Gluten Free Maple Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Gingerbread Bottom and Sour Cream Marshmallow Topping

by Irvin on November 15, 2010 · 43 comments

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Pssst. Wanna do a secret baking challenge? Whispered Shauna over at Gluten Free Girl. Well virtually whispered, as she tweeted about it mysteriously and then said anyone interested should send her their email address. Mysterious baking challenge? I was up for that. My result: A maple sweet potato cheesecake with marshmallow topping and gingerbread base. Sweet Potato? Yep. Gluten free, of course.

I was a little unclear as to if I would be able to participate in the challenge or not initially. Shauna had emailed everyone in the challenge, telling them that her and Danny wanted people to make a gluten free Thanksgiving items for a crowdsourced blog post. Thanksgiving, of course, is one of those holidays where gluten is everywhere. In the gravy, in the stuffing, in the green beans casserole (you know, the one that your aunt brings over made with the canned mushroom soup), in the pumpkin pie dessert. Everywhere. So she wanted a group blog post about what people can make that is gluten free and still delicious (I still don’t get why those two things can’t go hand in hand – so many commercial bakeries do HORRIBLE gluten free things. Not so hard to do people! Get to it!).

This was part of our Thanksgiving feast last year. It's full of gluten, though the cranberry sauce and turkey are naturally gluten free now that I think of it.

In fact, if you haven’t had a chance to yet, you should run and go get Shauna and Danny’s book The Gluten Free Girl and the Chef! Chocked full of amazing recipes AND amazing stories, it’s the sort of cookbook you not only want to use time and time again, but also curl up in bed reading. So many foods are naturally gluten free and this book will show you how easy it is to make them. Plus it’s a total love story. We all need a little bit more love in our lives…

That said, my problem wasn’t that I didn’t know how to bake Gluten Free. I’ve been doing that for the past seven years on again/off again for a friend of mine that is wheat allergic. Nope, it was that my friends Sue and Tony were coming into town to visit, the weekend before the blog post was due. When am I going to have time to make a gluten free Thanksgiving inspired item?

But then I realized that having Sue and Tony visit wasn’t a problem but rather the solution. Whenever I have friends visit, I always bake stuff for them. Why not just make it gluten free? They’ll never know the difference. Especially with cheesecake!

Tony's originally from Alaska. 'nuf said.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you’ll know that AJ and I went up and visited Sue and Tony in Portland back in August. It was a pretty amazing trip, and I’ve been trying to get them to visit SF ever since. They finally caved to my demands and flew down here for a weekend trip to hang out some more.

I won’t bore you with the details of Sue and Tony’s trip, the croque madame sandwich we got at the cute little French café in a hidden alleyway, the meanderings through Golden Gate Park, the feeding of the penguins at the California Academy of Science or the visit to the Ferry Building’s Farmer’s Market where I picked up some salad greens and Sue picked up a painting of a dog that looked EXACTLY like her dog at the charming local chocolatier that featured artists from an amazing nonprofit. I won’t talk about the amazing seared scallops or the chanterelle and black truffle foccacia we had for dinner or the awesome brunch we went to which featured a breakfast sandwich filled with carmelized bacon and mushrooms and eggs over easy on a housemade english muffin or visiting their fancy shmancy hotel, where I realized that I was the only person of color that wasn’t the help. I realize you probably have no interest in any of that.

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This is the sort of breakfast/brunch sandwich you will never find at a fast food establishment

What you DO have an interest in – or SHOULD have an interest in – is this Sweet Potato Cheesecake. It’s amazing, rich and decadent, without being cloyingly sweet or heavy. Sue, despite being full from the shrimp with swiss chard risotto (a variant of this recipe) AJ and I had made for dinner, had a second helping of it, and she claimed that she doesn’t usually like cheesecake. Tony, who is originally from Alaska declared it grubbin’ (a term that Sue had to translate to us as meaning “awesome, stellar, yummy, da bomb”) and then followed that up with a text from their cab on the way back to their fancy schmancy hotel, that said “That recipe is a seller. It sounds great to fit the bill for Thanksgiving or Fall and then comes through in every way you want it to.”

True story. That’s what he texted me. Ha! I’m totally using that on my first cookbook cover. Someone get me an agent pronto. I’m ready.

But the man doesn’t lie. The cheesecake had this mild subtle sweetness, similar to pumpkin, because I use the same fall spices you would use in a pumpkin pie, but earthier because of the sweet potato. The maple syrup and bourbon also added a wonderful autumnal depth. The gingerbread crust was soft and spicy, a literal ground for the creamy soft cheesecake to sit on. And the marshmallow topping, a nice twist on the marshmallows on top of the traditional sweet potato casserole, had it’s tooth aching sweetness cut by the tart sour cream, but still had that light fluffiness that you associate with marshmallows. I have to admit, I was pretty darn pleased with the sucker, and I’m not even a huge fan of sweet potatoes. It’s going in my yearly Fall rotationally dessert menu, a nice change from the typical pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake.

Sue and Tony took off at the end of the weekend to go back to Portland and I miss them already. Fall is almost over, and though San Francisco is lacking in deciduous trees, and their signifying changing leaf colors, I know that winter is almost here. It’s time to hunker down and pull out the sweaters and scarves. I’m dreading a little bit the cold rainy season here in SF, but I also know that I means snowfall and ski season up in Tahoe. In the meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy the fleeting crisp bright air, and take another bite of this cheesecake.

For more Gluten Free Thanksgiving dishes, check out Gluten Free Girl’s round up of gluten free goodness as well as these posts:

And if you have a blog and write a post about making gluten-free food for Thanksgiving, you’ll be entered in an awesome giveaway hosted by Gluten Free Girl herself! Prizes include everything from her book, to a set of flours from Bob’s Red Mill to a baking package to a KitchenAid Mixer!!! Check out the entire list of giveaways at Gluten Free Girl’s blog post.

To enter, just write and post about your gluten free Thanksgiving dish, and then leave a comment over on Gluten Free Girl’s blog post with the link before Monday, November 22. And while you’re at it, send me an email (click my picture up above on the top right hand side) as well or post the link in my comments and I’ll add the link to my list above! Also feel free to tweet about this project. Use the hashtag  #gfbakingchallenge in your tweet so everyone can track you!

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin November 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Wow that cheesecake lookd ridiculously good.

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Paula - bell'alimento November 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Oh my GOODness!I must make this! All of that AND Bourbon {mandatory LOL} and Maple Syrup!Swoon! Bravo!

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RecipeGirl November 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm

oh my gosh, that looks perfectly yummy! You really went all out on that gf challenge!!

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wenderly November 16, 2010 at 12:42 am

That cheesecake. *stop. it*. Looks to die for!

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Maria November 16, 2010 at 12:42 am

Oh my, that cheesecake looks divine! Nice job!

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Mr. Jackhonky November 16, 2010 at 1:55 am

@Justin. Thanks! I have to admit, I'm pretty darn happy with it. Eating the leftovers now… ;)

@Paula. Let me know when you do! I'm always curious when others make my recipes. The Bourbon is great. Really subtle (next time I might kick it up a notch and add a little more).

@RecipeGirl. Thank you! Strangely, this is how I normally bake. I had a friend once ask me if I had anything on my blog that was easy. I was all "What are you talking about? All my recipes are easy!" and she looked at me as if I had two heads. I really need to learn to bring it down a notch every now and then.

@Wenderly & Maria. Thank you! I was super pleased to have it turn out the way it did! The gingerbread crust really added an extra dimension to the cheesecake.

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Elina (Russian Bites) November 16, 2010 at 1:57 am

The cheesecake sounds phenomenal. I actually saw another sweet potato dessert today and wondered how it'd compare to regular pumpkin. Sounds like I may even like it better!
PS – it was nice meeting you last weekend. You missed a good exhibit at Moma :)

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Mariko November 16, 2010 at 2:29 am

I'm not kidding, the second I saw the title of this post I thought, "He should write a cookbook." If the recipe is even half as good as it sounds, you will get a 6 figure advance. I am not joking.
I'm not even that into cheesecake but suddenly there are people all around me whispering CHEESECAKE (they whisper loudly) in my ears. I even made one yesterday. I think I have my dessert for Thanksgiving planned.
You should have saved this one in your pocket because now everyone will want to steal it.

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Kim - Cook It Allergy Free November 16, 2010 at 3:45 am

Oh wow! That cheesecake looks absolutely phenomenal! I have had a sweet potato cheesecake only once, and it was totally amazing. Now add in that crust and the marshmallow topping and you have just created yourself a recipe worthy of a magazine cover! Well done! I just love this one and it may just be making it to our Thanksgiving table instead of my original planned dessert!

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Helene November 16, 2010 at 4:49 am

This is so going on the menu for the holidays! Decadent, luscious and utterly wonderful!
Thank you!

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Stephanie November 16, 2010 at 6:19 am

Gorgeous! Can't wait to try it!!!

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Shauna November 16, 2010 at 7:00 am

I love you. Wow. When you come to Seattle, we are baking. And eating. And laughing. And bake some more. We are your biggest fans. Just say when on the cookbook.

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glutenfreeforgood November 16, 2010 at 11:31 am

Wow, what an impressive finale to a Thanksgiving meal. Big, bold and beautiful. Love the idea of sweet potatoes, cream cheese and bourbon. Brilliant. And your recipe title is over-the-top charming.

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Wendy @Celiacs in the House November 16, 2010 at 11:35 am

Fabulous job incorporating some of the more nutritious GF flours into a gorgeous dessert. I think the GF blogging community will have to adopt you as an honorary member if you can feed us this well. Thank you. And thanks also for your kindness to a blogger who had an unpleasant experience in SFO for a blogging conference. I read your sweet comments to her on her on her blog and it was really compassionate and decent of you to do that.

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Molly November 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm

this looks fantastic! i'm so impressed by your cheesecake, and your beautiful photos. (and happy to have found your blog!)

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Lauren November 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Oh my goodness Irvin. You are just too awesome for words. This cheesecake? I want some. I haven't been hungry in a week, but I could make an exception for this. Just like Shauna, I hope we get to bake together some day.

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Michelle (What's Cooking with Kids) November 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Oh my goodness. That is all.

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Damaris @Kitchen Corners November 16, 2010 at 6:07 pm

sweet potatoes huh? I'm sold. I love sweet potatoes in desserts and cheese cakes are king!

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brooke November 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm

I have to come up with a variation for the middle for now, but I am so going to make the outside parts. Even my picky monkey thinks it looks yummy!

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glugleglutenfree November 17, 2010 at 1:34 am

OMG! This is amazing! I want to eat the picture. I think we are opposite in our baking styles (the fewer ingredients the better for me) but I could make an exception for this one. I love cheesecake and I haven't had one in forever. I have never tried making my own, but I am new to sweet potatoes. Love them, now. So… yep! Making it.

BTW, I didn't know you were in SFO. I am finding so many gluten-free bloggers live here. (I'm North Bay.) Very cool.

xoxo,
Tia

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Lexie | Lexie's Kitchen November 17, 2010 at 1:46 am

I'd like to dive in! This looks divine! The Cheesecake Factory should be knocking on your door.

And well said "I still don’t get why those two things can’t go hand in hand – so many commercial bakeries do HORRIBLE gluten free things. Not so hard to do people! Get to it!"

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Mr. Jackhonky November 17, 2010 at 3:01 am

@Mariko. LOL. Well if I could get someone to give me a 6 figure advance, I'll TOTALLY write a cookbook! LOL. But something tells me they don't quite hand those out as freely as they used to. However, if you happen to know anyone, please put them in touch with me! ;)

@Kim – Cook It Allergy Free. Thank you! I've actually never had a sweet potato cheesecake before. In fact, I (hilariously enough) thought I had actually come up with the idea ALL. BY. MYSELF! But after I developed the recipe, I googled it and found a million other recipes. Oh well. LOL. But thank you! One of these days, I can only hope to have my baked goods on the cover of a magazine…

@Helene. Oh good! Let me know what your thoughts are on it when you make it!

@Stephanie! Thank you!

@Shauna. Oh Shauna. I love you! I can't wait to go up there and visit! And yes, I'll let you know when I'm ready.

@Glutenfreeforgood. Thank you! It's so funny, other's had said my recipe title is over the top as well, but I just thought it was descriptive. Perhaps my personality is ever so slightly over the top.

@Wendy – Celiacs in the House. Thank you! I've actually been toying with teff flour for awhile, but this is the first recipe that I've made that I felt stood out enough to put on the blog. I would be absolutely thrilled to be an honorary member of the GF blogging community! You guys are all so great and so amazingly supportive of each other.

@Molly. Thank so much ! I'm happy you found my blog as well, and I'm so so pleased that I found yours!

@Lauren. I can only hope that one day we bake together too! I hope your appetite comes back and you make this! It's worth it!

@Michelle (What's Cooking with Kids). And thank you. That is all.

@Damaris. Yay! I'm glad my post sold you on it. Because it's fab. I just ate a slice for lunch today. Ha!

@brooke. Let me know what you come up with! The outside parts are great. And let me know what your picky monkey thinks of it…

@glugleglutenfree. Yeah, I have a habit of totally making things more complicated for myself than I need to. But I figure, if I have all these ingredients around, might as well use them! And having the kitchen scale helps, because you can just dump the flours in the bowl and not worry about all the measuring cups! Cheesecakes are easy to make as well, and this one is especially great because if it cracks on the top (one f the biggest problems with cheesecakes) it doesn't matter, as you're going to cover it with the sour cream marshamallow topping anyway!

And I'm definitely here in San Francisco, right near Dolores Park! Though technically I'm not a gluten free blogger. I just occasionally bake gluten free for friend and because it's fun. But I'm very happy to be considered an honorary one!

@Lexie. Dive in! Do it! And yes, I just don't get commercial bakeries. If I can make a decent gluten free cookie, a self taught home baker that isn't even gluten allergic, you'd think they could do it!

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Tara Barker November 17, 2010 at 4:40 am

Mmm . . . maple syrup and bourbon? That is my kind of cheesecake! For a couple years now we've been doing a maple bourbon pecan pie at Thanksgiving (originally a Martha recipe, I think). I always want to eat just the boozy, sweet filling.

I love that you thought you made up the idea of putting sweet potatoes in cheesecake. I often have the same delusions about my kitchen experiments. The I do some research, and find out that not only has "my" creation been around for EONS, but it's well-established and even has a fancy French name. Oh well. Nothing any of us cooks/bakes is ever really original, is it?

And by the way, how awesome are you for sneaking ANOTHER gf recipe into this post? Soft gingerbread cookies! Love it! I may be challenging Shauna & Danny on their "biggest fan" claims. :)

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make my day November 17, 2010 at 6:04 am

wow…you've done it again! clever clever man ;)

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themommybowl.com November 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I bet I could easily veganize that crust recipe to make some delicious cookies. Mmmm….love dual purpose recipes!

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Mr. Jackhonky November 17, 2010 at 5:21 pm

@Tara. I'm not a huge fan of pecan pie because it always way too cloyingly sweet for me, but a maple bourbon pecan pie sounds boozy delicious!

And yes, how ridiculous did I feel when I found out that sweet potato cheesecake, not that uncommon! Ahhh ignorance. You're right, nothing we do is every really REALLY all that original. Oh and I'm glad you caught my second sneaky recipe! Ha! I know "food blogging etiquette" says your not suppose to put two recipes into one post, but It just made sense…

@make my day. thank you!

@themommybowl. It shouldn't be that hard. Sub out the butter for a vegan buttery stick (I use Earth Balance when I'm baking vegan) and maybe either add some flax seed to compensate for the lack of egg, or add more starches (tapioca, potato or even sweet rice flour) to help with the binding. Let me know how it turns out!

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gfe--gluten free easily November 18, 2010 at 12:36 am

Pure heaven in cake form! The ingredients and presentation are perfection. :-) Now if you could just beam me a piece … I'd so love that! ;-) Now all the gluten-free people are going to try to become friends with you. Not kidding! :-)

I plan to do a listing on Friday as part of my sort of weekly roundup to keep the interest going. I know everyone has not planned their Thanksgiving menu yet. Some folks will definitely want to make this … or track you down to become your new BFF so they don't have to. ;-)

So happy to find your blog through Shauna's event!
Shirley

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Nancy @SensitivePantry November 18, 2010 at 1:03 am

You had me at bourbon! Which happens to be the last ingredient but might just be the icing on the cake. I'm drooling over flavors like sweet potato, ginger, maple, nutmeg, cloves and molasses. Not to mention….marshmallow! Marshmallow and sour cream! Oy! You have a way with baking…hard to believe you had only one bite of this cheesecake. (Oh, BTW, have you ever made marshmallows out of maple syrup? Yum.)

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Hannah @ Bake5! November 18, 2010 at 1:07 am

maple sweet potato cheesecake? wow. intriguing and delish all at the same time.

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Martha November 18, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Lovely guests, lovely food, and lovely hats. Win, win, and win! (Are those yours and AJ's hats, or do Sue and Tony travel with a little bit of Alaska, wherever the go?)

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onewetfoot November 20, 2010 at 1:23 am

That cheesecake looks amazing!

I posted a recipe to the Aherns' site: http://bit.ly/d4t7iX

My partner has celiac disease, so I've bookmarked their post for future reference. There are so many good recipes there!

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onewetfoot November 20, 2010 at 1:24 am
Mr. Jackhonky November 21, 2010 at 1:38 am

@gfe – Yay! Thank you! I welcome all gluten free people to be my friend! ;) I'm so happy that Shauna did this round up. I've found so many awesome blogs myself! Glad you found mine!

@Nancy. Thanks! I threw the bourbon in at the last minute, and it was subtle but I liked it a lot!

And, actually, I've never made my own marshmallows! But they are on my list of things to make. I can't wait. Maple marshmallows sounds awesome….

@Hannah. Thank you! Everyone who's tasted it seems to really like it. So I think it's a winner.

@Martha. I wish I could say that Sue and Tony traveled with those hats, but actually AJ and I own them. It's a long story, and perhaps one day I will tell it…

@onewetfoot, Thanks so much for visiting! I've said it before, but adore Shauna. She's the sweetest and such an amazing resource for those living with celiac or are otherwise gluten free, as well as just an amazing person in general. I'm glad you stopped by my post!

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Medifast Coupons November 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Thanks for the cheesecake and all the links to some other sights.

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angela@spinachtiger November 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I like that cheesecake, but I want all that other food too, (the egg sandwich especially). Happy Thanksgiving.

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riceandwheat November 29, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Ok I'll admit it…I don't like cheesecakes. Much too rich and sweet for my dessert palate, which is well-trained for Asian-style sweets (i.e. that are not really that sweet). But! I like sweet potatoes, so I'm thinking maybe I'll like this cheesecake! Now I just need to get me some sweet potatoes… :)

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Mr. Jackhonky November 30, 2010 at 12:51 am

@Medifast Coupons. You are welcome! The links go to some great other recipes for Thanksgiving!

@Angela. That egg sandwich is amazing. Come back to SF and I'll take you there! It's one of the best brunches in the city…

@riceandwheat You'd like this one. It not too sweet. And the earthy sweet potato and tart sour cream balances out the marshmallow topping and cream cheese filling. I brought the leftovers to a gather and a friend (who happens to be Asian) also was incredibly dubious, as she is not fond of either marshmallows or cheesecake, just like you, finding them both to be too rich or sweet, BUT decided to try a bite of it, and ended up eating the entire slice (even though she was totally full by dinner).

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Rita December 1, 2010 at 1:22 am

I am particularly choosy about cheesecakes, and this one knocked my socks off.

So did the gluten free gingerbread cookies. And, of course, Irvin did not reveal either were gluten free until after I'd savored and swooned.

I feel so lucky to have sampled both!!

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Flirting with Flour December 25, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I made this for my family on Thanksgiving and again for a party at work. It was WONDERFUL! Instead of the GF cookies I used special edition Graham crackers "gingerbread edition". I also used real maple syrup for the second cake but found it to be too sweet. Next time I might still use real (grade A) but add a bit less sugar. Happy baking! And happy holidays!

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glutenfreeforgood January 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Wow, what an amazing post! And what a great resource, not to mention the looks of that cheesecake. I also love the idea of using buckwheat and teff flour because of the nutrition they add. Healthy and tasty! Thanks for including me in your list. I really do appreciate it. Great post all around. I’ll be sifting through this collection of recipes you’ve compiled.
Melissa

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Geeology July 20, 2011 at 10:33 am

I just stumbled upon your cheesecake while searching for a GF Cheesecake crust. My assignment is to bring a GF Cheesecake to dinner TOMORROW, plain with blueberries on top. Your crust is the best I’ve found and I want to make it, however I need to go out and buy those ingredients (I’ve never baked GF before). Will I be able to find these ingredients at Whole Foods/Central Market/or the like?

Also, if you have any suggestions for a blueberry topping, that would also be greatly appreciated!

PS..Thank you, in advace!

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Irvin July 20, 2011 at 11:50 am

Hi Geeology. You should be able to find the flours at a Whole Foods or Central Market, but one of the issues with baking Gluten Free is you have to buy large packages of flours, which you might not use again. A bit expensive and a bit wasteful.

Definitely check the bulk food section at either place to see if you can buy smaller quantities. Especially the xanthan gum, which only comes in REALLY large packs and you only need a tiny bit. Since you’re making it into a crust, you can probably skip it the gum. Keep in mind if you do, the crust will be more crumbly and not as cookie soft and chewy.

Also, the first three flours (buckwheat, brown rice and teff) function as flours, while the following three ingredients (sweet rice, tapioca, and potato) function as starches. I designed this recipe to mimic a gingerbread cookie to go with the sweet potato cheesecake. If you are doing a plain cheesecake, you can probably do some substitutions (for instance, maybe brown rice and white rice flour for the flours, and sweet rice and cornstarch for the starches). That will allow you to buy less ingredients – you may even have the cornstarch at home.

Finally, if you can’t locate the ingredients at Whole Foods or Central Market, you may want to try an Asian or International Grocery Store. Most Asian grocery stores stock rice flours (sweet and white), buckwheat as well as potato starch. Teff can be easily found at a store that sells Ethiopian ingredients (it’s a staple for their cuisine).

As for the blueberry topping, I’m pretty fond of Martha Stewart’s recipe which is simple and easy.

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Augie November 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Wow, that cheesecake looks absolutely divine! Just stumbled upon your blog while looking for some holiday ideas. Have you ever tried to sub out the buckwheat flour? I find that the flavor can be a bit much for me at times… Also, have you had any success with making dairy-free cheesecakes? That’s an endeavour I am still aspiring to, and am totally open to ideas! I did find a really awesome GF DF CF SF cornbread recipe! http://thelittleaussiebakery.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/corn-bread/

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