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!).
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!
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.
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:
- Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom: Crescent Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free
- Andrea’s Recipes: Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones
- Art and Lemons: Gluten-Free Rustic Squash Tart
- The Art of Gluten Free Baking: Pumpkin Pie Gluten Free
- A Baking Life: Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla-Bourbon Bavarian Cream and Cinnamon-Brown Sugar caramel
- Bell’alimento: Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll with Mascarpone and Nutella Filling
- Blue Bonnet: Apple and Pear Cobbler for Lucas
- Cakespy: Gluten Free as a Bird: GF Turkey Meatloaf Cupcakes for the Gluten Free Girl
- Cannelle et Vanille: Sweet Potato and Crabapple Clafoutis for a Gluten Free Thanksgiving and a Giveaway
- Celiac Teen: Gluten Free Holidays
- Chez Us: Gluten Free Apple Crisp
- Cook 4 Seasons: Gluten Free Pumpkin Mousse
- Cook It Allergy Free: Gluten Free Stuffing With Apples, Sausage, Pine Nuts, and a Secret
- Deliciously Organic: A Whole Foods Thanksgiving – Pumpkin Banana Tart
- Dish Towel Diaries: Kale Caesar Slaw
- Food for my Family: Apple Pie Cheesecake
- Fork Spoon Knife: Farm to Table – Simple Baked Meals
- Glugle Gluten-Free: Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins
- Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes: Gluten-Free Sourdough Rosemary Rolls and Gluten-Free Mincemeat Cookies
- Gluten Free Easily: Candy Carrot Coins…Naturally Gluten Free for Thanksgiving or Any Time
- Gluten Free For Good: Gluten Free Cherry Cobbler
- A Half Cup: Gluten Baking/Cooking Challenge
- Kitchen Gadget Girl: Gluten Free Pumpkin Strata
- Lexie’s Kitchen: Diary Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, no bake pumpkin pie filling
- Mom Food Project: A Gluten-Free Mom Food Thankgiving
- The Mommy Bowl: Gluten Free Bread
- My Madeleine: Butternut Squash Soup
- Not without Salt: Gluten Free Chocolate Biscotti
- One Wet Foot: Cinnamon-Cardamom Rice Pudding with Honeyed Rosewater Sauce
- Recipe Girl: An Entire Thanksgiving Menu, Gluten Free
- Rookie Moms: (Gluten Free) Chocolate peanut butter brownies
- The Sensitive Pantry: Brown Sugar Hand Pies (plus a story & a cookbook)
- Smith Bites: Gluten Free Celery Root Soup with cashew cream
- The Sophisticated Gourmet: Cranberry Almond Coconut Macaroons
- Tartlette: Thin Crust Pear Tart – Tarte Fine Aux Poires for Gluten Free Thanksgiving & a Giveaway
- Tiffin Tales: Glorious Gluten Free Thanksgiving Torte
- Two Peas and their Pods: Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Crisp
- Wasabimon: Gluten Free Butternut Squash Pie Recipe
- Wenderly: Sweet & Savory Prosciutto Cups
- What’s Cooking with Kids: Thanksgiving Recipes for Everyone (Gluten-Free Apple Crisp Recipe)
- What’s Gaby Cooking: Gluten Free Molasses Cookies
- White on Rice: Turkey Sloppy Joes on Rosemary Rolls
- Who Ate My Tomato: Gluten Free Squash Tart
- Zest Bakery: Warm Pumpkin Polenta with Goat Cheese
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!
This is one of those big desserts that you serve at the end of an amazing meal, like Thanksgiving. The best thing about it is that you have to make it at least 8 hours in advance to let it chill in the fridge, so you can make it the day before, and spend the entire day cooking the rest of the dinner, knowing you have dessert already done. It sounds like a rather labor intensive recipe, but it’s not really. However, I’ve included notes at the bottom for shortcuts.
Gluten Free Gingerbread Crust
This recipe makes twice as much dough than you need for the crust. Don’t worry, you can take the rest of the dough, make them into 1” balls and then roll them in sugar and bake them at 350˚F for 10 minutes for gingersnap cookies. You can either garnish the cheesecake with these, or just enjoy as is!
30g buckwheat flour
24 g brown rice flour
30 g teff flour
50 g sweet rice flour (sometimes called glutinous rice flour)
50 g potato starch (not potato flour, that’s something different)
26 g tapioca flour (sometimes called tapioca starch)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup butter
125 g of sugar
2 tablespoon dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1. Take a whisk and combine the flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, and spices all together in a medium bowl.
2. Place the butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl and using a mixer, cream the two together until the butter mixture is smooth and the sugar is fully incorporated.
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the molasses and vanilla and beat again until fully incorporated. Add the egg and repeat, making sure the scrape down the side again.
4. Add the flours and mix completely, until the dough has fully incorporated the flour, making sure you don’t see any butter lumps or streaks.
5. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for an hour.
6. In the meanwhile, spray the bottom and sides of a 9” springform pan. Preheat the oven to 350˚F
7. After the dough has chilled, take half the dough (reserving the other half for another use) and press the dough into the bottom of the 9” pan, covering the entire bottom of the pan uniformly to about a 1/4” thickness.
8. Bake the springform pan with the cookie dough in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. The dough should look dry on top and a little puffy.
9. Take out of the oven to cool while preparing the custard for the cheesecake.
Note 1. As the header said, this make twice as much dough as you need for the cheesecake. You can easily take the dough and roll out cookies from it, making your own soft gluten free gingerbread cookies, or you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then in a ziplock bag and freeze it for later use.
Maple Sweet Potato Cheesecake
15 oz (one medium) sweet potato
3/4 cup grade B maple syrup
4 8oz bricks of cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
3 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon bourbon (optional – see note)
1. Peel and slice the sweet potato into 1/2” – 3/4” slices. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and place the sweet potato slices into the water and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes can easily be pierced by a fork and are soft.
2. In the meanwhile, bring the maple syrup to a simmer in a small saucepan until a small bit of maple syrup dropped into a cold bowl of water turns into a soft ball (the soft ball stage), about 240˚F.
3. Drain the potatoes competely and place them in medium bowl. Add the maple syrup and, with a fork, mash the potatoes and syrup together, until well blended into a puree.
4. Place the cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy (about two or three minutes depending on how cold the cream cheese is).
5. Beat in the mashed sweet potato and maple syrup puree until fully incorporated and then scrape down the sides. Add the eggs one at a time beating to make sure they are fully incorporated, and scraping down the sides between additions. Add the cornstarch, spices, and salt until well blended. Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla and bourbon and blend until incorporated.
6. Pour the custard into the 9” springform pan with the baked gingerbread base in it, leaving about a 1/2” – 1/4” space left from the very rim of the pan. If you have leftover batter, you can pour it into smaller ramekin and bake it separately, checking the ramekins after 20 minutes or so depending on the size of the ramekin. But try not to overfill the springform pan as the cheesecake will puff up a bit.
7. Place the springform pan in the oven and bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until the edges of the cheesecake start to crack. The center of the filling will still move slightly as the pan is gently shaked, but will firm up as it cools. Try not to overbake the cheesecake as it will dry out.
8. Cool at room temperature for about an hour on a rack and then move it to the refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Note 1: If you decide you don’t want to use the bourbon, just leave it out and add two tablespoons of vanilla extract in place of the one teaspoon.
Note 2. Don’t worry about the edges of the cheesecake cracking or if the cheesecake cracks when it cools. It will be hidden under the marshmallow topping.
Sour Cream Marshmallow Topping
2 cups mini marshmallows or large marshmallows cut into 1/2” cubes
1/4 cup milk (whole or 2%, don’t use no fat)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream (don’t use low fat)
1. In a medium saucepan add the marshmallows and milk together over low heat, constantly stirring with a spatula until the marshmallows have started to melt. When the marshmallows are nearly completely melted, turn off the heat and continue to stir, letting the residual heat of the pan melt them completely. Be careful not to let the marshmallows scorch or burn.
2. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Then let the mixture cool to room temperature, occasionally stirring it.
3. Add the sour cream to the saucepan and using a large spatula, gently lift up the marshmallow mixture over the sour cream and fold together the two until incorporated. Try not to stir too much, but fold by lifting the marshmallow mixture over the sour cream over and over from all sides.
4. After the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature (or chilled overnight) pour the marshmallow topping on top of the cheesecake and spread it to the edges of the cheesecake, leaving about an even 1/2” rim around the side of the cheesecake. Put back in the refrigerator to chill for at least another hour to set the topping.
Note 1. To simplify recipe. You can either skip the gingerbread crust bottom (but trust me, it’s worth making) and buy some gluten free gingersnaps and using that as a crust for the cheesecake. Just crush 9oz of the gingersnaps in a food processor, and add 1/4 cup of packed golden brown sugar and 1/4 cup melted butter and toss together and then spread on the bottom of the pan, continuing with the rest of the recipe as is.
Note 2. You can probably skip the sour cream marshmallow topping as well, but it’s really simple to make. However the cheesecake holds up really well on it’s own without it. What’s nice about the marshmallow topping though, is that it totally covers up any cracks on the top of the cheesecake, which means you don’t need to bake it in a waterbath, something I just find a bit cumbersome to do.
Note 3. The cheesecake can be made in stages. Make the gingerbread dough one day and chill overnight. The cheesecake itself can be made the next day, and the marshmallow topping made the following day or an hour before serving.
Final Note. As with all gluten free recipes, the ingredients I used were gluten free, including the cream cheese and marshmallows. Be sure to check the label and contact the manufacturer if you are unsure about whether or not an ingredient is truly gluten free or not or if you are unsure about the manufacturing conditions and cross contaminations of gluten ingredients on the equipment. Finally be sure to thoroughly wash your own equipment (spring form pans, mixing bowls, measuring cups, etc.) before baking or cooking.