Sweet and Sour

After quickly discovering that the Original Coconut Kefir wasn’t something I would be quick to drink on it’s own, I wasted no time in brainstorming other uses for it. Thinking along the “buttermilk” route first, I immediately thought of that classic breakfast staple, buttermilk pancakes.

And as one could imagine, they were perfectly tasty pancakes. Exciting, innovative, or creative…? Not so much. Such a simple interpretation of this ingredient just wouldn’t be enough to do it justice in my eyes.

Going back to the drawing board, it was a challenge to brainstorm some dessert that would still highlight the unique flavor of the kefir, without being entirely sour itself. Quickly realizing that a baked good would only detract from its bright tartness, off went the oven, and on went the stove. Dreaming up a creamy, tangy concoction, in no time at all, I had exactly what I had been craving all along; Cheesecake.

But not just any cheesecake, of course, and not even any vegan cheesecake this time. Not a speck of soy, be it in the form of tofu or faux “cream cheese” enters the picture here, and coconut kefir fills out the bulk of the dessert. Sweetened just enough so as not to overwhelm the delicate nuances of the kefir, this is a sophisticated but simple treat that would be the perfect ending to just about any meal. You could certainly dress it up with a vibrant fresh fruit sauce or decadent drizzle of ganache, but I’m happy enough with a light border of whipped coconut creme and some toasted coconut flakes on top.

Like all no-bake cheesecakes, the texture is perhaps not what you would first expect from such a treat, but I find that it’s instead much lighter and more refreshing than the traditional version.

No-Bake Coconut Kefir Cheesecake

Cookie Crust:

10 Ounces Vegan Wafer Cookies*, to Make About 2 Cup Crumbs
6 Tablespoons Margarine or Coconut Oil, Melted
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (Optional)

Kefir Cheesecake Filling:

1 6-Ounce Container Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt
2 Cups Original Coconut Kefir
1 Cup Coconut Milk
1 Tablespoon Agar Agar Powder
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Arrowroot
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

*I used ginger cookies, but pretty much any wafer cookies (or even sandwich cookies) will work.

First, finely crush your cookies so that they’re about the texture of almond meal, and mixing in the cinnamon if using. I find that a food processor helps to get a better texture, but you can also smash them in a sealed plastic bag with a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, and stir in the melted margarine or coconut oil, making sure that you moisten all of the crumbs and leave no dry patches in the mixture. Lightly grease a 10-inch round springform pan, and press the crumb mixture into the bottom, smoothing it out evenly with the bottom of a measuring cup or glass. Place it in the refrigerator for the time being.

In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut yogurt, coconut kefir, and coconut milk. Separately, mix together the agar, sugar, and arrowroot in a small dish, being careful to evenly distribute all of the dry ingredients. This will help to prevent lumps from forming. Slowly sprinkle this dry mixture into the saucepan while vigorously whisking, until you’re certain that it’s all been incorporated, and there are no clumps lurking on the bottom of the pan, too.

Turn on the stove to medium heat, and whisk occasionally (but don’t walk away!) as it comes up to temperature, until bubbles break on the surface and it feels significantly thickened. Turn off the heat, whisk in the vanilla, and retrieve your chilled crust. Pour the cooked filling into your springform pan, and tap it a few times on the counter to release any air bubbles and to even out the top.

Let cool COMPLETELY at room temperature before moving the cheesecake into your fridge to chill; Hastening this process will weaken the gel, and lead to syneresis. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

Serves 10 – 14

Printable Recipe

51 thoughts on “Sweet and Sour

  1. Mmm that looks and sounds absolutely incredible! And a big yay for being soy free!! I love it! (Now I just have to wait for coconut yoghurt and coconut kefir to make it to Australia :P)

  2. Wow, what a creative take on the kefir/cheesecake variation! I love the no-bake element…hope I can find a bottle of the magic ingredient in this sleep mountain town :)

  3. Well, if I didn’t think so before (I did!) this definitely decides it: you are a GENIUS! (I think I say that to you at least once or twice a month.) But it is TRUE! This looks beautiful, so fresh and light and indulgent without being to gluttonous. Lovely!

  4. I wish I had the pancake recipe, too, because those pancakes look PERFECT!

    And super score on the coconut cream pie/cheesecake!

  5. The perfect coconut-intense cake! How I wish we could get coconut kefir here. We are a coconut-loving household, and this would be an awesome dessert for our Thanksgiving meal!

  6. Yum! I wonder if this would work crustless. Also, for the 1 cup coconut milk, do you mean the canned kind or the So Delicious kind?

  7. A couple of great ideas! I love that you thought to use its sour-sweet flavor profile to your advantage. That pie looks gorgeous and with a really supple texture.

  8. You are so lucky to find those ginger cat cookies without eggs. My TJs only has them with eggs. Bummer for me. Yippee for you!! That cheesecake looks fantastic!

  9. It was 100% worth it, Hannah! :D
    Now I need (another) favor: I didn’t find a strawberry recipe here or in your book. Do you have any?


  10. This is a great recipe. Do you have any recipes that are gluten free and contain very little sugar? Most of my family are allergic to gluten and can’t eat sugar. Your recipes look so delicious, I’m sure they would want to try some.

  11. I’m totally in! Just so you know the pancakes look scrumptious even though you said they weren’t exciting. The “cheesecake” looks very enticing especially with the whipped coconut that we so love here at our house.

  12. Ooh, yay! Thanks for the recipe. If I see that kefir around, I’ll try this recipe out! I love coconut in any and all formats.

  13. this looks delicious.
    just wanted to mention that the ginger cats cookies do have eggs, but the cinnamon don’t. maybe swap them out? or there’s always newman’s ginger-Os.

  14. Not a coconut fan, but I do love the coconut milk yogurt and kefir, do you think this would work with almond milk instead of coconut milk? Also could you use corn or potato starch instead of arrowroot starch? Do you think you could use gelatan instead of agar agar?

  15. Hannah, thanks for the link. This looks amazing. Can I make a non vegan version? With cream cheese and agar? How do I activate the agar in that case? In the past, I’ve just dissolved it (like gelatine) and added it to my cream cheese and fruit purée mixture, and its not set at all.
    Have you ever used konnyaku to set cheesecakes. Thanks a million for taking time off your busy schedule to answer my pesky questions.

    1. I’ve never used non-vegan ingredients so I really can’t advise doing so. As for the agar, however, it will only form a gel when cooked to a boil in liquid at least three times the volume of the powder. It cools very rapidly and can clump when stirred into cool ingredients, so it’s best if it can be incorporated in a blender or food processor.

      I haven’t worked with konnyaku, but I understand it has a chewier texture, if that’s a consideration for the finished dessert. I believe it works in much the same way, meaning that it needs to be cooked in order to “activate.”

      Hope that helps! :)

      1. Thank you for replying so promptly! You are really sweet.
        How come you are vegan? Is there a story?
        Konnyaku is clear and crunchy and is lovely with fruit suspended in it. It look like glass.
        For a long time now I’ve tried (not too successfully) not using gelatine, but not known how best to use carrageen or agar. Will try it with your suggestions.

      2. I really am just happy to be of any assistance!
        Yes, I’m vegan (and have been for about 10 years now) because I saw how much cruelty was inherent in creating any animal-based foods or products. There are truly alternatives to everything now, and good ones, so I can’t justify knowingly causing pain and suffering when it’s entirely unnecessary.

  16. I just found your blog and I know this is an older post, but it looks too delicious to not comment on! I can’t wait to try it! I LOVE vegan desserts. Looking forward to reading more of your recipes!

Leave a Reply