Sunday, July 6, 2014

Healthy Strawberry Oatmeal Bars - Gluten Free

I discovered a new (to me) blog - Sally's Baking Addiction. Oops. This could have been a really bad thing but luckily Sally posts some healthy recipes now and then to fuel her marathon training. These bars were fantastic however I did make a few tweaks.

As with a lot of gluten free/Paleo-ish recipes, these were not sweet in the slightest. I suspect part of it was the fact my almond butter has zero sugar in it but just to be sure I could also serve these to people NOT worried about their calories I upped the sugar a hair. There was already one tablespoon in the recipe (the rest of the sweetness comes from maple syrup) so I threw caution to the wind by doubling it and also sprinkling a little over the top before baking.

They're still not what I would call a dessert bar or a 'sweet' but they're absolutely perfect for breakfast or as a snack IMO. Particularly with some Greek yogurt. And a latte. Or five.

Sally asks that you link back to her recipe rather than copy it so I'll just include my tweaks below that you can apply if you wish. I also added vanilla extract because I'm suspicious of any baked good that leaves it out. And salt for the same reason.


Alisa's Tweaks to the filling:

Use 2 tablespoons sugar in the strawberry filling. If you want a more dessert like bar versus say a breakfast or 'snack' bar, I suggest 1/4 cup.

Add in the zest of one lemon to the boiled strawberry mixture along with the cornstarch mixture as well as 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of kosher salt. I suspect orange zest would be equally amazing.

Alisa's Tweaks to the 'topping':

Add a pinch of salt into the mixture along with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. I often use chopped pecans instead of sliced almonds.

Before baking, sprinkle 1 teaspoon granulated sugar evenly over the top.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Margarita Cheesecake, My Kinda Birthday Cake

Yesterday was America's birthday and mine. I hope you all had a fantastic 4th! I had a great one. My husband flew in on a red eye from a shoot so we could spend the day together, I got to take a nap with my baby in the morning and watch him eat (inhale) scrambled eggs for the first time at our favorite place, Elizabeth Street, before we spent the day with friends and family.

This was the cake I made to celebrate my 37 years on earth. I made it gluten free by using gluten free ginger snaps in the crust and no one was the wiser. But feel free to use regular ginger snaps or graham crackers. The filling is a classic key lime cheesecake filling but since it was my birthday I had to step it up a notch.

Enter the topping: a tequila infused whipped sour cream situation. You two should get to know one another.

Margarita Cheesecake with Tequila Whipped Sour Cream
Makes one big ass cheesecake.
*Takes a few prep bowls and steps, but worth it. Like all cheesecakes this MUST be made 1-2 days ahead and kept chilled in fridge for it to achieve the right consistency.

2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies (I used one 8 oz box Mi-Del Gluten Free Ginger Snaps), vanilla wafers or graham crackers
4 tablespoons salted butter
pinch kosher salt
zest of a small lime

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temp
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream (I used light)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt

1 pint heavy cream, very cold
heaping 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon tequila
pinch kosher salt
zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup sour cream (I used light)
slices of lime, for garnish (optional)
whole strawberries, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 (I used convection bake setting.) Lightly butter a 9 inch round springform cheesecake pan, coating all sides and bottom. Use a large piece of aluminum foil to 'wrap' the base of the pan (just to prevent leaks) tucking it up and around the sides. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs, melted butter, salt and lime zest until well blended. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the buttered pan and just slightly up the sides. Use a lighter hand when doing this or it will be brick-like after being baked.

Bake for 8-12 minutes until edges are golden. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile in a standing mixer or big bowl with hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add in the sugar, mixing until very well blended and being sure to scrape along bottom/sides for any hiding clumps.

Add egg yolks, one at a time blending after each addition just until yellow disappears. Add in the sour cream, juice, zest, vanilla extract and pinch salt. Mix well, scraping down sides and bottom once again.

In a separate (clean and dry) large bowl, whip the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form at the end of a beater when the beater is turned off but mixture is not dry (meaning there's still a little shine to them but they are no longer liquid.)

Gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, until just mixed. Pour into the prepared crust and bake for one hour. Gently slide the tray the cake is on out and watch how the cake moves. If the entire thing is still jiggly/watery, bake another 10-15 minutes until JUST the very center is quivery. The center being loose is the goal - not the entire cake.

When just your center is jiggly, shut the oven door and shut the oven completely off. Leave for 15 minutes. Then crack the door and leave another 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. It's a big cake and will take a while so be patient.

Cover and chill over night or at least 8 hours.

Meanwhile, make your topping (topping can also be made several hours ahead or even overnight and put on the cake before serving.)

Using a standing mixer or large bowl with hand held mixer, beat the cream on high until it forms soft peaks, gently add in the confectioners sugar and continue to whip until you achieve classic whipped cream texture. Add in your extract, tequila, salt and zest and beat again just until incorporated. Make sure no little clumps of lime zest are lurking. Finally fold in the sour cream.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble, remove the cake from pan. Spread the whipped topping evenly over and decorate with lime slices, strawberries and more lime zest or strips of lime zest if desired.