This No-Bake Vanilla Bean Cheesecake is a gluten-free, Paleo, and vegan cheesecake made with a walnut crust, a creamy cashew cheesecake filling, topped with a luscious chocolate ganache. This healthier cheesecake alternative will satisfy your cheesecake cravings!
I’ve been on a cashew cheesecake kick lately – I can’t seem to get enough of them, and I’m constantly impressed by the lusciously smooth and creamy filling that results after a few minutes of whizzing in the blender.
It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it? Cashews, after being soaked in cold water overnight, transform into the most magically smooth and creamy paste, ready to take on any flavors you’re adding to it.
One day, while still undecided as to which flavor of cheesecake I was making, I started soaking raw cashews for the base of the cheesecake. I had three flavors in mind and took to Instagram Stories to poll my insta-friends to see which flavor was the most wanted.
Of the options, vegan vanilla bean cheesecake with chocolate ganache won with flying colors. Strawberry and mango, the other flavor options, weren’t too far behind – meaning those flavors have got to be made soon, too. Can’t disappoint anyone ;) and let’s be honest: I’m dying to eat them.
But back to the vanilla bean: you wanted a classic, and I’m here to deliver. Vanilla bean is underrated, and here, it really shines. I opted for vanilla bean powder out of ease, but a freshly scraped vanilla bean would be incredible (when is it not, though?). Of course, if you don’t have either, high-quality vanilla extract does the trick.
To make the cheesecake base, we blend the soaked and drained cashews with coconut milk, coconut oil, and pure maple syrup. We add a splash of lemon juice to the mix, which adds the signature cheesecake tang. A hearty dose of vanilla bean adds warmth and comfort, flavor’s version of a bear hug.
What are topping options for the cheesecake?
- Vegan Chocolate Ganache – this is what I used, and it looks beautiful and adds some fudgy richness to the cake
- Coconut Whipped Cream – lightly whipped, it would make a fabulous simple topping for the vanilla bean cheesecake
- Fruit – any kind of fruit or berry would make a great topping. You could even add it in addition to the coconut whipped cream.
- Caramel Sauce – this option is perfect for extra decadence. I recommend my Paleo Caramel Sauce.
The crust is also worth mentioning. We make it with walnuts and almond flour, pitted Medjool dates, cinnamon, and salt. We also add a bit of coconut oil to help hold things together. It’s nutty, a little crunchy, and perfectly paired with the smooth vanilla bean cheesecake filling.
For those of you who like to keep it classic, this No-Bake Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache is a certain winner. With the nutty crust, lusciously smooth and creamy vanilla bean filling, and rich chocolate ganache topping, it’s hard to resist. Just a small slice of this rich cheesecake will do the trick – enjoy!
Want more cashew cheesecake goodness?! Check out these faves –>
- No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Citrus Topping
- Chai Cheesecake Bars
- No-Bake Layered Blueberry Cheesecake
- No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars
For the graham cracker crust
- ½ cup raw walnuts
- ½ cup almond flour
- 2 pitted dates
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
For the cheesecake
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for at least six hours or preferably overnight, drained and rinsed before using (see Notes)
- 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 powder
For the chocolate ganache
- 3 oz. dark chocolate, I used 72%
- ⅓ cup canned coconut milk
- Grease a 6” springform pan with coconut oil, or line an 6” cake pan with strips of parchment paper for easy removal, and grease well with coconut oil. Set aside.
- Add the walnuts, almond flour, pitted dates, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt to a food processor or high-powered blender and pulverize until it comes together into a sort of sticky dough, with small walnut bits remaining. Don’t over process, or it’ll turn into nut butter! Press the date dough evenly along the bottom of the prepared pan.
- In the same food processor or high-powered blender (no need to wash between – I used my Vitamix, but most powerful blenders should do the job), combine all of the filling ingredients and blend for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is silky smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides as necessary. 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 levels, if desired.
- Pour the filling into the prepared pan over the 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.
- Place in the freezer to set for at least 3 hours or until completely firm before adding the chocolate ganache.
- To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate into a bowl. Warm the coconut milk in a saucepan until just simmering, and pour over the chocolate. You can also warm the coconut milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Make sure the milk is covering all the chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth, and then spread over the cheesecake.
- Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve.
- If storing in the freezer, let it thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving or let thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. I recommend running your knife under hot water to warm it up before cutting the cheesecake with the still-hot (dried) knife.
- Store leftovers tightly wrapped in the freezer (3 months) or refrigerator (5 days).
You can also cover the cashews in very hot/boiling water and let them sit for about an hour if you want to speed up the process – it won’t be quite as creamy, but it will do the trick!