Let this dessert be your reason for a girls night in. Get the cheesecakes and wine chilling and assemble your besties to enjoy these decadent vegan cheesecakes which are also gluten and refined sugar free.
Oh my word these cheesecakes are amazing! The velvety chocolate topping has the texture of a traditional ganache, set off by a healthy 'bliss ball' base that includes nuts, seeds, dates and cranberries. And let's not forget the secret layer of raspberry chia jam in the middle. Yes, yes, yes!
I've been working on this one for a while, and I have to say I'm pretty happy with the result. Following the success of my vanilla and lime cheesecake, I wanted to take the base mixture of that topping in a different and more decadent direction. Earlier attempts weren't chocolatey or sweet enough, and attempting to make it 'black forest' with morello cherries just really didn't work.
My team of hard working taste testers reckoned the base was equally as good as the topping, so I've amped that up a bit by adding dried cranberries and cocoa to the dates, almonds and pumpkin seeds. The topping is based on soaked raw cashews and soft tofu, with the proportions of everything tweaked just so to make it thick enough to easily serve without a walled crust. I really love this topping because it's creamy and has just the right mouthfeel, but is so much lighter than either a traditional cheesecake, or a fully nut based vegan cheesecake. I use soft tofu from the Asian grocer, which is incredibly cheap and just the right texture.
You'll notice the little baking paper strips I put under the base. Genius idea I thought. Those will help me remove the cheesecakes from the tin later, I thought. Um, no. The baking paper softened and broke as soon as I tried to pull them out. Despite that, the cheesecakes still came out of the tin very easily, with a little help from a bread and butter knife.
No one sets about making cheesecake in order to improve their health. It's an 'occasionally food', for sure. Nevertheless, there are some perks here which really do make this a big improvement on the empty calories of traditional fat and sugar laden desserts. Each serve has 39 per cent of daily iron RDI, 34 per cent of calcium RDI, 15.9g of protein (in a dessert! wow) and 23.3g of fibre. I set out first of all to make something delicious, so these things are just the icing on the cheesecake. Haha!
For the base:
- ½ cup dates
- ¼ cup almonds
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 2 tbsp coconut oil melted if solid
- 1 tbsp cocoa or cacao if you have it
- Pinch of salt
For the chia jam:
- ⅓ cup raspberries fresh or frozen
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
For the topping:
- ¼ cup cashews soaked overnight
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup coconut oil melted if solid
- ½ cup cocoa or cacao if you have it
- ½ tbsp natural vanilla extract
- 250 g soft tofu
For the base:
- Put all base ingredients in to a food processor and pulse until you have a small crumb.
- Use your hands and the back of a spoon to press the crust mixture evenly into a six hole muffin pan, or individual molds if you have them.
- Put in the fridge or freezer for a few hours to firm up (I did mine the day before and left it overnight, which is fine too).
For the chia jam:
- Thaw the raspberries and mash with a fork.
- Mix all jam ingredients together and set aside for at least half an hour to thicken up. Add a tiny bit of water to loosen it if the mixture is too thick.
For the topping and assembly:
- Put all topping ingredients except the coconut oil into a blender or food processor.
- Blend until smooth.
- Pour in the coconut oil, while the blender is running. You'll now have a very thick and creamy topping mixture.
- Remove the base from the freezer. Spoon some chia jam into the middle of each base, keeping it well away from the edges.
- Carefully spoon cheesecake topping over the chia jam and bases to fill each muffin pan hole, and smooth the tops with a spatula. Work quickly as the chilled base will start to set the filling mixture quite quickly.
- Pop the cheesecake in the fridge overnight (ideally) or for at least 4-5 hours to set.
- Serve straight from (or recently from) the fridge. Both the crust and filling will soften at room temperature.
This recipe freezes pretty well. It's better from the fridge (and will happily keep for 2-3 days in the fridge) so I wouldn't recommend freezing it ahead of time for a special occasion, but go ahead and any freeze leftovers. The moisture content of the tofu means the cheesecake freezes solid, so allow an hour or two for it to thaw at warm room temperature.