The streets of our neighbourhood transform into an open air market every Saturday and on Tuesday mornings. I love walking through the market, looking at food and non food items alike. I’m often weary of the fruits and vegetables. While they may be local, they are not necessarily organic, and I’m always torn when I find beautiful looking produce.
However, sometime last year I discovered that the indoor market in Piazza Wagner, near the English school where I teach, has a shop that sells a variety of organic products, produce and even some macrobiotic ingredients. While I have my go to shops and supermarkets around the city for these items, I was happy to know I had another option. This particular market was first opened in the 1930’s, renovated in 2004 and holds a warm place in the hearts of the Milanese.
This past Tuesday, I taught an early morning 2-hour lesson and then decided to head over to the Mercato Comunale di Piazza Wagner to pick up a few items for a lunch date with a friend. She was coming over for lunch and I was missing a few ingredients for the meal I wanted to prepare. I also picked up some gorgeous organic lemons from Liguria, a seaside region on the North West Coast of Italy, also known as the Italian Riviera.
I later used those lemons in the 5 Ingredient Cannellini Bean Spread, the Lemon Herb Infused Bread Crumbs to top the Creamy Cauliflower Fusilli and here in this tart and tangy Lemon Amazake-Tofu “Cheesecake”.
The “Cheesecake” filling is made with medium firm Sliken Tofu and Brown Rice Amazake. Silken tofu, as the name suggests, is a soft and silky tofu and is ideal for preparing creamy dressings, sauces and desserts and gives this “cheesecake” it’s creamy texture without the need for processed vegan cream cheese. Amazake on the other hand is a Japanese sweet drink or dessert which literally means “sweet sake”. It is made from water and fermented whole grains (brown rice in this case), is a great source of protein and B vitamins, and adds texture and natural sweetness to desserts. It comes in both liquid form or a creamy “dessert” form, I used the dessert form for this recipe.
The crust is made with ground almonds, oats and dried apricots. The type of almonds you use makes a significant difference here. If you chose Sicilian almonds, the crust will have a strong flavour, slightly diluting the intensity of the lemon flavour and leaving an aftertaste reminiscent of amaretto or marzipan. If however, you opt for sweeter Moroccan or Californian almonds, the result will be a more delicate nutty flavour, allowing the lemon filling to shine more. It all depends on personal taste preference, but either way the result is a nutty, naturally sweet base and a great complement to the filling.
The result is a macrobiotic friendly vegan “cheesecake” like dessert that is naturally sweetened, refined sugar-free and flour free. If you emit the oats or use gluten free oats, it can also be gluten-free.
Lemon Amazake-Tofu “Cheesecake” with Almond, Apricot, Oat Crust
Makes One 9 inch Round Cake
For the Crust:
- 1 C of Blanched Almonds
- 1 C of Oats
- 1 C of Dried Apricots, natural and unsweetened
- 1/2 C of Filtered Water, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp of Cold Pressed Sunflower Seed Oil, odorless and neutral
For the “Cheesecake” Filling:
- 400 gr of Silken Tofu, medium firm
- 270 gr of Brown Rice Amazake (about 1 cup or 250 ml)
- 1/4 C of Barley Malt
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Powder (natural unsweetened vanilla bean scrapings)
- 1/4 C of Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed (about 3 small lemons)
- Rind of 2 Small Organic Lemons
- 1 Tsp of Agar Agar Powder
- 1/2 Tbsp of Kuzu or Kudzu, diluted in 2 tablespoons of water
For the Crust:
- Blend Almonds in a food processor until pulverized into a flour
- Add oats and pulse some more until well combined and mixture resembles a coarse flour
- Transfer mixture to a bowl
- Add dried apricots and water to food processor and pulse until you get a sticky paste
- Add sticky apricot paste and sunflower oil to almond & oat flour mixture and mix with hands until well combined
- Press mixture into oiled 9 inch round springform cake pan
For the “Cheesecake” Filling:
- Add all ingredients to a bowl, except diluted Kuzu and blend with an immersion blender until well combined.
- Add diluted kuzu and mix well to combine.
- Pour mixture over crust and bake on 180 C for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool, then refrigerate for 1 hour before slicing.