Never has it been accused of being a particularly fun occasion, but Passover can be an especially loathsome event for those who already must seek alternatives to mainstream fare. After one dreadful and nearly deadly week of subsisting on nothing but cardboard incarnate matzo smothered in sticky peanut butter many years ago, the ritual simply became too much for me to bear. Yes, I’m a bad Jew, and I don’t observe Passover beyond the initial sedar. I now know that there are plenty of good eats to be had for Jewish vegans during this period of repentance… But not so much here. That isn’t to say that it’s a meaningless date to me in the least, and I do at least try not to tempt my slightly more pious family with my typical barrage of wheat-filled baked goods. At the end of the day, it’s simply a matter of favoring health, rather than adhering to a tradition that doesn’t quite resonate with me, and to each their own.
To that end, it was a matter of luck that one of the most recent recipes that ended up being cut from Vegan Desserts fits perfectly into the requirements for this wheat-free holiday; The fact that it happens to be delicious for the remaining 51 weeks of the year is an added bonus. Combining simple but pleasing flavors, easy to whip up, and the perfect size to feed a small dinner party, the recipe could also be doubled to accommodate a larger crowd… Or so that you can freeze leftover mini cheesecakes to snack on throughout the week.
Being a non-drinker myself, I could have easily gone years without even knowing about the astringent citrus liqueur known as limoncello, had it not been for a friend’s request to make something with it. After doing a bit of research, through both reading and tasting, it turned out to be a whole lot like concentrated lemon juice with an extra kick. To allow this spirit to shine, a blank canvas like cheesecake seemed to be an excellent fit, and by making it into small bites, you can enjoy a little burst of flavor whenever you please.
Limoncello Cheesecake Bites
1/2 Cup Almond Meal
1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Flour
2 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine or Coconut Oil, Melted
8 Ounces (1 Cup or 1 Container) Vegan “Cream Cheese”
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch [Not Appropriate for Passover] or Potato Starch
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Limoncello (Homemade Version on Page __* of Vegan Desserts)
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
*I’m not sure of the page number yet, since I haven’t seen the finished book yet! As soon as I get my first copy, this will be updated.
Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly grease and flour 12 mini muffin cups.
For the crust, simply combine all of the ingredients to form a moist but crumbly mixture, and firmly press 1 tablespoon of this into the bottom of each mini muffin cup. Stash the pan in your freezer while you assemble the filling.
Beat together the “cream cheese,” corn starch, and sugar in your stand mixer on low speed, or with a wide spatula, until smooth. Pour in the limoncello and vanilla, mixing until thoroughly combined. Distribute the filling between all of your crust-lined cupcakes, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Like a standard cheesecake, they will seem very loose when fresh out of the oven, but continue to firm up as they cool, so be careful not to over bake them. The cheesecake bites will puff significantly in the oven, but will fall as they cool.
After chilling in the fridge for at least an hour, slip a thin paring knife down the sides of each cheesecake bite and use it as a lever to remove them. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Makes 12 Cheesecake Bites