The Extra Ingredient You Need To Set Vegan Cheesecake

Cheesecake is a beloved dessert with a rich flavor and a luxurious, velvety texture. Making one can be a labor of love, however, with a fair amount of technique and effort going into achieving the perfect cheesecake. This endeavor becomes twice as hard when you begin to swap ingredients in an attempt to make the dish more accessible to various dietary restrictions since substitute ingredients can often behave differently than the ones they're replacing. This problem is often present when it comes to making vegan cheesecake, especially from a texture perspective. The secret to getting that perfect set when making vegan cheesecake all comes down to the addition of one ingredient: cornstarch.

Cornstarch is a refined starch that comes from corn kernels. It has no flavor and is a great ingredient for thickening and giving body to many recipes. When you swap out the dairy-based cream cheese in traditional cheesecake for vegan cream cheese, you lose out on the casein protein found in dairy that is responsible for the cake's thick and creamy texture as well as its structure. Cornstarch, or several other starches like arrowroot starch or potato starch, add back the velvety quality and structural integrity to the cake while keeping it vegan-friendly.

How to add starch to your recipe

If you haven't used cornstarch before, you can find it readily available at most grocery stores. It will likely be located alongside other baking ingredients like flour and sugar. If your diet cannot accommodate ingredients made from corn, alternative starches like arrowroot starch may be harder to find. If available locally, these substitutes are often found in the same aisle as cornstarch. If not, your best bet is to order them online.

When adding cornstarch to your vegan cheesecake recipe, it's a good idea to use only a tablespoon or two, and do so when introducing the wet ingredients. For best results, you will want to mix the cornstarch into a slurry first so that it does not clump up. Creating a slurry is easy — simply stir the starch into roughly an equal amount of water until combined, then add the mixture to your other ingredients. In a cake, this small amount of extra liquid should be negligible to the outcome of the recipe, but you can always reduce the volume of your primary liquid (likely a vegan milk substitute) by the same amount if you're feeling cautious.