Growing up my mom cooked all the time. Up until my sister, who is 6 years older than me, went away to college we ate dinner as a family every single night at 6pm. I always had a home cooked meal. Looking back it was one of my favorite things about my childhood.
My mom made so many dishes that I loved but one thing that always reminds me of my childhood are Lemon Cheesecake Bars. It was one of those things that my mom made that people raved about. And oddly enough, it was only semi-homemade. The base was made from box cake mix.
Since becoming vegan a few years ago, I wanted to see if I could re-create some of my mom’s specialties but do it vegan and gluten free. I attempted to make these bad boys 2 weekends ago and I ended up throwing the whole batch out. I’ve vowed to myself this year that even if I fuck recipes up, or they aren’t great, I will post my flaws up here and show you what went wrong. But after I made them the first time, the filling was great, and it was the cake that just didn’t set so I new I could get it right if I tried again. This one wasn’t perfect and I forgot to take a few photos but it came out pretty well. So without further ado, here is the recipe. Oh and the entire thing was made with coconut sugar which has a lower glycemic index so they are “healthier” than most recipes.
Here are all the ingredients that I used. I’d say you can grab whatever vegan/gluten free yellow cake mix you want but they are all very finicky, so beware if you try a different brand. The Simple Mills Yellow Cake mix was rad because it only had like 5 ingredients in it. And the first ingredient on the box was almond flour not sugar like most of the others. The Leaf Cuisine “cream cheese” has such a nice flavor to it and has a base of cashews. You also need coconut sugar, oil, flax meal and a lemon. And that’s all folks.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make a flax meal by combining 1 TBSP of flax meal 3 TBSP of water. Stir well and place in fridge to set. Add the cake mix to a bowl and add in 1/3 cup of oil and mix thoroughly. The batter is going to look really wet and sticky which is how you want it. Now grease a baking dish and add the batter in and bake for 20-25 min. It’s gonna look like it’s not really set but remember that you are going to bake it for another 15 min after you add the cheesecake part so fear not. I cooked the cake bottom for like 30 minutes and it is a tad over cooked but I like it crunchy so all good there.
Now for the filling: add cream cheese, juice from one lemon, 1.5 TBSP of coconut sugar and the flax egg to a food processor (or use hand held mixer) and blend until nice and creamy. You can also add in the zest of the lemon if you want, but I left it out. Side note: because the cake bottom is so sweet I opted to use as little sugar in the cheesecake part as possible but if it’s too tart for you, feel free to add a little more coconut sugar.
Spread the cheesecake evenly on top of the cake layer that you just took out of the oven. Put back in oven and bake for another 15 min. You just want it all to set and the cake bottom to cook a little more.
When it’s done cooking, let it cool until it’s room temp and then stick it in the fridge and let it get nice and cold. Enjoy!
1 box Simple Mills Yellow Cake Mix (vegan/gluten-free)
1 8 0z container of Leaf Cuisine Classic Plain Not Cream Cheese
1/3 cup grape see oil
1 TBSP flax meal + 3 TBSP water
1 1/2 TBSP coconut sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Make one flax egg: 1 TBSP flax meal and 3 TBSP of water. Stir and set in fridge
Add cake mix to a bowl and mix in the oil.
Pour into a 8 X 11 baking dish and bake for 20 min
For the cheesecake, add cream cheese, juice from 1 lemon, flax egg and coconut sugar to a food processor and blend until creamy.
Spread the cheesecake mix over the baked cake layer and bake for another 15 minutes.
Let it cool to room temp and then put in the fridge to further cool and then serve!