Monday, April 29, 2013

Staff Review: Vegan Cheesecake Recipes

It started as a joke. My friend Jackie was describing a complicated cheesecake recipe she was baking for a party while I was browsing through the smoothie recipes on a vegan blog, when I stumbled across a recipe for Raw Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake*. I immediately suggested she switch recipes, to which she responded, "How can it be cheesecake if there isn't any dairy!?" 

A year later Jackie has come to Dubuque for a visit, and I immediately realize that this is my chance to have someone who knows how to bake food help me in the creation of the mysterious raw vegan strawberry cheesecake.
Raw Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake, based on a recipe found in Raw Food for Real People
"Wouldn't you rather I show you how to make a real cheesecake?" she asked. No. No, I wouldn't. I can buy real cheesecake at the store or in a restaurant, but a raw vegan cheesecake is a challenge. A quest. An accomplishment. A topic for a book review for the library's blog.

I've seen other libraries post reviews of recipes from their favorite cookbooks, and I knew that our collection includes vegan cookbooks, so all that was left was to identify a recipe and bake a cheesecake.
 In the end, we decided to try making two different vegan cheesecakes:

Things we learned from our experience:
  • Vegan baking is expensive, but it's possible to substitute vegan egg substitute with soy yogurt.
  • The reason Sweet Vegan calls for you to make your own vegan graham crackers that you can then crush to use for the crust is likely that there are very few pre-made vegan cookies available in the store. We went with a vegan, nut free, gluten free, cinnamon cookie.
  • Simulating regular food with a raw food recipe is far, far too much effort. It would've been so much easier to just fill a bowl with sliced strawberries, mixed nuts, and healthy squeeze of agave nectar.
  • All the extra effort does make the reward of taste testing at the end that much sweeter. Plus! Vegan cheesecake has to be healthier than regular cheesecake!
Then came the fun part, bringing the finished product into the library and convincing my co-workers to give it a taste! While several library staff members turned a piece down on the basis of not liking regular cheesecake, or finding the idea of a vegan cheesecake too off-putting, those brave enough to try something new gave both generally positive reviews.

The last piece of vegan cheesecake.
The baked vegan cheesecake was the real winner. Amy said that if I hadn't told her she "would never have known it was tofu or vegan. All I could taste was the vanilla in the cinnamon crust and the consistency seemed very cheesecake-like." Andrew found both cheesecakes to be "entirely cromulent." He also coined the term "nut mush" for the raw vegan recipe, which more accurately describes the cashew butter experience of a raw vegan cheesecake.

And in case anyone was wondering, Jackie and I followed our vegan baking adventures up with burgers at Paul's tavern - to maintain a balanced diet.

~Sarah, Adult Services

he blog with the original raw vegan strawberry cheesecake is no longer in existence. :(


  1. It was a very fun, and mostly delicious, adventure. But next time, we bake from a non-vegan cookbook, please.

  2. Non-vegan it is! I bet I can find a paleo cheesecake recipe. I'd also love to learn how to do a savory cheesecake.