Typically, I’m pretty skeptical of vegan cheesecakes. “Cheese” is right in the name — isn’t it fooling with the order of nature to try to make it vegan? I have the same feelings about vegan mac and cheese. Doesn’t “creamy butternut squash pasta,” a more accurate name, sound better?
But I digress. And when a friend sent out a Facebook message asking someone to try a vegan peanut butter cheesecake recipe, I couldn’t back down from a challenge. It seems she wanted someone to work out the kinks for her before she attempted it — which was a good instinct, as I found out. The original version had huge problems ranging from a flawed crust to an overly-complicated topping and a huge reliance on dates, to the detriment of the flavor.
However, it was a concept worth working on. I eventually came up with a crust, filling and topping that were easier, tastier and more worth the time and effort put in. The only modification I might recommend you make is to soak your dates in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain them before using, allowing them to soften. I might also try subbing honey or maple syrup for the dates in the filling, as it should result in a better texture.
No matter how you make it, though, it’s a great sumer dessert that’s sure to fix any peanut butter chocolate cravings you might have. Might I recommend bringing it to a Labor Day barbecue this weekend?
- For the crust:
- 25 pitted dates (soaked in hot water for 10 mins and drained, if necessary)
- 2 cups almonds
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp coconut oil (or any other oil you like; it’s a consistency thing)
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
- For the filling:
- 1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked overnight
- 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
- 8 dates (or 2 Tbsp of honey — it’s sweetness we’re looking for here)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 1/2 Tbsp coconut milk
- For the topping:
- 1 1/2 cups non-dairy chocolate chips (such as Guittard or Enjoy Life)
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- peanuts for garnish
- First, make the crust. Process dates, almonds, vanilla, coconut oil and cocoa powder in a food processor until the mixture just begins to come together. if you can press it together with your fingers and it stays, that’s good enough. Press crust into a 9-inch springform pan. Place in freezer.
- Second, the filling. Process cashews, peanut butter, dates or honey, pumpkin and vanilla in a food processor until smooth. Add coconut milk as necessary to make filling very smooth, about the consistency of whipped cream cheese.
- Remove crust from freezer, and smooth filling over the top. Return to the freezer while you make the topping.
- Third, for the topping, melt chocolate chips in double boiler or a microwave, stirring, until completely smooth. Add peanut butter and stir vigorously until the peanut butter has melted and incorporated.
- Pour topping over the filling; garnish with peanuts as desired. Store in the refrigerator for up to four days.