Generally, MSV posts stick to explaining why the dish of the week works. It talks about what flavor combinations are contained within the recipe, and how that's effective, or what addition keeps your protein salad from being deadly boring (or even what makes it interesting, depending on the recipe). But this cheesecake? Well, it's totally lovely. It's a little floral, a little bright, sweet, rich, and creamy. It pretty much sells itself. It's also a special occasion kind of deal—not at all inexpensive—the kind of dessert you pause to scrape a vanilla bean for.
The only thing to note, really, is that the crust here is softer than a cookie crust, made with almond flour because it's destined to entertain a gluten-free pal. Feel free to make whatever vegan crust you like if you have a favorite and don't want to splurge on almond flour (though it's always worth having a pound or three in the pantry).
So let's depart from the formula and instead stop to appreciate how far vegan cooks have taken vegan food. After nearly two years of wishing I had some reason to go bananas over aquafaba (aside from that meringue French toast recipe that really, really needs an update and somehow never, ever gets it), I finally have one for you here. The cake part of this cheesecake is made with Kite Hill brand cream cheese and whipped aquafaba. So that means blended, strained, and cultured almonds combined with the liquid from a can of beans makes this totally delicious and elegant dessert. And it didn't even occur to me that that was strange in the slightest until it was time to write about this guy.
We've come a long way. We have a truly impressive toolbox that keeps getting better. Thanks to everyone working out there. You're the best.
And, hey, make this totally gorgeous cheesecake next time you have friends to feed.
Lavender and Lemon Cheesecake with an Almond Crust
1/2 cup chickpea brine (aquafaba*)
2 TBSP dried lavender
1 1/2 cups blanched almond meal
1 cup natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice), divided
1 tsp psyllium husk powder
1/3 cup canola oil
24 oz plain cream cheese, such as Kite Hill brand
1/4 cup lemon juice
contents of half a vanilla bean
Bring chickpea liquid to a boil in a small pot over high heat. Remove from heat, stir in lavender, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and steep two hours.
When your aquafaba is nearly done steeping, heat oven to 350. In a 9-inch springform pan, combine almond flour, 1/4 cup sugar, psyllium husk powder, and salt. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Add canola oil, stir with a fork until uniform, and press the crust into the bottom of the pan with your hands (be sure to press firmly around the edges, too). Bake 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, add remaining 3/4 cup sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Strain chickpea liquid into the bowl and discard lavender. Add whisk attachment. Turn mixer on low to combine ingredients, then turn to medium-low speed and beat one minute. Turn up to medium speed and continue to beat four minutes. The mixture should now be thick, fluffy, and hold tracks but will still flow back into the bowl from the whisk.
Meanwhile, beat together cream cheese, lemon juice, and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add to whipped aquafaba, switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on low speed just until combined. Pour into prepared crust. Drop pan on the counter once to try to minimize air bubbles. Bake 50-53 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Cake center will be wobbly when removed from oven and will firm as it cools. Cool in the pan on a wire rack until cooled completely. Remove pan sides and chill. Best served slightly chilled.
(*I used Trader Joe's organic chickpeas. The brine is slightly thicker than in TJ's conventional canned chickpeas. One can of Trader Joe's organic chickpeas has repeatedly yielded more than 1/2 cup total brine, so you need only one can with this brand.)