New York-style (tofu) Baked Cheesecake

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Cheesecake reminds me of everything good in my childhood: baking with my nana, family dinners, Christmas parties and sticking my fingers into the mixing bowl. To me, cheesecakes will always be the ultimate dessert, with its creamy texture, subtle vanilla, and a melt in the mouth base, and so the only thing that can make this bake more extraordinary is that is 100% plant-based! I will admit, in my childhood I probably carried more of the cheesecake in my hair and around my face when I helped in the kitchen, but today I have transformed a traditional recipe, which is, and I am not saying this with ease, better than the original.

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“I would be vegan, but cheese!”

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard this phrase or one similar to it after telling someone that I am vegan. It is simply comical because there are many more products in our life that can be placed in the dairy gap, products which are significantly more tasty and nutritious. 

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One of those products is in fact tofu! To the uninitiated, tofu is a soy-based curd that is created by heating soy milk and pressing the curd into a block. It is an incredible plant-based source of protein, contains all nine amino acids, and carries any flavour it is injected with (both sweet and savoury). It really is underrated.

I enjoy tofu in all forms, call me a conventional vegan but, I think it is simply delicious. I love breaking it up, adding turmeric and scrambling it, marinating it in miso paste or incorporating it into various creams and desserts. In this recipe, I suggest using extra firm tofu as it bakes the best, and when blended resembles the texture of soft cheese; silken tofu contains a higher percentage of water and so it wouldn’t set the way firm tofu does.

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So, you’re probably still trying to get your head around how a cheesecake comes to be without well, the key ingredient: cheese. It is quite simple, the combination of tofu and boiled and blended millet creates the desirable creamy texture, whereas the addition of a lot of lemon juice gives the distinct cheese tartness and masks the lack of flavour in tofu. It is crucial to add all the lemon juice as without it the cheesecake simply isn’t the same, and I can promise that it won’t be lemon flavoured or overly sour. Trust me!

Ingredients 

For the base:

150g of oat flour

75g of buckwheat flour

40g of coconut sugar

3 tablespoons of chia seeds (soaked in 6tbs of water for 10 minutes)

4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil

3 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

Pinch of sea salt

For the tofu filling:

360g of extra firm tofu

1/4 cup of dry millet

1 cup of plant milk

1/2 cup of coconut yogurt

1/2 cup of coconut sugar 

1/4 cup of maple syrup

2 tablespoons of potato starch

2 teaspoons of vanilla paste

2/3 cup of lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of sea salt

For the ganache:

4 tablespoons of coconut oil

2 tablespoons of cacao powder

4 tablespoons of maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

Method 

Preheat the oven to 180℃.

To make the oat base: place all of the oat base ingredients into a food processor and blend until it comes together. Line an 18-21cm cake tin with baking paper and press the dough in firmly and evenly. Bake in the center of the oven for 7 minutes (keep the oven on for later) and let the base cool.

To make the cheesecake filling: rinse the millet groats in some warm water and boil until soft (it is crucial to make sure the millet is still warm when blending as this makes the mix come together). Next, place all of the tofu filling ingredients, apart from the milk, in a bowl and blend with a hand blender, or in a standing blender. When the mix is smooth slowly add the milk and continue blending until the consistency is smooth and silky. Give it a taste and adjust the sweetness to your preference.

Pour the mix onto the cooled oat base (it may seem runny but, that is the way it should be as it will be silkier after baking) and smooth the surface with a spatula or spoon.

Place in the center of the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 120℃ and bake for a further 45 minutes.

After this time, turn the oven off but keep the tofu cheesecake in the oven for a further 15 minutes, after which you can remove it and let it cool for at least 2-3 hours before decorating.

To make the ganache: place the coconut oil in a small saucepan and melt over low heat, next add the maple, cacao and salt and mix until it is smooth. Place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes for it to thicken to a melted chcocolate consistency. Pour over the cheesecake and decorate with your favrouite fruits.

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This cake should be stored in the fridge, and eaten within 4 days. I’d recommend removing it from the fridge and letting it sit for 20 minutes at room temperature before serving, this is when the textures are at their prime!

As always, I love seeing your creations and thoughts on my recipes, so make sure to like and comment below this post, and tag me on Instagram @wikis.vital.way

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