Category Archives: Desserts Not Otherwise Categorized

Diet Cheesecake: Low-Fat, Healthy, & No-Bake (The Dream is Real, Folks!)

Diet cheesecake, for realz!

Now that I’ve (hopefully) got your attention with my ‘Diet Cheesecake’ title, I’ll come clean: it’s actually mock cheesecake, as there’s no cream cheese in the cheesecake. Say, what?!?

I’ve blogged before about how I make my own yoghurt. It’s sooo delicious, and so easy that I urge you to make your own! I made a batch of yoghurt last week, and got to thinking about how my dad used to make yoghurt cheese (‘labneh’ in Arabic) when I was a child. I thought, you know what, I bet I could use that to make a no-bake cheesecake pie. Welp, I was right! It IS possible to make cheesecake without cream cheese!

I used 1% milk to make my yoghurt, which means the resultant yoghurt cheese was very low-fat. Admittedly, it’s not low-sugar because it uses condensed milk as a sweetener, but hey, one can’t have everything in life, right? I did use my gingersnap cookie recipe as the base for the cheesecake, which means the cheesecake is low-gluten as well.

And did I mention that it’s no bake? Assuming one has gingersnap cookies lying around, that is. If you don’t make your own, just buy some. Eh. Life is too short to make everything from scratch all the time.

So. Let’s get to the good stuff — where’s that recipe?

DIET STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 1/2 litres of Balkan-style yoghurt (or all the yoghurt that 3 l of milk will make)
  • 3/4 can of condensed milk
  • 4 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 medium-sized gingersnap cookies
  • 10 tbsp. strawberry jam (I used homemade pectin-free jam because I like the loose set)

Take a colander and line it with cheesecloth (or a very loose-weave cotton cloth); place that colander into a large bowl. Pour all your yoghurt into the lined colander, and place it in the fridge for 48 hours. This will drain the whey from the yoghurt. Twice a day, empty the bowl of the whey (drink it for extra protein, or use it in baking). After 48 hours, you will have a very thick, cream cheese-like yoghurt cheese.

Mix the yoghurt cheese with the condensed milk, lime juice, and vanilla extract.

Place the gingersnap cookies in glass custard cups. Spoon the cheesecake filling on top, and spoon some strawberry jam on top of that. Et voila, healthy diet cheesecake!

That creamy filling, tho!

In case you’re wondering if it was delicious, let me just say that I made this recipe last night. The DH and I ate 4 servings last night, and this morning I woke up to find that he had taken it upon himself to save my waistline, and eaten the remaining two servings for breakfast. (What he doesn’t know about is that I saved some cheesecake filling and hid it. Ha, ha! That’ll teach him to eat my dessert! Marriage; for better or worse but not dessert.)

Of course, you can play around with this recipe. Buy a pre-made crust or make your own more traditional graham-crumb crust; top with canned cherries, macerated strawberries, or blueberry jam; add chocolate chips to the filling and caramel on top…the list is endless! If you make this, let me know in the comments which variation you make! I’m wondering now if I could make an Oreo version; what do you think, should I develop that recipe?

Next Post: Hmm. Maybe that Apple Cinnamon Pancake recipe, maybe my Sausage & Roast Veggies Mini Meat Pies (veg version, ‘natch)!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And Full Plate Thursday!

Dutch Chocolate Pudding (& How to Clean a Burnt Pot without Scrubbing)

Elegance, thy name is chocolate pudding. Now let’s chow down!

I’ve been craving dairy recently, and if you’re a returning reader of my blog, you’ll know I’m always up for some chocolate. So I decided to combine the two and make a batch of my grandmother’s chocolate pudding.

My Oma (Dutch for grandmother) gave this recipe for Chocolade Vla (chocolate pudding) to my mom and my mom made it for special occasions, often topping it with whipped cream and chocolate eggs to make chocolate pudding nests for Easter. I think any day is a great day to eat chocolate pudding, so I’ve made this dish three times in the past two weeks. And since the DH isn’t fond of chocolate, I’ve eaten it all! I have no regrets though. It’s quick to made, and I think it’s actually not that unhealthy. It’s basically thickened, sweetened, flavoured milk. You doubt me? Check out this recipe!

Dutch Chocolate Pudding (Chocolade Vla)

  • 2 1/3 c. milk
  • 3 tbsp. corn starch
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Heat 2 c. milk to just-before-boiling in a double boiler (around 170 degrees). In a bowl, mix the corn starch, cocoa, sugar, and salt together, and add in the remaining milk and stir until blended. Whisk into the heated milk, and cook on medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour into bowls and let cool. Serve with whipped cream (if that’s your thang) and chocolate shavings (definitely my thang!).

Pourable pudding, poured into a glass custard cup, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. And a Dutch (Delft!) teaspoon to boot!

FYI, “vla” is *slightly* different from traditional North American pudding (or even British-style custards), in that it’s slightly more liquidy. If you prefer a thicker pudding, add an additional tablespoon of corn starch. Oh, and definitely use a double-boiler to make this! It’s what my Oma recommended, and she was a smart cookie.

As for me, I have little patience for things like double boilers. I mean, they’re useful, I should use them, but…they take so long to boil! Ugh. Just like when I’m heating milk for yoghurt, I tend to turn up the burner to high to get to the cooking part more quickly. Should I? No. Do I? Yes. Does it burn on the bottom? Unfortunately it does, all too often.

Which is when I pull out my little kitchen trick. That’s right, it’s a…KITCHEN HACK!

HOW TO CLEAN A BURNT POT WITHOUT SCRUBBING

Boil a little water in the pot with a bunch of baking soda. The burnt bits will float right off, and the rest will wipe off with no scrubbing! That’s right, that’s all. It’s really just too simple!

So I do recommend using a double-boiler, or cooking the pudding low to medium heat. Yes, it takes a few minutes longer, but it saves you a burnt pot. As for me and my house…I suspect I will keep turning up the heat and cleaning those pots! Ah well. At least I have chocolate pudding!

Next Post: Maybe something healthy? Or should I post my Shortcut Cinnamon Buns recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

Using Up Leftovers & How to Make Whoopie (Pies)

Plate o’ yumminess! *om nom nom* Oh, did you want some?

Whoopie pies. Ever made them? Ever eaten them? Ever even heard of them?

I’ve always read about whoopee pies (usually in novels set in Amish country) but never actually tasted one. They’re basically two super-puffy, cake-like cookies sandwiched together with some buttercream/marshmallow-y/fluffy icing-type filling. It’s always sounded rather unhealthy to me. Surely one cookie, sans icing, is healthier? (Not that I eat one cookie at a time. But theoretically speaking, it would be healthier, yes?)

Despite my love of health, healthiness, and moderation (except when it comes to chocolate), I decided to make some whoopie pies recently.

Why? Well, I had some leftover buttercream sitting in my fridge, and I really hate wasting food. I’m such a #wastenotwantnot sort of person. This even spills over into other areas of my life. The DH calls it ‘clutter’; I call it ‘crafting supplies’, and am forever whipping up pretty and useful things from leftover scraps of this and that. Which is sort of what happened in this case.

I had a whole pastry piping bag full of mint buttercream, leftover from various delicious baking sessions, and was brainstorming ways to use it up. Cupcakes? Did that recently. Mini cupcakes? Also did that recently. Frosting for soft cookies? Eh, doesn’t travel well, and I can’t eat a whole batch of cookies (well, obviously I could, and quite happily would, but my scale would be tsk-tsk-ing at me and I try to avoid that).

Then I thought…what about whoopie pies?!?!

It was the perfect opportunity to play around in the kitchen, bake something yummy, and use up that buttercream!

I made the cake/cookie part twice, just to make it was perfect. Not because I wanted to eat them. No, no, the second batch was purely for blog research purposes. (The happy tummy was just a happy coincidence.)

Choco-minty goodness!

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Buttercream Frosting

Depending on whether you want large or small whoopie pies, spread heaping tablespoons or heaping teaspoons of the dough onto a silicone baking mat or a greased cookie tray. Be sure to spread the dough out, as it will bake up super-high.

Bake according to directions, or until top is springy, but not tooo firm. Let cool.

Pipe buttercream between two cookies and squish together. Let sit (or chill in the fridge) to let the cookies suck some of the moisture out of the buttercream and really stick together.

Sprinkle with cocoa powder or icing sugar for a fancy touch just before serving, or wrap in wax paper if you’re packing them for lunches/snacks/picnics, or just bring a container of them to work (as I did) and watch them disappear.

They’re pretty delicious, aren’t they? I was told by a co-worker that the consensus was that from now on, I have to bring at least three servings per person whenever I bring any baked goods to work. I’ll take that as a compliment. 🙂

These whoopie pies are easily customizable, obviously. Switch up the fillings! Wouldn’t some vanilla-orange buttercream with flecks of orange zest be delicious in these? Or perhaps stirring in a bit of leftover mince-meat with some vanilla buttercream for yet another #wastenotwantnot taste adventure?

I mean, cookies and buttercream. How can you go wrong?

Next Post: Memories of (Lunchtime) Meals Past, or my grandmother’s Chocolate Vla (Pudding) recipe. Should I go healthy or nostalgic? Vote in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

Easy Christmas Peppermint Patties and Why I Had to (Obvs) Make a Second Batch

So good there were only a few left to photograph. But it was all quality control, I tell you!

So good there were only a few left to photograph. But it was all quality control, I tell you!

I sometimes wonder whether I put the word ‘easy’ in front of too many of my recipes. But the thing is…they really ARE easy! Except for today’s recipe, which EXTRA-SUPER-DUPER easy! Also extra-super-duper yummy! What is this easy and delicious treat, you ask? Christmas-themed Peppermint Patties!

The patties themselves are made up of only 3 ingredients, and if you want to dip them in chocolate, well, that’s just one ingredient more. How to make this 4-ingredient candy? That is no-bake and so easy that a child could make these patties? Read on, dear readers!

EASY CHRISTMAS PEPPERMINT PATTIES

For the peppermint patties:

  • 1 1/4 c. icing sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract, to taste

For chocolate-covered peppermint patties:

  • 1 c. chocolate melting wafers

For Christmas Tree Peppermint Patties

  • a scant handful of white chocolate melting wafers
  • multi-coloured sprinkles

Kitchen Hack Alert! If you don’t have chocolate melting wafers lying around, but do have some chocolate chips lying around, there’s a substitution you can do by adding one more ingredient! Sign up for my mailing list (the banner at the top of the page or at the top right of the page) to get my free e-book entitled “This for That: Easy Swaps and Substitutions”. You’ll find the secret ingredient for turning chocolate chips into chocolate coating in the e-book! (Have I mentioned that it’s free? Yes? Good. ‘Cause it’s free!)

Make the ‘dough’: mix the icing sugar with the melted and cooled butter and the peppermint extract. It will slowly form a ball of ‘dough’. Roll out the peppermint dough on a cool surface dusted with icing sugar. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place these shapes on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. Place in freezer to firm up and get really cold.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate wafers in a microwave-proof mug in…you guessed it, the microwave. Use 30 second bursts to check and see if it is melted yet. When it is almost all melted, take it out and stir it with a spoon until fully melted.

Using a fork, place the now frozen peppermint patty on the fork, and dip into the melted chocolate. Lift out of the chocolate, tap the fork on the edge of the cup to get off any excess, and place back on the parchment paper lined cookie tray. Repeat for all peppermint patties, and return sheet to freezer to set up the chocolate.

To decorate the tree, melt some white chocolate melts in a plastic bag in the microwave (a strong plastic bag, as a thin one will melt), snip off the end, and pipe a back and forth design on the peppermint patty. While still wet, sprinkle with multi-coloured ball sprinkles. Return to freezer to set-up. And…you’re done!

Give to family and friends and place on holiday cookie trays, and revel in the praise that will come your way when they bite into it (“Omg, so perfectly melty!” It really does melt in my mouth!” You made these? No, really? Wow!”).

Honestly, it’s seriously super-duper easy. If you don’t want to mess about with dipping them in chocolate, a 4-year-old could make these. Even if you’re not a baker or a cook, YOU could make these! Just don’t dip them in chocolate, and instead sprinkle crushed candy canes on top. Bam, you’ve made Christmas!

I made these and as you can see, only a few actually made it to the photo session. The rest happily reside in my tummy. The DH saw how I packaged the one up above, and asked for some for his office. So, another batch should be coming up shortly! (I still insist on dibs when it comes to quality control!)

Next Post: Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy-Cane Frosting, Two Ways. Because um, yum!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Apple Speculaas Crumble, and How to Rescue a Cake-Wreck

speculaas-apple-crumble-with-banner

Have you ever heard of CakeWrecks? People post pictures of cakes gone wrong, whether it’s a bad icing job, or a cake that never rose. (Personally, I prefer PinterestFail.) Today, however, I managed to a) bake a cake wreck and then b) rescue said cake.

How? Ah, read on, dear reader!

This week, my bake-a-long group is baking Apple Speculaas Crumble from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. As I have some Dutch heritage (what, my last name didn’t give it away?), as soon as I read the title of the recipe, I was excited! Speculaas is the Dutch version of ginger cookies, delicately spiced, and buttery-rich. To bite into it is to love it. I grew up eating these cookies, whether they were purchased from our local Dutch food importer, or sent in a Christmas package from relatives. I even have a Speculaas cookie mold on display in my bookstand! (Because where else would you display a cookie mold, but in a bookstand? I mean, really!)

In the last few years, it seems like the cookie is everywhere, albeit under the name of Biscoff, and often in jarred spread form. I’ve never tasted it, but I know the spread has its own following and has inspired many a baker. It’s supposed to taste all deliciously spicy and buttery with caramel notes. Eh, I’ll stick with the cookie proper!

But how does speculaas relate to my cakewreck? Well…I wanted to bake a cake for the DH to take into his work this week. I had the day off today (thank goodness, as I had an IBS attack yesterday at work and needed a day to recover) and decided today was the day. I made a sherry cake (this recipe) using some almond cream sherry that I had sitting around. I didn’t have a cake mix, as the recipe calls for, because I try to reduce my consumption of processed foods, so I made my own homemake cake mix instead (this recipe). The batter? Was odd. Too granular, for one, and just…not right. Oh, and did I mention that I was two eggs short? I didn’t have any ground flax seed to turn into a flax egg, so I just crossed my fingers and tossed it all into the pan. Oh, and I misread the instructions and mixed the streusel right into the batter.

Needless to say, it did not turn out. It baked up beautifully in the bundt pan, and when I turned it out on the cooling rack, it was gorgeously golden and fragrant, but after it cooled, I sliced it…and had to use a bread knife to get through that now hardened caramelized crust. Only to find that the centre hadn’t set. Ugh!

I tasted a crumb. It tasted exactly like speculaas! Ah, sweet serendipity! Because this apple crumble was next on my baking list. I scooped out the unrisen insides (I thought about keeping them for a speculaas-flavoured cake pop, but nixed that idea when I realized I had run out of freezer space), tossed the golden, crunchy cake rind in the blender, and blended up that baby!

Apples and cranberries and cookies, oh my!

Apples and cranberries and cookies, oh my!

Those crumbs? Turned out fantastic! I’ve now got two sandwich bags of speculaas-flavoured cake crumbs in my freezer, which I will use in the future to make a gingersnap-style cheesecake crust, and I used the rest of the crumbs in the apple crumble.

The apple crumble is just apples tossed with some dried fruit/nuts (I left out the nuts) and sugar, and then topped with a mixture of butter and crumbled speculaas cookie. Or in my case, butter and crumbled cake rind.

As I type this, my apple crumble in baking in the oven, filling the condo with a deliciously seasonal scent. Oh why is it not ready yet?!?

The verdict: As a replacement for actual speculaas cookies, my cake crumbles were perfect! As for the apple crumble…I prefer my own award-winning recipe. Dorie’s version is still delicious though — I plan to bring it into my work tomorrow. I expect it will disappear quite quickly!

Next Post: Those lentil sprouts! They have sprouted, and are about to be eaten in an effort to balance out my cake crumb consumption. Stay tuned!