Thursday, May 10, 2018

Vegan Pecan Pie Cheesecake Pars (+ gluten free!)

Recently, I shared a recipe for Snicker's Pie; a recipe that totally tastes like dessert but it's so healthy you could technically eat it for breakfast! This recipe for vegan pecan pie cheesecake is just like that! It tastes like dessert, but it's actually not bad for you at all! It's vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free (major bonus!) and oh so delicious! I served these bars at my tea party and one of my friends said that they taste like Thanksgiving! They kind of do! These cheesecake bars would make the most perfect allergen friendly Thanksgiving dessert! This recipe is from Delish Knowledge, you can find the original HERE.

You will need to make this recipe the day before you are wanting to serve it so that the bars can sit in the freezer overnight. You could even make them a couple of days in advance! They store so well in the freezer!

On a little side note, I was just looking through all of my pictures for this post and almost all of them are blurry - ugh! I made this recipe while also working on two other ones before my tea party and the result is blurry pictures! I apologize, and will definitely slow down and take better pictures in the future! 

Start by soaking 1 cup of raw cashews for at least 4 hours. You can soak the cashews for up to 12, but if you soak them for that long, I recommend covering them in saran wrap and placing them in the refrigerator.

As the cashews are reaching the end of their soaking time, you can start on the bottom layer. I recommend starting the bottom layer about a half hour before the cashews finish their soak time. For the crust, add 2 1/2 cups of pecans, 5 Tablespoons of coconut sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan sea salt and 6 Tablespoons of non-dairy butter to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine the crust until it resembles a wet sand. There may be a few larger pieces of pecans left but that's okay!
Line an 8x8'' pyrex dish with Parchment paper and press the bottom layer in the base of the Pyrex dish. I recommend flattening it out as best as you can but it doesn't have to be perfect! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the crust layer for 12-15 minutes. It should have darkened in color a little bit and you should be able to smell the pecans. When the crust has completed its bake time, set it aside and let it cool.
When the crust is cooling, make the filling! Drain the soaked cashews and add them to the bowl of a food processor. Along with the cashews, add in 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/3 cup of coconut oil (I recommend using refined coconut oil, so that it doesn't have a coconut-y flavor), 1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk and 1/2 cup of maple syrup to the bowl of the food processor.
Process the filling until it is creamy and smooth. I took the picture above about halfway through the mixing process - it definitely needs to be smoother than this! I recommend letting your food processor run for about 5 minutes to let everything combine really well.
Pour the cheesecake filling over the bottom crust layer and top with more pecans! I arranged 30 pecans in rows on the top of the bars. Later, I used these pecans as a guide when I was cutting the bars out. I served these as a tea party, so I cut them smaller to have bite size bars. You could cut these as big or as small as you want!
Put the bars in the freezer to store them until you are ready to serve them. I recommend taking them out of the freezer 10-15 minutes before you need to cut and serve them! Having a bit of time to sit out makes these bars so much easier to cut!
*** Holy glow up, right!? I have figured out how to make these cheesecake bars look just right! I am coming back into this post to edit it because I've figured out the trick to making these cheesecake bars super silky smooth! Notice in my earlier pictures that the cheesecake look chunky or grainy? I wasn't blending the faux cheesecake filling enough! In the picture you see just above, I left the cheesecake filling in the food processor a little longer to make sure it was smooth! It might feel long to leave something in the food processor but it is so worth it! The cheesecake bars look 100 times better! So, longer processing time ensures a better look while maintaining the same great taste! 

You may also notice that I crumble the pecans to decorate the top of the cheesecake bars with now. When I first made these, I simply placed halved pecans down but I actually prefer the way the crumbled pecans look! I always top these pecan pie cheesecake bars with crumbed pecans now! 

yield: 16-30 bars (depending on how big you cut the bars!)


for the crust...
2 1/2 cups of pecans
5 Tablespoons coconut sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons non-dairy butter

for the cheesecake layer...
1 cup cashews (soaked 4-12 hours)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup

for the topping...
~1/2 cup of pecans


for the crust...
1. Add the pecans, the coconut sugar, the cinnamon, the salt and the vegan butter to the bowl of a food processor and process everything together until it resembles a wet sand.
2. Line an 8x8'' baking dish with Parchment paper and press the combined bottom layer into the base of the dish.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the base layer for 12-15 layers until it has darkened in color and is fragrant.
4. Set aside to cool.

for the cheesecake filling...
1. Soak the cashews for 4-12 hours before skating this recipe. Once they are done their soak time, add the cashews to the bowl of a food processor along with the lemon juice, the coconut oil, the coconut milk and the maple syrup.
2. Turn the food processor on and let the ingredients process together for about 5 minutes - they should be smooth and creamy.
3. Pour the cheesecake filling over the bottom crust layer and smooth over with a spatula.
4. Top the filling with crushed pecans or with evenly spaced out halved pecans.
5. Freeze the bars until you are ready to serve them. I recommend taking the bars out of the freezer about 15 minutes before you need to cut and serve them. They are much easier to cut once they've had time to thaw.

That's it! Let me know if you have questions!

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