Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (Vegan)

Bite of Cheesecake Bar

This recipe is damn delicious (pardon my language).

Last week I was perusing Pinterest for some inspiration (pinspiration?), and I saw some caramel apple cheesecake crumble bars from Averie Cooks. I immediately thought to myself, I can veganize that! A few years ago I made “cheesecake” out of cashews, agave, and coconut oil, and recently I made a caramel sauce out of coconut milk and maple syrup. Done.

One thing I did with this recipe that I’ll admit isn’t very nutritious is that I made it with a graham cracker crust. If you’re really feeling like making a super healthful dessert, you could easily make a nut-based crust. Personally, if I’m having cheesecake, I want a graham cracker crust. I mean, it is a dessert after all.

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Now please don’t be scared when you see the recipe. Yes, this bar has three layers, so it’s pretty involved, but it is so worth it! Each layer has its own texture and complementary flavor, making it a fantastic dessert. I highly recommend keeping it in the freezer until 10-15 minutes before it’s served though. Cashew cheesecake is delicious, but it is slightly softer than real cheesecake. If you are serving this to company, I suggest making it the day before so it has plenty of time to set.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars (Vegan)

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: ~2 hrs
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used GF)
  • 1/2 cups melted Earth Balance (or equivalent)
  • 2 T. coconut sugar

Cheesecake Layer:

  • 1.5 cups cashews, soaked at least 2 hours, drained
  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup + 2 T. full-fat coconut milk, mostly cream from top if possible (save rest of can for caramel)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt

Caramel Apple Topping:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 T. blackstrap molasses
  • 1 apple, cubed small
  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions:

  1. Line an 8 x 8 brownie pan or casserole dish with parchment paper. Combine crust ingredients in a bowl and press into bottom of pan/dish with the back of a spoon. Set aside.
  2. For the cheesecake layer, combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender until very smooth. Pour over crust and spread evenly. Cover and place in freezer to set while you make the caramel topping.
  3. In a small saucepan, stir together the coconut milk, maple syrup, and molasses over medium heat. Keep at a low boil, stirring every 2-3 minutes until the liquid is reduced by about half and coats a spoon.
  4. Add the apple pieces and continue to cook for about 5 minutes to soften the apple.
  5. Remove from heat and add the vanilla, cinnamon, pecan pieces, rolled oats, and sea salt. Allow to cool to room temperature or cooler before spreading evenly on top of the cheesecake. Return to the freezer to continue to set for at least an hour (preferably overnight). Cut into squares, serve, and prepare to fall in love.

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