When I was young, cheesecake was my number one favourite dessert. When I quit dairy, I never imagined that I’d ever eat it again! However, in the past few years, some very talented vegan chefs have been creating a mouth watering array of dairy-free ‘cheese’ cakes that easily rival the traditional dairy-laden dessert. Not only do they taste scrumptious, but they’re far healthier too!
At the Alley Cafe in Nottingham, I experienced my first blackcurrant vegan cheesecake, made with tofu (not that I realised it was tofu – I had to ask the chef for the secret ingredient!) I loved it so much that I went back the next night, just so I could indulge in another slice 😉
On my first trip to Saf in Kensington, my jaw dropped when I saw the selection of vegan cheesecakes on offer. I was amazed when the waitress told me that the creamy filling was actually cashews! (By the way, it’s so sad to hear that Saf’s shutting… I loved that place so much ♥ I even chose to go there for my 40th birthday lunch … and had cheesecake for dessert of course!)
Since my first visit to Saf, I’ve made numerous cashew ‘cheese’ cakes at home, some of which you’ll find in my recipes section.
It’s Valentines Day tomorrow, which gives me the perfect excuse to indulge in my love of making (& eating!) these scrumptious desserts. Last year, I made six mini chocolate cheesecakes for friends and family (I halved the quantities in this recipe).
This year, I chose a chocolate crust, but couldn’t decide whether to make lemon or raspberry cheesecake, so I made some of each. I topped both with freeze-dried raspberries, and added a sprinkling of grated chocolate to the raspberry cakes.
These scrumptious cheesecakes would make a wonderful treat for Valentine’s Day, birthdays… or any special occasion! They freeze well so you can make them days in advance.
And you’ll be pleased to hear that they’re not labour intensive at all. It’s jut a case of blending and freezing!
Makes: 6 cup cake size treats (I use heart shape silicone cup cake moulds)
To make one large 8” cheese cake, double the quantities below
Hands-on time: 30 minutes Freezing time: 2 hours Ready in: 3 hours
70g / 2½ oz / ½ cup pecans or almonds (or a mix of both)
90g / 3 oz / ½ cup pitted dates
2 TBSP cocoa powder (optional)
½ TBSP maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
140g / 5 oz / 1 cup unsalted cashews
4 TBSP maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
For a lemon cheesecake: 4 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice OR
For a raspberry cheesecake: 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice and 43g / 1½ oz / 1/3 cup raspberries
4 TBSP coconut oil, melted
Freeze dried raspberries or strawberries
Grated dark chocolate
Soften the cashews by boiling for 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water to cool. Drain thoroughly.
If your dates are very hard, soak them in hot water for a few minutes, then drain and squeeze out the excess water.
If using a cupcake or muffin tin rather than silicone moulds, lightly grease the holes with coconut oil and arrange a thin strip of non-stick baking paper in each hole to use as a ‘tab’ to lift out the cheesecakes.
If using raspberries, blend them into a purée and sieve to remove pips.
Ready, set, go!
Prepare the crust:
Place the pecans/almonds in a food processor and process into crumbs. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. The crumbs should be slightly moist and sticky. Test them by pressing a small amount between your thumb and finger. If they stick together, they’re ready. If not, continue to pulse for a little longer.
Divide the crumbs between six moulds. Firmly press down to form a crust (I use my finger).
Prepare the filling:
Place the cashews in a quality food processor or powerful high speed blender along with the maple syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice and raspberry purée (if using). Process until the cashews are completely grinded into a creamy mixture, stopping now and then to scrape down the bowl. Melt the coconut oil and add it to the food processor. Continue blending until the mixture is completely smooth. Taste test for smoothness. Add a touch more sweetener, if needed.
Divide the mixture between six moulds. Level the surface and tap on the worktop counter to remove any air bubbles. It doesn’t matter if you can’t get the surface completely smooth as you’ll be covering it up. Sprinkle with your toppings of choice and lightly press down. Place in the freezer for at least a couple of hours to firm up. Remove 20-30 minutes before serving.
The cheesecakes can either be served in the silicone moulds, or popped out. To pop them out, first wiggle the sides of the mould to loosen the cheesecake, then push from the bottom.
These treats will last up to five day in the fridge, and for weeks in the freezer.
To make raw cheese cakes, soak the cashews for 4-6 hours instead of boiling, and use agave nectar (or other raw sweetener) instead of maple syrup.
Products used in this recipe
– Aasani Cashew Kernels, available on the world food aisle in Tesco (the cheapest cashews I’ve found so far!)
– Aasani Almonds, available from the world food aisle in Tesco (nuts from the world food aisles and Asian supermarkets tend to be far cheaper than those found in the home baking or whole foods sections)
– Essential Organic Virgin Coconut Oil – I bought this from Harvest in Bath, but it’s also available from online stores, including Amazon.
– Clarks Original Maple Syrup – available from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s supermarkets and online stores, including Amazon
– Magimix 3200 Food Processor, purchased from Amazon
[This recipe has been shared at Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend]
What was your favourite childhood dessert? Is it something you still enjoy eating now?