Mini Vegan No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecakes (almost raw!)

 Yield: 12 mini cheesecakes

Vegan Almost Raw Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes…this one for the win!

I promised I would be back with you when I had refined my recipe for vegan pumpkin cheesecake enough to share with all of you vegan aficionados. I am thrilled to say my most recent taste test is a keeper! And NO baking reqired.

Plus, I got smart, and purchased a mini cheesecake pan at the kitchen Barn so that I could make partial recipes and not have huge cheesecakes sitting around.

I went a completely different route this time with an unbaked version. I can’t call it completely raw, though, because, of course, the canned pumpkin puree is cooked at the factory and I simmer the sauce to thicken it. But I am not a raw vegan anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

This cheesecake goes together so quick and easy and is beautiful enough for company. So put it on your holiday menu and impress your friends with both the taste and the appearance. Regarding appearance, be sure to press each layer down firmly or you will end up with a few air bubbles as I did. Still, I think it was ready for its close-up. You?

This recipe requires a 12-cup mini-cheesecake tin with removable bottoms.

Note: when coconut milk cans are shaken, you want to only hear a little sloshing indicating semi-solid cream at the top.

Crust:
1/2 cup raw pecan halves or pieces
2 tablespoons unsweetened grated coconut
2 pitted medjool dates
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Process in food processor until mixture is texture of course cookie dough. Divide evenly among 12 mini-cheesecake cups and press firmly and evenly into bottoms.

Filling:
2 cups raw cashews
3 cups water
1/4 cup canned pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-solid cream from top of 2 cans full-fat coconut milk (remaining tablespoons from second can will be used for sauce)
“Caramel” Sauce
Lightly salted and roasted pecan half

Heat cashews for 10 minutes on high power in large bowl in microwave. Drain and process in food processor until an almost smooth dough-like consistency forms. Add pumpkin, syrup, spice, and extracts and process until smooth, thick and creamy. Divide evenly among mini-cheesecake cups, pressing firmly and smoothing tops. Then divide coconut cream among each, also smoothing tops. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Remove mini-cheesecakes from tin and serve each with a drizzle of “caramel” sauce and a roasted pecan half.

“Caramel” Sauce:

1/4 cup semi-solid cream from second can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
Optional: 1 teaspoon brandy, bourbon, or cognac

Vigorously simmer cream and maple syrup together over medium heat until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in alcohol if using. Cool to warm before drizzling over cheesecake.

Garnish:

12 lightly salted roasted pecan halves

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Best Vegan (Practically) Raw Brownies
with Fudgy Ganache Frosting

Yield: 16 browniesBe prepared to have your world rocked.  While there’s not a thing in the world wrong with a baked brownie in my partially-raw world, I have enjoyed experimenting with raw foods this summer, and enjoy not having the oven and stove on. Plus it’s just an exciting new culinary world to explore.  I think you’ll agree.

To date, I had mastered a (practically) raw carrot and a coconut cake–yowza!–and these brownies are definitely on a par.  And they slice beautifully with little effort save some pressure on a serrated knife.  Next up are donut holes, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, I am delighted to share this recipe.  These are fantastic cold and amazing heated for about 20 seconds in the microwave and served with your favorite softened non-dairy ice cream.

Note: Since I am not a raw vegan, I am not concerned about whether all ingredients in my recipes are raw for myself, BUT I am concerned with accurate representation for those who are strict rawtarians, as I respect that choice.  So, the only non-raw ingredients in the brownies are the extracts and the Allemande. Simply substitute water for completely raw brownies.   However, the frosting is not raw, period. I am not a nut butter frosting fan, but if you want a raw frosting, that is probably your best bet.  

1 cup raw slivered almonds

1 cup raw cashew pieces

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 1/2 cups mixed dates, dried apricots, and dried figs, but at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups dates (use only pump and moist dried fruit)

2 tablespoons Bailey’s Allemande or water

1 teaspoon almond extract or water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or water

Vegan Fudgy Ganache Frosting (recipe follows)

Garnish: 16 walnut halves

Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick baking spray and line with parchment paper.  (So as not to have crinckled corners, I like to line the pan with two scant 8-inch wide pieces of parchment, lying them vertically and horizontally and spraying both on the bottom and in between.)

In a food processor, process together nuts, cocoa powder, and salt,  Temporarily transfer mixture to a small bowl.  In same bowl of food processor, process dried fruit, Allemande, and extracts (or water).  Temporarily transfer this mixture to a small bowl.  Return nut mixture to processor and, with motor running, drop walnut-size pinches of fruit mixture through the chute until mixture is homogenous and a dough like consistency when pinched together.  Press evenly into pan, cover, and refrigerate while you make the frosting.

Spread frosting evenly over brownies and place walnut halves in 4 even rows, 4 to a row.  Cover and refrigerate several hours.  When ready to serve, lift out of pan, and slice with a serrated knife.  Serve immediately or package for gift giving.  I like to place each square in a parchment cupcake or muffin paper and stack them 2-deep in a square covered food storage container stored in the fridge.

Vegan Fudgy Ganache Frosting

3 tablespoons unsweetened soymilk (or the nondairy milk of your choice; a little sweetener won’t hurt a thing)

2 tablespoons Allemande (or substitute the liqueur of your choice or even more soymilk)

1 cup vegan chocolate chips

2 tablespoons vegan butter (or coconut oil + 1/8 teaspoon salt)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, heat soymilk and Allemande in microwave.  Add chocolate chips and vegan butter, and let sit for a couple of minutes. Whisk until melted and smooth.  Whisk in extracts and powdered sugar until very smooth and creamy.  If too thick, add a bit more soymilk or Allemande; if too thin, adjust with more powdered sugar.

 

 

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Blooming Best (Practically) Raw Vegan Coconut Cake
with Cream Cheese Frosting

Maybe it’s the warming weather, or maybe it is less patience with the steps required to bake properly and well: mixing, preparing the pan, cooking time, cooling in the pan, turning out of the pan, cooling on the rack, and so on.  Okay, or less patience with most things…

But, regardless, (practically) raw vegan food has been on my mind lately.  I conducted some online research and I bought a couple of (disappointing) cookbooks.  My take-away?  This niche of vegan “cooking” holds great promise, but there is room for fairly vast improvement. So I got to work.

My (Practically) Raw Vegan Carrot Cake was a vegan and omni triumph.  But one of my other favorite cakes is coconut. The challenge, it seemed to me, was how to keep the color of the cake light, like a baked coconut cake, and the favor pure:  no dates, apricots, etc.  

At Whole Foods yesterday, I decided to spin through the dried fruit in bulk.  Eureka!  Turkish dried figs are light in color, yet plump enough to add some moisture and earthy sweetness.  Sweetened coconut flakes and coconut flour–essentially coconut ground to a flour–were no-brainers–and I deemed oatmeal, which provides lots of structure, light enough and neutral enough in flavor to help build the “batter.”   Blanched slivered almonds (use raw if you prefer)–nicely pale in color and not too buttery in flavor–were the perfect nut to use.  One glimpse and I knew coconut sugar was too dark in color, so I bought some powdered sugar which I needed for the frosting, but the cake ended up being sweet enough with nothing more than a small amount of light amber maple syrup.  And a liquid sweetener is nice because of the amount of dry ingredients.

For moisture, I did end up using 1/2 cup applesauce–but it does not impart a noticeable apple flavor–and coconut milk.  A word about the latter:  So Delicious makes an astonishingly thick and velvety coconut milk that they call “Culinary Coconut Milk.”  It is high in calories, so you might consider the “lite” version.  Either way, I would combine a carton of it–about 1 1/3 cups–with canned coconut milk which is not quite so thick and helps achieve a nicer, less dense, batter or, really, for raw cakes, more like a “dough.”   

In short, I do believe I met the challenge.  And I think you will be absolutely swept away by the results.

This cake is so beautiful and beautifully textured and flavored that it would be lovely for a wedding cake…not that I’m planning a wedding or anything…

Note: if you want a raw vegan frosting, substitute something like a cashew buttercream.

Yield: 16 servings

8 Turkish figs, stemmed and quartered
2 cups old-fashioned oats
3 cups fairly thick coconut milk (or a combination of So Delicious Culinary Coconut Cream and soy or other non-dairy milk)
2 cups grated sweetened coconut
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Garnish: 1/2 cup coconut curls

Line 8″ square pan with foil. Pulse all ingredients in food processor, a couple of ingredients at a time, alternating with coconut milk, until a homogenized, but textured, dough-like consistency is achieved.  Press in pan, frost with cream cheese frosting, and garnish with coconut curls.  Cover with foil and keep refrigerated. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Note: you may have a little left over if you use the 2 cups of powdered sugar.)
8 ounces vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup coconut oil (solid at room temp)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 to 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on consistency desired)

Process until smooth.

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Blooming Best (Practically) Raw Vegan Carrot Cake
with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 1-8 inch cake

This, my first foray into (practically) raw vegan desserts, may be the best cake, baked or virtually raw, you have ever eaten. I hope that doesn’t sound boastful, but my omni friend said as she chewed, eyes squeezed shut, “This is like church.”  So, it is omni and vegan–and teen and adult- approved.

Note: if you want a raw vegan frosting, substitute something like a cashew buttercream.

11-12 ounces baby carrots or carrot pieces
8 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered
8 plump dried apricots, quartered
2 cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4-½ teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup walnut pieces
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Garnish: 1/4 to 1/2 cup walnut halves or pieces

Line 8″ square pan with foil. Pulse all ingredients in food processor, a couple of ingredients at a time, until a homogenized, but textured, dough-like consistency is achieved.  Press in pan, frost with cream cheese frosting, and garnish with walnut halves or pieces.  Keep refrigerated.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup coconut oil (solid at room temp)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on consistency desired)

Process until smooth.

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