My Dairy-Free Cheesecake with Berries is a perfect not-too-sweet treat.
How to Make Dairy-Free Cheesecake
You know how when recipes don’t actually contain dairy, people spell the words differently…like cheeze, mylk, and creme? Yeah, I’m not doing that. I suppose you could use quotation marks around the word “cheese” to be technical about it, but we’re all grown ups here.
So, this recipe has no dairy and it’s not a perfect replica of actual cheesecake by any stretch of the imagination. But if you’re looking for something that’s kinda sorta reminiscent of cheesecake but won’t make your guts hurt, look no further.
Interestingly, this Dairy-Free Cheesecake with recipe almost didn’t get published. I actually took the photos in June 2017 after finding all this gorgeous fresh fruit at the farmers market one Sunday.
(Yes, food photographers and recipe developers get excited about things like seasonal fruit. It’s a bit hard to understand, I know!)
I rushed home, made the cheesecakes, photographed everything, and then life happened. I got busy, and I didn’t end up blogging the recipe. Then, it was too late in the season. And then it was fall. Cue winter, and now we’re back around to the beginning of berry season. Better late than never, I guess! Lucky for me, I was able to find the recipe I scribbled down in a since-retired notebook.
Okay, you may be wondering what the heck this is made of since there’s no dairy in it at all. Lemme break it down for you.
Using Cashew Cream to Make Cheesecake
This Dairy-Free Cheesecake base is made from a cashew cream base that’s thickened with a little gelatin. (This is the gelatin I like.)
There’s a little bit of coconut milk in there to add extra creaminess. Since cream cheese is tart, I used lemon juice and zest for some zing. And to add sweetness, I used raw local honey. Remember, this isn’t an exact replica of cheesecake…but reminiscent of it.
Trust me, I’ve seen some pretty elaborate dairy-free cheesecake recipes in my day…creations that have multiple layers, special gluten-free crusts, cost half a paycheck, and take half a day to make. This is not those by any stretch of the imagination.
Crustless Cheesecake, For the Win
And since l like simplicity when it comes to making desserts – ironic because I used to work in a bakery – these are no-bake and have no crust. Instead, I added a little texture with a simple homemade grain-free vanilla bean granola sprinkled on top. You can find that recipe below.
For topping, I used different combinations of fresh fruit: apricots, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries. There’s no wrong answer here. Use what you like, what’s available to you, on sale, local, fresh, etc.
And because I love mini-everything, I made this Dairy-Free Cheesecake in little tart tins. To give you an idea of the size, they are three and a half inches across. You could make yours in ramekins, 1/2 cup Mason jars (these are the kind I use), custard cups, or whatever small bowls you have lying around. Or mix and match…it feels more homemade that way.
What Substitutes Can You Use In These Dairy-Free Cheesecakes
As always, you can probably make substitutes, but I didn’t test them. For example, you could use cashew milk or another non-dairy milk instead of the coconut milk. You could try agar agar instead of gelatin, and you could swap out the honey for maple syrup.
If you do make a substitution and it works out well, please leave a comment so others can learn from you.
You could also use store-bought cashew milk to speed up the process, but I think homemade tastes far better. Also note that the cashew cream is thicker than cashew milk which is why I recommend making your own.
Other Treats That Use Fresh Berries
Check out my:
Dairy-Free Cheesecake with Berries
- 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
- Filtered water
- 1/2 cup coconut milk full-fat, divided
- 2 tsp grass-fed gelatin
- Zest of half a lemon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Pinch sea salt
- 1/2 cup water
- Fresh fruit: strawberries blueberries, blackberries, cherries, apricots, or whatever combination you like
- Raw honey for drizzling
- Homemade Grain-Free Vanilla Bean Granola optional
- Soak the cashews. Place the cashews in a medium bowl or a quart Mason jar. Cover with plenty of filtered water and set aside on the counter to soak (uncovered is fine) overnight or for 8-24 hours. Discard the soaking water once you're ready to make the rest of the recipe.
- Bloom the gelatin + make the cashew cream. Pour the coconut milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin on top (this is called blooming). Blooming the gelatin helps keep it from getting clumpy. Allow the gelatin to bloom for 5 minutes while you work on the rest of the recipe.
- To make the cashew cream, combine the soaked cashews, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, 1/4 cup coconut milk, and water in a blender or food processor. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the mixture is smooth. Pour this mixture into a small saucepan and put it over medium low heat. Add the bloomed gelatin/coconut milk mixture and stir for about 5 minutes until the gelatin dissolves and there are no lumps.
- Finish the cheesecakes. Divide the cheesecake mixture evenly into tart tins (I had enough for four). Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until the mixture is set. Then, decorate with fruit and granola. Serve.
You can make these 1-2 days ahead of time by making the cheesecakes ahead of time. Cover with cling film until you're ready to serve, then add the toppings right before serving.
Grain-Free Vanilla Bean Granola
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 1/4 cup raw almonds sliced
- 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
- Generous pinch sea salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 vanilla bean sliced lengthwise, seeds scraped out
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the walnuts, pecans, almonds, coconut, sesame seeds, and salt. Mix to combine.
- In a small bowl, combine the egg white, honey, and vanilla bean seeds. Mix to combine. If the egg white is cold, the honey will stiffen up but that's okay. Stir as best you can.
- Pour the egg white mixture into the nuts and stir until everything is well-coated. Spread on the baking sheet trying to leave bigger clusters if you can.
- Bake for about 6 minutes, then gently stir and rotate the tray. Bake for another 4-8 minutes depending on your oven. It's best to stay close to the kitchen for those last minutes because it can go from golden and crunchy to burned in a flash.
- Remove when everything is golden brown. Let cool completely, then store in a covered contained for up to five days.
You can use any combination of nuts that you like as long as it adds up to about a cup.
Which fresh fruit topping would you use for this Dairy-Free Cheesecake? Tell me in the comments below!
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