This year I haven’t baked much so far. I admit that I needed a little sugar break after I had finished my e-book on holiday baking. I didn’t really crave a lot of sweet stuff until I saw a picture of a marzipan cheesecake bownie cake. I saw it and wanted to have it on our dessert plates right that moment. But that’s the problem with pictures and with the internet, too. You can stare all you want, that cake is not going to appear in front of you. Plus, it wasn’t even vegan.
If you’re going to veganise a cheesecake, there are two methods, depending on what kind of cheesecake you’re making. If you are making a US-style cheesecake, vegan creamcheese is the substitute of choice because most Northern American cheesecakes are made with creamcheese. If you’re going for a German/Eastern European cheesecake, many people these days use drained soy yoghurt, because traditional cheesecake recipes call for curd cheese (quark), that is often drained. The recipe I was looking at was made with creamcheese and sour cream. I can get vegan versions of both these things, but I went with a mixture of drained yoghurt and cashews instead. It’s totally weird but whenever I use vegan substitutes for my recipes I feel like cheating. After going vegan I “grew up” making my own substitutes and now that most people can get them, I don’t need them anymore. And isn’t it funny that I consider creamcheese and sour cream substitutes but yoghurt and soy milk not? Yeah, it’s weird.
Anyway, I veganised the cake with ingredients I am most comfortable with when it comes to baking. By comfortable I mean these are ingredients I know good enough so I can make a new recipe from scratch. If I would have used creamcheese, I probably would have had more work and maybe I would have been forced to make some changes. Or maybe I wouldn’t have liked the taste? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. These bars came out so wonderful. They have a moist crust and the filling is creamy with a hint of marzipan. They are best eaten on the day they were made, right after they have cooled down. If you store them in the fridge make sure to take them out one or two hours before serving.
Marzipan Cheesecake Brownie Bars (makes one 20 x 20 cm or 8 x 8 inch pan)
For the brownie crust:
120 g (4.2 oz or 1/2 cup) firm tofu
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons non-dairy milk
100 g ( 1/2 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
170 g (6 oz chocolate or 1 cup chips) dark chocolate, melted
For the cheesecake filling:
500 g yoghurt, drained over night (see note)
175 g (6.2 oz or 1 1/4 cups) raw cashews
110 g (1/2 cup) melted margarine or refined coconut oil
120 ml (1/2 cup) non-dairy milk
125 g ( 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
150 g (5.3 oz) firm marzipan, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla
Note: To drain the yoghurt place a sieve over a bowl and a large cheesecloth over the sieve. Pour in 500 g of yoghurt and let sit in the fridge over night. There probably won’t be much drained liquid in the bowl as the cloth will soak up almost everything. The next day, scrape the yoghurt into a bowl. It should have a creamy consistency similar to greek yoghurt or sour cream. Use immediately or cover and store in the fridge until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) square pan with parchment paper.
To make the crust, combine tofu, oil, milk, sugar, and vanilla in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Place flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and mix well. Pour in tofu mixture and stir well. Fold in chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth down the batter.
To make the filling, combine yoghurt, cashews, margarine, milk, and sugar in a blender and process until smooth. Add the marzipan and blend again. This will probably take a while. Make sure your blender doesn’t get too hot. Once the marzipan is blended in mix in cornstarch and vanilla. Pour on top of the crust and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the filling is nicely browned. If it browns too quickly, place a piece of aluminium foil on top. Let cool before serving.
Tip: For decoration you can use chocolate shavings or cut out marzipan and powdered sugar.