These Vanilla Bean Cranberry Cheesecake Bars are made with cashews for a smooth and creamy “cheesecake” that’s completely paleo, dairy free, vegan, and gluten free! You can use leftover cranberry sauce for the tart cranberry swirl.
For the cranberry sauce swirl (if not using leftover cranberry sauce)
- 6 oz. cranberries, fresh or frozen both work
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice, plus the zest
For the crust
- ½ cup toasted pecans
- ½ cup almond flour
- 2 pitted dates
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
For the cheesecake
- Line an 8” square pan with parchment paper for easy removal, and grease well with coconut oil. Set aside. Prepare cranberry sauce (directions below) and set aside to cool, if not already prepared.
- Add the pecans, 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 pecan 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. Dollop about ⅓ cup of cranberry sauce around the top of the cheesecake and use a sharp knife to swirl it in. Tap hard against the counter once more to settle everything.
- Place in the freezer to set for at least 3 hours or until completely frozen.
- Let them thaw at room temperature for 10-15 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.
For the cranberry sauce
- Add cranberries to a medium saucepan. Add maple syrup, orange juice, orange zest, and spices to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst and cook down, about 10 more minutes. For a very smooth sauce, use an immersion blender to smooth it out. Transfer to a bowl to and let cool.
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!