Happy St. Paddy's Day!
I love St. Patrick's day - I mean what other day can you celebrate my favorite color (green) by including it in EVERY item you ingest for the day. I for one will be making neon green shamrock pancakes for breakfast, as was my family's tradition when I was a kid. I will also be comparing the benefits of the McDonald's Shamrock Shake versus Jack in the Box's version. I'm pretty sure I already know which one will prevail, but it never hurts to see what's out there. There's always green beer, but something about that just seems wrong, much like dying the Chicago River.
At any rate, part of my usual St. Paddy's Day celebration always included a green swirled mint cheesecake. The original recipe came from one of those Pillsbury booklets you see at the grocery store impulse aisle. I believe I got it in the middle of the "no fat" cooking era of the mid to late 1990s. The booklet included a before and after recipe makeover for a white chocolate mint cheesecake - perfect for St. Patrick's day! I proceeded to buy the booklet and make the low fat version of the cheesecake, complete with nonfat cream cheese and margarine and a whole host of other nonfat products. Needless to say, the damn thing looked pretty, but tasted like plastic. From that point on I made the full-fat recipe (which was a lot of fat) in all it's egg and butter and cream cheese glory, figuring that St. Patrick's Day only comes but once a year.
Well, the Cowboy has a penchant for cheesecakes - its unfortunate for him as he's lactose-intolerant (and vegan), because every now and again, he'll conveniently "forget" he's vegan and sneak a bite or three of regular cheesecake, resulting in a guilty conscience, an upset GI tract, and a terrible case of the toots. I always wanted to make him my St. Patrick's Day cheesecake, but there was the whole not-even-close-to-being-vegan thing, so I gave up on that dream. Until a couple months ago - I got another cookbook that included a recipe for a vegan Green Tea Cheesecake, that looked eerily similar to my Pillsbury cheesecake. Well, end of a long story, I was able to tweak it and finally, have my cheesecake and the Cowboy could eat it, too. Unfortunately for you readers, the Cowboy ate it all and I never got a picture of the final product. I did however have a bunch of leftover batter and Oreo cookies and made some delicious cheesecake bars, pictured above. Just imagine them in a 9-inch cheesecake form. It was glorious.
Also, an added benefit of veganizing this recipe is that it is now low in fat! And tastes delicious! Not at all plastic :)
Inspired by Sweet Utopia
1 prepared chocolate cookie crust, or make your own*
2 c. firm silken tofu (2 packages of Mori Nu brand)
2 c. non-dairy cream cheese (I like Tofutti brand the best)
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 heaping tbsp cornstarch
1 heaping tbsp vanilla
pinch of salt
6 oz. non-dairy white chocolate, melted (optional, if you can't find it, but its worth it)
2 drops green food coloring (or more if you like the neon look)
2 tsp. mint extract
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine the tofu, cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and salt in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy (I have a tiny food processor, so I had to do this step in batches). Add the chocolate to the batter and process again (don't worry if it clumps up when you add it, it'll either get smoothed out by the food processor or will melt while baking).
Transfer 1/4 c. of the batter to a small mixing bowl, add the food coloring and mint extract. Mix until blended thoroughly.
Pour 90% of the white batter into the prepared crust. Place dollops of the green mixture evenly on top of the white batter. If you have room, add the remaining white batter, if not, reserve for cheesecake bars. Run a clean knife through the green batter to create a marbled effect. Don't blend too much, otherwise you'll end up with a light green cheesecake - not the end of the world, but not as pretty.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until edges are completely set, but the center is still jiggly. Cool, cover loosely and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours before serving.
*I cheated and bought a crust instead of making it - this is what resulted in the excess batter. If you make your own crust and put it in a 9-inch springform pan, most likely you'll have enough room for all the batter.
Variation: Cheesecake BarsWhat to do with leftover batter? Simple - spray a small baking dish (I used a loaf pan) with nonstick spray, crush some Oreos (or other chocolate cookies) and smoosh in the bottom. Spread the remaining batter on top of the Oreos and bake as above. Just keep an eye on the bars because cooking time will depend on how thick the batter is, so check at the early end of the time range. Let cool, cut into bars and enjoy!