A few weeks back I was set a challenge – could I make a gluten and dairy free cheesecake? Ermm yikes! Gluten free wasn’t going to be a problem as you can now buy gluten free digestive style biscuits in most supermarkets, but dairy free? Take the cheese and cream out a cheesecake and you’re left with a few biscuit crumbs and some eggs.
After my initial moment of panic, I remembered the delicious cheeseless cheesecake I made a few months back using yoghurt. Yoghurt obviously still contains dairy, but I knew that dairy free soya yoghurt was now readily available and it got me wondering if this would also work baked into a cheesecake. Only one way to find out!
I used sunflower spread with the crushed gluten free biscuit crumbs to form the base for my cheesecake which worked well. Just make sure your biscuits are also dairy free, as some I found weren’t. I decided to make the cheesecake a chocolate cheesecake as pretty much everything chocolaty tastes good, and I thought it would also mask any potentially odd flavours that might arise from the soya yoghurt.
The batter for the cheesecake was a little runny, but apart from that, came together well without splitting or curdling. It baked perfectly, with a smooth, slightly glossy surface and after a dusting of cocoa powder it was unrecognisable from the real thing, at least by appearances sake.
On slicing, it cut very cleanly, too cleanly really, as there was no thick creaminess to stick the mixture to the knife, but this can’t really be viewed as a negative. It was lightly speckled with flecks of chocolate where I obviously hadn’t mixed it sufficiently, but this added to its appeal.
Now came the vital bit – the taste! It was….ok, good, but not great. It ate well and had a good chocolate flavour but it just seemed to be lacking something. After several bites I decided what it was lacking was the creamy mouthfeel, essentially the dairy that helps give a cheesecake its thick sticky creaminess in the mouth.
The flavour of the cheesecake was great while you were eating, but seemed to dissolve into nothing the minute you swallowed. There was no lingering flavour or creaminess coating your mouth. It just sort of went. The friend who’d given me the challenge loved it – so I suppose it was good considering it was gluten and dairy free, but I don’t think things should be judged ‘good considering they’re…’ I think they should taste good to everyone, gluten/dairy free or not.
So my experiment has revealed that yes it is possible to produce a gluten and dairy free cheesecake, but without further experiments I’m not sure it was worth it. Maybe it was the soya or just the complete lack of dairy? Anyone got any ideas how to improve the creaminess without adding dairy?
Chocolate Cheesecake Cheese-Fake GF & DF
Ingredients – Biscuit Base
125g gluten & dairy free digestive style biscuits
50g Pure dairy free margarine
Line a 6-6.5inch round springform tin with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 160C.
Place the biscuits into a strong plastic bag and beat it with a rolling pin until the biscuits are broken in crumbs.
Melt the margarine in a large bowl, add the biscuits crumbs and stir well to mix. Spread the buttery crumbs into the base of the tin and press down firmly to form a even layer. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the topping.
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, cornflour and cocoa powder together until well combined.
Pour in the yoghurt and beat to combine, followed by the eggs.
Melt the chocolate and whip into the yoghurt mixture.
Pour the mix over the chilled biscuit base and bake for 1hour – 1hour 10 minutes until slightly puffed and set around the edges, but still wobbly in the centre.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 1½ hours before chilling in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
When ready to serve, run a hot sharp knife around the rim of the tin to help release it from the sides.
Dust with a little extra cocoa powder and serve.