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MORE *vegan* BUTTAH!

21 Feb

finished

When it comes to baking, and even cooking for that matter, I tend to live by the motto “MORE BUTTAH!” From putting it in the recipe, to brushing it over the top for that beautiful finish when something delicious comes out of the oven. So, when my sister found out she has an allergy to dairy and nuts, but was craving some chocolate chip cookies, I started my research.

Luckily I didn’t have to go the full vegan or gluten-free route, but I am now curious on how that would turn out! I took my standard chocolate chip cookie recipe, swapped the butter for Vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Vegan Butter Sticks) and the chocolate chips for Vegan Chocolate Chips (you can find these at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s).  I have to be honest, full disclosure… I didn’t think these would come out too good so I made a 2nd batch of cookies (selfishly) using “real” butter! To my surprise, they came out Delicious!!

Dairy-Free, Nut-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time           Cook Time           Total Time
15 Minutes         11 Minutes         30 Minutes

cookies

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Yields: 2 Dozen Cookies (1 Tbs size)

Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp of Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp of Salt
  • 1 Tsp of Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup of Vegan Butter (2 sticks), softened
  • ¾ Cup of Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ Cup of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 Cups of Vegan Chocolate Chips + More for Topping
  • Sea Salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt & cinnamon in a small bowl and stir to combine
  3. Beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar & vanilla extract in a large bowl with either the paddle attachment on your standing mixer or with a rubber spatula until creamy
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating one before adding the next
  5. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, in roughly 3 batches, until fully incorporated
  6. Stir in the 2 Cups of chocolate chips (or more depending on your love of chocolate, which in my case requires more!)
  7. Scoop 1 tablespoon at a time of the mixture into a ball and place on the ungreased baking sheet
  8. Press 2 or 3 chocolate chips into the top of your cookie and top with a pinch of sea salt if you like your cookie a little salty – and let’s be honest, chocolate & sea salt together, who can say no!?
  9. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown on the top
  10. Cool on the baking sheet for around 2 minutes; remove and transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely – If you can wait that long!

Happy Baking!

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And So It Begins…

4 Jan

The Start of a New Year

We have another year in the books we’re celebrating a fresh new path for 2016. What better way to start it off then with CAKE? Obviously!

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After 2 weeks in Antigua (heavenly) for our honeymoon, running around NY for Christmas and hosting our friends for New Years, my husband and I are now back to the grind of our day to day. I have to admit, it was a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Just to reminisce a little (because I’m not ready to give up the island mindset for the NYC aggression):

Christmas

Rob and I returned from our honeymoon on 12/23 and flew right into the Christmas spirit. As wonderful as 85 and sunny was, Jingle Bells just isn’t the same on the steel drums and I need my Michael Bublé Christmas! So, on Christmas Eve, went shopping, bought a tree, decorated the apartment, wrapped all of our gifts and last but definitely not least, made a Christmas Cake!

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My intention on this one was to keep it simple. I didn’t have a lot of extra time, it’ll be cute, won’t take too long, but it’ll be great. Then, I got carried away! This was such a fun little cake to make, but with all the details in the igloo, the snowman, the trees and presents I was finishing it up in the car ride out to Long Island!

igloo

I did keep it simple with the cake however. It’s my “go to” vanilla cake with buttercream frosting from my Just Because post. While the buttercream was still setting, I coated the outside with coconut shavings to have the appearance of snow. For the trees, I rolled green gum-paste into cones and snipped the edges with scissors as I went around from the top down and sprinkled with powdered sugar. A little tedious, but worth it! Needless to say, it was a successful Christmas!!

New Years

I knew I wanted to make a fun cake for new years and found some inspiration through various pictures on Instagram (follow me!! : @KristinsCravings) and Pinterest, but none were quite what I was looking for. I saw a photo from The Icing Artist that really stuck out to me, but I put my own twist on it (A video of her actual cake is HERE). I’ve always like the dramatic contrast of black with gold and even more so when I can add some pops of color.

I was slightly pressed for time this year (seems to be a trend!) since I decided I would also cook a full dinner of Chicken Cordon Bleu, baked potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta, but it all came together fabulously!

Here’s a couple pictures of the process:

I wish everyone a wonderful, happy and healthy 2016 from Kristin’s Cravings!!

P.S. have I mentioned how much I LOVE my new apron!? (Thank you Uncle Tom and Aunt Eileen!!)

me apron

-Kristin

New York Style

10 Sep

Classic Strawberry Cheesecake

whole thing side

I’m going to come right out and be up front here… I don’t like Cheesecake. I know, general statement. I’ve only tried a couple different kinds. Typically, my goal when I don’t like a certain dessert is to find a way to make it so that I do like it. The New York Style Strawberry Cheesecake however, is an exception. You just don’t mess with it, kind of like New Yorkers in general.

There are several different variations on how to make Cheesecake, from ingredients to oven techniques. I’ve tried 2:

  1. No Water Bath
  2. Variation of the water bath
    *Water bath is cooking the cheesecake by placing the spring-form pan inside a roaster/pot of boiling water. it helps to regulate the temperature and protect the cheesecake while it is cooking.

The first one I made with no water bath came out burnt on the top, the crust was overcooked and it was slightly uneven. For the water bath method, rather than putting the spring-form pan directly in the pan of water, I placed a pot of water on the rack directly below and the cheesecake came out beautiful!

Another trick I found to keep the top smooth: do not use convection bake on the oven, just use regular bake. I made this mistake on my first cheesecake as well which was one of the causes of the unevenness. As you work through the recipe there will be some additional tips along the way. Hopefully at the end you’ll have a dreamy and delicious dessert to share!

Classic Cheesecake

From the top

What You’ll Need:
Crust:

  • 1 3/4 Cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs (~9 Graham Crackers)
  • 3 Tablespoons of Granulated Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 Stick (4 Tablespoons) of Unsalted Butter, Melted

Cheesecake:

  • 2 Pounds (Four 8-ounce boxes) of Cream Cheese, at room temperature – I used the Philadelphia Cream Cheese that are the solid, rectangular boxes. The cream crease in the tubs have air whipped into them and won’t work the same way as traditional blocked cream cheese
  • 1 1/3 Cups of Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 Cups of Sour Cream or Heavy Cream, or a combination of the two:  The sour cream will give you a tangier cheesecake, which is a more traditional “New York Classic”, while the heavy cream is milder. As long as you keep the measurement at 1 1/3 cups, you can use whatever combo of the two you’d like

Strawberry Topping:

  • 1 Cup of Sliced Strawberries
  • 1/4 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Strawberry Jam
  • 1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice

Instructions: 

  • Crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and center the rack in the oven
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of your spring form pan and place a fitted piece of parchment paper on the bottom.  I used a 10.25-inch Spring-form pan, but you can also use a standard 9-inch. Just make sure the sides of the pan are at least 2 3/4-inches high (if they’re lower, you’ll have some batter leftover).
  3. Use a food processor to breakup the graham cracker into crumbs and mix together with the sugar and salt in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir with a fork until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist.
  5. Turn the ingredients into the buttered spring-form pay and pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan. You can use the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup to flatten out the crust to get a uniform layer.
  6. Place the spring-form pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. The sides of the crust should be just browning slightly when it’s done.
  7. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

crumbs

  • Cheesecake
  1. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 Degrees F and put a kettle of water on to boil
  2. Working with a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft, roughly 4 minutes. With the mixer still running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for an additional 4 minutes until the cream cheese is light. You’ll start to see the creamy nature really come through here. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.Kitchen Aide
  3. Beat in the vanilla and add the eggs, one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition — you want a well-aerated batter, but not over-beaten. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Reduce the mixer to low speed and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream
  5. Take the bowl off the mixer and give the batter a few stirs with the rubber spatula, just to make sure nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl. cheese cake and crust
  6. Make sure the sides of the spring-form pan are well greased and scrape the batter into the pan
  7. Pour the boiling water into a large pot or roasting pan and place it in the oven on the bottom rack.  This will regulate the baking temperature since the temperature of water never exceeds boiling point (it turns into steam), it keeps the cheesecake baking at an even, slow temperature. This prevents the cheesecake from overcooking (especially around the edges). the steam created further protects the baking as it keeps the air in the oven moist and humid to prevent the top of the cake from drying out and cracking. 
  8. Place the spring-form pan on the center rack, just above the pan of water and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Now, no matter how tempted you are, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN! Any slight change in temperature will cause cracks in the cheesecake or allow it to sink in the middle. 
  9. Turn off the oven after the 1.5 hours and prop open the oven door for 30 minutes to 1 hour and let the cheese cake cool slowly. You’ll see that the cake is done when the sides are sturdy, but the middle wiggles a little.
  10. Carefully take the pan out of the oven and let it come to room temperature on a cooling rack
  11. Once the cake is cool, cover the top lightly with plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight which is better
  • Strawberry Topping
  1. In a large bowl, toss together the sliced strawberries and the sugar. Let it sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
  2. Whisk the jam until completely smooth and place in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the jam is dark and no longer frothy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.
  3. Pour the jam mixture over the strawberries and stir to combine
  4. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours

To Serve

To un-mold the cheesecake, wrap a hot kitchen town around the outside of the pan and hold in place for 1 minute. Using a sharp knife, move around the edges of the cake to make sure it is separated from the sides of the pan. Remove the sides and then slide a thin metal spatula between the crust/parchment paper and the bottom of the pan to loosen, then slide the cheesecake onto a serving platter. If you prefer, you can also leave the metal bottom under the cake and place it on the serving plate (for a first time, it’s definitely the safe way to go!). Let the cheesecake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Drizzle the strawberry topping over the slice and drift away in a dreamy, creamy cheesecake!

Distance Slice

Enjoy!
Kristin

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