First time I had cheesecake I was twenty five! Yes, it’s true – I spent the first twenty five years of my life in a blissful ignorance, completely unaware that cheesecakes existed. But, soon after moving to US I did partake on a slice and fell in love immediately and over the years things just better and better.
First of all, cheesecakes are easy to make. They are also very versatile because you can customize them in many different ways. I used to make pumpkin cheesecake topped with baked apples and pecan caramel for Thanksgiving because pumpkin pie is sort of boring.
My other favorite cheesecake I used to make was plain vanilla topped with homemade blueberry syrup. So one night, as I was making myself a light dessert of blueberry smoothie, I got inspired to try and make Cheesecake 2.0 – the 21st century version that is dairy-free, gluten-free, and egg-free.
Being the space age type of dessert, this recipe uses an ingredient that you can’t find in a grocery store: agar powder. Chemically speaking, agar is a sugar polymer and I’ve used it a great deal to make many, probably thousands, of agar plates in Petri dishes, which I then used to grow bacterial cultures. (For those interested in the source, agar is isolated from algae (seaweed), so although not of plant origin, I think it is safe to say that definitely plant-like in many ways and not animal-derived.)
So, when I discovered that agar has a culinary application I was skeptical. But when I thought about what I need agar to do – act as a jelling agent in the same way gelatin would – I concluded that my skepticism was not founded in reality and chemical facts but some silly prejudice. Thus, I bought a small jar of agar powder and I’ve been using it to make hard (and shreddable) cheese quite successfully. In this recipe I took agar powder a step further and used it as the firming agent for the cheesecake. It did the trick and the result was a yummy cake with excellent smooth yet firm texture.
Blueberry Cheesecake 2.0
What you’ll need:
FOR THE CRUST
1 cup walnuts
1 cup cashews
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegan Butter
FOR THE CHEESECAKE FILLING
2 cups blueberries, frozen
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
4 teaspoon agar
2 cups water
What you’ll do:
- Use a grinder or a food processor to grind walnuts and cashews to a relatively fine meal.
- Pour the ground nuts into an 8 to 9 in (20 to 23 cm) round springform pan.
- Add brown sugar and mix well.
- Add melted vegan butter (30 sec in a microwave should be enough to melt this amount) and using your fingers mix the melted butter in so that all of your nut and sugar mix is moist. Press the mix into the bottom of the pan to form a crust. Set aside.
- In a large blender mix almond milk, blueberries and oatmeal until smooth.
- To prepare agar powder, bring 2 cups of water to boil and add the agar. Use a whisk to mix everything together lower the heat to simmer and keep mixing and simmering for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add hot agar to the blender in small batches, 1/2 cup at a time. Pause to incorporate then add more until the entire amount of agar is incorporated.
- Pour the filling into the springform pan and use a spatula or a flat spoon to spread around and flatten the top.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, best overnight.
- Pop it out of the springform pan, cut and serve as is, or with fruit and/or vegan whip cream. I made one from chickpea water (aquafaba), but you can make any one you like or skip it!
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017