Pumpkin Spice Gingersnap Cheesecake

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone 😀

Its been about one year since I began Sweet. Raw. Free, so yippee to it being a year of delicious desserts and enticing entrees (at least, I hope so), provided for both your tasting and viewing pleasures.  I have certainly reveled in cooking, baking, and photographing up a storm in hopes that others will enjoy the fruits of my creativity and passion.

Additionally, also close to one year ago I posted a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake, as both cheesecake is one of my all-time favorite, most loved desserts, and pumpkin being an ever adored ingredient of mine (for both sweet and savory things).

That pumpkin cheesecake from a year past was pretty good.  The spices in it were especially awesome.  However, it wasn’t sweet enough.  I knew this back when I made it (and totally spaced on altering the recipe to reflect such!), and recently a close family friend reflected a similar sentiment, reminding me of this.  So with that said, I set out to create a new and improved version of my pumpkin cheesecake.  With Thanksgiving seeming like a fitting time for such a venture.  Here is the result: the new and improved Pumpkin Spice Gingersnap Cheesecake.

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Country Livin Sweet Potato Pie

Hi all!  I thought I would follow up the sweetest of holidays with a super sweet recipe (except that its not, because its refined sugar-free ;-p).  Sweet potato pie!  This was my first attempt at making one, giving me a slight flutter of anticipation and nerves as I awaited with bated breath wondering how the finished product would come out.

Whoa, was I pleasantly, delightfully, deliciously, delectably surprised with recipe #32.  This one might just become a staple among my regular dessert repertoire.  It was FANTASTIC.  It was absolutely as good as pumpkin pie.  Possibly, just possibly, even better.  I am already dreaming of whipping up another one next weekend.

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Ricotta Cookies

Happy Holidays, everyone!  I apologize for the major lag since I last posted.  I was away this past weekend, which is my usual time for baking/cooking and photographing, so there was a pause on the usual churning out of my creations.  That will recommence now.

With Christmas just around the bend, its…cookie time!!  I imagine many of you have similar traditions which may involve any of the following: baking up batches and batches of Christmas cookies in all varieties (while pausing in between to sample spoonfuls of the raw dough, mm mm.  Wait, what, you don’t do that too?  Whoops!).  Piping colorful icing and placing shimmering decals onto your finished cookies just so, to make them all Christmasy and such.  Carefully boxing/packaging up said cookies for friends and family.  And to conclude the baking whirlwind, sitting down and eating a stack of 3…4…5…of the finished product with a tall glass of cold milk or a hot coffee/tea while sitting alongside your colorfully glowing tree with a sigh of contentment.

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This is one of my very favorite traditions of the holiday season.  While gingerbread is a requisite recipe for December, I am going to give you an additional cookie for recipe #27.  These babies are refined sugar-free and lactose-free.  They are moist, cakey, lightly sweet, really dang good.  You may just find yourself not wanting to put these on the plate for Santa but instead, end up keeping and eating them yourself.  Enjoy!

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Moms Traditional Christmas Cookies

Happy Holidays, everyone!  I am not going to count this recipe towards the 250-in-one-year goal, as it doesn’t really fit the criteria.  There is both sugar and gluten in this one.  However, I can promise you that this one time, its absolutely worth it.  I made an exception because this recipe is particularly special to my heart.

My mom used to bake up batches this exact cookie recipe for my brother and me every single Christmas, throughout our childhood.  I awaited this time of year almost solely based on these cookies.  She would press the dough into heavy iron mold castings.  Shapes of ballerinas, drums, sleighs, bells, Santa Claus, rocking horses, the list went on.  When they were finished cooking, we would ever-so-gently dig the pillowy cookies out of their molds with the edge of a knife.  The result was a three dimensional shape which we would proceed to cover in colorful frosting and decals.  The taste, awesome.  Light, sweet, cakey, divine.

Typically I would down 5 or 6 of these per decorating session.  My mom would come to the table and grow wide eyed upon seeing the significantly diminished number of cookies left, asking where so many of the cookies had gone.  My brother and I said nothing, our silence and sneaky smiles giving us away.  These cookie decorating evenings were always a great source of contentment and joy for me.  Lots of giggling and coziness came from sitting next to my mom and brother as Christmas music lulled in the background.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Cake

December, one of the best months of the year.  Christmas lights twinkling.  Fires roaring in hearths and rustic wood stoves.  Mittens and scarves have officially made a reappearance.  Hot chocolate and tea are constants on rotation as the comforting warm drink of choice (alongside of coffee, which diehards tend to drink all year regardless).  Decorations are hung.  Christmas music is played, to an annoying degree for some (though personally, I love it).  Cookies are baked and piped with colorful icing.  Cards filled with affectionate sentiments are penned.  Church on Christmas Eve with choir sung carols, magical.  Finding for the perfect personal gifts for those you love.  Thick books truly ideal for this month of the year, diving into an immersive, spellbinding, towering tale while holed up under your favorite blanket.  Snow, a glittering blanket across the landscape.  All of this and more is why I think December is fantastic.

Another awesome aspect of December…chocolate cake.  This particular cake is decked out, much like the halls, during this month of the year (wink, wink).

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Mock Gingerbread Cookies

Its beginning to be that time of year again.  For recipe #19, I thought I would venture into the traditional holiday/Christmas treat realm and go with gingerbread.  Gingerbread is a multi-purpose dessert which can wear many hats appealing, don’t you think?  One can make the traditional gingerbread men and women, decorating them with colorful piped icing for charming getup’s and physical features.  An elaborate gingerbread house can be constructed, doubling as a work of art AND a tasty treat.  Gingerbread cake is always a delicious decision.  Gingerbread cupcakes with maple frosting.  Gingerbread lattes.  The list goes on.

I have a gingerbread cookie recipe for you but without all the less-than-healthy ingredients.  You might just forget they aren’t the real deal and polish off the batch within a day or two if you aren’t careful.

The final cherry on top of all this good news?  For those of you who are avid dough eaters (you know who you are.  The ones who, whenever baking, you grab a spoon and eat a number of spoonfuls of the dough before baking whatever sweet treat it is that’s in the making), this dough is egg free, so eat away!  (I certainly did ;-))

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Mock Gingerbread Cookies

(“Mock” in the sense that these gingerbread cookies are sugar-free, lactose-free and gluten-free.  Legit in the sense that they taste just like the real deal!)

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Pumpkin Pie with Pistachio Crust

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Obviously Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here in Germany, so I am imagining all the people I love in the US crowding around full tables (probably at this very moment actually) with their families and loved ones, the surfaces heaped with DELECTABLE food in all manner of dishes, conversation, stories and laughter filling the room, candles aglow along the length of the spread.  I love all of this.  After the meal, a game of cards might break out, or everyone may cozy down in front of a movie.  And of course, watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade here and there throughout the day as fun background filler is a must.  And finally, once dusk gives way to night and people start to get the late night munchies, they head back into the kitchen to assemble a small plate of…drum roll…one of the best parts about Thanksgiving…LEFTOVERS!!!!

Therefore I thought with recipe #16, I would stick to the traditional-thanksgiving-foods theme, so here is an awesome Pumpkin Pie for you to sample and fall in love with.  Alongside of stuffing (though not literally eaten together.  That would be gross :-p), pumpkin pie is the most sought after item on the Thanksgiving spread for me.  I could easily kill half a pie if you twisted my arm (or, even if you didn’t).

Yes, the crust on this recipe is a tad complicated but its WELL WORTH IT.

What is the must have item on your Thanksgiving menu? 

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