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.
~ 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)
- fresh fruit of your choice
- ¼ cup fruit-only preserves (I used strawberry)
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Place all crust ingredients into a food processor and process until the mixture forms a ball. Add a bit more water if needed.
- 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.
- Press the crust into the springform pan, letting it creep up the sides a bit.
- Heat the agar flakes with a small amount of water, stirring constantly until dissolved.
- Place this and all remaining cake ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the batter over the crust, smooth the top.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes until the top is slightly golden brown and the center feels firm to the touch.
- Remove and let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight before unmolding.
- Gently slide a sharp knife around the edges and release the spring on the pan.
- Top with fresh fruit of your choice.
- 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.
- 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!
Healthy, Happy Valentine’s Day!