You have to try this vegan German Chocolate Cheesecake! Or as the Germans call it 'Russischer Zupfkuchen'. A smooth German style cheesecake, surrounded by a delightful chocolate crust and topped with streusel. It is one of the most popular cakes in Germany, and eaten on many occasions like birthdays, holidays or during coffee and cake time. The perfect cheesecake for chocolate lovers!
💡 The recipe in a nutshell
- Plant-Based (eggless and dairy free)
- Vegan cheesecake without cashews, other nuts or tofu
- Traditional German baking made vegan
- Perfect for any occasion
- The ideal make-ahead cake
- Creamy, light and smooth
- A dream for every chocolate lover
🤔 Difference between German and American cheesecake
A big difference is the type of cheese that is used. Unlike American cheesecakes that are typically made with cream cheese, Germans use quark. It can be described as a very thick and soft German fresh cheese or yogurt. I have a whole article on (vegan) quark and how to make it at home that I recommend reading before making this recipe!
🍫 Is it a version of 'German Chocolate Cake'?
German chocolate cake, as Americans know it, is not German by nationality. (Before I moved from Germany to the US I'd never heard of it.) Its origins lie in America, where it originally was called German's chocolate cake. And owes its name to an English-American chocolate maker named Samuel German.
The recipe you find on this page is actually German by nationality and therefore not a version of the American German Chocolate Cake.
💭 What does 'Russischer Zupfkuchen' mean?
For someone who doesn’t speak German the name of this cake probably looks as clear as mud. Translated it means 'Russian pluck cake'.
- 'Russischer' means Russian
- 'Zupf' comes from the word 'zupfen' and means to pick or to pluck
- 'Kuchen' is the German word for cake
🇩🇪 History and origin
It is not a cake with Russian origin and no one knows for sure where it came from. It first came up during a recipe competition initiated by Dr. Oetker company in the early 90s. Germans submitted this cake in many variations and the company saw the opportunity. People really seemed to like this kind of cake, so Dr. Oetker created a box cake and named it 'Russischer Zupfkuchen'. From there it gained even more popularity. If the name was just used as a marketing strategy by Dr.Oetker, or if it had a different origin remains unclear.
Many Germans though claim their grandmas have been baking this cake since at least the early 60s. No matter where its origins lie, or who actually invented the cake, it has grown to be one of Germany’s most beloved cakes!
Store in an air-tight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
❄️ How to freeze
Put into your freezer for 3 hours, or until hardened. Take out and wrap with plastic or parchment and store in a freezer-friendly container. If you are freezing just a couple of pieces you can also store them in a freezer-friendly bag, squeeze the air out, and label with the date of freezing. It keeps fresh in the freezer for around 2 months.
German Chocolate Cheesecake — Russischer Zupfkuchen
- Ø 20cm / 8-Inch Springform round cake pan, electric mixer
- 100 g vegan butter (3.5 oz)
- 50 g brown cane sugar (1.7 oz)
- 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal and 2 ½ tablespoon water mixed)
- 30 ml plant milk eg: almond, soy, oat (2 tbsp)
- 15 ml vegetable oil (1 tbsp)
- 200 g unbleached all-purpose flour (7 oz)
- 50 g cocoa powder (1.7 oz)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- A pinch of salt
Cheesecake Quark Filling
- 500 g vegan quark* (17.6 oz)
- 50 g cane sugar (1.7 oz)
- A pinch of salt
- 60 ml auquafaba, brine of a can of chickpeas (4 tbsp)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 50 g cornstarch (1.7 oz)
- 50 ml orange juice (1.6 fl oz)
- 50 ml melted vegan butter (1.6 fl oz)
- Prepare your flax egg by mixing 1 tablespoon flax meal with 2 ½ tablespoon water in a small dish. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
- In a mixing bowl using your electric mixer (with paddle attachment), cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in flax egg, milk and oil. Scrape down the sides, if needed.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. While mixer is running add dry ingredients in three parts. It will be a rather crumbly dough, it should be soft but not sticky. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Form ⅓ of the dough into a small ball and put back in fridge. Roll out the remaining ⅔ between two pieces of parchment into a circle. It should be 25cm /1 0 inches in diameter. Take off the upper parchment paper. Then invert the crust into your springform pan, removing the other piece of parchment as you go. If your crust breaks or rips you can either start over rolling it out again, or simply repair the flaws by gently pinching it back together with your fingers. Trim any excess dough. Refrigerate the lined pan, until ready to be filled and baked.
- Preheat oven to 180°C / 355°F.
- To make the cheesecake filling: Melt vegan butter and set aside shortly. Place vegan quark in a mixing bowl and whisk in the sugar, either by hand or with your electric mixer. Beat in the aquafaba, one tablespoon at a time. Then add orange juice, melted butter, salt, and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated. Sieve in Cornstarch and beat again.
- Remove crust from the fridge to pour prepared filling into the crust. Smooth the top if necessary. Remove reserved ⅓ dough from the fridge. Crumble any leftover trimmings into it. Pluck off pieces of the dough and crumble evenly over the Quark filing. When all the dough has been used up, place the pan in the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The Quark filling will be golden brown and puffed up on top. The crust should be dry to the touch, but should not be burned.
- Remove pan from the oven and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, loosening the cake from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool at least for 3 hours, before removing the springform ring entirely.
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