As most of you know, I am deathly allergic to milk. Not just lactose-intolerant, which by the way, is so not the same thing!
Basic science lesson: Lactose is a sugar. Casein is a protein. Both are digested and broken down very differently in the human body. I am allergic to the casein protein in cow’s milk. I have been my entire life, I show no signs of out-growing it, and it has actually gotten worse as I’ve gotten older so I am very careful about what I eat.
That being said, I usually end up customizing a lot of recipes and making substitutions so that I can make things Jen-safe. I’m actually really surprised that with the rising number of allergies and veganism that the Food Network doesn’t have a vegan based cooking show yet. While I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian for that matter, when I want some treats or goodies, I always know that the vegan ones are safe for me to eat.
That being said, many many moons ago, a Jewish friend of mine brought in a cheesecake to work that she referred to as “Parve” and she assured me it was dairy free and I could eat it. Now, never having had cheesecake before, I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked it and asked her for the recipe. I don’t know where she got her recipe from, but the only modification that I made was to add vegan chocolate chips to it. Because, let’s face it, everything is better with chocolate.
16 oz. “Better than Cream Cheese” (made by Tofutti and sold in 8 oz containers)
- You can find this in the cream cheese section. Most Market Districts carry the brand, as well as Whole Foods.
3/4 C granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon flour (I use cake flour)
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon grated orange rind
- You can cheat if you want and buy dried rinds in the spice aisle
1 egg yolk
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon of dairy free whip cream, or cool whip
- I even omit this sometimes if I don’t have any and it doesn’t seem to make a difference.
As far as the crust in concerned, I cheat again and just buy a Pillsbury ready-made graham cracker crust. I do recommend getting the larger size “2 extra servings!” because everything just fits better.
If you are suzy homemaker, feel free to make your own graham cracker crust.
Preheat oven to 475 F
Beat the cream cheese until fluffy. (I actually do this by hand with a wooden spoon. No need to dirty a mixer) Add sugar and flour and beat until smooth.
Mix in grated rinds. Add egg yolk, mix well. Add whole eggs and mix in one at a time. Add cool whip and fold in briefly.
This is where I add in the vegan chocolate chips. You can make a plain cheesecake or add in any other mix-ins that you see fit.
Pour into pie crust. I set the pie crust pan on a larger cookie sheet in case there is any spill over in the oven. Bake at 475 F for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperture to 200 F and bake another 30 minutes. Do not open the oven door.
After 30 minutes, turn off the oven and crack the oven door slightly. Allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
It’s best to make this the day before you need it, because the cheesecake tastes much better after it’s been in the fridge overnight. If you are in a huge hurry and have to make it same day, you can always freeze it for a few hours before serving.
This recipe can be easily modified to be completely vegan or even gluten free, but I like it just the way it is! I also tend to top it with fruit in the summer time.
You *should* get at least 8 servings from this, but that of course depends on how generously you portion it out. I recommend not telling people it’s dairy free. The “dairy-free” connotation oftens scares people away, but I’ve had numerous people tell me that they really enjoy this recipe and it’s actually a lot lighter than a real cheesecake so you won’t feel as full afterwards.