This lusciously smooth non-dairy and egg-free holiday cheesecake is flavored with molasses, ginger, cinnamon and clove and baked in a gingersnap crust. If desired, top with non-dairy whipped cream (from my Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook) and a dusting of cinnamon before serving. This is my signature cheesecake recipe and technique, and as far as I know, is unique in vegan cheesecake preparation because premade non-dairy cream cheese is not required – the cheesecake filling is created in one easy step. However, the proper baking items are required for success, so please follow the recipe and technique as written. The filling also requires two specialty ingredients which can be obtained from ModernistPantry.com. These ingredients are also commonly used in vegan cheese making (please see my Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook for cheese recipes).
Special Kitchen Items
• 8” springform pan
• 9” cake pan
• large pan for the bain-marie (water bath)
• large baking sheet to support the bain-marie (optional)
• large food storage container for chilling/storing the cheesecake
• parchment paper
• cooking oil spray
• food processor
Ingredients for the Crust
• 10 oz vegan gingersnap cookies
• ¼ cup non-dairy butter or margarine, softened
Ingredients for the Cheesecake Filling
• 2 cups (10 oz) dry raw cashews (DO NOT presoak in water)
• 3 cups homemade or commercial soymilk (sorry, no substitutes; this recipe relies on the curdling action of the soymilk when the lactic acid is introduced)
• ¾ cup organic sugar
• 3 T unsulfured molasses
• 4 tsp kappa carrageenan (available from ModernistPantry.com)
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp ground cloves
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 4 tsp lactic acid powder (available from ModernistPantry.com)
Trace the circumference of the bottom of the springform pan on parchment paper and cut. Assemble the springform pan and spray the interior with cooking oil. Line the bottom with the parchment paper and mist the paper with cooking oil.
8” springform pan lined with parchment paper; 9” cake pan to prevent water from entering springform pan; and aluminum roasting pan for bain-marie set on baking sheet for support.
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C.
Process the gingersnap cookies and softened butter/margarine in a food processor until finely ground. Add the crumbs to the oiled and lined springform pan and pack evenly on the bottom and halfway up the sides. Set aside.
Add the dry raw cashews to a blender with the soymilk and process on high speed for 2 full minutes. Add the remaining filling ingredients EXCEPT for the lactic acid and process until thoroughly blended. With the blender running, add the lactic acid all at once. The mixture will immediately thicken and stop turning in the blades – turn the blender off.
Pour the filling into the springform pan and gently shake the pan side to side or tap the sides to release any air bubbles and help the filling settle.
Place the springform pan into the cake pan and set the cake pan into the bain-marie. DO NOT use aluminum foil as an alternative to the cake pan for preventing water from leaking into the springform pan. Water will condense inside the foil and ruin the cheesecake. Trust me on this one. If using an aluminum roasting pan for the bain-marie, place it on a large baking sheet for support and for ease transferring to and from the oven.
Pour very hot tap water into the bain-marie halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Be careful not to splash water into the cheesecake filling.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. When complete, turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in the oven for 15 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar (if needed, use an oven mitt to hold the door ajar).
Remove from the oven and carefully remove the cake pan from the water bath. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature and then remove from the cake pan and release from the springform mold. Leave the cheesecake on the bottom of the springform mold and transfer to the storage container. Seal and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
To transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate, carefully slide a thin flexible spatula between the parchment paper and the crust and slide onto the plate. Moisten a knife with warm water to slice the cheesecake. Top with non-dairy whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon before serving, if desired. Store the cheesecake in the sealed container in the refrigerator.
Holiday Gingersnap Cheesecake
Shawarma is a Levantine meat preparation cooked on a rotisserie. Shavings of the meat are served in a sandwich, or on a plate with accompaniments such as tabbouleh or fattoush. Shawarma is often eaten as a fast food, made up into a sandwich wrap with flatbread together with vegetables and dressing. A variety of vegetables accompany the shawarma, and can include any combination of cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, parsley, pickled turnips, pickles, shredded cabbage or French fries. Please note that while shawarma shares similarities to Greek gyros and Turkish döner kebab, it is seasoned differently and is therefore not the same dish.
Vegan Levantine Shawarma is prepared using Butler Soy Curls™. When seasoned and prepared properly, this unique product yields an amazing meat analogue (left unseasoned, the strips have an inherent natural sweetness; proper seasoning helps mask this sweetness).
Butler Soy Curls™ have a texture similar to textured soy/vegetable protein chunks but they are fundamentally different because they are made with non-GMO whole soybeans, as opposed to textured soy/vegetable protein, which is the extruded by-product of soybean oil production. As such, they are processed differently and use no solvents in the production process.For gluten-free diets, use wheat-free tamari in the seasoning broth. This recipe yields about 1 and ½ lbs.
• 1 pkg (8 oz) Butler Soy Curls™
• 3 cups water
• 3 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™*
• 2 T fresh lemon juice
• 1 T raw apple cider vinegar
• 4 tsp onion powder
• 2 tsp garlic powder
• 2 tsp mushroom powder (porcini or portabella)
• 2 tsp browning liquid (e.g., Gravy Master™; for color)
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
• ¼ tsp ground cardamom
• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
• ¼ tsp ground black pepper
• pinch ground cloves
• pinch ground cinnamon
• pinch cayenne or ground red pepper
Additional Ingredients for Pan-Browning
• 2 T olive oil
• sea salt or kosher salt as desired
• additional coarse ground pepper as desired
Tahini Sauce Ingredients
• ½ cup sesame tahini
• 6 T water, or more as needed to thin consistency
• 2 T fresh lemon juice
• 1 clove raw garlic
• ¼ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
• chopped fresh parsley for garnish
In a large saucepan, whisk together the seasoning broth ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the dry soy curls. Fold well in the broth and cover the saucepan. Allow to cool for 30 minutes to allow proper absorption of the seasoning and the color. Fold occasionally to ensure that all pieces are rehydrated and seasoned. The strips can be refrigerated in the broth for up to 5 days before finishing.
Browning the Strips
Drain the excess liquid and discard. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and place over medium heat. Add the seasoned shawarma strips and sauté, turning frequently until most of the liquid has evaporated and the strips are nicely browned (the strips hold a great deal of flavored broth even after draining the excess, so browning may take a bit longer than other meat analogues). Taste and add salt and additional ground black pepper as desired.
Wrap the shawarma strips in flatbread with additional ingredients of your choice, as mentioned in the recipe description (for the photo, I used a skillet cooked mixture of potatoes, onions and halved grape tomatoes), and top with a generous drizzle of tahini sauce and a garnish of chopped parsley.
For the tahini sauce, process the ingredients, except for the parsley, in a blender until smooth. Chill until ready to use. If necessary after chilling, thin with a little water to achieve a saucy consistency. Drizzle over the shawarma and vegetable toppings and garnish with the chopped parsley.
Levantine Shawarma, Vegan-Style with Tahini Sauce
Rich, tangy and velvety smooth, this recipe yields about 2 cups of the finest cultured sour cream. Although extremely easy to prepare, a high-powered blender is recommended for producing the smoothest texture.
• 1 and ½ cup (7.5 oz by weight) whole raw cashews
• ¾ cup filtered or spring water
• ½ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 non-dairy probiotic capsules*
*If possible, choose non-dairy probiotic capsules that offer several strains of Lactobacillus bacteria, as well as beneficial Streptococcus thermophilus and Bifidobacterium strains. This will create a more complex sour cream flavor than using Lactobacillus acidophilus alone.
Soak the cashews for a minimum of 8 hours with enough filtered or spring water to cover (refrigeration is not needed unless soaking time exceeds 8 hours). Drain the cashews, discarding the soaking water, and add them to the blender.
Add the ¾ cup fresh water and the salt.
Process the contents until completely smooth, stopping to stir or scrape down the sides of blender as necessary. Add the contents of the probiotic capsules and process briefly to blend.
Transfer the mixture to a roomy container with a lid and cover. The cream may develop an “airy” texture and expand during culturing. This is caused by the release of carbon dioxide gas during fermentation and is perfectly normal. Every 12 hours or so, burp the lid of the container to release carbon dioxide.
Let the cream culture at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours or until the desired level of tanginess is achieved. Do not heat the mixture in a yogurt maker or similar device in an attempt to accelerate the process. This will alter the starch in the cashews and adversely affect the texture. Warm room temperatures will accelerate the culturing process, and cooler room temperatures will slow the process, so taste test after 24 hours and then every 12 hours after that. Viability of the probiotic culture can also affect culturing time, so be sure to use a fresh product that has been stored in the refrigerator.
After culturing, stir the sour cream thoroughly. Seal the container and place in the refrigerator to chill for 8 hours to thicken properly before using.
Supreme Sour Cream (Cultured Non-Dairy)