First of all, let me apologize for my lack of posts the last few weeks. Between school finals, stress at work, and the flare up of a chronic health issue I really have not been in the mood (nor had the time) to put any really thoughtful reviews up. But now that school is over and I have my energy back I promise you will see more steady entries!
On to my potluck entry—Vegan Key Lime Habanero Cheesecake. I cannot take credit for the recipes, just the inspiration to combine them. Robert and I watched an episode of Bitchin Kitchen a while back and Nadia made an awesome-looking Key Lime Habanero Cheesecake that made my mouth water. After the episode Robert’s immediate reaction was “You need to make that for me.” Unfortunately, Nadia’s version involves making meringues, a water bath, and uses eggs. I’m not a baker. I barely qualify as a home cook so I knew that recipe was way over my skill set. Plus I really didn’t want to make anything that used eggs. I may not be entirely vegan yet, but eggs are a no-no regardless.
I thought maybe I could find a vegan cheesecake recipe and add the key limes and habanero to it. I know, for someone who knows crap-all about baking, messing with a baking recipe was taking a huge risk. But once the idea got in my head I couldn’t let it go. So I did what any self-respecting person does when they need to find anything. I Googled vegan cheesecake recipe, and voila! The first entry that came up was from Hungry Hungry Hippie, a blog I already read on a regular basis. Elise’s version looked super easy to make so that’s the recipe I went with.
Wouldn’t you know that by just replacing the lemon from Elise’s version with ¼ cup of key lime juice and 1 minced habanero I made such a yummy cheesecake that Robert and I ate half in one night (hey, they were fairly small pieces!). I was truly amazed at how much like cheesecake this version tasted. It had the same consistency and look and just the right amount of sweetness. The habanero added pretty little flecks of orange and was not overpowering at all. It built up to a slow burn at the back of my mouth and was balanced perfectly with the coulis from Nadia’s version.
I was so happy with my success that I made it again about a week later. But I tried to take a few shortcuts. WRONG! First of all, DO NOT, under penalty of death (or penalty of a runny cheesecake) use canned or bottled key lime juice. I was lazy and didn’t want to go to several different stores looking for key limes so I bought the bottled stuff. And it came out runny. The taste was fine but the cake didn’t set in the middle and basically disintegrated the crust. Again, I don’t know a lot about baking, but my guess is that the consistency from real key limes is different than concentrated juice so it’s not as runny. Maybe cutting back on the concentrated juice would have worked but maybe not. Plus fresh key limes are nice and tart and you just don’t get that with the bottled stuff.
Second, I couldn’t find raw cashews so I bought raw ones that were lightly salted (again, laziness on my part). I rinsed them really well before soaking then rinsed them again but I can’t be sure that using salted ones didn’t contribute to the runniness of the cake. I also didn’t press my tofu the second time so that probably didn’t help either.
Basically, don’t get lazy with this recipe! It really is very easy to make (aside from juicing the key limes) and you will be rewarded for your time. For reference (and proper credit to the gals who made this idea possible!) you can find the original recipe from Nadia G here and the vegan cheesecake recipe from Hungry Hungry Hippie here. The recipe I post below is the combination of the two. I reduced the coulis recipe by half because I think it just made too much and I have no idea where to find hibiscus flowers, so I used dried cranberries I already had on hand. I also used a store-bought chocolate crust but if you have the inclination, certainly make your own!
I hope you enjoy and sorry about the long entry! This did require a bit of explanation in order to really emphasize the importance of using the proper ingredients. I made the mistakes for you so you won’t have to!
Key Lime Habanero Cheesecake
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for minimum of 1 hour
¼ block extra firm tofu (approx. 4oz), pressed
4oz vegan sour cream
4oz vegan cream cheese
2/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Approx 7-10 key limes , plus 2 additional for the sauce
1tbs key lime zest
½-1 habanero pepper, seeded and finely minced. I used a whole one and I could handle the heat just fine, but use your judgment and preferred spice preference.
9-inch pie crust (I used Wholly Wholesome Chocolate premade crust), or make your own.
For the sauce/coulis:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 key limes, juiced
Handful of dried cranberries (or hibiscus flower, if you can find it)
Preheat oven to 350.
Juice ¼ cup of key limes. This takes about 7-10 key limes depending on size and juiciness. If you bought them and refrigerated them, make sure you bring them to room temp before juicing. Roll them before cutting to loosen the juice. Once done, strain out the seeds and set aside.
Drain the cashews and add to the blender, along with the habanero, sour cream, cream cheese, tofu, vanilla, maple syrup, key lime juice and zest. Blend until smooth. The longer you soak the cashews the quicker this will go. Make sure the filling is super-smooth. Just let the blender go for a few minutes then check the consistency and blend more if needed.
Pour into pie crust and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then turn heat down to 250 and bake an additional 20-25 minutes. This prevents the crust from burning. I also turned the cake 180 degrees when I turned the heat down.
Let cool at room temp before chilling in the fridge.
To make the coulis: Add sugar, water, key lime juice and cranberries to a small sauce pot and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes until the cranberries are nice and plump. Nadia’s recipe says to reduce the sauce by half, but it seems like no matter how long I let it simmer, it doesn’t reduce. So I just make sure it’s cooled before putting on the cake.
Slice a piece of cake, drizzle some coulis on top and enjoy! I recommend storing the coulis in a separate container and adding it on an as-eating basis so it doesn’t soak through your crust. Store any uneaten cheesecake (if any remains!) covered in the fridge. I don’t know how long it would store; ours didn’t last more than 3 days and I’m guessing yours won’t either!
Don’t forget to check out the other entries!