Saturday, June 25, 2011

Malted Cherry Cheesecake

Cheesecake hasn't been the exclusive province of the dairy-eaters for many many years. Not since the first hippie threw some tofu and cashews and sugar into a blender before molding it into a perfect New York style cake have vegans pined for that formerly apparently unreachable. In fact, I think one of the fun things about being vegan is getting to surprise and delight omnis who believe that they have cornered the market of products and recipes that have been available to my kind for practically ages. I've had omnis ask me whether I miss chocolate. (It's vegan, bitch!)* Or ice cream. (Can you say Ice Bean, bitch?)* Or cream cheese. (You see where this is going, bitch?)* And it isn't always omnis who aren't aware of the progress we've made since we left the breast milk of cows for the baby cows, for whom it is a nutritionally perfect food.

All of this is a long way of saying that many vegans have scaled the mountain of cheesecake before me, so there isn't a lot of guesswork involved. No complicated methods or powders. No intricate series of heating and cooling, combined with gentle or vigorous agitation. No super expensive and weird ingredients. In fact, the major downside to making vegan cheesecake is really the cost involved. At the WF by my house, an 8 oz container of vegan cream cheese is $3. Given that the average vegan cheesecake calls for 24 oz of the stuff, that's $9 right there before you get to any other ingredients. Maybe that won't bother some people, but the chronically underemployed (Holla!) get a bit wary.

While you're splurging on cream cheese, though, you might as well pony up for some more of those fresh cherries. Break out your chopstick again, if you were short-sighted enough not to pit enough last time to see you through this next endeavor. If you have any friends just standing around, use your Vegan Domination Card to conscript their idle hands to this critical service. One chopstick, three bowls, and two nimble hands is all it takes to convert a bowl of fresh cherries with stones into one without.

This particular cheesecake is a delightful configuration of three different recipes drawn from different sources and combined to create a delicious and decadent summery confection. I halved the recipe for cheesecake, which produced a creamy layer of just the right thickness and topped it with a lush layer of homemade cherry pie filling. You could, of course, buy a can of pie filling, but that stuff is always packed with chemicals, corn syrup, red dye, and preservatives. Making your own is super fast and easy, as soon as you get those cherries pitted. The malted crust from the genius brain of Hannah Kaminsky ties the whole thing together beautifully. The flavors in this crust are more complex than what you get in a traditional graham cracker crust, and I really enjoyed the caramelly base notes of the malt accenting the sweetness of the cherries.

First, make Hannah's recipe for Malted Pastry Crust:

Malted Pastry Crust:
1 2/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
6 Tablespoons Cup Barley Malt Flour/Powder
2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
Pinch Salt
6 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine, Chilled and Cut into Pieces
6 Tablespoons Vegetable Shortening
2 Teaspoons Plain Soy or Coconut Yogurt
1 – 2 Tablespoons Water, Ice-Cold
 My shortened, sloppier directions are as follows: In a large bowl, combine flour (I used whole wheat pastry, not AP), barley malt powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in margarine (I used 12 T margarine instead of 6 margarine and 6 shortening because I didn't feel like buying both) until you have pea-sized bits. Add yogurt. Mix in ice water by dribs and drabs until the dough holds together. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9inch springform pan. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 325 and make half of this cheesecake recipe:

¾ cup, + 1 Tablespoon sugar
¾ cup non-dairy yogurt
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
24 oz Tofutti (or similar brand) imitation cream cheese (3, 8oz containers)
 You can halve recipes all on your own, right? Pour the cheesecake mixture evenly into the prepared crust. Bake for about 1 hour. It's okay if it looks a little jiggly when you take it out of the oven. It will firm up as it cools. When the cake is approaching room temperature, cover and chill.

Prepare cherry pie filling:

4 cups fresh, pitted cherries
1/4 c cornstarch
pinch salt
1/2 c raw sugar
1 1/2 c pomegranate juice
juice from 1 lemon (omit if using sour cherries)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Then add everything else and cook over medium heat until thick. Cool thoroughly.

Spread cherry filling on cheesecake and chill until ready to serve. Marvel at the wonders of vegan cookery and shed a few tears at the blenders full of tofu and cashews that came before you. They sacrificed everything, so that you could have this cake.

*Apologies to my tender-eyed readers for the swears. We just finished watching the third season of Breaking Bad. In addition to being a-maaazing, it has littered my speech with "bitches." Don't worry. It will pass.

1 comment:

Mihl said...

The barley malt powder in the crust sounds really interesting! I always have some on hand to dump it into my breads. I'd never have thought of using it in a pastry recipe.
Yo bitch, we also just finished Breaking Bad, 3rd season. It's sad, I already miss that show.