Guiltless Pleasure Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Prep Time 20 minutes, plus 6 hours to freeze
- Estimated Cost $15.50
- 30 Comments
I realize it may not be what you expect from a food professional, but I really don't care much for pumpkin pie...or most pies, really. The filling is usually gloppy, the crust is nearly always either too dry or undercooked, and after a heavy meal (like, uh, the one pumpkin pie is most associated with), it's really the last thing I want to eat.
So, it's funny that I made my way to this pie, which I have now eaten for breakfast three of the past seven days and cannot wait to make for my family (especially my pumpkin pie snob little brother who was extremely displeased with me three years ago when I made a Thanksgiving pie out of fresh butternut squash instead of the standard canned pumpkin pie filling he loves so much) this holiday season.
One night a few weeks ago, while making chicken korma (a curry dish, thickened with ground cashews), it occurred to me that the lusciousness the soaked and pureed nuts brought to the korma could possibly, with the addition of pureed pumpkin and some spices, form the basis of a creamy pie filling, and since I love pureed cashews, maybe I would like that more than a regular pumpkin pie? Upon experimentation and with inspiration from this recipe from Minimalist Baker, I found that full-fat coconut milk (do not buy "lite" coconut milk for any reason whatsoever, OMG), added nice body and a surprising lack of coconut flavor, which would be quite unwelcome in a pumpkin pie, along wiith coconut oil, maple syrup (buy grade B -- it adds a richer maple flavor which works really well here), apple cider vinegar for tang, and a flurry of warm spices (cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg) yielded the flavor and texture combination I was looking for. A sweet pecan crust completed the holiday theme.
Unlike most pies and cheesecakes, the filled mixture doesn't need to be baked.
It freezes overnight (at least 6 hours) and then thaws slightly in the fridge until you're ready to serve.
Tradition usually calls for whipped cream (or whipped coconut cream), but as previously stated, I like bucking tradition, so I top it with more cinnamon and pomegranate seeds, which serve the double function of underscoring the tartness of the "cheesecake" and looking like beautiful jewels.
It's worth mentioning that this pie is vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free, but don't make it for those reasons--make it because it's freaking delicious.
For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups raw pecans $4
- 1 cup pitted medjool dates $5
- 1/4 teaspoon salt Pantry
- dash ground cinnamon Pantry
For the filling
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews $3.50
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar Pantry
- 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk $1.50
- 1/4 cup grapeseed or coconut oil Pantry
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (use Grade B for a stronger maple flavor) Pantry
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine) $1.50
- 1/2 teaspoon salt Pantry
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg Pantry
- 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon Pantry
- Pinch of ground cloves Pantry
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or dark rum Pantry
- optional toppings: whipped cream, whipped coconut cream, ground cinnamon, fresh pomegranate seeds
Recipe Serves 8
- Cover the cashews with water and soak for at least an hour.
- Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles a crumbly dough and sticks together when a clump is pinched.
- Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
- Wet your hands in cool water and press the crust with into the bottom of the lined springform pan to completely cover.
- Drain the cashews, then puree in a blender or food processor along with the remaining filling ingredients until very smooth and creamy (let the machine run for at least 2 minutes).
- Pour the filling into the crust-lined springform and smooth with an offset spatula or scraper.
- Freeze at least 6 hours (preferably overnight) until the filling is firm.
- Let thaw in the refrigerator, then slice iand serve cold, plain, sprinkled with cinnamon, or topped with whipped dairy or coconut cream, or pomegranate seeds.