Have you seen those magazine and website series called “Separated at Birth”? They usually feature two celebs (sometimes, a celeb and an animal or even a celeb and inanimate object) that–in that one particular photo, at least–eerily resemble each other.
The phrase, of course, refers to the phenomenon popularized by certain nature-vs-nurture studies revealing that sometimes, identical twins who were, indeed, separated at birth still remain very much the same and may develop similar features, behaviors, or personality traits over the years, perhaps marrying spouses with the same names or giving their dogs the same name, even though they’ve lived most of their lives unaware of the other’s existence.
Having grown up with identical twins in my family (my Uncle S was an identical twin) and with my two best friends being twins (I’ve known Gemini I and Gemini II since we were all 4 years old), I’ve always been fascinated by twins and how similar they are–or not. Everyone knows (or has heard of) at least one set of twins who, at some point, fooled a teacher/ babysitter/ cousin/ neighbor by switching roles and pretending to be the other. (And remember that creepy novel--which Canadian director David Cronenberg made into an equally creepy movie–about those two twin doctors? Or how about Bette Davis’s Oscar vehicle, Dead Ringer , in which envy prompts her character to appropriate her (richer, happier) sister’s life (and to eradicate her fingerprints, in a scene that still haunts me on occasion)? On a less deadly note, there’s always Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap or Danny DeVito and Ex-Mr.-Governator-cum-Philandering-Maid-Paramour in Twins.).
I’m glad to report that the Geminis were not like those other identical counterparts. Thankfully, their parents treated them like two distinct individuals with their own (different) sets of clothing, hairstyles, interests and friends (well, except for me, I guess). And that’s how they grew up: even though their teachers had trouble differentiating them as kids, there’s no mistaking their unique personalities and looks today. (In fact, when the HH first met Gemini I and Gemini II, he noted that “they kinda looked like sisters” but that he would never have guessed they were twins (even though they share identical DNA!). That’s a true testament to the power of nurture, I’d say.
In the realm of apricot-swirl cheesecakes, think of these lovely, luxuriously creamy bars as the long-lost twin of that earlier raw version I posted a couple of weeks ago. It started with our organic produce delivery, which I love receiving every week (and which has introduced me to a plethora of new fruits and veggies over the years, at times in a David Letterman-at-the-Oscars sort of way: “Ricki, meet Rapini. Rapini–Ricki”). But there are also times when we receive far more than can be consumed by two childless adults in a single week. (“What do you mean, “childless,” Mum? Did you forget about us??”). These bars hail from the same (very large) bag of apricots that arrived on our doorstep that week.
In this case, though, this latter half of the summer stone fruits were nurtured a little differently from those in the Raw Mini Pies. With these, I baked up a bar much more similar to the original one I spied on the Everyday Food site. These Apricot Swirl Cheesecake Bars offer a more classic vegan cheesecake base, one made with silken tofu. With a shortcake crust and a tangy, cooked swirl of apricot preserves, these are bars you can serve with pride to your bridge club, your PTA meeting, your family on Sunday evening, or your kids after school–and they’ll be equally welcomed by all.
While I really enjoyed the bars, the HH was truly besotted (he liked them better than the raw version; I was the opposite. The HH and I had differing opinions? Quel surprise!). The similarities between the two desserts are obvious, and the differences subtle. Which makes sense, of course, since they were, after all, born from the same crop.
Rather than choose one cheesecake twin over the other, why not just make them both?
Apricot Swirl Cheesecake Bars
Suitable for ACD Stage 3 and Beyond
These are a lovely, fruity treat that tastes rich without being cloying. You could easily try other fruit swirl flavors in place of the apricot, such as peach, plum, or even berries.
For the Apricot Compote:
4 medium apricots, washed, pitted and chopped into chunks
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water
pinch fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
25-40 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste (I use NuNaturals)
For the Cookie Crust Layer:
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut sugar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy or almond milk
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
25-40 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, melted
1-1/2 cups ( g) Ricki’s all-purpose GF flour mix
1 heaping Tbsp (20 ml) organic cornstarch, arrowroot or potato starch
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) xanthan gum
For the Cheesecake Layer:
1 pkg (12 ounces or 375 g) aseptically packaged firm or extra-firm silken tofu (I use Mori-Nu)
1/2 cup (120 ml) smooth natural cashew butter
grated zest of one lemon
1/3 cup (80 ml) light agave nectar
25-40 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure lemon extract
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
Make the Apricot Compote: Place the apricots, water and salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue to cook and stir until the apricots begin to soften and darken, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and add the lemon juice and stevia. Process until smooth and no lumps remain. (Alternately, blend with a hand blender until smooth). Set aside while you prepare the crust and filling.
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9-inch (22.5 cm) pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar, soymilk, vanilla and stevia until the coconut sugar dissolves. Add the oil and mix well. Sift the remaining ingredients into the bowl and then stir with a wooden spoon until you have a soft and slightly sticky dough.
Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake in preheated oven 12-15 minutes, until dry on top and beginning to puff at the edges. Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Blend the tofu and cashew butter in a (cleaned) food processor until you have a smooth paste. Add remaining filling ingredients and continue to process until completely smooth and no traces of tofu are visible.
Pour the cheesecake filling evenly over the crust in the pan. Dollop with apricot preserves, leaving some cheesecake visible here and there. Using a sharp knife, draw lines through the preserves to create a swirled or marbled effect.
Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake for 25-35 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until the edges are browned and the filling appears firm when you jiggle the pan. Cool completely, then refrigerate at least 4 hours before cutting into bars and serving. Makes 12 bars. May be frozen (defrost, covered, overnight in the refrigerator).
If you’re interested in the raw version of this dessert, check out Raw Apricot Swirl Cheesecake Mini Pies.
“Mum, were Elsie and I separated at birth, too? Because we both share lots of the same traits, like being insanely cute, smart, loving the same treats. . . yep, we’re sisters, all right!”
“Zip it, Chaser. Mum, say it isn’t so!”
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Kristina @ spabettie says
I think I need to make both to be a tie breaker. I LOVE apricot, I love cheesecake everything, these look and sound so amazing I can almost taste them.
yep, pups = insanely cute!
Whew. When I first started reading I was afraid you were going to claim the cheesecake as your long lost twin. Having it be the twin to another version of cheesecake is so much more plausible. 🙂 I haven’t seen some of the creepier movies you mentioned, and perhaps I should just focus on the two cheesecake twins rather than their fictional counterparts, because the cake sounds much nicer! I’m actually planning to make a fruit compote with dried apricots this weekend as part of a brunch, and if there is any leftover, I know just what to do with it.
These look absolutely incredible! I have been needing to use up some extra apricots that I have laying around and I think that this recipe sounds like the perfect match for them!
I’d have to agree–a great way to use those apricots! (Or just make the compote and use it on muffins, biscuits, pancakes, etc.!) 😀
Great idea Ricki! Next time can I come over for the taste test? The only problem, I may never leave 🙂 And yes, your pups are so stinking cute!
Any time, Maggie. 🙂 (And don’t tell THEM that–they already have swelled heads!). 😉
Laureen @foxinthekitchenblog says
Ricki, the bars look delishious! I thought I was in love with your mini-tarts and I like your idea for using the compote as a spread on pancakes…YUM
Guess I’m just going to have to spread the love around 🙂
I figure I’ll alternate between the two so nobody gets jealous. 😉
Andrea S says
I want to squeeze those pups!!!!
Hee hee! I can tell you from personal experience that they don’t mind at all being squeezed. 😉
Shirley @ gfe says
One never quite knows where you are going when one starts out reading, Ricki, but we know there will ultimately be something very good at the end! Often the reward is a truly divine dessert as is the case this time. 🙂 Oh, and we don’t mind the trip to get to the goodie either. Your writing with the numerous references is always amazing … so “dead on.” Apricot Swirl Cheesecake Bars … you could almost win a contest just from the name alone, but then look at them and the blue ribbon is a given. And that’s not even mentioning HH’s appraisal. 😉
Thanks, Shirley! 😀 The HH is a man of few words, but he chooses them carefully (ha ha!). 😉 Having never gotten a blue ribbon in anything (except maybe my pigtails as a kid), I’lls ay “thank you” and feel like a winner. 🙂
Ricki these sound delicious! Though I must admit those pictures have me thinking pumpkin. Hmm, maybe vegan pumpkin cheesecakes bars should be in the works?
Cara, I like the way you think . . . ! 🙂
I saw the pictures and had assumed it was the post I saw a few weeks back. I wish we could still get apricots here! I think normally we can only find them april and july-ish.
Cheryl, that’s so funny! I wondered how much they looked alike, with the raw ones round and these cut into bars. In reality, the apricot swirl on the bars is darker than the raw ones (since it was cooked), and the flavors are obviously a little different, too. 🙂
adam and theresa says
What you can’t do with Silken Tofu, eh? I just posted a noodle kugel using it to sub for the eggs. Actually was thinking of trying the apricot Kugel from the Kripalu book next, but will try yours first now!
I agree–silken tofu is so great for those kinds of things. I made a pumpkin noodle kugel once that was great, and I do like the one I posted on the blog a couple years back. I’m going to check yours out, too, now that the weather is cooler and these kinds of baked casseroles are so much more appealing! 🙂
What a great way to use apricots. I think these bars sound SO delicious!
Thanks, Marly! I really enjoyed them. 🙂
Johanna GGG says
bring on apricot season – I want that slice – last summer I just couldn’t find recipes for fresh apricots but this season I am going to be fine! One of my favourite twin films is parent trap – so I would love to see you doing a switcheroo with the raw and the cooked to see if HH noticed (ok sounds like he might but sounds like fun too)
Thanks, Johanna! I bet it would be funny to see if the HH noticed (I mean, this is the guy who doesn’t notice when I cut my hair–or even change the color!) 😉
love your pups!! and yes, i’m with you, just make both 🙂
Thanks, Shannon! I feel the same way about them, of course, but I always assume it’s because they’re my pups! 🙂
Hm I’ve never seen that separated at birth thing!! Interesting. I’m terrible with faces and always get confused when watching a movie – now I don’t feel so bad haha. These bars are gorgeous. Love the swirl.