Canada Day may have come and gone, but it still lives on in my heart…and stomach. If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that I made Nanaimo bars a few weeks ago for a Canada Day celebration. Well, at this shindig, I found out that one of my very favorite Canadian persons, Peter, like-likes Nanaimo bars. It just so happens that I like-like Peter so, of course this news was exciting. It also “just so happens” that the past few Saturday nights have become dinner date nights and, since both Peter and I are vegan and like to cook, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to try and impress each other food-wise. I don’t know how or why I ended up being the baker, all I know is that it’s quite the challenge. So, with the new information that Peter really, really likes Nanaimo bars, I started scheming and decided to make him a Nanaimo bar cheesecake. Sometimes, I can be a sweetheart, I guess.
This recipe is a bit time consuming — I’m just going to put that out there, nice and honestly. If you want to make something quick for dessert, make Nanaimo bars or cookies. But this is also delicious and pretty. So, really, you get a lot out of it. And, you get to show off a vegan cheesecake. That’s bound to drop some jaws. You will have to make the cashew cream for this. Cashew cream is very easy to make and can be used in many recipes, but it requires soaking cashews for several hours or overnight. Like I said, this recipe is involved. But it’s worth it, trust me. I also really recommend using Mori-Nu Firm Silken Tofu if you can find it at a natural foods store or in an Asian market. It really does wonders for consistency. If you can’t, any other brand is fine as long as it’s silken tofu. Other brands may not be as firm and may have a higher water content. This will just mean that you may have to bake it longer and that the consistency will lean more towards a custard type of cake. It will still be very good (and likely, smoother) so don’t worry.
According to Peter, a true Canadian, what makes Nanaimo bars what they are — which is indulgently delicious — is the middle vanilla layer. So, you want this to be very vanilla-y. I do recommend using a vanilla bean, as directed below, but they can be kind of expensive so, if you can’t afford it, just use as much extract as you need to to make up for it. What I really like about Nanaimo bars is the coconut-chocolate crust. Please, use Newman O’s or any other “Oreo” type cookie that is explicitly vegan and unsweetened coconut flakes as these don’t contain refined sugar. If you really like coconut, you can even add an 1/8 of a teaspoon of coconut extract to the crust. I bet it would be delicious!
Whatever happens, indulge, enjoy, and keep eating until it’s all gone! Vive le Canada! Continue reading