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Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake [vegan]

Friday, April 07, 2017

Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker.  [Recipe makes 8 servings].

This may seem like an odd post to have this time of year, but let's be honest...pumpkin-spiced desserts never really go out of fashion.  In addition, I thought it'd be appropriate for this post to serve as a continuation from earlier this week, showing additional possibilities with vegan desserts.

To most, cheesecake might seem like the last dessert that could be turned vegan since it's little more than heavy cream, cream cheese, and eggs.  But as you'll soon see, raw cashews and a VitaMix can do absolute wonders.  They're the base for the recipe, so flavorings and sweeteners can totally be substituted.  Instead of pumpkin, you could purée your favorite berry and top with a coulis and fresh berries.  Or instead of almond milk, how about coconut milk and and lime juice for a refreshing summer dessert?  The possibilities really are endless!

INGREDIENTS:

200 grams pitted dates
180 grams (~1 1/2 cups) walnuts
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch kosher salt

180 grams (~1 1/2 cups) raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 1 hour
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon almond milk
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup (or light agave nectar)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
Pinch kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut whipped cream (for garnish)
Additional cinnamon (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

Begin by lining the ramekins with plastic wrap for easy removal at the end.  [Side note:  Muffin tins and liners or even a 9-inch springform pan could also be used for this recipe].

Pulse the dates in a food processor.  Add the walnuts, pumpkin pie spice, and kosher salt, and continue pulsing until the mixture is uniform and crumbly.  Transfer mixture to the bottom of the ramekins, and press down with your fingers to form the bottom crust.  [Side note:  If you're using a scale, this comes out to 47 grams per ramekin].  Transfer to the freezer while you make the filling.

Once the cashews have soaked for at least an hour, drain and add to a high-speed blender.  Add the lemon juice, almond milk, oil, syrup, pumpkin, salt, spices, and vanilla.  Blend until very smooth; 1 to 2 minutes.  Divide the filling evenly into the eight ramekins.  [Side note:  If you're using a scale, this comes out to 67 grams per ramekin].  Tap each ramekin on the counter to release any air bubbles, and shake to level out the filling.  Return to the freezer, until they're fully set; roughly 4 hours.

To serve, remove from the ramekins with the help of the plastic wrap.  Let them thaw, and then top with a dollop of coconut whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

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