I’ve always been hesitant to believe that a vegan cheesecake or key lime pie could mirror the taste of its dairy-made counterpart. This recipe does not promise a dessert that tastes like cheesecake. Instead, it is delicious in its own right: rich with flavours of sweet orange, tangy lemon, and creamy coconut milk. The vanilla bean paste speckles the velvety cake while the saltiness of fleur de sel acts as a counterpoint to the cheesecake’s sweetness. If you so desire, you can replace the vanilla bean paste with vanilla extract and replace the fleur de sel with sea salt.
Ingredients – Crust
- 2½ cup walnuts
- ¾ pitted dates, soaked in boiling water until soft, then drained
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of ½ lemon
Instructions – Crust
Put all ingredients (walnuts, soaked dates, maple syrup, lemon zest, and lemon juice) into a food processor. Blend until small bits form and the mixture sticks together. You’ll probably have to stop the food processor a couple of times to scrape down the sides. Pat the crust into a 9″ spring form pan. Make sure to push the crust up on the sides of the pan by 1″. For a clean visual effect, make sure you maintain the same height all around the pan. I line the base of the pan with a circle of parchment paper, which makes it easier to move the completed cake onto a serving plate. Place in the freezer to set while you make the filling. It should set for at least 5 minutes, but you can do this several days ahead of time.
Ingredients – Filling
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in cold water until soft (3-12 hours), drained
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 lemon, zest and flesh
- 2 large oranges, zest and flesh
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- ½ tsp fleur de sel
Instructions – Filling
Either in a blender or using a hand immersion blender (my personal favorite culinary appliance), blend the soft cashews, coconut milk or cream, maple syrup, vanilla bean paste, and lemon and orange until smooth. Add in the fleur de sel and mix with a spatula before pouring into your chilled crust. Place in the freezer to set for 3-4 hours.
To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan. If desired, you can remove the cake from the base of the pan by peeling off the parchment. For presentation, I like to cut a line halfway through a thin slice of orange, twist it, and place it atop the cheesecake. It is delicious either frozen or served fridge-cold, but it’s best placed in the fridge 5-10 minutes before serving. To plate, dip a knife in hot water, dry on a towel, and cut a piece.