Classic Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

Classic Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauceby Tess Masters
The Blender Girl

Blend, freeze, slice, and scarf. That’s how easy this cake is! Once you have your cashews soaked (essential for a righteously creamy consistency), this decadent dessert takes less than 15 minutes to put together. It looks and tastes just like dairy-drenched cheesecake, but my family and friends tell me they crave this more than the conventional kind. Add the lemon and poppy seeds for an awesome twist and a drizzle of strawberry sauce to up the indulgence.

Makes 10 Slices

Crust

1 cup (160g) raw whole almonds
1 cup (170g) firmly packed chopped pitted dates, plus more as needed

Filling

¾ cup (180ml) coconut oil (in liquid form)
½ cup (120ml) full-fat canned coconut milk (shake, then pour)
½ cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice
½ cup (120ml) pure maple syrup
3 cups (420g) raw unsalted cashews, soaked
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
Pinch of natural salt
Coconut Cream, to serve (optional)

Optional Boosters

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more to taste and garnish
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Sweet Strawberry Sauce, to serve

To make the crust, grease a 9- or 10-inch (23 or 25cm) springform pan with coconut oil.

Process the almonds and dates in a food processor until the mixture is well combined and clumps together. Form the mixture into a ball; if it doesn’t hold together, you may need to add a bit more chopped date and process again. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and set aside.

To make the filling, throw all of the ingredients into your blender in the order listed, including the lemon zest booster, and blend for about 1 minute, until rich and creamy. To achieve the smoothest filling, stop the machine periodically and scrape down the sides of the container. Add the poppy seed booster once the filling is completely blended, and then blast for just a few seconds to combine. Pour the filling into the crust. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and freeze the cheesecake for 6 to 8 hours, until solidified.

To serve, transfer the pan from the freezer to the fridge and defrost for about 30 minutes. Gently release and remove the sides of the springform pan, and then cut the cheesecake into 10 even slices with a very sharp knife. Keeping the slices together on the springform pan bottom, return the cheesecake to the fridge to continue defrosting for another 30 minutes before serving. Serve the slices plain or drizzle each one with 2 tablespoons of the Sweet Strawberry Sauce booster and top with a dollop of the Coconut Cream. Pass remaining strawberry sauce and coconut cream at the table.

Note: Because of the coconut oil, this filling will melt if left out at room temperature.

nutritional facts (per serving, based on 10 servings)

calories 594 kcal | fat 45.2 g | saturated fat 20.2 g | sodium 38 mg | carbs 44.8 g | fiber 5 g | sugars 28 g | protein 11.8 g | calcium 91.8 mg | iron 4 mg

Sweet Strawberry Sauce

This quick, easy sauce is like a little black dress. It complements almost any dessert without upstaging it, fits into any menu, and never goes out of style. Best of all, it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. Enjoy it over ice cream, cakes, or pies. Try it drizzled over this Classic Cheesecake. Depending on the quality of your berries and your preference, tweak the lemon juice to taste. With well-ripened fruit, I reduce the dates to a third of a cup. But a half cup typically hits the sweet spot. For a sensational sauce, boost with the Grand Marnier, ginger, and vanilla.

Makes 2 Cups (480ML)

¼ cup (60ml) raw coconut water or filtered water
½ cup (85g) firmly packed pitted dates, soaked
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
Pinch of natural salt

Optional Boosters

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon natural vanilla extract

Throw everything into your blender, including any of the boosters, and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth. Tweak the dates, lemon juice, and ginger to taste. This sauce will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.

nutritional facts (per serving, based on 16 servings)

calories 20 kcal | fat 0.1 g | saturated fat 0 g | sodium 18.6 mg | carbs 5.5 g | fiber 0.7 g | sugars 4.5 g | protein 0.2 g | calcium 6.6 mg | iron 0.1 mg

CREDIT: Reprinted with permission from The Perfect Blend, copyright 2016 Tess Masters. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Photography Copyright 2016 by Anson Smart

Show 53, December 21, 2013: Aaron Fry, Honeymoon Dining in Maui

It’s Christmas / New Year’s Holiday vacation time and that means a lot of relaxing getaways to Maui. We have a mouth-watering Lahaina dining report from an informed, recent visitor.

Aaron Fry just returned from his glorious honeymoon in Maui. Aaron is a master bartender as well as a senior Board Operator right here at AM 830 KLAA. We’re turning the microphone around on him this morning.

One of the standouts in all his dining in Lahaina is the use of a lot of local ingredients in the dishes where possible. This is a welcome return to the old ways in The Islands when Hawaiians were totally self-sufficient in feeding themselves.

Fleetwoods on Front StreetAaron and his new bride enjoyed a couple of visits to Fleetwood’s on Front Street in the heart of Old Lahaina. The second level of the 10,000 square foot establishment affords an incredible ocean view and there is quality live music nightly. The principal is Mick Fleetwood, the well-know rock drummer. When he’s not touring he spends most of his time on Maui.

Although it’s a casual setting they are equally serious about their food. The chef advisor is Scott Leibfried (who you’ll remember as one of the two sous chefs for Gordon Ramsay on Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen.”) Chef Scott continues with the project.

Aaron recommends the Lemon Shrimp with a cream cheese polenta cake, wild arugula and cherry tomato salad, lemon-thyme vinaigrette and roasted tomato sauce. Look for “Today’s Local Fish” and the 10 oz. Grilled Filet with Big Island Hamakua Mushrooms as standout dishes.

Maui Brewing Company CoCoNut PorTeRAaron is a craft beer aficionado so also on his Maui menu was a stop at the celebrated brewpub of the Maui Brewing Co. This is the most successful craft brewery in The Islands and quite a story. Their only “problem” is that they can’t keep up with demand on The Mainland. They can their most popular styles and they are available in California. One of their signature brews is their award-winning CoCoNut PorTeR. The brewpub features some seasonal styles only available on Maui.

The food is seriously good, too, and a big attraction for locals. They even make their own salad dressings. You can’t go wrong with their pizzas or the Kalua Pork Sliders.

A local Island favorite is The Plate Lunch which Aaron sampled at all levels of dining establishments during his visit. It’s a lot of filling food designed for the hungry working guy. The best of the lot was the Pub Plate at Maui Brewing. It’s Kalua pork, white rice, mac salad, and CoCoNut PorTeR BBQ sauce.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake by Chef Elizabeth Whittby Chef Elizabeth Whitt

Makes one 9 or 10 inch cheesecake or 1  9×13 dish

For Filling:
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 lbs cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (canned or homemade see below)
1/4 sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
5 eggs

For crust:
10 whole graham crackers, crumbled
1/4 cup pecans
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp. melted butter

For Topping:
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup candied or regular pecans, chopped

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare crust in a food processor. Pulse graham crackers until crumbled evenly, then add nuts, sugar and salt and pulse a few times. Pour in melted butter slowly while pulsing. Transfer to a 9-inch spring form pan and evenly smooth crumb mixture, leaving about a one-inch space between the crumb mixture and top of pan.  Bake for 10 minutes in center of oven on a rimmed baking tray. Remove from oven.

Filling: Cream the room temperature cream cheese together with the sugar in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment on high speed for about 1-3 minutes until smooth scraping down the sides frequently. Next add pumpkin and mix until combined. Add sour cream, spices and vanilla and mix until combined. Add in eggs one at a time and do not over mix, just until combined. Pour into crust.

Bake for 10 minutes on a rimmed baking tray at 350 and then reduce oven temperature to 325 F and bake for another 1 hour. Turn off the oven and open the oven door.  At this point the center should jiggle but not be soupy. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door open or ajar for 15 minutes, remove and let cool at room temperature until cool.  Refrigerate 4 hours before serving. Pour sweetened sour cream and pecans over the top just before serving.

Homemade pumpkin puree: Use a 3-4 pound sugar pie or baking pumpkin. Cut off stem and cut in half carefully using a rocking motion. Remove seeds and keep to toast or discard.  Sprinkle with some salt and place cut side down on a parchment covered baking tray. Bake in oven at 350 F for 1 hour. Turn off oven and let sit for an hour or two.  When cool, scrape flesh from the skin and mash with a fork until smooth or place in a food processor.

Show 35, July 13, 2013: Anita Lau, creator of the Mad Hungry Woman Blog

Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe from Chicken CharliesTime for Fair Food!

The OC Fair in Costa Mesa is on through August 11th! Mad Hungry Woman blogger, Anita Lau, was with us to discuss what extreme foods are new at the Fair for 2013. She will actually be judging some Fair food contests during the event.

Fair food vendor, Chicken Charlie, is always out there with fab fried food items. Eagerly anticipated is his new Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe’s and Bacon A-Fair’s Wild Boar on a stick (an OC Fair exclusive.)

Even Pink’s Hot Dogs of Hollywood is getting into the act. They have a Ghirardelli beef hot dog topped with cream cheese, honey mustard, crumbled bacon and dark chocolate.

According to the Orange County Register’s Nancy Luna, Chicken Charlie sold 50,000 deep-fried Twinkies last year at the Fair! Twinkies are back just in time.

Other Chicken Charlie highlights are a deep-fried bacon pickle and a waffle dog.

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