A few days ago I was minding my own business, getting lost in a world of Wikipedia clicks and somehow I went from Star Trek Destiny to a list of weird worldwide celebrations, as you do.
And I had the enlightened idea to share some interesting bit of trivia with the kids*:
- (read in a naive excited voice) Look guys, this Saturday is pumpkin cheesecake day!**
- (6yo) Make us one!
- (4yo) We help!
- (6yo) Yes, make the tofu one you put in the blender and we blend it!
- No. Pumpkin is too heavy to carry from the market.
- (4yo) We can get a nut squash***
And so it came to be that I ran out of excuses and there I was that afternoon making a pumpkin cheesecake. With no help I might add!
Truth is vegan cheesecake is actually very easy. I don’t really do complicated food, I’m much too lazy for that. And cheesecake is pretty much my go-to ‘special’ dessert for events like Christmas or grownup birthdays (meaning: my birthday).
* actual conversation (I’m starting to dislike the kids now that they’re independent, confident and all of that)
** 21/10 if you’re interested
*** butternut squash (which must be noted, he absolutely hates)
There are basically four bases that can be used to replace the cheese:
- vegan cream cheese: pretty much any brand works as long as it’s plain and not something like herbs or pepper.
- soft tofu: it can have a mild tofu-y flavour if the cheesecake is not too sweet or the flavourings are subtle or mild
- nuts or seeds: you can use soaked and blended nuts or go the cheap(er) and lazy way and use nut/seed butter or flour. Cashews, almonds, Macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds are the most neutral in flavour.
Coconut cream (the creamy stuff in a can of coconut milk) is usually also added as a way to add creaminess, but it can add a slight coconut flavour.
You need to use one or several out of the possible bases: nuts, tofu and cream cheese. You can add some coconut cream as well for extra creaminess. Add in sweeteners, such as maple syrup, sugar, and golden syrup. And whatever flavours you want. The proportion should be close to 3:1 base:flavour at a maximum.
Add a pinch of salt and just a little bit of nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavour.
Now you can either make a crust or leave it crustless. If you want a crust use some nuts, oats or biscuits, add a sweet sticky ingredient (a bit of syrup or dried fruit) and a bit of oil or margarine and mix everything together.
You can freeze the cheesecake (take out about 20 minutes before serving) or bake it at 200°C/400°F till brown (it will be wobbly) and allow to cool in the oven so it doesn’t crack.
My vegan version
As you can see I burnt and cracked my cheesecake. That’s because I have the crappiest oven in existence: the door doesn’t close properly, the thermostat is officially dead and the fan function works when and if it wants to. In my old oven (not even a good one, just not so bad) it never cracked if I allowed it to cool inside.
I, of course, made a ‘pumpkin’ cheesecake. I used 2 cups of soft tofu, 1 cup of soaked cashews, 1/2 cup of coconut cream, 1 cup of butternut squash pure, 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice (we like pumpkin spice!) and about 1/2 cup of golden syrup. I decorated with some golden sugar and baked it.
I made this one with a crust because we like it better that way. I used digestive biscuits with golden syrup and coconut oil.
With the leftover butternut squash and coconut water I made soup.