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Chocolate + Baklava = "Choclava"

I came up with an easy impromptu dessert the other day that I just have to share with you.  I had a package of those mini phyllo shells in the freezer, some walnuts, and vegan chocolate chips.  Okay, so you probably see where this is heading…  “Why not combine the flavors and textures of baklava with chocolate?”  Why not, indeed!  The resulting mini tarts could only be called:  “Choclava.” 

The photo shows a few of the first batch I made, with the filling a little on the chunky side.  I made a second batch with the filling ingredients more finely ground, and I like it that way better.  You can see part of the box for the phyllo shells in the background — this one is Athens brand.  It’s vegan and this or another brand can be found in most supermarkets.  Since Mother’s Day is also Gary’s birthday (at least that’s when we celebrate it!) I placed my Gary mug in the photo, too.  Cute, huh?

Speaking of Mother’s Day, these little tarts would be fun to serve with a Mother’s Day brunch, since they’re not too sweet and they look adorable.  For more Mother’s Day brunch ideas, here’s the menu from Party Vegan: Fabulous Fun Food for Every Occasion:

Thanks Mom! Mother’s Day Brunch
Strawberry Carpaccio with Balsamic Syrup
Asparagus Quiche-me-Not
Tempeh Bacon Triangles
Chai-Spiced Muffins
Chocolate “Pots de Crème”
Go-withs: Mimosas, Bloody Marys, or favorite fruit juice; freshly brewed coffee or tea

(Hint: Party Vegan makes a great Mother’s Day gift!)

Here’s the recipe for the choclava tarts:
Choclava Mini-Tarts
The flavors and texture of baklava + chocolate = “choclava.”
3/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/3 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 package phyllo mini-tart shells
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, chocolate chips, agave, and cinnamon, and process until finely chopped and well combined. Fill the phyllo shells with the mixture, pressing gently with your finger to smooth the top. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool completely before serving.


More Amore…and cookbook giveaway reminder!

Before all these frilly hearts give you the wrong idea, let’s set the record straight. I’m really not much into Valentine’s Day — I just like playing with food. I love planning heart-shaped and/or red menus for February 14 much in the same way that I’m not Irish but I like to make soda bread and corned seitan and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day.

As promised, I want to share some more ideas for Valentines Day. I’ll be making the spicy menu in the previous post, but if you’d like something more fancy (think “seitan and puff pastry”), consider the special Valentine’s Day dinner menu in Party Vegan:

~Valentine Dinner for Two~
Chickpea-Artichoke Bites with Rosemary Aioli
Red Bliss Potato and Fennel Soup
Pastry-Wrapped Seitan with Spinach-Mushroom Duxelles
Heart-Beet Rosti
Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Balsamic Drizzle
Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

The dessert for both menus is the chocolate cheesecake you see in the photo. But it’s made with different toppings for each menu — the operative words in this dessert are “chocolate” and (vegan) “cheesecake” — but you can top it any way you like. Below is the recipe for the regular version, with cherries and toasted sliced almonds. If you can’t get enough chocolate, you could top it with chocolate curls and/or a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

If I had to choose another favorite V’day dinner idea (besides the seitan roulade and spicy comfort loaf, that is) it would be a heart-shaped vegan pizza. It’s easy and fun to make, and you can garnish it with different toppings to suit the theme: heart-shaped slices of vegan pepperoni, or maybe roasted red pepper strips that spell “I LUV U”, etc.

For an easy appetizer, make these tapenade hearts using a sheet of puff pastry, a small heart pastry cutter, and some storebought sun-dried tomato tapenade. (Sun-dried tomato tapenade makes a yummy pizza topping, too.)

As an alternative (and quick) but still special dessert, just scoop some vegan ice cream into pretty glasses and top with chocolate sauce or liqueur (I like Frangelico), toasted nuts and red berries. Now about that cheesecake…

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
The recipe is from Party Vegan by Robin Robertson © 2010 John Wiley and Sons. It makes one small cheesecake or two to three individual-sized cheesecakes.

3 tablespoons vegan margarine
1 to 1 1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I use Newman’s Own cookies and grind them in a food processor)
2/3 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
2 (8-ounce) containers vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup fruit-sweetened cherry jam
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
Fresh pitted cherries, for garnish
Chocolate curls (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan and set aside. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch springform pan and set aside.
2. Place the cookie crumbs in the prepared pan and drizzle in as much of the melted margarine as needed to moisten the crumbs, mixing with a fork to combine. Press the crumb mixture into bottom and sides of pan, and set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave and keep warm.
4. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, sugar, soy milk, and vanilla, and blend until smooth. Add the chocolate and blend until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared crust and spread it evenly. Bake until firm, about 40 minutes.
5. Turn off the oven and let the cake remain in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate several hours to chill completely.
6. When ready to serve, place the cherry jam in a small bowl and stir briskly until smooth. Spread the jam thinly over the top of the cheesecake. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top and garnish with fresh cherries. Top with chocolate curls, if using.

COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY REMINDER: Be sure to leave a comment at the end of the previous post to be entered in the giveaway to win a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice. As a little something extra, I’ll be including 2 coupons for FREE So Delicious products (including coconut milk and their yummy vegan ice cream). So, if you haven’t entered yet, do it NOW. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, February 14.