Photos and Words by Team Babes
Team Babes consists of editor-in-chief, Fred Chang, one of his five grandlittles, Bernie Lai, and photo editor, Adrienne Sheh. Together, they have joined forces in sass and baking to create technically perfect desserts that “smash it out of the park, babes” all the time.
The first time Fred and Adrienne ever baked together, it was sheer epicness. Adrienne loves to bake cheesecakes, while Fred is trained in French pastry. Together, they made graham cracker flavored macarons with cheesecake creme patissiere and strawberry-cardamom compote. Everything came out flawlessly that time. The macaron had the flavor of New York cheesecake running through it, the presentation almost looked like Marilyn Monroe if she had been transformed into a macaron with the pearly white, glossy red, and pale yellow aesthetic, and even Adrienne, who has more of a savory tooth, loved it.
Since Adrienne has recently switched to a gluten and lactose-free diet, two of the three members of Team Babes decided to tackle an entirely new beast: gluten free and vegan cheesecakes. While by no means this is classic French pastry, Fred’s experience with vegan baking is vast; his mother would not let him bake with eggs or butter when he began baking, so he started as a vegan baker. To make the cheesecake vegan, Tofutti cream cheese and silken tofu were used in place of sour cream, cream cheese, and eggs, while ground Cheerios are being used to substitute the graham cracker portion of the dessert. Fun fact: Cheerios are gluten-free. For the crust, melted coconut oil not only gives the crust a nice fragrance, but will substitute the butter nicely.
Obviously, it cannot just stop with a simple cheesecake. That’s “so boring [it] puts to put fish to sleep.” And this isn’t a lecture on how to grow grass, babes. It is supposed to be a dessert embodying the sheer epicness, as well as the justified attitude that is Team Babes. To garnish the dessert, it will be topped with a raspberry-blood orange veil, because garnishing a vegan-gluten free dessert with just a fruit puree or coulis is such a copout (mainly given how we in Team Babes are trying to show how far the envelope can be pushed within vegan/gluten-free cooking).
1 cup Cheerios; ground
3 ½ tablespoons coconut oil, melted
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of salt
Crush the Cheerios into a fine powder. Mix with spices and salt, then pour in the melted coconut oil. Mix together until it has a wet-sand like consistency. Press along the bottom and sides of a springform pan. Bake at 325 F for 15 minutes. Allow to cool outside of the oven once baked.
8 oz. Tofutti cream cheese
4 oz silken tofu, pureed and strained
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
In a food processor, puree the tofu with baking soda. In a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese with sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Strain the tofu out for lumps and slowly incorporate into the whipped cream cheese. Fold in the raspberries. Pour into the cooled crust and continue baking for 45 minutes at 325 F. If you can, pour lukewarm water into a bake-proof container larger than the springform pan, and bake the cheesecake in the pan, inside of the water filled container. Baking in a water bath can prevent more cracks. Make sure that the cheesecake is cooled before removing from the baking pan.
1 cup pureed raspberries, strained
1/2 lemon’s juice and 2 teaspoons of finely grated zest
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon kanten jelly powder
In a pot, heat up the raspberry-lemon juice, salt, and kanten jelly powder, and reduce by about half. Strain about 3/4ths of the mixture onto a sheet tray and freeze for 5 minutes. Once the gelee is firm enough to remove, cut circles.
To assemble, take the veil and drape over the cooled cheesecake. Be sure to chill before serving.