Vegan Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars
Thank you for joining Deborah and me for another Meatless Monday! I look forward to fellow bloggers linking up and inspiring everyone.
Thanksgiving is just over a week away I have one last dessert for you! I have one other that I’m making again for an early Thanksgiving at my in-laws this weekend but I’m going to wait to share that with you until after Thanksgiving as it’s also great for Christmas. I know you might be thinking another dessert but it’s that time of year and I’m all about enjoying classic and traditional favorites with a twist while trying to also make them a little healthier. That doesn’t mean that traditional flavor should be sacrificed. Desserts are meant to be a treat and enjoyed!
One dessert besides pumpkin pie, which I already played with and posted Friday, that screams Thanksgiving for my family is pecan pie! For me pecan pie is great any time during the fall or winter. I had to play with this classic and make Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars! I’m a fan of pecan pie as I love nuts but always want something a little more with all the sweet caramel coated nuts. If you ask me the holidays are about family and the classic family favorites. Cheesecake, or a cashew vegan cheesecake in this case, is the perfect paring for those caramelized toasted pecans. As they are also one of my grandmother’s favorite desserts I had to play with it and bring her something so delicious it would put a smile on her face. These bars did just that!
Vegan cheesecakes are one of my favs as they are so delicious, vegan, and gluten free, and everyone enjoys them. I mean everyone! They don’t miss anything with these delicious cheesecakes so I’m always tweaking and playing with them as it’s something everyone loves and enjoys. Making something everyone likes and can enjoy and bringing a smile to faces is what it’s all about this time of year and bring me joy.
The only thing I kind of struggled with was getting that rich buttery caramely coating on the pecans that you have in a traditional pecan pie. That meant I couldn’t go with a date paste topping and had to go with coconut sugar to get that caramel glaze on them without baking the bars and also meant they wouldn’t be raw as I had to make the caramel sauce on the stove. It was quick and easy and still gave me that buttery rich caramel I wanted with the pecans to top these bars. If you are a pecan pie fan you know what I’m talking about, that coating that makes the pecans have that thin caramel chew coating on them. While they don’t stand up to heat well and can’t sit out for hours on a buffet table they are worth it. They are honestly best served 20-30 minutes out of the freezer as than they have time to thaw and have a soft creamy texture.
So good these are perfect in bite size nibbles for any holiday get together just for that little sweet treat some are looking for and not a heavy dessert. They are so rich and delicious they just hit the spot for me. I cut the bars into 16 or for smaller nibbles 36. The smaller serving size I think is perfect as they satisfy that sweet craving you’re looking for but still leave you wanting more and they don’t fill you up. Trust me thought I like the larger size too and it’s more comparable to a traditional slice of cheesecake. They are a perfect addition to any holiday spread! Or shh they are also perfect for that sweet treat some of us like with our coffee. I sent some home this past weekend, as I had an extra batch from photographing, with a few family members who like pecan pie to enjoy yesterday with coffee for a sweet Sunday morning treat with their coffee. Getting sweet messages that they loved their sweet treats made my day!
Pecan Pie Cheesecake
Makes 9×9″ pan, 16-32 servings
1 3/4c pecans halves, toasted
6 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked if dry
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP coconut oil
2c raw cashews, cashew pieces (soaked 4 hours or overnight)
1/3c pure maple syrup
1/2c canned full fat coconut milk (So Delicious Original Culinary Coconut Milk)
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean or 1 TBSP vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 1/2c pecans, roughly chopped
1/2c coconut oil
1c coconut palm sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2c pure maple syrup
Start by soaking your cashews in water 4 hours or overnight.
Toast pecans for 8-10 minutes at 350F, let cool.
Prepare a 9×9 pan lining with parchment paper. In a food processor pulse 1 3/4c toasted pecans until you have a coarse crumble. Add in cinnamon and sea salt and pulse to mix. Add pitted dates and process until the mixture comes together before adding coconut oil and processing for about 30 seconds or until well blended. Press crust into the bottom of prepared pan. Place in the freezer, while this isn’t necessary I find it helps me make sure I have a level area in the freezer ahead of time and works for doing it in steps if I’m not doing it all at once.
To make cheesecake rinse and drain cashews. In a food processor, or Vitamix, pulse cashews until they are broken up as much as possible. Shake your coconut milk before measuring and add to the cashews with the maple syrup, lemon juice, and vanilla. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. I find the Vitamix will make it the smoothest. Pour cheesecake over prepared crust and place in the freezer.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt coconut oil. Add sugar, water, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved, then adjust heat to medium and boil 2 minutes longer. Add maple syrup and boil, stirring frequently, until sauce is thick, smooth, and coats a spoon, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour over pecans adding just enough to cover the pecans, about half. Too much caramel and the bars will run as they warm up. The reserve can be used for serving or on top of ice cream.
Pour caramel pecan mixture over cheesecake and freeze for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. If serving at a party remove bars ahead and cut and place back in the freezer until just before ready to enjoy. Bars can be removed about 20 minutes before enjoying but do not leave sitting out as the caramel will melt and they will get too soft. Enjoy!
These #vegan Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars are a #Thanksgiving must! #MeatlessMonday @MeatlessMonday Click To Tweet
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