If Christmas had to pick one official dessert, cheesecake would certainly be in the running. There’s something about the smooth, creamy, sweet treat that suits this season. If you have food allergies, however, cheesecake may be one of those allergy land-mines it’s easier to avoid. Or maybe not.
From vegan cream cheese to gluten-free cookies, you’ve got some options to switch up your favorite recipes to create an allergy-friendly version of this classic.
Starting at the Bottom
Let’s talk about the cookie crumb crust that coats the bottom of many a cheesecake. Most cookie recipes require flour and therefore most cookies, and most cookie crusts, are not safe for individuals that have wheat allergies. Some (not all, so read packages!) gluten-free cookies, however, use alternative wheats like rice flour and oat flour to create their sweet treats.
Grab yourself a bag of those and crush them up as the base of your crumb crust. Mix your cookie crumbs with 5 tablespoons of your favorite vegan butter substitute (softened) or coconut oil. You want the mixture to form a soft crumb. Press that cookie-butter mixture into the bottom of a springform pan to make your crust.
Whipped Cream for the Middle and Top
Some recipes involve folding whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and others just encourage you to top each scrumptious slice with a dollop of the stuff. Either way, we’re traditionally talking about dairy and that’s no good. However, you can make up your own whipped non-dairy alternative by whipping up the cream that forms at the top of a can of coconut milk.
You’ll need 1 can of full-fat coconut milk or a can of coconut cream, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Add your ingredients to a chilled bowl until it forms a creamy, light texture consistent with whipped cream. You can add in some modified tapioca starch to help thicken and stabilize the whipped topping, but it’s not required.
The Good Stuff
Okay, yes. The heart of any good cheesecake is typically several packages of cream cheese and that’s the real hurdle for dairy-allergic folks. That’s before we even start talking about the number of eggs that might get incorporated into the batter. However, there are alternatives that make this creamy, sweet treat something milk- and egg-allergic folks can enjoy.
From silken tofu to vegan cream cheese, you’ve got a few choices that can be substituted easily for cream cheese. Just be sure you read the label carefully. While some options use things like coconut oil and sunflower oil to create a dairy-free spread, others options are dependent on nut milks and soy. Pick the cream cheese sub that best meets your family’s needs (and taste)!
Once you’ve selected the right cream cheese substitute for your family, try this no-bake recipe. Mix one package of softened cream cheese (or cream cheese substitute) with 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and ¼ tsp of salt. (Want to jazz things up even more? Add in ¼ cup of cocoa powder.) Fold in the whipped cream using the recipe above or a container of non-dairy whipped topping like So Delicious’s Cocowhip. Fill your springform with the cheesecake mixture. Refrigerate the cake until you’re ready to serve it.
Looking for a baked version of a dairy-free, egg-free cheesecake? That’s doable too. Beat 30 ounces of vegan cream cheese until it’s smooth and creamy. Then mix in 14 ounces of coconut cream, 1 cup of sugar, 4 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, and the juice of ½ a lemon. Beat the mixture until it’s smooth and then pour it over your cookie crust. Wrap the outside of the pan in foil, place it on a cookie sheet with about an inch of hot water and back in a preheated oven for an hour.
Jazz It Up
Cheesecake is scrumptious on its own but if you want to add a little bit of extra pizazz, you could add a little dollop of your whipped cream. You could also make a safe version of chocolate ganache using dairy-free chocolate chips (you’ll find a few different commercial options now!) and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Want a fruity twist to your topping? Combine a few cups of frozen berries with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water, and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cool the berry sauce before pouring it over your cake.