The ladies in my family are very much picky about our cheesecakes. When I ate dairy (and berries..um and gluten), the king of cheesecakes that we made in our house was just a fairly simple, yet divine no-bake cherry cheesecake. The recipe which is still, to this day, kept secret within the famiy. (Except that I gave one of my besties the recipe a few years ago – but I know her for more than 20 years and she don’t usually cook much, savvy?). When I found out about my berry allergy, I wasn’t fussed – because other fruits like cherries, peaches, mango, chocolate (yes I know that’s not a fruit), caramel (that’s not a fruit either) etc. were all fair game – so I could still have my cheesecake and eat it too. In fact, mango cheesecake became a quick favourite. Then I went dairy free…sorta…because as a family we are dairy lovers and I didn’t want to accept the fact that I could no longer have yummy cheese plates, my go-to comfort food ice cream, custards or rice pudding……so I did cheat. I even had a bit of cheesecake once in a while. Then I went gluten free….and that is the most violent reaction I do get (well actually…that’s a toss up between berries and gluten…hmmm)…so I had to cut out the cheese cakes because most had gluten-filled crusts and even sometimes had gluten bits in the cheesecake mix. Once I gave up gluten, I became much better at sticking to my required dietary needs – I do still have little bits of cheese once in a blue moon, a sample of ice cream at a food show perhaps….or a bite of rice pudding. For the most part I am good though….but because I’ve been good – I’ve not sat down and enjoyed any little bit of cheesecake without thinking “I’m going to regret this” in forever….probably a good eight years? That’s a long time to go without something you truly love.
The Great British Bake Off did some fun and technically challenging stuff this last week. I mean, forcing contestants to go old school with brulée-ing creme brulée under a grill rather than with a torch, introducing them to the concept of a Spanish Windtorte (OMG #drool though!) and then asking them to make, not one, but a TRIO of cheesecakes? Man. I would be pooped. The thing is – all three of these things are favourite desserts of mine. Creme brulée is actually the one dessert that I will almost ALWAYS cheat on. My Mother has said it many times and again that I’ve always loved meringues since I was a child and used to ask her for money at school bazaars to buy soupies (which is what they are called in Trinidad). And cheesecake? Well see the above paragraph for that explanation. I did not know what I was going to do – so why not mix them all up?
Now I’ve only really started looking into mixing intriguing flavours and baking all these different types of things since I moved to the UK. I’m not sure what it is. The whole baking atmosphere really inspires you – it’s not like this in Toronto…or perhaps it is and I was just not in the right circles? I’m loving the experimentation and learning so much.
I never did think about attempting to make dairy free cheesecakes until I went to the Wild Food Cafe with my friend Bei and we had a dairy free cheesecake there. It was awesome but a bit heavier than I expected. We could not finish a whole slice between the two of us – it was that filling. That one was made from cashews, and to make a cashew cheesecake you have to make cashew cheese…which is basically a process that includes grinding cashews into mush. That requires a blender – which I don’t have and will not be getting until I sell some of the lovely barely used small kitchen appliances that are collecting dust in my kitchen.
The other way to make dairy free cheesecake is with tofu. Now I’ve seen this all over the interweb for years but never tried it because I was just thinking – tofu is nothing like cream cheese. Well, until last week, I had never actually look at a recipe – but when I did, the little light went on. It all makes sense . The secret saviour of dairy free people – chilled tinned coconut milk – to the rescue. After I saw that I completely understood – after all, some of the best dairy free ice creams are made from coconut milk. If you’re allergic to coconut…I don’t really know what to say :S Now, I know that tofu is a great base for a cheesecake, because as a bland food that is created to pick up flavours around it, it sucks in any flavour you add as if its life depends on it – whether sweet or savoury. Personification much?
I wanted to try the spanish windtorte, but after the Nutella bread last week, and the week at work that I had – I did not want to expend that much energy…so I thought – perhaps I can just pipe meringue nests a bit higher than normal and create meringue nests with a little divot in them for the cream instead…but that’s such a letdown compared to an entire Spanish Windtorte!
Then inspiration hit (as it does) and why not do a tofu cheesecake IN a meringue and brulée the top?! Genius! Except that I don’t have a torch and the tofu cheesecake recipes are no bake ….so not sure the brulee thing would work as well. So that got scrapped. I chose instead, to make the cheesecakes with some of my favourite tropical flavours – passionfruit, mango and kiwi. The first two have been huge parts of my life as I was growing up. We did not really make passionfruit juice at home, but everytime an aunt or somewhere else had it I would jump for it. I’ve always loved passionfruit juice, especially when you add some evaporated milk to it. It was like heaven in a glass. Obviously, I can’t have the milk part anymore, but a big cool glass of passion fruit juice still hits the spot (as do some other juices that I can get into but we don’t really have time for that).
And I cannot remember the first time I stood under a tall mango tree dodging the mangoes that my Father way up high in the tree were tossing to us to “catch” so that the mango did not get “bruised”. Somehow I don’t think he ever got the idea that we sorta ran from the mangoes rather than tried to catch them. It’s a family thing. We did it all the way from birth through our teens to adulthood. That’s how we chose to initiate my husband – except we sent him grapefruit picking with my Dad. He was so excited to go too…until he came back covered in grapefruit juice and ants….anyway….
So to try and be fancy I added a bit of colour to my meringue nests and baked them on Friday night. I figured I could get the baking out of the way and then relax over the weekend. When they came out and were still warm, though, they had puffed up too much to fill with cheesecakes. They looked like lovely little pavlovas…so I ate one with choc shot and thought to myself “well I guess I’ll just have pavlovas this weekend to eat…will try again in the morning”.
I got out the tofu and the icing sugar and the chilled coconut milk. Dried the tofu out, whizzed it up with the icing sugar and coconut milk, initially thinking “man that looks gross!”
to ” that actually looks like cheesecake mix!”
…and I made an almighty mess in my kitchen pouring it into meringue nests…..eventually the cheesecake did end up in the meringue nests and they found their way to the fridge. I went out and let them chill and then decorated them when I got back with passionfruit, mango and kiwi.
I went to shower and came back to find that I had not closed the fridge properly and the cheesecakes were oozing #GAH.
So took photos for you immediately in case they fell apart. Please excuse my crappier than normally crappy lighting.
So. Always close your fridge properly – especially when you have stuff that could potentially ooze when it warms up. Or maybe it was the passionfruit oozing. Either way, not a good deal. So don’t decorate these cheesecakes until you’re about to serve…because mushy meringue? It’s sorta gross. Grosser than the idea of tofu cheesecake….oh wait, but that ended up ridiculously yummy. Okay – just do as I say and not as I do. Decorate when serving and close your fridge properly.
I only made four of these, so had extra cheesecake mixture….so I just made a typical cookie cheesecake crust with gluten free digestive biscuits, a bit of butter and a little icing sugar…and poured the leftovers in there for mini cheesecakes. I ended up loving those even more, to be honest, because I took the time to decorate them even more beautifully than I thought I could.
I loved the look so much that I attempted to take apart the meringue cheesecake decrorations and do the rose on them…but they were too shallow. I guess I would have to go to the trouble of the spanish windtorte procedure if I wanted to do that properly. I also wanted to preserve the colour of the fruit and ended up making a gelatin glaze….well…too much gelatin glaze so now they have a layer of gelatin over my mini-cheesecakes…but I had one today and it added nicely to the tofu and mango cheesecakes really well….
*Confession* That one little cheesecake, was in addition to the three (oops make that four – just ate the last one writing this) cheesecake stuffed meringue nests I’ve had since last night. Yes they are that good.
Man. I’m going to be eating salad all of next week….
Then again…tofu and egg white. High protein right? *hint hint*.
Stop judging me.
Go make tofu cheesecake with or without the meringue shells.
This post is part of the Great Blogger Bake Off 2015 and is inspired by the Great British Bake Off 2015, Week 4 – Desserts!
If you liked this recipe, please also check out my previous bakes for 2015!
I am also linking up with a SECOND Bake off group this week in an attempt to win some lovely Silver Mushroom goodies for my kitchen. Click on the badge below for the link to that page – some awesome stuff there I tell you!