Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

One of the best things about being married and having family close by is hosting Thanksgiving, because even though I don’t eat turkey, I’ve always really loved the holiday. Aaron makes the turkey and I make everything else and get to indulge in foods that my mom always deemed to bland for consumption when I was a kid. When your in-laws aren’t Indian, they don’t feel the need to douse the mashed potatoes in Tobasco and add chili paste to the green beans.

After hosting our first Thanksgiving last year, it was clear that oven space is prime, so not only is a raw pie healthier, it’s more practical. Plus, it is so so easy, and this is the one time of year when easier always wins for me. God knows I cannot be trusted to roll out a pie crust under pressure. I swear pie crust can smell fear, and after the pumpkin pie disaster of 2011, give me a press in pie crust recipe any day.

Raw Pumpkin CheesecakeRaw Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe has been a long time coming, mostly because the first time I made this cheesecake and removed it from the pan, the filling completely oozed out the sides and onto the floor. I’ve often said that I have no shame when it comes to desserts, but even I won’t lick cheesecake remains off the ground.

Gloopy cheesecake didn’t keep me down for long, though. I’ve tweaked this recipe a couple of times since then, so not only will it hold it’s shape now, but it will taste so good that even your pumpkin hating hubby will eat it and enjoy it! Ok, I can’t guarantee that, but mine certainly did. If you’re not concerned about the pie being raw, you can roast the pumpkin and use the puree instead of the raw shredded pumpkin. I plan to try it that way for my own Thanksgiving table.

As for the soy lecithin being raw, I’ve done some research and I’m still not 100 percent sure. Apparently sunflower lecithin is raw and a good alternative for those with soy allergies. I’ve never tried it, but I would love to hear your results if you do.

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

 

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Serving Size: One 6-inch cheesecake

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 1 cup pitted medjool or deglet dates
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • For the Filling
  • 1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight
  • 2 cups shredded butternut squash or pumpkin (the small pie pumpkin, not the carving kind) soaked for 2-3 hours and drained
  • 1/2 cup raw agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup raw nut milk
  • 1/4 cup carrot juice (optional) for color
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (use refined if you don't want coconut flavor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO soy lecithin
  • For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 24 hours
  • 1 tablespoon raw agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

    For the Crust:
  1. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and process until they come together into a ball. The mixture should be pliable.
  2. Press the mixture into a 6 x 3 inch springform or cheesecake pan and set aside.
  3. For the Filling:
  4. In a high powdered blender, combine the cashews, shredded pumpkin, agave, nut milk, carrot juice, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and blend for about 5-10 minutes until completely smooth.
  5. Add the coconut oil and soy lecithin and blend for an additional 15 seconds until smooth (don't over blend here or the coconut oil will start to solidify).
  6. Pour the mixture over the crust and tap the pan against the counter a few times to knock out any air bubbles.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
  8. Top with coconut whipped cream (recipe follows), cinnamon, and pecans.
  9. For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
  10. Open the can of chilled coconut milk and scoop out the hardened cream into a bowl (you can save the coconut water for smoothies).
  11. Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut cream until fluffy.
  12. Add the agave and vanilla and beat to combine.
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-Coconut whipped cream recipe adapted from Oh She Glows.
-I’ve tried several brands of coconut milk, and some separate better than others. I’ve had the best luck with the Thai Kitchen brand.
-If you don’t want to use the carrot juice, you can add an additional 1/4 cup of nut milk to the filling
-I recently swapped out my broken springform pan for a cheesecake pan and found it much easier to use.

Spiced Apple, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Cupcakes

Apple Walnut Goat Cheese Cupcakes

These cupcakes were inspired by pizza. I know that sounds weird, but we like to make our own pizza at home, and Aaron and I both love a pizza that is topped with thinly sliced granny smith apples, toasted walnuts, and big globs of goat cheese. Sounds strange, but it works.

The cupcake epiphany happened as I was drizzling honey on leftover goat cheese and spooning it into my mouth and thinking how good the combo would be as frosting. I wish I could explain to you how much I love this honey goat cheese frosting. Maybe someday in the future, food blogs will offer a tasting feature, but for now, you’ll just have to make it. I think I’m going to start adding goat cheese to all of my cream cheese frostings from now on, because it really adds something special. It would be pretty great on pumpkin, carrot, or even red velvet cupcakes, but I liked the fact that these apple cupcakes were slightly different from the standard cupcake fare.

Since these cupcakes have cream cheese and goat cheese in the frosting, you shouldn’t leave them at room temperature for more than a few hours. However, the frosting doesn’t get too firm in the fridge and the cupcakes don’t dry out too easily, so you don’t need to bring them to room temp before eating them. Instant gratification = :) Most cupcakes are best when they’re fresh, but I actually liked these better on day 2 and even 3. I can’t tell you how long they keep after that, because they disappeared pretty quickly.

Apple Walnut Goat Cheese Cupcakes

As for the sugared walnuts, make sure you separate them while they are cooling on the parchment. Otherwise, you’ll end up with walnut clusters that look kind of antlers. But hey, they’re festive, right?

Spiced Apple, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Spiced Apple Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups packed (about 2 small) peeled and coarsely grated tart apples, such as Granny Smith (I pulsed mine in the food processor a few times).
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • For the Honey Goat Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) soft goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup (115 grams) confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For the Sugared Walnuts:
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Spiced Apple Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line a cupcake pan with 12 paper lines.
  2. In a large bowl,whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and salt.
  3. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
  4. Stir in the grated apples and walnuts.
  5. Divide the batter between the 12 paper liners and bake 17-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.
  7. For the Honey Goat Cheese Frosting:
  8. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, goat cheese, and butter on medium speed until fluffy.
  9. Add the confectioner's sugar and beat on low to combine.
  10. Turn up the mixer to medium and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  11. Add the honey and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  12. Put the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.
  13. Top each cupcake with a sugared walnut (recipe below).
  14. For the Sugared Walnuts:
  15. In a small skillet, combine the sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt.
  16. Heat on medium and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles thick caramel.
  17. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts.
  18. Spread the mixture onto parchment paper to cool.
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Cupcake recipe adapted from myrecipes.com
Sugared walnut recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Crunch Cheesecake Bites

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Our last few Halloweens have gone something like this:

1. Dress Bigsby up as a hot dog.
2. Buy lots of Halloween Candy.
3. Have one trick-or-treater come by the entire night and proceed to make ourselves sick on leftover candy.

This year, we decided that due to our lack of trick-or-treaters (and self-control), we did not want to repeat this tradition. Rather than sit at home and wait to hand out candy to nobody, Aaron and I got our butts out the door and played some Halloween night tennis. When our sweet craving hit, we ate kinda healthy cheesecake. Ok, not exactly healthy, but way better for you than anything you can get in a plastic bag at the store.

I know I’m the last one to talk about healthy eating with a blog full of sugary cakes, but I’ve recently discovered how good raw vegan desserts can be, and I wanted to share one of my new favorite creations with you. I was first introduced to raw desserts a few years ago at an all raw Oklahoma restaurant called Matthew Kenney, and my obsession with raw vegan desserts grew after having Divine Pie in Portland, Oregon. I tried to exactly recreate the raw vegan key lime pie I had there (you can read about that here) but I got tired of almost losing my fingers attempting to hack open young coconuts. Oboists need their fingers.

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

This newer version involves a filling made of cashews. I’ve made cashew cheesecake before, but found it to be not as creamy as non-vegan cheesecake, so I used Divine Pie’s method of adding a little bit of soy lecithin. It’s an emulsifier that adds creaminess to the texture, and was surprisingly easy to find at my local grocery store. I’m not 100 percent sure that lecithin is raw, though, so I’m not labeling this dessert as such.

The crust is a little but different than what I’ve used before as well. I upped the quantity of the dates so it has a chewier, more brownie like texture. In the past, I’ve used medjool dates, but deglet dates were half the price at the grocery store and I couldn’t tell the difference in the finished product. I could totally have eaten the crust plain and just called them brownies.

You can top the cheesecake bites with whatever you like- nuts, fresh or freeze dried fruit, coconut, etc., but I wouldn’t skip the cacao nibs. They’re my newest obsession. I got sucked in when I picked up a few from the bulk section the last time I was at Central Market, and now they take a hefty chunk out of my grocery budget on a regular basis.

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

 

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Crunch Cheesecake Bites

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 1 cup deglet or medjool dates
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconuts
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 1/4 cup cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours or at least overnight
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used hazelnut milk)
  • 4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup raw agave (or maple syrup if you're not concerned about raw)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (refined if you don't want coconut flavor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO soy lecithin
  • about 1/4-1/3 cup freeze dried raspberries and/or cacao nibs for topping

Instructions

    For the Crust:
  1. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and process until they come together into a ball. The mixture should be pliable.
  2. Press the mixture into an 8x8 pan lined with parchment or waxed paper. Set aside.
  3. For the Filling:
  4. In a high powdered blender, combine the cashews, non-dairy milk, cacao, agave, vanilla extract, and salt and blend for about 5 minutes (or longer depending on your blender) until completely smooth.
  5. Add the coconut oil and soy lecithin and blend for an additional 15 seconds until smooth (don't over blend here or the coconut oil will start to solidify).
  6. Pour the mixture over the crust and tap the pan against the counter a few times to knock out any air bubbles.
  7. Top the filling with freeze dried raspberries and and cacao nibs and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  8. Cut into pieces and serve cold. Keep refrigerated.
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Notes:
-Recipe inspired by Divine Pie
-If you’re not concerned about this being raw, you can substitute cocoa powder for cacao.
-Refined coconut oil will not impart any coconut flavor. Unrefined coconut oil will, so choose what you like best. Both will work.