This paleo vegan turtle cheesecake is rich, creamy and won’t leave you missing the dairy! It’s also no-bake and perfect for Christmas.
I can’t stop making variations of this vegan cheesecake. The base is just so perfect.
I’d tried numerous vegan cheesecake recipes over the last few years but didn’t love them enough to post. So now that I have one that I love, I’m going to adapt the heck out of it. :D
I posted another vegan cheesecake recently, this vegan pumpkin cheesecake but I’m posting another already because I want you all to have enough time to try this out before Christmas.
Not that you need to try it out. I can’t stop making it so I can ensure you that it is very well tested!
If you’ve never had vegan cheesecake before, you might be wondering how cashews work to replace cream cheese and eggs. It’s just magical. That’s all I can say!
If you’ve tried other vegan cheesecake recipes in the past and thought that they were gross (that was me for years), I urge you to give this one a try! Even my pickiest taste testers loved it.
And no, you can’t taste the coconut at all! I recommend using refined coconut oil. Otherwise, you might be able to detect some coconut taste!
You might notice that I didn’t use a ton of pecans. If you want a thicker pecan layer, use about 1 1/3 cups pecans and chop them up more finely than in the photos.
Stir them into the full batch of caramel. Top with mini chocolate chip or piped chocolate.
Substitution questions about this vegan turtle cheesecake recipe?
- What can I use in place of the cashews?
I think any nut would work for the crust. I always use cashews and almonds in the crust. I thought about pecans but they’re super expensive here and you wouldn’t be able to taste them so much with the cocoa powder in there, anyway.For the filling, I don’t think there’s a good sub for a vegan dessert like this.
- Can I use something instead of dates in the crust?
I haven’t tried it but perhaps prunes would work. I’m not sure how different they taste but I think with all that cocoa powder, it’d cover up any unusual taste.
- Can I use something other than coconut milk?
Another type of milk might work but it won’t be quite as rich, creamy or thick. It could also possibly be too soft to cut.
- Can I use something other than maple syrup?
Any liquid sweetener would probably work (that you would use as a 1:1 sub for maple syrup or honey).
- Can I use something other than coconut oil?
I’ve only tried this vegan turtle cheesecake with coconut oil and recommend using that.
- Can I use something other than lemon juice?
Unfortunately not. It’s needed to give the cheesecake it’s slight zing. Without it, the cheesecake tastes kind of flat.
- Can I use a different sized pan?
Definitely! Your cheesecake will just be thinner. Think about the crust, though. If you want an 8″x8″, you’ll probably want to double the crust. If you use a 6″ springform, you’ll have a little too much for the pan and will need to put the leftover filling in something else.
- I don’t have a food processor or high-speed blender. What else can I use?
Sorry to say that you need one of those. You can’t chop up the dates finely enough without one. And because of more importantly – the filling. I really, really recommend a high-speed blender (not a regular blender!) over the food processor. It’ll get the filling perfectly smooth and creamy. I can’t say that all food processors will do the same (though I’m sure some would!).
- Can I use something instead of coconut cream?
I can’t think of a paleo or vegan sub. Heavy cream would probably work if you can have dairy. Almond milk, cashew milk, etc. would be too thin.
- Can I use something instead of maple syrup?
I wouldn’t recommend it! I know some people are probably curious about honey (for a non-vegan version) but I haven’t had a good experience using honey in place of maple syrup in boiled caramel recipes.
- Can I use something instead of coconut sugar?
Brown sugar would probably work for a non-paleo version.
About the sauce:
If you try out this vegan turtle cheesecake, I’d love to hear what you think!
Paleo Vegan Turtle Cheesecake
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 9-12 slices
- 2/3 cup (93 grams) raw almonds or cashews (roasted are also fine)
- 2/3 cup (140 grams) pitted dates, firmly packed
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (19 grams) cocoa powder
- little less than 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups (435 grams) raw cashews1
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) full-fat canned coconut milk
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) coconut oil2
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup (160 milliliters) coconut cream (not milk!)
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) maple syrup
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) coconut sugar, very tightly packed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- the above caramel
- about 1/2-2/3 cup (55-77 grams) chopped pecans
- about 1/2 cup (85 grams) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, melted OR about 1/4 cup (42 grams) mini chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (make sure to use paleo / vegan chocolate)
For the crust:
For the filling:
For the caramel:
For the topping:
- Line the bottom and sides (all the way to the top) of a circular 7"x3" springform pan (if a little smaller, you can pour the leftover filling in a small dessert glass / bowl) with a piece of foil or plastic wrap.
- In the bowl of your food processor using an S-blade, pulse all the crust ingredients until it starts to come together. Depending on your food processor, this will take 1-3 minutes.
- Pinch a bit of it together - it should stick together easily. You can also use a high-speed blender (the small jar used to make nut butter). Process it on high for about 20 seconds or until no large chunks remain. It might look very dry but once you pinch it, it'll come together.
- Press firmly onto the bottom of the lined pan and press it down so that it's compacted.
- Place the pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
- Get out a high-speed blender and make sure it's large enough to fit all the ingredients. The filling yields about 5-6 cups. Add all the filling ingredients, in the order listed, and blend for about 30-60 seconds, or even longer, depending on your blender, or until totally smooth and no lumps remain.
- Pour the filling over the crust and place the cheesecake in the freezer for about 2 hours or until you think it's firm enough to put the caramel on top. You can also pour the caramel on top now if you don't care so much about forming a perfect layer of caramel. It'll take 9-12 hours for the cheesecake to freeze solid.
- Add all the ingredients, except for the vanilla, to a saucepan or small pot. Put in a candy thermometer if you have one.
- Bring to a boil, over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once it's come to a full boil, continue boiling for 8 - 10 minutes. Adjust the heat if you need to so that the mixture doesn't burn. I kept mine at 5 out of 9 and never had an issue with that.
- The mixture quite quickly came to 194 °F (90 °C), and then it took several minutes before it started getting hotter. Then it quickly moved to 201 °F (95 °C). You could also see a change in the mixture when that happened (but maybe you won't so don't use that as a measure of it being ready). But it will be clearly thicker than when you started. If it's still super thin, it's not ready.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool enough so that it doesn't melt the cheesecake.
- Pour the caramel over the cheesecake and top with pecans and piped melted chocolate or chocolate chips.
- Freeze for up to a month or refrigerate for up to 4 days. To defrost it, set it out at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes (will depend on how warm your kitchen is). You can also put it in the fridge overnight. It is great kept in the fridge for a softer texture.