Anguel doesn’t ask for much, but when he wants something, he really goes for it. Take the past few weeks for instance. The dude’s been on my case to develop a new dessert recipe. He asks, and he asks often. Like, every single day. Not kidding. At first, I gave him some sass (exactly like this). But eventually I caved, because who can say no to dessert?
Coming up with a new dessert recipe, on the other hand, requires a lot of trial and error. Sure, it usually turns out alright the first time around. But nobody wants to be just “alright”. And Anguel’s caught onto this by now. When he asks for a new recipe, it’s not because he’s bored of his favorites (like this, this and this). Nope, he just happens to know exactly what kind of rabbit hole comes with a new recipe: one that’s filled with many do-overs and plenty of kitchen scraps. Luckily, this dude’s sweet tooth is gladly waiting on the other side.
After a couple weeks of testing, we’ve now eaten so much cheesecake that we’re pretty much one bar away from turning into cashews. And if you’re unsure why testing a cheesecake recipe requires copious amounts of cashews, then spoiler alert: this version doesn’t actually contain dairy at all! Rather, the creamy filling is made from cashews and coconut cream. A squeeze of lemon juice gives this “cheesecake” a classic tang. It’s a magical combo that’s every bit as luscious as its dairy-packed counterpart.
Beyond the creamy cashew cheesecake filling - there’s still so much more to love. These bars feature a super simple nut and oat crust that tastes kinda like graham crackers. Honestly, I had a bit of a head-start with this recipe since I started with a variation of this yummy cheesecake recipe I shared on the blog a while back. But this time around, the crust is a bit softer, which works better for these bars. I also adjusted the ratio of cashews and coconut cream to allow the filling to set up in the fridge instead of the freezer. You’ll still need to keep them refrigerated before serving, but they won’t need as much time to soften which means eating ASAP.
And let’s not forget about the topping. The fact that cranberries were on mega blow-out at the store was exactly the incentive I needed to add a third (but easy) layer to this dish. In hindsight, it’s the perfect festive touch. But on a side note, I still can’t explain why someone who spends a small fortune on her monthly nut supply is motivated by saving a couple bucks on cranberries (heh), but anyways...The luscious fruit topping comes together in a cinch: cranberries (I used frozen), orange juice and a small glug of maple syrup to balance out the naturally tart berries. The end result is a perfectly balanced fruity topping which makes these bars dangerously addictive, trust me.
Vegan Cranberry Cheesecake Bars
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup almonds (raw/untoasted)
- 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1½ cups raw cashews, soaked and drained (see note 1)
- 1¼ cups coconut cream (see note 2)
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 10 oz cranberries
- ⅔ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Mix crust: Use a food processor to pulse oats into a fine powder. Add almonds, cinnamon and salt. Pulse until almonds are the consistency of almond flour. Add coconut oil and maple syrup and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball.
- Bake crust: Line 1 (8x8-inch) baking pan with parchment. Transfer mixture into pan and use the back of a spoon to press it firmly into the bottom. Bake until the edges are golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.
- Blend filling: In a high-speed blender, combine soaked cashews, coconut cream, maple syrup, lemon juice, coconut oil and vanilla. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour over the crust. Refrigerate until set (about 6 hours or ideally overnight).
- Make topping: Meanwhile, add cranberries, orange juice, and maple syrup to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Mix water and arrowroot together until smooth. Add the mixture to the cranberries, and stir well to mix. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a container and refrigerate.
- Serve: Once the cheesecake filling has set, spoon over the cranberry topping. Slice into bars and serve. Refrigerate extra bars.
- How to soak cashews: Cashews should be soaked until soft when squeezed between your fingertips. To soak cashews, either cover them with boiling water (soak for about 30 minutes) or cover them with room temperature water (soak for 6 to 8 hours).
- Coconut cream: Either from a can of coconut cream, or the solids scooped from a can of full fat coconut milk. If using cans of coconut milk, 2 cans should yield about 1.5 cups coconut cream. For some brands, the coconut solids may have already started to separate in the can at room temperature. But to maximize separation, place cans in the back of the fridge overnight (or ideally 24 hours) before using. Do not substitute with boxed nut milk (it doesn't have enough fat).
- Recipe adapted from our Vegan Cheesecake with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce recipe