Dreamy Chocolate Cheesecake (Vegan)
I’ve been thinking a lot about veganism recently. Although I’m not sure it’s a realistic option for a baking obsessive, and I don’t know if I could ever fully make the transition, I am attempting to cut eggs and dairy from my day-to-day diet as much as possible; for example I have replaced cows’ milk – which I only really use in tea – with this lovely Swedish oat milk. Being more mindful of my choices has really opened my eyes to interesting and inventive ways of creating delicious meals and desserts. I was recently introduced to the idea of creating a whipped cream using the cream – separated from the milk – from a can of coconut milk. I was fascinated, and started thinking about all the fantastic ways this could be used. I started toying with the idea of a vegan cheesecake. If I made it a no-bake kind of cheesecake, eggs wouldn’t have been used anyway. And replacing the cream cheese was simple – pureed silken tofu has long been used to successfully replace dairy in many recipes. Dark chocolate (plenty of quality dark chocolate is vegan – check first!) tied everything together, and very quickly this ethical, vegan chocolate cheesecake magically happened. It’s wonderful, and quite honestly tastes amazing. The coconut cream helps bind everything together and lends only a subtle taste; the main flavour is chocolate, definitely not coconut. I love cheesecake and frankly, if I hadn’t made it myself, I would never have guessed no dairy was used. My husband rolled his eyes when I told him I’d made a vegan cheesecake. The proof is in the eating, as they say. He quickly ate a second slice.
You will need an 8″/20cm springform or loose-bottomed tin.
Please note, you will need to chill the tin of coconut milk overnight before using.
For the base:
150g vegan oat biscuits or Oreos*
2 tbsp cocoa powder (omit if using Oreos)
50g vegan sunflower spread, melted (I used ‘Pure’)
For the cheesecake mix:
200g dairy free dark chocolate, chopped
350g (approx) carton of silken tofu
200g (approx) coconut cream (from 1 can of coconut milk, chilled overnight) – buy a good quality one with the highest coconut content you can find (preferably organic)
100g icing sugar, sifted
*I used vegan oat-based biscuits that I found easily in Tesco, but there are plenty of other vegan ones. Oreos are a typical “I can’t believe they’re vegan” brand – you can use those if you like, and omit the cocoa powder.
Roughly break up the biscuits, place in a processor and blitz until they resemble coarse sand. Add the cocoa powder (if using – see note about Oreos, above) and blitz again.
Add the melted vegan spread (very short bursts in the microwave will do the job) and give a final blast until the mixture clumps together. Tip into a lightly oiled, loose-bottomed tin and evenly pat down into place. Cover and chill for an hour (or overnight if it makes life easier!)
Melt the chocolate, either in a bain marie or the microwave (about three 20-second blasts works for me, stirring in between). Set aside.
Drain the silken tofu and puree with a hand blender. Set aside.
Open up your tin of coconut milk. Chilling it causes separation – scoop out the hardened coconut cream and drain off the milk (save it for a curry or a smoothie!) Mash the coconut cream to break it up a bit then whip it with the sifted icing sugar. It takes at least 5 minutes even with a free standing mixer. Eventually, it behaves similarly to double cream if done correctly; I failed a bit at this (I think there’s a knack to it) but as it will be combined with other things, it doesn’t make any difference. So don’t worry if yours doesn’t whip well, either.
Pour in the cooled, melted chocolate and whip until just combined. Stop while it is thick, creamy and still soft – over whipping here will rapidly make it too stiff! Add the pureed tofu and whip again until thoroughly mixed.
Spoon on to your biscuit base and smooth with the back of a spoon. Chill for a minimum of three hours. Remove, slice and serve – it really is that simple, and it tastes GORGEOUS! Will keep for a few days in the fridge in an airtight tub.