German cheesecakes are different from Northern American cheesecakes. Traditionally we don’t use cream cheese or ricotta as a filling but cream and quark. Quark is a kind of fresh curd cheese that is available in many different varieties and used for different purposes. In German, tofu is sometimes called Sojaquark (soy curd). This might be the reason why many vegan cheesecake recipes used to call for tofu or silken tofu. Unfortunately, I never found a tofu cheesecake that I liked. Apparently some other people thought so too, so someone came up with the idea of using strained yoghurt instead of tofu. Cream cheese is not really an option as it is very hard to find in most places (you can order tofutti online).
When I made my first cheesecake, I used a mixture of yoghurt and soyatoo whipped cream. Since soyatoo is not accessible to everyone and since it has a very prominent taste, I wanted to try something with easier to find and more neutral tasting ingredients.
I still think that using soy yoghurt is a great alternative both to tofu and cream cheese. What I do not like so much is the straining process. It is messy and takes long. But it is also easy to avoid, if you find a different way to thicken your yoghurt. Nuts, especially cashews, are great for this. They have a neutral taste and add creaminess and texture.
When I thought about developing a new cake recipe, I wanted to make a speculoos blueberry streusel cake. Speculoos cookies are fantastic Belgian spice cookies with hint of caramel and I have talked so much about them before that this blog could be renamed into speculoos are my motor. I wanted to make a speculoos crust with commercial speculoos cookies, but then they also might not be available to everyone. So I searched for a traditional speculoos cookie recipe online and decided to use the dough for my crust. And then my head kept spinning and spinning and I finally had a blueberry speculoos streusel cheesecake in my mind.
Now you may wonder why I come up with such a complicated and flamboyant sounding recipe. Well, the answer is simple. Because I don’t use butter. Whenever I have to take a cake to a bunch of omnis, I like to make something they never have heard of before. To be fair, most omnis like my cakes and they don’t have any prejudices against vegans and their food. But some do. If you tell them you didn’t use butter in your cake and there might be some soy or tofu involved, they won’t even taste it. Not one bite. But if you come up with something that sounds complicated and non-traditional, they are distracted and will most likely ask you where you got the idea for such a cake, instead of asking how a cake without butter could possibly be tasty. They get curious and eventually try the cake.
Now that you know my (not so) secret (anymore) camouflage technique about how to deal with sceptical omnis, I will finally move on to the cake recipe.
Blueberry Speculoos Streusel Cheesecake (makes 1 20 cm/8 inch cake)
For the Crust:
125 g ( 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) muscovado sugar 125 g ( 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) refined coconut oil or margarine, softened 2 tablespoons cold water 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon speculoos spice mix (cloves, nutmeg, ginger, anise) or Lebkuchen spice mix 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 175 g (1 1/3 cups) flour
Cream together sugar, fat, and water until light and fluffy. Add spices, salt, baking powder and half of the flour. Beat with a hand-held blender until the dough comes together. Add remaining flour and beat again until a dough forms. Shape 2/3 of the dough into a flat disk. Wrap both the disk and the remaining piece of dough into foil. Refrigerate for an hour.
For the filling:
100 g (3/4 cup) raw cashews 250 g (1 cup) plain soy yoghurt 60 ml (1/4 cup) coconut milk 30 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
200 g frozen blueberries 2 tablespoons flour
Combine cashews and soy yoghurt in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process again. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Grease a 20 cm (8 inch) round springform pan with oil. Press crust disk into the sides and bottom of the pan. Use the remaining dough to make the streusel topping by tearing it apart and shaping it into crumbs. Set the crumbs aside.
Pour the filling into the cake pan. Evenly coat the frozen berries with flour and pour over the filling. Sprinkle with dough crumbs. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set. Let cool completely before serving.