Vegan Cheesecake? You bet! Not an oxymoron!
A new dessert star was born this week as a result of extensive tinkering with variations on cheesecake: Vegan Cheesecake. Forgive me for feeling so smug, but I am mighty proud of my creation: You will see why when you taste it.
The combination of peanut butter and chocolate in any dessert is always a winner, and in this vegan cheesecake it is a real triumph. I was trying for a dessert that would merge several natural assets: Vegan; Gluten-free; as healthy as all my other desserts (no junk ever: that’s me); including peanut butter in the filling; topped with chocolate; Low carb; very easy; and the best part, delicious.
The tofu in this vegan cheesecake affords you a less rich cheese filling:
Silken tofu adds its own bulk and therefore allows you to use less cheese. Be sure to use silken tofu, for perfectly smooth texture. Get the shelf stable kind, it’s the best for baking.
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup toasted peanuts
- 1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
- 2 packages silken tofu extra firm (slice right through the box with a serrated knife, and hold the two halves over the sink to get rid of the few drops of water clinging to the tofu)
- 3 8-ounce containers vegan cream cheese
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon caramel extract (health food stores on online), or 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup semisweet grated chocolate, or chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup pure cocoa powder
Preheat the oven the 325 degrees. Make the crust: In a food processor, process the dates with the oil until the dates are finely chopped. Add the peanuts and the coconut, and pulse, 4-5 times, until the mixture is finely chopped but not smooth: we want the crunch. Press the mixture firmly and uniformly in a 10 inch round mold with detachable bottom. Set aside.
Make the filling:
Rinse the bowl and the chopping blade of the food processor. Place all filling ingredients in the food processor, and process a full minute or a little longer, scraping the sides a couple times, until perfectly smooth. Pour all but 1 cup of the filling (no need to measure exactly, eyeballing is fine) evenly in the mold, leaving the one cup inside the bowl of the food processor.
Make the topping:
Melt the chocolate chips on a very low flame, or in a microwave oven. Add the melted chips and the cocoa powder to the food processor, with the reserved batter, and process a full minute, scraping the sides to make sure all parts are incorporated. Pour the chocolate mixture over the white layer, pouring evenly and very gently so as not to disturb the bottom layer. Smooth the top very gently with a spoon. Bake the cake about 40 minutes, or a drop longer, until the center is just barely firm (baking only until this point and not a minute longer is very important as it is the secret of the cake's creaminess), it will continue to firm up as it cools. Chill the cake until firm. Unmold the cake before serving. Makes a dozen generous servings. Freezes well.