Homemade three-layer vegan berry cheesecake: the recipe

A lot of non-vegans are usually worried about missing out on foods they enjoy, “but what do you do about protein?”, “how do you eat enough to feel full?” and “I’ll miss the taste of (insert dish here)”. What non-vegans don’t realise is that not everyone was born vegan and there are a lot of dishes that we missed as well when we decided to make the switch.

This is something I can confidently say whenever I’m told non-vegans will miss out on this dish or that: being vegan and missing a non-vegan dish means that whatever you think you’ll be missing out on, another vegan will have also missed it and come up with a vegan version that tastes just the same, if not better.

So you think you’ll be missing out on cheesecake? There are plenty of great recipes out there that have long employed the use of our trusty friend to get you the right texture and flavour. I present to you, the cashew nut.

Soaked and blended, this nut is perfect to achieve that texture and flavour you miss from non-vegan cheeses. I’ve also previously shared another recipe that uses cashews to make a lovely herb and garlic vegan cheese (see here).

One of my favourite vegan chefs is The Buddhist Chef because he uses such simple methods to make the most amazing dishes. Maybe it’s also because fo the ‘Buddhist’ in the name of his blog that appeals to my inner self, but whatever the reason (whether it’s the Buddhist element or the veganism), it works for me. I’ve tried a few of Jean Phillipe’s recipes over time, but the recipe for his vegan cheesecake bites (see here) is a firm favourite.

Not only do I love cheesecake, it’s also so simple to make, but results in a beautiful presentation that is bound to impress vegans and non-vegans alike. Who doesn’t love cheesecake?

The recipe calls for graham crackers, but if you’re in the UK, you can get vegan digestive biscuits (I bought Tesco own brand Free From digestive biscuits that are suitable for vegans at the time of writing this). If you prefer to use vegan margarine, you can use this instead of the coconut oil needed in the base. The recipe also calls for strawberries, but I knew the guests I was making the cheesecake for would have preferred a mix of flavours, so I went with frozen mixed berries I already had in the freezer. For a professional touch, strain the berries so the top jelly layer is clear for the coulis. I’m not a big fan of creating too much food waste though and felt it gave it a more realistic touch. I was making two cheesecakes at the same time (multi-tasking at its finest! I just doubled the recipe and split the quantities between two tins), so I made one of them with the coulis strained and left the berries unstrained for the second cake.

Another tip I feel I should mention is that the cheesecake should remain in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. The reason I had to make 2 cheesecakes is because we had guests over for one and we were travelling with the other to visit family friends. Although we make sure to pack the chill bag with plenty of ice packs and chilled gel packs, it didn’t seem like it was enough and the coulis layer didn’t stay in jelly-form when we arrived at our destination. To make the coulis layer firm, add more agar agar powder to your jelly mix. The jar of agar agar I bought from Lakeland recommends 1g of agar agar powder to 100ml of liquid, so measure how much liquid you end up with once your coulis is cooked and add the correct amount of agar agar accordingly.

Now here’s the recipe for creating your own.

Vegan berry cheesecake

Ingredients
Serves 24 mini cheesecakes or one large cheesecake to serve 12

Biscuit base
150g Free From or vegan digestive biscuits
4 tbsp (60ml) coconut oil

Cheesecake layer
1 1/2 cup (375ml) cashews (soaked in 1L of hot water for an hour then drained)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tsp corn flour
1 1/2 tsp agar agar powder
1 can (398ml) coconut milk
Lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

Berry coulis
4 cups (600g) frozen berries
3 tbsp (45ml) water
3 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp agar agar powder

For the biscuit base:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F (176˚C).

2. Lightly grease a 24 slot muffin tin, a non-stick muffin pan or grease and line a cake tin.

3. In a food processor or blender, pulse graham crackers until mixture has a fine texture. You can also crush graham crackers in a sealed plastic bag using a rolling pin. If you prefer a rougher texture (or want to have some fun with the manual effort of crushing it yourself with your hands), break up pieces of digestive biscuits by hand before using the side of a wooden spoon to crush it further.

4. Add coconut oil and mix well. Press the mixture together until you get a crumble-like mix.

5. Press the biscuit base mixture to the bottom of the pan. If you’re using a muffin tray, spoon 1/2 tablespoon into each muffin cup. Make sure to gently press down with fingers.

6. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the cheesecake layer:

7. In a blender or food processor, combine the soaked and drained cashews, coconut milk, salt, vanilla extract, syrup, corn flour, agar agar powder and lemon juice and blend until very smooth.


The mixture should be smooth as a milkshake for a creamy texture

8. Pour mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

9. If using a cake tin, pour the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base. If using muffin tins, divide filling evenly among muffin tins, up until 1/8 in (1/2 cm) from the edge. To keep the top smooth, quickly smooth it out with the flat side of a spatula. If it starts sticking to the spatula, dip it in boiling hot water before smoothing the cheesecake layer.

For the berry coulis layer:

10. Place frozen strawberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

11. Pour mixture into a colander and gently extract juice by pressing down on strawberries with a spatula. For a smooth gelatinous layer, you can discard strawberries. For a more fruity textured top layer, skip this step.

12. In a bowl, combine water, maple syrup, lemon juice and agar-agar.

13. Pour into a saucepan, adding strawberry juice. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 1 minute. Cool down for 2 to 3 minutes. (do not let the mixture set).

14. Garnish mini cakes with strawberry jelly (or add the mixture to the top of your cheesecake layer) and refrigerate for an hour until filling has set.

15. Using a blunt knife, gently pry edges to loosen the mini cakes. They should pop right out! Otherwise, remove the cake from the cake tin and the baking paper when you’re ready to serve.


Voila!

How did your cheesecake turn out? Did you enjoy your cheesecake? Is there any adjustments you had to make to your own recipe? Have you tried the recipe with other fruits in the coulis? Let me know in the comments below!

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A nostalgic vegan recipe: the BEST chocolate chip cookies I call Rebecca

If I sound a bit too excited about these cookies, I’m sorry but I can’t help myself! I do have reason to be though, because

1) I’ve been looking for a chocolate chip cookie recipe even before I became vegan that gave me thick cookies that were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and

2) I got my order from The Doughnut Family this morning and as I’m writing this, I’m indulging in a vegan chocolate glazed doughnut. Sooo good!

I’ve got a really sweet tooth and finding the treats I liked to eat before I became vegan has been something I’ve been determined to find, whether it’s bought or homemade by my own two hands. Luckily for me, my Aussie vegan friends have been at it for longer than I have and made the perfect chocolate chip cookies that are out of this world.


Continue reading “A nostalgic vegan recipe: the BEST chocolate chip cookies I call Rebecca”

Vegan sweet tooth: toffee apple upside down cake recipe

It’s no secret that I love my sweets and cakes. I’ve been baking for as long as I can remember, even if my earlier attempts in high school were made from Betty Crocker cake mix packets and failed attempts at following recipes. Since those earlier years, I’ve become a bit more experienced with making different kinds of cakes, but since becoming vegan while I do know of vegan hacks to original non-vegan friendly recipes (apart from my chocolate and peanut butter pin wheels, see here) I haven’t really been trying my hand too often at making cakes apart from the one I’m about to share with you and a vegan cheesecake I’ll be posting about later on.

I used to be very picky about what goes in my cakes, the thought of banana bread and carrot cake didn’t appeal to me. I did end up trying both of these, and the after taste of banana in a loaf still doesn’t really appeal to me, but I did come to like carrot cake. It’s surprising how this orange stick of a vegetable that is mostly associated with hummus or boiled as a side to go with a main dish can be grated and used in cake.

This recipe from Jamie Oliver follows a similar concept…except we turn to something a bit sweeter and used more often for sweet dishes and desserts.


Continue reading “Vegan sweet tooth: toffee apple upside down cake recipe”

A heartwarming vegan meal: mixed vegetable risotto recipe

The versatility of cooking a vegan meal at home makes it easy to be vegan. When you decide to cook a meal, a lot of the time you end up thinking whether or not this will go with that, will this go with those two ingredients? With vegan meals, because you’re working with plant-based food, you only need to think about what you want to throw in it and it’s done. There’s no need to worry about mushrooms not going together well with kale or asparagus; they’re all plants and don’t have as strong a flavour as meat and somehow each complement each other perfectly.

One thing I eat a lot of is rice, to switch it up for the OH I decided to cook risotto based on this recipe here from Veganuary’s website for risotto primavera…except I winged it. My way.


Continue reading “A heartwarming vegan meal: mixed vegetable risotto recipe”

Vegan sweet tooth: chocolate peanut butter pinwheel recipe

A common misconception about being vegan is that we only eat vegetables. You would be wrong if you thought that. Being vegan doesn’t mean eating unappetising salads and raw vegetables all the time. Once I started looking into what it means to be vegan and if you search #whatveganseat you’ll find there are a lot of amazing food that we do eat!

You do eat healthier because you’re eating a lot more plant based products and less processed foods, but as I mentioned in my first post about Veganuary (see here), there are also a lot of sweet stuff we can eat as well, like ice cream! The other thing I’ve also come to learn is how easy it is to substitute non-vegan ingredients in recipes for vegan substitutes. This is exactly what I’ve done with a recipe from The Recipe Rebel here for chocolate peanut butter pinwheels.


Continue reading “Vegan sweet tooth: chocolate peanut butter pinwheel recipe”

Vegan sushi dinner! Make your own nak’d sushi bowl for dinner

The fun of cooking your own meals at home is experimenting with recipes. I’ve been searching for vegan recipes to cook meals for the OH and I since I feel a bit out of my depth with cooking vegan meals. Just to clarify, I’ve signed up to Veganuary to eat vegan for a month (I’m now on my 16th day!), but the OH is still an omnivore (he unfortunately doesn’t believe in supporting veganism). He is however being the ever supportive husband in that he’ll eat vegan when we’re cooking together at home, but I don’t have a problem with him eating meat and animal products (like cheese and dairy) when we’re eating out or when he’s cooking/eating himself.

One of the recipes I found was on the Veganuary website here for a nak’d sushi bowl. I’ve always had sashimi (raw fish) with my sushi, so I was excited to be able to prepare a sushi type dish for a vegan meal at home!


Continue reading “Vegan sushi dinner! Make your own nak’d sushi bowl for dinner”

A list of my favourite vegan recipes

Sometimes trying to cook a tasty meal can be quite a task, even more so when you feel out of your depth with vegan meals (you can read more about my start of my journey to veganism here)! My instinct is to just boil the vegetable (like lettuce or broccoli), fry it up with some garlic and add soy sauce which is what you sometimes do with Chinese cooking, but every now and then you want to switch it up…but don’t know how. This is where I’m starting to feel a bit stuck.

Veganuary has a bank of recipes (here) that you can try, but there are so many to sort through that I sifted through a few and felt a bit overwhelmed when I came to the British Recipes section. I didn’t have any particular food in mind that I really wanted, but I think having an idea would help you navigate the recipes section.

Instead, I decided to venture off on my own and found some yummy looking vegan recipes that I’ll be attempting over the next few weeks.


Continue reading “A list of my favourite vegan recipes”

Dairy free and vegan delight: garlic and herb cashew cheese recipe

I’ve spoken freely about my food intolerance and one of the most problematic ones for me is my lactose intolerance. You can’t really have pasta or pizza without cheese, creme brûlée without cream and milk or mushroom soup without cream. I’ve really come to appreciate the different types of cheese you can get in the shops and it’s something I really enjoy adding to my meals.

I wasn’t sure what to replace cheese with as a dairy free/vegan alternative…until I discovered the wonder of vegan cheese through The Buddhist Chef. Now, I’m pleased to say that my first attempt at making vegan cheese has been a success and I’m sharing my altered recipe with you.


Continue reading “Dairy free and vegan delight: garlic and herb cashew cheese recipe”

Healthy breakfast alternative: mixed berry and oats smoothie recipe

I’m not a morning person at all. I try and get up as late as possible in the mornings, and even then I take as little time as possible getting ready before walking out the door, so I don’t bother with any morning tasks (like straightening my hair or doing my make up) that take time and aren’t as essential. For this reason, I’ve never been much of a breakfast person. I’ve found that I can’t work out in the evenings (around 6) if I’ve had a late lunch, say about 2 or 3pm.

I realise the importance of breakfast now (see here) as it’s the first meal of the day and it gives me energy to function at work until lunch time. I usually have my breakfast at my desk at work, but the problem is when I’m still eating and my work phone rings. With the weather getting warmer now in Edinburgh, I’ve been in the mood to make something more refreshing for breakfast and thought about making banana-free milk-free smoothies because of my fruit and lactose intolerance. I came across a recipe from the blog Sweet Hersey Living which fit the bill. I was able to turn this smoothie into a vegan-friendly, lactose/dairy-free recipe which I am very pleased to share with you!


Continue reading “Healthy breakfast alternative: mixed berry and oats smoothie recipe”

DIY wedding favours: recipe for vegan tablet

Slowly but surely, I’ve been making slight changes to my diet since I made it my New Year’s resolution to be more aware of my food intolerances and to eat healthier. For our wedding, a family friend made her famous tablet (for those of you who aren’t familiar with this Scottish sweet, it’s like fudge, but much softer and melts in your mouth and tastes like heaven). We had vegan and lactose intolerant guests, so I decided to make a vegan batch as well. Continue reading “DIY wedding favours: recipe for vegan tablet”