Friday, December 28, 2012

Conquering my Vegan Cheesecake Phobia

Happy Holidays everyone! I know it's been a little while again since I've posted, but it's been a very busy holiday (read: baking) season. Earth Balance held its' 3rd annual Holiday Bake Off, so naturally I gleefully submitted 4 entries for the 4 different categories over the last month. This year's prize is a Vegas Getaway and $1,000, plus so much more. Mon dieu! I hope I win :)

The contest is of course holiday themed, and I knew everyone would be doing the traditional pumpkin pie up the wazoo, so I wanted to create something different to dazzle the eyes and palate. Something not too heavy, yet bursting with richness of flavors. For the pie category, this year I wanted to make a cheesecake. I will admit I was pretty leery of tackling a vegan cheesecake. I know it can be done, duh! For years now I've seen many beautiful baked or raw vegan cheesecakes in cafes, restaurants and online and have been baffled by how they make them. Years ago I was asked to make one for a client and used tofu, and the end product tasted overly sweet and soy-beany and left MUCH to be desired. Ick. (Imagine a 1970's pre-tofu cream cheese world.) It left me scarred! Granted, my baking skills have evolved since then but I was still apprehensive to now try it again. I love tofu- but as a rule I don't bake with it unless it's silken and pureed with lots of chocolate, extracts and other things to mask its' apparent flavor. You vegan bakers know what I'm talking about- everyone thinks that just because you're baking vegan you must need prunes, tofu and applesauce to replace the eggs and butter, right? haha. Love that stereotype.

After much experimentation I came up with a VERY pleasing recipe which I look forward to playing with in the future. Funny story, I actually bought tofu to use (and I was still apprehensive to use it!), but when it came down to the moment of removing it from the package to combine with the other ingredients, I noticed I grabbed the wrong kind (firm)! It wasn't meant to be, so I just risked it and left it out. I was worried it wouldn't set up and stabilize and all those things you think tofu is supposed to do. Did it come out okay? You bet your sweet bippy it did, the end result was incredibly creamy, light, refreshing and smooth.

Coconut-Ginger-Lime Cheesecake with Cardamom-Pistachio Crust and Rum-Nog Caramel 

 The pistachio-cardamom crust pressed into the springform pan. I liked the uneven nature of it, you can see in the pic below how it looked after being baked.

Baking the lovely cheesecake in the oven, in a pan of water. A traditional steam method which I'd never tried before. The springform pan is wrapped in foil to prevent water from seeping in. 

This is the Rum-Nog Caramel sauce which deserves a freaking award! I was so impressed with it, I took this video to show its' thick and caramel-y nature!  The Earth Balance Holiday Soy Nog is so delicious and its' flavor and creamy texture work brilliantly in this caramel sauce.

To see the recipe, you can go to Earth Balance's blog, at Made Just Right

Thanks for reading, friends! I'll be posting all of my Holiday Bake Off Recipes here over the next week. If you're looking for vegan recipes, you must look at the Made Just Right blog, it's LOADED with amazing submitted recipes, both sweet and savory! Once again, Happy Holidays and happy baking!