When I decided to go vegan about 3 years ago, never did I think that I’d be creating a recipe with both the words “vegan” and “cheese” in the title! The “cheese” is actually mostly comprised of cashew nuts which when soaked surprisingly go so soft, allowing them to be blended into a creamy mixture.
My recipe calls for a “vegan crunchy biscuit”. I used a digestive biscuit but other great options are a hob nob or a ginger nut biscuit – just make sure to double check the ingredients on the packet to check if they’re vegan (you’re wanting to avoid milk and eggs which will be in bold font so it’s super easy to avoid).
My cake dish I use is an 8 inch circular one, but since we are not baking anything, you could technically use any size you want. Also, you could choose any types of berries depending on what you have in the house! Strawberries would be delicious for example.
Not only does swapping the cheese and cream for cashews allow vegans and lactose intolerant people to enjoy this classic dessert, but cashew nuts have a number of great health benefits. Cashews have a high proportion of mono-unsaturated fats (which are associated with a decreased risk in heart disease), a good amount of magnesium (which assists calcium in protecting the bones) and zinc (which has a wide range of health benefits from improving the immune system to curing the common cold!). What a great excuse to indulge in cheesecake.
This dessert is beautiful – both in taste and appearance, and goes down a treat with all my family and friends who I’ve given this too, the majority of which are not vegan.
For the base:
250g crunchy vegan biscuit
100g vegan butter
For the filling:
270g raw cashews
100ml syrup (either maple or golden)
70g coconut oil (melted)
2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (optional)
For the compote:
50g sugar (brown or white will do)
Firstly, soak the cashews in cold water overnight (or at least 7 hours). Make sure the nuts are completely submerged. Then drain and rinse before leaving them to one side for now.
Place the biscuits in a bowl and using the end of a rolling pin, crush them up until they resemble fine crumbs (the smaller the crumb the better!). Place the butter in a microwave safe container and microwave in 10 second intervals until the butter is completely melted. Add the butter into the crumbled biscuits and mix, the result should resemble wet chunky sand.
Empty the biscuit mixture out into a 8 inch circular cake dish with a spring form/removable bottom for easy removal later on and press into an even layer using the flat bottom of a drinking glass, making sure this base layer is very compact. Alternatively, if you do not own a cake dish with a spring form/removable bottom you could line a standard cake dish with a single piece of foil with overhang on either side to allow you to “pull” the cheesecake out at the end! Place in the freezer.
Place all the filling ingredients into a blender/food processor and process until very smooth. You may need to do this in a couple of batches depending on the size of your blender.
Now pour the filling mixture on top of the biscuit base, making sure to level it out, and place back in the freezer for at least 6 hours to allow it to set.
Whilst this is in the freezer, make the compote. Simply add the berries and the sugar into a saucepan and cook on low-medium heat until the berries start to burst (about 15-20 minutes). Leave this to cool and then place in the fridge until the cheesecake is out of the freezer.
When you’re ready to serve, take the cheesecake out of the freezer 15 minutes beforehand to soften before serving with a generous helping of the blueberry compote on top. Always keep the cheesecake stored in the freezer when you are not intending to eat to keep it fresh and firm!