The buttery biscuit base in a cheesecake, slice and tarts is my favourite bit of the cake to be honest, but how can you achieve this when your diet is gluten, dairy or soy free?
There are 2 main parts to making the biscuit base :
- The biscuit which adds the bulk of the volume, the crumbly texture and some sweetness and
- The “buttery bit” which adds that fatty buttery taste and also binds it all together.
So if you’d like to make a biscuit base for a dessert slice, cheesecake or tart then try some of the following ideas:
- Commercial biscuits: this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t realise how many commercial options are available for the food sensitive nowadays. In the cheesecake episode I (Lisa) use Orgran Essential Fibre Rotondo biscuits, Anne uses Freedom Foods biscuits, basically there are so many options now you can find one which suits your needs be it gluten, dairy, soy, egg or nut free and or vegan friendly.
- Wholefood options: When it comes to whole food options you have 4 main options and they are: Nuts, Seeds, Grains and Homemade biscuits made from a combination of these.
- Nuts: in the Cheesecake Episode Hayley uses almonds instead of biscuits for her biscuit base. The nuts work a double purpose in the recipe by adding some fat as well as the body of the biscuit crumble.
- Seeds: in place of nuts, you could also grind seeds to a crumbly texture to use instead of biscuits or nuts. Because seeds also naturally contain fats, like nuts the fat will help to add to the texture of the resulting biscuit.
- Grains (including gluten containing grains or gluten-free grain alternatives): Many of the gluten-free grain alternatives are technically seeds, but for the purpose of alternatives, they’re used in most recipes as a grain replacement than as you would use a seed. In the Cheesecake Episode Glenys uses buckwheat groats in her biscuit base. Gluten free grains, and whole grains which contain gluten, are usually lower in fat than nuts and seeds are so you’ll need some extra moistness in the mix.
- Homemade biscuits made with wholefoods You don’t have to use commercial options, and you don’t have to just stick with nuts, seeds or grains either, you could make your own biscuits and crumble these up in your biscuit base too.
There are quite a few ways to achieve the buttery taste and texture in your alternative biscuit base they are:
- Commercial butter alternatives: These will taste the most like butter and margarine and include things like Nuttelex which Anne uses in her baked cheesecake.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is the oil expressed from coconuts. Like butter it is usually a soft solid at room temperature, and also like butter, when heated or warmed it melts and becomes runnier in consistency. Unlike butter, coconut oil also adds a slight coconut flavour to the recipe as well, so it works well in desserts where it is combined with sweet flavours although coming up in Season 2 we’ll have some ideas for how it can be used in savoury recipes too.
- Nuts & Seeds: Nuts and seeds are naturally high in fat and so by grinding the nut and or seed you naturally get that fatty taste and texture.
Binding it all together
Usually, the biscuit base is set when the melted butter and biscuit mix is put in the fridge to set (eg. turn the butter back into a soft solid) but here are a couple of options if butter is not suitable for your diet:
- Commercial butter alternative or coconut oil: The butter alternative and coconut oil will bind the biscuit base together just as butter does in traditional biscuit base recipes.
- Fruit : the stickiness of dried fruits like medjool dates or sultanas (like Glenys and Hayley use in their Cheesecake bases) can also be used to hold the base together. It also removes the need for adding extra fat when you’ve used nuts for example.
More flavours and combinations?
There are lots of ways you can create different flavours for your recipes eg:
- Using different flavoured biscuits – like chocolate, or ginger for example.
- Using different nuts – eg like macadamia or hazelnut
- Using different fruit – eg like semi dried apricot
- Adding some spices – eg like Glenys does in her base eg cinnamon, Chinese five spice etc.
- Adding fruit zests – eg like I do in my base by adding lemon zest, you could add orange if that suits your diet.
There are so many ways you can combine some simple ingredients to create a biscuit base that suits your taste buds and your dietary needs.
If you’d like to get some great tasting cheesecake recipes check out The Little book of Allergy-Friendly Dessert Recipes.