Wednesday 23 April 2014

Sugar free*, vegan, silken tofu cacao cheesecake.

I discovered tofu about two months ago and since then I’ve been playing with it in everything. It is amazing stuff and pretty much the most versatile substance I’ve got in my vegan arsenal. Recently I’ve started experimenting with using silken tofu to make a cheesecake that is mostly sugar free[^1], 100% vegan and 200% percent tasty. Recipe after the money shot …

Overview

It takes about an hour to make.

Create the base, get it baked and cooling whilst you prepare the topping.

The topping is more solid if you leave it in the fridge for a day or so, but if you don’t have time you can certainly go from no cheesecake to eating cheesecake inside of three hours.

There is lots of opportunity for spoon lickage.

I’m not a big fan of exact numbers, however I do recognise baking is more of a science than an art so I’ll say that this recipe makes enough for four people and results in a cake that is about 20cm in diameter.

Utensils

  • Oven pre-heated to 180°
  • A blender
  • A cake tin base
  • Two 20cm pie tins (pics below for explanation)
  • Spoons
  • Spatula
  • Brown baking paper
  • boiling water
  • bain marie / double cooker / pan and glass bowl to make the chocolate for the topping.

Ingredients

Base

  • 100g oats
  • 20g of mixed nuts (I use hazelnut and almonds)
  • 30g of dates
  • 35g (or one big old tablespoon) of brown rice syrup
  • 50g of dairy free margarine (vitalite does it for me)
  • Sweet freedom for an extra sweet zap.

Topping

Method

The Base

Take a round shallow pie tin and line it with baking paper. This is what you will press the base into.

Next chop up your nuts to save yourself blending your base mix into powder.

Now add your nuts (10g), margarine (50g), oats (100g), brown rice syrup (big ol’ tablespoon) and dates (30g) into a blender …

Blitz it until you end up with a mixture like this (feel free to taste it) …

Now you want to get the mix into the lined pie tin and place a sheet of baking paper over the top of your mixture like this (baking paper on top is only to stop the base mixture sticking to the top pie tin) …

Using the other pie tin press it down to get the base nice and flat …

When it’s all pressed and you’ve removed the top layer of baking paper, you’ll end up with something nice and flat like this …

Pierce the base with a fork in a few places and then put it in into the pre-headed oven (180°) and keep an eye on it. After about 13 mins you should have a nicely cooked base. You’re looking for slight browning on the base like this …

Leave the base to cool before attempting to remove it. If you try to remove it before it has cooled, you’ll likely end up with a broken base. If you do, stay cool and try to “glue it back together” with brown rice syrup.

When it is cool, put it onto the cake tin base.

That’s the base done.

Topping

Clean your blender and wash everything. A clean kitchen is happy kitchen and you’ll have time as you’re waiting for the base to cool.

When everything is washed up, dump the silken tofu into the blender, at this stage it looks and tastes like tofu. Do not get disheartened, you are about to transform this pasty looking meek mass into a chocolate heaven of silk deliciousness.

Give it a blend until it looks like this …

Now you need to make your chocolate topping and to do this get your double cooker / bain marie / glass bowl and pan (what I use) heated up like this …

Now drop in your cacao butter and let it melt …

Once it’s melted add in your cacao powder …

Stir it in and you have the most pure cacao chocolate you’ll ever taste …

If you want orange cheesecake add in a few drops of orange essential oil (make sure it is food grade) or essence. This one I was making into mint and I didn’t take a photo of this stage. However I will advise you start by adding a little bit and taste as you go, you do not want to overpower the cacao. That’s heresy. Finally add in a good dash of sweet freedom and taste. When you’ve hit the balance of bitter / sweet and orange or mint to cacao dump it all into the blender with your blended tofu …

You want to blend it for a few minutes until it is all mixed together and all traces of white are gone. At this stage if it should hold it’s shape. A good way to test is to make a pattern with a spoon. One you see that it holds shape, lick the spoon as a reward.

You can use baking paper for the next bit, but I found that the cardboard from an empty Whiskers biscuit box works a treat (obviously I washed it first, I don’t want a cake smelling or tasting of cat biscuits. I’ve tried them before and whilst they smell, they taste super bland). The goal is to make a frame that will hold the topping until it sets. The reason that I use paper or card is so that I can remove without having to pull or push by removing the sticky tape. This keeps the nice flat lines of the topping and it’s all about the lines baby. …

When you have the frame in place, pour in the topping and spread it as evenly as you can …

To get it nice and flat vibrate the cake tin base backwards and forwards and after a minute or two you’ll have a nice flat topping.

Put that into the freezer for a couple of hours to get the top to start to freeze. This makes the sides easier to remove. I did get this spot on in my previous attempt, however today I took it out too soon. In my eagerness to get this blog post written I did mess this up a little bit.

It was not all lost though. A little work with a knife and it was looking respectable.

As I mentioned above, this does set better if you leave it in the fridge for 24 hours or so. However it tastes so good it rarely lasts that long.

Enjoy.

[^1]: I don’t like the phrase sugar free as it is too simplistic, but If I was forced to offer a reasonably water tight description I’d say that it means to avoid processed foods, advocates the use of whole fruits as opposed to seperating the fructose from the fibre, avoiding hi-fructose ingredients (Agave I’m looking at you) no matter how “organic” or “natural” they seem, use glucose rather sucrose and aiming to keep the use of sweeteners such as dates, brown rice syrup etc to a minimum so that your palette becomes accustomed to a little sweetness going a long way. The lines are blurry for sure, but I’ve found this description works well for me.