For so many of us when there are foods you avoid, either out of necessity or by choice, there are always very specific foods and recipes that you have to just give up longing for. The torture just becomes to much. As someone that generally avoids dairy, in more than very small amounts, I can assure you that the longing feeling I have in my heart for that stretchy pull of good cheese in a homemade mac and cheese or a slice of pizza loaded with the ooey gooey good stuff – those are quite hard to replicate. I am absolutely not a fan of the “faux cheese” alternatives, for so many reasons, mostly because I highly suspect there is very little actual food in there, so I generally just abstain. It’s fine. You just get over it. No really, you do.
The great thing is, there are plenty of wonderful, real food alternatives for dairy in other places. Coconut milk ice creams, whipped coconut cream, homemade coffee creamer, dairy-free cream cheese and even dairy-free yogurt. But, homemade dairy-free “cheesecakes”, made with cashews, these are quite possibly one of my personal favorites.
Cashew cheesecakes are something I have been making for many years now and I am still continuously amazed that I can serve these to gluten-eating, non-dairy-free folks and they are always blown away! They truly cannot believe there’s no dairy in there.
These little, bite-sized spiced pumpkin cheesecakes are perfect for fall get-togethers, a great option for Halloween parties, perfect for Thanksgiving or for whenever your little fall-loving heart desires. The fresh ginger in the crusts, brings a a lovely, warming gingersnap cookie vibe.
Serve these with a dollop or swirl of whipped coconut cream on top, maybe alongside a homemade Dairy-free Pumpkin Spice Latte to really commit to the whole Autumnal thing!
- 2 cups raw almonds
- 10 soft Medjool dates*
- ½-inch nub of fresh ginger, peeled
- 2 tablespoons unsweetend shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
- 6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 6 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
- juice from 1 lemon
- lemon zest from that lemon
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- pinch sea salt
- Whipped Coconut Cream
- water (you may need a tablespoon or two)
- pinch of salt
- Add the almonds to the food processor and pulse several times until it’s turns into meal, crumbled and broken up, but not a fine flour. A few bits are good. Pour out and set aside.
- Add the dates and ginger nub to the food processor and process until only small bits remain and it comes together into a ball. Add the almonds back to the food processor, along with the remaining ingredients. Process until it comes together into a dough. The dough should hold together when you press it in your hands.
- Using 12-cup non-stick muffin tin or 12 cup mini cheesecake pan (which is what I use), add about a tablespoon of the crust mixture to each cup. Press down firmly with a spoon, a glass or what I find works the best, is a cocktail muddler. Pack it in nice and tight.
- Set into the freezer to set up.
- Once the cashews have soaked, discard the soaking water, give them a quick rinse and add the cashews to the container of a high speed blender or food processor. Add the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, lemon juice and zest, maple syrup (or other sweetener) and vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of sea salt. If the mixture is too thick, add just a little water, one teaspoon at a time. It should be a very thick mixture so don’t add too much.
- Once blended, divide the filling evenly over each of the crusts. Give the pan a few firm taps on the counter to remove any air bubbles, cover with plastic wrap or foil. Freeze overnight, or until solid, at least 4 hours.
- When ready to serve, remove the cheesecakes from the freezer. Allow the tarts to thaw for about 5 minutes (maybe 10), before using a thin knife to run around the edge of the cheesecakes, then carefully pop them out. If using the cheesecake pan, just press up from below to push them out. You may still need to run the knife around the edge.
- Top with whipped coconut cream, if you'd like and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
You can make this into 1 large cheesecake, but using a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and continue to prepare, as instructed
If short on time, and you don’t soak the cashews ahead, pour boiling hot water over the cashews, soak for 1 hour, then drain and blend as instructed