not cheesecake, times three.

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Guess what? It’s Daring Bakers time – and when this month’s challenge was revealed to be cheesecake I was thrilled. Why? Until now, I had not been afforded the opportunity to make cheesecake since going vegan and, I must say, I’ve been quite anxious to try my hand at making one for some time.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Truth be told, even when I was free to eat them, I was never a huge cheesecake fan. Too rich. Too heavy. No, not for me. Well, let me tell you something – these vegan versions have turned me. Light textured, smooth as silk, decadently delicious, delightfully toothsome, these babies knocked my socks right off.

I am now, most definitely, a fan. And guess what? No dairy, no egg, no cholesterol, low-fat – plus all that protein from the tofu practically makes this dessert nutritious. Yeah, I know – whatever, pass me another slice.

In order to choose the appropriate vegan recipe, and since I’m a vegan cheesecake novice, I looked to someone who knows exactly what they’re doing – finally settling on Sarah Kramer’s basic recipe for Apricot Tofu Cheesecake from La Dolce Vegan, which you can conveniently find in its entirety here.

I really wanted to make up for lost cheesecake time and thus planned to make as many flavours as possible in the allotted time. Using Sarah’s basic recipe as my base, I added several elements for a total of three different cheesecakes: Lemon with Candied Figs, Black Cherry Syrup & Blackberry, Key Lime with Candied Key Limes, Clementine Syrup & Pistachio, and Chocolate Peanut-Butter with Rich Chocolate Ganache.

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First I prepared the basic recipe, including everything but the lemon juice and lemon zest. I then divided the filling into four separate bowls. I added lemon and lemon zest to one bowl, as per the original recipe – I just quartered the required amount. I added key lime juice and zest to the second bowl. To the third bowl, I added 3 tbsp of all-natural peanut-butter (just peanuts). The fourth bowl received 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted.

The lemon and key lime cheesecakes were made in tiny 4-inch springform pans. I followed the original recipe for the crust – adding a layer of coconut to the crust of the key lime cheesecake. The chocolate and peanut-butter bowls were layered in one 9-inch springform. I added crushed dark chocolate (vegan) digestives to the crust.

Then it was time for candy – candied key limes and candied figs to be exact. After using it with great success when making candied clementines and bundt cake, I revisited this method from VeganYumYum blog for candying the fruit.

Candied key limes were then added to the key lime cheesecake along with clementine syrup and crushed pistachios. Stewed black cherries were combined with the candied figs before adding as a garnish to the lemon cheesecake along with the blackberries.

The peanut-butter chocolate cheesecake received a simple layer of rich, decadent chocolate ganache. To make the ganache, I used 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/4 cup of soy creamer, 2 tbsp maple syrup. Heat soy creamer on the stove, remove from heat, stir in chocolate chips and maple syrup, allow to cool.

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Based on this experience I’d say without hesitation that Sarah’s recipe is excellent, both on its own and as a base for other flavours. Beautiful texture. Luxurious. Delicious. This is company’s coming quality stuff.

Be sure to see what the other Daring Bakers are up to at the Daring Kitchen.

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About these ads

nutella, homemade.

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I grew up with Nutella – couldn’t get enough of the stuff. I haven’t had any since eliminating dairy from my diet, until now.

If I had realized how incredibly easy it is to make this delectably toothsome treat, I’d have done so ages ago. Chocolate and hazelnut are two flavours that are made to go together. When you’re looking for a quick and simple sweet treat, nothing could be easier than slathering a decadent dollop of chocolatey goodness on a bit of rustic baguette that’s been toasted ever so slightly. Oh, yes.

I have collected several chocolate-hazelnut spread recipes. I decided to give this LA Times version a whirl first because it is so simple and spare. Some toasted hazelnuts, a little cocoa, sugar, vanilla, peanut oil and you’re done. The recipe calls for hazelnut oil – I used peanut oil instead and it was lovely. Store bought Nutella has milk in it and there are several recipes out there that, rather sensibly, incorporate soy milk powder. I fully intend to give that method a try too. Expect a homemade Nutella, take two post soon.

You know what the best part is, after the gorgeous taste? Calorie per calorie, you’re getting a lot more nutritional goodness out of the homemade stuff. The number one ingredient in store bought Nutella is sugar (number one!) – in the homemade stuff it’s hazelnut. Hazelnuts show up third in the ingredient list for store bought Nutella, after oil.

This version will do just fine. Chocolate. Hazelnuts. Pass the crusty bread.