Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Mint Cheesecake

"A grasshopper walks into a bar and hops up onto the counter. The bartender says, 'We have a drink named after you.' The grasshopper replies 'You have a drink named Irving?'"

Sexy Vegan Mama does love a good cheesecake, and nothing makes me happier than a delicious layered cheesecake. For this one, I was inspired by the Grasshopper cocktail, typically made with Crème de menthe, Crème de cacao and fresh cream. Well, cream is definitely out for the vegan set, but why not blend the flavors into a scrumptious cheesecake?

Vegan Chocolate Mint Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients:

36 graham cracker squares (2/3 of a 14.4-oz. box; check for honey, whey and dairy)
1/2 c. dairy-free margarine, melted (I use Nucoa, which my local Fred Meyer has strangely stopped stocking, but I can still find it at Safeway and even *gasp* Walmart.)
3 T. cocoa powder

Crust Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Use a food processor or blender to whiz the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Add cocoa powder and melted margarine, stirring thoroughly. Press into bottom of lightly-oiled 9-inch spring-form pan.

Tip: Cut a circle of parchment or waxed paper slightly smaller than bottom of pan and line for easy removal from pan.

Bake for 5 minutes, and remove from oven. Set aside.

Filling Ingredients:

1 – 14 oz. package firm tofu, drained (not silken)
1/2 c. vanilla or plain soy yogurt
1/4 c. peppermint schnapps or Crème de menthe (white or green)
1/2 T. peppermint extract
1 – 8 oz. tub vegan cream cheese
3/4 c. vegan sugar or cane juice crystals
3 T. egg replacer powder
1 T. fresh peppermint leaves, milled or finely chopped

OPTIONAL: A few drops of green food color

1 c. dairy-free chocolate chips, melted
(Use microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.)

Dairy-free chocolate chips, mint sprigs and chocolate syrup (for garnish)

Filling Directions:

Put tofu, yogurt, schnapps or Crème de menthe, and peppermint extract into a large blender pitcher or food processor and blend until creamy. (I use the blender attachment on my Magic Bullet.) Add cream cheese and blend until smooth.

Add cane juice crystals or sugar, egg replacer powder and peppermint leaves. Blend until sugar crystals are dissolved. You'll have about three cups of filling.

Remove two cups of filling. For mint layers, combine food coloring (if desired) with those two cups of cheesecake filling, mixing until smooth.

Pour and spread one cup over chocolate crust. Set aside the remaining one cup of mint filling.

Optional Note: At this point, you may refrigerate the crust and first layer for 30 minutes to make spreading the chocolate layer easier. I didn't. It worked out fine, though I believe my feelings of urgency may have had a negative result on the evenness of my layers. 

For chocolate layer, combine melted chocolate chips with one cup remaining cheesecake filling, mixing until smooth. Pour over first mint layer and spread evenly.

Second Optional Note: Again, you may refrigerate after this layer for 30 minutes to make spreading the final mint layer easier. If you insist.

Pour the remaining mint filling over the chocolate layer, spreading smoothly.

Baking Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap bottom of spring-form pan with several layers of foil. (These photos are from my Vegan Peanut Butter S'Mores Cheesecake tutorial.)

Set wrapped spring-form into bottom of a deep, larger baking pan and fill with boiling water. This water bath will bake the cheesecake from the sides and result in more even cooking.

Zip up your heat-proof foil suit and use great caution when moving the set-up into the oven. Remember, you just pouring boiling water into that pan. Watch for "sloshing," and please be careful!

I don't want anyone calling me, scolding and scalded.

Bake until cheesecake begins to pull away from edges of pan - about 55 to 60 minutes. Don't let it brown!

CAREFULLY remove pan from oven. Let stand for 15 minutes, then gently remove spring-form from larger pan and peel away foil. Chill for two or more hours before serving. The longer, the better.

Garnish with chocolate chips and mint sprigs (optional), drizzling with chocolate syrup before serving.

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