Mini chocolate cheesecakes with raspberry sauce.

Despite not being a massive fan of cheesecakes myself, my boyfriend is, and so I wanted to recreate one of his favourite styles of cheesecakes – a chocolate one – in a plant-based way. There is one good recipe that I found & adapted, and I’ve tried it a few times and it has turned out to be the easiest, simplest and really delicious no-bake cake with plant-based ingredients that I have tried and managed to not ruin.

Lately I’ve been trying my luck with no-bake plant-based cakes. I must admit, though, I’m not yet hooked on no-bake cakes. One of the main reasons being the fact that most recipes that I tried at home turned into disugsting, hardly edible pieces. So why do I keep trying then? Two simple reasons. First, because I am not the biggest fan of gas ovens. Don’t get me wrong, I love gas stoves, but having to work with a gas stove from… I assume the 80s… for the first time in your life – this takes a super long time to get adjusted to, at least for me. And I happen to have on of those buggers in my kitchen. Yay me! Second, I just don’t wanna give up on them. And that’s why I keep trying. But because I haven’t had a lot of luck with no-bake recipes yet, I am always super stoked when I actually do find a recipe that works on the first try, like this one!

It is a chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce, and actually, it is not one cake but several mini cheesecakes. What I like best about this recipe is the combination of dark chocolate & berries, which is perfect if you ask me. Especially because of the syrup and the store-bought cookies, the cheesecake itself tends to be on the sweeter side already, so I like to balance this by adding unsweetened raspberry sauce. This is such an easy dessert option. There’s not a lot that can go wrong (as there is no baking involved), they taste very delicious, and, in my opinion, they don’t have that no-bake feeling to it that some other no-bake-cakes do (if you know what I mean?). So there you go, here’s the recipe and an easy step by step instruction on how to make them.

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What you need for the crust / chocolate layer / topping, for a serving of 8:

  • 10 plant-based cookies
  • 30g plant-based butter
  • 150g raw cashews
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla sugar
  • 60ml maple syrup
  • 60ml coconut milk
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 2-3 plant-based cookies
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil (optional!)
  • a handful of frozen berries
  • some water

How to make them – 3 easy steps:

The crust
Melt the plant-based butter. In a food processor, process the cookies into fine crumbs. Add the butter and mix until everything is evenly mixed. Spoon some of the crust mix into your cupcake tray covered with parchment paper. If you have silicone forms, you can just spoon it in them, no need to cover them with parchment paper. Make sure to pat it down with a spoon so you get the typical cheesecake bottom. Place them in the freezer so they can set.

The chocolate layer
Soak the raw cashews in a bowl of water for 1 hour, then drain the water and rinse the cashews. Heat the coconut milk in a pot until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat and add the chocolate so it can melt. Whisk the chocolate & coconut milk until relatively smooth. Pour all ingredients (cashews, lemon juice, vanilla sugar, maple syrup, chocolate & coconut mix) into a blender jug or food processor, and mix them until very smooth. The cakes taste a bit better if the mix does not have a grainy texture. Add the mix with a spoon on top of the cookie crust and put them back into the freezer so they can set. This might take a few hours, though.

The topping
Right before you serve the mini cheesecakes, you’ll prepare the topping. For this, melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler. Add the coconut oil to get a more liquid and shinier chocolate topping, and it gives you a subtle coconut flavour. But this step is optional, and you can skip it. Take the cheesecakes out of the forms, spoon the melted chocolate on top. In a small pot, heat the berries of your choice, mix in a little bit of water, add a bit of sugar if you like it sweeter, and bring to a boil. If you want to, you can also make a fancy raspberry sauce where you add cornstarch and let it reduce etc, but this is a quick one, so we’ll just wait until we have a sauce-like texture. Let it cool for a bit, then add the sauce on top of the chocolate cheesecakes and finish with crushed cookies. They are ready to be served!

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Good to know... you can store any remaining mini chocolate cheesecakes in the freezer and you don’t need to thaw them before serving. I prefer eating them straight from the freezer, whereas my boyfriend prefers them from the fridge. Just try whichever way you’d like them yourself. And if you want chocolate galore – skip the raspberry sauce ;)

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What is your take on cheesecakes and no-bake cakes? Let me know if you try out the recipe :)

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Quick & easy dessert treats for your guests.

In need of some quick and super easy dessert for the guests that are coming over in an hour? You’re hosting a party and don’t want to make a huge deal out of it but still want to present your guests with a wide range of delicious-looking treats? Or it’s one of those days where you just can’t be bothered to be in the kitchen for a super long time but still want something yummy to go with your afternoon coffee (or your Sunday breakfast)? In this post I’ll be sharing four quick, super easy, and plant-based recipes with you that have saved my ass a few times already.

1. Chocolate Raspberry Bites

What you need (for 8 bites):

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 tblsp. maple syrup / rice sirup / agave nectar
  • 150g + 100g dark chocolate
  • 8 muffin liners

How to make them:

Heat the frozen raspberries in a small pot on medium heat and mash them until there are no chunks left. You can add any sweetening of your choice (or skip it). Set it aside to cool for a bit. Melt the first batch of chocolate in a double boiler. Then carefully place around 1.5 teaspoons in a muffin liner and tilt the liner so the chocolate can spread and form an edging. Repeat this for all your liners and put them in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes so the chocolate can harden.

In the meantime you can start melting the second batch of chocolate. While you’re waiting add about 1 teaspoon of the raspberry filling into the chocolate coated muffin liners and then pour over a bit of the melted chocolate so everything is covered with it (this doesn’t mean you should fill up the entire liner with chocolate, only so much that the raspberry filling is covered). Repeat the process for all your remaining liners and put them in the fridge or freezer to harden (this only takes a few minutes). Carefully remove the muffin liners and you can finally enjoy your chocolate raspberry bites!

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2. Apple Pie

For this easy apple pie you can be extremely lazy (like I was for the one in the pics) and buy puff pastry in the store (most of the stores offer plant-based puff pastry these days, so check the ingredients), or just quickly make your own dough. Either way – it’s simple, easy, and you don’t need a lot of ingredients.

What you need:

  • 3 apples
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. of any other flavour you might want to add (pumpkin spice, nutmeg etc)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla sugar
  • 1 tbsp. coconut sugar / brown sugar / cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch (can be skipped)
  • 1 package of (plant-based) puff pastry

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 170-180°C. Peel the apples and chop them into small slices. Combine the apples and the spices + sugar + starch, add them to a large pan and put them on medium heat. Let the mix stew for a few minutes until slightly softened. In the meantime you can cut the dough so it fits whatever baking dish you are taking (a spring form, or a casserole dish like I used). Make sure to have a bit of dough as your edging and keep a bit of dough for the finishing touches. Fill in the apple mix and cover it with a nice lattice layering. Put your apple pie into the oven for around 30-40 minutes until the dough is golden brown. Enjoy!

If you want to make your own dough: Add 350g of flour, 4 tbsp icing sugar and 225g of dairy-free butter to a food processor and blend them until they are well combined (you can also do this by hand as well, but it’s just faster/easier with a food processor if you’ve got one of these at home). Slowly add water to the mix (in total around 80 ml, maybe more) until the dough clumps together. You can still kneed the dough a bit by hand, roll it into a ball and cover it with clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

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3. Simple Banana Bread (or banana muffins)

What you need:

  • 225g flour
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 75g vegetable oil
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 50g nuts, chopped

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Mash the bananas with a fork and mix them with the sugar and oil. Combine all the dry ingredients and add them to the banana-sugar-oil mix. Add any other ingredients (like chopped nuts, raisins, a tablespoon of maple sirup). Pour the dough into a loaf tin (or into muffin forms if you’d rather have it like that). Let it bake for at least 30 minutes, check whether the muffins are already done or if you should still keep it in the oven (the loaf definitely needs more than 30 min).

For a marble banana bread: mix 1 tbsp. cocoa powder with a bit of plant-based milk or water. Pour only half of the mix dough into the loaf, add the cocoa mix to the remaining and pour this into the loaf onto the other dough.

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4. Nut rolls

Another really easy recipe and finger food dessert are mini nut rolls. I’ve already introduced the nut roll recipe a few months ago, but instead of making a yeast dough  from scratch you can easily just swap it with store-bought puff pastry. Still delicious, and very easy to make!

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I hope you enjoyed this small collection of quick & easy plant-based dessert recipes. I’ll enjoy the last piece of apple pie with a cup of coffee now!

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Fruity lemon cake.

During summer something light is the choice that I usually go for – when it’s really hot outside and I’m not hungry anyways. Occasionally though something sweet can be perfect on a hot summer day – why not go for a fresh lemon cake with berries on top then? Not too sweet yet sweet enough for a sweet tooth like me.

I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of lemon cakes or lemon icing on top of cakes. However, I stumbled over this recipe and had to give it a try. Very easy to make and with ingredients that I usually have at home anyways – a bit of flour, a bit of sugar, some oat milk (or any other milk of your choice) and some almond flakes (or you could also add some grounded nuts of your choice to add yet another taste to it). And the last ingredient that would round up the recipe: a lemon. During summer having a lemon at home is smart anyways – it is so refreshing in so many dishes or drinks that it is a summer staple for everyone’s kitchen.

Instead of going for the lemon icing that was suggested in the original recipe I opted for icing made out of orange juice. Remember – I don’t like cakes that scream lemon so I thought it would be nice to only have a subtle lemon flavour in the batter. And indeed, the combination of lemon in the cake and orange in the icing was really good.

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For my topping I chose blackberries, blueberries and raspberries – my favourite berries! I found them on sale in a supermarket so it was the perfect occasion to try out this cake. And as I happened to be at my parent’s place that weekend I could have taste testers who agreed with me that the recipe turned out to be delicious and worth making!

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So basically, it is a plant-based recipe that it is super easy to make with only a few ingredients that are not really expensive – especially if you handpick the berries somewhere or grow them in your own garden. Or if you don’t have any berries on your hand you can just have a plain lemon cake with orange or lemon icing. And it does not even take that long to make and bake the cake. Perfect in my opinion! :)

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What you need for the dough:

  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 210g  flour
  • 2 hand-full of almond flakes
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 235 ml oat milk

and for a rather thick layer of icing:

  • 150g powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice (or lemon juice)
  • any (fresh) berries that you’d like to have as a topping

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix the oil, sugar, lemon juice & zest, and oat milk until they are evenly mixed. Next you need to sift the flour, baking soda and salt together, and add them to the other ingredients and fold in. Fold in the almond flakes as well until you have a smooth (and rather liquid) dough. Pour it into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake it for around 45-50 min. Use the skewer technique for checking whether the cake is ready or not! When ready, remove from the oven and let it cool.

For the icing you need to mix the orange (or lime) juice and powdered sugar together until it is smooth and not lumpy. After the cake is cooled completely you can drizzle the icing with a spoon over it – you can cover it completely or only let it drizzle down the sides a little. You can add the berries of your choice right away or wait a bit until the icing has set a bit so the fruits don’t slide. Enjoy!

 

Austrian Nussschnecke – mini versions.

Raised pastry made from scratch used to scare the shit out of me. Only recently I leaped the hurdle and made the first one without the helping hands of my Mom or Grandma. It was a plain pizza yeast dough, so nothing special and not too difficult actually. Even for a yeast-dough-newby like me. So I started experimenting with yeast doughs and tried a few recipes. And in this blogpost I want to share one of the recipes: nut rolls. Or how we call it in Austria: Nussschnecke (Nut Snails. haha). They remind me a lot of cinnamon buns that are so typical for Scandinavia, bun instead of ‘only’ putting cinnamon and sugar into the filling, we add grounded nuts in there.

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I have made them several times before, but always in a lazy fashion: with store-bought flaky pastry. I usually make mini versions as they are the perfect snack-size and the big ones – the ones you get at the store or in bakeries – are just too big sometimes. Plus, the minis make a nice sweet party snack, especially during winter when they are fresh out of the oven!

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A yeast dough base usually consists of a bit of milk and sugar, a pinch of salt, and wheat flour. Sometimes soft butter and eggs are added – according to my Mom (and she got it from her Mom) eggs are used when you want a ‘finer dough’, so for ‘better’ pastries, for special occasions. So technically, yeast-dough can easily be vegan if plant-based milk and vegan butter are used, and the eggs skipped.

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This time I made the dough from scratch – plus I made them plant-based, with a little advise from my mom on how ‘hot’ the milk should be and with our both remembrance of my grandma’s ‘recipe’ for the nut filling. Everything with a nut filling just reminds me of my grandma as she used to make pastries with such a filling on a regular basis when I was younger.

What you need for the dough for 25 Mini-Nussschnecken:

  • 400g wheat flour – but you might need a bit more
  • 1/2 of a yeast dice (instead: 1 package of dry yeast)
  • 150-250ml warm (plant-based) milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 60g soft butter (room temperature!)

What you need for the nut-filling:

  • 200g grounded walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • some milk
  • some butter

What to do:

Sift the flour into a big bowl, crumble the yeast dice into the center of the bowl and add the warm milk and sugar to the top of the yeast. Mix this bit and wait for a couple of minutes, add the butter and salt, mix everything with a spatula until you can knead the dough with your hands (beware, this takes a while). It depends, maybe you need some more milk or more flour until the dough is really smooth and detaches from the bowl. Then put a (clean) kitchen towel over it, and place the bowl somewhere warm for around an hour.

In the meantime you can take care of the filling. In a small pan or pot melt some butter and add the sugar, grounded walnuts and cinnamon, and stir it so it does not burn. After a short time you can add the milk and stir everything for a couple of minutes until it is smoothly combined. Remove it from the heat.

After doubling in size put the dough onto a floured surface and knead it once again before rolling it out into a rectangular shape that is around 2-3mm thick. If you want to make it perfect you can cut the edges with a knife so it is a true rectangle. Spread the nut-filling over the rolled out dough. Roll it up so you have a long cylinder which you can cut into 2-cm-pieces. Place the ‘snails’ with the cut edge upward onto a baking plate and leave enough space between them so they don’t stick together in the end. I also brushed them with plenty of leftover milk so they are extra soft. If you want you can put a towel on top of them and let them rise again for some time, but this is not a must. Bake them for around 20 minutes at 180°C until they are golden. If you want, you can then put a sugar glaze on top of them by mixing a few tablespoons of water with a lot (!) of powdered sugar, and let the Snails cool down – or devour right away. Mine turned out to be better-tasting the day after.

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A few things worth knowing when working with yeast:

Fresh yeast or dry yeast. Personally I have never tasted or seen a difference between the two. However, dry yeast is less vulnerable, it does not expire that early, and the process is a bit easier because you can always (correct me if I am wrong) skip the yeast starter and put it straight into the flour without mixing it with warm milk.

Temperature is key! It is important that the milk is not too hot or cold. Yeast needs the ‘perfect’ temperature: too hot would destroy the yeast, and too cold would prolong the fermentation process. The ‘best’ temperature of the milk apparently is around 35°. In general it is advised to use ingredients at room temperature. So take the ingredients out of the fridge or wherever you keep them a good amount of time before using them.

Rising place. The same applies to the temperature for the rising-duration. You could keep the dough in your already warm kitchen. Or if you are not sure if your kitchen is ‘hot enough’, you could preheat the oven to the lowest temperature (which is usually 50°C) and turn it off again so your dough rises in the remaining heat. One option that is used in my home is putting some hot water into the sink and placing the bowl with the dough into the sink.

Yeast starter. Sometimes it is advised to make a yeast starter – the dough is made in a two-step process. In the first step fermentation for a period of time is allowed by mixing warm milk, sugar, and the yeast and keeping it in a warm place for a while. In the second step, the yeast starter is added to the final dough’s ingredients. This is usually done for taste, texture, and chemistry apparently. My grandma used to make a yeast starter for the very special kinds of yeast pastries like Krapfen, another traditional Austrian dessert.

Patience is a virtue. A dice of yeast never acts the same as the dice you’ve used previously. Summer is different from winter. Your oven might be different from mine. You might not have the temperature that you had last time. So what you actually need is: time on your hand to keep an eye on the dough and see whether it is already the way you like it to be or if it needs another 15 minutes. So unfortunately, you can never exactly tell if you need one hour for the whole thing or two ;) But I would say the more often you try the dough the better feeling you get for it (but I guess this is true for every recipe that you get from somewhere?) Or if you do not actually have that much time you just have to accept that your pastry is not going to be the fluffiest on earth. Which is totally fine too if you ask me.

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Baking something traditional: Marble Gugelhupf.

When I was growing up Sunday used to be the day when my whole family was at home and we could have lunch together as well as the traditional afternoon coffee with cake. Pretty early on my mom entrusted me with the task to bake the cake. I believe that this was the starting point for my love of baking and that had me buy a few too many baking books.

Years went by, the dynamics of my family changed as we kids moved out, I moved abroad for a while. This lead to rare Sunday meetings in my family and less cakes of course. However, this Sunday both my sister (+ her hubby) and I were at my parents’ and I decided that it was about time for me to bake something.

Marmorgugelhupf

Gugelhupf – also Gugelhopf or Kugelhopf – is a very traditional cake in Austria (but also popular in other regions in Europe) that is baked in the very distinctive circular Bundt mold. It is not exactly known where the name derives from, but the dictionary says that Gugel comes from the Latin word cucullus (meaning hood, boonet) and Hupf is ‘to hop, jump’ and refers to the rising of the dough.

Legend has it that Marie Antoinette, archduchess of Austria and Queen of France (the last one before the French Revolution though…), brought the cake from the alpine country to France. Also, during the Biedermeier period the Gugelhupf became very popular in the Habsburg rich. It was welcomed by the emperor Franz Joseph I. for breakfast and became a status symbol in the bourgeois circles.

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There is not one definite recipe when it comes to Gugelhupf as it very much depends on the region, the occasion, and ability of the baker. It can be a yeast dough with raisins or a sponge mixture, ranging from very easy to very elaborate. The cake can be covered in chocolate (for birthdays), or just powdered with sugar.

One version that spices the traditional, easy (and sometimes boring) recipe a bit up is by transferring it into a Marmorgugelhupf – a marble cake – which is made by adding cocoa to some part of the dough. Not only does it add a different taste to the cake but enhances the appearance of the cake with the marbling.

What you need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 250 g powdered sugar
  • 250 g flour
  • 1/2 package (8g) baking powder
  • 10 tbsp. oil
  • 7 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder

What to do:

First you need to separate the egg yolks from the whites. Mix the yolk, sugar, water and oil until you have a fluffy dough. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease the mold. Then you have to beat the egg whites until stiff. Carefully fold in the stiff egg  whites and flour + baking powder into the dough. Put half or 2/3 of the dough into the mold, mix cocoa powder into the rest of the dough and put it into the mold on top of the first part. Bake the cake for around 45 minutes and then check to see if it is already done (by making the cake test with a thin skewer). Let the cake cool, turn it out on a plate and powder it with sugar. It is ready to be served – enjoy!

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A few simple tricks:

Don’t be too hasty or impatient. Mixing yolk, sugar and so on to a fluffy dough takes some time. Sometimes mixing it for a longer period can help you making a fluffy and light cake.

Sift flour. In order to get a more even or a better result it helps when you sift the flour – especially when you add baking powder to the mix. It breaks up any lumps in the flour, is easier to mix into other ingredients, and helps to combine dry ingredients (such as baking powder) more evenly.

Milk can help. If the dough is too firm and not smooth enough you can always add a bit of milk (at room temperature) or milk substitutes. This increases the moisture and tenderness of the cake. But only add some at a time. Wait until you have mixed it long enough to see if it helped or if you need more.

Ovens differ. Not every oven is the same, so don’t strictly follow the heating and duration instructions. Some ovens take longer, some are faster. I followed a recipe in which it said that I should have it in there for 60 minutes, but it only took the cake around 45 minutes to be done.

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