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Vegan Cheesecake: Can You Make A Really Great One?
Do you ever cook or bake for a vegan? Maybe, like me, your partner is vegan, and you often find yourself struggling to adapt existing recipes or to find satisfactory new ones that will make their tastebuds tingle. Prior to my boyfriend’s last birthday, I rashly promised him that I would make him a vegan cheesecake (any old variety: vegan chocolate cheesecake, vegan lemon cheesecake, vegan strawberry cheesecake, pumpkin, brown sauce or baked bean - vegan was the thing) for his special day. Which meant that I was pretty much committed to doing so! If you need a recipe in short order, where do you go? Well, what did we all do without the internet?
This was the recipe I settled upon – The Best Vegan Cheesecake Ever, or some such, from the VeryVeryVegan website. (Not surprisingly, with a sales tactic like that: although it’s a promise that would take some living up to! Assembling all the required ingredients took quite a little doing. (You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get vegan digestive biscuits in some supermarkets! Why do manufacturers persist in sticking milk powder into things that really don’t need it?) We had some trouble locating agave nectar, but tracked it down eventually. (Although when it comes to the fruits of the cactus, give me tequila any day. Agave tastes just like golden syrup with a premium price tag to me.)
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With all of the ingredients assembled, it was time to get down to business and actually make the cake! I well remember making cheesecake base from my childhood: a fun but arduous business of taking half a packet of digestive biscuits (or graham crackers to our American brethren), putting them in a polythene bag on the table, and then whacking them as hard and as often as I could go until they were just a bag of little graham cracker crumbs! (Boy, I feel tired just thinking about it.)
Instead of this procedure I just threw the biscuits into the food processor and got on with it. The boring adult way to make cheesecake crumb crust!
When it came to mixing up the 'cheese' topping I have to say it all came together beautifully. It all bound together nicely and made a lovely smooth filling. (I didn't bother drying out the tofu as instructed, but simply omitted the addition of extra liquid. That's me: I was never very good at following orders!)
Once the filling had been made and added to the crumb crust (which I'd pre-baked for ten minutes in the oven), then the test was really to come! How would the 'cheesecake' look once it came out of the oven? Aesthetically, it was pretty damn good. It looked exactly like you'd expect a 'regular' baked cheesecake to look: wholesome, slightly browned, with that yummy home-baked unmistakable unfakable vibe.
When the cheesecake had cooled off in the fridge I decorated it with sliced strawberries, stuck a few lighted birthday cake candles in it and showed it off! (Along with the traditional chorus of 'Happy Birthday', I hasten to add.)
So how was it? Well, it looked great. Which I guess is a pretty telling comment! It was fine – but too sweet. For my taste, way too sweet! I like baked goods and cake and biscuits, but for preference only lightly sweetened ones. However, my better half loved it: you can't add too much sugar for him, he has a real sweet tooth. I prefer a lemony tang to cheesecake: light on the sugar, heavy on the cheese!
The texture of the vegan 'cheesecake' was good however, in fact pretty similar to the 'real thing.'
The next time I used the recipe I decided I was going to modify it based on our previous experience. For a start, the only sweetener I added was the agave nectar. I dispensed with any added sugar (bar that already in the digestives.) I also added tangy flavouring in the form of several tablespoons of lemon juice and a few drops of lemon essence. I also added a ripe banana to the topping mix. Once mixed up, I put it in the oven and awaited the results with interest!
Once cooked, the 'cheese' topping didn't hold together quite as well as that of the first cheesecake, I assume because the changes to the ingredients had affected the consistency. However this was a minor gripe. I thought the second effort was much tastier and less cloying. (Although my boyfriend preferred the first one. Men!) It still looked pretty good anyway. (Although, you may note, nothing like the illustration on the original recipe. Mysterious!)
So, are you going to try this vegan cheesecake recipe, or perhaps another one? If you find a better one let me know – or better still, send me a piece!