My daughter Bethany loves my cheesecakes and this No Bake Vanilla Cheesecake is her favourite with is rich creamy flavour packed with lots of vanilla bean paste. I used to make it for her with all the dairy – now it’s dairy free and she can’t even tell the difference!
In 2017 I found out that I can no longer tolerate diary and eggs (among other things) so slowly many of my recipes are being adapted so that I can still enjoy them too. The great news is that even if you can have dairy or eggs you’d struggle to tell the difference – most people who eat my sweet recipes have no idea it’s vegan.
How do you make a no bake vanilla cheesecake?
It literally could not be simpler. In fact, this recipe can be made at the drop of a hat. Take the time my daughter had friends over and 2hrs before I decided it would be nice for them to have my no bake cheesecake. within an hour it was made, chilled and plated up ready!
There are three main stages to a dairy free cheesecake; the condensed milk, the base and the ‘cream cheese’ topping.
The condensed milk can be either made in advance (I tend to have a ready made jar in the fridge) or can be bought readymade like this Nestle Vegan Condensed Milk or my personal favourite the Natures Charm Vegan Condensed Milk (bought in bulk is cheaper)
To make you own see the next section.
The biscuit stage is super simple. Just smash up or blitz in a processor, 300g of suitable biscuits. I use own brand free from digestives but have been known to use up stem ginger biscuits, choc chip cookies, you name it!. Then you add 80g of fat to the crumbs to act as the binding agent.
The cheesecake topping is your condensed milk, cream cheese and cream with a bit of added fat to hold it all in place. That’s right, it really is that simple.
How do you make dairy free condensed milk?
Top tip when making your own vegan condensed milk, is to use a tin that has 50%+ coconut extract in it. The tins I use are from Aldi and Sainsbury’s here in the UK (own brands). They have 75% coconut extract in them, making them fatty enough to thicken, and achieve that tell-tale condensed milk consistency.
Dairy Free and Vegan Condensed Milk Recipe
Other flavour inspiration for no bake cheesecakes
This is a no bake vanilla cheesecake so obviously it has vanilla extract in it. I say extract, I go all out and add a vanilla bean paste as, I don’t know about you but, I love to see the little vanilla seeds dotted in the cheesecake topping.
Other flavour ideas are achievable simply by adding a teaspoon of flavouring such as lemon, coffee or orange. Then to decorate you could add the fruit zest or a few chocolate coated coffee beans to nod towards the cheesecake flavour.
You may have a favourite fruit coulis in a jar or a squeezy bottle. If so, why not add this to the top of the cheese cake to add a fine top coat of flavour. Alternatively, you could get all creative and add a few random dollops of coulis. Then, using the handle of a teaspoon, make swirl patterns in the top of your cheesecake to add a masterclass marble effect.
What’s the difference between a baked and no bake cheesecake?
The two cheesecakes are in totally different categories if you ask me. In fact, during my research into the history of the cheesecake I’ve found that some old recipes don’t even have cheese in them! One such recipe is Mrs Beeton’s Apple Cheesecake which is more of a apple custard tart.
Baked Cheesecake – a cheesecake that is denser in texture, made with lots of eggs and not unlike a custard tart. It can be found with a pastry or biscuit base or no base at all. Some are baked in a water bath or Bain Marie, others are not.
No Bake Cheesecake – a lighter, almost mousse-like dessert. This tends to always have a biscuit base but recent times have seen the deconstruction of cheesecakes and the biscuit could be a scattering or crumbs on the top or at the side of the dish (why would you do that?)
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Where does cheesecake originally come from?
Here’s the fun bit. I do so love to research the history of well known traditional bakes and dishes. I entered into my research totally open minded this time. In the past I’ve had preconceived ideas about how a recipe originated but this one I knew would be a tale that twists and turns – I was right!
If you think cheesecake started in New York in the 1900’s, you’d be wrong. If you though cheesecake cake originates in France circa 18th Century, you’d be wrong. And, if you though Italians were first to invent the cheesecake, you’d be lukewarm.
Before we get to the Romans though you need to whisk back a few more years to 2000BC. It was in fact the Greeks who first came up with cheesecake. As with many recipes I research, this one started with a humble beginning whereby cheese was mushed up, added to honey, flour and pressed into moulds then baked. These were often made for special occasions such as weddings (a catalyst for many recipes we know nowadays).
Then the Romans conquered Greece, liked the recipe idea, and adapted it by adding the cheese filling to pastry (probably for easier transportation, cheesecake on the go!). They then set off to conquer Europe. Hence the reason the recipe travelled.
The English added their twist by adding milk and eggs and that recipe headed over to the shores of the USA. The cream cheese was successfully added later and there you have it – cheesecake!
Now let’s get back to making my version of a No Bake Vanilla Cheesecake made gluten free and dairy free.
Other gluten free no bake recipe inspiration
What is the best dairy free cream to use in baking?
Dairy Free / Vegan Creams
No Bake Vanilla Cheesecake Recipe
This gluten free, dairy free and vegan cheesecake is ever so simple to make and I promise no one will realise it's free from any ingredients at all. Made within an hour if your in a hurry, this can be whipped up for surprise guests or made at your leisure for teatime or dessert.
- 300 g gluten free biscuits I use digestives
- 80 g butter I use Flora plant butter
- 250 g vegan condensed milk [see notes on how to make your own]
- 200 g cream cheese I use own brand dairy free cream cheese
- 200 ml cream I use Elmlea Plant Cream or Alpro Soya Cream, both work well
- 80 g white solid fat (vegetable fat block) I use Trex but Crisp n Dry works too.
- 5 tbsp icing sugar or as much as you desire to taste
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
Making the biscuit base could not be simpler. Crush the biscuits (this works out around two packets of gluten free biscuits) or blitz them in a food processor.
Melt the 'butter' in the microwave for 30 seconds and then pour into the biscuit crumbs and mix or blitz again to combine.
Pour the buttery biscuit crumbs into a 20cm loose bottom round cake tin. I use a circle to baking parchment to line the tin to prevent the biscuit base from sticking.
Using the bake of a metal spoon press down the biscuit crumbs and smooth flat until you have a solid biscuit base – possibly the most satisfying thing to do ever!
Pop the tin into the fridge to help the butter to harden and crack on with the cheesecake topping.
Pop the measured solid white vegetable fat into the microwave for 30 seconds to soften, it probably won't melt to a liquid, don't worry, you just need to soften it.
In a large bowl or food mixer add the 'cream cheese' and softened white vegetable fat and beat for a minute or until you see no fatty lumps in the mixture.
Add the vegan condensed milk, cream and vanilla paste and whip with a whisk, hand whisk or food mixer for at least 3 minutes. You want the mixture to thicken so that the whisk trail stays and you have firm peaks.
Now you can add your icing sugar to taste. 5 tablespoons should be plenty so maybe add 1 tablespoon at a time and test until you have the desired sweetness.
Remove the cake tin from the fridge and pour the mixture into the tin smoothing flat with a silicone spatula.
Pop back into the fridge for 30 mins or until you wish to serve it. This cheesecake will keep for 2-3 days no problem if kept in a sealed container in the fridge (to prevent soaking up fridge smells).
Top tip when making your own vegan condensed milk is to use a tin that has 50%+ coconut extract in it. The tins I use are from Aldi and Sainsbury’s here in the UK (own brands). They have 75% coconut extract in them, making them fatty enough to thicken, and achieve that tell-tale condensed milk consistency.
Dairy Free and Vegan Condensed Milk Recipe
Empty a 400ml tin of coconut milk into a medium saucepan, add 150g caster sugar and stir to combine. Place on a high heat and stir until bubbling. Turn heat down to a gentle rolling boil and leave for 15 minutes. Don’t leave unattended and stir occasionally, the condensed milk will halve in volume and go a wallpaper paste colour! Remove from the heat, pour into a glass heatproof jug and cool to room temperature, this will take about an hour.
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