Salted Caramel Cheesecake (V, GF)
I don't want to bore you with chit-chat today. If you came for the Salted Caramel Cheesecake, here it is!
I've made a lot of different vegan cheesecakes: blueberry, pumpkin, lemon, peanut butter. This one might be the best.
For the crust, I decided to use coconut, macadamia nuts, dates, and sea salt.
Next is the cheesecake filling. I used raw soaked cashews and coconut cream blended up to achieve a rich, creamy texture.
A little vanilla bean powder, lemon juice, and maple syrup made it taste just right!
The last element of this dessert is the salted caramel, which was made by blending dates, melted coconut oil, almond milk, pink salt, and vanilla bean. I swirled this caramel into in the middle of the cheesecake, and then swirled it again on top!
OK, here's how to make it:
Salted Caramel Cheesecake
1 cup coconut
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup oats
10 pitted medjool dates (about 1 cup)
3 cups soaked raw cashews* (about 2-2.5 cups dry)
1 can coconut cream
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp vanilla bean powder (or extract)
2 cups pitted medjool dates
1 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder
Non-dairy milk (about 1/4 cup or more as needed)
Optional: sea salt for sprinkling on top
To make the crust, use a food processor to combine the coconut, macadamia nuts, sea salt, and dates (the dates should be soft and sticky, or soaked in water for a few minutes to soften). Once the mixture reaches a texture that will easily stick together when pinched, press it into the bottom of a spring-form pan. The pan I used was 9" and I lined the bottom with parchment paper. Use your fingers or a spatula to firmly press the mixture across the bottom of the pan, making sure that it is evenly spread out. Place the pan in the freezer while you make the cashew cream.
Use a high-speed blender to blend the cheesecake ingredients. You want this mixture to be fairly thick, so you may have to stop and scrape the sides several times during blending. Blend until totally smooth and set aside.
In the food processor, you'll make the caramel by processing the dates, coconut oil, sea salt, and vanilla. This will create a thick gooey caramel, but we want it kind of creamy so slowly add almond milk (or preferred milk) until you've reached a consistency that is similar to cake frosting. Fill a plastic sandwich bag with the caramel mixture. Now we're ready to assemble and swirl the cheesecake!
Take the pan with the crust in it out of the freezer. Pour half of the cheesecake mixture into the pan over the crust. Gently tap the pan on your counter to ensure that there are no air bubbles and it is evenly set. Snip the corner of the sandwich bag containing the caramel, and create a swirl using about 1/2 of the caramel on top of the first layer of cheesecake. Add the remaining cheesecake mixture, followed by another swirl of caramel, leaving a bit in the bag for touch-ups.
Here's the fun part. Using a chopstick, draw a continuous figure-8 (or a line of s's) along the lines of the caramel, starting on the outside and working your way in. You don't have to be careful, it looks best with imperfections! If there are spots that need a bit more caramel, draw a small line or make a dot, and swirl that around. Repeat until you're happy with the look, but remember, less is more! If you swirl too much, the contrast between the vanilla and caramel will start to blur.
If desired, sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top of the cheesecake. I sprinkled some Hawaiian black salt around the edges.
Carefully place the cheesecake back in the freezer and allow to set for at least a couple hours. It is best stored in the freezer, and taken out to thaw approximately 2-3 hours before serving. Individual slices will need only about 20-30 minutes to defrost for serving.
-soaked raw cashews: I like to soak my cashews for several hours before draining and rinsing really well. I also love to soak a lot of cashews at once, and then drain/rinse, and store in the freezer. That way, when I need soaked cashews, I always have them on hand and they won't go bad. I use cashews for dressings, sauces, and desserts fairly frequently so it's nice to have them anytime I need!
-you don't necessarily have to swirl the caramel into the cheesecake, you could also layer it, either on top of the crust or on top of the cheesecake. You could also simply save the caramel to be drizzled over each individual slice upon serving.
-likewise, you can make a little bit extra of the crust, and set aside for serving a "crumble" on top of the cheesecake!
-when taking out of freezer to serve, release the spring-form pan and pull away. For a "clean" look, use a knife to gently run across the edges of the cake, to even out any inconsistencies.
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