Contrary to what Anthony Bourdain once stated, vegans are foodies. We don’t subsist on a diet of nuts and berries, and many of us love sweet treats. If you’ve given up dairy products, you might occasionally long for a creamy dessert. Cheesecake was one of the things we missed the most, until we discovered that silken tofu, whipped in a blender, makes a concoction similar to cream cheese. The walnut/maple syrup crust is gluten-free and delicious. This recipe is inexpensive, easy to make, and well worth a try.
4 cups ground walnuts (if you own a grinder, this part should go quickly. If you do the grinding by hand, like we did, the process will take longer, and your walnuts will be coarser)
¼ cup maple syrup (NOT pancake syrup!)
2 lbs silken tofu
1 cup turbinado sugar (not commercial white sugar, it’s usually NOT vegan)
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon sea salt (not the iodized commercial variety)
2 tablespoons lemon zest (approximately 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Crush walnuts to the best of your ability and combine with maple syrup. Mixture will be slightly sticky, but not gooey. Press the mixture inside a greased cake pan (we love coconut oil, but olive is good, as well) and place into refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. Make lemon zest by rubbing a lemon against a fine grater until the peel is completely grated. Then combine the tofu, lemon zest, sugar, almond butter, vanilla extract, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon in a blender or food processor and whip until smooth and frothy.
Remove pan from refrigerator and pour mixture directly into crust. Be sure to fill completely to the top. Your cheesecake will not rise while cooking, so you needn’t worry about overfilling. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. The edges will be slightly browned, but the center should be slightly wobbly. Remove from oven, set on counter to cool for 1 hour, then transfer to refrigerator and chill for 2-3 hours.
This cheesecake will be somewhat heartier than the conventional variety, with a thicker texture. Serve as is, or with fresh berries or a drizzle of vegan chocolate sauce. Serves 6, but everyone had better be hungry. Your dessert keeps well in the refrigerator and will taste even better the next day. Yum! Enjoy.