Vegan Vanilla Cheesecake

This creamy vegan vanilla cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts to make. My favorite part is probably the crust. I love dates and nuts. It’s a healthy crust that is naturally sweetened by the dates. Mmm…I can’t help but have a little taste (or two) when I’m pouring out the crust to flatten in the pan. The cheesecake is made from cashews and coconut milk and I can just drink it when I’m blending it all together. Once you’ve tried this creamy cheesecake, you’ll never want to go back to normal cheesecake. I love cheesecake, but when I eat it, I always feel so gross afterwards or get a stomach ache from all that dairy. BUT this vegan cheesecake doesn’t make me feel like that and I feel good after eating it. This is so easy to make and then you just pop it into the freezer to set. Top it off with nuts and a homemade caramel sauce, or sliced fresh fruit.IMG_1178 IMG_1179Vegan Vanilla Cheesecake

Ingredients
Crust: 
1 cup pitted dates (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes then drained)
1 cup raw walnuts or almonds
Vanilla Cheesecake: 
1½  cups cashews, soaked for at least 2-4 hours or overnight
Juice from ½ lemon (you can add more later if needed)
½  cup + 2 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk, canned
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼  cup + 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 rounded Tbsp coconut oil, not melted
Caramel:
3 Tbs full-fat coconut milk, canned
1 Tbsp almond butter or peanut butter
4 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Instructions
Crust:
– Add dates to a food processor and blend until small bits remain and it forms into a ball. Remove and set aside.
– Next add nuts and process into a meal. Then add dates back in and blend until a loose dough forms – it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add more almond or walnut meal. Optional: add a pinch of salt to taste.
– To make removing the cheesecakes easier, cut 2 strips of parchment paper (about 3 inches wide) and lay them cross wise in a 6 inch or 8 inch baking pan. This creates tabs that make removing the cheesecake easier to pop out once frozen.
– Press crust down until the meal sticks together and forms a solid base. Place in the freezer to set.

Vanilla Cheesecake:
– Prep cashews by soaking for at least two hours or overnight. Then strain the cashews and rinse.
– In a high speed blender, combine all cheesecake ingredients and blend until silky smooth. A note about the coconut milk – use the milk in its entirety, not just the coconut cream solids that rise to the top when the can is refrigerated. You don’t need a Vitamix for this recipe, just a quality blender. I mixed mine for 1 minute, then “liquified” or “pureed” it until silky smooth. Taste and add more maple syrup for sweetness or more lemon juice for tartness if needed.
– Pour cheesecake mixture on top of the base, and set in the freezer for at least six hours or overnight.

Caramel:
– In a saucepan, combine coconut milk (not just the milk solids), nut butter, and maple syrup. – Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Let caramel cool as much as possible before pouring over the cheesecake.
– For garnish, pile a heaping handful of walnuts on the top of the cheesecake. Pour nut butter caramel over everything.

ENJOY!

(Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker and Well and Full)

 
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