Are you a romantic? I’m pretty sure I’m what you’d call a “hopeless romantic.”
Did I cry at Titanic? Let’s just say I felt responsible for at least 50% of all that gushing water that swept Jack away from Rose while I was watching that movie. Do I
hoard save mementos from my former beaux? Okay, so maybe our moving costs increased around 30% because of all my boxes of sweet nothings the movers had to lug to this house and set gingerly in the basement. (But hey, last time I went searching for some bank statements, I really enjoyed coming across that pink satin ribbon Spaghetti Ears used to wrap the long-stemmed rose he gave me when I was 22!). And that seven-layer chocolate-and-coconut-and-cherries-and-rum cake that took me almost 3 days to bake the first time I invited the HH over for dinner? I’m pretty sure my midsection is still paying the price for that one.
The HH, on the other hand, is most definitely NOT a romantic. Unless, of course, you consider “forgetting to buy me a birthday gift for my 40th birthday only three weeks after we started living together” as romantic. (Don’t worry, we had quite the
blowup near-breakup teachable moment after that one. Now he knows to ask, “Is this an occasion where I have to get you a present?”). How about “not noticing that not only did I CUT my hair, but I also switched the color from blonde to redhead” type of romantic? Are you feeling all misty-eyed yet? Or what about “wearing his dog-walking clothes out to dinner because, hey, it’s the weekend and why bother changing?” kind of romantic? Be still, my heart!
And yet, as my friends and family regularly remark (and as I’ve come to appreciate over the years), The HH is perfectly compatible with me in pretty much every way–Spock-like emotional expressiveness notwithstanding.
After almost two decades together, The HH remains the one person I’d rather spend time with than any other. I am free to be silly, be intellectual, be introspective; ask ignorant questions, ask for help, ask for a hug; play together with the dogs, read together in silence, shovel the driveway together, dig my nails into his forearm on takeoff, walk around totally unself-consciously in crumpled sweats and greasy hair; kiss on the lips even when I haven’t yet brushed my teeth; admit I didn’t like his choice in music (or books, or new shoes) without any fear of offending him; count on him to be the one person at the dinner party who is knowledgeable about any and every topic that arises; cringe when he gets into debates about economics (or politics, or medical care); beam when he compliments my cooking or freely brags about me to others; and, basically, feel confident that he has my back on virtually every issue or in every situation.
In short, dear readers, my friends and family are right about us.
So, never mind that I won’t get roses this Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty sure that chocolates are off the table, too. And a piece of jewelry? Fuggedaboutit.
On the upside, before we rolled over to sleep last night, the HH and I kissed good night, as we do every night. Then, in his soporific stupor, he leaned over with a dreamy look in his eyes. Was it, finally, a form of starry-eyed romanticism? He moved in close and whispered, “So, is this one of those occasions where I have to get you a card?”
Yes, darling. This is one of those occasions. And yes, the fact that you asked is, somehow, immensely lovable.
I hope you all have a wonderful (and incredibly romantic) Valentine’s Day!
Chocolate Berry Swirl Cheesecake
This special-occasion cheesecake makes a perfect end to a romantic (or non-romantic) meal. Yes, I use tofu for this cake, so if you’re not so inclined, this recipe isn’t for you. I do love raw cheesecakes for an authentic texture, but when it comes to baked vegan cheesecake, I’ve found that silken tofu is really the best base. If you give this one a try, I’m sure you’ll agree.
For the crust:
2 Tbsp (30 ml) xylitol (see note)
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) whole psyllium husks
3/4 cup (85 g) raw pecan halves or pieces
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, at room temperature
3 Tbsp (45 ml) alternative milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond milk)
For the filling:
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut oil
4 ounces (115 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 package ” extra-firm Mori Nu tofu (or use medium regular tofu)
1/2 cup (75 g) raw cashews or 1/4 cup (60 ml) cashew butter
1/2 cup (120 ml) xylitol (see note)
2 tsp (10 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4-1/2 tsp (1-2.5 ml) pure plain or vanilla stevia liquid, or to taste
1 tsp (5 ml) pure almond extract
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
For the berry swirl:
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8.5 or 9 inch (21.5 or 23 cm) springform pan or pie plate with parchment. Grease the sides with coconut oil or nonstick spray.
In a coffee grinder or spice grinder, grind the xylitol, coconut flour and buckwheat flour until powdered. Place in the bowl of a food processor along with the psyllium, ground chia, pecans, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and whir until it attains the texture of cornmeal and no pieces of pecan are visible. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until combined. It should appear slightly moist and stick together if pinched between your fingers.
Press the crust into the bottom of the pan and prick several times with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until it’s dry on top and just starting to puff a bit. Remove from the oven until you have the filling ready.
Meanwhile, make the filling: In a small pot over lowest possible heat, melt the coconut oil and chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat.
In a high-powered blender, blend remaining ingredients until perfectly smooth (note: if you use whole cashews instead of cashew butter, you must use a high-powered blender; otherwise, if you use cashew butter, a food processor or regular blender should be fine). Add the oil-chocolate mixture and blend until incorporated.
Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Dollop spoonfuls of the berry filling randomly over the top, leaving some spots uncovered. Then, dollop the remainder of the chocolate batter here and there to fill in any empty spots. (Don’t worry if it’s not perfect; you’re about to marble it anyway).
Using a butter knife, carefully swirl the berry mixture into the batter to create a marbelized effect. You can either gently fold the chocolate over the berry mixture here and there, or else take the tip of the knife and draw it through the batter in “S” shapes to create this effect. Either way, the cake will still taste great; the idea is to spread the berry mixture around a bit without completely stirring it into the chocolate.
To even the top, grab the pan firmly on either side. Keeping the bottom of the pan on the counter, quickly and firmly rotate it once to the left, then to the right, so that the batter spreads out and smooths out on top. Do this several times to create a relatively flat surface on top of the cake.
Bake the cheesecake for 35-45 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until the edges are dark and dry and the center is still slightly soft. Allow to cool before refrigerating at least 4 hours or overnight.
Note: if you’re not a fan of xylitol or don’t follow an ACD, you could sub coconut sugar for the xylitol. You will likely need about 25% more coconut sugar to achieve the same level of sweetness.
Suitable for: ACD All stages (if tofu is acceptable); otherwise, Stage 2 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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