A dessert that has all the smooth creaminess and great taste of pumpkin cheesecake — without dairy products? Yes, it's possible.
First of all, forget jack-o'-lanterns. The best-tasting pumpkin desserts come from pie pumpkins. You can go to a lot of trouble to roast, de-string, sieve and puree a small, round sugar pumpkin, but canned puree is just as good and much easier.
Then, to counter the occasional soy aftertaste tofu-based desserts can develop, add some rich ground cashews to the mix.
Tip: Purchase plain canned pumpkin, not pumpkin-pie filling, which will have additional spices and ingredients.
Pecan-crunch pumpkin tart
Prep: 30 minutes
Soak: 1 hour
Cook: 60 minutes
Cool and chill: 2 hours
1 ½ cups (178 grams) whole-wheat graham cracker crumbs
2 ½ tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine
1 cup plus 3 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 box (12.3 ounces) firm tofu
¾ cup raw cashews, soaked at least 1 hour, rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
¼ teaspoon each: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1. Set oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
2. Place the graham cracker crumbs, 1 1/2 tablespoons margarine and 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup in a bowl. Mix with fingers until blended; press into bottom and slightly up sides of pan. Bake crust 10 minutes; let cool 5 minutes.
3. Place 1 cup maple syrup in a blender with the grapefruit juice and half the tofu. Place cashews on top. Blend until cashews are totally smooth, about 1 minute. Add remaining tofu, canola oil, cornstarch, vanilla, salt, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Blend until combined, 1 minute. Pour mixture into the cooled crust; bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
4. For the topping, stir together pecans, remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup and remaining 1 tablespoon margarine. Sprinkle on top of cheesecake, delicately pressing down. Bake until top is puffy and the edges lightly browned, 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Place pan on a wire rack; let cool 1 hour. Carefully run a knife along the inside of the springform ring; remove the ring. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before slicing. (If it is difficult to remove the ring from the tart, leave it on until after the tart chills completely.)
Per serving: 328 calories, 17 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 40 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 154 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.
Kay Stepkin is a vegetarian cooking instructor and former owner of a vegetarian restaurant/whole-grain bakery. Email her at email@example.com.