My interests have shifted over time. For example, when I was very young I remember telling some judgy adult I wanted to be a doctor. That velleity only lasted a few minutes, but I also wanted to be a ballerina and an actress (thank goodness that didn’t last!) and later, a documentary filmmaker under the deep blue sea, a poet, a novelist, a singer-songwriter, a nail artist, a real artist, and others.
Mixed up in all this, as well as the confusion of going to college and thinking I was cured of all body-image and food-related thought traps, it makes sense that I often forget I like to make recipes. I only did this one yesterday because I was suffering an extreme terror over having to meet a friend today and having to make sure I got enough exercise… After doing some yoga, I made up this random recipe for a no-bake brownie cheesecake that just happened to turn out post-able, if not magazine-photogenic. Of course, my interests nowadays lean farther away from baking and more towards marine conservation…
Above: “Pserudobiceros gloriosus (flatworm) on Polycarpa aurata (Seasquirt)” by Nick Hobgood (see bottom of page for full credits)
I was thinking of titling this post “Berry Turbellarian Brownie Cheesecake,” or “Chilled Flatworm Brownie Delight,” in reference to how utterly flat this layered dessert turned out (food often reminds me of marine animals.) But despite the delightful colors of some turbellarians (free-swimming as opposed to parasitic flatworms) I didn’t think that would be a great title for a recipe (after all, I don’t want to encourage people to take flatworms out of their natural habitat in order to enjoy them in dessert recipes!) So here is the flatworm-free Summer Berry Brownie Cheesecake, which I made in the shape of a square field but which might work out better in a smaller container so as to make the layers thicker and easier to cut and eat (and photograph.) Enjoy!
No-Bake Summer Berry Brownie Cheesecake
*Note: I recommend doubling the whole recipe so it makes a thicker layer of brownie, or you could put it in a smaller pan/container)
- 1/2 cup pure cocoa powder
- 1 tbs white sugar (or use your favorite type of granulated sweetener; this is just all I had in the house at the moment)
- 5 tbs milk
- 2 squares of a solid, dark chocolate bar (I used the store brand “Signature Select” 72% cacao dark chocolate with almonds and blueberry)
- 1 container Chobani Pure Raspberry “Flip” whole milk Greek yogurt (or your favorite thick Greek yogurt, preferably the type where the yogurt and fruit sauce are given separately)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (of your choice)
- 1 Laughing Cow light creamy swiss cheese triangle
- 1 cup fresh, washed blueberries
Line a brownie pan, bread pan, or a gaggle of muffin cups with aluminum foil.
In a medium bowl, combine cocoa powder, 1 tbs sugar and milk.
Melt one square of chocolate and mix the melted chocolate into the brownie batter.
In another medium bowl, combine just the yogurt (not the fruit-syrupy stuff) with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss cheese triangle. Mix gently with a spoon; try to blend the cheese into the yogurt instead of chopping it into isolated cheesy morsels.
Knead the brownie dough/batter/stuff until it is thick and mostly contingent (it will never stick together). As best you can, press it onto the foil in your pan like a holey crust.
Break the remaining square of chocolate into little chunks and sprinkle them to fill the holes between brownie batter splotches.
Pour the yogurt cheesecake mixture over the brownie crust. Use a spoon to gently spread it evenly.
Drizzle the fruit syrup over the yogurt and gently mix it in with a spoon.
Distribute the blueberries evenly on top.
Refrigerate overnight and enjoy cool.
Full image credit for flatworm image:
“Pserudobiceros gloriosus (flatworm) on Polycarpa aurata (Seasquirt).” By Nhobgood Nick Hobgood (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License
Heaven knows how many times we hear that phrase as children: whether it’s Mommy urging us to put a spoonful of veggies into our sealed-shut mouths, or the kindergarten teacher attempting to introduce fractions in a positive manner, we are always being asked to step outside our comfort zones, to open our minds, if temporarily, to something we aren’t sure about.
I had to do this earlier this November, when it was time to board the plane for Colorado. I’d only been there once as a young child, but now I was returning with my family to celebrate my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. It was an occasion I’d been dreading since the date was announced. Not because I didn’t want to enjoy and experience this milestone with my cousin… because I dreaded the feel of Denver in November.
Temperature is no joke for me: if it drops below about 69, I’m miserable, shivering in my winter coat. (Keep in mind that I am a spoiled California kid.) On the flip side, let the thermostat break 85 or so and I’m like the Wicked Witch of the West, slowly melting (and not playing the silent stoic about it either.) We’d read a forecast that Denver was supposed to be relatively temperate that weekend. We’d also been warned that the weather in Denver is as faithful to the predictions as a butterfly to his mate, and as reliable as the elevator in an abandoned building. It might rain, or snow, or hail, and then the sun could beam down and taunt us with its fickle warmth before retreating to be replaced by more hail, or snow, or rain. I expected the worst possible weather: a freezing, hailing snow kingdom, in which I would be ensconced in an air-conditioned synagogue, catching my death of pneumonia in the treacherous air.
It turned out, we were blessed with relatively beautiful weather. No snow, no hail, just temperatures barely above freezing in the early morning – but that I found I could deal with, thanks to our hotel lobby’s real fireplace. The afternoons were sunny, and I insisted upon exploring Denver a little bit while not engaging in the Bar Mitzvah celebration.
cannon monument near state capital building
art museum – look closely for broom and dustpan outdoor art
Both the family time and the interesting things we saw in the city were memorable experiences. When it was time to return home to temperate Southern California, I wished we could have stayed a little longer to explore more… but as it turned out, the day after we left Denver it snowed.
At any rate, I was glad I tried spending some time in a new environment. I ended up liking it!
Liberty Bell replica near state capital
Cherry Creek State Park – we were delighted to see prairie dogs and what looked like magpies along the trail!
These black bean brownies with berry and mint ice cream are another thing I tried this month with good results. I was afraid this flavor combination would be a little weird, but it forms a perfect harmony.
The rich, soft gluten-free brownie is complemented by a sassy berry kiss and covered in a cold blanket of ice cream – much like snow on the ground in mid-winter, concealing the future fruits of spring buried in the soil. And the cold temperature wasn’t all that reminded me of Denver – like that visit, it was a new and positive experience.
This holiday treat is for those who aren’t afraid to savor something cold this time of year – either because you live in paradise (like me) where it’s sunny year-round, or because you’re just brave and hard-core like that. Enjoy this surprisingly scrumptious red and green flavor fusion. Find the courage to try something new – you just might like it!