Chai Cheesecake Bars (Gluten Free, Paleo + Vegan)
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 :)
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Chai Cheesecake Bars (Gluten Free, Paleo + Vegan)
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 16 bars 1x
- Category: Dessert
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!
- Calories: 234
- Sugar: 10
- Fat: 19
- Carbohydrates: 15
- Fiber: 1
- Protein: 4
Oh my word — these look INCREDIBLE for being totally gluten and dairy free! I have a feeling after one bite I’d be a believer, but I’ve never had cashew cheesecake before! I love how simple it is to make for someone who has never experimented with it before!
It most definitely is, Ashley! I was skeptical of cashew cheesecake for a while, but I recently figured out it’s all about the acid – adding some lemon really brings in that cream-cheesey tang :) thanks so much, girl!
These look insanely good. Think they will be ok if I transfer them in a car for about an hour? I can bring an ice pack but the concern is them melting. I want to make them tomorrow for Monday night. Thank you!!
Hi Jessica – they should hold up, especially if you keep them cool with an ice pack. Just make sure you don’t blast the heat on them :) enjoy!!
I love making vegan raw desserts. I would say even more so than regular desserts. There’s something magical about soaked cashews. Speaking of magical, your new space sounds magical too. I have a new home and really need to get my photography props organized. They are scattered everywhere. People come over and are like what is it that you do?
These are amazing!!! My sister loved cheesecake but she can’t have dairy anymore, I am going to make these for her! She will love them!! And what beautiful photos!!!
OMG, these look soooo good! My first ever cashew cheesecake was a mango version this summer and I was sold, so definitely going to try this chai version too! I would love to see your apartment, it sounds so utterly perfect :)
Your apartment sounds phenomenal! I’m in love with these adorable bars since I’m a chai spiced addict ;)
These bars look incredible, and I have not eaten cashew cheesecake. Time to change that! I would love to see pictures of your new apartment.
Aw, yay! It sounds like you have the perfect apartment!! And I will also take a few of these bars! They sound fantastic – I love the chai flavor!
Yumm yumm!! These bars look amaizng. And congratulations on finding the perfect apartment! As a renter, I know how exciting that is. And yes please…share pictures!! And I will be sure to reach out to you next tim I am out in San Diego to visit my best friend.
Wow, these look bakery case perfect! So gorgeous- love the chai flavor :) Congrats on your new place!
Wow these look unbelievably delicious and can’t believe they’re vegan too!
Sounds like you found a lovely apartment! It makes me happy to read about it!
I must thank you for your recipes! I’ve appreciated being subscribed to a blog that I can eat most of the recipes from! Unfortunately for me, this takes coconut milk… I got myself so excited that I might get cheesecake again. I’ve never heard of cashew cheesecakes before, though, so I’m thinking I’ll try to explore that world some more!
Hi Dani! So glad to hear you’ve been enjoying my recipes :) are you allergic to coconut? You could try this with another type of milk, but it might make it a bit thinner since coconut milk is very thick. You could try using about 1/3 cup almond milk instead, I haven’t tried it though so no guarantees!
I went searching as soon as I read this, and found a recipe that doesn’t take any milk over at My New Roots. :) I’ve got the cashews soaking to give it a try!
Im super super jealous of your new apartment, it sounds like the most perfect place ever (5 grocery stores nearby and tons of space in the kitchen, I wish)! These bars though, look amazing! I have not yet mastered the art of raw desserts, but these bars would definitely teach me the right techniques! Love all things chai :)
So glad you have your dream apartment! And an island and photography space! A huge kitchen with an island was a must for me when we bought our new house a few months ago. Love these cheesecake bars, too! Chai is my FAVORITE flavor, so I’ve definitely go to try these!
It unfortunately doesn’t have the island YET – I need to find one online! It’s an open loft so the kitchen is against the loft and while there’s a decent amount of space, there’s not enough counter space for me ;) Thanks so much, Gayle!
I’m soooooo happy for you that you found your dream apartment, Rachel! It sounds like things are really falling into place for you and I’m excited for you!! xoxo. And these bars??? Oh man, can I just take the whole pan for breakfast?? Chai and cheesecake is nothing short of GENIUS!
Thanks so much, Sarah!! Come over anytime for a breakfast of cheesecake bars ;)
Congrats on the apartment, Rachel! It sounds so ideal. I never realized I loved high ceilings as much as I did until our apartment had them. Thankfully we have them in our house, too! These bars are insane!! I’ve never had a cashew cheesecake before, but I think I need to give these a try.
These cheesecake bars look so perfect, Rachel! I never would have known there’s no cream cheese in there. They look SO creamy! :)
Ok I LOVE vegan cashew-based cheesecakes but have never made one at home before – all your tips sound so helpful so now I must try it!
P.S. These turned out SO beautiful!
They look stunning! Love love LOVE cashew based cheesecakes! Stunning shots :)
Thanks so much, Nadia!
These look awesome! Quick question though, the dusting on top in the picture, is that just ground up nuts?
Hi Robyn, it’s actually a mix of the spices used in the recipe along with a bit of coconut sugar. I’ll update the recipe to include it :)
Hi there, trying to make the recipe because they look amazing….
However not too sure how to soak the cashews? Are they just put in a bowl with water for 4hrs?
Hi Alecia – yup, a bowl or a big glass measuring cup does the trick. Just cover with water and let them soak for 4 hours, and then drain before using. Enjoy!
Do you use fresh grated ginger or dried ginger? This looks amazing, l make raw cheesecake all the time and am looking for something that’s not too sweet with some spice. I think I found it!
I hope you love them, Brandi! I used dried ginger here.
Could you tell me the carb, protein, fat in these please? They are currently in my freezer.. Can 3 hours really take that long to pass?!! Thank you for helping in advance!
Hi Laurien, I updated the recipe to include nutritional info!
Thank you for this recipe! I am so impressed with how these turned out. I made these as a treat for some friends I had over for coffee and love how rich and indulgent they taste. Paired with a black cup of coffee it was almost too good! I used with honey instead of maple syrup because it’s all I had, but still turned out great. Thanks again!
So thrilled to hear you’re loving them, Sarah! Thanks so much for your feedback.