From Dreena: This is like the unicorn of vegan cheesecakes. Without dairy, most cheesecakes are made either with processed vegan cream cheese substitutes or with nuts like cashews. This one has neither! The magic happens when yellow sweet potato combines with coconut, lemon juice, and a few other key ingredients into an unbelievably luscious filling.
Makes 1 cheesecake; serves 8
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1–2 tablespoons coconut butter (see note)
3/4 cup cooked yellow sweet potato flesh, cooled (see note)
1/2 cup plain or vanilla nondairy yogurt
1/3 cup refrigerated canned coconut cream (see note)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon (scant) sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla bean powder or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
1/2–1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Line a 9-inch springform pan or 9–10-inch pie plate with parchment paper.
To prepare the crust, combine the oats, dates, pumpkin seeds, salt, and vanilla in a food processor. Pulse to begin to incorporate the ingredients, then process until the mixture becomes sticky and begins to form a dough on the blade. It will take time to break down the components; give it about 2 minutes and see the magic happen! The heat from the processing will break down the fat in the pumpkin seeds and the mixture will come together. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, pressing the mixture onto the base (and up the sides, if you like, but I prefer the crust at the bottom only).
Combine all the ingredients for the filling (except the lemon zest) in a blender (preferably a high-powered blender). Puree until very, very smooth, stopping to scrape down the blender a couple of times as needed. Add the lemon zest and stir in with a spatula. Pour the mixture on top of the crust and spread with a spatula to distribute. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate to set overnight, or at least 3 hours.
Coconut Butter Note: If your coconut butter is very hard and difficult to spoon out to measure, you may want to place the jar in a warm water bath for 20 minutes or so. If the coconut butter is cooperative for measuring, you can generously fill the cup and eyeball the measurement rather than measuring the extra 1–2 tablespoons.
Sweet Potato Note: Yellow sweet potato works so beautifully in this recipe. It adds body, a touch of sweetness, and a hint of color. If you want to use orange sweet potato, the color will change quite a lot—and the potato flavor will be more noticeable. If you do use it, I recommend making an orange cheesecake, replacing the lemon zest with orange zest and replacing the vanilla with 1 teaspoon pure orange extract.
Coconut Cream Note: Use regular (not light) coconut milk in this recipe. Before using, refrigerate the can overnight or for a few days. The thick cream will rise to the top and be easy to scoop and measure. Use only the thick cream (reserve the thin coconut milk for another use).
Serving Suggestion: Serve topped with Strawberry Sauce Forever, page 248.