These vibrant, mixed berry vegan cheesecake cupcakes have a secret ingredient that sneaks in a little bit of healthy goodness.
The creamy cheesecake layer gets its subtle berry flavor from GoodBelly Pomegranate Blackberry Drink, and! Each one is stuffed with fresh berries, for even more berry deliciousness. They're seriously fantastical.
Guys, I'm so excited that GoodBelly is back as a blog sponsor this month! I'm kind of addicted to a little morning cup of their probiotic drinks, and I'm delighted for a chance to use more GoodBelly in a recipe in this space.
This recipe for vegan cheesecake cupcakes is one I adapted from my original raw mini cheesecake recipe. With a few tweaks, I think I like it even better than its predecessor, and it's got a dose of probiotics, too!
With Valentine's Day coming up, I'm guessing that your sweet tooth is back in force. I have definitely been treating myself to some sweet treats. It's hard not to when they're calling to you from pretty heart-shaped boxes any time you go to the store right now.
Part of what makes sweets alluring is that they give a quick mood boost. The problem with most super sugary treats, though, is that they also give you a crash not long after. This cheesecake cupcake recipe has two things going for it that a box of chocolates does not:
- Fiber. The bulk of this recipe is made up of whole cashews, almonds, and dates, all of which provide natural fiber. Fiber helps stabilize your blood sugar and is one of the reasons that an apple doesn't make you crash an hour after eating it while a cookie does.
- Probiotics. I'm big on gut health, and the probiotics in this mixed berry cheesecake recipe help give you a natural mood boost that lasts longer than a sugar high.
That said, cheesecake cupcakes, even vegan ones, aren't total health food. I wouldn't recommend eating them all day every day. But as sweet treats go, something with a healthy dose of fiber and probiotics is going to treat your body a lot better than a processed food cookie or box of chocolates.
Plus, this recipe is just freaking delicious.
The crust only has two ingredients: unsalted almonds and Medjool dates. Just blend the almonds into a meal, like in the photo below, then puree the dates and mix to make this quick and easy no-bake dough.
Most of the time involved in this recipe is passive cooking time, meaning that you don't have to be there. You do need to soak the cashews and dates for at least 4-6 hours. If you like, you can soak them all day while you're at work or overnight. A little extra soaking time won't hurt anything.
You can make the vegan cheesecake cupcake filling in a regular blender or a high speed blender. In my Vitamix, it took one round of 1-minute blending on high, using the tamping tool to push the mixture down to the blade. I've made this cheesecake in my 10-year-old Magic Bullet, too. It's doable. Just blend for a bit longer to get that smooth mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides, as needed.
Once the cashews are soaked and you've made the pureed filling, you layer the cashew mixture and fresh berries into each muffin cup over the crust.
The other passive time is chilling the cheesecakes, so they can set up. They need to chill for at least four hours, but overnight really is best. I'd suggest just making them the night before, to give them maximum time to set up in the fridge.
Vegan Cheesecake Cupcakes with Fresh Berries
Prep time: 5-7 hours (includes soaking and chilling times); Cook time: 20-30 minutes; Total time: 5 1/2 - 7 1/2 hours; Yield: 12 vegan cheesecake cupcakes
- 3 cups raw cashews (Roasted cashews will not work here. They'll yield a grainy cheesecake. YUCK!)
- 4 large or 6 small pitted Medjool dates (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 cup almonds (Raw or roasted, unsalted will work fine. You don't want salted. Trust me.)
- 1 cup Earth Balance (or non-hydrogenated margarine of your choice), not melted
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Pomegranate Blackberry GoodBelly (You want the kind that comes in a carton, not the shots.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup agave nectar OR maple syrup
- about 1 cup fresh berries of your choice (Do not use frozen. They let off too much liquid, and you'll end up with a runny cheesecake.)
- Soak cashews and dates in separate bowls, using enough water to cover, for at least 4-6 hours, up to overnight. Drain. Do not skip soaking, even if you have a high speed blender. If you don't soak, there's a tendency to overblend the cashews and end up with gummy cheesecake. Learn from my mistake!
- Blend up the almonds and transfer to a small bowl. You're going for almond meal here, not almond butter. It should be a little bit rougher than cornmeal in texture. Some bigger chunks of almond are even okay. See the images above for how the almond meal will look and how the almond-date mixture will look in the cupcake tin, if you need a reference.
- Blend the dates until they're as smooth as you can get them, and add them to the almonds, then mix until you have a crumbly dough. I've found that the best way to do this is to just dig in with clean hands, and knead until they're incorporated.
- Divide the almond-date mixture between 12 lined muffin tins, pressing very firmly into the bottom of the pan. When pressed, the mixture should fill each cup about 1/4" full. If you end up with a little bit of leftover mixture, keep it! It's great mixed into oatmeal!
- Blend the cashews, Earth Balance, GoodBelly, lemon juice, and agave until you have a smooth mixture.
- Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon of the cashew mixture into each muffin cup, then tap and gently shake the pan to even out the filling. At this point, your cups will be about 1/3 to 1/2 full.
- Top each cup with berries (3 small raspberries OR 1 blackberry OR a few small slices of strawberry all work well), then top off with enough cashew mixture to fill the cups. Decorate each cheesecake with a few more berries.
- Chill overnight. Your mixed berry cheesecakes will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge. If you want to store them longer than overnight, I'd transfer to a flat container with a lid, to keep the berries from drying out too much.