Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This is a winner right here, ladies and gentlemen.



Is there any greater blessing to a baker than that of overripe bananas? I don’t happen to think so. I rescued these bananas from a dire situation in which my father was about to toss them in the compost heap. It took a fair bit of convincing on my part for my dad to believe that these bananas were of actual value and that no, they would not make him sick.


The chocolate pecan topping on his bread is what makes it oh-so-delightful, staring at it just makes my mouth water! The bananas help make this bread incredibly moist whilst using maple syrup as a sweetener enhances the flavour as it pairs so well with the pecans. For extra flavour points, roast the pecans on the stove or in a hot oven for 10 minutes or until fragrant. That’s a one way ticket to bliss!

Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk of your choice (I used soy)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1+½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped roughly
  • 50g chopped pecans

Method 

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease a standard loaf and pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Add the ripe bananas, egg, milk, maple syrup and vegetable oil to a blender. Blend until combined, about 2 minutes. Separately, add the cake flour, baking powder and cinnamon and salt to a large bowl and stir to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet.
  3. Throw in the chocolate and pecans, making sure to reserve some for the top of the cake. Stir with a rubber spatula to distribute the nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the nuts and chocolate over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. Allow to cool before serving, enjoy!

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Vegan Lemon Coconut Cream Pie

I’ve been dying to try out a vegan dessert that isn’t based on soaked cashews and this is THE ONE.


When I was thinking about this one, I came across a couple of obstacles. #1 being how does one make pastry vegan? Figure that one out and all problems would magically disappear. Shortcrust pastry is basically flour, butter, salt and water; the only non-vegan ingredient in the equation being the butter. Well butter is desired here for it’s fatty content, right? So what else is rich in fats but does not come from an animal? Spoiler alert: vegetable oil. As it’s already liquid, this completely eliminates the need for us to include water.


The second thing I had to think about here was the filling. My traditional lemon curd recipe used egg yolks to thicken it, but that was not an option here. Next best thing was cornflour. I was a bit worried about the cornflour drastically altering the flavour but thankfully it remained just as lemon-coconutty as ever.


Despite my many fears when making this (Will it set? Will the pastry fall apart? Will it taste good?) this dessert turned out to be a delight. Now that I can add this notch to my belt, I’m ever more motivated to try out more vegan desserts!


Vegan Lemon Coconut Cream Pie

For the crust:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ¼ cup dessicated coconut
  • ¼ cup icing/powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup neutral vegetable oil e.g. sunflower, canola

For the filling: 

  • 1 and ½ cups lemon juice
  • 1× 14 oz can coconut milk
  • ½ cup castor (granulated) sugar
  • 2 tbsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ cup cornflour + ¾ cup water
  • 2 drops yellow food colouring (optional)

For the topping: 

  • 1 cup coconut cream (or 1 cup aquafaba)
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 tbsp dessicated coconut

Method

  1. Start by making the crust. Sift the flour, coconut, sugar and salt in a large bowl and shake to combine. Make a well in the centre and pour in the oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix until it comes together. Shape into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a large saucepan on medium high heat, combine the lemon juice, coconut milk, sugar, lemon rind and vanilla. Whisk to combine and bring to a boil. Dissolve the cornflour in the water and stir well to ensure there are no lumps. Pour the cornflour into the lemon coconut mixture and whisk vigorously to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce the heat to low and stir continuously until the mixture has thickened considerably and coats the back of a spoon. If you find that the colour is too pale, add the food colouring drop by drop until you’re happy with the colour. Remove from heat and set aside
  3. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out into a 10 inch circle. Grease a non stick 9 inch springform pan. Line the bottom and sides of the pan evenly with the pastry, using any scraps to go around the sides. Top the pastry with some parchment paper and pastry weights (you can use dry unsoaked beans in this case) and blind bake the pastry for 25-30 minutes or until it is golden brown. Set aside to cool before filling.
  4. Spoon the lemon coconut filling into the baked pastry case and level off with a spoon. Refrigerate for about 2 hours to set.
  5. Add the coconut cream and icing sugar to a small bowl and whisk until thickened and fluffy. Use this to top the pie once set. Decorate with lemon rind and dessicated coconut. Serve chilled and enjoy! Will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

Raw Vegan Passionfruit White Chocolate Cheesecake

Today is a monumental day. Why? Car aujourd’hui I bring you the first vegan dessert to be published on this blog.

To be frank, it was about time anyways. Through the many cheesecakes we’ve shared, the soups we’ve slurped and the burgers we’ve devoured, I decided that it was time to switch it up a bit.


As I’m sure you all know, I have decided to permanently cut meat out of my diet. With the full knowledge of the atrocities that are committed everyday in the animal farming industry coupled with the significant impact on the environment that meat consumption is responsible for; I decided that enough was enough and it was time for me to act. I couldn’t stand by and support/ignore what was happening, whilst being fully aware of what was happening. So I stopped eating meat. As the goal is to eventually cut animal products out of my diet and my closet, I decided to pay tribute to veganism today with this cheesecake.

If you’ve never made a vegan dessert before, then fear not! The process is ridiculously simple. Start by preparing your vegan chocolate and your passionfruits.

You’ll need 2 cups of soaked cashews for this recipe, they should be left for at least 8 hours, but if you don’t have time then you can soak them in boiling water for an hour.

The almonds, pecans and oats are then blended to create a coarse meal. Maple syrup is drizzled in and that forms your base! The base is then frozen for 15 minutes to firm it up.

All the cheesecake ingredients are then pulsed in the blender, poured on top of the base and this is frozen for 4 hours. You take the cheesecake out of the freezer, spread it with the passionfruit pulp/sauce, let it sit for 15 minutes at room temperature and you’re good to go! Happy cheesecaking friends!


Raw Vegan Passionfruit White Chocolate Cheesecake          

makes one 9 inch cake or 15 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 2 cups rolled oats (uncooked)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ cup maple syrup

For the cheesecake:

  • 1 and ½ cups cashews, soaked overnight in cold water or for 1 hour in boiling water
  • 1×14 ounce tin of coconut cream or 1×14 ounce tin of coconut milk refrigerated overnight
  • 250g of vegan white chocolate, melted (may replace with an extra cup of soaked cashews if you’re not into white chocolate)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp ginger

For the passionfruit topping:

  • 1 cup passionfruit pulp (from about 12 passionfruits)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornflour + 2 tsp water

Method

  1. Start with the base. In a food processor, pulse the oats, almonds and pecans until you have a coarse meal. With the motor running, pour in the maple syrup and pulse until the meal starts to bind together. Switch off the machine and dump the base into a 9 inch springform pan or add a tablespoon of base to 15 cupcake holders (no need to grease it first). Pat the base down into an even layer and freeze for 15 minutes.
  2. Move on to the cheesecake filling. Add all the cheesecake ingredients to a food processor and pulse until creamy and no large chunks of cashews remain in the mixture. Scoop on top of the frozen base and use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth into an even layer. Return to the freezer and freeze for 3 hours.
  3. Finally make the passionfruit topping. Add the pulp and the lemon juice to a medium saucepan on low heat and bring to a boil. Pour the dissolved cornflour into the mixture and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. When ready to assemble, release the cheesecake from the springform pan to a cake stand. Use a spoon to smooth the passionfruit topping on top of the cheesecake. Let the cheesecake sit for 15 minutes to defrost aaaaaand you’re ready to cut and serve! Store leftovers in the freezer, but make sure to leave it at room temperature for 15 minutes before you slice and serve each time.

Sweetheart Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl Bars

Okay okay okay, this is a huge step for me but I finally did it. I officially conquered my fear of cheesecakes. 


Let me phrase this better, I do not have a phobia of yummy calorific dairy desserts. I am terrified of making them. What if it cracks whilst baking? What if it doesn’t set in the fridge? What if it tastes nothing like the cheesecake from that really great cafe?  These are the questions that haunt me whilst I sit at my desk wondering how I’m going to nail this next recipe idea.


‘You can’t do cheesecake. All your previous attempts have failed miserably. You can use those 2 tins of cream cheese to make a dip for some fries instead,’ my conscience says. ‘You’ll never be able to pull this one off.’ I take a deep breath and try to channel out the negative energy. You can do this. After pacing around the kitchen for an hour, I finally muster up the strength to pick up the whisk and attempt this cheesecake. 2 hours later, I’m asking myself why I was even doubting my abilities in the first place. It’s everything I ever wanted and yet more. I was a bit sceptical about abandoning the traditional Graham cracker base for a shortbread base, and I wasn’t 100% sure that the pattern would come out clearly but hey, I did it. I SUCCESSFULLY MADE A CHEESECAKE.


You too, can experience happiness and accomplishment through trying this recipe. There’s a lesson here friends: do not be afraid of failure, you will surprise even yourself when you just decide to try. Try and give your best effort always, you will never know if you don’t try.

Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl Bars

Ingredients

For the shortbread base: 

  • 2 and ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp ice water

For the cheesecake layer: 

  • Two 8 oz packages of plain cream cheese
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream (may sub Greek yogurt for healthier taste)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the strawberry swirl:

  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cornflour + 1 tsp cold water

Method: 

Start with the strawberry swirl: 

In a blender, combine the strawberries, water, lemon juice and sugar. Blitz until no large chunks of strawberry remain. Add the contents of the blender to a saucepan and gently warm the strawberry puree. Once boiling, add in the cornflour and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool whilst you prepare the cheesecake bars.

Then move onto the cheesecake: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a large bowl and toss to combine. Cut the butter into the dry mixture until you have a crumbly dough. Crack the egg into the mixture, pour in the ice water and stir until fully mixed and you have a uniform colour and there are no streaks of egg yolk. Turn the shortbread crust into the prepared baking dish. Press the dough into an even layer in the pan and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is just starting to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. Whilst the crust is baking, add the cream cheese to a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the sugar and whip into the cream cheese. Pour in the fresh cream and stir until incorporated. Add in the egg, vanilla essence and lemon juice and whisk until just combined. Be careful not to overmix lest you get cracks in the cheesecake.
  3. When the crust has finished baking, pour the cheesecake mixture over the shortbread base. Dollop tablespoons of the puréed strawberries over the cream cheese mixture. Use the tip of a knife or a toothpick to swirl a pattern over the surface of the cream cheese, being careful not to scrape the shortbread base. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes.
  4. Once the time has elapsed, switch off the oven but do not open the oven door. I repeat: DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR. This is for your own safety and for that of the cheesecake, it is to ensure you do not get any cracks that will spoil the wonderful wonderful pattern you made. I waited about another 30 minutes before removing the cheesecake and transferring to the fridge for an hour. Only then you can slice the cheesecake into 12 bars. Enjoy the fact that you have conquered the cheesecake!

 

Psssssst, once you’ve gotten over the excitement of making this yummy cheesecake, try your hand at this Chocolate Lover’s Fudge Brownie Cheesecake. It is TO DIE FOR.

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Hasselback Apple Streusel Cake

What is better than warm apples, cold ice cream and sweet caramel sauce?

The answer: NOTHING. This cake combines all my favourite things into a glorious slice of heaven. It is absolutely beautiful, moist, filling and the crumble just takes it that extra mile. I’ve been in love with this cake since I made a variation of it 2 months ago with bananas. It had all the same themes here, crumbly streusel topping, smooth vanilla ice cream and a gorgeous caramel drizzle to seal the deal. I’d been meaning to make that cake again but unfortunately bananas are out of season! With this unforeseen obstacle ahead, I decided to use apples instead and the result was just as gorgeous. 


Even if you’re not a fan of all the toppings and  add ons, this cake is still beautiful in its natural state. It looks just as wonderful next door to my new ice cream scoop! All in all, this is a winning dessert, reminiscent of winter dinner parties or the holiday season. This cake is perfect for any family get togethers, dinner parties with friends or even when you’re sitting at home with a glass of Chardonnay.

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Hasselback Apple Streusel Cake
Ingredients

For the apples:

  • 3-5 Golden delicious apples
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp castor (granulated) sugar

For the cake:

  • ½ cup softened butter
  • ¾ cup castor sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 and ¾ cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp salt

For the streusel: 

  • ½  cup uncooked rolled oats
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½  cup softened butter

optional: caramel sauce and ice cream for serving

Method

  1. Halve the apples before using a sharp paring knife to slice the apple thinly, making sure not to go all the way to the bottom. It’s okay if you make a mistake, don’t discard any apple slices you end up with. Each slice should be about half a centimetre thick. This is called hasselbacking the apple. If desired, you can quarter the apples so that they aren’t as chunky in the cake. Toss the apples in a small bowl with the lemon juice and sugar and set aside.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease a 10 inch springform pan.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Crack the eggs into the bowl one by one, stirring well after each addition. Add the vanilla essence and buttermilk and stir until combined.
  4. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet. The batter will be very thick. Scrape the batter into the greased springform pan and use the back of a spoon to level it out. Press the hasselbacked apples into the dough, and scatter any stray apple pieces you may have over the surface. Set aside.
  5. Prepare the streusel by combining the oats, flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mixing together. Add the butter and use your hands or a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a crumbly dough.
  6. Sprinkle the streusel over the cake batter in an even layer. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven, the cake is done when the streusel is a deep golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving. This is best served warm with caramel sauce and ice cream. Lush!

Excuse me while I steal a slice of heaven!

Chocolate Lover’s Fudge Brownie Cheesecake

Have I lost my mind? Maybe so. I’ve been buried 6 feet deep in chocolate dreams and I was itching to manifest my daydreams of hot fudge sauce and creamy mousse into an actual dish.


So after many hours of scouring Pinterest and Instagram, I finally came up with this. I had felt so inspired by this recipe for Seriously Fudgy Homemade Brownies by Sally’s Baking Addiction and I just knew that I had to try them. I fell in love with this recipe and decided that it would be the starting point for the massive project idea I was working on.

I knew I wanted something with the texture of a mousse but I felt like going for a chocolate mousse would be too much and an icing wouldn’t be enough. And thus the vanilla cheesecake idea came about. 


Most people would have stopped there and said “This is good. I have cheesecake. I have brownie. Uh brownie cheesecaaaaake!” Not me. Never. Always got to take it from 0-100. So I topped it with hot fudge sauce, brownies and more melted chocolate because TREAT YO’SELF. 



What even are New Years Resolutions? After this cake, I don’t even remember. This would make a decadent Valentines Day present for your boo-thang or even as a celebratory single cake for you and your girls on a night in! Grab a glass of milk, unbutton your jeans and fall into a heavenly chocolate bliss with this cake! 

Chocolate Lover’s Fudge Brownie Cheesecake
Ingredients

For the brownies:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 100g of coarsely chopped cooking chocolate, divided in half
  • 1 and ½ cups castor sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp espresso powder, dissolved in 3 tbsp water
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 and ¼ cups self raising flour
  • 1 tsp salt

For the cheesecake:

  • 16 ounces/430 g of full fat cream cheese at room temperature (this makes it easier to blend into the other ingredients and prevent lumps)
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream, may substitute plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs

For assembly: 

  • Hot fudge sauce
  • about 50g of dark chocolate, melted
  • grated dark chocolate for garnish

Start by preparing the brownies + brownie base

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan. Grease and line a 6×6 square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Add the butter and half the chopped chocolate to a large microwave safe bowl and microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each round, until completely melted. Whisk in the sugar and stir until absorbed by the butter. Add the eggs, vanilla essence and dissolved espresso and stir until completely incorporated.
  3. Sieve in the cocoa powder, flour and salt and use a rubber spatula to fully blend together. Drop the remaining half of the chopped chocolate into the thick batter, and stir gently to distribute.
  4. Spoon half of the brownie batter in the springform pan and smooth into an even layer, using the back of a spoon. Spoon the remaining half into the square pan, making sure to also smooth it into an even layer. The batter in the springform pan will form the brownie base of the cheesecake whilst the brownies baked in the rectangular pan will be used for decoration.
  5. Bake in the preheat oven for between 20 and 25 minutes (mine takes about 23 minutes), or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs (it shouldn’t be wet). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. The batter in the springform pan will be used for the base of the cheesecake and the ones in the rectangular pan will be used for decoration.

Then prepare the cheesecake layer:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Spoon the cream cheese into a large bowl and use a handheld electric whisk to beat until smooth, creamy and free of lumps, about 2 minutes. Beat in the castor sugar until blended, another 2 minutes. Pour in the sour cream and vanilla essence, then beat again. Crack the eggs in, one by one, whisking well after each addition. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
  2. Pour the cheesecake batter over the brownie base (it’s okay if it’s still warm, it doesn’t have to have cooled completely) and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until it appears to be set on the edges and dry to the touch. It’s okay if it’s a bit wobbly in the middle, it will continue to firm up as it cools.
  3. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before decorating.

For assembly:

  1. Spread the hot fudge sauce over the vanilla cheesecake layer, making sure to go right up to the edges.
  2. Remove the decoration brownies from the rectangular pan and cut into brownies. Layer them on top of the cheesecake.
  3. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cheesecake. If you’re feeling extra sweet, you can also drizzle caramel sauce over. Top with sparklers for a fun twist! Serve at room temperature and wow all your guests! If you have leftovers (Gasp!) then store them in a closed container in the fridge. The cheesecake will keep up to 5 days in the fridge and the brownies for a week at room temperature.