Summary

Give me cake or give me death cookies.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Vegan Tofu Mango Cheesecake- Recipe

Tofu mango cheesecake: a fitting end to my week of sugar free baking.


Ages ago, my friend Min Hwee and I had lunch in Mildreds, an awesome vegetarian restaurant. For dessert, we had tofu mango cheesecake- and we never forgot about it. I promised I'd try to come up a recipe for one, but I've been avoiding it for a while, because I knew that making it would involve the use of one of my worst enemies in the culinary world.


Vege-gel.

Or agar- I've never had much luck with either. They set with a different texture, being made with slightly different vegetable extracts (in agar's case seaweed)- Vege-gel with a softer one and agar with a more solid set. However, the both set at the same speed: bloody fast.

Which makes them very unforgiving ingredients if you're not quick enough.

This is why there are no step-by-step photos for this post: because I knew I had to concentrate, and I only have my cheap compact camera with none of the stuff that lets you take photos remotely. In fact, I did indeed have a disaster when I initially made this: I added cold ingredients to hot and the mixture ended up not setting properly, so I had to dump everything back in the saucepan and re-boil it.

However! Here, I am, ready to share a recipe for vegan tofu mango cheesecake with you.

You'll need to refrigerate a can of thick coconut milk (look for the highest coconut milk content) overnight first: the coconut cream floats to the top and solidifies so you can scoop it out to use for this recipe (you can freeze the coconut water left behind for curries and other recipes later).


You'll also need some firm silken tofu: it needs to be firm silken rather than just firm or just silken, so you get the creamy smooth texture and the filling will hold its shape better.


Ingredients for Raw Crust:

-150g almonds
-100g pecans
-10 dates

Ingredients for Filling:

1 block firm silken tofu
350ml fresh mango puree (from about 2 big mangoes)
200ml coconut cream (from 1 can)
3tbsp coconut oil, melted
3tbsp lemon juice
100ml agave nectar
3 packets Vege-gel

Method:

1) Start by making the crust (as before with my raw strawberry cheesecake): lightly grease a 7" springform pan and line the bottom with some foil-covered cardboard to make cake remove easy later

2) Put the nuts and dates in a food processor and process until crumbly, but so the mixture sticks together when you compact it, and pack into the bottom of your cake tin to form the crust base

3) Blend all the filling ingredients together in a blender or food processor, and pour into a saucepan. Whisk in the Vege-gel (with a balloon whisk rather than an electric one- you don't want too much air beaten in) until dissolved

4) Bring your pan to a gentle boil for a minute or so. You'll need to keep stirring gently to stop the thick mixture from splattering everywhere!

5) Turn off the heat and immediately pour the mixture into the cake pan over your crust

6) Let it cool to room temperature for an hour or so, uncovered, then clingfilm it up and chill for at least four hours, or preferably overnight

7) When you're ready, carefully unmould your cheesecake, and if you like serve with some chopped mango and extra coconut cream.


This is so yummy. The mangoy-ness really comes through, and the lemon juice gives the whole thing a similar tang to real cream cheese. You don't really taste the coconut cream within the cheesecake, but it give it a nice creamy taste.

Originally I was going to post my recipe for raw carrot cup cakes that I made just before I started Sugar Free February. I took pretty photos and everything- but alas, I lost the recipe I constructed literally right after I made it. D= So even though this is officially the last recipe for Sugar Free February and I'll be allowed to bake with sugar again from next weekend, I reckon I can stand another week- these desserts have been delicious without refined sugar. In any case, I'll definitely be continuing to try out more recipes from now on, and I don't think I'll go back to my old ways now I'm used to not having sugar every day!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Raw Strawberry Cheesecake- Recipe

Week three of sugar-free February and I'm feeling pretty good! Also, I'm finding out how many wonderful things you can do with cashew nuts. Like raw vegan cheesecake, for example.


Yes, this beauty is made primarily with smooshed nuts. Don't laugh. The texture is silky smooth, the flavour is creamy and refreshing, and if you didn't tell anyone this was made with cashew nuts, no-one would know.

Everything is raw- from the cashew nut 'cheesecake' filling to the crunchy nut-and-date crust. I haven't included a recipe for the strawberry sauce here, but all you do is blend some fresh strawberries with a bit of agave nectar or maple syrup  to sweeten (or honey if you're not vegan).

Ingredients for Crust:

-150g almonds
-100g pecans
-10 dates

Ingredients for Filling:

-400g cashew nuts, soaked in water overnight
-8tbsp agave nectar/ maple syrup/ honey (if not vegan)
-6tbsp water
-Juice from 1 1/2 lemons
-1tsp vanilla
-150g coconut oil, melted
-600g strawberries

Method:

1) Grease a 7" springform pan with a little coconut oil (and if you like, make a foil-lined cardboard insert to make removing the finished article form the pan even easier afterwards)


2) Put the almonds and pecans in a food processor and process until crumbly-looking, then add the dates and process (not too much, you still want it to look like crumbs rather than dust)


3) Pack the mixture down firmly into the bottom of your pan, using your hands and/ or the back of a spoon


4) Throw all of the rest of the ingredients apart from the strawberries and blend until creamy


5) Now add the strawberries, and blend until well combined


6) Pour into your tin and chill in the fridge for at least four hours, or even better overnight


7) Unmould your lovely lovely raw strawberry cheesecake...


8) ... Cut a nice generous slice...


9) And enjoy with some raw strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Sugar Free February: Raw Chocolate Fudge Truffles- Recipe

I hereby declare this month Sugar Free February.

When I say sugar-free, I mean anything with added processed sugar. So no more sugar in tea and coffee, no more cakes and cookies, not even any granola or sauces like ketchup (seriously, sugar is added to EVERYTHING these days).

Since this blog is called 'Tashcakes!' and not 'Tashmeals', you can at least begin to understand how much of a crazy personal challenge this is for me. I consume a stupid amount of sugar on a daily basis- but this ends here, at least for a month. In fact, it ended on the first Monday of Chinese New Year.

So what am I doing posting these sinful-looking truffles?


Well, I'm going processed sugar-free rather than Atkins sugar-free. I love fruit and veggies way too much to punish myself with a carb restricted diet (plus I'm pretty sure that, medically, carbs sort of keep us alive). And although these rich chocolate fudge truffles certainly don't taste like they're meant to be healthy, they're certainly a lot better than your regular chocolate treats.

The magic ingredient: dates.

Yes yes, there's a lot of sugar in dates. However, they're all natural- plus you get other benefits to boot when you eat them, like extra fibre and vitamins. Granted these are still a treat and can't be eaten with wild abandon, but at least you're giving your body some quality fuel rather than pure junk.

Besides, I need a fix. You don't realise how addicted to sugar you are until you give it up: by day three of nothing sweet whatsoever I felt like I could punch someone for no reason- and it usually takes a lot to put me in a bad mood. Or, in this case, three days without sugar.

Bring on the dates.

This recipe takes just a few minutes to make in a food processor and is vegan, raw (if you use raw nuts and cacao), gluten-free and dairy-free, so this recipe is also dedicated to my 'free-from' friends!

Ingredients:

-400g cashew nuts
-250g dates
-4tbsp cocoa powder
-3tbsp melted coconut oil
-Extra cocoa powder for rolling (optional)

Method:

1) In a food processor, chop up the nuts until they become a fine powder.



2) Add in your dates and cocoa powder, and blend well until the mixture starts too clump together (you may need to stop and start the processor a few times to scrape the sides down)


3) Pulse in the melted coconut oil, which binds the ingredients and gives a richer texture


4) Take large teaspoons of the mixture, squish the portions in one hand to compact the mixture and roll into balls


5) If you like roll your truffle balls into the extra cocoa powder for a posher look



6) Enjoy straight away, or firm up in the fridge for an hour or so.


Week one: completed. Three more to go...

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Chinese New Year: Of Lions and Large Amounts of Food

GRAAAWGH!

My mum and I were lucky enough to catch the lion dance on our annual CNY trip to Wing Yip!

I mentioned the significance of the Chinese New Year cake 粘糕 nián gāo in my previous post. Here's the homemade one I bought from the bakery:


It certainly lived up to its name: it was so sticky, it took me a good ten minutes to coax it out of the container! It was well worth the effort though: so much tastier than the supermarket ones.

Success!

It even has a little jujube in the middle! So cute.



Just a little slice will do, since it's such a dense sweet.


Yum! Yes the slice is smaller than the crater in the cake- the other slice was for Mum. Honest!

The main event, of course, was the evening meal.


I love Chinese New Year. For anyone who's interested, my fortune cookie told me 'try your luck in acting.' Huh.

Lion: Just a lion, doin' mah shoppin'...

Shop floor: Ermahgerd a lion!!

Soft Kueh Lapis- Recipe

Since it's custom to eat glutinous rice-based things during Chinese New Year, and my background is of a Chinese-Malay one, I thought I'd make a Malay dessert- also containing sticky rice and eaten during CNY- called kueh lapis (lit. 'layer cake').

kueh lapis

Isn't it pretty? I still have to tweak the final recipe a little more- you're supposed to be able to peel each layer apart when it's done and it's supposed to be slightly chewy, and this one came out more soft and custard-y: but it was still delicious and definitely had the taste of kuih lapis.

Traditionally a cake made from glutinous rice called 粘糕 nián gāo (lit. 'sticky cake') is eaten during Chinese New Year. The story goes that each year, just before the spring festival after the new year, the Kitchen God does a report on all families. In order to ensure a good report and so good fortune for the rest of the year, we have to feed him nián gāo- either because it's so sticky because it keeps his mouth shut, or because it's so sweet and tasty it works as a bribe (the outcome varying from story to story).

As with the bā bǎo fàn in my previous post, nián gāo has a double meaning: 粘 nián (sticky) sounds a lot like 年 niàn (year), making it even more significant to eat this cake on CNY. I did buy one from a Chinese bakery this year- I will be posting the pictures of my CNY feast later.

Now! Kueh lapis. This ALSO has a double-meaning linked to it. Kueh lapis is supposed to be made with nine layers, because jiǔ  (nine) sounds similar to久 jiǔ (long lasting)- another new reason to eat it on CNY. HOWEVER, I didn't make quite enough batter, and ended up having to settle for six layers instead.

I made it with a mixture of glutinous and normal rice flour- don't get confused between the two in other recipes, because they both result in different textures.


Recipe:

-120g rice flour
-30g glutinous rice flour
-600ml thick coconut milk
 -150ml water
-200g caster sugar
-pinch of salt
-Pandan paste (or green food colouring), pink food colouring and white food colouring (optional)
-1 pandan leaf

Method:

1) Line an 8" square cake tin with foil and grease well.


2) Make a fragrant syrup by dissolving the sugar into the water, and boiling with the pandan leaf for about five minutes: then leave to cool (don't add it into the next part before cooling or it'll pre-cook it!)


3) Gradually whisk your flours up with the coconut milk...


4) And then whisk in your cooled pandan syrup.


5) Divide equally into three different bowls.


6) Colour one green with pandan paste (or food colouring), one pink and the other with a couple of drops of white food colouring.

It's pink, honest- I just had some weird night-time lighting

7) Prepare your steamer: in my case I settle a large bamboo steamer on top of a big wok with boiling water in it, making sure the water doesn't touch the steamer.


8) Make a lid out of more foil for your cake tin to stop condensation from dripping into your kueh, and place the tin in the steamer to heat up for a couple of minutes.


9) Choose a colour, pour out half into the bottom of the steamer and steam for ten minutes- the surface will go all dull and matte-looking when each layer is cooked through (make sure each layer is cooked thoroughly, because once the next layer goes on, you've had it!) Continue cooking and layering until everything's used up, pouring GENTLY each time so you don't disturb the layers. Steam the last layer for half an hour for good measure.


10) Take out of the steamer, cool for three hours and then let it chill in the fridge overnight.


11) Once chilled through, remove it from the pan and admire your handiwork...


12) And cut into diamonds, squares or strips (for clean cuts, oil your knife and wipe it clean after each cut).


And you're done! I love all types kueh- I've already made kueh dadar and kueh ubi bingka on this blog, and I'll definitely be making more. However, since this recipe for kueh lapis hasn't yet been perfected (got to achieve the peel-apart layers!), I'll have another few goes at making this.

What do you think, Benny?