When I was a kid, long before plant-based foods became an integral part of my life, Thanksgiving was about one thing, and one thing only: Pumpkin Pie. I could take or leave the turkey, along with the weeks of turkey soup that followed. What I looked forward to the most was pumpkin pie, topped with a healthy dollop of whipped cream of course.
My interpretation of what pumpkin pie should be has changed a lot over time. I started out craving the oh so easy but somewhat suspect in the way of ingredients Safeway pie, topped with (I am embarrassed to admit it) whipped mystery topping out of an aerosol can. I then moved on to homemade pumpkin pie, including a white flour pie crust, eggs, carnation milk, topped with real, licked off the beater whipped cream.
After deciding to make a whole foods and plants the cornerstone of my diet I was faced with a real challenge; how to recreate this holiday favourite without all of the usual trappings? I tried and failed to find a viable substitute, until faced with the challenge of coming up with dishes for a canapé party for the Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional Certification. I decided to bite the bullet and created a cashew cheesecake version of my all-time favourite.
Much to my delight, it worked, with some delicious and very beneficial superfoods thrown into the mix. I paired my superfood pumpkin cashew cheesecake with a toasty cup of my Chaga Chai, the perfect pairing to offset the cool temperature of the cashew cheesecake and to celebrate all of the warmth fall spices and seasonings have to offer.
Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
Line two muffin tins with silicon or paper cups. Press a layer of crust mixture in the bottom of each cup with your fingers, keeping them moist to avoid sticking. Spoon some of the cheesecake filling on top, until it is just below the edge of the cup. Let the mixture set for at least two hours in the freezer.
As mentioned above, let the cakes sit for 5-10 minutes before serving or shaping them. They can be stored in a container in the freezer for a couple of weeks.
Using a springform pan, add the crumbly crust mixture to the bottom of the pan and press until you have a solid, even layer. Pour the cashew cheesecake filling on top, jiggle to even up the surface and let set in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
Remove the cashew cheesecake 5-10 minutes before serving, so that it is soft enough to cut. Please note, the cashew cheesecake does need to be stored in the freezer, otherwise, it will melt completely!
Garnish your mini cashew cheesecakes or cashew cheesecake slices with whipped cream, fresh grated nutmeg, and cinnamon, and enjoy!
Pumpkin Pie Filling
Double recipe for a full cheesecake.
1½ cup organic cashews, soaked overnight
2 Tbsp hemp seeds
¾ cup pumpkin purée
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup coconut oil
1 tsp pumpkin pie mix (see below)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lucuma
1 tsp camu camu
Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
Mix together and store leftovers for later use.
Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix, or regular blender and purée until smooth. If necessary, add water, a little bit at a time, until you achieve a smooth, thick consistency. Be sure not to add too much!
Please note, if you are using a regular blender you may need to process all of the ingredients in smaller batches.
Double the recipe for a full cheesecake.
1 cup pecans
2 Tbsp dates
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp vanilla bean powder
Add pecans, dates, salt, cinnamon and vanilla bean powder to a food processor and process until you have a crumbly consistency.
A good pumpkin pie recipe (cashew cheesecake or otherwise) would not be complete without a lovely whipped cream to finish it off. I love the following coconut-based recipe, it is light and fluffy with a hint of lovely natural sweetness.
1 14oz can of organic Thai Kitchen full fat, unsweetened coconut milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp of pure maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
Ground cinnamon (to serve)
Skim the coconut cream out of the can, putting the coconut water aside for later use (in a smoothie perhaps!) Add vanilla extract and maple syrup and whisk until the coconut mixture is fully blended and smooth. You can serve it immediately or put it in the fridge for an hour for a denser consistency.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Bonus Recipe (makes two 16 oz servings)
Blender pumpkin pie filling leftovers after two trays of muffin size cheesecakes
2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp dandy blend mixed with 2 cups hot water
Add two cups warm water to your blender and process until the water and filling mix combines into a smooth milk. Mix together 1 Tbsp dandy blend with 1 cup hot water in two mugs. Top with pumpkin pie spiced milk from the blender and serve.