I love pumpkin pie! In particular I love the spices, the sweet eggy custard and the crumbly shortcrust pastry. So in other words I love the sugar, gluten, eggs and dairy which traditionally make up this dessert. But this year our thanks giving dinner was going to have accommodate diabetics and the gluten intolerant so my challenge was to come up with a delicious desert which also ticked all the health boxes. The lactose in milk products such as used in a traditional custard can spike a diabetic’s blood sugar so I wanted to try and go vegan. I’ve had some mighty fine vegan cheescakes based on cashews so that was my starting point. This once uses soaked cashews and silken tofu as the “cheese” in the cheesecake. Arrowroot powder is the binder. I never like using broken up cookies for cheescake bases – seems like cheating to me! Here I used  ground up pecans and more cashews to give a nutty and protein rich flavor. I added psyllium husk powder which works as a binder but is also believed to have some positive effects on people with type 2 diabetes. Ground flax would also work well here.

The spices are of course a matter of taste – I like a bit of spice and I think it reduces the need for sugar. I measures in the recipe but I usually just eyeball spices! Talking of sugar, I wanted to limit the amount of extra sugar so I tried a commercial sugar replacement from Krisda based on monkfruit and Erythritol. It’s not exactly like sugar but can be subbed 1 for 1 into baking products. It’s the first time I tried it so I did put a little bit of real sugar in as well but it might be ok to do without it altogether. Or if you don’t need it to be suitable for diabetics you could probably just use sugar.

It seems a huge number of vegan recipes call for a good blender and this is not different! You really want to make the filling very smooth. My Oster has great power but I still needed to do it in small batches to get it to the texture I wanted.

Ingredients

Filling:

350g silken tofu
2 C raw cashews (soaked or boiled for 10–15 min)
2 C pumpkin puree (about a 4 pound pie pumpkin)
2/3 C dry sweetner*
1 tbsp Lemon juice
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp Cinnamon(guesstimate! I probably used a bit more than that)
1 tsp Cardamom
1 tbsp Powdered Ginger
1/2 tsp Nutmeg

Crust:

1 C raw cashews
1 C pecans
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup of dry sweetner.*
1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
1 tbsp Psyllium husks or ground flax

 

*Dry sweetner: I wanted to make this a diabetic friendly dessert so I used Krisda Monkfruit Sweetner which is a blend of Monkfruit extract and Erythritol. I did use a couple of tablespoons of actual sugar in the filling but I’m not sure what difference it makes. If making the dessert diabetic friendly is not ctitical for you, you could go ahead and use regular sugar.

Method

Preparation:

1) Put 3 cups of cashews in a bowl and cover in cold water. The cashews will swell as they soak so make sure your water leves is a good inch over them.
2) Cut pumpkin in half. Put cut halves down on a roasting pan and roast for about 40 minutes at 385C. The flesh should be tender and mashable. Scoop it out, discarding the seeds and stringy material, and place it in a sieve over a bowl to let it drain and cool for a good hour. You should have about 2 cups or more.

Making the filling:

1) Drain the cashews and give them a quick rinse. Take 2/3 of them (will be a bit more than 2 cups after soaking) and mix with the silken tofu. Blend on super maximum high until *very* smooth. You really want this to be as smooth as possible here.
2) Add the puree to the other ingredients and mix well. Working in batches, whiz the mix in the belnder until it is as smooth as possible. It should have a thick, smooth consistency like a really thick custard. If it is too runny you can try adding more soaked cashews and a bit more arrowroot.

Pumpkin cheesecake filling

Making the crust:

1) Quickly blitz the pecans and cashews to coarse crumb.
2) In a bowl mix with coconut oil, coco powder, psyllium husks or flax, sugar (or substitute) and spices. The mix should clump together into a ball when you press it in your hands.

Putting it all together:

1) Grease 9 inch springform pan with coconut or other oil.
2) Press the filling into the bottom of the pan. I like a good bit of crunch in my cheescakes so I go for about a 1+ cm layer.
3) Pour the filling in and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula or knife.
4) Bake at 325C for 40 minutes.
5) When done the edges should have browned a little bit and the center should still be soft.
6) It will probably crack a bit as it cools but this is ok.

Fresh from the oven

Decoration:

1) I put a ring of pecan halves and then melted some chocolate and poured it in a spiral pattern. Unfortunately I had tempered the chocolate and so when slicing, the chocolate spiral cut into soft filling. Net time I would mix a bit of coconut oil in with the melted chocolate to keep it soft.

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