Saturday, June 23, 2007

Surprise, Cheesecake!

Early on in our courtship, I revealed to Alex Dodd my penchant for making cheesecakes. "I make turtle cheesecakes, frozen peppermint cheesecakes, pumpkin pecan cheesecakes and I also make a wicked white chocolate amaretto raspberry cheesecake," I bragged to him.

A cheesecake lover, he was ecstatic at my enthusiasm for baking. Until he asked the dreaded question: "But, can you make a vegan cheesecake?"

"Uh. . .I don't know. I've never tried." I felt like a cheesecake-making fraud.

Since then, he's been hinting that I should make a vegan cheesecake. But it wasn't until this morning, 10 months later, that I woke up to rain and a mission for the day already formed in my mind. Today was the day.

After scouring the Internet, I decided that all the recipes online were unacceptable. It's hard enough to get different varieties of tofu in Cold Lake, and completely impossible to find vegan cream cheese or egg replacer. I would have to make up my own recipe if there was to be a cheesecake in the oven at any point during the day.

I decided that I would make a vegan version of the white chocolate raspberry amaretto cheesecake, which was especially challenging since chocolate has milk products in it. But I wasn't going to be stopped. I found a solution and there is a vegan cheesecake cooling in the fridge. Alex Dodd is driving to Cold Lake right now, and doesn't know about the surprise.

The batter tasted good considering it was a tofu-based cheesecake, and the texture of the cake seems right. But we'll wait until tomorrow to see what the recipient thinks of the final product.

In the meantime, here is my favourite *non-vegan* cheesecake recipe. (If anyone is curious, I can let you in on the vegan version as well. Maybe if it's successful enough, Alex will start food blogging again.)

I first made this recipe for Helka's graduation party in Finland in 2003. While the table was covered in goodies, my cheesecake was the first thing to dissapear, with guests scraping the crumbs off the dish, wanting more. It has since become one of my absolute favourites. It is also easy to make (I promise!) and the raspberries make it great for summertime BBQs.

White Chocolate Amaretto Raspberry Cheesecake

1 cup silvered almonds
1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

3 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup amaretto
2 tbls flour
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
3 ounces white chocolate, melted
raspberries for garnish (2 small packages)

1. Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Mix together the ingredients for filling, using more melted butter, if necessary, until mixture is moist. The silvered almonds may be pureed for a finer crust.

3. Press crust firmly into springform pan. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Let cool.

4. Place a layer of fresh raspberries on top of the filling.

5. Mix together all the filling ingredients. More amaretto may be added to taste. (I use up to 3/4 cup, but keep in mind this will change the consistancy of your cheesecake. If it seems too thin, add a bit more flour.) Pour into spring form pan.

6. Bake for 60-80 minutes, until the middle is slightly firm.

Serve with raspberries and fresh whipped cream over top.

Thumbs up for cheesecake and totally non-related photos!

Hints and Tricks to Cheesecakes:

-Place your springform pan on a larger baking sheet. This way, if there are any cracks in the pan or crust, the batter will leak onto the sheet rather than onto the bottom of your oven. This also allows for easier removal of your cheesecake, and for easier "shake" testing to see whether the cheesecake is done.

-Make sure all cheesecake ingredients, including eggs and cream cheese, are room temperature before you begin. If the cream cheese is too cold, it will make for a lumpy cheesecake mixture. This may also prevent cracking in your cheesecake. (I like to pull everything out of the fridge before I start and put my cream cheese on the stove while the crust bakes. The heat from the oven warms everything up. In a pinch, you can also microwave cream cheese, but only enough to warm it --for 30 seconds, tops.)

-In order to melt chocolate without burning it, use a double-broiler on the stove. For fast and easy microwaving, microwave the chocolate for a minimal amount of time, and then stir the still solid chocolate in with the melted chocolate. It will melt from the heat of the dish.

-Don't open the oven while the cheesecake is baking. It will cause cracks to form in the cheesecake.

-In order to tell if a cheesecake is done, shake the pan gently. It should be slightly firm, but will still wobble is the centre, sort of like jello.

-After you remove the cheesecake from the oven, run a wet knife around the edge of the pan to prevent cracking.

-Don't blog about making cheesecakes on a Saturday night. It's a key way of inviting unwanted comments about eventual spinsterdom, yo'.


  1. Anonymous3:19 AM

    I had a mango tofu cheesecake once, I could taste that it wasn't regular cheesecake but it was good nevertheless. It's been one hell of a week for cheesecake I tell ya, I had Oreo cheesecake on Thursday and today I had a slice of coffee and a slice of strawberry cheesecake. I think I have a problem.

  2. Does this mean that since your living with Natty next year, that sometimes when I come over they'll be a cheesecake waiting for me? I like Turtles...

  3. Silvered almonds? Sounds like an awfully expensive cheesecake to make. And I suspect the little metal flakes would be a bit gritty.

  4. I know I'm commenting on your blog far too much lately (like it's against some sort of non verbal, psychic agreement) but I needed to let you know that the "Thumbs Up" Photo/Caption was the highlight of my day. And it's been a damn good day.

    The world needs more random and unrelated thumbs up pictures.

    The world also needs more high kicks.

  5. You know what is better than a cheesecake.....two cheesecakes. I also agree with the dude above me the world definitely needs more ninjas

  6. Gill- Cheesecakes are pretty expensive to make (especially turtles), but I already let Natty in on the fact that I love to bake. . .so, yes, it will definitely be happening.

    The hilarious thing is that the only dishes I own are a wine carafe, a tea set, a springform pan and a bundt pan.

    Oh, also, update on the vegan cheesecake: you could definitely tell it wasn't cheesecake, but it was still delicious. Alex Dodd approved.

  7. now i want cheesecake... great...

    actually it sounded sarcastic, but i love cheesecake and it would be awesome.. if i make one i'll let you know how it goes (i didn't realize you were such a pro!)


  8. Anonymous2:45 PM

    this post must have subconsciously implanted cheesecake in my head, because i am making a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake at this moment. substituted regular graham crumbs for oreo though, thought it would be a nice addition.

    i'll let you know how it goes. and post pics accordingly.

  9. Anonymous10:02 AM

    cheesecake was a great success!

    no pictures yet, but here's another tip... after you get to the "centre is still wobbly" point, turn off the oven, and leave the cheesecake inside with doors closed to rest and slowly cool down for another 30-60 minutes. also helps prevent cracking.

    you can also bake it in a water bath to prevent more even cooking. remember to wrap the springform pan in foil though.

    jess, you and me are going to be housewives...

  10. Anonymous10:07 AM

    I would be interested in getting the recepie for vegan cheesecake... But I'm definately going to bake this one too. The cake that you baked to my graduation party years ago is still my favourite of all cheesecakes. Lucky me that you notised to save the last bite of it for me, everybody really liked it!

  11. Haha! I'm so excited someone actually was conned into making cheesecake through this post!