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lazybird has gone vegan.

lazybird vegan cheesecake

ok, well…we haven’t become vegans (dang you delicious cheese!) but we are equal opportunity and can now confidently bake for vegans.

this challenge started with the offer to try tackling some vegan baked goods for a friend’s recent baby shower. i hit the internets right away and ordered two popular and highly recommended cookbooks: “flying apron’s gluten-free & vegan baking book,” by jennifer katzinger and “the joy of vegan baking,” by colleen patrick-goudreau. i read and read, and was inspired to order more books on veganism, nutrition, organics, factory farms etc, etc…and made a pretty significant life change….i gave up pop (or soda, or coke, or whatever you want to call it) i also feel a lot worse about milk, butter, eggs and meat….but….well…i gave up pop….lets take it one step at a time.

long story short, this challenge…was not so challenging (after i was able to track down egg replacer, that is). if you have a whole foods or sprouts or a specialty market nearby…you’re one step closer to whipping up a “cheese”cake of your own.

ingredients:
crust:
4 cups pretzels
1/2 cup melted non-dairy butter (i used earth balance)
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar

“cheese”cake (adapted from “the joy of vegan baking,” by colleen patrick-goudreau):
6 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
1/2 cup water
1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips
24 ounces non-dairy cream cheese, room temperature (i used the highly recommended tofutti)
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

chocolate ganache:
1/2 cup soy creamer
12 oz dairy free chocolate chips

preheat your oven to 350º.

for your crust… combine pretzels, melted butter, peanut butter and sugar together in your food processor till finely chopped.

prepare your springform pan….generously butter the bottoms and side of a 9in springform pan. place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, on the bottom of the pan and butter paper as well. coat the bottom of the pan with pretzel crumb mixture. coat sides of your pan as well, about an inch up. set aside.

in a medium size bowl whip together the egg replacer and water till you’ve achieved a thick cream mixture. your mixture will have doubled in size and become white and almost frothy. set aside.

in a heat safe bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt your chocolate chips. remove from heat and let cool to room temperature – still give it a stir here and there so it won’t harden back up.

in a large bowl, or your stand mixer beat together “egg” mixture, “cream cheese” and sugar (hah, like all the quotations?!) till smooth. pour in melted chocolate and vanilla and mix till thoroughly blended. (note: if your cream cheese mixture is colder than your chocolate, mixing the two might result in a chocolate chip cheesecake instead of a smooth, blended chocolate….i mean….it could be considered a happy accident, but if you disagree…you’ve been warned)

pour mixture into prepared crust/springform pan.

bake at 350º for 50 minutes. at this point your cheesecake should be set along the edges, but jiggle slightly in the middle. once the timer rings, turn your oven off and let your cheesecake stay put for another 50 minutes. do not open up the oven door during this whole process…lest you risk cheesecake cracks…dum dum dummm. remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to let cool to room temperature. at this point, run a knife around the edge of your springform pan to separate the pan from the cake – this also helps ward off cracks. once your cake has cooled, wrap up tightly and store in fridge overnight.

next morning, or at least a couple hours prior to serving the cheesecake, make your ganache. pour chocolate chips into a medium-sized heat safe bowl and set aside. in a small saucepan heat soy creamer over medium heat till bubbles start forming around the edges of the pan. remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips. let sit for five minutes. slowly begin to stir your mixture, being careful not to incorporate too much air. once your chocolate has melted and you have a creamy texture, set aside and let cool till your ganache has thickened enough to pour out and spread over cheesecake – your ganache shouldn’t be runny, you should need to use either gravity (in tilting your cake back and forth) or a knife to spread out over cake.

add a garnish if you like.…i liked raspberries.

return to fridge till ready to serve.

as a non-vegan, i was nervous about the results. ESPECIALLY because, you can’t really take a sneak taste of a cheesecake….unless you go all cliff huxtable and cover up the bite with the ganache….shoot! why didn’t i think of that?!

i was relieved when the guest of honor took a bite and confirmed success…and even happier when all the non-vegans took to it with pleasure as well. the biggest success, however, was later that evening when i tricked a vegan-dessert-DETESTER into eating a slice (didn’t tell him it was vegan) and got a high-five for its deliciousness. after he demolished it and i told him of my trickery, i received another high-five for making the first vegan dessert he had tried and enjoyed.

if you’ve made it this far…i’m assuming you are vegan, or are at least toying with the idea. i promise, if you’re a cheesecake fan, this one is worth trying…and even tricking your friends into eating.

enjoy!

-L

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“if it was ok to put my face in it, i would”

oh the cheesecake. this is one of those desserts i have been wanting to spend some time on for a quite a while. they make me nervous…don’t overbake…don’t overmix and for goodness sakes….don’t let the top crack! bah! so much pressure! but to tell you the truth….i kind of like pressure and challenges….and i’m not one to give up without a good fight.

the baking bibles (cake, pastry and bread by rose levy beranbaum) are where i usually turn first for quality recipes. rose boasted that this cheesecake recipe has made some turn up their noses to restaurant cheese cakes saying, “I don’t eat cheesecake out!” sounds like a good starting place to me.

ingredients:
crust:
20 oreos
1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted)

cake:
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups sour cream
9 oz white chocolate chips (melted)

equipment:
9 inch springform pan
food processor
aluminum foil
roasting pan – large enough to fit your springform pan

preheat your oven to 350º

begin with you crust. in your food processor finely chop oreo cookies and mix in melted butter.

prepare your springform pan. generously butter the bottoms and side of pan. place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, on the bottom of the pan and butter paper as well. coat the bottom of the pan with cookie crumb mixture. take three or four pieces of aluminum foil and lay them down on top of each other so they all crisscross in different directions. place your pan on top and pull foil up along the sides of your pan, being careful not to tear it anywhere. this foil’s job is to protect your cake from the water seeping in so take it seriously. transfer to fridge to chill.

in a heat safe bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt your chocolate chips. remove from heat and let cool – still give it a stir here and there so it won’t harden back up.

in your stand mixer, mix cream cheese and sugar till well blended. add in eggs one at a time scraping down the sides of the bowl between. add in lemon juice, vanilla and salt. beat in sour cream until just blended. avoid overmixing as it will create air bubbles and possibly cause cracking. add in your melted chocolate, mixing till just blended.

pour batter into pan over crust. add about an inch of hot water to a roasting pan. set your springform pan inside the water and roasting pan. transfer to oven.

bake for 45 minutes. once that timer rings, turn your oven off and let your cheesecake stay put for another hour….trying your very hardest to not open the oven door at all… not while baking and not for the extra hour afterwards. (i mean, i couldn’t help myself….i was too curious….but you try your best not to!) once your hour is up, transfer springform to cooling rack and let cool to room temperature – about another hour and then cover and transfer to fridge to chill overnight.

to unmold, run a knife around the edge of your pan and then remove springform. i added extra cookie crumbs to the side at this point.

serve chilled!

so, lets talk about the waterbath…scared? i was too. i decided to give myself enough time to make two different cheesecakes…just so that i could test out the waterbath method without the pressure of my first cake being the one i would share…which was a good thing, because my first attempt was foiled. i didn’t bake it long enough…so i had a mushy center and the water had seeped into the pan, so i had a soggy crust. waa waa. the outside of the cake was very tasty though, so i was conflicted….should i try the waterbath again…and risk another fail…or just bake it without the waterbath…and not get the experience i wanted.

well, i went for it. i took the two problems into consideration and was extra careful wrapping the springform pan with foil making sure  and double sure there were no tears or gaps. i also gave it an extra 5 minutes in the oven, making my baking time 50 minutes. all the books and blogs will say, when you take it out of the oven, the sides will appear set and the middle will still jiggle when you shake the pan slightly…as it cools…the cake will set all the way through. it’s hard to know how much jiggle is too much…which is probably why i moved forward with my first cake to quickly.

this time it appeared that the cake had set all the way through once it finished cooling…but only in cutting it, would i know for sure. when i brought it into work i had B slice it…cause i was so nervous that it hadn’t baked through. “it’s like butter” she exclaimed when she cut the first slice. phrew! it came out perfectly….creamy, rich cheesecake. mmmm….i want another piece right now, just thinking about it.

so, success! rose…you win, you always do. it will still be a while before i take over cheesecake factory…but watch out! i’m on my way!

happy valentine’s from your lazy birds! hope you have a delicious day!

-L

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