One half of me is hanging on for dear life to these last days of summer, and the other half of me is glaring at the trees in our neighborhood to WITHER YOUR LEAVES AND DIE ALREADY because fall is simply the best. It’s not even debatable. So, if you’re hanging on to summer, make these cheesecake bars and defiantly tell the other half of me to take a hike because it’s freaking berry season and the berry bars aren’t going to make themselves.
These cheesecake bars are honestly healthful enough that I thought about calling them strawberry breakfast bars. And because I have nothing to hide, I have eaten these not only for breakfast, but also for lunch, afternoon snack, dessert, and even bedtime snack. I have made only (rolls eyes) five batches in the past three weeks and I think we are just barely getting our fill around here. And by “we” I mean, Patrick (my main squeeze and formal taste tester), our friend and roommate, Tim, and my fur-baby, Scout, who waits patiently in the kitchen for me to drop a morsel of cheesecake heaven on the ground.
Not everyone will feel enticed with a name like “vegan-gluten-free-cheesecake bars.” I realize it’s sort of like saying, “try some apple-free apple pie! Don’t worry you’ll love it.” I tried explaining them to a large dinner party recently and decided that it is best to simply say “try my strawberry cheesecake, it’s delicious!” And it really is delicious. And I’m not even vegan. Or gluten-free.
One great thing about this recipe is that you can make it using any type of berry, even frozen ones (though fresh is best)! I am excited to try blackberries and raspberries (and probably should have done that in the first place, considering that they are at peak season).
VEGAN & GLUTEN-FREE STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE BARS
adapted from: My Berry Forest
makes one 8×8 pan
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut sugar or sugar of your choice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup almond butter
1/3 cup minus 1 teaspoon cold water
cashew filling (aka cheesecake batter):
1.25 cups soaked cashews (from approximately 1 cup of un-soaked cashews)
1/4 cups unsweetened coconut yogurt or nut yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
seeds of 2 vanilla beans
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coconut flour
1.25 to 1.5 cups diced strawberries (or any berry you prefer)
1 teaspoon cornstarch or potato starch
1 tablespoon coconut sugar or sugar of choice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Ahead of time: In a small bowl, soak the cashews in warm salted water for at least 2-4 hours but ideally overnight. Use enough water that it completely covers the cashews.
Prepare an 8×8 inch baking pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Make your crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt). In a smaller, separate bowl, whisk together coconut oil, almond butter, and water. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients- the batter will be coarse. Spread evenly in the bottom of your prepared pan and bake crust for 10-12 min, or until the batter is just barely set (it will bake more later).
Make your cashew filling: Drain and rinse your pre-soaked cashews. In a small food processor, blend together all filling ingredients. Spread on top of the baked crust.
Prepare your topping: Mix together strawberries, cornstarch, coconut sugar, and lemon juice, making sure all the clumps of starch and sugar get thoroughly mixed in. Gently spoon evenly onto the top of your cashew filling.
Bake: 25-30 min at 375 degrees F, until the berries are soft and the cashew filling is set. Let cool completely. Store in refrigerator (or even the freezer).
*If you don’t have Ceylon cinnamon, substitute 1/2 teaspoon Cassia or “regular” cinnamon. Ceylon has a more subtle flavor than Cassia and therefore you cannot equally substitute them for one another.