Pecans, pie, and cheesecake: three things I'd never say "no" to. So when a reader asked if I could make a butter pecan cheesecake the unconventional way, of course I wasn't about to decline :)
She gave me this delicious-looking butter pecan cheesecake recipe for reference and off to work I went, exploring ways to get to that same type of dessert, minus the dairy, sugar, gluten, and minus the baking, too (part of the request).
Anyone else guilty of #procrastibaking? It's my ultimate sidetracking skill it seems... Despite being snowed under with a bunch of work, of course I had time to experiment with multiple cake trials... :) The thing about procrastibaking is that somehow when I'm in that (not-at-all-avoiding-all-my-other-tasks) mode I often get my best baking done... and this time was no disappointment, as I ended up with this absolutely lovely autumn treat.
While not an exact adaptation of the original, it was definitely inspired by all those delicious familiar flavors. The request was for this recipe to (ideally) be made raw too, and I gave that a good try. Out of all the experiments though, this near-raw recipe by far won my heart.
For those curious about crust substitutions, I experimented with: Just nuts (cashews) -- delicious, but coarser. All oats -- delicious, but a bit.... hmmm... dry? A mix of cashews and oats turned out to be best. But the crust is quite flexible -- feel free to use all oats, all nuts, or a mix to your liking.
I skipped the "butter" in the pecans part because... well, I'm just not into all that butter. Sorry! :P I know it's delicious to some, and of course you can totally use that as a basis -- frying pecans in some (non-dairy) butter and (coconut) sugar.
But really, once you fold them into the recipe I find you can't taste the difference much (from past experience). Those additional flavors, beyond the taste of toasted pecans, sort of get lost in the cheesecake. Slightly caramelized pecans are another story, though. Or if you prefer, just toast some, plain and simple. Options ;)
On that note, I have to admit my "candying" technique here is quite lazy (toss in an oven bag with some maple and bake till candied). I do have a really awesome candied pecan recipe on the blog already, but I felt for this type of recipe a quick / easy hack was best, considering you've got a whole cake to make... Streamlining things means you can fast forward to all that deliciousness, asap.
If you want the cake to be super light and fluffy, let it thaw out 10-15 mins first and you'll get that soft and delicate consistency.
And last but not least, this recipe would be most ideally made in a removable bottom tart pan. I've been moving and so didn't have access to mine, and ended up going for my 6" mini pie plate instead. Worked a treat, but the first piece was hard to get out gracefully, after which point though the rest glided out with ease.
You can also use a 5" springform pan instead if you prefer (though you'll need to reduce the recipe by about a ⅓. Or simply use any dish of a similar size, but line it with parchment first so you can get the cake out easily.
A delicious no-bake vegan cheesecake made with flavorful toasted, candied pecans (gluten-free).
- 1 cup gf quick oats (or use cashews, pecans, or a mix for grain-free)
- ⅓ cup cashews (or more oats)
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- CANDIED PECANS: Pre-heat oven to 350F. Place pecans and maple syrup in a parchment baking bag, close tightly and shake vigorously to mix the pecans and maple. Bake for 10-20 mins until the maple caramelizes over the pecans (ready when the maple becomes crisped on the pecans; if it's still wet, keep baking until ready. Just keep an eye out so they don't burn -- nuts can go from zero to burn quite easily sometimes...). Alternatively, toss pecans in maple in a bowl to coat lightly, lay out on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate until crisp (6-8 hours). Cool the pecans off to room temp, then chop.
- CRUST: Process all crust ingredients in a food processor into a sticky fine crumble. Transfer the mixture into a 6" pie plate (or a dish of a similar size) and press down into an even crust along the base and edges. Freeze while working on next step.
- FILLING: Blend all filling ingredients in a power blender into a smooth consistency. Fold in ⅔ of the chopped pecans (by hand), leaving the remaining third aside for decorating. Transfer the filling mixture into the prepared crust and level out the top. Sprinkle remaining chopped pecans around the edges. Freeze for 5-6 hours to set. Thaw out on the counter and enjoy! (Keep leftovers frozen).
* To pre-soak nuts: place in a glass bowl, cover with water, and leave to soak for 4 hours (or overnight in the fridge). Then strain and discard the water. For a quick pre-soak, cover with boiled water and soak for 15 mins, then strain and discard water. (Note: this technique doesn’t preserve the nutrition of the recipe as well as the traditional soaking technique above). Additional Note: the purpose of soaking the nuts is to re-hydrate them and plump them up for blending into a smooth, cheesecake-like consistency. Proper soaking techniques also maximize nutrition and digestibility. If you’re interested in learning more about nut soaking and other dessert prep tips and tricks, I delve into these subjects in detail in my book Unconventional Treats.