‘Nog Cheesecake with Brandied Caramel Sauce

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Not too fluffy and yet not too dense, this lusciously smooth non-dairy cheesecake captures the flavor of holiday eggnog without the eggs and without the dairy. 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
• blender
• food processor (optional)

Ingredients for the Crust
• 1 commercial vegan graham cracker crust

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
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
• 3 T brandy or dark rum
• 4 tsp kappa carrageenan (available from ModernistPantry.com)
• ½ tsp ground nutmeg plus ¼ tsp for garnish
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 4 tsp lactic acid powder (available from ModernistPantry.com)

Ingredients for the Brandied Caramel Sauce
• ½ cup packed light brown sugar
• 3 T non-dairy milk
• 2 T non-dairy butter or margarine
• 1 T brandy or dark rum

Preparation
Trace the circumference of the bottom of the springform pan on parchment paper and cut. Assemble the springform pan and spray the interior generously 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.

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 graham cracker crust in a food processor until finely ground. Alternately, crush the crust into crumbs in a large bowl. Add the crumbs to the oiled and lined springform pan and pack evenly on the bottom and halfway up the sides. The oiled pan will help the crumbs stick to 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.

About an hour before serving, prepare the sauce. Add the sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a brief boil while swirling the saucepan contents occasionally. Watch carefully or the sauce may boil over. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cook for exactly 4 minutes, again swirling the contents occasionally. Set aside to cool at room temperature.

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. Drizzle individual slices with the sauce. Store the cheesecake in the sealed container in the refrigerator.

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Milk Chocolate Pudding (non-dairy and egg-free, of course)

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CUS6-03MOUSSERich, creamy and delicious. This recipe yields about 3 cups or six ½ cup servings.

Ingredients
• ½ cup (2.5 oz. by weight) whole raw cashews (pre-soaking unnecessary)
• 2 and ½ cups non-dairy milk
• 2 T unmodified potato starch, cornstarch or arrowroot powder
• 1 cup organic sugar
• ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 tsp real vanilla extract
• ¼ tsp sea salt or kosher salt

Preparation
Place the strainer over a large glass bowl or BPA-free plastic storage container and set aside.

Add all ingredients to a blender and process on high speed for 2 full minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides of the blender as necessary.

Pour the mixture into a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir slowly and continually with a whisk. Whisk vigorously as the mixture begins to thicken (vigorous whisking will help to prevent lumps from forming). Continue whisking until the mixture begins to bubble.

Pour the mixture into the strainer over the container and stir with the whisk to press the mixture through the mesh. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and let cool for about 15 minutes and then refrigerate for several hours until well-chilled.

To serve, stir the mixture thoroughly and spoon into individual dessert cups. Garnish the individual cups with non-dairy whipped cream, if desired.


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“Instant” Swiss-Style Soy Yogurt (uncultured)

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DSC09849-002Non-dairy yogurt preparation typically involves introducing specific strains of lactobacillus bacteria into non-dairy milk. The yogurt culture then produces lactic acid which in turn thickens and acidifies the milk, thus creating the tangy yogurt.

With this recipe and technique, the culturing step is bypassed and commercial lactic acid is added directly to the soy mixture, which instantly creates a silky, creamy and tangy uncultured yogurt. While it lacks the probiotic benefits of cultured yogurt, “Instant” Swiss-Style Soy Yogurt offers convenience for the home vegan cook (since it lacks probiotic benefits, be sure to include cultured or fermented plant-based foods in your diet).

The yogurt can be sweetened with any natural sweetener of your choice or blended with fruit or fruit preserves for a delicious high protein, non-dairy treat; or layer with fruit or fruit preserves in a tall glass to create parfaits. Try drizzling raw agave syrup over the yogurt and serve with your favorite granola or muesli.

“Instant” Swiss-Style Soy Yogurt is also ideal for preparing non-dairy frozen yogurt (you might want to add ½ tsp of guar gum or xanthan gum when blending to discourage ice-crystallization when freezing). No substitutions can be made for any ingredient in this recipe since each ingredient serves a specific function. This recipe yields about 3 cups or six ½-cup servings.

Ingredients
• 1 carton (12.3 oz) Mori-Nu™ extra-firm silken tofu, or similar (do not use water-packed block tofu)
• 1 and ½ cup organic plain unsweetened soymilk (sorry, no substitutions)
• 2 T refined coconut oil or virgin coconut oil*
• 1 T lactic acid powder (sorry, no substitutions; available from ModernistPantry.com)

*Virgin coconut oil will impart a slight trace of coconut flavor.

Preparation
Line a large plate with several layers of paper towels. Remove the silken tofu from the carton and slice into 6 slabs. Place the slabs on the paper towels. Place additional towels on top and place a large plate on top of the towels. Allow to press and drain for a minimum of 1 hour. It is essential to remove as much water as possible to ensure the best finished texture, so do not rush this step.

Measure the lactic acid into a small dish and set aside near the blender. Do not add the acid to the blender until instructed.

Remove the lid from the coconut oil and place the jar or bottle into a microwave. Heat until melted (about 30 seconds to 1 minute depending upon the solidity of the coconut oil); avoid overheating the oil. Alternately, place the jar or bottle into a container filled with near boiling water and let stand until the oil melts. Measure 2 tablespoons and set aside.

Place the tofu into a blender and add the soymilk. If you wish to add organic sugar to sweeten, now is the time to do so. Process the contents until completely smooth. With the blender running, add the coconut oil, process for 10 seconds and then add the lactic acid powder all at once. The mixture will thicken instantly; turn the blender off.

Give the yogurt a stir and then transfer to a sealable storage container. Refrigerate until well-chilled to ensure maximum thickening before serving. Stir in fruit or fruit preserves as desired.


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Lemon Meringue Drop Cookies

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DSC08656-002Crispy and light as air, these lemony drop cookies melt away on your tongue. A stand mixer with a balloon whip attachment is recommended for this recipe; however, an electric hand-held mixer will work if that is your only option. Do not use an immersion blender, standard blender or food processor, as the mixture needs to be whipped. This recipe yields about 48 one-inch diameter meringue drops.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup organic sugar
• 1 T Versawhip 600K™ (available from ModernistPantry.com)
• ½ tsp guar gum
• ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
• ¼ tsp fine sea salt

Technique:
Add the sugar to a DRY blender and process into a fine powder. Set aside in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Into the bottom of the mixer’s mixing bowl, stir together the Versawhip 600K™ with the guar gum, salt and approximately ⅓ of the finely powdered sugar. Add the water and lemon juice and turn on the mixer, gradually increasing the speed to high. Whip the mixture until stiff peaks begin to form, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn off the mixer and sprinkle in ½ of the remaining powdered sugar. Resume whipping for another 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer and add the remaining sugar. Resume whipping again for another 2 minutes.

Drop the meringue by teaspoonful, about 1-inch in diameter, onto a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (e.g., Silpat™). Alternately, the mixture can be decoratively piped onto the baking sheet using a pastry bag. Don’t spread the drops too far apart or you won’t be able to fit 24 onto a single sheet. Repeat on the second baking sheet.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 1 and ½ hours. After baking, let the meringue drops cool at room temperature for 1 hour on the baking sheet. This will ensure that the drops are sufficiently dry before storing in a covered container at room temperature. Do not attempt to touch them or move them until they have completely cooled.


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Fresh Fruit Ice Cream (Cashew Cream Base)

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fruitcashewicecream
Heavy cashew cream and puréed fruit form the base for this delightful frozen treat. An ice cream maker is required for this recipe.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup (5 oz. by weight) whole raw cashews
• 2 cups non-dairy milk of your choice
• ¾ cup organic sugar
• ½ tsp guar gum
• 2 cups chilled fruit purée, smooth or semi-chunky

Technique:
Place the cashews and milk into a container with a lid, seal and place in the refrigerator to soak for a minimum of 8 hours. After soaking, place the ingredients in a high-powered blender and process on high speed for 2 full minutes.

The cream will now need to be strained to remove the solids. To do this, wash your hands thoroughly and pour the cream into the nut milk bag over a large bowl or pitcher.

While holding the top of the bag with one hand, gently knead the bag to help the cream pass through the ultra-fine mesh – avoid forcing the cream through. Discard or compost the solids in the bag.

Optionally, the cream can be poured (in increments) into a strainer lined with 4 layers of cheesecloth. Stir the cream gently with a spoon to help it pass through the cheesecloth.

Pour the heavy cream into a blender and add the sugar and guar gum; process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a container and refrigerate until very cold (or place in the freezer for about 30 minutes).

When well chilled, pour the cream mixture into your ice cream maker and add the chilled fruit purée. Process the mixture according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.


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Classic Pumpkin Pie | Cashew-Based & Vegan

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A favorite Autumn and Winter treat and perfect for celebrating the holidays. Vegan pumpkin pies are often made with tofu as a replacement for the evaporated milk and eggs. Although I use tofu frequently and successfully in eggless egg recipes and desserts, I find its undertaste to be rather noticeable and distracting in pumpkin pie. Therefore my goal was to create a pumpkin pie using a creamy cashew base which allows the flavor of the pumpkin and the warm spices to predominate.

 


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Classic Gentle Chef Pumpkin Pie
A favorite Autumn and Winter treat and perfect for celebrating the holidays. Vegan pumpkin pies are often made with tofu as a replacement for the evaporated milk and eggs. Although I use tofu frequently and successfully in eggless egg recipes and desserts, I find its undertaste to be rather noticeable and distracting in pumpkin pie. Therefore my goal was to create a pumpkin pie using a creamy cashew base which allows the flavor of the pumpkin and the warm spices to predominate.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 75 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 75 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Soak the cashews in water in the refrigerator for about 8 hours to soften and hydrate. To expedite the soaking process, pour boiling water over the cashews and let soak for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. Drain the cashews and add them to a high-powered blender. Add the non-dairy milk and process for 2 full minutes.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and process until completely smooth. The mixture will be quite thick, so occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula and stir the contents back down into the blades as necessary. Use a tamper tool if provided with your blender.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell and smooth the surface with a spatula or large spoon. Don’t worry about a few swirl marks as they will minimize when the pie cools. Place the pie on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue to bake for an additional 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean (do not exceed 60 minutes).
  7. Note: The surface of the pie will appear dry after baking; this will resolve once cooled and chilled.
  8. Remove the pie and cool completely on a wire rack (until the underside of the pie plate no longer feels warm). Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled and firm before slicing and serving. Try to avoid laying the plastic wrap in direct contact with the surface of the pie as moisture condensation will result. The pie can also be chilled in a large, sealable storage container.
  9. Top individual slices with a dollop of non-dairy whipped cream, if desired.
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