Pumpkin Cheesecake

Here it is! The recipe I’ve been working on these days, I couldn’t wait any longer to share it with all of you. Remember in my previous post that I told you I had another Halloween recipe? Well, I wanted to put it up this week too just in case you guys want to try them out, so you have plenty of days before Halloween to prepare them and be the best party host ever.
I missed cooking with pumpkin, it gives you such an endless amount of possibilities: muffins, rolls, cookies, loaf cakes, cheesecakes, smoothies, soups, etc.
This Pumpkin Cheesecake has the right amount of sweetness, a fresh citric touch that combines perfectly with all the spices I added and the hearty pumpkin addition. Most people like to use canned pumpkin for dessert recipes because it’s an easier, quicker way to satisfy your pumpkin cravings all year round. I prefer, though, to cook with fresh pumpkins because that way I am making a healthier choice…plus nothings beats the flavor of 100% natural pumpkin baked at home. That means that you’ll probably need to plan ahead and make the topping and the pumpkin puree a day before baking this cheesecake. I promise you the hours you’ll spend in the kitchen will pay off once you taste the first forkful, a heavenly pleasure! (or should I say ‘devilish’ because it’s Halloween? Hee hee).
Btw, how cool do these witches potions look?! My sister helped me out with the craft work and we felt like 21st century witches printing all those labels, creating the colors for the potions and buying all kind of fake bugs and spiders. After shooting the pictures for this recipe a lot of new ideas popped into my head (and I have so many unused Halloween stuff!)…this usually happens when I’m done with a new blog post but I will have to wait until next year!

Pumpkin Cheesecake
(makes one 8-inch/20cm cheesecake)

- For the base:
1 recipe cookie crust, click here.
- For the topping:
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped.
1/3 cup brown sugar.
1 tbsp vegan margarine.
- For the cake:
½ cup whole unroasted cashews, soaked overnight and drained.
¼ cup mashed banana, ripe.
14 ounces (enough with 380g) soft tofu, drained.
½ cup unrefined sugar.
1/3 cup brown sugar.
3 tbsp coconut oil, room temperature.
6 tsp cornstarch.
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice.
1 tsp grated tangerine zest.
¼ tsp fine sea salt.
1 ¼ cups baked pumpkin, pureed and drained.
¾ tsp ground cinnamon.
½ tsp ground nutmeg.
½ tsp ground ginger.

- Pumpkin puree:
First of all you need to bake the pumpkin. You’ll get plenty puree with a small 2-pound butternut pumpkin. Preheat oven to 425ºF (around 220ºC) and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the pumpkin in half, scooping out the seeds and cut it into medium size pieces. Bake for 45 minutes approximately until the flesh is very soft and you can easily insert a wooden stick through the pumpkin. Let cool and scoop out the flesh, mash it with a fork until it’s pureed and drain the excess liquid before measuring.
- Cookie crust:
Make the cookie crust as directed in my Blueberry Lime Cheesecake. Remember to let the crust cool completely before pouring in the filling.

- Topping:
In a mixing bowl mash together brown sugar and margarine with a silicone spatula until well combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts and mix well. Set aside.
- Filling:
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Blend together drained cashews, banana, tofu, sugar, brown sugar, coconut oil, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, tangerine zest and sea salt. Process until completely smooth and the batter looks homogeneous.
Set aside around 1/3 cup of the batter.
To the remaining batter, add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and blend until smooth. Pour this mixture onto the crust. Add random spoonfuls of the reserved batter onto the cheesecake. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, swirl the batter to create a marbled effect.

Sprinkle with the topping and bake for around 1 hour (do not overbake!).
Remove cake from the oven, keep it in its pan (a springform pan) and cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Remove it from the pan and transfer to the fridge to complete cooling, preferably overnight.
Store cake in the fridge.


Halloween Cookies

It’s that time of the year again: nights are drawing in, days are getting shorter and we are all craving for pumpkin, sweet potato and all those comforting and warm recipes. That means my favorite holiday of the year, Halloween, is right around the corner! I’m not a cold weather person but thinking about the recipes I’m going to prepare for the autumn-winter season and specially the Halloween ones makes me feel good. Cause I’m sure you’ll all agree with me on this: nothing feels better than enjoying some warm fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies, a pumpkin pound cake, a delicious homemade apple pie (and the list goes on!) when it’s chilly and rainy outside. I personally love to prepare a big bowl of popcorns and catch up on my favorite TV series (I’m so hooked on Once Upon a Time!).
Back to the Halloween subject, I love this holiday cause I let my imagination fly and try some funny and crazy new recipes. Even though it’s not as big and important as in the States, it’s such a great excuse to release my inner “Little Miss Spookiness” and cause some mischief. I’ve always had a soft spot for creepy, dark things…I mean, eerie and cute aren’t necessarily opposites (e.g. The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey).
I’ve had so much fun (well and some kitchen work too) this past weekend preparing this recipe, felt like a kid decorating the cookies and crafting.
The recipe is from the cookbook ‘Vegan Desserts, Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season’ by the sweet and talented Hannah Kaminsky. Honestly, it was hard to pick the first recipe to begin with this book cause they are all drool-worthy and very original. To make the choice a tad bit easier I went straight to the Autumn chapter and found the recipe for these Halloween Vegan Chocolate Cookies (Hannah’s original recipe is Black Cat Cookies). I made a few adaptations because I didn’t find black cocoa powder and also got some new cookie cutters so I baked different batches of coffins, angry cats and bats. These cookies are super chocolaty and intense, they will wow your guests and any chocolate lover like yours truly…so flavorful and yummy!
By the way, there will be another super special Halloween recipe this week so please, stay tuned! Can’t wait to share it with all of you!
…in the meantime, enjoy these cookies!

PS: this recipe makes enough cookies for a Halloween party (well, if you don’t invite the whole neighborhood) but the yield will depend on the size of the cookie cutters you use.
PS2: right after taping this recipe Blogger decided to suddenly delete ALL the text, so I had to do it all over again. UGH! I think I deserve some cookies and milk right now! ;-)

Halloween Chocolate Cookies
(Recipe adapted from ‘Vegan Desserts,Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season’ by Hannah Kaminsky)

1 cup vegan margarine.
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar.
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour.
¾ cup plus 3 tbsp pure cocoa powder, unsweetened.
½ tsp fine sea salt.
½ tsp baking powder.
1/3 cup cold espresso coffee.
1 tsp vanilla extract.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with the hook attachment) cream together margarine and sugar until soft.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Stir by hand with the whisk to ensure all the dry ingredients are well combined. Add about half of these ingredients into the margarine mixture, process until fully incorporated. Pour in the cold espresso coffee and vanilla, add in the remaining flour mixture. Continue to mix until it forms a smooth homogeneous dough, it won’t take much time. Transfer the dough onto the kitchen counter and form a ball, flatten it out a bit, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour before proceeding.
Right before rolling out the dough start heating your oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Lightly dust your working surface with flour (or place a big piece of parchment paper) and roll out the dough to about 1/8 of an inch (around 3mm) in thickness. Use whatever Halloween cookie cutters you like to shape the cookies and place them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
It was a very warm day when I baked these cookies so I had to roll out the dough between two parchment paper sheets to prevent dough from sticking to my rolling pin.
Bake for about 8-14 minutes, depending on the size. Watch your cooking time, these are dark chocolate cookies so it’s hard to see if the edges are brown or not. If the cookies are the same shape as mine (I used Wilton's Halloween cookie cutters) then you might need to bake them for 14 minutes (but not more than that!). Remember that, as they are cooling, cookies become harder.
Cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I love waking up to delicious homemade breakfasts, especially on the weekends when there is no rush and I have time to set up the table with more eye-appealing foods. Don't you feel a little spark of happiness right when you wake up and suddenly remember that there is some yummy breakfast awaiting you in the kitchen? That nice feeling is, obviously, even better if someone has prepared that said breakfast for you and all you have to do is to sit down, relax and feel like a modern day Marie Antoinette (minus the cut-off head).
These Apple Cinnamon Muffins have been in my 'to do' list for a while and now that the weather is slowly turning more chilly, warm spiced sweets are very on point. I can't resist to these extremely tender muffins paired with my favorite rooibos chai latte. They are very big (small muffins look boring to me, they were born to be BIG and filled with chunks) so I guarantee you'll feel full with one.
I had some pecan nuts leftovers and my sister had the great idea of making a caramelized topping with them, we raised the muffins bar with it!
Muffins like these ones (easy to prepare but very delicious) will brighten up your dullest mornings.
By the way, this is the muffin pan I used so you can make an idea of how big they will come out.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
(makes 6 jumbo muffins)

1 cup apple chunks (1 large apple approx.).
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
2 tsp baking powder.
1/2 tsp baking soda.
1 free-range egg (or 1 "flax egg", 1 tbsp flax meal plus 3 tbsp water).
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp organic whole cane sugar.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
1/3 cup sunflower oil.
1 cup low-fat natural yogurt (or soy yogurt).
3/4 cup pecan nuts, chopped.
2 tbsp pure maple syrup.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly grease your muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Chop pecan nuts, pour maple syrup over them and mix with your own hands...it's gonna get sticky but so worth it!
In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder, mix well.
In a separate bowl beat eat and sugar until fully incorporated and pale. Add in the oil, yogurt and mix again, you should get a soft paste. Remember that when making muffins the batter doesn't necessarily need to be very worked, I always mix on low-medium speed.
Wash, peel and core the apple. Drizzle with lemon juice to keep them from browning.
Cut the apple into small dices and finally stir into the mixture.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and sprinkle over the pecan topping.
Bake for 30-35 minutes approximately until golden brown on top. 
Let the muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.


Spiced Sweet Potato Blondies

It's been two quiet weeks here at Cinnamon Girl but those who follow my bakery ramblings on Facebook already know that I was celebrating my birthday (september 18th, mark your calendars for the next year! hee hee), seizing the last days of summer and of course eating cake, lots of birthday cake!
Now it's time to go back to the routine, the blogging tasks, recipes testing and also time to burn off those extra calories of my delicious birthday cake!
Days begin to get shorter here and the air is not so warm anymore...yes, ladies and gents, autumn is here and seems like my body isn't ready for it cause I caught the first cold of the season but despite the runny nose and being half deaf, it's all good. That didn't stop me to bring you a new recipe with a nice autumn-ish touch: sweet, moist and dense Vegan Sweet Potato Blondies. These are certainly dense and sweet so I changed up the recipe a bit to suit my taste and make them not too overwhelming sweet: the original recipe calls for 2/3 cups of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, well I thought that was too much so I kept the same amount of dark brown sugar but reduced the other one to 2/4 cups.
Baked sweet potatoes...mmmmm...probably one of my favorite scents in the whole wide world and a healthy sweet treat that I love to enjoy when it's cold and gloomy outside (gosh, I can't believe I'm already using the words 'cold' and 'gloomy' again...fall season is definitely here, I guess).
To me, thinking about homemade bread, pumpkin muffins and all things warm and cozy that you can do when it's chilly makes the transition from summer to fall a tad bit more bearable.
I'm sure that these delicious squares will help you beat the autumn blues for sure!

Receta en español aquí!

Spiced Sweet Potato Blondies
(Recipe adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar)

(Makes 12 blondies)
3/4 cup baked orange-colored sweet potato, mashed.
1/2 cup sunflower oil.
2/4 cup sugar.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar.
1/4 cup nondairy milk.
2 tsp vanilla.
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour.
1/4 tsp baking powder.
1/4 tsp salt.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
1/2 tsp ground ginger.
1/4 tsp ground allspice*.
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts.

*Allspice is also known as Jamaica pepper.

Line the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch square brownie pan with parchment paper and spray the sides with a little nonstick cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Mash the baked sweet potato with a fork until it's pureed.
In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potato, oil, sugar, brown sugar, nondairy milk, and vanilla until smooth. Don't worry if a few small chunks of sweet potato remain in the batter.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and all-spice. Mix just enough to moisten, then fold in the nuts. Do not overmix.
Pour mixture into the prepared pan and level the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, take care not to overbake. Blondies are done if a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
Allow the blondies to cool at least 30 minutes for the texture and flavor to fully develop, then slice into 12 squares.
Store in a covered container.


Healthy Mojito Pops

It's already the second week of september and seems like everybody is saying goodbye to summer and the vacations...oh boy! How time flies! Feels like it was yesterday when I was making plans for the holidays and writting and endless list of things to do and new recipes to try during summer and, all of a sudden, my birthday is approaching (*insert dramatic-apocalyptic music*) and pumpkin season is right around the corner. Actually these days I've seen several food websites and blogs where they are already talking about Halloween, pumpkin pies and all-autumn things. 
Summer isn't officially over and it's still (super) humid and hot here in Barcelona. Thinking about coats, rain boots and chicken soup are the last things on my mind.
We're still in time to enjoy refreshing, sweet and yummy frozen desserts because summer ain't over, because these pops are healthy and because...Mojito!
My Healthy Mojito Pops are the frozen version of Jason Vale's (aka The Juice Master) Healthy Mojito Juice: it tastes literally like a mojito minus all the sugar and the alcohol, so delicious! I was so amazed after the first taste, you can really enjoy this classic cocktail with zero guilt.
I'm now a declared fan of Jason Vale's juices, they are all amazing and super delicious. I'd have never thought that celery, beetroot, spinachs and any veggie your mind can imagine could make such a perfect team with fruits!

Now let's seize the last days of summer! 
Healthy Mojito Pops
(yield: 6 pops approx.)

2 limes, peeled.
4 handfuls fresh mint leaves*.
8 handfuls green seedless grapes.

*Reserve a few mint leaves to decorate each pop.

Put grapes, lime and mint leaves into your juicer. Juice everything together. 
Pour the mixture into your popsicle molds and alternate with some thin lime slices and a few fresh mint leaves.
Freeze and insert wooden pop sticks 30-40 minutes approximately after they have been transferred into the freezer.
Depending on the size of your popsicle mold you will get more or less pops. 
Do not forget to cover them with tin foil paper and keep them away from food with strong odor.