Saturday, September 03, 2016

Saturday -- Drones, School updates, and Chocolate things!

Katie is Loving high school, but she was also excited about her first "real" weekend, especially since it's a nice long one! Apparently weekends don't really "count" when you homeschool. Something about your teacher being still right with you, I suppose. But, at any rate, she's finished her first week at the high school and so far she's come home every day full of excitement about her classes and the kids she's met. It's pretty fantastic. And over dinner Travis asks her about school things. I asked if he's sorry he didn't go, and he says "no," but he's curious anyway. His community college classes seem to be going okay too, though I'm having to do a lot of reminding about assignments. Still, so far it's looking good on both fronts.

And Finn seems completely recovered. Today (it's cool but gorgeous out) he and the kids played with Travis's drone.

Finn, asking sweetly if it isn't his turn to play with the drone now.

Finn Really wants to get his mouth on the drone.

Katie clipping on Finny's new, retractable leash.

Katie running from the drone!

Here Finn is sulking, having realized that his "endless" leash isn't really endless.

And you can see Livy peering out the door. She wants out. She complains loudly.

Harry likes to sleep under the pool.

This time it was Finny's turn to flee the drone!

And I've been playing with my pressure cooker! I "invented" (well, combined some other people's recipes and made adaptations) two gluten-free, lactose free desserts. They are both good, though no matter how free of perilous ingredients I make them I find that I still need to limit myself to very small quantities of sweets or I suffer. Still, limited sweets are a whole lot better than no sweets, so I'm happy!

Here's my cheesecake...

It has no cheese. It's made with cashew "butter," and it's a little grainier than a a real cheesecake (I also made a glorious lemon cheesecake, using Tofutti cream cheese. It really was utterly blissful. And it's gone. But Tofutti cheesecake is very hard to come by around here, so it's cashew butter cheesecakes until my next trip to the Big City.) but after a day or two the flavors really mellow together delightfully.

In case you should need such a thing, here's the recipe.

Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake

1 1/2 c. almond flour
1/2 c. sugar
4 Tbl melted butter
pinch of salt

Mix all the things together. This makes a pretty thick crust, and it's good, but next time I'm going to try cutting it back by about a third. Or using the crust for the Chocolate Fudge Crumb Bars I'm going to show you next. Still, this is nice, and it doesn't distract from the filling.
Anyway, press the crust stuff into the bottom and up the sides of a 7" springform pan and put the pan in the freezer to firm up while you work on the innards. Or you could try doing an 8 minute pre-bake. I think I'm going to try that next time.

1 1/2 c. raw cashews, soaked in water (in the fridge) overnight and now drained
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. chocolate milk (I used Lactaid milk, with cocoa powder and sugar)
1/2 c. very strong coffee (I dissolved a generous spoon of instant coffee and a spoon of sugar in hot water)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbl Kahlua
2 Tbl coconut oil

Blend the cashews in the food processor, and once they are smooth-ish add the next seven ingredients. Blend several minutes, getting the mixture as "ungrainy" as possible.

Add 2 Tbl coconut flour and 1/4 c. chocolate chips. Blend briefly, so the chocolate chips are broken up but not atomized or even molecularized.

Take your crust out of the freezer and fill with the filling. Yum!

Put the trivet and 1 1/3 c. water into your pressure cooker (I have the 6 quart Instant Pot, which I got during a great sale at Amazon. It is a joy and makes my life complete.) Make a sling out of foil or come up with some other clever way to get the pan back out of the cooker when it's really hot, and carefully lower your lovely little proto-"cheesecake" into the pot. Set the pot to "Manual" and the timer for 55 minutes. At least, that's what I did. That makes a very fully cooked cheesecake. If you gave it a bit less time it might be softer, and you might like it even better. I don't know. I might take off five minutes next time, but 55 worked, and everyone around here is fine with a firm cheesecake.

Anyway, when the timer goes off, allow 10 minutes to elapse ("natural pressure release" time) before removing your cake. Isn't it lovely? It is! Now cool it on a rack for an hour. Then on to the freezer for 4 hours, before moving it to the refrigerator. Now give it some time to "unfreeze," and you can try it. But, it will be better if you wait a day. Smoother. But you won't know that for sure unless you try a piece the first day, and then another the second day, and, Lord willing, another on a third day. Does it keep improving? Are you sure? Maybe you should make another, just to verify!

Despite some serious modifications, I based this on a recipe from someone named Maya, on the Dreamy site, and she certainly deserves credit. So here is a link to her Vegan Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake. 

And then I happened upon this recipe, for Chocolate Fudge Crumb Bars, from "All Day I Dream About Food," run by Carolyn. I changed it to work for me, but my recipe is like hers, only with sugar and without lactose. And cut in half.

Chocolate Fudge Crumb Bars

1 c almond flour
1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut

Combine these two in the food processor for... 30 seconds? You should still see smidgy pieces of coconut, but not big ones. Now put the flour and coconut in a bowl and add...

1/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 c. melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Combine until you have coarse crumbs that hold together. Press 2/3 of this mixture (or a little more) into a greased  8x8" baking pan. Bake in preheated (325 degrees) oven for 8 minutes and work on your filling. After 8 minutes your crust  will be very slightly gold around the edges, probably.

a little over 3/4 c. (and less than a full cup) of fat-free evaporated milk, which you treated a day or more ago with Lacteeze drops. Since the original calls for whipping cream and my version works fine, I would suppose that the sort of milk you use is very flexible!
1/3 c. confectioner's sugar
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1-2 oz milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips. (Again, this is flexible!)
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2-2 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in just enough water to be liquid-ish

In a heavy saucepan, heat the milk and sugar, stirring until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate and stir until it's melted (you'll still see those chocolate particles, but that's okay). Stir in the vanilla. Now, return the pot to medium heat and, stirring, add in the cornstarch. Keep stirring until the mixture comes to a simmer and simmer for a full minute. Just one. Your mixture went from thin and spotty looking to thick, chocolatey beauty. Doesn't this make you happy?

Pour the filling onto the crust and spread to all the corners and edges. Sprinkle the remaining "crust" mixture over the top and very gently press, just a bit. Bake at 325 for 22-25 minutes, until the topping is a light golden brown. Oh my word but it's pretty!

Now cool completely (in the fridge). Cut and eat. Thank you, Carolyn!

I'm thinking next time of adding 1/4 tsp espresso powder, or maybe orange extract or rum. Clearly I need to make several more pans of these. But just as they are they are delightful!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, looks delicious! Glad Katie likes school. And Finn's tail is so full--gorgeous!