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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Full Scottish breakfast, vegan style: review of BBL

A lot of vegans had recommended breakfast, brunch & lunch (also affectionately referred to as BBL) for their great vegan breakfast, so when my friend came to visit, I decided we had to try and stop by for breakfast while she was here.


Continue reading “Full Scottish breakfast, vegan style: review of BBL”

What do apples have to do with sustainable luxury vegan fashion?

One pervading thought that still lingers in people’s minds about the lifestyle is that vegan fashion is a little behind when ‘luxury’ materials like leather, suede and exotic animal skins aren’t used. This is something innovative individuals who are environmentally conscious and animal lovers are quickly picking up on and filling the gap for. I will talk more about some of my favourite brands later, but walking through Harrods recently, I noticed how apart from Stella McCartney, there were no other designer brands that were vegan friendly and without paying through the nose for luxury fashion. happy genie is looking to bridge that gap in the market. Continue reading “What do apples have to do with sustainable luxury vegan fashion?”

Dining at Harmonium: review of Edinburgh’s first fully vegan restaurant

I speak about the extensive choice of restaurants and cafes available to vegans living in or visiting Glasgow. Maybe the vegan scene over in the biggest city of Scotland has been established for longer? There is no doubt in my mind though that Edinburgh is quickly catching up which makes vegans in the capital city (including me) very happy! There are many more places I’m still catching up on writing reviews for, but with meeting friends at places to eat that I haven’t had the chance to visit and even more new places popping up, it’s more of a catch up game to try and keep up with supply!

If you’ve been to Glasgow, you’ll know that there are several established vegan pub restaurants like Mono, Stereo and Flying Duck to name a few. Now the company behind those establishments have recognised a demand for vegan restaurants in Edinburgh and earlier in the summer opened Harmonium in Leith. Continue reading “Dining at Harmonium: review of Edinburgh’s first fully vegan restaurant”

In photos: Vegan Connections Festival 2017

Finding businesses to support when you’re vegan is made so much easier with all the festivals and markets regularly cropping up in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Vegan Connections Festival, hosted by Vegan Connections, was held at The Briggait at the heart of Glasgow in August and brought together a variety of companies, ranging from caterers, drinks to clothing, household goods and animal welfare organisations, together so new vegans can make the switch more seamlessly.

Having been vegan for 7 months when I was at the festival, I was amazed to see the range of products available. I was mainly focused on the variety of food products sold, but I also had the opportunity to chat with a few businesses about their products and to get to know their products a bit better. Below, I’ve tried to show, through photos, the amazing products we can enjoy as vegans.

Continue reading “In photos: Vegan Connections Festival 2017”

The Tartan Carrot fundraiser event for Lotus Animal Sanctuary

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I’ve had a pretty busy week eating lots and exploring new (and visiting old) vegan eateries and enjoying every morsel, so expect lots more restaurant reviews appearing on here soon! In the meantime, you may remember I wrote about the intentions to build an animal sanctuary for all animals, including those who are rescued from slaughter (see my previous post here). It seems like so long ago the amazing people at The Tartan Carrot set this date for the big fundraiser to build Lotus Animal sanctuary in central Scotland – and here it is just over 2 weeks away! Continue reading “The Tartan Carrot fundraiser event for Lotus Animal Sanctuary”

Introduction to the vegan and cruelty free Deciem: The Abnormal Beauty Company

Before I becoame vegan, I thought buying cruelty free was the way to go. When you’re not sure what to look for, finding skincare, beauty and household products can be a bit of a minefield, but luckily there are plenty of vegans out there who are more than happy to help fellow vegans look for suitable brands. The best way to go about it is to join a local vegan group who will be able to advise you where you can find products that are available in your local area. Sometimes having a friend who has similar interests to you can also give you the same information.

It was a friend of mine who lives in the US that recommended Deciem’s range of products. I was told that the Ordinary range is very affordable and effective, but I imagined it would be a brand based in the US that would cost a fortune in taxes and postage to get to the UK, but luckily it is so accessible you can purchase it from their UK online shop or go in their store in person in Covent Garden or Old Spitalfields Market. Continue reading “Introduction to the vegan and cruelty free Deciem: The Abnormal Beauty Company”

Holy Cow: review of Edinburgh’s first fully vegan cafe

There are a lot of restaurants that offer vegan options in Edinburgh, but the number of fully vegan establishments still is still trying to catch up to the choice Glasgow offers. There was a lot of talk about Holy Cow on Elder Street, but I didn’t recognise the name of the street and it didn’t fully click how central (and conveniently located) it is until I visited their cafe with fellow vegan blogger friends Emma from Vegan Edinburgh, her husband Mr B and Lucie from Call Me Dumpling. Continue reading “Holy Cow: review of Edinburgh’s first fully vegan cafe”

Fundraising for an educational vegan animal sanctuary: the Bohemian Hippy crowdfunding project

The founder of the UK’s only fully independent and inclusive networking site for vegans, Lynn Jolly, is looking to open central Scotland’s first ever fully vegan animal sanctuary (see here).

The Glasgow ‘Veganpreneur’ who late last year launched Bohemian Hippy – the UK’s first official social networking site with integrated shop, resources and vegan directory – is using the money generated from the site to fund the project and is looking to get others involved in the project through crowdfunding and possible grants. Continue reading “Fundraising for an educational vegan animal sanctuary: the Bohemian Hippy crowdfunding project”

Veganuary: why I decided to be vegan for the month of January

Happy new year, everyone! How quickly 2017 has creeped up on us and now we’re 4 days into the new year!

Instead of making new year’s resolutions, this year I decided to follow one simple quote:

Start as you mean to go on.

I’ve always loved animals and switching to veganism was something that’s always hovered on my mind. I even went along to Vegan Festival in Edinburgh during the summer last year (see here) to get an idea of what my options were and it was definitely something I’d been keen to do.

This month, while everyone decides to give up something to make a change in the month of January, I’ve pledged to go vegan for the month with Veganuary. Continue reading “Veganuary: why I decided to be vegan for the month of January”