Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cheesecake Zen

Friday night and my house is full of testosterone. My 11-year-old is having a sleepover with three of his buddies. The boys are trying to out-diss and out-shoot each other in Wii FIFA 2011Soccer. (I'm gonna stuff you like a teddy bear!" "Oh, yeah, you stink so bad yo mama had to leave the room.") The boys are getting boisterous, and our family room is starting to smell like teen spirit.

I'm seeking solace downstairs in my kitchen. Me with my two junior helpers -- my nine-year-old daughter and her friend Nadia. We're in a calm cooking zen where there's no trash talk and no funky odours.

We decide to try a new recipe. This one is a fantastic no-bake cheesecake pie. (Thank you Lucy Waverman. I've made many of your recipes in the past with great success.) This pie is my new go-to dessert when I don't want to crank up the oven. Also, it's easily adapted to be gluten free and low sugar. The original recipe calls for crushed cookies for the crust. I use a blend of slivered almonds, coconut flakes and coconut flour.

Nadia, Arielle and I get really girlie, chatting about hair and Archie comics. We giggle as we whip up these mini-cheesecakes. We're done assembling in about 20 minutes. As you can see, each one is artfully hand-decorated. No two are alike.



Strawberry Cheesecake Pie
Crust: 
2 cups gingersnap cookies, crushed (we used 1/2 c coconut flour + 1 1/2 c shredded coconut + 1 tsp vanila)
1/2 slivered almonds
1/3 cup melted butter
4 ounces (1/2 cup) dark chocolate, chopped and melted 


Filling:
1 block (10ounces) of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup yogurt (we used strawberry flavoured)
3 TBSP sugar (we omitted the sugar)
2 tsp orange zest


Garnish:
2 cups strawberries
3 TBSP melted strawberry jam

STEP 1 - Make the crust
Combine the first three ingredients and press into the base of a 9-inch springform pan. To make individual pies, use muffin tins. We used non-stick silicon cups.
Brush the melted chocolate over the base. The girls haven't graduated to chocolate brushing. Instead, they dolloped the chocolate which made for a yummy but hard-to-cut crust.  

Almond-coconut-chocolate Crust
STEP 2 - Blend the filling
Combine the filling ingredients with a hand blender until smooth.
Yogurt & Cream Cheese Filling 
STEP 3 - Refrigerate and decorate
Place the berries over the pie and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Just before serving, brush the melted jam over the fruit. If you wait too long before serving, the jam will make the pie runny. We skipped the jam and used the leftover melted chocolate and raspberries.  
The Finished Product  
This recipe makes one 9-inch pie or 14 individual mini-pies. The girls and I enjoy our share and strategically hide the rest for the next day. As for the boys, we toss them some chewy chocolate walnut cookies from Art-Is-In Bakery (artisinbakery.com) to keep them quiet, for a brief moment.

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