The way you should treat vegan food is often fundamentally different than how you should treat conventional food. There’s a hell of a lot of ingredients that you automatically can’t use when making vegan dishes, which means you have to change the techniques used as well. There’s no natural plant ingredients that mimic meat, dairy, or eggs. Thankfully, however, we live in the 21st century where businesses such as Impossible and JUST are making substitutes as close as possible to the real thing, but at the end of the day, their products aren’t natural spawns of the earth.
The good news is all foods are made up of the same essential components: protein, carbs, fiber, sugar, etc., which means we can manipulate plant foods to replicate the complex nature of meat and dairy ingredients. To get a vegan cheesecake to taste and feel like regular cheesecake for example, you have to research the protein, fat, and acids that comprise regular cheesecake. While we could make this a whole science experiment, engineering all of our own products from scratch, as I said before, we live in the 21st century.
To alleviate even more pressure, making a perfect vegan cheesecake is far easier than crafting a perfect regular cheesecake. “Why?” Well, because we don’t have to worry about finicky water baths, burning, or cracking on the surface! This cheesecake, after all, requires no baking (except for the crust) and tastes better than conventional no-bake cheesecakes, which are lackluster at best.
Even without baking, this cheesecake is creamy, rich, perfectly tangy, and mildly flavored with the subtle aromas of vanilla and cacao butter, aka white chocolate. (Okay, white chocolate is technically cacao butter plus sugar and milk powder, but at its base it’s cacao butter.) Also, don’t go thinking agave is thrown in as an attempt to make this “healthy,” because it’s actually here to add viscosity to our base. Similarly to ice cream, we don’t want to water down the custard as that would result in an icy dessert, thus making agave the perfect candidate for the job, as it’s sweeter than sugar, thicker than sugar, and comprised of mainly fructose, which is more hydroscopic than sucrose (i.e. table sugar). “What does hydroscopic-ness have to do with anything?” you ask? Well, all it means is that it holds on to moisture well, thus preventing our dessert from drying out or crystallizing. Other high fructose sweeteners include corn syrup, tapioca syrup, and pretty much any syrup made from a starchy source. Agave just so happens to be readily available, decently affordable, and widely “accepted” by health aficionados for some reason, which is why we’re using it today.
Let me just say somethin’ real quick: corn syrup isn’t actually evil. High-fructose corn syrup is the one you wanna look out for. There’s nothing wrong with regular, organic corn syrup. Alright, cool, case closed.
Alright, that covers all the geeky goodness you need to know before diving into cheesecake madness! All you need to pull off this magic trick is an efficient food processor, tart pan with a removable bottom, and access to good vegan sour cream. All other ingredients and techniques are commonplace in both markets and your kitchen.
We hope you guys enjoy this cheesecake, it’s:
- Rich, velvety, and snappy
- Balanced between sweet, fresh, and tart
- Buttery, spiked with cinnamon, and laced with cacao butter
- Vegan & mostly no-bake
If you like what your eyes are tasting, then share this recipe with your friends on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest at @noeggsorham! For more flame-emoji photos, geeky food talk, and mouth-watering dishes, subscribe to our email list. Tag us in a photo when you create one of our recipes at home so we can share it!
“More like cheese-less cake, amiright?” – Meat Activist / Participant of Straight Pride
Vegan White Chocolate Fig Cheesecake with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crust
Velvety, sweet, and pleasantly tart custard rests atop a crispy, buttery, and toasty crust.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 10 sheets (about 155 grams) vegan-friendly graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons (84 grams) vegan butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons (24 grams) sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cup cashews (by volume)
- 1 cup (240 grams) vegan sour cream (we used Follow Your Heart)
- 1/2 cup (168 grams) agave
- 1/3 cup (69 grams) cacao butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 3-4 figs, medium sliced
- Crust: Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until they’re in small chunks. Add butter and sugar and blitz until graham crackers turn into a medium crumb with some small chunks throughout (7-10 pulses).
- Transfer to a tart pan with a removable bottom either 14 x 4.5 x 1 inches (rectangular) or 9 1/2 x 1 inches (round).
- Press down the crust using the bottom of a lightly greased glass or measuring cup. Bake at for 6-8 minutes or until edges are lightly darkened.
- Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before filling. Wipe out remaining specks of crust from food processor.
- Filling: Place cashews in a medium bowl, submerge in boiling water, cover with a towel, and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain through a colander, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- Place cacao butter in a small pot over the lowest heat possible and stir constantly until it’s just melted.
- Place melted cacao butter, cashews, and the rest of the filling ingredients (except for figs) to the bowl of your food processor. Blend on high until creamy (4-6 minutes). If necessary, blend in batches in a personal blender cup to get a finer texture; there shouldn’t be any identifiable pieces of cashew left.
- Top cheesecake with sliced figs and press down to lightly submerge. Place cheesecake on a level surface in the freezer for at least 6 hours. Prior to slicing and serving, thaw for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.
- Rinse knife with warm water before each cut for clean slices. Store cheesecake in an airtight container in freezer for up to 6 months.