Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake
Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake
This pretty, pink dessert is a highly satisfying vegan substitute for the classic dairy version. Silky, smooth, with a dense date-walnut base and fresh strawberry filling, it tastes like a summer day. It looks impressive and easily fools everyone: People can’t believe it’s not baked.
The original recipe comes from Rachel Carr, who was the executive chef at Cru, a fantastic raw vegan café in Los Angeles, now sadly defunct. Once a month on Sunday afternoons, Rachel taught raw food preparation classes; this cheesecake, which she also served in the café, was one of the recipes she shared. I tweaked it over the years—she used pistachios in the crust and added young Thai coconut meat to the filling, while I doubled the strawberry quantity and use less agave syrup.
You will need a food processor to grind the nuts and dates for the crust, as well as a good high-speed blender to make the filling. Other than that, the method is fast and simple. Experiment with other fruits for the filling: raspberries, blueberries and blackberries all work. You can use many different types of dishes, too—ramekins for individual servings, pie dishes, cake pans with removable bottoms, etc.
Agave syrup has become slightly controversial lately (how natural vs. processed it is). If you don’t eat it, feel free to use maple syrup or even honey, but know their flavor is more pronounced.
Nutritional yeast is an inactive type of yeast. It is grown on molasses or sugar cane and then heated (i.e., deactivated), washed and dried. It’s a great product for vegans because of its cheese-like, savory, umami taste. It contains B vitamins and zinc, and it’s also gluten-free.
Soy lecithin works as an emulsifier in this recipe, providing that dense, smooth texture you want in a cheesecake. Use only organic, non-GMO lecithin.
For the best texture and consistency, the cheesecake should be kept in the freezer. It will stay compact, but it will not freeze solid. When you serve it, take it out of the freezer, let it sit on the kitchen counter for a minute or two, and then serve it with some fresh strawberries on the side.
- Serves 10–12
- 2 cups walnuts
- 7 dates, pitted, chopped
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, liquefied
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour, drained
- 1 cup raw agave syrup or maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2½ cups strawberries, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup coconut oil, liquefied
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons soy lecithin granules
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Strawberries to serve
- Make the crust. Pulse the walnuts in a food processor for 10–15 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients, and pulse until they’re integrated and the mixture resembles wet-looking crumbs.
- Place the mixture into a 10–12-inch round tart pan and press it with your hands evenly to the bottom, about 1/8-inch high. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
- Make the filling. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend well, until smooth. Pour the filling into the tart pan. Tap the pan a few times on your kitchen counter to release any bubbles from the filling. Place in the freezer and let set.
- To serve, remove the pan from the freezer, let it sit for a few minutes on your kitchen counter, and then cut into individual slices. The cheesecake will keep for up to 5 days, wrapped in plastic food wrap in the freezer.