This lemon meringue baked cheesecake is everything you'd hope for in a showstopper dessert that is completely and unassumingly vegan! A creamy, lusciously dense lemon cheesecake is served with a cloud of toasted meringue on top for a beautiful and decadent treat!
1 3/4cupvegan graham crumbs (or other vegan cookie/biscuit crumbs)
1/3cupvegan butter (stick type, not tub), melted
For Stable Meringue:
1cupaquafaba, reduced*** and chilled
1tspCream of Tarter
2 cupsgranulated sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
For Basic Meringue:
1tspCream of Tarter
For the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a medium sized bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, melted vegan butter and sugar. Mix well, and press into the bottom of a 9" spring-form pan, bringing the crust up the sides about 1.5 inches. Press the crust with the bottom of a flat measuring cup to ensure that the crust is firm and flat. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF.
Prepare a water bath: pour about an inch of hot water into a large baking pan. (The pan needs to be big enough for the spring-form pan to sit it.) Place the water bath onto the middle rack of the oven.
Cover the outside of a 9" spring-form pan with aluminum foil, ensuring the ends of the foil are higher than the seams of the pan and water level so water does not leach into the cheesecake during baking.
For the Filling:
Place the cashews and lemon juice in a pot small enough that the cashews are covered with the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes or until the juice is mostly absorbed by the cashews. Keep an eye on them so they don't dry out and burn.
Place the cashews in a high-speed blender or food processor with the coconut cream. Blend on high until smooth. Add in the rest of the filling ingredients and blend on high until the mixture of very smooth, scraping the sides down as necessary. Depending on your appliance, this can take anywhere from 2 to 8 minutes.
Gently pour the filling over the baked crust. Smooth out the top with a spatula or large spoon. Holding the spring-form pan with a hand on each side, lift the pan about an inch off the counter and drop it so it lands evenly. This will help any air bubbles escape. Do this a few times or until you no longer see any changes to the top of the filling as air bubbles break the surface. Place the cheesecake into the water bath in the hot oven, and bake for about an hour. It should look set and be a bit browned on the edges.
Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the cheesecake rest until the oven is no longer hot. Remove from the oven, and let cool on a wire rack for about an hour. Using a small sharp knife, run it between with crust and the spring-form sides, pressing into the pan sides rather than the cake to prevent tearing. Lightly cover with plastic wrap until completely chilled, about 6 hours or overnight. Just before serving and topping with the meringue, release the sides of the pan and dab the surface of the chilled cheesecake with paper towel if there are any drops of condensation.
For the Meringue:
Prepare your stand-mixer bowl and balloon whisk (or large bowl and hand mixer beaters) by wiping them down with white vinegar to remove any fat residue.
Pour the chilled, reduced aquafaba and Cream of Tarter into the bowl, and whisk on high for about 5-10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. This can take 3-10 minutes depending on your machine. The meringue has reached stiff peaks if it holds its shape when the whisk is turned upside down and the meringue peak stands and does not flop over.
For basic meringue (more fragile and loses volume if not served right away), add the sugar and vanilla once stiff peaks are reached. Whip only until blended as over-whipping will deflate the meringue. Top with the meringue and toast with a kitchen torch, or place under the broiler for 1-3 minutes taking care not to burn it which happens quickly. Serve immediately.
For stable meringue (keeps its volume and looks great for days), place the sugar, water and agar agar into a medium sized pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer taking care not to boil it over. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to hard-ball stage or 245-250ºF, brushing the sides of the pot occasionally with a very clean pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystals from forming. Once hard-ball stage is reached, add in the vanilla extract taking care not to get burned as the mixture will sputter. With the stand-mixer running, carefully pour the hot agar syrup into the whipped aquafaba. Whip until blended. If the meringue loses volume and seems a bit soupy, put it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to cool and then beat again. Top the chilled cheesecake with the meringue and toast with a kitchen torch, or place under the broiler for 1-3 minutes taking care not to burn it which happens quickly. Chill for 10 minutes and serve. Keep refrigerated.
*don't substitute with regular tofu**if you can't find heavy coconut cream, chill a can of coconut milk overnight and then scoop out the cream reserving the water for another use.***see tips in blog post. Strain the water chickpeas were cooked in (either canned or homemade, but if canned, make sure there's no additives). Simmer until half the volume then chill until ready to use.