Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

Hi, my name is Mandy and I’m REALLY late to the pumpkin game. I had to squeeze it in before Thanksgiving was over because pumpkin will then be a thing of the past and we’ll be bombarded with all things Christmas and minty. Truth is, I’ve actually created a handful of pumpkin goodies this season, but obviously haven’t been very good at sharing them here – I guess I’ll be prepared for next autumn though! I’m a pro at having fun and making a mess in the kitchen, but not so good at writing down measurements, photographing, and sitting down to write a how-to post. I’m making an early resolution for next year to be better about that. Heck, since Willow is so good with writing and spelling these days, maybe she can type them up for me 😉

(super quick…I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for all of your lovely comments, messages, and emails concerning my previous post. You guys are the BEST!)

The idea for this recipe came to me while falling asleep one night…like many ideas. Luckily I jotted things down before I passed out. Raise your hand if that’s happened to you! You say to yourself, “oh, I’ll remember it” and then wake up to everything all fuzzy. Good news is that this only took two trials to make it a reality! In the past, I had always made my crusts with either walnuts, almonds, or a combo of both. The idea that came to mind was for a buttery, almost cookie-like crust to be paired with a creamy, tangy filling. And how do you achieve a buttery richness without actual butter or oil??? PECANS!! And the addition of coconut butter just takes it over the edge. Baking the crust also helps bring out the butteriness and gives a nice slightly crispy texture.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE WITH PECAN COOKIE CRUST

{vegan, grain-free, gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free}

WHAT YOU NEED:

For the crust:

  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 3 Tablespoons softened coconut butter*
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt (optional)

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked for 4 hours)
  • 1/2 cup COYO plain yogurt**
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons softened coconut butter*
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch Himalayan salt (optional)

*NOT coconut oil. To soften the butter, you can either place the jar in a bowl of hot water or gently warm some in the oven while preheating.

**I have not tried this with any other coconut yogurt. I LOVE COYO because they don’t add sweetener, gums, citric acid, or natural flavors. I also love how thick their yogurt is! If you do use a different brand, you might need to add a little more cashews.

HOW TO:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Add the pecans into a food processor and pulse into fine pieces. Next add the remaining crust ingredients and pulse until a crust-like texture is formed (should stick together when you squeeze it with your fingers). If it doesn’t seem to hold together, then add a little more softened coconut butter.
  3. Press the crust into the bottom of a springform pan until evenly spread out and gently pierce with a fork all over. I used this 7″ pan. You can use muffin/tart tins if you don’t have a springform pan*
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the crust is golden. If using muffin tins, check at the 5 minute mark. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. While the crust is cooling, add all of your filling ingredients into a high-speed blender and mix until smooth. You can adjust the sweetness level (or salt) if desired. Once the crust is cooled, pour the filling over it and smooth out with a spatula. I also gently tap the pan against the counter to release any bubbles.
  6. Transfer the cheesecake to the freezer to chill for about 6-8 hours (best overnight). Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then slice and enjoy! Great topped with cinnamon, coconut whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer.

*If using muffin tins, use a strip of parchment paper in each cup before pressing in the crust. This will make for easier removal once the cheesecake is set (see photo below).

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

For blogging purposes, I used most of the crust in my 7″ springform pan and the remaining to make 12 mini tarts. If you do use a springform pan, I probably wouldn’t go any bigger than a 9″ because it would be a fairly thin cheesecake (crust and filling). Had I used the full recipe in my 7″ springform pan, there would be a generous layer of crust and thicker filling.

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

And here’s what the little tarts look like…I went heavier on the crust with these because I LOVE crust ❤

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

I have another recipe coming (hopefully sooner than later) using this crust and it may or may not involve chocolate…stay tuned.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to those celebrating!

Thanks for stopping by!

REVIEW: November Favorites

Happy December, my friends! I hope all of you who celebrated had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a cozy gathering at my parents with a 100% vegan feast. Happy bellies all around and no turkey was harmed. At the end of October, we “adopted” a turkey, again, via Farm Sanctuary. Willow chose Pamela…

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For those unfamiliar with this awesome project, please visit Farm Sanctuary’s website, or click HERE

We went through a crazy snow storm a couple of days before the holiday where over 14″ of snow hit our area in just 24 hours. Then came the incredibly cold temps – nights were in the single digits and the daytime highs were in the 20’s – lots of time indoors. We managed to play in the snow as the winter storm was happening and Willow had the best time ever. We’ve been staying warm with lots of layers, plenty of tea and an abundance of cuddles. Let the countdown to Christmas begin!

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Tea time with Willow is the best!

NOVEMBER FAVORITES: 

I only have one product to share with you this month…

Chocolate Chile Pecan Mini Miracle Tarts >> Hail Merry >> If you love chocolate and spicy, this is perfect for you! Rich, creamy and fudgy with a buttery crust and decent heat level. We found these at Whole Foods on sale and I’d love to eventually try my hand at recreating this.

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Willow has been on a huge bird kick…reading about them, watching them and learning ALL about them. My dad made and hung up a couple more feeders in our yard and one of them is placed right by our dining window – so we can watch them up close. Thanks to a couple books and this new app, Willow can identify at least 10_12 local birds by name. Here is a free app that we love and it not only helps to you identify them by size and color, but you can also learn their various calls/songs.

IMG_6994RECIPES WE TRIED AND LOVED:

As I’m sure many of you can relate, this whole Daylight Savings thing messes with photo opportunities! We’ll make these really fantastic meals at dinner time, but by the time we eat, it’s already dark outside. So, I apologize for either the lack of photos or poor quality.

20 Minute Vegan Alfredo >> The Vegan 8 >> I’m a sucker for any new creamy sauce recipe that surfaces and so when my friend, Brandi, created a simple pasta sauce, I had to make it! I had everything on hand, except for brown rice flour…all I had was sweet rice flour and because I couldn’t wait to make it, I subbed it in. The flavor was wonderful and Willow and I each gobbled it up so fast and went back for seconds. Next time I’ll be sure to have the brown rice flour to get the texture just as Brandi intended it. This sauce is incredibly easy to whip up, creamy, and I foresee some other ways to use it…other than for noodles. Just, YUM.

Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Chip Cookies >> The Vegan 8 >> Not gonna lie, I almost cried when I pulled these out of the oven…they looked and smelled SOOOOOO good and I couldn’t eat a single one. Darn oat sensitivity! Willow, on the other hand, went crazy for them. She helped me make these and licked the mixing bowl clean. Kid goes nuts for cookies, especially chocolate chip, so I had to give these a whirl. Since I couldn’t eat them, I split the batch and gave half to my parents and saved the rest for Josh and Willow. Everyone raved about them! My dad said they were the best cookies.

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***We tried a decent number of recipes from Teff Love, but rather than sharing them in this post, I’m putting together a separate review.***

Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder >> Crazy Vegan Kitchen >> With colder weather upon us, our little family started implementing Soup Saturday – where we’ll try a new soup or make an old favorite. One of the new soups we tried during the month of November was this delicious Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder. I loved this soup for so many reasons! First of all, the very minimal use of oil made this less heavy compared to other chowders I’ve had. Second, no cashews! Don’t get me wrong, I love cashews, but I was overdoing it there for a while and throwing cashews into just about every creamy base. They can get pricey and as one of my dear friends once said, “they’re like the junk food of nuts.” I’ve cut back over the last month or so and don’t use them as often as I once did. But back to this soup! Where it called for flour, I used Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose flour and used unsweetened almond milk. When Willow took her first bite she exclaimed, “It’s cheesy!!!” I agreed with her and I was so surprised considering it contained no nuts (minus the almond milk) and no nutritional yeast. Incredibly creamy, comforting and perfect for a chilly day. We’ll definitely be making this again! I wish I had a photo to share with you, but we gobbled this up so fast that I forgot to take a picture. You’ll just have to go check out Amrita’s post for the colorful photos!

Homemade Extra Sweet Applesauce >> Feasting on Fruit >> When I read Natalie’s blog post and saw the photos of this recipe, I knew just what I was going to do with some of the apples I had just purchased. I love this season for the apples alone! So many new varieties this year – it’s somewhat overwhelming. This applesauce recipe called to me for a few reasons: (1) the chunky factor, (2) lots of cinnamon, (3) the combo of fruit sweetened and coconut sugar. Our house smelled SO good and I immediately started brainstorming other ways to use this delicious applesauce. I enjoyed it on its own and also paired it with some plain yogurt. I’d like to try it as a pie filling next! While it was wonderful the day we made it, I found it was even better the second day as the flavors had time to sit.

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Freezer Peanut Butter Chips or Magic Shell >> Cake Maker to the Stars >> One word. DANGEROUS. Holy moly, these little bites of goodness are addicting. Two or three turns into a handful and before you know it, they’re gone. I made these for Willow, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I ate some, too…ok, half. I stayed strong and made them last an entire weekend and then made another batch. The good thing is that they’re stored in the freezer so I tend to forget about them…typing this reminded me that there’s still some left in our freezer, but not for long. Obviously, if you’re on a low-fat or oil-free “diet” these are not for you, but I will tell you that you are missing out. Since Willow’s naturopath suggested adding more coconut oil in her diet, I’d say these are a fun way to do just that! Oh, and Kittee also used this recipe to make Peanut Butter and Jam Freezer Cups! I haven’t made them yet, but I’m positive they’re amazing.

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Baked Fries with Garlic Sauce  >> Vegan Richa >> She had me at potatoes, but then sealed the deal with garlic AND TAHINI!!!! I have my sweet friends (Julie and Diana) to thank for their rave reviews on this dish…which lead me to quickly add it to our menu one week. Since they both loved this, I made sure to double the recipe for leftovers later. That sauce was fantastic and since I failed to have cooked chickpeas on hand, I added extra tahini and LOOOOOOOOVED it. The extra minced garlic on top was heavenly. I adore Richa’s recipes (both via blog and cookbook) because they’re pretty much a guaranteed win.

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Chickpea Curry >> Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen Cookbook >> Holy smokes!!! The night we made this, I was SO cold – Josh and Willow run really warm, so rather than cranking the heat for my benefit, I layer up…and eat lots of warm, cozy foods. The first bite of this dish made my eyes pop out. SO SPICY!!! We’ve made quite a few variations of chickpea curry in the past, but so far, this is my favorite! I might dial back on the spice next time, but other than that, this was absolutely delicious!

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Quinoa “Cinnamon Toast” Cereal with Toasted Pecans >> Yum Universe cookbook >> With my oat sensitivity, I’ve explored new breakfast options and have fallen in love with this recipe! So incredibly simple to make and very filling. We cooked up a big batch of quinoa the night before and used it for a few days to make this warming meal. I love the fresh ground cardamom in this recipe, along with the cinnamon. On a couple occasions, I added a splash of fresh, raw hazelnut milk to make it creamy. Absolutely delicious! If you don’t already own Yum Universe, you need to!

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup >> Yum Universe cookbook >> I’m loving our “Soup Saturdays” because it has introduced some comforting new recipes that we’ve had on our list for quite some time. This one was absolutely wonderful! So good that we had to add it to our Thanksgiving menu.

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Caramelized Onion Mushroom and Artichoke Quiche >> Yum Universe >> We had some difficulty deciding what to make for our Thanksgiving main dish – we wanted something different than our past meals and since this recipe had been on our “t0-make” list for a quite some time, we gave it a go. Oh. My. Love at first bite. The buttery crust was amazing and the combo of the mushrooms, onions and artichokes was absolutely perfect. I would add less salt next time around, but other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. Miss Willow wouldn’t eat it because of the veggie selection, but I might make her one with broccoli and bell peppers.

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Broccoli Wings >> Plant Strong Vegan >> We always have broccoli on hand because it’s Willow’s favorite vegetable, so when she requested broccoli with dinner, I whipped up a batch of Margaret’s Broccoli Wings! I didn’t add any sauce to them, but simply sprayed them with coconut oil cooking spray. I love how crispy these were and the flavor was perfect.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cream Pie >> Plant Strong Vegan >> As soon as Margaret posted this recipe, I knew I had to make it for Thanksgiving because it was exactly what we were looking for…a cream pie! This recipe also won because it didn’t call for oats or soy (like some of the other variations out there)…which has been a bit of a challenge these days. Verdict…delicious! While putting the pie together, Willow kept eating the filling, so I knew it was going to be good. Thumbs up from the entire family!

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BOOKS I’VE ENJOYED:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown >> I borrowed this book from my local library (was on a waiting list for months) and I’m kicking myself for not buying it in the first place. Brown discusses the term Wholehearted Living, which is “a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.” Stop comparing yourself (and your worth) to others. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in societal “norms” and create an image of who we think we need to be. Just because I don’t have thousands of blog or Instagram followers does not make me any less worthy – it does not mean my work is any less important than the next person. We’re also a society focused on to-do lists and getting each item/task checked off – even if it means depriving ourselves of sleep or time with the people we love. It’s hard for us to hit the pillow at night and be OK with our lists unfinished –  What really hit home was when Brown discussed how so many of us equate our worth with reaching certain goals. Whether it’s losing a certain number of pounds or earning a higher wage. Each and every one of us is worthy NOW. I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to everyone!

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The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey >> I had to take breaks from this book because it was kind of creepy…ok, a lot creepy and I definitely had to follow it up with something lighthearted before going to bed. But I actually really enjoyed it. Very intense zombie thriller that had me holding my breath while reading it.

A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson >> I took my time with this book as it was very powerful and thought provoking. I purchased this book via Amazon after Eden passed away because it was one that she read a few times a year – I needed to see for myself what it was all about. While reading this, I understood why she kept it at arms length – it brought so much to light. For me, this book has opened my eyes to relationships, inner struggles and just how powerful love is. It has changed the way I look at myself and others – to be more compassionate, to forgive. There were quite a few pages that had me in tears because Williamson’s words resonated very deeply and I was able to see how I could do better…be a better example to my daughter and help bring more peace to this world. This made me aware of the anger and pain I was holding onto from people who had hurt me in the past and also judging them for their behavior. Choosing to let go, to forgive, release judgment and open my heart to love has improved my state of mind and brought peace to my soul. I choose happiness and love over sadness and fear. A beautiful book that I will read over and over again.

Thanks for stopping by!

Love and Light