Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lemon Coconut Cheesecake

leaves and flours vegan Lemon Coconut Cheesecake

There might be green grass & tulips now, but I made this spring-inspired cheesecake in the dead of winter. I made it on a bitter, cold day when we had run out of oil and were waiting for the tank to be refilled. I really needed an excuse to turn the oven on & wish for warmer days. There's not much of a sunnier combination than lemon and coconut, so that is what I went with. I tweaked the recipe from my soy nog cheesecake to incorporate those flavors. And just for the record, if you have never had the pleasure of living in a house heated by oil consider yourself lucky. Our giant, old house in DC requires thousands of dollars of oil to make it through the winter. And that's not toasty warm, it's just tolerably chilly & with the windows wrapped to keep out the drafts.
Luckily worrying about heat is over, since it finally hit 70 degrees this week. I opened the windows. I broke out my shorts. I wore a skirt without tights. It was magical. I even braved the crowds to see the cherry blossoms in peak bloom for the first time. I snuck onto an empty lot a few blocks away and picked a ridiculous amount of daffodils to fill a few milk bottles. I am starting to see lilies in bouquets at the grocery store, so I know May is rapidly approaching. My favorite flowers are the lilies that bloomed in my mother's garden. They always opened up right around my birthday, my favorite time of the year. Not just because it's my birthday, but because May is the most beautiful month of the year. So here's to cheesecakes and flowers and perfect spring afternoons.

leaves and flours vegan Lemon Coconut Cheesecake leaves and flours vegan Lemon Coconut Cheesecake

Lemon Coconut Cheesecake
makes one 10" cheesecake

9 ounces lemon cookies (I used Back to Nature's California Lemon)
4 ounces shredded or flaked coconut
1/2 cup shortening

Crush the cookies & coconut to crumbs in a food processor. While those are being pulsed, melt the shortening. Pour over the cookie crumbs and mix until fully incorporated. If the cookie crumbs still aren't wet enough to hold together when you squeeze it in your hands, then add another tablespoon or two of shortening. Press into the bottom and up the sides of your springform pan.

Cheesecake Filling
3/4 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoon EnerG Egg Replacer
28 oz Tofutti cream cheese (3 1/2 tubs)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup sugar
scraping of one vanilla bean
zest of one lemon

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm the coconut milk and whisk in the egg replacer. Allow to slightly cool & thicken for several minutes. Meanwhile in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, combine all the remaining ingredients. Add coconut milk and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour into to springform pan, smoothing the top of the cheesecake. Bake for 40 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake is only slightly wiggly but appears firm. Allow to cool overnight. I topped it with coconut whip, additional lemon cookies, and tons of toasted coconut flakes.

leaves and flours vegan Lemon Coconut Cheesecake

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cherry Jello

leaves and flours vegan Cherry Jello

Even with the last minute snow, spring is officially here. Yesterday I saw the first daffodils. It's a good sign. It's time to crawl out from under my comforter and stop watching so much television & reading too many novels. It's time to repair my bike & ride around the city. It's time to make some plans for my future & stick with them. It's the time to fight to be the person that you want to, because the long days and cool nights are on your side. It's ok to sleep a little less if you're out enjoying the sunshine and smiling endlessly. Spring is when I finally feel motivated again.
Springs also a good time to look back at the last few months and assess my position. Whatever aspect of your life, it's always a nice time to change directions and work on something new & inspiring. Just because things have been quiet around here, doesn't mean I haven't been working hard on things. I just haven't been digitally documenting them like I use too. I dropped the camera that I borrow to photograph things for this blog while photographing these macarons. Maybe because I was in a hurry to eat my Valentine's sweets but probably because I am the most klutzy (so it's actually a little surprising that I didn't drop it ever before in the last year). One time at work I dropped a five gallon glass jar of coconut oil. Of course it was summer in a bakery, so the coconut oil was molten. I cut three of my fingers and ruined a pair of jeans trying to gather up all the little shards of glass in the slippery mess. The camera was a little less dramatic, but has had more lasting effects on my life.

leaves and flours vegan Cherry Jello

Winter decided to spurn me one last time by leaving me with a super swollen throat & sinusitis. I spent most of yesterday afternoon gargling salt water and craving jello. My jello of choice & what's pictured here was the unflavored Natural Deserts jel pack & tart cherry juice left over from the frozen bins of cherries I order for the bakery. In the last few months, the company seems to have stopped making their jel must to my avail. I have searched high & low and have only found two boxes of flavored powders. I found a substitute for my old standby made by a brand called Simply Delish. Their strawberry was good, and the raspberry was even better. The texture is ever so slightly tougher than Natural Desserts jellos were, but my main problem is that Simply Delish doesn't seem to offer an unflavored powder so I can control the flavors like I would prefer. I know that I can use agar powder to make what whatever flavored jello I want, but the packets are so nostalgic. And if spring makes me anything, it's wistful.

leaves and flours vegan Cherry Jello

While I have waxed poetic before about my best friend Jenna and I having same-brain, she also shared some similar feelings regarding the approach of spring & talked about some of the exciting life changes she is going through on her blog Kitty Cat Stevens recently. I hope you will seek her out on the internet and encourage & help support her business if you are a book lover too. There's nothing more wonderful than giving a friend a gift that someone has poured so much of themselves into. One of my favorites gifts in the last few months was the napkins photographed here. They were a beautiful present from my housemate for feeding her cats while she was away for the holidays. I mean of course I would feed two of the best cats in the world no matter what, but the textiles screen printed by Sara Lee Parker were the icing on the cake. So if you're looking for something nice to give to a special person here are two great places to start. Here's to spring, feeling re-energized & ready to start anew.