I fell head over heels for sweet pumpkin this year.
I have long been betrothed to squash in it’s savoury guise. Squash and sage are one of my all time favourite flavour combinations, making a simple risotto of even the basics of just rice and stock sing a beautiful hymn. I love it’s rich, creamy texture, subtle sweet flavour and vibrant colour in pasta dishes, especially in a lasagne with spinach and mushrooms. I adore it simply roasted, perhaps filled with a blend of Mediterranean roasted vegetables and a grain – in fact how I first tasted it in a restaurant in my early teens. Honestly, I remember that day very clearly.
Back in September, however, during Vegan Mofo, I baked up An Unrefined Vegan’s Maple Pumpkin Spice Quickbread to then make her French Toast Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches.
It all made sense to me. It was just so delicious and that bread in particular reminded me of something I had eaten in my past, but I didn’t know what. I just knew it was taking me back to a food memory that I missed and was glad to experience again. It was something about that perfect blend of warm, snuggly spices in a perfectly sweet, moist cake. That was it, I was in love and I have since thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with pumpkin in sweet baked goods over the last couple of months. I have used all kinds of squash where pumpkin is called for – gem, crown prince, kabocha, from my bedroom cupboard full which is now down to just 3 crown prince and one spaghetti. I best get on to order more…
This cheesecake, is barely adapted from the PPK but was just too delicious not to share. As usual, I have edited the crust for an even thicker biscuity layer and used glorious cinnamon biscuits to add to the sweetly spiced goodness; I also removed the sugar from the crust as the cookies are sweet enough. I edited the filling to make for a richer experience, replacing the white sugar with unrefined brown, increasing the spices and increasing the orange. I used homemade coconut butter which makes everything creamy and delicious.
This is my second vegan cheesecake, this time not using a commercial vegan cream cheese but cashews and tofu. The next one will be a raw version, then I will see which I liked best..
I urge you to make this…
Ingredients: Serves 10
- 250g/2 1/4 cups cinnamon or ginger biscuit crumbs
- 5 tbsp melted vegan margarine (75g), melted coconut oil, or vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp non dairy milk
- 65g/ 1/3 cup unrefined brown sugar
- 15g/1 tbsp vegan margarine or coconut oil
- Pinch of salt
- 100g/1 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked in water for 2 to 8 hours until very soft
- 1/4 cup mashed banana (about half of 1 medium-sized banana)
- 350g/12 oz silken tofu, drained
- 165g/1/2 cup + 5tbsp unrefined brown sugar
- 3 tbsp coconut butter or oil, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp cornflour/starch
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange + 2 tbsp juice
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 420g/1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (or other orange fleshed winter squash)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Make the topping:
- Mash together the brown sugar, margarine, and salt with a fork until crumbly, then stir through the nuts until coated in the mixture. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the crust:
- Preheat the oven to 180’C/350’F and lightly spray a 9 inch round springform tin with nonstick cooking spray.
- Mix together the crumbs and oil or margarine until all the crumbs are moistened then stir in the milk to form a crumbly dough.
- Press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the tin then bake for 8 to 12 minutes until firm. Set the crust aside to cool whilst you prepare the filling.
Make the filling:
- In a powerful blender or food processor, blend the drained cashews with the banana, tofu, brown sugar, coconut butter or oil, cornflour, orange zest and juice, vanilla, and salt until completely smooth.
- Add the pumpkin and spices and blend until fully combined, then pour onto the crust.
- Bake the cheesecake for 45 to 50 minutes, removing the cheesecake halfway through baking and sprinkling on the topping.
- The cheesecake will be done when the top is lightly puffed and the edges of the cake are golden. Remove it from the oven and let cool on a rack for about 20 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight before serving.
Very high in vitamin A