The Secrets To Making The Best Vegan Cheesecake
Alongside ice-cream, raw vegan cheesecake is definitely our summer dessert of choice - it’s the perfect blend of indulgent and refreshing, throw in some fruity flavours, a balmy evening and a bunch of food-obsessed girls, and you have a pretty ideal scenario (basically most Friday evenings at pollen HQ). But what’s the trick to perfecting a recipe? We’ve scoured the city for a good few years now in search of raw cheesecake options, and we’ve definitely ate our fair share or the good, the bad and the ugly along the way. Not to mention our own experiments - sometimes we feel we’ve found the holy grail, sometimes it’s more a matter of only sharing that one with the rubbish bin.
But after 2 years of working with a growing number of natural food chefs, pastry chefs and just general ‘everything I make tastes like heaven’ chefs, we’ve eventually cracked the raw cake lottery, and learnt a few lessons along the way:
ROAST AND BLITZ YOUR NUTS FOR THE BASE
We tend to start with the base, and let that set whilst we make the topping. It’s pretty hard to get this one wrong, more or less anything can be thrown in, it’s just important to make sure it’s all well combined and blitzed into small crumbs, with enough liquid to then hold this together.
We’ve made the mistake of not roasting our nuts before too - as a general rule of life, nuts are just so much better when lightly roasted. It might not be a ‘raw’ vegan cheesecake anymore, but it’ll taste a hell of a lot better.
THE MIXTURE SHOULD BE THICK EVEN BEFORE IT'S CHILLED
One of the first mistakes we made was using quite a runny mixture, and then assuming that it would set in the freezer to be cheesecake-esque. Big mistake. You end up with a crystallised solid block that just melts rather than defrosting to be the cheesecake of your dreams. You mixture should be thick and firm before it’s even reached the fridge or freezer, similar in consistency to a thick mousse.
DON'T KEEP IT IN THE FREEZER FOR TOO LONG
Some recipes will tell you to store it in the freezer, or leave it in overnight to set. Don’t. The longer it’s left in the freezer, the longer it takes to defrost properly, which just doesn’t bode well for it looking attractive, and it likely to leave it sloppy on the edges but frozen inside. If your mixture is thick enough it should be fine in the fridge!
A CREAMY CONSISTENCY IS DEPENDENT ON CERTAIN INGREDIENTS
Of all the cheesecakes we’ve tried, our favourites are always the super creamy, well set ones. So we wanted to make sure ours taste like that too. The key to getting it? There’s a few tricks: use a base of mainly blended cashews that has been soaked overnight or use a base of coconut yoghurt and blended, soaked cashews, and always (always) add coconut oil to the mixture.
PLAN YOUR FLAVOURS
Partly because it’s the most exciting part, but also partly because it’s better to know beforehand that it’s going to work. Most flavours work, but some don’t. Make a mini mixture before hand and add your flavours to test it (matcha and lime for example, not our favourite, acai and lime however - a winner).
And in true ‘here’s one we made earlier’ spirit, here’s the recipe for our acai + beetroot cheesecake - a take on our raw beauty bar, in cheesecake form, and the highlight of our supper club last month.
ACAI + BEETROOT CHEESECAKE
GLUTEN FREE | WHEAT FREE | DAIRY FREE | REFINED SUGAR FREE | VEGAN
- 2 cups cashews, soaked overnight
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 150g raspberries
- 2 tbsp acerola powder
- 4 tbsp beetroot powder
- 1 tbsp acai powder
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Juice and zest of 1 lime
1. Melt the coconut oil then add all the ingredients to a food processor
2. Blitz until smooth
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 cup sesame seeds
- 1 cups desiccated coconut
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 100g coconut oil, melted
- Pinch of salt
1. Blitz all the nuts in a food processor until fine
2. Mix in the desiccated coconut and coconut sugar
3. Rub in the coconut oil with your fingers
4. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, spread the mixture on the tray and bake for 10-15mins until golden brown
5. Leave to cool whilst making the filling
These can be made as either individual portions or a larger cheesecake. For pots, use individual ramekins, or for a larger cheesecake, use a loose-sided baking tin. We recommend individual pots for a fuss-free option!
1. Evenly add the base to the bottom and press down until firm and even
2. Add the filling to the top and smooth down until even
3. Top with decoration of your choice (we used fresh raspberries, buckwheat groats and dried pomegranate seeds)
4. Leave in the fridge to chill and thicken before serving.