Monday, February 3, 2014

Naturally Colored Conversation Heart Cheesecakes


It is hard to believe that I created my original Conversation Heart Cheesecakes two years ago. Time goes by so quickly. It was my second Valentine's Day as a blogger and I thought making cheesecakes to look like conversation hearts was a cute idea. I never imagined it would become my most popular recipe. 


When I made my first batch of heart shaped cheesecakes I colored them with store bought food coloring. I know I use it a lot when making my edible crafts. I've been adding coloring to my white chocolate, which I use to paint lollipops, for so many years, that it just seems like a normal thing to do. 

I do, however, realize there are more natural and healthier ways to color our food using fruits and vegetables. When I wrote my original post about these cute little cakes, I even suggested it. So, now finally, two years later, I've taken my own suggestion and made a batch of Naturally Colored Conversation Heart Cheesecakes.


I started by making fruit and vegetable purees. This did take quite a bit of time. For the second time in a few months, I wished I owned a juicer, or at least had a blender. I made do with what I had on hand. 


I used mostly frozen fruit, as winter in Ohio isn't the best time to find great produce. I took about a cup of fruit, in this case, raspberries, heated them over medium heat until they began to break down, smashing them as they cooked. 


To remove all the seeds, I then pressed the fruit through a fine mesh strainer. I really didn't want any seeds in my smooth and creamy cheesecakes, so I press the fruit puree through the strainer a second time.

I used this method for my raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I even tried strawberries, looking for a nice red with which to paint the sentiments onto the conversation hearts. I realized the blackberries made the brightest red, so I used it for my paint. 

I ended up with a bit more puree than needed to color my cheesecakes, so I just mixed all the extras together and enjoyed a nice glass of juice. 


Orange was one of the most challenging colors to achieve. I recently used carrots to color the orange layer in my naturally colored rainbow cake, so I tried it. I pureed the carrots using a stick blender, but would recommend using an actual blender if you have one. I added some orange juice to the carrots just to make them easier to blend and to add some flavor. Then I pressed it through a fine mesh strainer. 

It worked great, and shockingly the final cheesecake had a nice pleasant sweet flavor. The cakes had just the slightest hint of carrot flavor. A little orange zest would have been a nice addition, but I had just used orange juice from a bottle.


So, I had raspberry puree to make pink cheesecakes, blueberry for purple, carrots and orange juice for orange, I thought about using mango or even peach for yellow, but opted instead to go with lemon zest and juice. To punch up the yellow color I added an extra egg yolk.  

Green was the biggest challenge. I should have gone with lime, but I hate lime, so I tried kiwi. It did not work, at all. The baked kiwi cheesecakes ended up in the trash. The acid in the kiwi really broke down the cheesecakes. They were runny and they had a terribly bitter, almost metallic taste.

My husband wants me to try making the green with spinach. I used it to make the green layer of my rainbow cake and was surprised that the cake had no spinach flavor. I'll have to give it a try and I'll let you know how it turns out.

Being I was adding juice to my cheesecake batter and trying to achieve nice pastel colors, I reduced the amount of sour cream and eliminated the vanilla. I was pleased with all of the colors except the green.  


Naturally Colored Conversation Heart Cheesecakes

Ingredients: (makes 18)

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (15 squares)
pinch of cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sour cream

Natural Coloring:

blue - 1-2 tablespoons blueberry puree (I used 2)
pink - 1-2 tablespoons raspberry puree (I used 2)
yellow- the zest from one lemon, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 egg yolk
orange - 1 1/2 tablespoons carrot puree and 2 teaspoons orange juice
white - just plain cheesecakes
green - kiwi did not work, you could try lime or spinach
red- for painting on the words, either blackberry or raspberry puree

Special supplies Needed:

Wilton Heart Shaped Silicone Molds
fine tip paint brush (new or food only brush)
roasting pan big enough to fit your heart shaped molds
optional, Chicago Metallic Conversation Heart Cookie Cutters/Stamps

Instructions:

This is an abbreviated version of this recipe. For more detailed instructions, and tips see the original Conversation Heart Cheesecake recipe, here

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


Mix graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and melted butter together. Equally divide among 18 heart cavities and press down into and even layer. 


Beat cream cheese. Add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and eggs.


Divide the cheesecake batter into 6 bowls. Add fruit purees, in the amount listed in the ingredients to the bowls, to achieve the desired shade. Keep one bowl plain, for white cheesecakes.


Equally divide each color into 3 of the heart cavities.


Bake in a water bath for 22-25 minutes. When done the cheesecakes will look set but will still jiggle in the center.

I share lots of tips and details about the water bath in the original conversation heart cheesecake post


Allow to cool for an hour at room temperature, then freeze for at least 2 hours. 

One trick I learned while making these cheesecakes is to cover the molds with a piece of paper towel before freezing. The paper towel will wick up the moisture, so that you don't end up with beads of condensation on the cheesecakes. 


Un-mold the cheesecakes. If they don't come out nicely, freeze longer. I actually froze mine overnight and they popped right out of the molds.


You can use either raspberry or blackberry puree to paint on the conversation heart sentiments, using a fine tip paint brush. I tried both and they both looked nice. The blackberry (two hearts on the right) was darker than the raspberry. 

I don't have a very steady hand, so painting letters is a challenge for me. I recently bought a set of Chicago Metallic Conversation Heart Cutters that are cutters on one side and stamps on the other side. I will be showing you a few more ideas using them later this week. I pressed them onto my frozen cheesecakes and they left the perfect impressions. I painted over the letters and I ended up with perfectly spaced printed words. I love it.

If you use the stamps, just be sure to stamp all of the cheesecakes right after they come out of the freezer, then paint. I waited and messed up a few. The stamps stuck to the thawed cheesecakes. 


You can see all the pretty pastel colors. The purple might be a bit too bright, but I really loved the flavor of the blueberry cheesecake. It was my favorite. My husband loved the lemon and raspberry. I did too.


Would I do this again?

Definitely. 

They may have been a bit more work than the first time around, but I think the time was well spent.

 


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- Beth

Items used to create this project that are available on Amazon.com (commission earned for sales)




  

More Valentines' Day Desserts
from Hungry Happenings


22 comments:

  1. Thank you, Beth! These are wonderful! : )

    ReplyDelete
  2. Obrigada!
    Traduzindo e adaptando para os ingredientes do meu país, mudando uma coisinha daqui e dali vou tentar fazer por aqui.
    Achei lindo!
    Giselle
    Comi com os olhos!!
    LIndos!Saborosos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Giselle,

      I do hope you are able to find all the ingredients needed to make these cheesecakes. If you have any questions, just let me know.

      Delete
  3. As always, I love your cheesecakes and would you believe I have those same cutters for the same reason!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was so excited to find these cutters/stamps. They are perfect and will be so useful for so many conversation heart recipes.

      Delete
  4. Wow, so cool that you used only natural coloring. I can't believe how spot on the colors are to actual conversation hearts! I'm lovin those cutters too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was so surprised by how easy it was to get pretty colors using the fruits. They are equally as pretty as those made with food coloring.

      Delete
  5. These are so cute! And I'm loving that there is a way to color them naturally. This would be a hit around my house since cheesecake is my hubs and daughter's favorite dessert. Thanks for linking up at The Makers!
    Corey @ TinySidekick.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Corey. My husband loved these cheesecakes, especially the lemon:)

      Delete
  6. Hi Beth! These look so adorable and I love that you're going for natural coloring! I just wanted to comment about kiwi. Certain tropical fruits like kiwi and pineapple have enzymes that break down protein. It's the main reason why you can't use fresh pineapple or kiwi in gelatin. The protease enzymes break down the protein so the jello never sets. Something similar is probably happening to your cheesecake batter. It'd be really interesting if you can hide spinach in cheesecake though! Hiding vegetables in dessert is just genius!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Chrissy, I knew that about pineapple, but didn't realize kiwi acted the same way. Lesson learned! I am going to try the spinach, but it may be a few days before I get to it. My husband keeps talking about it, so I think he is very interested to see how it turns out, plus he wants more cheesecake!

      Delete
  7. I love these!!! Will you share these too! I am so going to have to make these, man too bad I won't get the conversation imprints in time :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you ordered them from Amazon, maybe they'll get to you sooner than they said. It happens sometimes. I got mine at a local cooking store, but haven't seen them any place else. I just used them again today to make some fun treats.

      Delete
  8. Hi, I found your recipe and I'm going to try them out for Valentine's day this year. Just a thought, maybe you could use green tea for the green :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elyse, that is a great suggestion. I've seen people use matcha tea to color cakes. I'll have to buy some and give that a try. Thanks!

      Delete
  9. This is super cute!

    You ROCK for linking up this week to Tip Me Tuesday. {high fives}

    Just a heads up, Tip Junkie can help you index your blog more effectively if you upload at least 2 images, 2 steps, and blog post URL into your Tip Junkie craft room!

    Simply login and click "add a project" on your profile page to get started. {yep I've got your back!}

    ~ Laurie {a.k.a. the Tip Junkie}
    Link ~ http://www.tipjunkie.com/how-to-add-a-craft-room-project-on-tip-junkie

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi there! I'll be featuring this tomorrow! Thanks for sharing it on Worthwhile Wednesdays!
    ~Allie @ http://thecraftiestallie.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the feature, Allie. Have a sweet Valentine's Day!

      Delete
  11. I'll be doing this today! Thanks for the natural alternative. Have you though of using the stuff they use to make green tea ice cream for the green?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not tried green tea, but do think it's a great alternative if you like the flavor. If you use it, I'd love to hear what you think. Have fun making your cheesecakes.

      Delete

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