins are simple to make and freeze nicely. Make a big batch and stick them in the freezer for a quick breakfast or snack on the go.

 

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive/grapeseed/canola/coconut oil
2 cups wheat bran
1 ½ cups raisins
1 cup prune juice
1 cup nondairy sour cream
1/3 cup molasses
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F and line a 12 muffin tray with paper liners.
Combine oil, wheat bran, raisins, prune juice, sour cream, molasses, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes.

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IMG_0879.jpgWhisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.

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Stir dry ingredients into the bran mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened.

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Fill muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.

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An absolutely delicious bakery-style bran muffin loaded with fibre and with no added sugars. Feel free to top with turbinado sugar if you want to increase the sweetness factor. These freeze well for 2 months if sealed well in a plastic bag.

Science Fact of the Week:

These muffins are packed with fibre and contain prune juice as a hidden ingredient. Together these are great for constipation, and make these muffins a natural health alternative to treating tummy troubles. As well, it is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients that make this muffin a quick and easy breakfast.

Poppy Seed Cookies

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Another one of my mother’s classics…I found the handwritten recipe without specifics such as amount of vanilla, salt and lemon juice, baking temperature and time, etc.  So that’s where The Science of Baking got to work…

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Ingredients:

3 large eggs
¾ cup olive/canola/coconut/grapeseed oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Juice of one lemon
3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of kosher salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. poppy seeds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Process eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor until well combined.

Add flour, salt, baking powder and poppy seeds, and pulse until just combined and the dough starts to form by wrapping around the blade.

Divide dough in half.   Shape one half into a round disc and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

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Shape the other half into a log and wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for one hour.

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Roll out the disc to ¼-1/2 inch thickness on a counter dusted with flour, and use cookie cut-outs (I used a star shape) to shape the cookies.

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Bake the cookies for 13 minutes or until slightly golden on the edges.

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Slice the log into ½-inch thick cookies and bake for 14-16 minutes.

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Science Fact of the Week

Poppy seeds go beyond a classic bagel decoration. Seeds come from the dry fruit pods of the poppy plant. They contain anti-oxidants, dietary fibre and many nutrients and minerals such as B-vitamins, iron, copper, zinc and magnesium. Added to these cookies they not only provide texture and flavour, but some nutrition as well!