Monday, February 20, 2012

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Cookie Crust

Yesterday I went out and bought a springform pan.  And what does one do with a springform pan?  Bake a cheesecake, of course!

I've tasted both good and mediocre vegan cheesecakes, so I thought I'd take a stab at my own.

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Cookie Crust

For the crust
  • 1.5 cups vegan chocolate-covered graham cracker cookies
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter
For the cheesecake
  • 24 ounces silken tofu (the vacuum-sealed variety works best here: it isn't as grainy as refrigerated tofu) 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 ounces (2 containers) vegan cream cheese (Tofutti "Better than Cream Cheese" is the best brand by far)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla pudding mix (I used Jello instant pudding mix -- surprisingly, it's vegan!)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
For the chocolate swirl
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips/bars
First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan.  Then, combine all
crust ingredients in a food processor and blend well.  Pour the crust mixture into the pan and use your fingers to press the crust down evenly onto the bottom of the pan.

Next, prepare the cheesecake filling.  First blend the silken tofu and sugar in a food processor until well blended.  Then add the remaining cheesecake ingredients to the food processor and process until very smooth.  Pour the cheesecake filling into pan.

To create the chocolate swirl, melt the chocolate (I microwaved chocolate chips for about 3 minutes at 50% power) and gently swirl it into the top of the cheesecake with a knife.

Bake the cheesecake for 75 minutes.  Cool completely, cover, and refrigerate overnight if possible.  Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake before unclasping the springform pan and removing the sides from the base.

Unfortunately, we had a lot of difficulty finding the right ingredients for this cheesecake.  First, we couldn't find Tofutti cream cheese anywhere, so we used another brand which doesn't taste nearly as good.  I think this change significantly altered the taste of the cheesecake.  Second, we could not find enough silken tofu so we used a bit of soft tofu.  This probably affected the overall texture, but I actually thought the texture was quite nice.  In the end, the cheesecake tasted pretty good, but it just didn't taste a lot like cheesecake and it could have tasted much better.  The moral of this story: ingredients are important!
As I said above, we had SO much trouble finding the correct ingredients.  We did make the mistake of shopping late on Sunday evening when ingredients are surely most likely to be out of stock, but still, you would think that one of three grocery stores would have the correct brand of cream cheese!  For the record, we have purchased Tofutti cream cheese at Giant before, so it is available at large grocery stores, in theory.  We also had trouble finding the vacuum-packed variety of silken tofu, so we just used refrigerated tofu.  I have never tried to find vacuum-packed tofu before, though, so I'm not sure whether the stores ran out of it or just don't carry it.
 Ease of Preparation:   
This cheesecake is incredibly easy to prepare (though it does require a food processor or blender).  It takes a long time to bake and should be refrigerated overnight, though, so it doesn't quite earn a four-carrot rating.  
Non-vegan friendliness:   
I wouldn't be comfortable serving this to a non-vegan and calling it "cheesecake."  It didn't have the taste that would be expected, even though the texture was good.  I'll be sure to use the correct ingredients the next time I make this, as I'm confident that it would be much better that way.  I'll keep you updated. 

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