Almost Raw Vegan Cashew Cream Chocolate Cheesecake

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Forget water baths and cracked tops, this raw chocolate cheesecake is a foolproof dessert that will impress any chocolate lover.

Vertical image of a triangular piece of chocolate dessert with syrup on top and fork with a piece removed on a white plate, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I don’t know about you, but I love making any dessert that doesn’t involve an oven.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I could live in a world without my vegan chocolate cakechocolate chip cookies and banana bread.

But when I’m making a dessert to impress my guests, turning on the oven always makes me nervous that so much can go wrong – especially when you live at a high altitude.

My mom’s go-to dessert for her birthday is a chocolate Kahlúa cheesecake with a sour cream topping – so rich, but worth every bite.

However, despite following the same recipe every year, I think I’ve only had a handful of successful attempts.

The cheesecake has always been edible, yet something often goes wrong: the top gets a bunch of cracks in it, the crust isn’t cooked evenly, or the sour cream topping doesn’t set right.

While I’m sure there’s some user error happening here, I choose to blame it on the oven, since I don’t think I’ve ever made it in the same oven twice.

Vertical image of a whole circular cocoa dessert with a thin dark drizzle on a white surface next to a strawberry.

But with a raw cheesecake, those fears melt away… Well, technically they freeze away.

What is a “raw” dessert, anyway?

A raw dessert is one that’s made from a handful of whole, unprocessed ingredients. So, rather than using refined all-purpose flour and white granulated sugar, these recipes usually include pulsed nuts and dried fruits.

Additionally, any food cooked above 118°F is technically off-limits.

However, some minimally processed ingredients are often included in these desserts, such as cocoa powder, maple syrup, agave syrup, and vanilla extract.

Still, if you are following a strict raw foods diet, you’ll want to use raw cacao powder in place of cocoa powder, raw honey instead of maple syrup, and raw virgin (cold-pressed) coconut oil.

Vertical image of a whole chocolate cheesecake with dark drizzle, with a piece being removed from it with a metal serving knife.

For the vanilla extract, you can use a raw vanilla bean powder instead. However, as vanilla powder is more concentrated, I recommend using 1/2 teaspoon of powder for every 1 teaspoon of extract. Try this Wild Vanilla Powder, available on Amazon.

Another aspect of raw desserts is that they aren’t baked. Yes, this means no water bath or worrying about the top of your cheesecake cracking.

Instead, your freezer will do all of the work. As a result, raw desserts can be a great option if you’re looking for a recipe that you can make a day or two ahead of time.

So, how do you make a cheesecake without cream cheese?

Cashew cream is the answer.

If you haven’t discovered the pure bliss that is cashew cream, just wait – you’re in for a real treat.

Vertical image of a triangular piece of chocolate dessert with a dark and thick drizzle on a white plate on a white table.

Unlike many other types of nuts, cashews are crunchy but with a little softness, and they have a slightly sweet flavor.

As a result, when you blend raw cashews, they become incredibly creamy.

To keep them from taking on the thicker consistency of a nut butter, for this cheesecake we’re blending them with maple syrup, cacao powder, vanilla extract, and coconut oil.

The key to creating a super smooth filling is soaking your cashews first.

While this step does add a few hours to the prep time, it’s worth it. Soaking helps to soften the nuts, making them easier to blend.

Whole cashews can take at least 4 hours to soften; however, you can cut the soaking time in half by using cashew pieces and warm water.

In addition to making a creamy filling, these sweet nuts are also an excellent source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. In particular, they’re a good source of copper, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium, as well as vitamin E.

Vertical image of a triangular piece of cocoa dessert with a dark drizzle on a white plate next to a dirty fork, with strawberries in the background.

Remember how I said raw desserts are perfect for making ahead of time? As much as I enjoyed the first slice the day that I made this, the bites that I snuck out of the fridge over the next couple of days were even better.

While there’s automatically something that feels a little indulgent about eating cheesecake directly out of the fridge with a fork, I promise that the flavors and textures were actually better after a day or two in the fridge.

If you have the willpower to wait when you know you have a chocolatey homemade dessert sitting in your fridge, I highly recommend making this recipe a day or two before serving it. It’ll be worth the wait!

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Horizontal image of a whole circular cocoa dessert with a thin dark drizzle on a white surface next to strawberries.

Raw and Vegan Cashew Cream Chocolate Cheesecake


  • Author: Kelli McGrane
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Description

Looking for a foolproof, impressive dessert that’s raw and vegan, too? You’re going to love this indulgent cashew cream chocolate cheesecake.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Cashew Cream:

  • 3 cups raw cashew pieces
  • 6 cups warm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Crust:

  • Coconut oil, for greasing pan
  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 3 pitted medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon water

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup, raw honey, or agave syrup 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

For the Chocolate Drizzle:

  • 2 tablespoon raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 2 tablespoons raw virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, raw honey, or agave syrup

Instructions

  1. Place cashews, 6 cups warm water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Cover with a lid or kitchen towel and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or up to 12 hours. 
  2. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil and set aside. 
  3. Make the crust by placing pecans, dates, cacao powder, salt, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon water in a food processor. Pulse until mixture is crumbly, but sticks together when pressed. 
  4. Using a rubber spatula, scoop crust mixture into prepared springform pan and press it into an even layer. Place pan in the fridge while you prepare the filling. 
  5. Strain soaked cashews into a colander. Transfer to a high-speed blender.
  6. Add maple syrup, water, and vanilla extract. Blend on high until smooth. 
  7. Add cacao powder and coconut oil, and blend again until smooth. 
  8. Pour filling on top of crust, and smooth it out with a rubber spatula or back of a spoon. 
  9. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 2-4 hours, or until firm. 
  10. When ready to serve, prepare chocolate drizzle. Place cacao powder, coconut oil, and maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook until coconut oil has melted, about 3 minutes. Stir well to combine.
  11. Remove pan from freezer, and run a butter knife around the edge. Release and remove the springform collar. Drizzle the chocolate mixture on top. Slice and enjoy immediately. 
  12. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: No-Bake
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: raw, vegan, cashew cream, cheesecake, cocoa powder

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Soak Cashews

Horizontal image of cashews in a metal bowl.

The key to a smooth raw filling is softening the cashews by soaking them.

To do this, place 6 cups of warm water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Add the cashew pieces and cover with a kitchen towel or lid. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or up to 12 hours.

You can also use whole cashews, but keep in mind that they’ll just need an extra 2 hours to soak.

Step 2 – Measure Remaining Ingredients and Grease Springform Pan

Horizontal image of cashews in a glass bowl surrounded by assorted wet and dry ingredients in glass and ceramic bowls on a white surface.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients. It helps to keep the ingredients for each part of the recipe grouped together, so everything is in the same place when you need it.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil and set it aside.

Note: you can also use an 8-inch springform pan for a slightly taller cheesecake. I don’t advise using a larger springform pan, as the crust will be too thin and it may fall apart when you slice it.

Step 3 – Make Crust

Horizontal image of a date and pecan crust in a metal pan.

Place the pecans, dates, cacao powder, salt, vanilla extract, and water in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly, but sticks together when pressed.

If the mixture is dry and doesn’t stick together, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, and pulse again.

Using a rubber spatula, scoop the crust mixture into the prepared springform pan and press it into an even layer. Place the pan in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Step 4 – Make Filling

Horizontal image of a blender filled with a messy, thick, wet, grainy brown mixture.

Strain the soaked cashews into a colander, and then place them in a high-speed blender.

Add the maple syrup, water, and vanilla extract. Blend on high until smooth.

Add the cacao powder and coconut oil, and blend again until smooth.

Step 5 – Assemble and Freeze

Horizontal image of a thick, slightly grainy light brown mixture in a circular pan.

Remove the pan from the fridge.

Pour the filling on top of the crust in an even layer. Use the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to smooth out the top.

Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 2-4 hours, or until the filling is firm.

Horizontal image of a circular chocolate dessert on a metal pan on a white table.

If you’re not planning to eat it right away, transfer the cheesecake to the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Step 6 – Make Chocolate Drizzle

Horizontal image of a pot with a dark brown sauce next to a light brown dessert on a white surface.

Just before serving, combine coconut oil, cacao powder, and maple syrup in a saucepan and place it over low heat. Cook for 3 minutes, or until coconut oil has melted. Remove from heat and stir to combine.

Step 7 – Garnish and Serve

Horizontal image of a whole circular cocoa dessert with a thin dark drizzle on a white surface next to strawberries.

Remove the pan from the fridge or freezer. Run a butter knife around the edge of the springform pan and then open the sides.

Pour the chocolate drizzle on top, slice with a knife, and enjoy!

Does Raw = Healthier?

As a dietitian, one of my pet peeves is the use of the word “healthy.” There’s no one set definition of healthy after all, as we all have very different nutrition needs.

If we’re comparing the nutrients in this raw cheesecake against a more traditional recipe, then yes, this recipe is healthier. It’s filled with healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Horizontal image of a triangular piece of chocolate dessert with a dark and thick drizzle on a white plate on a white table next to strawberries.

However, if healthy means low calorie to you, then this may not be the dessert for you.

While nutritious, each slice has about the same amount of calories as a traditional slice of cheesecake.

But being high in calories isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

I’m all about making your calories count. For example, if I’m going to eat a slice of cheesecake, it had better be creamy and worth every bite. And I can vouch for this recipe being worth the indulgence, without the nutrient-devoid “empty” calories from refined flour and added sugar that you find in many recipes.

This isn’t your average Wednesday night dessert. It’s a rich, chocolatey dessert that’s meant for celebrating special occasions and sharing with friends.

Looking for even more vegan, no-bake, and raw desserts to make at home? Get your fix with one of these equally chocolatey recipes:

Have you made a cheesecake with cashews before? Let us know if there are any tips or tricks that we might have missed. And be sure to rate this recipe after you’ve given it a try!

Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on February 1, 2016. Last updated: September 20, 2020 at 12:41 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

The written contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.

34 thoughts on “Almost Raw Vegan Cashew Cream Chocolate Cheesecake”

  1. The chocolate sauce drizzling down the edges of this are killing me! I want to be that cheesecake ;p But seriously, it looks absolutely divine! I absolutely adore your writing, it’s so engaging! And raw cheesecakes taste SO good after a day or two in the fridge don’t they? I kind of find that with all cakes, even baked ones! But maybe I’m alone there! Hope you had a great weekend!

    Reply
  2. Beautiful post – I’ll be running to the market for all my ingredients for this! I can’t wait to add this one to my recipe box as well!

    Reply
  3. I made this last night, and it turned out like pudding despite 24 hours in the freezer. So dissapointing:( Have made a ton of raw cheesecakes before that have all turned out, but your recipe looked good and popped up on my feed so I thought I”d try it. It tasted yummy but just not the result I wanted

    Reply
    • Hi Carlin, I’m so sorry to hear this! We recipe-tested this a couple times and never had it turn out too soft, so I’m really stumped about what could have happened. (In fact, the last time we made it, I only put it in the freezer for an hour or so before keeping it in the fridge because I liked it a little softer and easier to cut, certainly not for 24 hours and still a pudding consistency!?). In the future, you could try lowering the water, but there has to be something else at work, too. In any case, I can say with fair certainty that this filling, frozen, should not feel like pudding.

      Reply
  4. Woooooo! This cake is INCREDIBLE!!! It barely lasted the weekend at my house. I love how simple it is to make, and how it is sweet but not to sweet, simply perfect.

    I added 1 tsp of this chai spice blend to the recipe and it really put this cake over the top!

    Thank you for this recipe, I can’t wait to make it again this weekend…

    Reply
  5. Looks delicious, I will definitely give this a try! We like to cook from ‘scratch’ and this one fits in really well!

    Reply
  6. It has been far too long since I read your blog! This looks DELICIOUS and I’m determined to make this treat this month. We just started meal planning and budgeting but this looks too good to leave off the meal plan. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Oh my goodness, I keep coming back to this cake. This is by far the best chocolate version of a raw vegan cheesecake I’ve seen. Waiting for that special moment to splurge. Moderation is hard when you have two people eating a cake like this, if you know what I mean :).

    Reply
  8. Came out fabulous!!! Added a pinch of sea salt and 2 tbsp lemon juice to the filling part, and it added a tiny bit of extra tang like a traditional chocolate cheesecake. Love it.

    Reply
  9. You should never use name cheese cake. If there’s no cheese in the recipe then don’t put it on the name. The cake is good on its own.

    Reply
    • Phebe, what should they call it? Vegan Cashew Cream Notacheesecake? How did you find this recipe? My guess is via Google. Searching for “vegan cheesecake.” Not a whole lot of people searching for “vegan notacheesecake.”

      Reply
      • Haha, good point, Molly! When I tried this recipe at home, my husband started calling is “ca-cheezcake” since it’s made with cashew cream and doesn’t contain any dairy! 🙂

        Reply

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