Rhubarb season is coming to an end but I think there’s juuust enough time to squeeze in one last recipe. This vegan rhubarb cheesecake looks beautiful, tastes delicious and is surprisingly simple to make with just a few ingredients.
Rhubarb isn’t an ingredient that we can easily get our hands on in Spain. On the rare occasion that I do manage to find it at an organic market, the price is exorbitant as it’s imported from Germany and usually well past its freshest.
We flipped out one day when I saw a rhubarb and strawberry tart on the menu at a local “gourmet” flexitarian restaurant but, alas, it was all wrong. They put waaaaay to much sugar in it and all the lovely sourness of the rhubarb was lost.
What’s the point of putting rhubarb in at all if you’re going to smother it in sugar? It’s all about the balance of sweet and sour.
So ever since I’ve been determined to give my Spanish husband a true rhubarb experience. We arrived in Canada just in the nick of time to pick up some healthy-looking, locally grown pink stalks from the market before they’re gone for the year.
I was somewhat surprised that he didn’t make a sour-puss face when taking his first bite from a fresh stalk without sugar, I certainly did. He seems to like it, which is a good thing because I love experimenting with ingredients that are not usually readily available to me. So this vegan rhubarb cheesecake recipe is my first creation.
This dessert is so simple: a basic cashew cheesecake on a date-graham base and strips of rhubarb first softened in sugar water and then latticed on top.
I wish I could take the credit for coming up with the idea of latticing rhubarb but in fact I saw it on Pinterest. Allie from Baking a Moment and her rhubarb tart was the inspiration for my vegan rhubarb cheesecake. She put her rhubarb lattice on a frangipane filling, which sounds delicious and wouldn’t be impossible to veganize either.
But my basic vegan cheesecake filling offers some flexibility. You could add some cocoa powder for a chocolate-rhubarb cheesecake or pureed strawberries for the classic rhubarb-strawberry combination. Let your imagination run wild!
Makes one 20 cm (8 inch) cheesecake
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs or crushed digestive biscuits
- 10 dates
- 1 3/4 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight or in hot water for a couple of hours
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- the juice of two lemons
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5-6 rhubarb stalks
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Line the bottom of an 20 cm / 8 inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan with parchment paper. Grease the sides.
- If your dates are not very sticky, soak them in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Place the dates and graham crumbs in a food processor and blitz until sticky. Press this mixture into the bottom of your pan.
- Place all the filling ingredients into a food processor or blender and process to a smooth cream, scraping down the sides as necessary. Pour into your pan, smooth the top and place in the freezer.
- Peel thin slices off the rhubarb with a vegetable peeler or mandoline. I used mostly the outer skins because they were the pinkest and kept the leftover stalks to make crumble. But if you've got pink running through your stalks you can use it all. Put the water and sugar in a small pot and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, stir. Working in batches of 4 to 5 slices, simmer the rhubarb for a couple of minutes until softened but not so much that it begins to fall apart. Remove to a plate to cool completely and reserve the poaching liquid.
- Once your cake is frozen, remove the outer ring and trace an outline of it onto a piece of parchment paper. Put the cake back in the freezer while your work. Flip the paper over and begin vertically lining up your rhubarb strips to slightly larger than the width of your pan outline. Flip up every other strip to the middle and lay another strip horizontally. Continue like this to form your lattice pattern.
- Slide your rhubarb lattice, with the paper, onto a plate. If you kept the bottom part of the pan on your cake you can just pick up the cake and place it upside down directly onto your rhubarb lattice, remove the pan bottom (or not) and flip it right side up onto a second plate. Remove the paper from the rhubarb lattice and trim the edges with a pair of scissors.
- You can serve it right away or freeze it for later. I found that it was easier to slice cleanly when the rhubarb was frozen, and some of the green parts of the rhubarb turned pink after a few hours (don't ask me why). Just run a knife under hot water to slice and then let the slices warm up for 10 to 15 minutes before eating. Brush the remaining rhubarb poaching liquid over the slices for a nice sheen.