the taste space

Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on October 31, 2013

Rich Lemon Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust

What is better than a potluck with delicious vegan food? A potluck with delicious vegan food, complete with recipes!

Recently, some new friends invited me over for a Ripe-themed supper. Stephanie, the mastermind behind Ripe Cuisine, serves vegan eats at a few farmer’s markets in Houston but also has a recipe blog. I have gushed about her homemade coconut-almond ice cream before and since I knew her recipe for brownies was good, I was excited to see how her other recipes fared.

Broccoli “cream” soup with polenta croutons, baked zucchini chips, tahini mustard carrots, and cauliflower piccata were on the menu. Veggie extraveganza! Everything was delicious. I really enjoyed the carrots and polenta croutons.

My small contribution to the menu that evening was this cheesecake. I say small due to its size, not its taste. For my birthday, Rob surprised me with a smaller 6″ springform pan. I left my larger one in Toronto and brought this one so I could make smaller versions of dessert.

I love raw/no-bake cheesecakes. I have made them with cashews as well as tofu, but this time, I used them together. And I baked it. Both for synergistic results.

Rich Lemon Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust

This cheesecake is a combination of a few recipes and both are knock-outs. The filling is courtesy of Ricki Heller‘s new cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. Since these recipes are all gluten-free and sugar-free, they employ ingredients I don’t have in my (mostly) minimalist pantry. I tried to stay mostly true to her recipe, though, even scoping out lemon extract. I realized that having a concentrated lemon flavour without the sourness would be a good way to reduce the amount of sweetener needed, without resorting to Meyer lemons.

This was a delicious cheesecake. Possibly our favourite vegan cheesecake of all time. Very rich in a non-heavy sense, which can happen with raw cheesecakes, relying on cashews and coconut oil. However, sadly, after chilling in the fridge, it was no longer a lemon cheesecake; it morphed into a creamy, rich, vanilla cheesecake. Equally as good, just a different flavour. The lemon flavour disappeared considerably.  I really like the tang from lemon juice, so next time I would add more lemon juice in addition to more lemon extract. It was a very nice cheesecake, though. I also liked how I had the height to really get a good size piece on my fork with the smaller pan. You’ll understand when you look at my (much more flat) lemon cheesecake squares. Rob agreed, and we both thought this was the best, most “real” vegan cheesecake we have eaten (albeit a fluffier European-style cheesecake, which is our preference).

And the crust? A perfect foil for the rich, more mellow filling. A salty-sweet cinnamon pecan crust with oat flour that I snagged from Angela’s pumpkin pie adventures. She tasted a few crusts and proclaimed this the winner. Definitely one of my favourite crusts, too. I liked that it was sweet and salty (no dates) and the cinnamon spike brought it over the edge. I was worried the crust was a bit crumbly but it held together well when serving from the fridge.

I try to keep this blog real, and yes, this cheesecake was utterly delicious. However, it also cracked. This could be due to a few things, but next time, I will add a basin of water in the oven. I did that with the Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares, and it worked well. With some strategic slicing, you could hide the cracks. Or find a saucy topping. (Ricki suggested a blueberry compote which I think would have been divine!) But really, it doesn’t matter unless you are photographing it because it still tasted delicious. Do you have any other tricks for cracked cheesecakes? What is your favourite vegan cheesecake recipe?

Ricki has been travelling the interwebs with her blog tour and I have been enjoying seeing her recipes all over the place. With all the thoughtful Q&As, I feel like I am really getting to know Ricki, the chef/baker, but most importantly, the person behind her recipes. A trained chef with a former catering company, watching her on video is like a fun cooking class, with so many tips about ingredients and techniques. I also recommend these recipes from Ricki’s new cookbook:

Two-Bite Hemp Brownies

Cocoa Mint Nibbles

Ricki’s recipes from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free shared elsewhere:

Easiest Almond Cookies

Coconut Macaroons

Chocolate-Flecked Pumpkin Seed Cookies

Sunshine Breakfast Loaf

Low-Fat Cinnamon Walnut Loaf

Fluffy Fruited Pancakes

Orange Oat Muffins

Grain-Free Autumn Oat Crumble

Butterscotch Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Goji Berries

Chocolate “Buttercream” Frosting

Ultra-Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownies

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns

PS. Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for Isa Does It.

Rich Lemon Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and this week’s Health Vegan Fridays.

Rich Vegan Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust
Adapted from Ricki Heller (found in Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free) (filling) and Oh She Glows (crust)

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup raw pecans
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1.5 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp agave
1.5 tsp coconut oil

1 cup raw cashews (or 1/2 cup cashew butter)
12 oz box aseptic firm silken tofu (I used Mori-Nu), drained
5 tbsp agave, or to taste
grated zest from 1-2 lemons (2 tsp)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice (less than half a lemon)
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a food processor, place rolled oats and process until they become a reasonably fine flour. Add in pecans and process until the nuts are very small crumbles. Add remainder of the ingredients and process until the dough pulls together. If it doesn’t pull together soon, add additional agave. You should not pulverize it into butter. Press dough into a 6″ non-stick springform pan.

3. In a high-speed blender (you could also use a food processor but would need to be more patient – or use premade cashew butter), place cashews. Blend on high, until the nuts break down and release their oils, turning into a nut butter. You may need to scrape done the sides of the blender. Add the tofu, agave, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust flavours.

4. Pour filling onto crust. To settle the batter, with the pan on a flat surface, with both hands holding the pan, quickly twist the pan to the right and then the left.

5. (If desired, place a metal container filled with water in the oven, too) Bake cake at 350F for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Bake until the filling appears firm and the edges begin to brown. Cool completely then refrigerate until cold before slicing. May be frozen.

Serves 6-8.

38 Responses

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  1. Johanna GGG said, on October 31, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    A crack doesn’t deter me from a good cheesecake – I make very few cheesecakes so can’t advise unless to say I would eat it anyway! Thanks for the link – as someone lucky enough to do one of the Q&A’s with Ricki I can say it was great fun chatting to her. I must try her cheesecake sometime – though I think I need to come to grips with the tofu she uses as it is different from the ones I am used to. Would more lemon zest make it more lemony without the lemon extract (something I don’t have)?

    • janet @ the taste space said, on November 6, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      There are so many different kinds of tofu, it can be hard to keep them all straight… and for baking, I only ever use the Mori-Nu brand. It also helps that it is shelf stable so it can last a while in my pantry. :)

  2. Rob said, on October 31, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    THIS CAKE WAS AMAZING! It had a very similar texture and taste to Polish cheesecake (“sernik”), which I was practically raised on.

  3. Move Eat Create said, on October 31, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    Call me rustic, but I actually like the cracks in cheesecake! I think they’re charming. Plus, this look so good, I probably wouldn’t mind it if it had broken into bits while eating it – as long as I was eating it!

  4. Ricki said, on October 31, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Janet, thank you SO much for this review! Your cheesecake looks absolutely lovely (and clearly, cutting right along the crack made for a fantastic and crack-free top photo!). :D I’m so glad you liked the filling, too. I think you described it perfectly–it’s not meant to be like the super-dense cheesecakes many people make in the US and Canada. And I smiled at Rob’s description, too–this cheesecake was created originally for my Dad, who is Polish. So no wonder it tastes like a Polish cheesecake! Thanks so much for the post and the gorgeous photos. :)

    • Gaby said, on November 1, 2013 at 4:13 PM

      Wow Janet! I’m a little star struck that Ricki actually commented on your blog, she’s one of my favorite cookbook/ blog authors!
      This cheesecake was absolutely delicious! And I don’t usually even miss cheesecake but this one has me wanting to make a lot of vegan cheesecakes, which I”ve mostly been doing in the way of “cream cheese” frostings for my cakes and cookies.
      Thanks so much for sharing it with us! We’re cooking for my parents tonight, but the rest of the weekend is free for more recipe testing and pot lucking. Let’s try out all the good things while we don’t have to share with Rob ;)

      • janet @ the taste space said, on November 2, 2013 at 3:08 PM

        Hah, just read this now, Gaby. When I read through the cookbook, i thought of you actually. It definitely looks right up your alley. Let me know if you wanted to get together tomorrow… but in truth, I love sharing my food with Rob! (especially desserts, which are your forte)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on November 6, 2013 at 5:57 PM

      Thank you, Ricki, for sharing such delightful recipes.. and yes, you totally picked up on my strategic cutting of the pieces. :)

  5. coconutandberries said, on October 31, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    That sounds like the best potluck! I’ve got to check out the “ripe” blog.
    Baked cheesecake (NY-style) was my favourite dessert pre-vegan and though I love raw cheesecakes too I’ve been hoping for a veganized version of the real deal. I’m loving Naturally Sweet & GF so far and this cheesecake might just be the next recipe I try….

  6. MEontheLake said, on October 31, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    Try adding lemon zest for a more lemon-y flavor.

  7. Veggiewitch said, on October 31, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Gorgeous!

  8. Ellen Lederman said, on October 31, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    NO! Favorite vegan cheesecake of all time? Blasphemy! How soon they forget: raspberry dream cake!

    All kidding aside, this does sound good and very much like a real cheesecake. Not to worry about the cracks—one of your fellow Canadians (Leonard Cohen) had a song about cracks just letting the light in….(not that light necessarily needs to get into cheesecake, but you get the point).

    • janet @ the taste space said, on November 6, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      What we need to do, Ellen, is now combine this cheesecake with raspberries… and a chocolate layer… a neopolitan bliss cheesecake. :) OK, too much work for me right now but I am still brewing interesting recipes in my head even if I am not doing as much in the kitchen ;)

  9. Joanne said, on October 31, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    I definitely have cheesecake on the brain lately and I love that this is vegan! And lemony.

  10. Hannah said, on October 31, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Cheesecake and lemon desserts are two of my favourite things, so hurrah hurrah! And so glad you’re finding a good community in Houston :)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on November 6, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      Thanks, Hannah. I will definitely miss Houston when I leave.. we have truly made ourselves a little nest here

  11. julia said, on October 31, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    YUM! this looks great–neither so raw that it doesn’t even taste like cheesecake, nor so full of processed things like tofutti. can’t wait to try it :)

  12. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts said, on November 1, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    I’ve never had a baked vegan cheesecake, or one with tofu as well as nuts in the filling, but am so intrigued and keen to try this!

  13. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on November 3, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    OH YUM- lemon and cheesecake are made for each other! And this looks absolutely perfect! Next time I need a good classic cheesecake recipe, I will go to this one (with extra lemon of course!). So happy to hear about all those lovely people in Houston!

  14. […] Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust […]

  15. kimthevegan www.rockmyvegansocks.vaskor.ca said, on November 5, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Wow – this looks amazing. It’s an interesting idea to combine the tofu and cashews – I bet the texture is divine =)

  16. […] more interesting to include dishes for guests with dietary restrictions, it’s handy to have new takes on old favourites in your back […]

  17. […] 2: Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust by Taste Space […]

  18. Healthy Vegan Friday: Holiday Hodgepodge said, on November 22, 2013 at 6:03 AM

    […] 2. Vegan Cheesecake with Pecan Shortbread Crust from The Taste Space: […]

  19. […] rich vegan cheesecake with a pecan shortbread crust from janet @ the taste space […]

  20. […] Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust (tastespace.wordpress.com) […]

  21. Coffee With My Oxygen said, on November 22, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    What a wonderful dessert.

    For more vegan dessert recipes — ideal for Thanksgiving and Christmas — view my post http://wp.me/p42Uvi-1M @ http://coffeewithmyoxygen.wordpress.com

  22. […] snickers from mijnzeep @ naturelle […]

  23. […] evidenced by my maple pecan shortbread cookies, vegan cheesecake with a pecan shortbread crust, baked caramelized banana & pecan oatmeal and even a savoury brussels sprouts slaw with pecans […]

  24. […] 7g fat, 26g carbs and 16g protein). I successfully halved the original recipe into my small 6″ springform pan, and it made enough for a short weekend […]

  25. […] 11. Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust […]

  26. joanne said, on March 24, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    Hi there, can you suggest a good substitute for flaxseed in the crust?

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 25, 2014 at 2:10 AM

      They are used as a binder so ground chia seeds could be an easy substitute. Otherwise, try adding some dates.

  27. […] on her blog. I have been reading it for years and enjoyed many of her creations (hemp brownies, the best vegan cheesecake, warm chickpea and artichoke salad and cocoa mint nibbles). All the while knowing she follows an […]

  28. […] I pay more attention to the recipe, it looks like Abby took some inspiration for the crust from my pecan-shortbread crust I used with a lemon-cheesecake. You may not even need to pre-bake the crust like Abby did, so keep […]


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