Baked Chocolate Cheesecake – gluten free

It all started with the high price of gasoline. No, there’s no gas in the recipe, but this is where the thread begins.
We have the fuel saver program at our grocery store and I find myself sometimes purchasing items because I can get a nickel off each gallon of gas, rather than because I need the item. This was the case with ricotta cheese. I found myself with two packages that were approaching their expiration date. So one of them became this delicious dessert.

The picture looks like a brownie, but in fact, this is a baked chocolate cheesecake. I happened to have gluten-free graham crackers on hand, so the crust was gluten free. That was a bonus for my neighbor Karen, who has celiac and often does the taste tests for my GF recipes.

chocolate cheesecake

But even my other neighbors, Layton and Becky, who do not need gluten free, enjoyed the cheesecake blissfully unaware that it was GF.

I had created another chocolate cheesecake a year or so ago, but there were too many ingredients and steps. So I simplified it and we loved the result.

Makes an 8″ square pan, or 16 servings.
Graham cracker crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
4 TBS butter, softened

Filling Ingredients

15 oz ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup almond flour – sifted because it can be lumpy and no one wants lumpy cheesecake

Garnish – 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Blend graham cracker crust ingredients.
Press into 8″ square pan that has been greased with butter.

Filling: beat the ingredients in the order listed until smooth.
Pour them over the unbaked crust.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a crack forms on the top.

Pull cheesecake out of the oven and while very hot, sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips.
Put the cake back into the oven for one minute.
Pull out of the oven and spread the chips which will become a light frosting.

That’s it. Of course, you should wait until the cake is cooled to try it. Good luck with that!

I hope you have friends to share this with because it is very rich. Very very rich.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce

Springtime in the Midwest always includes rhubarb. And deer. One wondered into our backyard Saturday evening as we were having dinner. She looked at me as if she was asking where I keep the rhubarb.

Deer visitor

I do love rhubarb. As a small child we chewed on the raw stalks…after dipping them in sugar. Now I make jams, crisps, coffeecakes and sauces. I used to make a sauce with just rhubarb and a sugar substitute – a Weight Watchers recipe from the ’60′s. But it was too acidic alone and left a funny taste on my teeth.

strawberry rhubarb sauce

I tried adding in strawberries and using a bit of sugar. What a great find. Wonderful alone or over Greek yogurt, ice cream, frozen yogurt, cake or cottage cheese. You can also pour a bit over raw strawberries and add a dollop of yogurt on top.

sauce over angel food

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
1 cup cleaned rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1/2 cup sugar (you may also use Stevia or Truvia)
1 tbs lemon juice
dash salt

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and heat on medium-low on the stove.
It may appear dry at first, but as the fruit cooks, it will let go of it’s juices and become a sauce.
Slowly bring to a boil and boil about one minute.
Remove from heat. The sauce will thicken a bit as it cools.
Eat it warm or cool. Store left overs in the fridge.

more cake

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Baby Sea Turtle Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is an idea from the Dora the Explorer cookbook for kids. One year I gave each of my oldest four grandkids a cookbook for Christmas. Since then we occasionally have fun recreating recipes from them.

baby sea turtles

Sophia with Clare

First Communion Day

I was in Florida celebrating my granddaughter, Sophia’s 8th birthday and her first Communion. It was a wonderful time with Sophia, her sister, Clare and brother, Oliver, along with parents Isaac and Kara.

Clare and I made cupcakes for Sophia to bring to her class on her birthday. We used a basic frosting that I learned as a child and still love to make and then decorated them with M & M’s and gum drops. Snip the gum drops to use as the tails and use a full gum drop for the head of the turtle. So cute! The kids in Sophia’s class loved them!

Sophia and family

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 TBS butter
4 TBS cream cheese (low fat)
1 tsp almond extract
2 TBS milk
2-3 cups confectioners sugar
2 drops each – green and blue food coloring

Beat the ingredients, adding the sugar at the end.
Add more milk if it’s too stiff or more sugar if it’s too thin.

Use whatever cupcakes you like.

Oatmeal Walnut Cake with Broiled Coconut Frosting

The world’s gone mad, it seems. Crazy weather, violence, tragic accidents are all things we cannot control. When I feel as if my world is out of control, I bake something, using a recipe from long ago. Long before we lived in a world where cameras caught our every move and crazies lurked around every corner. No, food can’t soothe our anxious minds or feed our sense of security, but it can bring us back to a calmer place, if even for a few moments.

The scent of this cake will make you think of your grandmother, I’ll bet. The original recipe came from an old church cookbook my Grandma Zola gave me in 1976. I cut out some of the sugar and added a few extra ingredients to give it more fiber and flavor. It’s melt in the mouth goodness that you can easily whip up and enjoy with someone you love.
The cake is wonderful even without the frosting. It’s a moist and dense cake that you can alter by add other nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit of your choice.

baked cake without frosting

frosting before broiling

gooey after broiling

The frosting is rather thin as you spread it on the cake. After you broil it, it’s still gooey and it will thicken as it cools.

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup quick oats

3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 eggs
1 tsp soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped (optional)

Mix boiling water and oats in a saucepan and let them stand for 20 min.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
With a mixer, cream the butter and sugars
Add the eggs and beat until well blended.
Add flour, soda, cinnamon and salt.
Finally, add oatmeal and mix just until incorporated.
Fold in the walnuts and dates.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

coconut walnut frosting

Coconut Frosting
1/2 cup butter (one stick)
1/4 cup milk or half and half
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (or more, to taste)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut

oatmeal cake slice

Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until blended.
Heat just until the frosting starts to boil, then take it off the heat.

When the cake has finished baking, take it out of the oven and pour the frosting evenly over the cake.
Put the cake under the broiler for about a minute until it bubbles all over. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

It will be gooey, but that’s ok. You can poke a few holes in the cake with a fork after you’ve broiled the frosting to allow some of it to seep into the cake. The caramel frosting is a great pairing with the moist, nutty cake. The dates are optional, but if you love dates, don’t omit them.
Eat it warm or cooled. This cake is a classic, pure and simple.

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