This post was created in partnership with Oregon Fruit. All opinions are our own.
“Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” -Julia Child
Recently I was asked the question, “How has having a baby affected the way you cook?” After thinking a minute, I replied, “Not much, really.” It’s not at all what I expected in adding a tiny human to our lives. But Alex and I have made cooking such a part of our routine that adding a baby didn’t rock it much at all. Cooking has become a part our life rhythm. It’s so much a part of life that after bringing our son Larson home from the hospital, I was dying to get into the kitchen again. Cooking makes us feel grounded and at home. We want to cook, instead of feeling like we’re trying to fit it in. In my speaking engagements lately about how to cook more, one of my biggest tips is: Cooking should be fun. It might not be every moment, but what about approaching it with a sense of fun? Why not involve other people in the process, in the tasting and eating? Why not view it as a fun challenge, that results in a delicious, nourishing meal? (This is also a big reason we wrote our new cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking.)
Now that Larson is old enough to eat food that we eat, I’m over the moon excited when he likes a recipe I’ve created. And guess what? He is absolutely in love with these blackberry vegan cheesecakes! They’re chock full of good-for-you ingredients: cashews, pecans, oats, coconut oil, blackberries, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of maple syrup. The balsamic vinegar adds a tartness and a shine to the fruit, a trick that we learned from Italian cuisine. What makes these vegan cheesecakes? (It’s actually also raw cheesecake!) The filling is made of soaked cashews, which creates a creamy center. Blended together with some blackberries, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar, it makes a lovely sweet-tart purple cream. These vegan cheesecakes are elegant enough for a Thanksgiving or Christmas spread, but tasty enough for an 8-month old. He’d say two thumbs up, if he had enough fine motor control!
These vegan cheesecakes use a product we’re new to: canned fruit. Typically we only use blackberries in the summer months, or opt for frozen blackberries for smoothies. And I’ll be honest: usually we don’t think of using fruit in cans. However, we’ve been introduced to Oregon Fruit canned fruit, which we used for this recipe. Canned fruit is an easy way to incorporate the flavor and nutrients of fresh fruit; it’s available nationwide and year round. Oregon Fruit is packed in the USA during the summer for maximum ripeness and flavor. Some other great features: it’s non-GMO and there’s no High Fructose Corn Syrup or BPA in the cans. We loved using the blackberries for this dessert where they’re blended together; they’re also great for blending into smoothies. And while the berries are a bit delicate, but we even got them to work as a lovely topping for our cheesecakes!
Why did we make these cheesecakes vegan and gluten-free? Alex and I (and Larson) eat both dairy and gluten, but lately we’ve been eating more vegan (plant-based) meals on the regular. And for the holiday season ahead, it’s fantastic to have recipes that fit many diets at once. Let us know if you try them out–and especially, if you have fun making them!
Looking for vegan desserts?
We love vegan desserts as they work for guests with various diets. Here are a few of our favorite vegan desserts:
Did you make this recipe?
If you make our blackberry balsamic vegan cheesecakes, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks and @oregonfruitproducts.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, and naturally sweet.
Balsamic Blackberry Vegan Cheesecakes
- For the crust
- ½ cup pecans
- 1 cup oats
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- For the filling
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 15-ounce can Oregon Fruit blackberries (whole berries in light syrup)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with water; soak for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool for a minute or two. In a food processor, blend the pecans, oats, coconut oil, maple syrup, and kosher salt. Blend until fully pulverized and a sticky mixture forms, scraping down as necessary.
- In a non-stick mini muffin tin (spray or oil the tin if not non-stick), place a heaping ½ tablespoon of the crust mixture into each cup and pack it down, to make 20 in all (leave the last 4 cups empty). Save the remainder of the crust for the topping.
- Wipe out the bowl of the food processor. Drain the berries. In the food processor, blend the soaked cashews, ¾ cup blackberries, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and balsamic vinegar. Blend for several minutes until very smooth and creamy.
- Place the remaining berries in a bowl and very gently drizzle them with a glug of maple and a small sprinkle of balsamic vinegar.
- To the mini muffin tin, add a heaping tablespoon of the blackberry filling on top of each crust. Garnish each with the remaining crust crumbles and 1 blackberry. (Save the remaining blackberries for future use.)
- Freeze the cheesecakes for 1 hour until set, then transfer them to the refrigerator until serving. To remove, use a spoon or sharp small knife to release one edge of the cheesecake by pulling towards you, which should release the remaining sides and twist the cheesecake out of the tin. Serve chilled for best results (cheesecakes can sit at room temperature, but the texture becomes looser as they sit). Remaining cheesecakes can be frozen for 1 to 2 months; thaw in the refrigerator before serving.