Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Celebrate!! With the best dessert ever!

I've got many things to celebrate today! First of all, this is my 100th post! Wow! I remember starting this blog more than 4 years ago, and am amazed that I found so much to write about.

Even more exciting, when I logged on tonight, I discovered I had a new follower! I know 30+ people subscribing to my blog isn't an overwhelming milestone, but it makes me happy. I started writing here so that I could share my experience with others, hopefully making their lives easier. I hope I've been able to do that for all of you. I appreciate your comments and all of your awesome blogs as well! You know I'm more interested in reading than writing, though I do occasionally manage to find something worthwhile to share here. Thanks for sticking around as I've improved on my gluten/dairy-free cooking, blogging and photography skills!

The last thing I want to celebrate today really is the best dessert I think I've had since discovering all my food issues (if not the best dessert I've ever had in my life...). And let me be clear. I love my desserts. And I've made and eaten quite a few good ones. This one, however, takes the cake! Or rather, the cheesecake (I know, I know, groan-worthy. I'm sorry...I had to!)

Feast your eyes on this beauty:

Pumpkin cheesecake with a caramel dulce de leche topping. Yep, it's as good as it sounds. When I was debating what to make for my birthday at the beginning of the month, I just kept coming back to this gorgeous photo, and the recipe attached. I took a poll, and this one was the one everyone suggested. So glad I tried it, and so were my friends and family! Even my cheesecake snobs and cheesecake dislikers enjoyed it!

I know this is super late for the Thanksgiving feast. If you've already got something lined up for the big day, I would recommend making it in a couple days, once everyone's had a chance to digest. They will thank you for it.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Dulce de Leche & Pecans
Gluten & Dairy Free

3/4 c crushed Cinnamon Chex (I used Rice Chex with a sprinkling of cinnamon)
1/2 c finely chopped/ground pecans
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 c butter substitute, melted (I used Earth Balance spread)

3/4 c white sugar
3/4 c pureed pumpkin (Check out this great post on easy crockpot cooking of your pumpkin, or you can always use the stuff from a can)
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese substitute (Tofutti was a winner!)
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp sour cream sub (Tofutti again. Original recipe called for whipped cream)
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract (recipe calls for 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp lemon extract, which I didn't have)
Dulce de Leche (for topping)**
Whole pecans (for topping)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Sprinkle into a 9-inch springform pan, pressing lightly until bottom of pan is covered.

Mix together 3/4 c white sugar, pumpkin, 3 egg yolks, spices and salt in a meidum bowl. Set aside.

Dump the cream cheese into a larger bowl. Beat w/ an electric mixer until light and fluffy (ish. Mine never got that fluffy). Slowly add 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp white sugar, and beat. Add egg, egg yolk, and sour cream; beat well again. Add the corn starch and vanilla. Beat once more until mixture becomes smooth.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the cream cheese mixture and mix well. Pour into the springform pan. Place pan on a cookie sheet lined with foil in case you have any leakage.

Bake cheesecake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes. Don't overbake it. The center will firm up when chilled. Once it's done, turn the oven off, and crack open the door. Leave cheesecake in the cooling oven for 1 hour (this helps prevent the top from cracking).

Once cooled, remove from oven. Cover and refridgerate until ready to dig in. Remove the pan siding (I didn't risk taking the cake off the bottom of the springform pan, so not sure how that would work), and decorate cheesecake with dulce de leche and pecans. (Just FYI, the dulce de leche will stick to anything you try and cover the cheesecake with. You may want to keep the pan siding around to place around the cake if you're covering and refridgerating w/ the topping on).

Serve, and enjoy the praise you will be receiving from those you deem worthy to partake with you in this heavenly experience.

**Dulce de Leche done dairy free

I followed this recipe from allrecipes.com, quartering the original measurements. It worked beautifully! This recipe takes about an hour to make (10 min for processing your own almond milk, and about 45 minutes of stirring to get the dulce de leche to the right consistancy). Read the comments below the recipe on allrecipes if you need help w/ making this.

Dairy Free Dulce de Leche

4 cups homemade almond milk (recipe here)
Approx. 1 tsp vanilla extract, or 1/4 vanilla bean
1 c plus 2 tbsp white sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda

In a large saucepan (yes, you do need to use a large one, b/c this stuff foams), bring the milk to a boil over medium-high heat (original recipe calls to strain at this point, but I found this an unncessary step, as there was nothing to strain in here).

Add vanilla, then stir in the sugar. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Just before the mixture begins to boil, stir in the baking soda.

Turn heat down to medium. Continue to stir constantly for the next 40-50 minutes, until the midxture thickens (grab a good book and a stool so you can sit by the stovetop). I figured mine was done when it resembled a caramel sauce that you would use on ice cream. Not too runny, but not too thick. Takes a minute to come back together when you divide it by running a spoon through it.

Remove from heat, and pour into glass or other heat-proof dish to cool. Once it's cooled a bit on the counter, cover and stick in the fridge to chill before using. Don't use on the cheesecake until the dulce de leche is totally cold.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (8 servings, supposedly, and just enough to top the cheesecake!).

P.S. Before you dunk that empty, caramely, sticky pan in some water to wash it out, put it back on the stove, add some almond milk, and warm it over med-low heat for a few minutes. Pour into your favorite coffee mug, and enjoy! Makes cleanup that much sweeter :D

P.P.S. This recipe is linked up to Linda @ The Gluten Free Homemaker's Gluten Free Wednesdays event! Check it out!

P.P.P.S. This recipe is also linked up to Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free's Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Diane @ The WHOLE Gang's Holiday Party, where she is giving away some great cookbooks, as well as Alex's The 12 Days of Bloggie-mas @ A Moderate Life.


Jeanine said...

Aw, I'm honoured that I helped inspire your choice! :) but you took it to a level I never could. Making it dairy free, bravo!! Looks fantastic, and makes me want to go stick a spoon in the jar of Dulce de Leche. :)

trishtator said...

Beautiful! You really rocked the dairy free - I almost think that's true talent, the gluten free with the dairy free added on top. It takes some real skill, and you've got it! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Stephanie said...

Thanks ladies! It really is a great recipe. Made it 2x for the thanksgiving crews and everyone loved it! I kinda cheated on the dairy free cheesecake (using soy cream cheese), but I was pretty stoked that the almond milk dulce de leche turned out so wonderfully!

Diane-The WHOLE Gang said...

Thank you for sharing this today on A Gluten-Free Holiday.

happiness is where it is said...

I can do dairy. Do you think regular cream cheese would work. Also I don't like pecans, do you have another suggestion for the crust?

Stephanie said...

@Happiness is where it is:
Yes, the original recipe calls for regular cream cheese! Go for it!
I would suggest finely chopped almonds for the crust. Maybe some slivered almonds on top too. Hope you enjoy :)

21st Century Housewife© said...

This sounds just lovely - and the spices are fantastic. It also looks just incredible - yum!

Melynda said...

I have found such inspiring recipes lately. Although I do not need to eat GF, with all the great recipes available, should the need arrive, I will be prepared. Thank you.