New York, New York
Anticipation is founded on expectation.
It was my expectation to find and taste the BEST croissant in the world in Paris. Fail. I rushed out in the early morning of my first day in France to the bakery in the street where the queue was 8 deep, only to find a small, somewhat soggy pastry that was OK but not the BEST in the world!!
It was my expectation to find and taste the BEST baked cheesecake in the world in New York. Ho Hum. I guess that trying my first piece in a quirky café in the middle of tourist-laden Times Square was not the best choice. It was big and impressive and creamy, but it also tasted synthetic and was way too sweet.
But taste is subjective. What tastes great to me may not be great for you. The human palate is arguably the weakest of the five traditional senses – but we also “taste” with our eyes, ears, noses, and even our sense of touch. We taste with our emotions and state of mind. (Research has shown that people will rate food as more enjoyable if it’s consumed in the relaxed atmosphere of a fine dining environment, as opposed to a noisy fast food restaurant or food court.)
Both of my “tastes” were in a unique and exciting environment. One in a quaint Paris laneway and the other in an eclectic café in the hub of the busiest city in the world.
In New York, cheesecake is stocked in the café windows in huge slabs. HUGE unappetising slabs. Ranging in colour and topping, most are covered in a thick glutinous fruity concoction of strawberries or blueberries. So it was here that my anticipation started to wane!
Cheesecake, varies from region to region, baked or non-baked, is made from cream cheese or ricotta, eggs and cream. New York-style cheesecake is baked, uses sour cream and is rich and dense, smooth and creamy, whereas European cheesecakes are lighter and less dense, incorporating air with whipped cream.
I think you can tell already that I love cheesecake! I have a recipe archive chockfull of different renditions, BUT…….. here is the big BUT…….they are all based on dairy. :-( For a great dairy cheesecake recipe, look here.
Now that I have ramped up your anticipation, you are expecting a $hithot dairy-free recipe for cheesecake!!! Uh oh, bad idea, Sarah. Well, I hope that this recipe does not disappoint. There are many nut “cheese” recipes out there that are based on cashews but I am not meant to eat cashews. This recipe uses blanched almonds which works wonderfully, but they must be blanched. Don’t try to make this using raw almonds as it will turn out grainy and tough. Blech!
PLEASE keep in mind that this is not going to replicate a cream cheese, sour cream rendition of my favourite cake. That’s me, ramping down your expectation!! But, if you cannot tolerate dairy and have missed cheesecake, like me, you will be pleased.
This recipe makes a small 20cm cake – it is very rich and filling. You need to start preparing it the day before as I think that the resting time improves the texture. You start by making your “cream” cheese!220g blanched almonds (or almond meal) 80g lemon juice 170g warm water 1/4 teas salt 40g almond or macadamia oil 1 teas stevia Mill the almonds on SP 9 for 10 seconds. add the rest of the ingredients and grind on SP 8 for 2 minutes, scraping down if needed. It will smooth & creamy and white. Put into a nutbag or cheesecloth and hang overnight to drain. Usually I only get a couple of teaspoons drain off, it fluctuates.
The next day unwrap the cheese and it will look like this:Base 100g almonds 50g dates 1/2 teas cinnamon 30g coconut butter or butter 1 tab buckwheat Blitz together on SP 8 until a fine crumble and press into a lined 20cm cake tin. Add a little water if it is too dry. You may not need all of the mix if you prefer a thinner base. Put into the oven and turn on to 170ºC while you make the filling. 80g honey or rice syrup 3 eggs 2 teas stevia rind of 1 lemon 1 teas cornflour (or tapioca starch) 3 tabs coconut milk or coconut yoghurt vanilla 1 batch of almond cheese Mix the eggs and honey, stevia & lemon rind on SP 6 for 10 seconds. Add the coconut milk, vanilla and almond cheese and mix on SP 6 for 10 seconds or until smooth. Eat. (only kidding) Pour into tin and bake for 35 – 45 minutes. It will be lightly golden on the top and firmer than a traditional cheesecake on baking. Cool for at least 4 hours. I have spread mine with a layer of thick coconut yoghurt or you could use some whipped coconut cream if you like. Otherwise, you could decorate it with some sliced fruit. Remember that it is very rich and small pieces will suffice…… (one after the other, until it is all gone!!! he he he he!)