Monday, 19 January 2015

Vegan raspberry and coconut cheesecake

These days there is a growing appreciation and understanding of vegetarian and vegan diets. I'm sure that many of you have friends or family that follow these diets, whether full-time or perhaps on selected days, for religious, ethical, or environmental reasons. So, for the last course in my four-course menu assignment, I decided to make a vegan-friendly dessert. As an extra challenge, I decided to take on a dessert that relies heavily on non-vegan ingredients, namely, the cheesecake! My aim was to modify an existing cheesecake recipe so that it could satisfy special dietary requirements (in this case I managed to make the cheesecake both vegan and suitable for lactose intolerant individuals) without sacrificing on flavour!

My first adjustment was to use tofu as a replacement for cream cheese – tofu is rather firm and creamy, like cream cheese, and from afar they even look similar! Tofu is also a good source of protein, and so adds another health benefit to those who are vegetarian. It is important to use the right texture of tofu though. For this recipe I used a high-protein tofu which was far too firm, and so the mixture ended up being a bit grainy (as you may be able to see in the picture), as well as a slightly yellow colour and a bit too strong in tofu flavour. I think a regular firm or a silken firm tofu would work far better.

The other big replacement I made was to use coconut cream instead of dairy cream. I found quite a few online tutorials showing me how coconut cream can miraculously be whipped just like regular cream! First, you need to use a coconut cream that does not contain any thickeners or stabilisers, as these prevent the cream part from separating from the liquid. Second, the cream needs to be cold, so put your can in the fridge overnight, or in the freezer for 10 minutes. This also helps the fat to separate from the liquid. Finally, you only want the cream part of the coconut cream, so scoop this off the top of the can and leave behind the liquid. This is the part that is nice and thick, and what will make your coconut cream whip up.

Finally, I replaced the gelatine in the original recipe with cornflour. However, I'm not sure this step was necessary as the mixture had a bit of floury after-taste. So I think I need to experiment with this some more!

I tested this recipe on Mr Duckie's family, who normally won’t go anywhere near tofu! So how did it go? Well, funnily enough, when I had a small taste test of the filling, I thought that it tasted awful! I even felt sick thinking about it! Unfortunately, I didn't have enough tofu to try again, so, with a heavy heart, I served up my cheesecake with lots of caveats and warnings.

However, I shouldn't have worried, because everyone else seemed to love it! The cream part itself was very mild and most people did not pick that it contained tofu. My mother in law said that it was nice and light, not too sweet, and a good way to end a heavy meal. A visiting uncle (who inadvertently also turned into a test guinea pig) said “pretty good for a healthy dessert, although I still prefer regular cheesecake”. Even Mr Duckie, who normally wouldn’t poke tofu with a stick, decided that it was “not too bad” and went back for another serve.  Now I thought that everyone was just being nice to me, but, the cake was finished by the end of the day! 

Apparently, I managed turned a family of tofu-haters into tofu-lovers, so I think it is definitely worth giving this recipe a shot, regardless of whether you are a vegan or carnivore! It was also a very fun process to modify a recipe to suit different dietary needs, so I definitely encourage some kitchen experimenting with different ingredients to suit your needs!

On a final note, I once again may disappear from this blog for a few weeks as I prepare to go on my first clinical placement in the Blue Mountains! I'm both excited and a bit nervous, but looking forward to learning a lot and developing my skills as a dietitian!

Vegan raspberry and coconut cheesecake

Serves 8

250g plain sweet biscuits
125g canola spread
3 tsp cornflour
1/4 cup hot water
500g firm tofu
100g caster sugar
300ml coconut cream, chilled, creamy part only (see note)
1-2 tsp rosewater (depending on how strong you prefer the flavour)
200g frozen raspberries
30g caster sugar, extra
Coconut flakes, to decorate


Grease and line a 20cm-round springform pan. Process biscuits until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add canola spread and process to combine. Press mixture over base and side of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Combine cornflour and boiling water and stir to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat coconut cream until it becomes thick. In another bowl, beat tofu and sugar until smooth. Fold in coconut cream, cornflour mixture, and rosewater. Pour into prepared pan. Cover, refrigerate overnight.

Combine raspberries and extra caster sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat to form a sauce. Set aside to cool.

Remove cheesecake from pan and transfer to a plate. Cover with raspberry sauce and coconut flakes to decorate. Serve.

Note: for coconut cream, start with chilled coconut cream - either put the tin in the fridge the night before, or in the freezer for 10 minutes (be careful not to keep in the freezer for too long). Remove tin from fridge/freezer and open tin. Scoop out the top, thick creamy part only, leaving the liquid behind in the tin.

Original cheesecake recipe (for comparison against modified recipe)

Recipe taken from

250g plain sweet biscuits
125g butter, melted
3 tsp gelatine powder 
¼ cup boiling water
500g cream cheese
1/2 cup caster sugar
300ml thickened cream, whipped
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
300g fresh or frozen blueberries
Icing sugar mixture, to serve

Grease a 6cm-deep, 20cm-round (base) springform pan. Process biscuits until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add butter. Process until just combined. Press mixture over base and side of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.

Sprinkle gelatine over boiling water in a heatproof jug. Whisk with a fork until gelatine is dissolved. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in gelatine mixture until combined. Fold in whipped cream, then 1 cup blueberries. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top with a spatula. Sprinkle remaining blueberries over cheesecake. Cover, refrigerate overnight.

Remove cheesecake from pan and transfer to a plate. Dust with icing sugar. Serve.

1 comment:

  1. Well done on altering another classic recipe, they make vegetarian gelatine now so maybe you could have used that instead of cornflour. Either way well done and good luck with your next course :D