Valentine’s Vegan Cheesecake

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Looking around the internet this week (and actually for a few weeks before) I’ve come to the conclusion that I must be the only food blogger that doesn’t go in for Valentine’s in a big way. And I mean a big way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely unromantic; but I am British. I’ll stretch to a humorous card but and a nice meal, but considering the fact that I do the nice meal most nights, (I have warned you all I am food obsessed) we’re not talking about a huge change. But if you can’t beat them, I say, join them so this week I decided to give my cheesecake loving husband a little Valentine’s treat and to kill two birds with one stone and use up some of my winter beetroot stocks.

I think most of us know by now just how good beetroot is for you and how bad (although given the current reopening of the fat debate perhaps we’re wrong) cheesecake is.  But you can change a lot of that by using beetroot. Beetroot is a great vegetable for baking with, it gives a lovely moist texture, helps you to cut down on the fat and sugar so making your bake a little healthier and (of course) goes with chocolate like a dream. It’s high in fibre and jam packed full of minerals such as potassium, magnesium and iron as well as all the other usual suspects you’d expect in a vegetable (vitamin C and A, B vitamins and other anti-oxidants) and it’ll help fight heart disease and lower your blood pressure. However, none of these are the reasons it comes into its own on Valentine’s Day.  No, the reasons that we should all be desperately reaching for the beetroot come February the 14th are simple. Firstly, it is said to be an aphrodisiac (or at least was used by the Romans as one and I see no reason to argue with them, even if we could) and secondly, it has the handy habit of turning everything it comes into contact with pink. And really, be careful, I do mean everything.

Now I could have made this as a regular cheesecake, but I do like a challenge and I do also like to know that should any of my vegan friends come to stay I can still make them a good dessert. But bear with me, this really isn’t just a recipe for vegans, it’s light and tasty whilst still satisfying your sweet and chocolatey cravings. However, you’ll probably feel fuller for longer and you’ll feel great knowing that the greater impact of your sweet tooth is much less than the regular kind. Try it; you’ll love it. The quantities I’ve given here are for two quite large 10 cms individual cheesecakes (or should I switch to calling them tofu cakes?) perfect for two to share  and a 20 cm cake. If you wanted, you could stick it all in one 26 cm tin and feed a larger group but you’d have to adjust the cooking time, but I suspect not by much. Your choice whether you then put the pomegranate heart on top or not.

Beetroot Vegan Cheesecake Recipe 

For the base:

100g pitted dates

200g oaty or digestive biscuits (if you are vegan check the label)

50g coconut oil

For the filling:

100g cooked beetroot

4 tbsp cocoa powder (but if you want your finished cake to have more of a pink colour, you can cut this down to 2)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

100 ml maple syrup

50 ml agave syrup

100ml coconut milk

340g silken tofu

396g tofu

3 tbsps milled flax seeds soaked for half an hour in 9 tbsps hot water.

For the chocolate ganache:

200g dark chocolate

100ml coconut milk

Icing (confectioner’s) sugar and pomegranate seeds to decorate (optional)

Start by making your base. Line your chosen tins, then put all your base ingredients into a food processor and blitz.

Spread the mixture over the base of the tin/s and press down firmly with a metal spoon. Leave to chill whilst you get on with the rest.

Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C.

Place all your ingredients for the filling (except the flax seeds) starting with the more liquid ones first into a blender, then blitz.

Stir in the flax seeds in their by now nicely gelatinous state, and pour your batter into the prepared tin and base.

If you are using a larger tin, it is best to bake this in a bain marie so get the kettle boiling. If you are using smaller tins, bake in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes, or until you still have a little wobble left in the centre.

If you’ve chosen the bigger is better option, line the outside of your cake tin with 2 layers of baking paper, and at least 2 layers of foil, bringing up the sides, so that you have a waterproof jacket around your tin. Then put the whole thing in a roasting dish and fill it up with boiling water so that it comes 2/3 of the way up the cake tin. Bake for around an hour, checking to see that the top doesn’t catch.

Cool both versions in their tins, on a wire rack.

When the cake is completely cool, melt together your chocolate and coconut milk. Let that cool as well, until you have the right consistency. You don’t want the ganache to run straight off the cake. When you are ready, pour over the cheesecake and decorate as you see fit.

Enjoy!

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