Vegan Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Berry-Chia Compote

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Finally took the new Vitamix out for a test run by pureeing cashews into the creamiest cheese-cakey filling ever.

It so beats “regular” cheesecake. Which does seem very regular in comparison to this scrumptious concoction.

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Check out that crust, first of all. It is just ground walnuts and medjool dates, with a sprinkle of dried unsweetened coconut. Less is more.

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Complete with a raspberry/blueberry compote, which couldn’t be easier to throw together.

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Yeah, you won’t regret making this.

Vegan Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Berry-Chia Compote

Adapted from The Vegetarian Times magazine, July 2008

2 cups raw walnuts
1 ½ cups raw cashews
½ cup pitted Medjool dates (I used 5-6 large dates)
¼ cup dried, unsweetened coconut
6 Tbs. coconut oil, melted (gently warmed)
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup agave nectar
The scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
Compote
3 cups mixed berries, such as blueberries and raspberries (I used frozen)
1/3 cup (probably unnecessary) raw sugar
zest and juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Soak walnuts and dates in one bowl of water, and cashews in another bowl, for 3-4 hours. Drain.
Pulse walnuts and dates in a food processor until crumbly and pressable. Sprinkle dried coconut in the bottom of an 8-inch pie pan or springform pan. Scatter the walnut/date mixture in the pan, right on top of the sprinkled coconut, and press to cover.
Place drained cashews, warmed coconut oil, lemon juice, vanilla beans, and agave nectar in the Vitamix. Process until smooth and delicious. Pour the mixture into the crust, and freeze 1-2 hours/until firm.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the berries, sugar, and lemon juice + zest until bubbling, then lower the heat and simmer. Add and mix in the cornstarch and chia. Once most of the liquid has evaporated and it reaches a jelly consistency, remove from heat. Allow to cool.
When ready to serve, allow to thaw a bit and then top either the whole cheesecake with compote, or each individual slice. Alternatively, you can serve this with fresh berries.

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This was absolutely the bomb. So delicious. Vanilla beans running throughout and the lemon juice do well to lighten an otherwise decadent dessert. The tart berry compote–with chia seeds, full of fiber and other goodness–contrasts the subtle sweetness of the cake perfectly. One slice is so satisfying and chock-full of healthy fats. Do not fear the fat.

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I will definitely make this again. Even my die-hard cheesecake-loving brother ate it without question. I’m not sure if he even suspected it was anything less than the cheesecake he knows and loves.

Vegan or not, you will be the most popular person at whatever party you bring this to… or, the most popular person in your house if you just make it for fun!

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