Cheesecake. Baked Cheesecake. There’s nothing quite like it. Irresistibly rich, dense, creamy, and delightfully sweet with a hint of tangy cheese flavor. If you’ve recently switched to a whole food plant-based diet, you may have thought your baked cheesecake days were over. I’m here to tell you the fun has just begun, folks.
This lemony cheesecake is made with all natural, plant-based whole food ingredients, but it is just as decadent and rich as its conventional counterparts. It bakes up perfectly dense, yet luscious, smooth, and melt-in-your-mouth. There’s no sugar, not even agave or maple syrup; this healthier cheesecake is entirely sweetened with dates. I added lots of lemon juice and zest, for a naturally lemony flavor that is perfect for spring. I’ve been working on adapting my Baked Apple Cheezecakes into a full-size baked cheesecake, and I couldn’t be happier with the results!
Just as in my Baked Apple Cheesecakes, I used a very little bit of coconut flour to help the filling firm up, while still keeping the texture smooth and creamy. Since this is a much larger cake than my little apple cakes, I knew I needed another ingredient to provide that perfect density. After much debate, I went with my first inclination: to blend cooked beans into the filling. Now, I know hidden bean desserts are so 2012, but they worked so well, I decided I didn’t care if it wasn’t cool. It’s such a small amount, and cannelini beans are so neutral in flavor, I promise you won’t taste them at all. I swear on my Vitamix, you won’t taste the beans! They magically disappear into that rich filling, you’ll forget you even used them at all.
If you’re a big cheesecake lover, I urge you to give this a try! I can’t get over how much this tastes like traditional cheesecake. The only difference is that eating a slice of this cake doesn’t give me the queasy “yuck” feeling I used to get when I ate conventional cheesecake. No sugar, better for you fats, and completely cruelty free. Now that’s a cheesecake I can feel good about!
Baked Lemon Cheesecake – vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free
Adapted from my Baked Apple Cheezecakes
Makes one 8″ cake
Prep time: 20 minutes Bake Time: 45-50 minutes
- 1 1/4 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup oats
- 4 large medjool dates, pitted
- 3 Tbsp almond or cashew butter
- pinch salt
- 1 + 1/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours)
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup cannelini beans, drained and rinsed very well
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of about 1 and half lemons)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 8 large soft medjool dates, pitted
- 1 Tbsp coconut flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Prepare an 8″ spring form pan by lightly coating it with coconut oil. Wrap a strip of tin foil around the edge of the pan to prevent burning.
- Make the crust. Add almonds, oats, and salt to a food processor and process until you have a fine meal. Add in almond butter and dates and process again until you have a sticky dough. If it isn’t very sticky, add a teaspoon of water and process again. Press evenly and firmly into the prepared springform pan, forming a crust around the edges. Set aside.
- For the filling, add all ingredients to your high speed blender, and blend. If you have a Vitamix, you’ll want to use the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades. Blend for 1-2 minutes until very very smooth. Pour into the crust, smoothing the top. I lightly tapped the pan on the counter to level the filling.
- Place the spring form pan on top of another baking sheet in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the filling is firm and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for at least an hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing. Or cool completely and store covered in the fridge until ready to serve. The filling will become firmer in the fridge and then soft and creamy once it’s been out about 15 minutes or so.
I had some difficulty keeping the crust from getting too done, but solved the problem by wrapping the outer edge of the springform pan with tin foil, leaving a small lip at the top. This prevented any over-browning along the top edge and around the crust. I also set the spring form pan on top of a cookie sheet. This helped everything bake evenly.
2. I highly recommend using a powerful blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix. High speed blenders will be able to turn those cashews into silk, and handle the thick filling. I tried using my food processor and the texture was a bit more textured and slightly grainy, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Next on my list is to create a cheesecake which requires no high speed blender!