Category Archives: Breads, Baked & Sweets

Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup

FallMarketFirst day of Fall is upon us and that usually means a shift in energy, mood, activities, clothing and food.  In my home we are well on our way transitioning out from Summer BBQ’d salmon, grilled veggies and salads to meals of soup, stew and chilli.  I’ve been keeping this blog collection of my recipes for a few years now and the trend I’ve noticed is that I don’t post as much in the Summer months, in part that is because I eat really simple foods which don’t require much creative planning but, it’s also because I’m outside enjoying the beautiful weather.  There is something about the darker months that invokes a need to nest, thus, moving my creative side indoors to the kitchen.

229654779_9d8cb7d3c6So far we have had a few Fall meals that are staples for me and already posted here but, I have one new soup that I just created to share:  Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup, which was inspired by a little bout of the cough and sniffles that I really didn’t want to let turn into a full blown cold and garlic, is well known for its healing, immune boosting properties.  Conveniently, my neighborhood corner grocery store often has a great selection of local and organic produce and has brought in a huge lot of beautiful looking organic garlic bulbs that, I not only bought a large bag of but, used to plant in my garden too!

roasted garlic 028This recipes is quick and easy to make aside from the process of roasting and then peeling 60 cloves of garlic, I’m not going to go into too much detail on that today, basically I just roasted, allowed to cool enough so I could handle the cloves and then hand squeezed as much as I could out of the skins, nothing too complicated but, Google I’m sure, can offer some good methods for roasting and extracting garlic.  My only request is that you use an Organic Garlic and suggest you go with a larger bulb simply for ease. Also, of note, I used Goat Butter and Yogurt here but it’s perfectly fine if you want to use  Cow Butter and Sour Cream if that’s what you prefer but do go organic.   I served this soup with some home-made rye croutons and it was a huge hit.  In case you’re wondering, I beat that looming cold in a matter of days with healthy foods, sleep, lots of lemon water, tea and a quality Vitamin C/Vitamin D/Probiotic.  Hopefully you all have a happy healthy Fall!

Now for the recipe…..

Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup
Oven 350 degrees
Medium heavy bottomed soup pot
Food processor or blender
60          Organic Garlic Cloves (approximately 6 to 10 bulbs depending)
2-3         tablespoons Organic Butter  or Coconut Oil (I use Goat Butter)
2             large Sweet White Onions, diced
3             tablespoons fresh Thyme, chopped
2             cup Organic Broth
1              Bay Leaf
Bunch   Italian Parsley stems removed, chopped
Sea Salt and White Pepper
3/4         cup Greek Goat Yogurt

First step is to roast your garlic bulbs, this can be done in advance or if you’re super pressed for time, Whole foods sells roasted garlic cloves in oil at their self-serve pesto/olive bar.  I have not tried their garlic but I do trust the quality.  I roast garlic at 350 degrees, tops chopped off, drizzled in olive oil and wrapped in tin foil and just watch for doneness but again, Google is a good source for accurate methods here.   Once you’ve got your roasted garlic ready to go you can start….

Sweat the onions in the butter on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes being careful not to burn.  Add fresh thyme and roasted garlic then sauté for a few more minutes, stirring to incorporate.

Add broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Reduce and simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced just a little.

Remove bay leaf.

Transfer to blender or food processor and add parsley.  Blend till smooth.  Add Yogurt, pulse some more and return to pot.

Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve with your favourite crusty bread or croutons.

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Macadamia Nut Pie – Gluten and Dairy Free

MacadamianutpieTwo months without a post! Turns out two holidays in two months makes for a happy, rested, tanned me but almost zero kitchen time. Happy to be back refreshed and eating my way again. Since I just returned from Hawaii I thought I share this healthier twist on a traditional Macadamia Nut Pie. I brought home a few bags of nuts so I think I’ll make this one again soon =) Enjoy!

Oven to 325°F
9 inch pie crust
Medium bowl:
1/2     cup Coconut Sugar
1/2     cup Coconut Syrup
3          large Organic Eggs
3          tablespoons Organic Unsalted Butter, melted
2          teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 1/4 cups Roasted Unsalted Macadamia Nuts, chopped (reserve some to top with)

Whisk sugar, syrup, eggs, butter and vanilla in large bowl.

Fill pie crust with nuts then pour pie mixture over nuts.

Bake pie until center puffs slightly, about 55 minutes.

Serve with vegan whipped topping, or coconut ice cream and top with more chopped nuts.

Gluten-free Almond Hazelnut Biscotti

wpid-20140303_224719.jpgHere is another nut milk pulp recipe, I have always wanted to work out a gluten-free biscotti recipe and since I often have left over nut milk pulp on hand I am thrilled that I was able to make this recipe work using that.  Unfortunately I will have to get back to you on a gluten-free biscotti recipe without the left over pulp, I suspect it will work using Almond Flour too but again I’ll need to experiment.  These turned out great, can’t wait to share them, also looking forward to having one with a coffee tomorrow.  Yum!

Oven 350 degrees
Parchment paper lined baking sheet
Electric mixer
Large bowl:
2              cups Almond and Hazelnut Pulp (from making milk)
1/2         cup Sorghum Flour
1/2         cup Millet Flour
1/4         cup ground Flax
1              teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2         teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2         teaspoon Xanthan Gum
Medium bowl:
1/2         cup Coconut Sugar
1/2         cup Cane Sugar
1/2         cup Butter or Coconut Oil, room temp (I use Goat Butter)
2              Eggs
1              teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1              teaspoon Almond Extract
Zest       of one Lemon
1              cup Slivered Almonds and Chopped Hazelnuts, toasted*

*Toast the slivered almonds and chopped hazelnuts for about 10 minutes as the oven is warming

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix then add the nut pulp and mix again.

In a medium bowl, cream together sugars and butter/oil with an electric mixer.  Add eggs, mix, extracts and zest and mix more.

Add wet to dry and mix some more to form a heavy dough then, hand stir in the toasted nuts.

Divide dough into two pieces.  Using your parchment paper, form and roll each piece into logs almost as long as your cookie sheet. Transfer the logs and parchment paper onto the baking sheet and arrange the rolls side by side. Gently press the rolls down ever so slightly so they are approximately 1 inch thick tall.

wpid-20140303_170845.jpgBake for 30 to 35 minutes until just golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cutting board. When the rolls are set and cool enough to handle, carefully, with a sharp knife, slice crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.

Arrange the slices back on the baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for an additional 10-15 minutes on each side. Slices should be lightly browned and not too moist.

Makes approximately 24 biscotti.  If they soften, crisp or reheat them in a toaster/oven before serving.

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Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies – (GF, DF, Vegan)

download (1)Having a bit of a hazelnut fest here, made a batch of hazelnut milk yesterday and will be working on a gluten-free hazelnut biscotti recipe with the pulp later this week but for now you can have this chocolately, gooey, delicious little cookie recipe inspired by a Nuttella loving little guy I worked with this weekend. Who doesn’t love the combo of chocolate and hazelnuts and I LOVE chocolate, particularly really dark chocolate.   I always have 99% Unsweetened Calbert on hand and use it to make my own chocolates, in smoothies or whatever, but, for this recipe feel free to use any chocolate you love.  Choose a quality bar and simply chop it up, the darker to better for you but I think with all the other healthy ingredients in these cookies you can afford to have the chunks be a little not so healthy 😉

Oven 350 degrees
Baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Medium Bowl

1              tablespoon Ground Flax OR Ground Chia mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1/4         cup Coconut Oil
1/4         cup Hazelnut Butter
1/3         cup Coconut Sugar
1/3         cup Cane Sugar
2              teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Use a hand blender to mix well then add dry:
1.5          cups Gluten-free Oat Flour
3              tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1/2         teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2         teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2         teaspoon Sea Salt
1-2          teaspoons Hazelnut, Almond or other non-dairy Milk
1/2         cup Dark Chocolate, chopped
1/2         cup Hazelnuts, lightly roasted, skins rubbed off and chopped
1/4         cup Raw Cacoa Pieces *optional

First mix together ground flax or chia (this is your egg replacer) and water and set aside for 5 minutes.  Then, add the rest of the wet ingredients and with a hand mixer, mix until smooth.

Add dry ingredients.  Mix again.  Add milk just to moisten up a bit if necessary. The dough is sticky, much like a peanut butter cookie.

Add chopped chocolate, roasted, skin removed, chopped hazelnuts and raw cacoa pieces if using and then use a wooden spoon to incorporate.

Divide into 12 batter balls, shape and slightly flatten with a spoon.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt then bake for 12-15 minutes.

Cool on a rack.wpid-20140302_082651.jpg

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

wpid-storageemulated0PhotoEditor2014-02-21-20.48.12.png.pngCrispy golden crust and bottom with a soft and chewy center and its gluten-free, you’re going to love this recipe and, definitely not miss the gluten or wheat flour!  This recipe makes two 12 inch or one thick 16 inch crust, I have a pizza stone and haven’t tried to make this just on a pan, but I’m sure a heavy bottom one would work fine, just watch for over browning.   I don’t like to eat much dairy either so I often top my pizza with goat cheese or buffalo mozzarella but make it however you desire!

Oven 425 degrees
Oiled Pizza Stone
Large Bowl or Food Processor with paddle attached
1/2         cup White Rice Flour
1/2         cup Potato Starch
1/3         cup Millet Flour
1/3         cup Sorghum flour
1/4         cup Tapioca flour
1              teaspoon Xantham Gum
1              teaspoon fine Sea Salt
Small sauce pan
1/2         cup Whole Goat Milk
1/2         cup Water
One package or 2 1/4 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
2             teaspoons Cane Sugar
Small bowl
2             large Egg Whites, lightly beaten
2             tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Combine dry ingredients well.

In small saucepan over medium heat, stir together milk water and heat until warm but not hot,  then, add in yeast and sugar and let sit for a few moments.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk egg whites and 2 tablespoons oil then combine everything in a food processor on medium for about one minute or until a dough ball forms. You can do this by hand too.

Now, transfer to a larger bowl, split dough in half and cover with a tea towel in a warm, draft free spot for 20 minutes to rise.

Bake for  7-9 minutes.  Note:  at this point you can freeze your crust to use another time!

Remove and top then return to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until toppings are cooked and crust is golden brown.  May reduce the oven temperature here if needed.

Crackers – Gluten-free, Grain-Free, Paleo Friendly and Healthy!

Finally…..Crackers! Gluten free, healthy, easy, delicious CRACKERS!   I’ve been working on this post for a while, (going a little cracker crazy as of late) I always make my own crackers by throwing what I know works together but not always so good at writing down what I’ve done.  Below is a few different versions and variations I have managed to keep track of, they have been tried, re-tried, tested and are now ready to share as I’d say some of my fav’s! These recipes are for almond flour and pulp crackers, juice pulp crackers, nut and oat crackers. Check back for more recipes to follow later as new versions get tried and please, get creative, I’d love to hear of your versions!

Almond Pulp Crackers

These crackers made with almond flour or almond milk pulp (more on that in a minute) are highly nutritious, gluten and flour free and very tasty.  They’re addicting so you might want to double your batches.

The first recipe is made with Almond Pulp after making Almond Milk.  You can find that recipe HERE.  These are actually my personal favourite of all the crackers I’ve made below, I love that the pulp isn’t being wasted and the texture of the cracker is perfect!  They are dehydrated in the over.  Of course, if you have a dehydrator please use it but if you oven goes as low as 130 degrees you can use it just the same.

Savoury Herbed Almond Pulp Crackers

Oven to 130 degrees
Baking Sheet lined with parchment paper
Large Mixing bowl
3               cup almond pulp (packed full)
¼             cup Chia Seed, ground (or flax seed meal or both)
¼             cup Oil – Olive, Grapeseed, Sunflower or Coconut
1                teaspoon Sea Salt
¼              cup Nutritional Yeast (or more to taste)
3                tablespoons Mixed Herbs: Thyme, Basil, Parsley, Marjoram, Oregano, Savory

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Roll into a ball and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet then use your hands to flatten into ¼ inch thickness.  Score desired cracker shape lines.

Dehydrate at 130 degrees for approximately 12 hours or till desired consistency is reached (Softer or crunchier cracker).

Grain-Free Cheesy Herb Cracker Recipe

Oven to 350 degrees
Baking Sheet lined with parchment paper
Large Mixing bowl

2              cups Almond Flour (or pulp from making Almond Milk)
1              teaspoon Baking Soda
1              teaspoon Roasted Garlic, minced
1              teaspoon of Dried Onion, minced
2              teaspoons Italian Herbs: Basil, Marjoram, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Savory, Oregano
1/2         teaspoon Turmeric or Paprika (flavour, health and colour)
1              teaspoon of fine Mineral Salt
1              teaspoon Coconut Sugar
1              cup 12 Month Manchego Sheep Cheese, very finely grated (I used a microplane grater)
2              tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4              tablespoons Water
1               Egg White, beaten

Combine the ingredients in bowl and stir until a moist, sticky dough forms. Use water and/or oil as needed.

Taste test to adjust your seasonings, I always do!

Roll out dough between parchment paper to desired thickness or ¼ inch thick.

Transfer to baking sheet and make cut lines with a knife or pizza cutter for your crackers shapes.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the dough is set and golden.

Remove and cool. When the dough has cooled, finish the cutting or break apart if possible.

The crackers will be tender and breakable while they are warm. Allow them to cool completely before handling.

These crackers are not super crisp, kind of like a flat bread almost, if you want a drier cracker, use the oven as a dehydrator for 4-6 hours.

Toasted Onion and Garlic Sesame Crackers

Large baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Large bowl
Medium bowl
1 ½        cups Almond Flour
1              teaspoons  Sea Salt
1              tablespoon Onion Powder
1              tablespoon Garlic Powder
½            cup Sesame Seeds
1              tablespoon Grapeseed Oil
Few dashes of Toasted Sesame Oil
1              Egg, whisked until frothy

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and stir.

In a small bowl whisk together oil and egg then add to dry, mix well.

Press and roll dough to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick between parchment paper.

Using a knife or pizza cutter, shape your crackers and transfer to lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.  If a crisper cracker is desired follow with drying in the oven at low temp of 130 until crisper, approximately 4-6 hours.

Rosemary Fig Crackers

1 ½         cups Almond Flour
½            teaspoon Himalayan Sea Salt
1               tablespoon Rosemary, minced
4              dried Black Figs, chopped
1               Egg
1               tablespoon Olive Oil

In a large bowl stir together almond flour, salt, rosemary and figs.

In a small bowl mix egg and olive oil until well combined then add to medium bowl.  Mix well.

Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper until approximately 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick.

Cut dough with a knife or pizza cutter into desired crack shape and size.

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. If a crisper cracker is desired follow with drying in the oven at low temp of 130 until crisper, approximately 4-6 hours

Cranberry Orange Pecan Crackers

1 ½         cups Almond Flour
¼             cup Pecans, chopped
¼             cup dried Juice Sweetened Cranberries
1               Orange, zested
½             teaspoon Himalayan Sea Salt
1               teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
1               Egg
1               tablespoon Olive Oil

In a large bowl stir together everything except the egg and oil.

In a small bowl mix egg and olive oil until well combined then add to medium bowl.  Mix well.

Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper until approximately 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick.

Cut dough with a knife or pizza cutter into desired crack shape and size.

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. If a crisper cracker is desired follow with drying in the oven at low temp of 130 until crisper, approximately 4-6 hours

Juicer Pulp Crackers

These crackers are made from the pulp left over from juicing.  It’s nice to use some of that fibrous cast off rather than throwing it to the worms all the time.

3              cups Juice Pulp from juicing (carrot, beet, celery, cucumber, spinach, kale, parsley ect)
½             cup ground Flaxseed and Chia seeds (either or both)
¼             cup Nutritional Yeast
¼             cup fresh chopped herb like Cilantro, Parsley or Basil
1               teaspoon Sea Salt
½             teaspoon Paprika
½             teaspoon Onion Powder
½             teaspoon Garlic Powder
*Optional Chilli Pepper spice to taste

Mix all ingredients well in a food processor.  You can do this by hand instead. Add water if needed; I usually find that I don’t need any especially with cucumber and celery pulp, which is moist but if the mixture isn’t sticking together at add water.

Spread mixture on a parchment paper lined baking sheet about a 1/4 inch thickness. Score into cracker-sized squares, and dehydrate at 130 degrees for a couple hours.  Check and break apart, flip and return to finish. Probably another two hours or so but keep flipped every so often to get even drying.

Oat Crackers

These are my take on the old Scotch Oat Cakes, they are nice with jam or a nut butter and honey on top and go great with a tea!

Oven to 350
Food Processor
Medium Bowl
Small Pot
2              cup GF Oats, pulsed in a food processor until coarsely ground (or use quick oats)
1/2         cup Steel Cut Oats, pulsed in a food processor until coarsely ground
1/2         cup Oat Flour
1/4         teaspoon Baking soda
1/4         teaspoon Sea Salt
3/4         cup Water
1               tablespoon Butter
1               tablespoon Maple Syrup or Honey

Combine oatmeal, baking soda, and salt in bowl.

Heat water and butter until butter melts, remove from heat and add maple.

Pour into the center of the oatmeal mix and mix well.

Drop dough on a piece of parchment paper and roll out to about ¼ – 1/8 inch thick.  You can do this between two pieces of parchment paper or with a dusting of oat flour.

Now cut or use a cutter to make desired cracker shape and size.  I used a small jar.

Place crackers on parchment paper lined baking sheet (I just used the same sheet I had for rolling).

Dust with Sea Salt.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping them over every five minutes or so to ensure even baking.

When done, they’ll be crisp and just barely turning golden.   Note: They will continue to firm up as they cool.

Multi- Nut and Seed Crackers

½             cup Almond Flour
½             cup Macadamia Nuts
¼             cup Pumpkin Seeds
2               tablespoons Sunflower Seeds
2               tablespoons Sesame Seeds
2               tablespoons Hemp Seeds
1               tablespoon Golden Flaxmeal
1               tablespoon Chia, ground
½             teaspoon Mineral Salt
1               tablespoon Oil
¼             cup Water

In a food processor, pulse almond flour and macadamias until ground then add in

seeds, flax meal, ground chia and salt until almost fully ground but not to a fine flour.

Add oil and then water gradually until dough ball forms in the food processor.

Roll out dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper to ¼ inch (or desired) thickness then score into desired cracker shapes.

Bake at 275° for 25 to 30 minutes or dehydrate at 130 degrees for 6-8 hours (until crisp).

Gluten-free Pumpkin Goat Cheese Cake

SONY DSCThis recipe is amazing.  I had never made a cheese cake before let alone attempted a goat cheese and gluten-free one and to be honest I was pretty nervous as botching it would mean wasting A LOT of pricey ingredients, not to mention I made it for my first try the night before a dinner party but since I am here posting it obviously it was a success!   I have had no issue in the past making traditional dairy recipes with coconut milk so I was confidently hopeful it would work here too and it did.  I made this one another time with goat yogurt and milk and it turned out great too! If using coconut milk I suggest full fat thick coconut milk and even draining off the separated liquid, you can find thickened coconut cream at some health food store which would work beautifully but it’s not necessary.  The only other detail worth mentioning is whether you decide to use a “water bath” or not.  I’ve now made this recipe both ways, the water bath method worked and the cake was very moist but the bake time was unbelievably lengthy, I honestly lost track but it was well over an hour and a half in my oven.  The cake turned out without a water bath too but it did crack.  Maybe do some further research yourself and decide which way you want to go. For the crust I bought one box of gluten-free Graham Crackers and one box of Mary’s Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps from Whole foods and combined at about a 2/3rds Graham to 1/3 Ginger Snap but honestly you can’t go wrong anyway here, use both or one or the other, doesn’t really matter.  My guests consisted of a man I planned to impress, a very dear friend and fellow health foodie, her partner, a cheese loving, health foodie skeptic and their young daughter who said “seriously I don’t even usually  like cheese cake but this one, with the pumpkin I love!”.  All thoroughly enjoyed this cake and they even took the left overs home with them.  I served it with a dollop of a vegan whipped topping mixed with cinnamon.  Seriously Delicious.

A springform pan (with removable side and bottom) is the most commonly used pan for making cheesecakes
Large Sheet Tin Foil  (if doing a water bath *see below)
Second Large Baking Pan

Graham Cracker Pie Crust:
1.5          cups gluten-free Graham Cracker/Ginger Snap Crumbs, finely ground
1              tablespoon Coconut Sugar
5              tablespoons melted unsalted Butter or Coconut Oil, melted
Cake:
1.5          lbs or 24 ounces of un-ripened soft Goat Cheese, room temp
3/4         cup Coconut Sugar
1/4         Raw Cane Sugar
1              cup/can Pumpkin Puree (make your own or store-bought), room temp
1              cup full fat Coconut Milk, cold  (or 3/4 cup Greek Goat Yogurt and 1/4 cup Goat’s Milk, also cold)
5              large Eggs, room temp
1              teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1              teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4         teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/2         teaspoon ground Ginger
1/4         teaspoon ground Clove
1/8         teaspoon ground All Spice
1/8         teaspoon ground Cardamom
1/2         teaspoon Sea Salt

For the Crust

Oven 325 degrees. Wrap a 9-inch springform pan twice with aluminum foil (preferably heavy-duty). Take care to pull the foil all the way up the sides so that water cannot seep in from the water bath. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan with coconut oil. Pulse the crackers (or crumbs) and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times to combine. Dump the moistened crumbs into the prepared pan and, using a measuring cup or glass, press into an even layer. Bake until fragrant and set, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

For the Filling

Bring about 2 litres of water to a simmer in a kettle (this will be used for the water bath). In a small, heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputter, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until thick, bronzed and shiny. Scrape the mixture into a large food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 1 minute.

With the motor running, add the cold coconut cream then the goat cheese (cut into chunks) and process for about 30 seconds, scraping the sides if necessary, or until smoothly incorporated.

Add the eggs and process for about 5 seconds or just until incorporated (do not over mix!).

Set the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour the batter into the cooled crust, and then pour enough boiling water into the large roasting pan to come about halfway up side of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is just set, about 1-1 1/2 hours. If it jiggles, it’s not done.

Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and set on a wire rack. Use a paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil and set on a wire rack. Continue to cool at room temperature until barely warm, about 3-4 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

CHEESECAKE TIPS

1) A springform pan (with removable side and bottom) is the most commonly used pan for making cheesecakes.

2) Avoid over-beating the batter. Over-beating incorporates additional air and tends to cause cracking on the surface of the cheesecake.

3) For even marbling and the best distribution of added ingredients, such as chocolate chips or nuts, do not over-soften or over-beat the cream cheese.

4) Avoid over-baking: Cheesecake baking times are not always exact, due to variations in ovens. The cheesecake will continue to bake after it is removed from the oven. The center of the cheesecake should be just slightly moist when it is ready to be removed.

5) Upon removal from the oven, loosen the cake from the edge of the pan by running the tip of a knife or narrow spatula between the top edge of the cake and the side of the pan. This allows the cake to pull away freely from the pan as it cools.

6) Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack away from drafts.

7) After a cheesecake has cooled completely, gently loosen the entire side of the cheesecake from the pan with the tip of a knife while slowly releasing the springform pan clamp. Carefully remove the side of the pan.

8) Baked cheesecakes freeze well. Cool them completely and wrap them securely in heavy-duty foil or plastic wrap, but do not freeze cheesecakes with garnishes or toppings.

PREVENTING SURFACE CRACKS

The most common complaint is cracking that develops through the middle of the cheesecake during or after baking.

Bake the cheesecake in a water bath (instructions below) to keep the oven moisture high and the heat gentle.

Don’t overbake the cheesecake. When perfectly done, there will still be a two to three-inch wobbly spot in the middle of the cheesecake; the texture will smooth out as it cools.

Cheesecake will shrink as it cools. Generously greasing the sides of the baking pan before pouring in batter will allow the cake to pull away from the pan as it cools and shrinks instead of pulling apart from the middle.

Cheesecakes have a tendency to crack, but they don’t have to. This favorite American dessert can have a cracked surface for a number of reasons. One cause is air trapped inside the batter – a result of over-mixing. Once in the oven, the air bubble expands and wants to escape from the cake. As it finds its way out of the top of the cake, it creates a crack or crevice in the cake’s surface. Another cause of a cracked surface is a drastic temperature change.

How to avoid cracks then? Be sure to mix your cheesecake batter well, eliminating all possible lumps in the cream cheese BEFORE you add the eggs. It is the eggs that will hold air in the batter, so add them last, and mix as little as possible once they are in the mix.

Also, be sure to cook your cheesecake gently. Use a water bath – wrap the bottom of your springform pan in aluminum foil and place it in a larger pan with water in it, just halfway up the outside of the springform pan. This will allow the cheesecake to cook more slowly and evenly.

Finally, cook your cheesecake slowly – at 325º F. After about 45 minutes, turn your oven off and leave the cheesecake inside the turned off oven for another hour. Cool at room temperature with a plate or cookie sheet inverted over the cheesecake to slow the cooling. Only then can you refrigerate the cake, which you will need to do for another 6 hours at least.

If after all this, you still have a crack, make a topping or a sauce for your cheesecake, and tell all your guests that you intentionally made a special crack in the top of the cake to hold more sauce!

ready-to-bake-in-water-bath” Water Bath ” For Baking Cheesecakes

A “water bath” is a method that will help keep your cheesecake from cracking while baking.

Instructions For Water Bath

First, take heavy aluminum foil, and wrap it around sides and bottom of your springform pan or cheesecake pan with removable bottom. This prevents leakage while baking your cheesecake.

Place your springform pan or cheesecake pan (filled with cheesecake batter and crust) into a larger deep baking pan* that it will fit into easily.

*Note: The larger pan should be at least 2-3 inches in depth.

Place in pre-heated oven. With a kettle filled with very hot water, pour water into the larger pan about halfway up, or approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

Bake cheesecake as directed. When cheesecake is done, remove springform pan or cheesecake pan (if using) from “water bath” in oven. Carefully remove larger pan with water in it from oven. It will be very hot. Discard water when it has cooled.

Remove aluminim foil from sides and bottom of pan after your cheescake has cooled completely in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to release sides of springform pan, or remove cheesecake from a cheesecake pan with removable bottom (if using) and cheescake has cooled in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight; this is the best time to remove aluminum foil.