Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake

It’s October!! Aka my favourite month, and the start of spooky season and pumpkin season and holiday season and basically just everything that I love season. It only feels right to start the month off with a pumpkin recipe, and this one does NOT disappoint. I initially thought of doing a vegan pumpkin pie, but that just didn’t quite feel exciting enough. The restaurant I work at has a seasonal pumpkin cheesecake that I used to absolutely love before I was vegan. When I heard we were getting it back this week, inspiration was sparked for this recipe. I was determined to create a vegan and gluten free version that was equally as delicious, and I think I nailed it, if I do say so myself. So move over, pumpkin pie! This is the perfect dessert to bring to your Thanksgiving dinner!

This recipe is vegan, gluten free, and nut free! Because the last cheesecake I made was made with cashews, I thought I’d try something different (and more simple) and use vegan cream cheese. I made this dessert for a fall dinner party, and one of my friends has a nut allergy, so this was a perfect alternative to cashews. I think this cheesecake has a more similar taste and consistency to a traditional non-vegan cheesecake! It’s SO creamy and perfectly pumpkin spiced, and the gingerbread oat crust is the perfect touch. Basically I’m obsessed and I’m probably going to make this again very, very soon.

To let you all in on a secret, the making of this cheesecake went the opposite of smoothly. It was all perfect until I was ready to place it in the oven, when I realized I had made a HUGE mistake. When I made my last cashew based cheesecake, I swapped the foil for beeswax wrap to cover the base of my springform to be more eco-friendly. This worked perfectly, as that recipe was a no-bake cheesecake. Instinctively, I did the same with this recipe. I was NOT thinking. Beeswax wraps can not go in the oven, so you can see my problem here. The filling was already in the pan, perfectly marbled. I was left with a huge dilemma, and it turned into the biggest mess my kitchen has ever seen. The details aren’t important (I’m still triggered), but I ended up attempting to chill the cake and transport it off of the base in order to swap out the beeswax wrap for foil, and move the cake back onto the pan. All I will say is that thinking that would work was very ambitious of me. Somehow, I scooped my mess together and it turned out to be perfect in the end. So miracles happen, people.

Notes:

  • For the vegan cream cheese, I used Tofutti brand and it worked perfectly. The baker who I was inspired by for this recipe recommended not using Daiya, as it did not work as well for her. I have not tested my recipe using any other cream cheeses, but feel free to use whatever kind is available to you. **If you live in Saskatoon, you can find Tofutti at Dad’s Organic Market. While it doesn’t seem to be fully up to date on smaller retailers, here is Tofutti’s store locator. I recommend calling or looking online at local health food stores as well to see if they carry it!
  • As always, you want to use full-fat coconut cream in this recipe. Look for a can that is free of emulsifiers, which keep the cream from separating from the liquid. Examples of emulsifiers to look for include guar gum, carrageenan, and methyl cellulose or corn starch. Store your coconut cream in the fridge ideally for 24 hours, but as long as you can will do. If you’re in a time crunch, store it in the freezer for a short time! If you find yourself baking/cooking with coconut cream frequently, it is a good habit to get into to always have a couple cans on hand in the fridge! If you do not have canned coconut cream, full-fat coconut milk will do. Just do not use light coconut milk! Extra fat and calories are sometimes just necessary.
  • If you do not have a springform pan, any pie dish should work as well! If it is a shallow or smaller pie dish, I would recommend cutting the filling ingredients in half. If you have a larger pie dish, you could leave the portions as is, and your cheesecake just might be slightly thicker than it would be with a springform pan! Regardless, bake times will remain similar – if you are cutting ingredients in half, it will still require about 40 minutes to bake.
Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 2 cups oats
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated (**can substitute for ¼ tsp ground ginger**)
  • 6 tbsp melted vegan butter or coconut oil

For the filling:

  • 16 oz vegan cream cheese (2 8oz packages) **see notes
  • 7oz coconut cream (½ of a can) **see notes
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions:
  1. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with foil, and lightly oil the insides of the pan with cooking oil. *see notes for springform pan alternative option.
  2. Make the crust. In a food processor, pulse the oats until they are fine, but not quite a powdery flour consistency. In a medium bowl, mix together the processed oats, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and ginger. Lastly, add in melted vegan butter or coconut oil, and stir together until fully mixed into a crumbly crust consistency. Press the crust firmly into the bottom of the pan going up the sides slightly.
  3. Make the filling. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat vegan cream cheese for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add coconut cream, sugar, corn starch, vanilla, and lemon juice, and beat for another minute, until smooth. Separate 1 cup of the cream cheese filling, and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Add this mixture to the cream cheese filling, and stir until fully incorporated. Pour this pumpkin cream cheese filling evenly into the pan, on top of the crust.
  5. To create a marbled effect, grab the 1 cup of cream cheese filling that was set aside, and scoop large dollops across the surface of the pumpkin filling. When all of the remaining cream cheese filling is added, use a spoon or butterknife to create swirls on the cake. Mix it enough that there are no visible dollops of white on the surface, but not so much that it becomes one blended colour.
  6. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn off the oven and open the door slightly, letting the cheesecake sit inside for an additional ten minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, before placing in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours (preferably overnight). The cheesecake will firm up as it cools, so do not worry if it seems undercooked!
  7. When it is time to serve the cheesecake, remove from the fridge and run a knife along the edges of the springform pan before removing the sides. Slice, and serve with any desired toppings. I served it with dollops of So Delicious Coco Whip and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice!

Enjoy!

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