These triple-layer brownies have an interesting blend of flavors and textures, from the soft, sour topping, to the creamy cheesecake layer, to the chewy brownie on the bottom. As usual for brownies and cheesecake, the recipe works well gluten free.
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
Yield: 16 brownies
For the brownies:
- 1/2 cup gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cheesecake:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream OR plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
For the topping:
- 1 1/4 cups sour cream
- 2-4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (adjust according to taste)
Make the brownies:
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan or spray the pan with baking spray.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Melt the butter and chocolate together over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan, stirring with a rubber spatula until the two have melted into each other. Take care not to heat the mixture too much – you don’t want the butter to separate. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove.
- Whisk in the sugar.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition.
- Whisk in the vanilla extract and whisk vigorously for just a few seconds.
- With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan. (If using all-purpose flour, stop mixing when the dry ingredients have only barely disappeared into the batter.)
- Set the pan aside while you make the cheesecake batter.
Make the cheesecake:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer and large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium until it is smooth.
- Beat in the sugar and continue beating for 3 minutes.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat each for 1 minute before adding the next.
- Reduce the mixer to low and add the sour cream, followed by the flour. The batter should be smooth.
- Stir up the brownie batter a couple of times and spread 3/4 of the batter in the prepared baking pan – the batter should cover the entire bottom.
- Pour all of the cheesecake batter over the brownie batter and using a spoon or offset spatula, cover the brownie batter entirely.
- Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake batter by the tablespoonful and using a knife, just barely swirl the brownie batter around, taking care not to dip the knife into the bottom layer of brownies.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes. The brownies should just pull away from the sides of the pan and the cheesecake layer should be beige in the center, slightly browned on the edges, and puffed all over.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the brownies to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
Make the topping:
- In a small sauce pan over low heat, warm the sour cream OR yogurt and sugar together, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the topping over the chilled brownies and using an offset spatula, push the topping just out to within ¼-inch of the edges – don’t let the topping spill down the sides.
- Chill the brownies for another 1 hour.
- To cut the brownies, run a long sharp knife under hot water and dry with a towel. Cut the brownies into quarters with the hot knife, cleaning and reheating before you make each cut. Remove the quarters from the pan and cut each into quarters. Keep the cut brownies chilled and bring to room temperature before serving.
Right in time for the hot summer weather is this ice cream recipe. I know celery seed ice cream sounds really weird, but it tastes amazing and is my favorite ice cream ever.
Celery Ice Cream with Candied Ginger and Rum-Plumped Raisins
Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Bauer
Yield: 1 quart
For the raisins:
- 1 cup golden OR regular raisins
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons rum
- 1/2 cup sugar
For ice cream base:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tapioca starch OR cornstarch
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar OR light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds, pounded lightly in a mortar with the pestle
- 2-6 tablespoons finely diced candied ginger (depending on how much you like ginger)
The day before:
- If necessary, place the canister of your ice cream maker in the freezer.
Make rum-plumped raisins (can prepare up to 1 month ahead of time):
- Put raisins in heatproof bowl.
- Combine water, rum, and sugar in small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Pour syrup over raisins and let cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate until chilled. You can store the raisins in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Make ice cream base:
- Mix about 2 tablespoons of milk with tapioca starch OR cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
- Whisk cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
- Combine remaining milk, cream, sugar, and agave nectar OR corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan.
- Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and gradually whisk in tapioca starch OR cornstarch slurry.
- Bring mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Remove from heat.
- Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into cream cheese until smooth.
- Stir in celery seeds.
- Pour mixture into 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge sealed bag in ice bath.
- Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
- Pour ice cream base into frozen canister of ice cream maker and spin until thick and creamy throughout. (Otherwise the ice cream will be on the hard, icy side after it finishes freezing.)
- Drain raisins and mix with candied ginger.
- Pack ice cream into storage container, folding in raisins and ginger as you go.
- Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid.
- Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Macarons are definitely not a forgiving recipe if you want to get them exactly right. However, even if the tops crack or the sides don’t develop the characteristic foot or the cookies taste grainy, they’re still very tasty. Just think of them as delicious almond sandwich cookies!
- Make sure your almond flour is finely ground, or your macarons will taste grainy (the Walmart almond flour/meal I used was too coarse even after being pressed through a sieve). I’ve seen Bob’s Red Mill almond flour recommended by other bloggers.
- Separate your eggs a few days before you plan to bake the macarons and let the whites age in the fridge.
- Don’t over-beat the egg whites, or the texture will turn grainy.
- When heating the sugar syrup, keep a close eye on it near the end because the temperature will rise quickly.
- Don’t use liquid food coloring, because adding enough to achieve a bright color will thin out the batter too much.
- If the tops of your first batch of macarons crack, the oven temperature is too high. Lower it a little before you bake your next batch.
From Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies
Yield: 45 macarons
- 2 cups (200 grams) almond flour (make sure it’s finely ground)
- 1 2/3 cups (200 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 2/3 cup aged egg whites (150 milliliters), at room temperature (about 5 large eggs)
- Gel or powder food coloring (optional)
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) water
For filling (makes about 1 cup):
- 8 oz full-fat cream cheese, cut into chunks, at room temperature
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (60 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted if you have the patience (it’s fine if you don’t)
- 2 tablespoons thick preserves or jam (without chunky fruit)
- Take out 2 baking sheets. If you plan to line them with parchment paper, it’s best to make a template. Using a cookie cutter as your guide, trace circles about 1 1/2 inches in diameter on each sheet of paper, leaving about 2 inches between them, then flip the papers over on the baking sheets so pencil marks face down. If you’re using silicone mats, just line the baking sheets with them.
- Fit a large pastry bag with a plain 1/2-inch tip. (Alternatively, you can use a zipper-lock bag: Fill the bag, seal it, and snip off a corner.)
- Have a candy thermometer handy.
- Place a strainer over a large bowl and press almond flour and confectioners’ sugar through it. Don’t skip this step, even though it’s annoying, because it’s necessary to get the correct texture.
- Whisk to blend almond flour and confectioners’ sugar.
- Put half of the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Add food coloring, if you’re using it, to remaining egg whites, stir, and then pour them over the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar.
- Using a flexible spatula, mix and mash the whites into the dry ingredients until you have a homogeneous paste.
- Bring the granulated sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. If there are spatters on the sides of the pan, wash them down with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.
- Attach candy thermometer and cook syrup until it reaches 243-245°F. This can take about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on it because the temperature increases rapidly near the end.
- Meanwhile, beat egg whites on medium speed until they hold medium-firm, glossy peaks.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and keep mixing until sugar syrup comes up to temperature.
- When the sugar syrup is ready, take the pan off the heat and remove the thermometer. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the hot syrup, trying to pour it between the whirring whisk and the side of the bowl. You’ll definitely have spatters, but don’t try to incorporate them because they’ll spoil the smooth meringue.
- Increase mixer speed to high and beat until meringue cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Check by touching the bottom of the bowl. (However, it’s better to have your meringue be a little too warm than to over-beat it.)
- Give the almond flour mixture another stir with the spatula, then scrape the meringue over it and fold everything together. Don’t be gentle here: Use your spatula to cut through the meringue and almond flour mixture, bring some of the batter from the bottom up over the top, and then press it against the sides of the bowl. The action is the same as the one you used to get the egg whites into the almonds and sugar: Mix and mash.
- Keep folding and mixing and mashing until when you lift the spatula, the batter flows off it in a thick band.
- If you want to add more food coloring, do it now.
- Spoon half of the batter into the pastry bag (or all of it into a gallon zipper-lock bag) and, holding the bag straight up, 1 inch above one of the baking sheets, pipe out 1 1/2-inch rounds. Don’t worry if you have a point in the center of each round; it will dissolve into the batter.
- Grab baking sheet with both hands, raise it about 8 inches above the counter, and let it fall with a satisfying bang. This gets the bubbles out of the batter and helps smooth the tops.
- Refill the bag if necessary, pipe batter onto the second sheet, and drop it onto the counter.
- Set baking sheets aside in a cool, dry place to allow cookies to form a crust. When you can lightly touch the top of the macarons without having batter stick to your finger, you’re ready to bake. (Depending on room temperature and humidity, this can take 15 to 30 minutes, sometimes more.)
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350° F.
- Bake macarons, one sheet at a time, for 6 minutes.
- Rotate pan and bake for another 6-9 minutes, or until the macarons can be lifted from the mat or can be carefully peeled away from the paper. The bottoms will feel just a little soft. The tops will feel disconcertingly crisp and dry.
- Slide silicone mat or parchment off the baking sheet onto a counter and cool macarons to room temperature.
- Repeat with the second baking sheet.
- While macarons cool, make the filling. Either in the clean bowl of your stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy.
- Add confectioners’ sugar and beat until it is incorporated and filling is smooth.
- Mix in preserves or jam. (The filling will keep for up to 5 days tightly covered in the refrigerator. Stir before using to bring it back to its creamy consistency.)
- When macarons are cool, peel them off the silicone or parchment and match them up for sandwiching.
- Work on a baking sheet lined with fresh parchment paper, or on a sheet of parchment paper on which you baked macarons. You can use a teaspoon or a piping bag to fill the macarons; it’s up to you to decide how much filling you’ll want to use. Spoon or pipe some filling onto the flat side of a macaron and sandwich it with its mate, gently twisting the top macaron to spread filling to the edges. Piping leads to cleaner edges.
- Place sandwiched macaron on parchment paper and repeat with remaining macarons and filling. Cover with plastic film or pack them into a container. Be careful not to squish the tops.
- Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. While chilling, moisture from the filling will soften the macaron cookies and allow them to develop their characteristic texture.
- Macarons can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. They can also be frozen, packed airtight, for up to 2 months; defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.
This is a style of cheesecake that I grew up eating. It has a moist cake base studded with peach chunks, and the cream cheese layer is light and fluffy and even slightly caramelized.
Adapted from a family recipe
Yield: 8″ x 8″ pan
- 3/4 cup gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
- 1 (3-oz) package Jello Cook ‘n Serve vanilla pudding mix
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 (16-oz) can peach chunks in heavy syrup
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8″ x 8″ baking pan.
- In a large bowl, mix together egg, milk, and butter.
- Add flour, pudding mix, and baking powder. Mix well.
- Pour batter into pan, spreading evenly across the bottom.
- Drain peach chunks, reserving the syrup, and scatter chunks evenly across batter. They will sink in, but that is expected.
- In a clean bowl, beat together cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the reserved syrup, and sugar. Spread evenly across the mixture in the pan.
- Bake for 55-65 minutes if gluten-free, 45 minutes if not. In the gluten-free version, the top of the cream cheese layer will caramelize but the inside will still look wet and bubbling. It will solidify as it cools.
- Cool cake completely and cut into squares. Refrigerate any leftovers.
This cheesecake is rich and creamy and translates well to gluten-free-ness.
- With a hot water bath during baking, it’s a little scary to remove the pans from the oven, but I found that placing the pans on a large baking sheet decreases the risk of burning yourself.
- If you’re impatient and don’t mind a slightly warm cheesecake, you can eat it the same day you bake it.
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck
Yield: 9-inch cake
- 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
- 1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts), finely chopped OR 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar OR 2 tablespoons white sugar+dollop molasses
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sour cream OR plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter or coat with nonstick spray, the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
- In a large bowl, assemble all the ingredients for the crust. Mix them together with your hands. If using nuts, the mixture will resemble very small pebbles. If using only flour, the mixture will resemble damp sand.
- Press the crust into the bottom of the springform pan, covering the base completely and evenly. Wrap heavy-duty aluminum foil, or two layers of regular foil, around the pan’s bottom and halfway up its sides, pleating the foil to tighten it securely.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Because it’s gluten free, it will remain light in color. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- To make the filling: Put the cream cheese, sugar, and salt in the large bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle or beaters or in a large mixing bowl. Using the stand mixer or a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the ingredients until smooth, stopping often to scrape down the sides of the bowl and under the blades with a rubber spatula.
- Turn the speed high and continue to beat until mixture is creamy.
- Stop the mixer and add the sour cream OR plain yogurt, rum, lemon juice, and vanilla; then, on medium speed, continue beating until well blended.
- Add the eggs and beat just until combined.
- Scrape the filling into the prepared springform pan.
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place the springform pan inside a slightly larger baking pan. Use an oven glove, pull out the oven shelf and place the baking pan on it. Pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan, but not above the foil. Carefully slide the shelf into the oven and bake the cheesecake until its top is slightly golden and slightly firm in the center, about one hour and 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven. Lift out the springform pan and place it on a wire rack to cool, carefully folding down the foil on its sides to promote quicker cooling. When the pan is cool enough to touch, completely remove the foil and continue cooling. When the cheesecake is completely cool, cover the pan loosely with a clean sheet of foil and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator. Dip a long, sharp knife in warm water and run the knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the cake. Remove the outer ring. Continue to dip the knife into warm water as necessary as you cut neat wedges.
I really like this frosting because it’s both chocolate-y and tangy. Since it’s a thicker frosting, I’d pair it with a denser cake (which is perfect for gluten-free cakes…).
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from All Recipes
- 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons milk (you can add 1 more tablespoon if necessary)
- 1-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, to taste
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
- Still on medium speed, beat in 3 tablespoons milk, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and cocoa until frosting is creamy and spreadable. Beat in extra milk and/or confectioners’ sugar if necessary to get a spreadable consistency.
I first tried Japanese souffle cheesecake on a visit to Taiwan and really liked it. As its name suggests, it’s fluffier and lighter than American cheesecake. The gluten-free version is somewhat crumbly, but if you use a sharp knife and clean off the blade between cuts, that should help.
Japanese Souffle Cheesecake
Adapted from Just One Cookbook
Yield: 9″ cake
- 400 g (14.1 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons+1/2 cup (60 g+100 g) granulated sugar, divided
- 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
- 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 200 ml heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon rum (optional)
- 1/2 cup (80 g) gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
- 6 egg whites, at room temperature
For the glaze:
- 3 Tbsp apricot jam, or other seedless jam of your choice
- 1 tsp water
Measure out cream cheese, butter, egg yolks, and heavy cream, and bring them to room temperature.
If you feel motivated, lightly grease bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. This will make the sides of the cheesecake look tidier and make removal easier. However, I just served it directly from the base of the pan, so I skipped the extra step.
Wrap base and sides of pan with aluminum foil, preferably extra-large heavy duty foil. Make sure the foil comes up the sides to prevent seepage from the water bath.
Center rack in oven and preheat to 320°F. Boil water for water bath.
While water is coming to a boil, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth.
Beat in butter and mix until smooth.
Beat in egg yolks and heavy cream and mix until smooth.
Beat in lemon juice and rum and mix until very smooth.
If desired, sift flour twice before beating it in all at once. (I skipped the sifting.) Again, mix well.
Pour batter into a large bowl.
Wash mixer bowl and dry completely. Any oil or water will prevent the meringue from fluffing up properly.
In the clean, dry bowl, beat egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy.
While continuing to beat, pour in sugar in three additions.
Beat on high speed until meringue forms stiff peaks. It should double in volume and look thick and glossy. Don’t overbeat, or you won’t be able to fold the meringue into the batter properly.
Add 1/3 of the meringue to batter and mix well to lighten batter.
Add the rest of the meringue in 2-3 more additions, gently folding it in with a rubber spatula.
Pour batter into pan and drop the pan from a height of 2-3″ onto the countertop to remove any air bubbles.
Set cake pan in large roasting pan and pour in boiling water until it comes 1″ up the sides of the cake pan.
Bake for 60 minutes, or until light golden brown.
Lower temperature to 300ºF and bake for 30 minutes longer, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Don’t worry if the top has cracked a little.
Turn off oven and crack the door open. Let cake sit in oven for 15 minutes so it can cool gradually.
Take cake out from oven, remove aluminum foil, and place springform pan on wire rack to cool.
In a small bowl, heat jam and water in microwave for 30 seconds. It will be very runny.
Spoon jam glaze onto cake and spread evenly with the back of the spoon.
Cool cake completely, transfer to serving platter, and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. (Or you can just leave the cake in the pan.) Cover to prevent it from picking up any other flavors.
To serve, cut cake with a fishing line or a warm knife. For the cleanest cuts, run knife under hot water and wipe off before each cut.
- Cake can be stored, covered, in refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Just defrost at room temperature while covered. The glaze looks best the day it’s applied, so I would store the cake unglazed.