Gorgeous, tempting, sinful and, um, even gluten free. How can that be? Well, with a nut blend for the base, no biscuits or flour were used in the making of this cheesecake, and cashews and vegan cream cheese are the main ingredients for the filling. Yes, here we have my first ever attempt at a no-bake vegan cheesecake, and it was so heavenly (even for an athiest like myself), I decided I could post my recipe up right away.
I would say the flavour is a little lighter than the traditional cheesecakes I remember. You could adjust the tofu to cashew ratio for more 'cheese' element, but I did really like it like this. Very soft and smoothly textured, creamy, and just enough zestiness from the lemon.Next time I make it, I'm going to make it an extremely lemony cheesecake I think, and add much more lemon juice and maybe some essence.
And this is not a highly sweet cheesecake I've kept sugar fairly mininum. I can't say "it's low-fat, because it's vegan" though - it's definitely not low-fat. BUT it is healthier than your bog-standard cheesecake. No pus, hormones or other dairy-related nasties, it's mostly natural ingedients. And what's even better, there's NO COOKING involved! Just lots of chilling, and some non-doing anything time but waiting around.
It was worth the wait though. It was so divine, I had to spend a lot of time trying to come up with strategies to stop me from eating it all at once. I gave some to the neighbour, and I put a good portion in the freezer. Which is what we had for dessert with Mother's Day Sunday lunch yesterday - and it seems it defrosted just fine. So yeah, you can get this ready in advance for a special event, then freeze.
If you want a thicker base (this is very thin one), then increase the quantities of the walnuts and almonds in the mixture - maybe a quarter cup more of each, and you may need a tiny amount more of dates and coconut oil then.
And again, if you're one of those people who prefer huge doorstep slabs of cheesecake, then increase the filling quantities a little. However, there's already enough richness in this recipe, for me, so I would rather not make myself eat more!
Very Berry No Bake Vegan Cheesecake (Gluten Free)
Makes 1 x 8in cheesecake
8 large dates, pitted
½ cup / 50g flaked almonds
½ cup / 50g walnut pieces
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1½ cups cashews (soaked overnight)
4oz / 110g vegan cream cheese (I used a ½ pack of Tofutti)
3½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons agave nectar (or preferred liquid sweetener)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups frozen mixed berries
1-2 tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you like things!)
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
3 tablespoons water
1. Grease an 8in cake tin or flan dish on the bottom and sides (I use a loose-bottomed one). Blend the dates, almonds and walnuts until fine. Empty into a mixing bowl, then just melt the coconut oil and stir in well. Once combined, press the date & nut mixture into the cake tin using a spatula.
2. Prepare the filling. In a blender, blend the cashews well, adding the liquid ingredients – the lemon juice, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Continue to blend and keep scraping down. Add the vegan cream cheese and lemon zest, and blend, blend, blend. You want the cashews to be very smooth and not grainy. If they've been soaked overnight (rather just a couple of hours), they will do this more readily. This process may take up 5-8 minutes of blending.
3. Once the filling mixture is as smooth as you think you'll get it, melt the coconut oil (I give it a few seconds in the microwave) and with the blender blades spinning, stream the oil into the filling mixture. Transfer immediately into the cake pan onto the base, and spread out. Cover with plastic film and place into the refrigerator to chill for about 5 hours.
4. Now make the topping (this can be chilled also, and it will thicken more with time). First, in a teacup or small bowl, mix the arrowroot powder with the water until it dissolves. Empty the berries and sugar into a small saucepan, and mix in the arrowroot & water, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then on a medium heat, bring the berries to a low boil, then simmer for a few minutes, stirring until the sauce has gone clear and until some of the berries have burst. It should have thickened, and will do so more as it cools. Set aside, and when cool enough, put in the refrigerator.
5. After about 5 hours, the cheesecake should have firmed up and chilled nicely. Remove it from the fridge and gently press it out of the base and onto a serving plate. Cut into slices, and then once on plates, spoon some of the berry topping over it. Of course, if you want it as a table centrepiece, you can put the berry topping on once on the large serving plate. But this way, the slices look neater!
6. Say YUMMMMMMMM! And, top with vegan spray cream if you like - or 'squirty cream' as we call it in the UK, much to the amusement of our US and Canadian friends!