Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust
What is better than a potluck with delicious vegan food? A potluck with delicious vegan food, complete with recipes!
Recently, some new friends invited me over for a Ripe-themed supper. Stephanie, the mastermind behind Ripe Cuisine, serves vegan eats at a few farmer’s markets in Houston but also has a recipe blog. I have gushed about her homemade coconut-almond ice cream before and since I knew her recipe for brownies was good, I was excited to see how her other recipes fared.
Broccoli “cream” soup with polenta croutons, baked zucchini chips, tahini mustard carrots, and cauliflower piccata were on the menu. Veggie extraveganza! Everything was delicious. I really enjoyed the carrots and polenta croutons.
My small contribution to the menu that evening was this cheesecake. I say small due to its size, not its taste. For my birthday, Rob surprised me with a smaller 6″ springform pan. I left my larger one in Toronto and brought this one so I could make smaller versions of dessert.
I love raw/no-bake cheesecakes. I have made them with cashews as well as tofu, but this time, I used them together. And I baked it. Both for synergistic results.
This cheesecake is a combination of a few recipes and both are knock-outs. The filling is courtesy of Ricki Heller‘s new cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. Since these recipes are all gluten-free and sugar-free, they employ ingredients I don’t have in my (mostly) minimalist pantry. I tried to stay mostly true to her recipe, though, even scoping out lemon extract. I realized that having a concentrated lemon flavour without the sourness would be a good way to reduce the amount of sweetener needed, without resorting to Meyer lemons.
This was a delicious cheesecake. Possibly our favourite vegan cheesecake of all time. Very rich in a non-heavy sense, which can happen with raw cheesecakes, relying on cashews and coconut oil. However, sadly, after chilling in the fridge, it was no longer a lemon cheesecake; it morphed into a creamy, rich, vanilla cheesecake. Equally as good, just a different flavour. The lemon flavour disappeared considerably. I really like the tang from lemon juice, so next time I would add more lemon juice in addition to more lemon extract. It was a very nice cheesecake, though. I also liked how I had the height to really get a good size piece on my fork with the smaller pan. You’ll understand when you look at my (much more flat) lemon cheesecake squares. Rob agreed, and we both thought this was the best, most “real” vegan cheesecake we have eaten (albeit a fluffier European-style cheesecake, which is our preference).
And the crust? A perfect foil for the rich, more mellow filling. A salty-sweet cinnamon pecan crust with oat flour that I snagged from Angela’s pumpkin pie adventures. She tasted a few crusts and proclaimed this the winner. Definitely one of my favourite crusts, too. I liked that it was sweet and salty (no dates) and the cinnamon spike brought it over the edge. I was worried the crust was a bit crumbly but it held together well when serving from the fridge.
I try to keep this blog real, and yes, this cheesecake was utterly delicious. However, it also cracked. This could be due to a few things, but next time, I will add a basin of water in the oven. I did that with the Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares, and it worked well. With some strategic slicing, you could hide the cracks. Or find a saucy topping. (Ricki suggested a blueberry compote which I think would have been divine!) But really, it doesn’t matter unless you are photographing it because it still tasted delicious. Do you have any other tricks for cracked cheesecakes? What is your favourite vegan cheesecake recipe?
Ricki has been travelling the interwebs with her blog tour and I have been enjoying seeing her recipes all over the place. With all the thoughtful Q&As, I feel like I am really getting to know Ricki, the chef/baker, but most importantly, the person behind her recipes. A trained chef with a former catering company, watching her on video is like a fun cooking class, with so many tips about ingredients and techniques. I also recommend these recipes from Ricki’s new cookbook:
Ricki’s recipes from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free shared elsewhere:
PS. Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for Isa Does It.
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup raw pecans
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1.5 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp agave
1.5 tsp coconut oil
1 cup raw cashews (or 1/2 cup cashew butter)
12 oz box aseptic firm silken tofu (I used Mori-Nu), drained
5 tbsp agave, or to taste
grated zest from 1-2 lemons (2 tsp)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice (less than half a lemon)
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a food processor, place rolled oats and process until they become a reasonably fine flour. Add in pecans and process until the nuts are very small crumbles. Add remainder of the ingredients and process until the dough pulls together. If it doesn’t pull together soon, add additional agave. You should not pulverize it into butter. Press dough into a 6″ non-stick springform pan.
3. In a high-speed blender (you could also use a food processor but would need to be more patient – or use premade cashew butter), place cashews. Blend on high, until the nuts break down and release their oils, turning into a nut butter. You may need to scrape done the sides of the blender. Add the tofu, agave, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust flavours.
4. Pour filling onto crust. To settle the batter, with the pan on a flat surface, with both hands holding the pan, quickly twist the pan to the right and then the left.
5. (If desired, place a metal container filled with water in the oven, too) Bake cake at 350F for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Bake until the filling appears firm and the edges begin to brown. Cool completely then refrigerate until cold before slicing. May be frozen.