I could be vegan. A great deal of the foods that I eat are vegetarian and many can be made vegan. I have experimented with vegan baking, which, by and large, has produced some wonderful results. I actually have many other vegan recipes and substitutions that surprise people, from cookies to cakes. Does it seem like I am dwelling on the sweet side? I am. Anyone who bakes will know that the biggest challenge about being vegan is the baked goods. It is hard, and in some cases nearly impossible, to replicate the properties of ingredients like eggs and dairy in baked goods. I will not be trying a vegan flan, meringue or whipped cream in the near future. This isn’t to say that it cannot be done, but it certainly won’t be easy.
Now, just because I could be vegan doesn’t mean I’m going to become one, but it does mean that I’m glad that Sam picked Vegan cooking as the theme for this month’s IMBB. I think it will increase awareness of what we’re eating a bit. I mean, butter, eggs and milk play huge parts in baking, and many people try to build regular meals around meat, rather than picking a vegetable as the focal point. It sounds easy to try to remove all these elements from cooking, but it is challenging when you are used to using honey, cheese, yogurt and even chicken stock without a second thought.
When I make something vegan, I do not tell people – excluding veg friends – that it is vegan. I prefer to surprise them with it once they’ve already eaten some. This cheesecake got good reviews, even after it was revealed to be vegan. Now, it was not as creamy or decadent as the cheesecake I made before, but I don’t think anyone would deny that this is a tasty cheesecake. It was a cross between a dense, New York style cheesecake and a lighter, European style cheesecake. It had a great texture, a bit melting, light and fluffy. I chose to make it lemon flavored, not wanting another dense chocolate dessert, but you could substitute orange or lime juice for the lemon.
I don’t think you want to see the nutritional information for my last cheesecake, but this one has no saturated fat and no cholesterol. Per slice, not necessarily by weight, this cheesecake has half of the calories and more than 3 times less fat than the regular cheesecake. Good reason to have seconds!
Baked Vegan Lemon Cheesecake
1-14 oz package firm silken tofu
1-8 oz package Better than Cream Cheese
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
½ tsp almond extract
2 tbsp cornstarch
1-9 inch pie crust
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place silken tofu and vegan cream cheese in the food processor. Process for 1 minute, then add sugar. Process until smooth and no sugar granules remain, 3-5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and almond extract. Whisk in cornstarch. Pour mixture into the food processor and process until very smooth. Pour into prepared crust and bake for 45 minutes.
Allow to cool at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate overnight.