Ginger And Chestnut Festive Cheesecake.

Chestnuts in various forms have become my favorite ingredient. Who would have thought that a simple nut can be so versatile and bring out wonderful flavours in dishes all year round, not only during Christmas. I particularly like desserts made with chestnuts and this is one definitely my favorite so far – I just keep thinking about it and crave more of it.

This “cheesecake” doesn’t actually have any cheese in it, but made out of chestnut puree and vegan soft cheese, which is mostly tofu, but don’t get alarmed, it tastes wonderful! This is not a vegan cake though, as it requires eggs. The ingredients listed will make for one, quite thin cake. If you want to feed more people and make it thicker (or just want more for yourself – and trust me, you would) – double the amount of cheese and chestnuts and increase the time slightly – you will have to keep an eye on it and check it every 30 minutes or so. Which brings me to another point – this is not a fast cake to make. Preparation doesn’t take long, but steaming it in the oven can take up to 2 hours, depending on the thickness of cake. You will need a roasting tin or other container that will fit your cake form inside, for water bath.

After all the cooking, the cake will come out very rich, creamy and luscious. Ginger and spices complement it nicely and will remind you of Christmas. I find it tastes gorgeous with fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of raw cocoa powder. OK, I think I’m going to drool now, so the ingredients are below.

Equipment: a round spring-form tin, blender or food processor, baking parchment, thick aluminium foil and a deep roasting pan for bain-marie.

For crust:

  • 250g ginger oat biscuits. Nairn’s are quite good. If you can’t find oat biscuits, use regular ginger snaps. Both are quite sweet, so no extra sugar required
  • 3 tbsp raw coconut oil, melted if necessary
  • pinch of salt

For cheesecake:

  •  225g vegan or dairy free soft cheese. I always use Tofutti original – it tastes like the real thing
  • 80ml dark agave nectar
  • 2-3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 400g chestnut puree. You can get the Merchant Gourmet one in any supermarket now
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg, ground allspice and salt
  1. Preheat the oven with the rack inside to 180C. Grease the sides and bottom of your cake tin with coconut oil and line with the parchment. Oil the parchment too.
  2. Combine all the crust ingredients in the food processor until it resembles moist and slightly sticky breadcrumbs. Turn them into the cake tin and, using gloves or a cling film around your hands, press it firmly and evenly into the tin. This will be your base.
  3. Bake the base for 10 minutes, then let it cool outside the oven. Once cooled, wrap the outside of the tin with foil to prepare it for bain-marie.
  4.  While the base is cooling, make the filling. Decrease the oven temperature to 160c and boil a kettle of water.
  5. Beat the cream cheese and agave nectar with a mixer or mix it in food processor, then add eggs – one at a time, beating the batter after each egg. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it all until smooth. Blender or food processor would come very handy in this.
  6. Pour the batter into cooled and foil wrapped tin, and place the tin in a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with boiled water, carefully place it in the oven and bake for an hour. The cake should be set, but tremble like jelly after one hour.
  7. Reduce the heat to 120C and let it stand in the oven for another hour or so. Don’t let it burn, so check on it in 30 minutes. If necessary, turn the oven off and let it stand inside for another 30 minutes. Then remove from the oven and let it cool completely.
  8. N0w you can either chill it, covered, for 8 hours or overnight, or remove it carefully from the tin and serve it straight away.

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