Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy New Year with Chocolate 'Cheese'cake!!



First of all, let me wish all of you who follow the Sauramana Hindu calendar, a very very happy new year!!

While my husbands side of the family celebrate the Lunar or Chandramana new year, my side celebrate the Sauramana one, and this works very well for me indeed. I say this, of course, because there is always something special prepared in terms of food on festival day, and so its a good thing to celebrate as many festivals as possible!! 

It recently hit me square between the eyes, that festivals, especially in the south, become attached to not only certain traditions and customs specific to it, but also to certain food preparations. You see or speak of these items, and your brain is already busy looking through its memory files to associate it with a festival.  And these food items I speak of, generally tend to fall in the dessert category. Laddus, pedas, payasam or kheers, holige, are all the usual suspects.

Now, I like to break the mould when it comes to practically everything, and this is no different when it comes to the food I cook. And so I set out to bake a dessert to celebrate the New Year with. The funny part is that I got my days and dates all mixed it up, and it ended up being eaten the day before Yugadi, but what the hey, eh?! 

My husband is a big fan of the cheesecake, and honestly I have never really eaten any owing to the fact that there is usually either eggs, gelatin, or rennet (in the cheese), so I don't really know what one should taste like. A year or so ago, I made a vegetarian version of the same following the recipe from one of my Tarla Dalal cook books. While the husband did eat it happily, he also made it a point to lemme know that it hardly tasted like the cheesecake hes eaten before. So for Yugadi, I decided to give it another go, and this time around, I searched the internet for cheesecake recipes paying especially close attention to the reviews. I settled on one that seemed like it might produce the best results, and more importantly had positive comments from people who had tried it out. You can find the original recipe here. Also, since we don't get pre-made crusts in India (or at least I haven't seen any), I made one myself from this recipe, making a few alterations. Mind you, this is a cheese-less cake, and uses tofu as the main ingredient. I also veganised the recipe to meet my own requirements.

While Shashank (hubby dearest) did say this was still not completely authentic tasting, he did say it was a real improvement over the last one I made, and that it was pretty close to what a real cheesecake tastes like!! (There are a few things I will do differently the next time I make it, and you can see what they are in the post-recipe 'Notes' section). It also got two thumbs up from my folks and my parent in-laws, and thats always good news!! Oh, and I thought it wasn't too bad either!! Looks like Cheese(less)cake may become a Yugadi special in our household!!


Chocolate 'Cheese'cake
 

Ingredients
Crust
  • 1  1/2 cup       Crushed biscuits
  • 1/3 cup           Melted Vegan Butter/Vegetable Oil/Vegetable Shortening
  • 1/3 cup           Icing Sugar
Filling
  • 400 grams       Tofu (drained) [my favorite brand here in India, is Ka Kim for its texture]
  • 1 cup              Soy Chocolate Milk
  • 1/4 cup           Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 cup           Sugar
  • 1 tsp.             Vanilla Extract
  • Few                Silver Sugar Dots
Procedure
  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C. 
  2. Mix together all the ingredients for the crust in a 9" springform or cake pan. Once well blended, press the mix to the bottom the pan.
  3. Bake it for 10 minutes at 175 C, before removing it and allowing it to cool while you work on the filling.  Preheat the oven once again to 175 C degrees.
  4. Put the tofu, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder in a blender, and blitz it well. Ensure that all the tofu has blended completely.
  5. Pour the filling onto the pre-prepared crust, and bake for 30-60 minutes, depending on your oven. You can test for doneness by checking to see if the top of the cheesecake is firm.  
  6. Decorate with sugar dots just before serving.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before placing it in the fridge to chill for an hour or two.
Notes:
  1. Ensure the biscuits you use for the base does not contain any non-vegan items. 
  2. The only bit of constructive criticism I got from everyone (I agreed, too!), was that the taste of cocoa was a tad overwhelming. Thats why I mentioned the quantity as 1/4 cup, when the original recipe called for 1/3 cup. If you love your chocolate, try adding chocolate chips to the blended filling before baking.
  3. While the cheesecake did turn out pretty well, I felt it was a bit dry, and the next time I bake it, I will bake it for about 30 minutes as opposed to the 45 minutes I did this time, to see if the texture improves.
  4. I used the sugar dots to decorate because thats all I had! Feel free to use other garnishes, like strawberries or any other fruit you prefer.
  5. Update 11.11.10:

I am sending this post in as an entry for 'The Chocolate Fest' Cook Curry Nook's First Anniversary Event!! Cook Curry Nook, authored by the charming Madhuri, is one of my favorite sites for super-simple, super-quick, and most importantly, super-yummy vegetarian/vegan recipes. If you haven't already visited her site, head over as soon as possible, and certainly try and send in your entry for this event.... there's a super-cool cook-book at stake!


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