Is it really January 3rd already? That’s at least a day later than I hoped to be sharing the year’s first new recipe with you. But I think you’ll forgive me, when you see what a special one it is. And when you realize that these extra few hours of waiting come with an added bonus.

This is the time when anyone reading this via email or in a reader should click on over. Do me a favor, just this once, mmmk?

Of course, those of you already here know what I’m about to say: this is not only my first recipe of 2012, it’s the first recipe on my newly designed blog!

For the past few months, I’ve been working with Lindsay of Purr Design to come up with a design that combines a bit of glitz, a shake of glam, and a lot of girl for something that’s uniquely Cara’s Cravings. I wanted my new site to convey the same things I strive for in my recipes: creativity and cleanliness. Thank you, Lindsay, for this gorgeous design!

It goes without saying that the justification of a whole new site would have been a mere dream without you, my loyal readers. In fact, I did it as much for you as for me, so that you have a better experience when you come to visit. What exactly does this mean?

  • New recipe formatting – pretty and printable! This will be automatic for new posts. I would love to have all the time in the world to go back and update the old ones, and maybe I will someday. I wish I had a teenage cousin looking for some extra bucks. But right now I have neither – so please bear with me.
  • A simple comment form makes it easy for everyone to say something, no logging in to anything required.
  • Magazine formatting – this means that each time you visit my homepage, you’ll see a large snippet of my latest post, with smaller thumbnails and short descriptions of more recent ones. No scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling….
  • Social Networking via customized buttons (see them up there, top right?) so you can find me. Anywhere and everywhere. Almost. If Facebook, Twitter, RSS Feeds and Pinterest aren’t enough, well, we can chat privately.
  • More, more, more. Eventually, there will be more pages up at the top where I’ll answer frequently asked questions, give you essential tips and tricks, and recommend reading material. These will be a work in progress, so stay tuned!

Now that we’re all on the same page, it’s time to party. What better way to celebrate a blog makeover than a recipe makeover? I know, right!

One might argue that the Cara’s Cravings makeover has been a work in progress for quite a while, as I’ve progressed over the years to a much sharper focus on clean ingredients and allergen-friendly cooking. But that doesn’t mean we just forget about things like Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Swirled Brownies. Fudgy, cinnamon-spiked gooey chocolate laced with tangy pumpkin cheesecake – these are something you’d surely remember. It’s quite possible you never saw them here, but in the four years since I’ve posted them, they’ve certainly made their way around the web. (I swear that when I first dreamed up the recipe, I googled to see if anyone else had done it, and they hadn’t! *pinky swear*.) And, in these past four years, this has remained one of the original recipes I’m most proud of excited to make for others. (Warning: this recipe knocks off socks!)

No, we don’t forget about them. We just go ahead and make them better, so we can all enjoy them with a lot less guilt.

This is a recipe I’ve wanted to make over for quite some time and I’m so glad to finally have the perfect occasion, and inspiration. For the brownie base, I turned to my much-loved  Squeaky Clean Fudge Brownies, increasing the amounts to make a bigger batch to stand up to the “cheesecake.” In quotations, naturally, because there’s no real cheese. Instead I called upon an ingredient I’ve been enjoying a lot of lately, silken tofu. It’s my new favorite for super creamy dressings and dips, decadent ice cream, luscious frosting, and now, “cheesecake” brownies (big thanks to Ricki Heller’s Sweet Freedom for this inspiration!)

You might think that removing the gluten, sugar, dairy and eggs from this recipe would leave you something pitifully unsatisfying, but we (me and Ben) will assure you that’s not the case. This is still one very rich and special dessert, perfectly suited to cutting into smaller squares (but of course, if you happen to have more than one, you won’t feel that bad.)

Loves, I hope you’ll raise a brownie and join me in celebrating the brand new Cara’s Cravings.

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Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Swirled Brownies (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

Yield: 36 small brownies

Ingredients:

Brownies
3oz dates
boiling water
6 tablespoons (45gm) sorghum flour
6 tablespoons (45gm) peanut flour (or, substitute with additional sorghum flour)
¾ cup (90gm) almond meal
¾ cup (60gm) all-natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder or ground flax seed
¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup pumpkin puree
¾ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Pumpkin Cheesecake
6oz silken tofu
1/3 cup (75gm) cashew butter
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder or ground flax seed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line an 8×8″ baking dish with parchment paper. Place the dates in a bowl and cover with piping hot water. Let sit while you measure out the remaining ingredients.

Weigh the dry ingredients (sorghum flour through psyllium husk powder) into a bowl and whisk together.

Place the applesauce, pumpkin, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to the bowl of a food processor. Drain the dates and add these as well. Process until smooth, about 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Pour the dry ingredients into the food processor bowl and process to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl if necessary.

In a blender, combine all ingredients for the pumpkin cheesecake layer and process until smooth.

Scrape the 2/3 of the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish. Top with the pumpkin cheesecake batter, and spoon dollops of remaining brownie batter on top. Draw a knife back and forth through the batters to create a swirl pattern.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool thoroughly before slicing.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 100.0
Total Fat 2.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.4 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 100.8 mg
Potassium 113.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18.7 g
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g
Sugars 13.0 g
Protein 2.3 g

This recipe is linked to Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, two of my favorite healthier recipe roundups.