Spago Cheesecake

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This cheesecake is rich and creamy and translates well to gluten-free-ness.

Baking notes:

  • 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.

Original recipe

 

Spago Cheesecake
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

Yield: 9-inch cake

Crust:

  • 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

Filling:

  • 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

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Because it’s gluten free, it will remain light in color.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
  5. 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.
  6. Turn the speed high and continue to beat until mixture is creamy.
  7. 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.
  8. Add the eggs and beat just until combined.
  9. Scrape the filling into the prepared springform pan.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
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Applesauce Spice Bars

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The applesauce spice bars are a nice, cinnamon-y snack to have around.  I’m not sure why all the apple bits migrated to the center of the pan while baking, but regardless the bars taste fine.

 

Applesauce Spice Bars
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 32 bars

For bars:

  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar OR 1 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon applejack OR brandy OR dark rum (optional)
  • 1 baking apple (such as Rome or Cortland, but I used a Fuji and it worked)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
For glaze (optional):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream OR 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar OR 1/3 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
  • 2-2 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar OR light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF.  Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with aluminum foil and butter or spray with cooking spray.  Place on a baking sheet.
  2. Peel, core, and finely dice or chop apple.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  4. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
  5. Add brown sugar OR white sugar+molasses and stir with a whisk until it is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
  6. Remove pan from heat.
  7. Still working in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing until they are well blended.
  8. Add applesauce, vanilla, and applejack/brandy/rum (if using), and whisk until ingredients are incorporated and mixture is smooth.
  9. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in dry ingredients.  If you’re using all-purpose flour, mix only until they disappear.  If you’re using gluten-free flour, don’t worry about over-mixing.
  10. Mix in apple, raisins, and nuts (if using).
  11. Scrape batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.
  12. Bake 25-28 minutes if gluten free, 23-25 minutes otherwise.  The cake should just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted in the center should come out clean.  For the gluten-free version, the central area of the top of the cake might still look moist, but that’s okay.
  13. Transfer baking pan to a rack and let cake cool.
  14. If desired, make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine cream OR milk, sugar, butter, and agave nectar OR corn syrup.  Put pan over medium heat and bring mixture to a boil, stirring or whisking frequently.  Reduce the heat so glaze simmers for 5 minutes, stirring and whisking frequently.  Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla, if using.
  15. If desired, glaze bars: Pour hot glaze over the bars in the pan, spreading it evenly over the top with a long metal icing spatula.  The glaze cools and begins to solidify relatively fast, so work quickly while it is still runny.  Let bars cool to room temperature before you cut them.
  16. Remove cake in aluminum foil from pan and careful peel foil down from edges.  Cut cake into 32 rectangles, each about 2 1/4″ x 1 1/2″.  Carefully lift off foil.
  17. The bars can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Mediterranean Yogurt Cupcakes

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According to Dorie Greenspan (and confirmed by a French friend of mine), the French all know how to bake yogurt cake.  In fact, my friend tells me that because it’s so easy to make, little kids will learn the recipe and bring it to school and birthday parties.  The gluten-free version turns out well, as it is dense and similar to pound cakes.  The cupcakes even dome nicely on top.

 

Baking Notes:

  • If you want to halve the recipe, use 2 eggs.
  • I turned the batter into cupcakes because I needed something easy to carry around and snack on, but the original recipe gives directions for a loaf cake.  Although I haven’t tried making the loaf cake version with gluten-free flour, I doubt that you’d need to change the baking time.  I’d start with the recommended 50-60 minutes and add a few minutes if necessary.

Original recipe

 

Mediterranean Yogurt Cupcakes
Adapted from Everyday Dorie

Yield: 12 cupcakes

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 2 cuties/clementines
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat or nonfat Greek-style yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour OR 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup mild-flavored olive oil

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF.  Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cups.
  2. Put the sugar and zest in a mixing bowl.  Use your clean fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is aromatic and moist.  (This step is fun, almost like playing in a sandbox!)
  3. Add yogurt, eggs, and vanilla into the zest and sugar.  Whisk until mixture is very well blended.
  4. Whisk in baking powder and salt.
  5. Add flour(s), whisking less vigorously than before.
  6. Once there’s no trace of dry ingredients, switch to a flexible spatula and stir in the oil; do that in a few additions. You should have a smooth, shiny batter.
  7. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are a beautiful pale yellow and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes and cool them to room temperature on the rack.
  10. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Fudge

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Dubbed “absurdly easy chocolate fudge” by the New York Times, this recipe lives up to its name.  You toss practically all of the ingredients into one bowl or pot and melt them together.  Then you pour the mixture into a pan and refrigerate it.  Voila, fudge!

Original recipe

 

Fudge
From New York Times

Yield: 16 two-inch squares

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)

 

  1. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Line with parchment or wax paper, letting edges of paper hang over sides of pan.
  2. In top of a double boiler or a metal bowl set over (not resting in) simmering water, combine butter, chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and salt, if using.  Mix just until melted and well combined.  Alternatively, use a microwave on low power to melt ingredients, stopping every 10 to 20 seconds to mix well.  (I actually heated everything in a small non-stick pot over very low heat on the stove.  You have to be careful to stir constantly and make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn if you do this.)  The mixture should be heated as little as possible.
  3. Stir in nuts, if using.
  4. Scrape mixture into prepared pan.  Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Lift fudge on paper out of pan and use a large knife to cut into squares.

Orange Brownies

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The New York Times recipe’s name for these brownies is “supernatural,” and after tasting them, I’m inclined to agree!  The addition of orange zest is my own touch, but I happen to love the combination of chocolate and orange in chocolate bars, so why not orange-flavored brownies?

Update: I discovered that if you drizzle key lime cream cheese glaze over these brownies, they become even more delicious.

Original recipe

Orange Brownies
Adapted from Julia Moskin in the New York TImes

Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (such as muscovado) OR 1 cup granulated sugar+generous dollop of molasses
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons citrus zest (I used the zest from 2 cuties, but an orange or even a lemon should be fine)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts OR 3/4 cup whole walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Butter a 9″ x 13″ baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper.
  2. In the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter, chocolate, and sugars together.  (Actually, I melted everything together in a small non-stick pot over very low heat, but that runs the risk of burning the chocolate.)  If using just granulated sugar plus molasses, you’ll add the molasses in a later step.  Don’t worry if the mixture looks somewhat grainy at this stage.
  3. Cool mixture slightly.
  4. While it’s cooling, whisk eggs in a large bowl or mixer.  Whisk in molasses, if using.
  5. Whisk in salt and vanilla.
  6. Whisk in chocolate mixture and stir in zest.
  7. Fold in flour just until combined.  (Don’t worry about over-mixing if you’re using gluten-free flour.)  If using chopped walnuts, stir them in.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan.  If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter.
  9. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until shiny and beginning to crack on top.
  10. Cool in pan on rack.  The brownies will be a lot easier to cut and handle if you cool them completely first.  Of course, they also taste great warm if you don’t mind using a spoon to help scoop out portions!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These cookies combine three different forms of chocolate and have a deliciously soft texture.  The gluten-free version have great structural integrity and don’t spread out very much when baking.

 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck

Yield: 30 cookies gluten free, 24 with regular flour

  • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4-1 cup light brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want the cookies)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2-2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

 

  1. With an electric mixer on medium speed, soften butter.
  2. Add brown sugar and beat together on high speed until fluffy.  Stop machine to scrape down the sides as necessary.
  3. Decrease speed to medium and beat in eggs and vanilla.
  4. Stop machine, scrape in melted chocolate, and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
  5. Beat in cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. On low speed, gradually beat in flour.  (If using all-purpose flour, beat just until combined.  Luckily, over-beating is not a worry for gluten-free flour.)
  7. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
  8. Position racks to divide oven into thirds and preheat to 350ºF.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  9. Shape dough into 2-tablespoon balls and space them 2 inches apart on baking sheets.
  10. Bake about 15 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch, reversing the trays front to back and top to bottom halfway through.
  11. If making gluten-free cookies, leave them on the sheets for a few minutes after they come out of the oven so they harden a little more.
  12. Cool cookies on wire rack.

 

Banana Coffee Cake

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My best friend gave me this recipe years ago, and it’s still my favorite coffee cake.  If you have overripe bananas, here’s your chance to turn them into a delicious dessert!  The recipe works well gluten free because the bananas help hold everything together and keep the cake moist.

 

Banana Coffee Cake

Yield: 9 ” x 13 ” cake

For the cake:

  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the topping:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips OR chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ baking pan with aluminum foil and grease it.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar until blended.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Beat in vanilla extract, baking powder, and baking soda.
  5.  Stir in bananas.
  6. Gradually stir in flour.
  7. Combine topping ingredients and stir half into batter.
  8. Transfer batter to pan and smooth the top.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining topping.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.