Look at this creamy, dreamy, baked cheesecake! Can you believe that this baby is 100% plants? Making a baked vegan cheesecake might sound like an impossible dream since the traditional version is made with lots of cream cheese and eggs, but we pulled it off and it's delicious!
Editorial Note: This recipe was edited December 12, 2019 to reduce the quantity of water.
Lemon Cheesecake Filling Ingredients
The coconut oil and almond flour, along with some water, combine to replicate cream cheese. The chickpeas and liquid replace the eggs and add body. The cocoa butter and cane sugar add the creamy mouthfeel and sweet taste. And the lemon ties it all together, the perfect mediator. Here's what you need for the filling:
Coconut Lemon Crust Ingredients
We paired the lemon filling with a complementary coconut-lemon flavoured crust. Here's what you'll need for the crust.
Making the Cheesecake
This recipe is straightforward but you'll need a good blender to make both the filling and the crust.
First make the crust, then press it into a parchment lined springform pan. Put the crust into the oven to bake and while it's cooking, clean out the blender and make the cheesecake filling. Once the crust is ready, pour the filling mixture into it, and then bake again, until the cheesecake is slightly brown around the edges, and the centre is firm with a bit of spring.
Topping the Cheesecake
You can enjoy this cheesecake straight up, but we love it topped with Triple Berry Sauce, a jammy, slightly sweet combo of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, with a hint of orange. Yum.
The luscious lemon filling would also pair well with cherries, strawberries, mango, or even pineapple!
Some Cooking Geekery and Thank You's!
I was inspired to use chickpeas in the filling by this recipe from a Virtual Vegan. Her recipe uses chickpeas but not the liquid.
I make a lot of recipes with aquafaba and I get a lot of good advice and inspiration from the fabulous Aquafaba (Vegan Meringues Hits and Misses) Facebook group.
When I was developing this I did four different tests. While keeping every other ingredient constant, I made one version with just chickpeas, one with chickpeas and aquafaba, and a third one with chickpeas and whipped aquafaba. Here’s a pic:
They were all good. Both aquafaba versions rose nicely in the oven, giving that look of a true baked cheesecake. The version with the whipped aquafaba fell somewhat though and since it was more work, with a less positive result, I went with the unwhipped aquafaba for this recipe.
I was also curious how the recipe would work out if I used soaked cashews instead of almond flour. (I always have almond flour on hand for my Mother Mix.) I tried the soaked cashews with the chickpea and aquafaba combination. This version did not get thick and creamy in the blender and did not firm up in the oven. It was more like a lemon pudding. Tasty, but not what I was going for!
Tip: Make a Reduced Dairy Version
If you aren’t vegan but want to reduce your consumption of animal products, you can replace the cocoa butter and sugar with white chocolate chips. (See Recipe Notes for proportions.) White chocolate chips are usually a bit cheaper and easier to find but also contain some milk. So instead of having your typical dairy and egg-laden cheesecake, you’re only having a teensy amount of dairy, while still enjoying a creamy sweet treat. I’d say that’s a win.
Vegan Baked Lemon Cheesecake
Lemon Cheesecake Filling
- 9 tablespoons melted coconut oil (Use flavourless oil and melt before measuring.)
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour (Ground skinless blanched almonds)
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon rind
- 3/4 cup water* (Start with this amount and add more by the tablespoon if needed for your blender.)
- 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas, unsalted
- 9 tablespoons aquafaba (See recipe note)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa butter (Yes, this is vegan)
- 3/4 cup cane sugar
Coconut Lemon Crust
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cane sugar
- 1/3 teaspoon lemon rind
- Make the crust: Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until crumbly and well-combined.Line your springform pan with parchment paper.Press a scant 1/4 cup of crust mixture into each pan.Bake at 350F for 6-7 minutes or until the edge of the crust is just starting to brown. Turn the oven down to 325F for the next step.
- Make the filling:Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high for 1 minute then scrape down the sides.Repeat 3-5 more times, until the mixture is quite thick and creamy. It will be the consistency of a very thick cream soup. Pour into prepared pans.Bake at 325F for 35 minutes. The top will be slightly brown and the centre should be firm with a bit of spring. (If you are using only 1 pan, this will take longer to bake. Start checking around 45 minutes, but it may take 50 or 60 minutes.) Let cool before removing from the pan.
- Enjoy topped with Triple Berry Sauce or your favourite fruit sauce. The luscious lemon filling would also pair well with cherries, strawberries, mango, or even pineapple!
Replacement for Vegetarians/Reducetarians/FlexitariansIf you are vegetarian or reducetarian, you can replace the 3/4 cup cocoa butter AND 3/4 cup of cane sugar with 1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips. If you have a mixed crowd and want to make both a vegan and vegetarian/reducetarian versions, you can leave the cocoa butter and sugar out of the blender. This recipe makes three 4 1/2 inch cheesecakes, so you can easily make 1 vegan and 2 vegetarian/reducetarian, or vice versa. To do this, blend the filling as in the instructions and then per cheesecake, combine 1/3rd of the filling mixture, with either:
- vegan – 1/4 cup melted cocoa butter and 1/4 cup cane sugar
- vegetarian/reducetarian – 1/2 cup melted white chocolate chips