Here’s a vegan pumpkin cheesecake that treats your taste buds to a subtle chocolate burst with each bite. Make sure to double the recipe if you’re serving a larger crowd — this goes down easy!
Thanksgiving dinner without pumpkin pie is almost unimaginable to most people. Still, though it’s hard for us pumpkin pie fans to imagine, there are plenty of people who don’t care for it.
I’ve heard a couple of my own family members say “I’m not a big pumpkin pie fan.” What?!
If you have pumpkin pie skeptics in your midst, or just want a delicious twist on the classic recipe, this might just what you’re looking for.
The combination of pumpkin (or butternut squash, which is just as good) with plant-based cream cheese is beyond delicious, especially when walnuts and chocolate are part of the flavor mix.
Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas. Photos by Susan Voisin, FatFreeVegan.com.
Tips for avoiding the pumpkin or squash struggle
If you want to use fresh sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, here are steps to help avoid the squash struggle — you know, cutting up a whole pumpkin or squash if your knives aren’t up to the task. Starting with a fresh whole sugar pumpkin or butternut squash isn’t that daunting if you follow these steps:
1. Wrap the entire sugar pumpkin or squash in aluminum foil and place in a casserole dish.
2. Bake at 375º F for 45 minutes or slightly longer, until you can easily pierce through the skin and flesh with a knife.
3. Once cool enough to handle, Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and fibers and discard, then scoop out the flesh and mash well.
See more about this technique in How to Cut Butternut Squash Easily.
Other shortcuts: pre-cut or canned squash or pumpkin
- You can also start with fresh precut butternut squash, available in the produce section of well stocked supermarkets. Simply steam in a saucepan with about an inch of water until tender.
- Or, use canned pureed pumpkin. Organic canned pumpkin is really pretty good!
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 9-inch good-quality natural pastry or graham cracker crust
- 12.3-ounce container extra-firm silken tofu
- 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
- 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice, optional
- 2/3 cup natural granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or more, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups well-baked, coarsely mashed sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
- 1/2 cup additional chocolate chips for optional chocolate drizzle
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- Combine the chocolate chips and walnuts in a food processor and pulse on and off until finely chopped.
- Scatter the chocolate chip-walnut mixture evenly over the bottom of the pie crust and set aside.
- Combine half of the tofu, half the cream cheese, the optional lemon juice (if you'd like a more tart flavor) and half of the sugar in the container of a food processor and process until smoothly pureed. Pour into the pie crust and smooth down with a cake spatula.
- Combine the pumpkin or squash pulp in the food processor with the remaining tofu, cream cheese, and sugar, along with the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Process until smoothly pureed, then pour into the pie crust over the plain tofu layer. Smooth down with a cake spatula.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the mixture is set and the crust is golden. Let the pie cool to room temperature. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges to serve.
- If you’d like to garnish each slice of pie with chocolate drizzle, melt the additional chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (start with 45 seconds) or in the top of a double boiler. Transfer the melted chips to a pastry piping bag or, less fancy but almost as effective, a sturdy ziploc bag. If using the latter, snip a tiny hole in one corner. Gently squeeze the melted chocolate over each wedge of pie in an attractive zig-zag pattern. Or, you can top each serving with a swirl of coconut whip, as shown in the middle photo.
If starting with fresh squash or sugar pumpkin, see the tips above the recipe box.
Shortcuts: Use precut butternut squash. Steam in a saucepan with about an inch of water until tender, about 8 minutes.
Or, simply use canned pureed pumpkin. Organic canned pumpkin is really pretty good!
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See more vegan desserts & sweets.