These Chai Cheesecake Bars are tangy and full of spicy chai flavor – they have a vegan cashew cheesecake filling and a pecan date crust. These creamy cheesecake bars are gluten-free, paleo, vegan, and there’s no baking required!
So as I’m writing this, it’s Sunday night and I’m lounging on my bed in my new apartment, about to spend my first night here. Bear, my big black Newfoundland/Chow, is sleeping, curled by the front door. I keep looking around and sort of giggling to myself, wondering how in the world I found exactly the kind of place I wanted.
I mentioned it in my last post, but I dreamed of a loft-style apartment, with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. Guess what? I ended up in exactly that. It’s perfect for me – I’m turning it into half living space/half Bakerita studio, with a big kitchen island and a GINORMOUS shelving unit to store my photography props, pantry items, cookbooks, and whatever else ends up on there.
It’s bathed in natural light, which is perfect for all my photography needs, and the location. I have 5 grocery stores within a mile – it’s sort of the dream. I can also walk to tons of restaurants, and have a coffee shop about 50 yards away from me. So ideal. I’m giddy, if you can’t tell, and if you’d like…I’ll do an apartment photo tour post once everything is all set up and beautiful! Leave me a comment and let me know if you want to see :)
I’m super antsy to get everything unpacked and set up! Thankfully, I don’t have too much stuff because I got rid of so much when I moved back to San Diego, so it shouldn’t take too long. I’ve got to get baking again!
Thankfully, I had these Chai Cheesecake Bars already photographed and ready to share. I’ve actually been so excited to share these because I’ve only foraged into the world of vegan cashew cheesecakes a couple times, and these chai cheesecake bars are definitely one of my favorite iterations of the cashew cheesecake I’ve tried!
The crust is super simple – just dates, toasted pecans, and a bit of kosher salt. I note in the recipe that if you want to keep this recipe totally raw and no-bake, just use raw pecans. I just think toasting them adds a little something special, if you’ve got the time ;)
Now, a couple important things to note about the cashew cheesecake filling:
- For the creamiest filling, soak the cashews overnight. They need to soaked for at least four hours, but try not to exceed 10 hours or they may get mealy.
- If you wish to shorten the cashew softening time, use boiling hot water and soak for 1-2 hours – might not be as creamy this way though.
- Don’t be scared of the long ingredients list – half of them are spices!
Cashew cheesecake is really the simplest thing ever to make – just throw all the ingredients into your food processor or high-powdered blender (I use my Vitamix) and blend, blend, blend until it’s super duper smooth + creamy!
When it’s all blended, give it a taste. You can add a bit more maple syrup if you want added sweetness, or more lemon juice if you crave more tartness. You can also fiddle with the spices to taste. Once you’re happy, pour it over the pecan date crust and pop it into the freezer to set. These are stored in the freezer, and you can serve them straight from the freezer or let them thaw for about 10 minutes – I liked them a little thawed and soft.
Pro tip: run your knife under super hot water, dry, and slice these with the still-hot knife to help make them easier to cut. These are so good! I’m going to be making cashew cheesecakes galore from now on – which flavor should I work on next?! Enjoy :)
Remember to #bakerita if you try the recipe!
Chai Cheesecake Bars (Gluten Free, Paleo + Vegan)
For the crust
- 1½ cups pecans
- 1 cup pitted dates finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
For the cheesecake
- 2 cups cashews soaked for at least four hours or preferably overnight
- ½ cup canned coconut milk shaken
- ¼ cup coconut oil melted and cooled (use refined coconut oil if you want no coconut flavor)
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Line an 8” square pan with parchment paper for easy removal, and lightly grease with coconut oil. Set aside.
Add the pecans, pitted dates and salt to a food processor or high-powered blender and pulverize until it comes together into a sort of sticky dough, with small pecan bits remaining. Press the pecan date dough evenly along the bottom of the prepared pan.
In a high-powered blender (I used my Vitamix, but most powerful blenders should do the job), combine all of the ingredients and blend for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is silky smooth and creamy. You may need to add a bit more coconut milk or lemon juice to get it to blend smoothly if your blender isn’t super high-powered.
Once it’s smooth, taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness/tartness/spice levels, if desired.
Pour the smooth filling into the prepared pan over the pecan crust. Smooth out the top and tap the pan hard against the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
Place in the freezer to set for at least 3 hours or until completely firm before cutting into 16 squares. I recommend running your knife under hot water to warm it up before cutting the bars with the still-hot (dried) knife.
Serve frozen or let them thaw at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving. Store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
For the topping, I mixed up a bit more of each of the spices used in the recipe along with about a tablespoon of coconut sugar, sprinkled it on, and topped with a pecan!