Hope your weekend is peachy! We’ve had a really hot and humid one as there’s a mini heatwave going on in Bristol at the moment. If you fancy a simple but delicious weekend bake, may I interest you in these tangy vegan cheesecake bars topped with jammy blueberries?
These Vegan Cheesecake Bars with Blueberries are really easy to make and absolutely to die for. I tested them on Duncan’s kayaking buddies, none of whom are vegetarian and (by the sounds of things) aren’t even sure what vegan means 🙂 – they loved them and didn’t realize they were made with anything other than cheese. That’s a winner in my book!
These creamy cheesecakes feature a delicious shortbread base, tangy and zesty cheesecake filling, and fresh blueberries that get all jammy in the oven. I chose blueberries but any berry would work just as well. I had half a mind to make them with raspberries (like here) but my husband has forever put me off tinkering with a recipe for no good reason, adding to my workload and stress level – thanks Duncan for having my back! X
More about ingredients
Vegan butter: I used vegan butter (I used Violife) to make the shortcrust base and give the cheesecake layer a bit more creaminess. Use the type that comes in blocks instead of the type that can be spread in tubs. You can also use coconut oil – if you choose to do this, I recommend using the refined type, ie, that has been steamed to remove the coconut flavor.
Sugar: I used caster sugar (called superfine white sugar in the UK) to sweeten both the base and the filling. you can use any sugar Note that if it’s dark in color, it can make this dessert look a little less appetizing, and if it’s not delicate, it may not melt completely in the oven when baking (this is more of a concern for shortbread, a little less so for filling). . You can also use Maple syrup or similar liquid sweetener. To use maple syrup for the base, first place the dry ingredients in a bowl, add ¼ cup (60 mL) maple syrup and enough softened vegan butter to bring the mixture together. To use maple syrup in the filling, use it instead of plant milk and you may need to take it out of the oven a little sooner as a result.
Almond flour: Almond flour helps keep the shortbread more tender.
Plain Flour: I used plain flour to make the shortbread, but a good gluten-free flour blend (high in starch) will work just as well if you want to keep this dessert gluten-free.
Cashews: I used raw cashews, first soaked in water to soften them, for the cheesecake filling. If you don’t want to use cashews, I’m sure hulled sunflower seeds would work just as well (they also need to be soaked) as I’ve used them in many other dishes that call for creaminess to great effect.
Plant Milk: Plant milk is used to blend the cashews silky smooth and to keep the consistency of the filling moist enough so that when the dessert is baked, it is creamy and not dry. I use soy milk but any plant milk will do.
Lemon juice and juice: I used a whole lemon zest and lots of lemon juice because I wanted this slice to have a savory tang. Feel free to like things less lemony (be sure to use plant milk instead) but I and all of my taste testers (most of them not even vegetarian) loved the balance of flavors in this dessert.
Vanilla: I used a generous amount of vanilla to give the filling more flavor, but if you prefer lemon flavor you can skip it. A small amount of fresh cardamom pairs really nicely with lemon and blueberries.
Blueberries: I used fresh blueberries, which I simply hung over the cheesecake layer and dotted a few more on top. You can use frozen (the dessert may need more baking time) or jam. Alternatively, use another fruit: raspberries or blackberries would be my recommendation.
This is how you make these
Place the softened vegan butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and rub the sugar into the butter first using a fork and then with your hands.
Next, add the salt and both flours in two batches and rub the butter-sugar mixture into the dry ingredients. By the time you’re done, the mixture should be moist enough to be squeezable.
Spread the shortbread base mixture into the prepared baking tin (I used a 20cm / 8″ square baking tin) and press it down with your hands, compacting it well (use a flat-bottomed glass to help), tap the base . A fork to stop it from cracking all over. Bake until golden brown, cool and sprinkle with some blueberries.
Make cheesecake filling by placing all ingredients (except blueberries) in a blender and blending until smooth. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the base and top with more blueberries. Bake until edges are firm but center is wobbly.
Cool completely. For the prettiest slices, refrigerate for at least 2 hours after baking, using a sharp and warm knife (briefly dip it in hot water to dry). Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- 200 g / 1½ cups raw cashews, soaked
- 120 ml / ½ cup plant milk (I used soy)
- Zest of 1 lemon + 90 ml / 6 tbsp lemon juice
- 125 g / ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar* (I used caster, but coconut sugar will work too)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (optional)
- 40 g / 3 tbsp vegan butter*, softened
- 150 g / 1 cup blueberries*
- Preheat the oven to 180° C / 355° F (or 20° C / 70° F lower with a fan setting) and line a 20 cm / 8″ square tin with baking paper so that it sticks around.
- Place the softened vegan butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, first using a fork and then your hands to rub the sugar into the butter.
- Add the salt and then add both flours in two batches and rub into the butter with your fingers until the mixture forms a crumbly dough that can be pressed between your fingers.
- Spread the shortbread mixture on the bottom of the lined tin and press it down with your fingers to form a base. Flatten the base using a flat-bottomed glass and prick it using a fork.
- Bake until lightly browned – about 15-20 minutes. Cool before filling.
- Soak the cashews in boiling water for 30 minutes or cold water for several hours. Drain before use.
- Add the drained cashews to the rest of the ingredients (except the blueberries) and blend until the mixture is very smooth.
- Arrange half the blueberries on top of the pre-baked base, then top with the rich cheesecake filling and garnish with the remaining blueberries.
- Bake until the edges are set but the center is slightly soft and wobbly, about 25-30 minutes depending on your oven and how you like your cheesecake.
- Cool completely then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
*Vegan butter: You can use coconut oil instead, I recommend using the refined type, which has been steamed to remove the coconut flavor.
*Blueberries: Any berry will work, raspberries or blackberries would be my other suggestions.