The first time I heard the term vegan cheesecake, I thought it was a joke. Vegans don’t eat cheese and let’s be clear – in my book, nothing can replace cheese. I’m largely dairy free so I don’t eat loads of it, but when I do it must be the real deal. None of these Cheezly weezly wotsits for me, thank you.
So if you had to hazard a guess, what would you imagine a vegan cheesecake is made from? My mind spun between the afore-mentioned Cheezly, which by the way I have tasted and although it’s not terrible, I won’t be having a vegan fondue anytime soon. Or could it be chia seeds, which I love, and which seem to the vegan substitute for all animal products in baking. Both are wrong. Vegan cheesecakes are made from cashews nuts.
When you soak and blend cashews, you get the most delicious creamy filling which is on par if not better than a cream cheese filling. The richness and full flavour of the nuts makes these cheesecakes something special. I think from now on I’ll always make my cheesecakes with cashew filling!
No-Bake Mini Vanilla Chocolate Cheesecakes
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup macadamia nut flour (or other nut flour – but it’s nice to have a mix of nuts, so if you use almond here, try pecan nuts or hazelnuts instead of almonds)
1 cup dried dates, soaked in water for 2 hours
1 ½ cups cashews, soaked for 4 hours
½ cup coconut cream
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice from half a lemon
½ cup melted dark chocolate
Handful of chocolate chips
1. Cut strips of baking paper and line the cups of a standard muffin pan. You can just grease the muffin pan, but I found this method makes it much easier to remove the cheesecakes from the pan.
2. For the crust, place all ingredients in a food processor and run until crumbly and holds together well. Take generous tablespoons of the crust and mold it to the bottom of each slot on the baking paper. Press down with your fingers, letting it come up the sides slightly. When all slots are filled with crust place in the freezer to set while you prepare the filling.
3. To make the filling, add all ingredients to a blender. Run until complete smooth and creamy. This took a while for me – about 5 minutes. I had to use a wooden spoon to help things along as it’s very thick and struggles to mix. Pour filling evenly into muffin tins. Set aside.
4. Place a teaspoon of melted chocolate on top of each cheesecake and swirl around with a spoon til you get a marbled effect. Top with chocolate chips.
5. Place in the freezer to set for at least 2 hours. Once set and ready to serve, have them thaw for a few minutes then pull up the baking paper and out they will come. Store in fridge.
Alternative topping – whole cherries work really well with these flavours.