Before all these frilly hearts give you the wrong idea, let’s set the record straight. I’m really not much into Valentine’s Day — I just like playing with food. I love planning heart-shaped and/or red menus for February 14 much in the same way that I’m not Irish but I like to make soda bread and corned seitan and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day.
As promised, I want to share some more ideas for Valentines Day. I’ll be making the spicy menu in the previous post, but if you’d like something more fancy (think “seitan and puff pastry”), consider the special Valentine’s Day dinner menu in Party Vegan:
The dessert for both menus is the chocolate cheesecake you see in the photo. But it’s made with different toppings for each menu — the operative words in this dessert are “chocolate” and (vegan) “cheesecake” — but you can top it any way you like. Below is the recipe for the regular version, with cherries and toasted sliced almonds. If you can’t get enough chocolate, you could top it with chocolate curls and/or a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
If I had to choose another favorite V’day dinner idea (besides the seitan roulade and spicy comfort loaf, that is) it would be a heart-shaped vegan pizza. It’s easy and fun to make, and you can garnish it with different toppings to suit the theme: heart-shaped slices of vegan pepperoni, or maybe roasted red pepper strips that spell “I LUV U”, etc.
For an easy appetizer, make these tapenade hearts using a sheet of puff pastry, a small heart pastry cutter, and some storebought sun-dried tomato tapenade. (Sun-dried tomato tapenade makes a yummy pizza topping, too.)
As an alternative (and quick) but still special dessert, just scoop some vegan ice cream into pretty glasses and top with chocolate sauce or liqueur (I like Frangelico), toasted nuts and red berries. Now about that cheesecake…
Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
The recipe is from Party Vegan by Robin Robertson © 2010 John Wiley and Sons. It makes one small cheesecake or two to three individual-sized cheesecakes.
3 tablespoons vegan margarine
1 to 1 1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I use Newman’s Own cookies and grind them in a food processor)
2/3 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
2 (8-ounce) containers vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup fruit-sweetened cherry jam
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
Fresh pitted cherries, for garnish
Chocolate curls (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan and set aside. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch springform pan and set aside.
2. Place the cookie crumbs in the prepared pan and drizzle in as much of the melted margarine as needed to moisten the crumbs, mixing with a fork to combine. Press the crumb mixture into bottom and sides of pan, and set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave and keep warm.
4. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, sugar, soy milk, and vanilla, and blend until smooth. Add the chocolate and blend until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared crust and spread it evenly. Bake until firm, about 40 minutes.
5. Turn off the oven and let the cake remain in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate several hours to chill completely.
6. When ready to serve, place the cherry jam in a small bowl and stir briskly until smooth. Spread the jam thinly over the top of the cheesecake. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top and garnish with fresh cherries. Top with chocolate curls, if using.
COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY REMINDER: Be sure to leave a comment at the end of the previous post to be entered in the giveaway to win a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice. As a little something extra, I’ll be including 2 coupons for FREE So Delicious products (including coconut milk and their yummy vegan ice cream). So, if you haven’t entered yet, do it NOW. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, February 14.