Pumpkin Vanilla Bean Swirl Cheesecake
Cheesecake has undoubtedly always been one of my favorite desserts. It’s the thing I almost always requested for my birthday as a kid. I was just always obsessed with the creamy richness and the tanginess. My mom was also known for making a killer homemade cheesecake. So, naturally it’s something I’ve missed a lot since becoming vegan.
Granted, the internet is loaded with recipes for healthier, raw, no-bake cashew cheesecakes with date nut crusts. They’re great in their own right, but they’re not really comparable to a traditional baked cheesecake. At least in my opinion.
So, I decided to try making a baked vegan cheesecake. I scoured the internet for recipes, most still called for cashews and coconut cream. I wanted my recipe to be nut-free, and I also didn’t want it to require a blender or food processor. I’m pleased to announce I finally came up with something that is just as simple to make as a regular cheesecake, and tastes surprisingly legit.
I also decided to take it to the next level by making it into a vanilla bean cheesecake with a pumpkin spice swirl, because Fall. In addition to that, I swapped out the traditional graham cracker crust for a gingersnap pecan crust (Yes, please!). Lastly, I served it with a salted caramel sauce drizzle and some vegan whipped cream. Perfection.
Truly, you’re not missing anything with this recipe. The texture is creamy and rich. It’s perfectly tangy and vanilla-y. It’s loaded with the flavors of pumpkin, cinnamon, and ginger. The crust is buttery and crisp. It doesn’t “taste vegan” whatsoever. This is definitely the kind of dessert you can share with your non-vegan friends and family. It’s absolutely perfect for the holidays as well, I’m pretty sure this is one of the desserts I’ll be serving at Thanksgiving this year.
Alright, I think I’m finally done tooting my own horn. Recipe time. If you try this recipe out, be sure to take a pic and tag me on Instagram @Bitchy_Baker <3
Vegan Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
Yield: 1 10-inch Cheesecake
Time: About 3 hours prep/cook time + 4 hours cool/chill time
½ cup finely chopped pecans (optional, omit if nut-free, I recommend using roasted/salted pecans for best flavor)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup dark brown sugar
4 8oz packages vegan cream cheese, room temperature (see note for brand recommendations)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
4 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot starch)
½ cup vegan yogurt (I used vanilla bean cashew yogurt from Trader Joe’s)
½ teaspoon salt
Pumpkin Swirl Ingredients:
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (not pie filling!)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
Vegan salted caramel sauce (see note)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9 or 10-inch springform pan by spraying it liberally with non-stick baking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the springform pan in aluminum foil, this will prevent water from entering the pan when baking it in a water bath later on.
2. In a bowl, combine all of the crust ingredients until combined. Add the mixture to the springform pan and spread into an even layer. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or glass, or the back of a spoon to pack it down and press it flat. Place the pan on a center rack in your preheated oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely while preparing the cheesecake.
3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until combined. Add in the vanilla paste, lemon juice, yogurt, cornstarch, and salt. Mix until smooth. Stop halfway through to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated.
4. Remove two cups of the cheesecake mixture and add it to a separate bowl. To this bowl, add in all of the pumpkin swirl ingredients. Mix to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
5. To assemble the cheesecake: alternate between dolloping large spoonfuls of the vanilla cheesecake better and pumpkin swirl batter on top of the crust until you have used up both batters. It doesn’t really matter how you dollop it, you just want to ensure you get some of each batter in every section so each slice has some of each type of cheesecake. Use a wooden skewer or knife to swirl the batters together in the pan. Tap the pan on your counter a few times to flatten out the top.
6. Place the springform pan into a dish that is large and deep enough to fully hold the pan. I would recommend a deep roasting pan or a half sheet cake pan. Carefully pour boiling water into the pan, taking care not to get any water into the cheesecake. I usually add 1- 1 ½ inches of water, or about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
7. Place the pan onto a center rack in your preheated oven. Bake for 75-90 minutes, or until the outer edge feels “set” and only the very center of the cheesecake jiggles if you shake the pan. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door slightly. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour. This allows the cheesecake to finish cooking, and allows it to cool slowly so it doesn’t crack.
8. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool completely before placing it in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 3 hours before removing it from the springform pan.
9. Serve with caramel sauce and vegan whipped cream. Enjoy!
1.) You’re welcome to sub in a gluten-free cookie crumb of your choice if you would prefer. I like to make my cookie crumbs in my food processor. However, if you don’t have a food processor or blender, you can crush your cookies by placing them in a Ziploc bag. Seal it up and use a rolling pin, heavy spoon, or bottle to crush the cookies and make crumbs.
2.) Try to find a good thick vegan cream cheese for this recipe. Personally I like to use Tofutti or Aldi’s vegan cream cheese from their Earth Grown line. They’re both quite thick. I imagine Kite Hill would also work well, although I haven’t personally used it because this recipe requires a lot of cream cheese and it’s super expensive in my area. Trader Joe’s vegan cream cheese works as well. However, it’s much softer, so it requires quite a bit more cornstarch. I added an additional 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to the cheesecake batter when using Trader Joe’s cream cheese, just to be sure it sets fully. If you try any other brands, please let me know how they work for you.
3.) I used this caramel sauce recipe. I replaced the non-dairy milk with vegan cream (such as Ripple Half and Half, Trader Joe’s Soy Creamer, or Silk Original Creamer), I also increased the amount to almost 1/2 cup as I found it a little thick at first. I added 1 tablespoon of corn syrup to the sugar water mixture, this helps prevent crystallization. Highly recommend this recipe! However, if you don’t feel comfortable making a sugar syrup using this method, you can make my easy brown sugar caramel sauce from my apple pie bars. It’s not a true salted caramel, but it still tastes amazing.
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