Feb 11, 2014

Vegan Valentine Cheesecake. Gluten-free, oil-free, sugar-free!

Ahem. I have an announcement… I have achieved vegan cheesecake perfection. Believe me, it was no small feat without the use of eggs, sugar and, well… cheese. But here it is in all its scrumptious glory, just in time for Valentine’s Day, for you my precious readers! This is a real win for me since I used to be a baker (that’s a post from when I first began this vegan adventure) and cheesecakes were my specialty 😉

You can top this baby with whatever kind of fruit you like. I used raspberries for a pretty Valentine’s presentation. Most vegan cheesecakes I have seen are sweetened with agave (a.k.a. fructose) and loaded with coconut oil. This dessert is sweetened with dates and no oil is needed. It’s also not made with a gazillion cashews, but rather a modest amount of cashew butter and tofu, for a less caloric result.

I made this in a small springform pan, not certain of how it would set up. But the consistency is perfect! Smooth and creamy but still easy to slice, so go ahead and double the ingredients for a full sized version if you like. Just increase the baking time by 10-15 minutes.

Ingredients:

~ for the crust

  • 1 cup pecans
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 TBS flax meal + 1 TBS water
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

~ for the cake

  • 1 14 oz. block extra firm tofu (not silken), drained
  • ½ cup raw cashew butter
  • 6 large medjool dates, pitted (about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 TBS agar agar flakes (or 1 tsp powder)

~ topping

  • fresh fruit of your choice
  • ¼ cup fruit-only preserves (I used strawberry) 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Place all crust ingredients into a food processor and process until the mixture forms a ball. Add a bit more water if needed.
  3. Wrap the bottom of a 6″ springform pan with foil. Place the pan in a casserole dish large enough to accommodate it and add about 1″ of water to the dish. This is called a bain-marie (water bath) and will help the cake from cracking on top. Don’t worry if you do get a few cracks though, you’ll be covering the top of the cake with fruit anyway.
  4. Press the crust into the springform pan, letting it creep up the sides a bit.
  5. Heat the agar flakes with a small amount of water, stirring constantly until dissolved.
  6. Place this and all remaining cake ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.
  7. Pour the batter over the crust, smooth the top.
  8. Bake for 50-55 minutes until the top is slightly golden brown and the center feels firm to the touch. 
  9. Remove and let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight before unmolding.
  10. Gently slide a sharp knife around the edges and release the spring on the pan. 
  11. Top with fresh fruit of your choice.
  12. Heat the preserves until they are liquidy. Then brush over the fruit. This will keep the fruit fresh and also add a beautiful gloss. Use any extra as a sauce.
  13. Store in the refrigerator. Keeps fresh for about 3 days—it will never last that long! 
this analysis is for the cake only (not the fruit topping)

 

A few of my readers have asked me for this nutritional breakdown. I don’t normally list the nutrient content of my recipes, simply because the recipe analyzers that are available mainly focus on macronutrients (fats, proteins, sugars, carbs) and if there is a good amount of a certain vitamin, they will list that as well. But they don’t offer the micronutrient profiles of the recipes. This one is a good example. At a quick glance you might say, “That’s high in fat and sugars!” Yes, it is relatively high in fat but compared to a dairy cheesecake that is loaded with cholesterol and white sugar, it is far nutritionally superior. Nuts are healthy fats. Of course, if you’re looking to lose weight, you don’t want to eat more than about 1 ounce of nuts and seeds per day, but they are an important part of a vegan diet, ensuring we get the essential fatty acids that our bodies need.

Let’s take a quick look at dates, which are the only source of “sugars” in this recipe. They are loaded with fiber, an excellent source of potassium and provide numerous other important vitamins and minerals—quite the little nutritional powerhouses! But, of course, this nutrient breakdown does not show that. It only lists the sugars that the dates provide.

As with most desserts, sweets/fats, etc. moderation is key. I would not eat this type of food on a regular basis. But knowing that there is a good amount of important nutrition that is available in something that is so yummy is why I sometimes partake!

 Serves 6-8. Enjoy!

Healthy, Happy Valentine’s Day! 

21 responses to “Vegan Valentine Cheesecake. Gluten-free, oil-free, sugar-free!”

  1. Sarah says:

    I think I may be the only woman in the world who does not like cheesecake. It doesn't look or sounds appealing to me at all. However, yours actually looks fantastic!!! Wow. So without even tryign it, I'm confident that I can support you in saying that this is indeed vegan cheescake perfection 🙂

  2. looks good!!! I am sure this will keep for a non valentines occasion. I made a birthday cake for Dad for Friday (his Bday is 14th.) He requested a healthy icecream cake – variation on one I made for my cousin. Hers was banana and blueberry but he wanted coffee / moccha. And he wanted a boat on it and Happy Birthday and……hmmmm…..Completed it tonight so am looking forward to his reaction on Friday. I think I filled the brief and made some mocha almond hearts in honour of St V just to make it even more decandent!!

  3. Helyn says:

    Sounds lovely Rach! I'm sure he'll love it!

  4. Helyn says:

    Haha! Thank you Sarah! 🙂

  5. Carla says:

    This has to be the most brilliant vegan cheesecake recipe out there. I can't believe how simple it is…. I'm going to be trying this one *very* soon.

  6. This recipe gives me the excuse to go out and buy a springform pan! Since I have been veg/vegan for a LONG time (my entire adult life), I have never had a reason to buy this cool kitchen pan. Now I can!! 🙂 I can't wait to try this on my husband. His Mama was from Queens, NY and made the best NY cheesecake. Since he is vegan now too, he hasn't had one in years.

  7. txgwen says:

    This sounds yummy! I do have a question, though. What size is your "block" of tofu? Non-silken tofu here comes in different weights depending on the vendor. Thanks!

  8. Helyn says:

    I used Nasoya brand and it was 14 ounces.

  9. Helyn says:

    Great Carla! 🙂

  10. Helyn says:

    I'm glad you're going to try it. I hope your hubby likes it! I'm from NY too and while this is yummy, it isn't the same texture as a NY cheesecake. It's more dense and creamy whereas those NY cheesecakes are actually a bit fluffy and cakey. Thanks for the feedback!

  11. Highest praises for the cake (which from Dad is unusual) he said it was delicious and very professional looking 🙂 Even my sister out law liked it and she isn't into coffee. Yay….going to have to remember how I made it now :S

  12. Anonymous says:

    I've had a 6" springform pan for a long time and never used it so here was my excuse to test drive it.
    This cake is FANTASTIC! Can't wait to make it again and flavour it. I've thought of making a coffee version, chocolate, but the sky's the limit. It worked exceptionally well even though water leaked into the pan. I drained it and baked it again to dry out the crust a bit. Don't know how this happened since my foil didn't have any holes and it came up to the rim of the pan.
    Hubby and I ate the whole thing this past long weekend. Okay, mostly me!

  13. Helyn says:

    Oh yay! So glad you enjoyed it. I'm also experimenting with other flavors!! Making a chocolate version today :))

  14. I believe that you do not have to put cheesecake in a water bath for it to cook successfully. If you put a pan of water on the lower rack and the cheesecake on an upper rack, it will create a moist oven that will keep the cheesecake from drying out.

  15. Helyn says:

    Thanks for the great tip, Carry! I'll try that next time 🙂

  16. Helyn says:

    Thanks for the tip, Carry! I will try that next time for sure. P.S. Just went to your blog. NICE! 🙂

  17. Eliana says:

    Do you happen to have a pumpkin cheesecake recipe? I love that you're using real tofu! Can't wait to give this a try.

  18. Helyn says:

    I'm sorry, Eliana, but I don't have a pumpkin cheesecake recipe. It's been on my list to create for AGES! I'm not sure how forgiving this recipe is but you COULD try subbing the 1/2 cup soy milk with 1 cup of pumpkin puree and then add 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice… no promises, but that's where I would start.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thanks just made this – delicious! I used chia instead of agar, and added oats to the base (2/3 C oats, 1/3 almonds, 1/3 pumpkin seeds – what I had! And I only used 6 dates in the base.)

  20. Helyn says:

    I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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