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My husband’s birthday was this past Monday and we were in full-on celebration mode all weekend. (This man is worth celebrating 365 days a year, but that’s a sappy post for another day.) When I asked him what kind of treats he wanted, he had very specific requests: cupcakes, cheese, Jelly Beans, and olives. Easy! "Great," I said, and supplemented with chips and salsa, crackers, dark chocolate-covered almonds, and popcorn.
Here's how it looked all laid out. Pretty, right? But more importantly: pretty simple.
I'm a devout cupcake maker, so for me the most important part of the puzzle was the cupcakes. My husband chose two flavors: Peanut Butter and Brooklyn Brownie. I always make vegan cupcakes despite not being a vegan because I prefer the way they taste. (I once spent 40 weeks making the 40 cupcake recipes in the cookbook VEGAN CUPCAKES TAKE OVER THE WORLD, so I consider that book my baking Bible.) I toyed with the idea of cleaning up the cupcakes by using less sugar and oil, but ultimately I decided that this wasn't MY birthday and I could go as clean and crazy as I want when it is. I made two tiny healthy tweaks (I used whole wheat flour and homemade peanut butter), but for the most part I left these decadent cupcake recipes as-is.
You can find the peanut butter cupcake recipe I used at Miss Marzipan.
You can find the peanut butter frosting recipe I used at Bake and Destroy.
You can find the Brooklyn brownie recipe I used at Vegan Bandit.
Those are chopped walnuts on top of the Brooklyn brownie cupcakes and blackberries on the peanut butter.
The only other homemade element here were the crackers, both of which were THREE-INGREDIENT recipes. The recipes I used for flax crackers and cheesy star crackers can be found in the cookbook SUPERCHARGED FOOD: EAT CLEAN, GREEN AND VEGETARIAN.
For his actual birthday, my husband wanted cheesecake. I thought it would be fun to do cheesecake two ways: a super-light version for breakfast and a more decadent one for dessert. This was how we started our day on Monday.
The recipe for these Upside Down Cheesecakes came from FIT GIRLS COOK, a cookbook from Fit Girls Guide.
This perfectly-portioned frozen treat was a sweet way to start the day.
For dessert, I wanted a show-stopper. So I turned to DELICIOUSLY ELLA for a raw, vegan, gluten-free berry cheesecake. You can find the entire recipe at her site but I'll also go through it step by step below.
STEP ONE: Slice three bananas and freeze them. Also freeze 1 cup of fresh blueberries (the water content in frozen blueberries is too high, so you'll need to freeze your own.) Soak 2 cups cashews in a bowl of water. You'll need to freeze and soak for at least four hours (I did this step overnight.)
STEP TWO: To make the base layer, crush 1 1/2 cup almonds in a food processor. If your food processor isn't particularly strong, be warned: mine burnt out during this process, even though I was working in small batches. I realized after the fact that I needed to chop the almonds into small pieces before adding them to the food processor to prevent this. R.I.P., yet another food processor. After crushing the almonds, add 2 1/2 cups dates and blend until a sticky dough forms. Press the mixture into a greased cake pan and put in the freezer.
STEP THREE: Now it's time for the middle layer. Supposedly you're still using a food processor for this step, but if your food processor died like mine did you've switched to a blender. In your blender, combine 2 cups soaked cashew nuts, 2 frozen bananas, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup apple juice, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Combine until smooth and creamy. Remove the base layer from the freezer and add 3/4 of the middle layer to the top before freezing again. Reserve the last 1/4 of the mixture to be combined with the top layer. You'll need to freeze the new mixture for at least 20 minutes.
STEP FOUR: After waiting twenty minutes, combine the remaining 1/4 of the middle layer mixture with 1 cup freshly frozen blueberries, 1 cup strawberries, 1 frozen banana, 4 dates, 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Blend until smooth, pour over the middle layer, and put the entire cake back in the freezer. Freeze for at least two hours. Remove from the freezer and let it thaw for a few minutes before serving.
It's a time-consuming project, but so worth the delicious effort.
We also got in some good physical exercise this weekend since my husband wanted to go cross-country skiing. Physical activity, clean treats, a few not-so-clean treats thrown in, and a lot of quality time with my sweetheart: that's my idea of a perfect birthday weekend.