Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kahlua Chocolate Cheesecake - 100% Vegan, 100% Awesome!

Mere minutes ago, I was shoveling this into my mouth:

Kahlua. Chocolate. Cheesecake. Vegan.

Words cannot describe how much omming and nomming was happening here. I've had plenty of vegan cheesecakes in my day, but nothing aligned with the real thing like this beauty. Chocolate cheesecake used to be something in my dreams, something I once loved and begged for as a child, but thought was condemned to my omnivorous past forever.

Not so! Don't be fooled - despite this cheesecake's "vegan" label, there's very little that's healthy about it. This is an all-out, decadent, fatty special occasion kind of cheesecake that will elicit "This can't be vegan!" reactions from those you serve it to. Including yourself.

Though I haven't eaten a "real" cheesecake in a few years, the texture - rich, dense and a little spongy - is just how I remember it. It even has that cheesy tang, that delightful signature cheesecake taste. This is the cheesecake of dreams, right here.

I made this for a special Valentine's Day dessert, which it's perfect for! Since this cake is a little more labor-intensive than other desserts, and since it calls for more expensive ingredients, it's best saved for special occasions. Like my birthday *cough*.

Kahlua Chocolate Cheesecake
Adapted and veganized from this recipe.

For the crust:
¾ c. raw almonds
¾ c. flour (I used whole wheat)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ c. oil (canola or melted coconut)
¼ c. agave or maple syrup, or a mix

For the cheesecake:
200 g dark chocolate (2 dark chocolate bars)
1 and ¾ Tofutti plain cream cheese containers (400 g)
½ c. sugar
½ c. firm silken tofu
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp hot water
1 c. Mimicreme, unsweetened (or other very thick vegan cream)
5 tbsp Kahlua

For the crème topping:
½ c. cashews, soaked for 30 minutes
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp Kahlua
2-3 tbsp Mimicreme, or more for consistency

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly oil a 20-cm spring form pan.

Grind the almonds into crumbs in a food processor. Add the flour, cocoa and salt. Process until combined. Turn the flour mixture into a medium bowl, add the oil and agave, and stir to combine. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the spring form pan, and bake for 10 minutes, until it’s firmed up slightly.

Break the chocolate into pieces into a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave in 30-second increments until melted, stirring each time. Set aside.

Blend the silken tofu in a small blender (I used my Magic Bullet) until pureed and no chunks remain. Combine the cornstarch and hot water in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar with electric beaters until fluffy. Slowly add the tofu and cornstarch mixture and blend. While blending on low power, add the Mimicreme, Kahlua and melted chocolate and blend until combined. Pour the mixture on top of the pre-baked crust, and bake in the oven for about an hour, until the top is shiny, a bit wobbly and darker in the center. Loosen the edges of the cheesecake with a knife and cool on a counter, transferring to the fridge after it’s cooled down a bit. Refrigerate for 3 hours or more.

The cheesecake right out of the oven.

While the cheesecake is cooling down, make the creme topping. Add all of the creme ingredients to a small blender and blend until completely smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more Mimicreme. You're looking for a pourable but still thick topping.

The creme, spread on top of the cheesecake. It was nighttime, thus the funky picture.

After it's completely chilled out, you can free the cheesecake from the spring form pan. Then slice, dice and serve!

The cheesecake sans the circular sides of the spring form pan. Mmm...

You can serve with a light dusting of cocoa powder and a little drizzle of Kahlua if you so desire. I ran out of cocoa powder (Gasp! The horror!) so I just tipped on a little Kahlua:

Note to self: It's very difficult to drizzle Kahlua on cheesecake in an attractive fashion.

Happy Valentine's day, everyone! Hope it's filled with relaxation, cuddles and/or delicious eats! :)

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