Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Healthy Coco-Choc Caramel Cheesecake

When my mother asked me to bake my sister a healthy cake for her 21st I was a little worried. I had fed my sister my healthified treats in the past and have had no luck.. she hated them all. My sister is in a relationship with sugar and has condemned anything made with stevia as inedible and incomparable to her one true love.

Despite knowing she has a hatred of stevia, I used it in this cake anyway, but also used real sugar in the form of dates and rice malt syrup in a hope to keep Cassy happy. For those who follow a strict paleo diet you could easily replace the rice syrup with honey- they are pretty much identical in sweetness. The idea of using rice malt syrup came from Sarah Wilson, whose blog and books I adore and who taught me that rice malt syrup is actually very low in fructose (the worst type of sugar), and in that sense is a better substitute for sugar than honey. She made a cheesecake in her book I Quit Sugar that inspired me to bake a cheesecake for Cassy.

In some respects I wish I had not invented my own recipe for this, as the anxiety I experienced from cooking till tasting was a little extreme. At dinner before we ate I apologized to everyone as they were all essentially involved in my little experiment of a cake, which could for all I know be a total dud.

Visually it was a very simple looking cake yet pretty enough to fit in among the balloons  and presents. Watching Cassy slice it was very nerve wracking but alas, the first slice came out perfectly. I quickly grabbed the plate to ensure I had the first bite just in case I needed to stop anyone from following suit. But luckily I could relax. The cake worked, Cassy liked it and everyone was very impressed that a cake that has the word 'healthy' in the title could taste so good. My job was done.

The base is chocolatey but not too sweet, with distinct notes of coconut. The caramel cheesecake is creamy and indulgent, sweet but not sickeningly so with a soft caramel flavor. The topping is like a thick fudge, gooey and tasting as I imagine chocolate toffee would taste like. Overall all my odd components worked well together, with the subtle flavors and juxtaposing textures resulting in a cake that will certainly be made again!

Mummy and the Birthday Girl

William and I
Grandma very excited, Grandpa not so...
A Babushka Doll from Grandma, what every 21 year old needs
Sarah and my gorgeous baby brother Alex
Special 21st present from Mum, Victoria Buckley Ring
Nervous moment the cake was cut!

Our Beautiful Mother!

This cake is grain free, refined sugar free and when made with honey paleo. You could also make it vegan by replacing the cream cheese with cashews that have been soaked over-night and blitzed in a food processor. If you were to use cashews you would leave out the eggs, not bake the filling and serve chilled.

Healthy Coco-Choc Caramel Cheesecake
Serves 10-12

For the Crust
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup almond meal
1 cup dates - soaked in boiling water for at least 30min
2 tbsp honey or rice malt syrup
10 drops chocolate stevia (optional)
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp espresso coffee powder dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

For the Cheesecake
400ml (14oz) good quality coconut milk
6 tbsp honey or rice malt syrup
500g full fat cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
15 drops liquid caramel stevia (or just use regular)
1/2 cup granulated stevia (you can add more depending on your taste)
Pinch of salt

For the Ganache
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
6 tbsp honey or rice malt syrup
10 drops chocolate stevia (or just use normal)
Shredded/shaved coconut to garnish
1. For the cheesecake: Place the coconut milk and honey/rice syrup in a pressure cooker and cook on high for 1 hour- until caramelized. (You could also do this in a saucepan, simmering the coconut milk over low heat for 2 or so hours). Once caramelized transfer to a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes, until the mixture has reached a deep brown color and some of the water has evaporated off.
2. Transfer this mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the stevia, eggs, salt and vanilla essence, beating again until incorporated. Once complete place the mixture to the side as you move on to making the base

3. For the base: Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line a spring form cake tin with baking paper. Drain the dates and place them in a food processor with the espresso coffee. Blitz on high until the dates resemble a chunky puree. Add the honey/rice syrup, stevia, cinnamon and coconut oil, pulsing again on high. Now add the cocoa powder, almond meal and coconut flour, and pulse until the mixture comes together forming a 'dough'. Transfer the dough to the cake tin and using your hands press the mixture down over the bottom of the pan, forming an evenly leveled base.
4. Place in the oven and bake for 20minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 160C (320F). Pour the cheesecake mixture over the base and bake for 30 minutes, until the middle has just set. Turn the oven off and let the cake cool in there completely.

5. For the Ganache: Once the cake is completely cool make the ganache. Place the coconut oil, cocoa powder, stevia and honey/rice malt syrup in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until the mixture thickens- about 5 minutes. Once thick pour over the top of the cake. The ganache sets very quickly so it is important to work fast! Garnish with coconut if desired.

6.Once set, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, however overnight is preferable. When ready to eat, remove the cake from the fridge 1-2 hours before serving to allow it to soften slightly. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Chocolate Protein Balls

My poor blog. It has felt very neglected the past few weeks during my exam period and I honestly feel bad for my absence. However moving forward exams are over and holidays have begun! The past few weeks have been hell. I rarely got more then 4 hours sleep a night and on several occasions no sleep. My fatigued little fingers could not type fast enough, trying to get through 4 take home exams over a sadistically short period of time. During study breaks I would quickly scroll through my favourite food blogs, keeping a mental list of things to cook once my holidays begin. And finally... holidays are here!

Lets just say I have very excited to to get back in the kitchen and continuing my exploration of healthy yet yummy foods. Today I started with something simple yet something that will become a staple in our house. Protein balls! These help solve the dilemma of getting protein into your mid-morning snack. They contain a good combination of fat, protein and carbs helping you power through until lunch. William loved them and thought they were a great alternative to his normal morning snack of fruit.

Because they contain protein powder they need to be stored in the freezer to preserve the protein, however they are completely edible straight from the freezer as they stay soft! If you want to pack these in your bag as a transportable snack that's fine as they are still perfectly edible after being out at room temperature for a few hours too.

Chocolate Protein Balls
Makes 15+, depending on size


1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup low carb protein powder of choice
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup dates, pitted, and left to soak in boiling water for at least 30min
1/2 cup cashews/almonds/brazil nuts/pecans
1 tsp espresso powder dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water
10 drops liquid vanilla stevia (or just use regular stevia)


1. In a food processor add your nuts of choice and pulse for 10-20 seconds, until they resemble course crumbs. Drain the dates and add them to the food processor with the espresso shot, and blitz on high until they resemble a thick puree.

2. Add the stevia, coconut flour, protein powder and almond meal. Pulse until all ingredients are fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as required. You want the dough to be hold together but not too sticky, so add more water if the dough appears too dry but add it in very small amounts.

3. Once combined, take a large spoonful of the mixture from the food processor and roll it between the palms of your hands until it forms a symmetrical ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Store balls in an airtight container in the freezer for a handy and satisfying snack :)