{Strawberry and Basil Goat Cheese Cake}

Goat cheese cake - bakingattiffanys.com

Since my trip to Ireland well over a month ago, I’ve been on a goat cheese kick.  Ireland doesn’t raise their farm animals in close quarters, and driving through the countryside, cows, sheep, and goats freely mill about, enjoying the lush green surroundings.  I almost envy their simple lives, carefree yet purposeful.  Dairy products are fresher and richer than what I typically get here in the States–or maybe it’s because I was on vacation in a foreign country that everything tasted better.  Goat cheese can take a little getting used to at first, but now I almost crave it.  Goat cheese is also easier to digest than its cow dairy counterparts, and is often lower in fat and higher in protein.  This is my first time making cheesecake, and while I would hardly consider this goat cheese cake “healthy”, its lightness and creaminess leaves me feeling less porcine as some other rich cheesecakes.  The goat cheese flavor is barely (if at all) discernible, and topped with strawberries macerated in Grand Marnier and basil leaves, the finished product is nothing short of marvelous.

Goat cheese cake - bakingattiffanys.com

{Strawberry and Basil Goat Cheese Cake}

Ingredients

    Crust
  • 10 oz. graham crackers (about 20 whole graham crackers)
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 pint sour cream, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • Topping
  • 6 oz. strawberries, stems removed and halved
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • juice of two lemons
  • 2 oz. Grand Marnier
  • a few stems of fresh basil leaves

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees. While preparing cheesecake, bring about six cups of water to a boil (this is for the water bath).
  2. Crust
  3. Using a food processor, pulse together graham crackers, cinnamon and melted butter until finely ground and evenly mixed.
  4. Wrap outside of a 9" springform pan in aluminum foil.
  5. Press mixture into the bottom of the pan firmly (I used the bottom of a juice glass), smoothing the crust. Chill until ready to bake.
  6. Filling
  7. Also using a food processor, combing all filling ingredients and mix until combined and smooth.
  8. Pour filling into the springform pan, and place in the center of a roasting pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven, then carefully fill it with the boiling water till it reaches about 1-1/2" up the side of the springform pan.
  9. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the cheese cake is firm around the edges but slightly jiggly in the center.
  10. Allow the cake to cool for 45 minutes (do not remove the cake from the springform pan), then chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  11. Topping
  12. Over medium heat, in a saucepan, cook the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and Grand Marnier until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid has thickened slightly. Remove the strawberries, and continue to heat the until the liquid is thicker like a syrup. Allow the topping to cool.
  13. When ready to serve, remove cheesecake from the pan, and top with the strawberry mixture and fresh basil leaves.

Adapted from Tyler Florence's Strawberry and Basil Goat Cheese Cake recipe.

http://bakingattiffanys.com/2014/09/11/strawberry-basil-goat-cheese-cake/

Goat cheese cake - bakingattiffanys.com

{Olive Oil (and yogurt) Cake}

Olive OIl Cake_bakingattiffanys.com

Amazing how a whole month (more than that really) passes by in a blink of an eye.  It’s been a while since my last post–I got caught up in work, and then I went on a trip, and then I was recovering from the trip.  But I finally have a new post.  I actually made this olive oil cake for a July 4 bbq and never had a chance to write this post up.  It’s probably not a very patriotic Fourth of July dessert (I think Italian when I think olive oil), but no matter.  It’s moist and flavorful and turns a beautiful golden color with lovely cracks.  This olive oil cake stands perfectly well on its own without any embellishment.  I meant to serve this with fruit but I didn’t even get that far, because the cake was so delicious by itself and was even refreshing (I used lemon instead of orange, that the original recipe calls for).  And what makes this recipe even better is that I can make this cake without a mixer and can just whip it up in a bowl.  The recipe is flexible and some adjustments and substitutions are easily made.  I scaled back the olive oil and used yogurt instead of some of the milk to keep the cake moist.  The recipe I have below reflects how I made it but you can find the original recipe here.  There aren’t too many recipes I make more than once or twice, but this is olive oil cake is something I’ll go back to over and over again.

Olive OIl Cake_bakingattiffanys.com

{Olive Oil (and yogurt) Cake}

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 organic sugar
  • 1-1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup full fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup full fat whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 T. grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter a 9" round cake pan that's 2" high. Line bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining wet ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and mix using a wire whisk until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into the cake pan and bake for an hour until the top is golden and a little cracked. A cake tester should come out clean.
  6. Allow cake to cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then loosen the cake by running a knife around the edges and invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely.
http://bakingattiffanys.com/2014/08/08/olive-oil-yogurt-cake/

Olive OIl Cake_bakingattiffanys.com

 

{Vanilla Honey Almond Milk}

Vanilla Honey Almond Milk - bakingattiffanys.com

This past week, I bought my first blender.  Yes, my very first blender.  I have resisted for a long time because I don’t like clutter and didn’t want to crowd an already small kitchen.  With the juicing and green smoothie craze–and because I tend to do what everyone else does–I finally caved and picked one up.  It seemed that the blender to get was the Vitamix.  But I couldn’t stand to part with several hundred dollars (I mean, this thing starts at around $500 depending on the model) for a blender, no matter how many horsepower it had.  In the end, I opted for something “good enough” and came home with an Oster blender that looks like it was made in the ’70s.  Which was kind of the point.  If it was good enough back then, why couldn’t it be good enough now?  I has two functions: pulse and blend, which is all I need.

Vanilla Honey Almond Milk - bakingattiffanys.com

And now I want to make everything with it.  It’s so fun to use, I had no idea.  Yesterday, I even blended pancake batter in it.  But the one thing I’ve really wanted to make is nut milk.  I don’t drink a lot of regular milk (from cows), and nut milks sold in boxes have additives, so making my own seemed like a good alternative.  Plus I like having an excuse to use those cute jars, which makes me feel nostalgic and sentimental for a time I don’t really remember.  Now I’m kind of obsessed with making nut milk–which sounds kind of funny.  I think I like knowing what I’m drinking in, and flavoring it the way I’d like.  I made this vanilla honey almond milk today and loved the coolness and freshness.

Vanilla Honey Almond Milk - bakingattiffanys.com

I looked at a number of recipes to get a general idea of how to make nut milk, so to be honest, I’m not sure to whom exactly to attribute this adaptation.    It’s so easy to make, too, with just a few ingredients, all that’s really needed is a little forethought for soaking the nuts ahead of time.  I reduced what seemed like the normal suggested amount of water for a richer flavor.  (You can always add more water if you’d like to thin it out a little)  A number of sites suggest using a nut bag to filter out the meal from the milk–or you can choose not to strain the milk if you don’t mind the grittiness.  I use a cheese cloth over a mesh strainer placed over a bowl, and that works fine for me.  (After straining, you’ll have both a rich almond milk and very finely ground almond meal.  Spread the almond meal over a baking sheet and allow to dry in the oven on low heat, to use it for baking or other recipes.)  Now that I’ve started making my own nut milk, it’ll be hard to go back to the boxed kind.

{Vanilla Honey Almond Milk}

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 3 cups hot (not boiling) water
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. sea salt

Preparation

  1. Place almonds in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Allow to soak for 12 hours.
  2. After soaking, drain and rinse the almonds in a colander. Use a paper towel to squeeze the skins off the almonds.
  3. Pour hot water, honey, vanilla extract and salt into the blender. Add almonds, and blend until almonds are completed ground (with my un-fancy blender, less than 3 minutes).
  4. Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Cover the strainer with cheesecloth. Slowly pour the almond milk mixture through the strainer and allow liquids to drip through. Pull corners of the cheesecloth together and squeeze out any excess milk from the almond meal. If the liquid is too hot, wait for it to cool enough to handle. Repeat the process with any remaining mixture.
  5. If the milk is too rich, add water (or any other flavorings) to taste. Pour into cute jars and refrigerate to chill before serving.
http://bakingattiffanys.com/2014/06/22/vanilla-honey-almond-milk/

{Chocolate Raspberry Buckwheat Chiffon Cake}

Chocolate Raspberry Buckwheat Chiffon Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

This post is a full week late.  I meant to make this buckwheat chiffon cake (you read that right, buckwheat) for Mother’s Day and didn’t get to it in time.  I guess no point in making excuses now.  Growing up, my mom would buy me sponge cakes from the Asian supermarket.  They weren’t fancy or anything, but simple snack cakes that were light, fluffy and eggy.  My mom isn’t much of a baker herself, but she never denied me the sweets I wanted to eat.  As I grew up into adulthood, and moved away, my mom would still buy me these sponge cakes when I’d come back to visit.  Being the ungrateful person that I was, I told her she could stop buying me cakes, since I was all grown up and everything.  I don’t know why I did that, and I’ve kind of regretted it ever since.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but it was a small way of showing me love–and maybe even holding on to some part of her little girl.  And I think letting her continue to do these little things for me would have given her some joy.  For Mother’s Day, I wanted to make something that would celebrate these types of thoughtful things my mom has done for me.

Chocolate Raspberry Buckwheat Chiffon Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

I also wanted to make something that can be good for you.  I found a recipe for Buckwheat, Bergamot and Orange Chiffon Cake from Tartine No. 3, and I thought the chiffon cake from the recipe would be perfect.  Chiffon cake is similar in texture to the sponge cakes my mom bought for me, but can be dressed up for a fancier dessert.  I’m also getting into using ancient grains and learning how to bake with them, so this was a good start.  I find Tartine No. 3 a pretty complex cookbook (I can’t imagine making my own kefir and can’t pronounce some of the ingredients), but I like the foundation–using less processed ingredients and returning to traditional methods.

Chocolate Raspberry Buckwheat Chiffon Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

I varied the frosting and filling to something much easier, since I wanted to see whether the cake itself would turn out.  My version turned out looking very country and homey.  The cake does need some kind of syrup or filling, since the sweetness is subtle, but I still kept it healthy (and easy!) with organic raspberry preserves (chocolate counts as healthy too of course).  My first thought when I took a bite of the cake was that it tasted like soba noodles (which makes sense, since soba noodles are made from buckwheat).  I do love soba noodles, though.  The next bite, I thought, this isn’t so bad.  And by the third bite, my feelings about this cake progressed to: this is pretty good!  So here’s something sweet to remember my sweet mom.

Chocolate Raspberry Buckwheat Chiffon Cake - bakingattiffanys.com

{Chocolate Raspberry Buckwheat Chiffon Cake}

3 hours

Ingredients

    Buckwheat Chiffon Cake
  • 1-1/2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1-3/4 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 T. superfine sugar (I put organic sugar in a blender to make the granules finer)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks (from large eggs)
  • 1/4 grapeseed oil
  • 2 T. + 1 t. water
  • 10 egg whites (from large eggs)
  • 1/4 t. cream of tartar
  • Chocolate Ganache Glaze
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 t. maple syrup
  • Raspberry preserves and fresh raspberries

Preparation

    Buckwheat Chiffon Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees, and butter 2 8"x2" cake pans and dust with cocoa powder (use springform pans if possible)
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk to combine.
  3. Whisk together egg yolks, milk, oil and water in a separate bowl.
  4. Making a well in the center of the flour, pour in the egg yolk mixture and whisk together until smooth.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites with the whisk attachment on medium until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, and continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Add 2 T. of sugar, and whisk on medium-high until stiff peaks form.
  6. Scoop about 1/3 of the egg whites and fold gently into the flour mixture, using a rubber spatula. Fold in the remainder of the egg whites until just combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the cake pans. Bake until the top surface is firm to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Allow cakes to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then invert cake pans to remove them from the pan. Allow to cool completely.
  9. Chocolate Ganache Glaze
  10. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  11. In a saucepan, bring cream, milk and syrup to a low boil.
  12. Pour cream mixture over chocolate and allow to sit for a few minutes.
  13. Use a wire whisk to combine the chocolate and cream into a smooth glaze.
  14. To assemble:
  15. Spread raspberry preserves on top of one cake layer.
  16. Place other cake on top, and pour chocolate glaze on top, allowing it to trickle down the sides.
  17. Top with fresh raspberries.

Buckwheat chiffon cake adapted from Tartine No. 3

http://bakingattiffanys.com/2014/05/18/chocolate-raspberry-buckwheat-chiffon-cake/

{Oatmeal Coconut Toffee Cookies}

oatmeal coconut toffee cookies - bakingattiffanys.com

Cookies are always a good idea.  For those long hard days, or when you simply want to enjoy a sunny afternoon, there aren’t too many better picker-uppers than cookies.  I always tend to gravitate toward the same type of cookies–chewy, moist, with a bite.  That usually means some kind of oatmeal cookie, which is probably why that’s the only type of cookie I seem to blog about.  And one of my favorite combinations with oatmeal is adding coconut.  It adds an extra level of chewiness and gives it a slightly tropical spin.  Pair this with a cup of milk–or a cup of tea for those balmy days–and they can melt my cares away.  (And then, later on, of course I feel like maybe I should go for a run to work off the cookies I just ate but that’s not the point here :)

Oatmeal cookies are also easy to make healthier.  I don’t truly believe that anything that isn’t naturally sweet is really healthy, but there are ways to make desserts a little less sinful than they need to be without sacrificing flavor.  As you may have noticed with a few recipes on my site, I’ve often used coconut oil instead of butter, almond meal or some other gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose flour, and coconut sugar instead of regular granulated sugar.  Oatmeal is actually gluten-free, so for those with gluten sensitivities, it’s one less thing to give up.  (If you are really sensitive to gluten, make sure the packaging says it’s gluten-free, since oatmeal that is packaged in a plant with other gluten products may get “contaminated”.  But oatmeal in and of itself is gluten-free).

oatmeal coconut toffee cookies - bakingattiffanys.com

I baked this batch of cookies for a good friend who just had a baby.  Up until giving birth, she had been carefully watching her diet–which also meant her baby shower was low-carb/low-sugar.  In other words, no cookies!  Now that she’s given birth, she’s adding a few treats back into her diet, so I thought I’d combine her love of toffee with some healthier oatmeal cookies.  I adapted this recipe significantly from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, since I thought the recipe from the cookbook provided a good base.  I used unbleached all-purpose flour, but I think this recipe would work well using some other whole-grain or gluten-free flour since the oatmeal is such a large component versus the flour.  Unfortunately, because the recipe uses volume measurement, I think my measurement of flour was slightly off so my cookies spread like crazy.  These ones in the pictures were among the better looking cookies.  Good looking or not, a cookie is a cookie, and they still brighten my day any day.

oatmeal coconut toffee cookies - bakingattiffanys.com

{Oatmeal Coconut Toffee Cookies}

2 hours

Yield: about 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or other gluten-free flour substitute)
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits

Preparation

  1. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  3. In another mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream together butter with the sugars, until smooth.
  4. Mix-in eggs and vanilla, and mix for about 1 minute.
  5. Add oatmeal and mix until combined.
  6. Beat in the flour mixture, in 2 to 3 additions, then add the coconut and continue mixing.
  7. By hand, mix in the toffee bits, also making sure the dough is mixed evenly.
  8. Using a tablespoon, form balls of cookie dough about 1-1/2" in diameter and place on cookie sheets, about one inch apart.
  9. Bake each sheet of cookies about 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
  10. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to allow them to cool completely.
http://bakingattiffanys.com/2014/04/27/oatmeal-coconut-toffee-cookies/