Everybody loves cheesecake (even vegans and gluten free-ers)

Baked Cherry "Cheesecake" (V/GF)

Baked Cherry "Cheesecake" (V/GF)

When we bake, it is often with others in mind.  I mean, sure, we’ve all had those days where one cookie turns into twelve and before we know it we’ve polished off a full batch all by our lonesome…  Frankly, I find this random act of gluttony rather impressive and, not to be too predictable, sometimes the only cure for a bad day or a broken heart is a batch of cookie dough smashed into a pint of ice cream.

But at its heart, baking tends to prove that that classic kindergarten lesson of “sharing is caring” has no expiry in life.

So, as baking = sharing in my books, I love to experiment with recipes that cater to those people in my life with various types of restricted diets.  Here is one I’m particularly proud of for its ability to satisfy the vegans, gluten free-ers, and regular old omnivores in the crowd.  I just dare you to find a pro-dairy, gluten-scarfing pal who will scoff at this oh-so-close to the original “cheesecake”.

An added bonus for the baker?  This recipe is made almost entirely in a food processor so dish doing is kept to a minimum.

Baked Cherry "Cheesecake" - Vegan & Gluten Free

Makes 1 cheesecake (7" springform or 9" pie plate)

Oat and Almond Crust (GF)
¾ cup gluten free rolled oats
¾ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup shredded sweetened coconut
3 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ cup coconut oil, melted

150g soft/silken tofu (about half a package), pressed for about 20 minutes to remove excess moisture
1 Tbsp egg replacer (or 1 ½ tsp tapioca, 1 ½ tsp potato starch, and 1/8 tsp baking powder)
¼ cup water
1 cup vegan cream cheese
¼ cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ - 1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp coconut or almond extract, optional

Cherry topping
1 ½ cups frozen sweet cherries, defrosted and liquid reserved
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla or almond extract
1/8 tsp nutmeg

For the crust, preheat your oven to 350F and lightly grease a 7” springform pan or 9” pie plate.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the gluten free oats, almonds, coconut, sugar, cinnamon, and salt and pulse until it all resembles coarse sand.  Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil over low heat or in your microwave.  With the food processor running, pour the melted coconut oil through the chute and continue to blitz until everything is well mixed.  Dump the crust mixture into your prepared pan and, using your fingertips or the bottom of a glass, evenly press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.  If using a springform, just press along the bottom and wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil to avoid any of your crust or cake leaking out onto the bottom of your oven.  If using a pie plate, press the crust up the sides to create a full crust.

Pop your prepared crust into the oven to bake for 20 minutes then allow it to cool at room temperature while you prepare the filling.  Leave the oven set to 350F for the filling.

For the filling, start by pressing your tofu and blooming your egg replacer with ¼ cup water.  To press the tofu, I like to use coffee filters.  Just line a dinner plate with 3 or 4 filters, place the tofu on top, and cover with another 3 or 4 filters.  Place another dinner plate on top of this and allow the tofu to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.  For the egg replacer, mix the replacer with the ¼ cup of water listed in the recipe and allow this to sit for 10 – 20 minutes to allow the starches to hydrate.

Once pressed and bloomed, toss all of the ingredients for the filling in the bowl of your food processor and blend until smooth.  At this point, give the mixture a taste and feel free to adjust the amount of nutmeg, lemon juice, or extracts.

Pour the filling onto the prepared crust, place your pan on a baking sheet, and bake in your preheated oven for 45-50 minutes if using a springform and 35-45 minutes if using a pie plate.  At this point, the filling should look slightly set and matte on top.  The filling will still be quite liquid but that is totally ok!  The cheesecake is done baking and can be removed from the oven to cool at room temperature.  Once room temperature, pop the cheesecake into the fridge for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.

For the cherry topping, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small saucepan and whisk to combine.  In a glass measuring cup, measure 2/3 cup of the juice from the defrosted cherries.  If there is not enough juice, just top it up with water to reach 2/3 cup.  Add the juice/water to the sugar mixture and whisk to combine.  Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes until thick.  Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, extract, and nutmeg.  Set aside to cool.

When cool, fold in the cherries and spoon over the chilled cheesecake.  Pop this back into the fridge until ready to serve.