Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Vegan Cheesecake...and yes it's good!!!
Ok for all you vegan skeptical folks out there, I have something that'll knock your socks off...and taste buds too! So many of you ponder on how I could be a vegan. It always makes me laugh when I tell people that I'm vegan and their eyes widen in shock when they come to realize that means I don't eat meat OR dairy. In the midst of their "horror" this is the most commonly asked question, "then what the heck do you eat? What's left?" Boy is there A LOT left to eat so much that I actually GAINED weight when I became vegan. The food tasted better because of all the spices and variety! But trust me, I didn't become vegan over night. Like others I too thought I could never give up chicken or worse, my dairy, but you'll be surprised at what you can do when your perspective on life changes.
Before I became a vegan, one of my favorite indulges in life was...drum roll please.... THE CHEESECAKE!!! I was in sheer heaven eating a cheesecake. Everyone knows the famous Cheesecake Factory, well I was a huge fan of theirs and up until recently, as a vegan, I use to feel so sad whenever I'd walk by the St. John's Town Center and look at all those lucky people waiting outside in line to get in! I knew that as a vegan now, I would no longer get to enjoy what many others were enjoying, their famous cheesecakes..and although I strongly believe in loving animals and treating them with utmost respect, compassion and humanity, I have to admit, it's not easy giving up all foods you love.
Well guess what!! I don't have to. My husband took me to this famous vegetarian/vegan restaurant called The Chicago Diner , of course located in the awesome and hip city of Chicago! I literally cried looking at the PAGES of PAGES within their menu. The meal and dessert options I had as a vegan seemed endless! Just incredible!!! To top it off, I nearly fell apart when I saw cheesecake listed under their dessert menu! I sat like a child with immense anticipation awaiting for the yummiest treat of all. When the server brought my vegan cheesecake to me, I felt as if I should be video'd. This was a moment in history folks! Darice Michelle was going to finally have her cake and EAT IT TOO! Wha hoo!! And let me tell you all, it was sooooooooo good I bought their cookbook for the cheesecake recipe alone. I know what you're all thinking, OH PLEASE a cheesecake is not a cheesecake without the cheese. Well for all you non-vegan believers that think vegan desserts don't compare to dairy ones, I challenge you to make this yourself and tell me it's not superb!
(the proportions below will make a thin cheesecake, if you prefer the thick version like in the photo, then double this receipe)
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tbs soy margarine melted
2 tbs water
2 cartons of soft tofu
2 1/2 tbs lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tbs vanilla extract
3 tsp lemon zest
Topping (choose any of the following):
* Vegan Chocolate Syrup (Native Sun sells this)
* Strawberry Syrup with strawberries
* Fresh Mint Leaves to garnish
Preheat Oven to 350'
Using a food processor break up the graham crackers (around 6 rectangular squares - be sure to size the crumbs after). Mix in melted soy butter and water. Press the mixture firmly into an 8-in springform pan or 10-inch pie pan and bake 8 minutes.
Using a food processor again, and blend all filling ingredients until smooth. Pour the filling into the baked graham crust and bake 30-35 minutes. Place cheesecake into fridge for at least an hour to firm up the cake. Place your favorite toppings on and serve with joy! Delicious!!!!
It's so good, no one will know it's vegan!!!!
P.S. Now I don't have to envy those customers standing for long periods of time waiting to get into the Cheesecake Factory!! Ha, now I feel sorry for them!!! Ha ha.
Thank You Chicago Diner!!