Delicious, gorgeous, and so easy to prepare, this vegan cranberry cheesecake is perfect for the holiday season or anytime you need an easy and impressive dairy-free dessert. Make with fresh or frozen cranberries (or store-bought cranberry sauce)! No tofu; just blend, pour, and chill. Gluten-free option.
If you haven't already, prepare the cranberry sauce, then set aside to cool. Lightly oil a non-stick, 9-inch springform pan, and clear enough space in the refrigerator and freezer for the pan.
Make the crust:
In a large food processor pulse graham crackers into crumbs (you should have 1 cup). Transfer to a separate bowl. Pulse the pecans into crumbs.
Return the graham cracker crumbs to food processor with the pecans, and add the spices, sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine. Drizzle in melted coconut oil, and pulse several times to distribute the oil.
Press mixture into the prepared pan. The flat bottom of a glass or ramekin works nicely to tamp down the crust. Use your fingers to neaten and compact the crumbs around the edges. Refrigerate crust while blending the filling.
Make the filling:
First, blend the cashews with the liquid ingredients (lemon juice, vanilla, and maple syrup) until incorporated but still chunky. Once the cashews are mostly broken down, add the coconut cream and blend until smooth, gradually increasing to high speed. Stop as needed to scrape down the sides of the blender, and use a tamper if your blender comes with one.
Add the cranberry sauce, salt, and cream cheese. Blend until smooth.
Taste the filling for sweetness. Depending on the sweetness of the particlar cranberry sauce used, you may need anywhere from ¼ to ½ cup sugar. I used ⅓ cup (my cranberry sauce was sweetened only with ⅓ cup maple syrup). If you opt for store-bought cranberry sauce, which is sweeter, you will likely need less additional sugar. Blend until velvety smooth, and taste again. Pour into the chilled crust.
Place cheesecake in freezer, uncovered, for 3 ½ to 4 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before carefully releasing the sides of the springform pan. Transfer to a cake plate, garnish with pecans, slice and serve.
Make the candied pecans garnish (optional):
Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet or large plate.
Preheat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Toast the pecans, shaking pan occasionally, for 5 to 6 minuters or until fragrant.
Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and stir to combine. Immediately add the maple syrup, and stir again.
Remove from heat. Transfer pecans to the parchment paper, using your hands to separate them if stuck together. Let cool.
For a gluten-free cheesecake, feel free to substitute your favorite crispy GF cookie for the graham crackers. Ginger snaps would be fantastic, and you can skip adding the spices. You can also pair this filling with any other suitable gluten-free crust that fits a 9-inch springform pan.
Using the homemade cranberry sauce linked in the recipe creates the best flavor and color, though store-bought cranberry sauce can also be used. Make sure it's vegan, and choose a whole-cranberry variety, not jellied. Then measure out 1 ½ cups. Store-bought cranberry sauce is typically sweeter and less tart than homemade, so adjust the optional sugar (final ingredient to be added to blender) as needed.Also, the color of the finished cheesecake won't be as vibrant with store-bought sauce.
Many stores now sell cans of coconut cream (I use the Whole Foods 365 brand). But if you can't find it, buy 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk. Refrigerate the cans for 1 to 2 days in advance. The cream will separate from the liquid making it easy to scoop out 1 cup of solid cream. The leftover liquid can be used in another recipe such as soup or baked goods.
Cheesecake will keep in an airtight container the refrigerator for up to 5 days.It's also freezer-friendly. Simply thaw in refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before serving.Nutrition information represents 1/16 of entire recipe; does not include candied pecan garnish.