I’ve learned to live without a lot of fun dairy-filled things since coming to terms with my lactose intolerance a couple years ago, but cheesecake was really hard to let go. I used to make a marbled pumpkin cheesecake every Thanksgiving as a pumpkin pie alternative, and it was always a hit. With all my freshly- made pumpkin puree in the freezer this year, it occurred to me that a vegan alternative could work…
Now I know that putting the words “vegan” and “cheesecake” together are going to scare a lot of you, but after bringing these bars into work and to a potluck last week, I concluded that this vegan dessert is a dairy-free success! I have officially converted numerous non-believers into vegan pumpkin cheesecake fans and it’s all thanks to Minimalist Baker for inspiring me to try a cashew-based batter.
This recipe is no-bake, but does require some time on the front end to properly soak your cashews before blending them to make your “cheesecake” batter. Keeping this in mind, be sure to allow for an hour of inactive time before you get started!
Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake
Prep time: 20 mins Freeze time: 2 hours
Makes about 16 squares
For the crust:
1 C pitted medjool dates
1 1/2 C pecans
1/4 t sea salt
For the filling:
1 1/2 C raw unsalted cashews (I use pieces because they’re much cheaper!)
About 3 C boiling water
3/4 C pure maple syrup
1/2 C pumpkin puree
1/3 C full fat coconut milk
1/4 C lemon juice
2 t vanilla extract
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t cardamom
1 t pumpkin pie spice
In a medium bowl, soak cashews in boiling water for about an hour. Once soaked, drain cashews and set aside.
Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper (one long sheet overlapping another so you have an “X.” This will make removing the cheesecake super easy once it’s set!
Add dates, pecans, and salt to food processor and pulse until dates break down and crust begins to stick together, forming a ball. Spray your fingers with nonstick spray and press crust into bottom of lined pan, setting in the freezer while you make filling.
Add soaked cashews to food processor and blend until smooth, adding coconut milk as needed. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the pumpkin. Mix until filing is smooth, scraping sides to incorporate all ingredients.
Spoon half of filling mixture onto crust and put back into freezer. Add pumpkin puree to the other half of the filling, and pulse until combined. Spoon carefully on top of white filling, gently spreading to create an even top layer. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top, and lightly drag a toothpick or butter knife in a swirling motion.
Place in freezer for about 2 hours or until set. Remove from pan by lifting parchment paper and use chef’s knife to slice into 12-16 pieces. Keep these stored in the freezer, wrapped with plastic wrap. They should keep up to a month, but I promise they won’t last that long!
Tip** Let them sit out at room temp about 30 mins before serving so they’re not totally frozen