Chocolate Marble Cheesecake for Valentine's Day (vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free)

Don't you just love cheesecake?!   Cheesecake was one of my all time favourite desserts before I went vegan. I mean, wh...

Don't you just love cheesecake?!

Cheesecake was one of my all time favourite desserts before I went vegan. I mean, what's not to love? Its silky, sweet, light and airy but rich and creamy with a buttery crumb crust. Heaven.

What are your plans for Valentine's Day? We haven't figured our's out yet exactly. We have a house guest on Saturday so whatever we do it will be a Sunday afternoon or evening plan which limits things a little. I should mention that I used to boycott Valentine's Day for it being a made-up holiday designed to make single folks feel like garbage and put unnecessary pressure on relationships. Not to mention all the materialistic behavior it inspires in people...just bleh.

Even though I am making this recipe as a sweet treat for my husband on Valentine's Day, cheesecake always reminds me of my best friends and our crazy dating stories. In my 20s I went through a cheesecake phase where I'd order it out a lot and most of the meals I ate out were with my closest friends Aleks and Sara. We even had a "cake night" when we were in University. No matter how crazy our schedules were, we would all make time to go to Future Bakery for cake on Thursday nights. We'd all get something different to share and catch up on eachother's strange dating stories and life in general (we all went to different schools). Most of the time I chose chocolate cake (a tall slice of three layer dark chocolate fudge cake that was so amazing I can't even...) or some kind of cheesecake (key lime, apple).

Needless to say, I have tasted and made many cheesecakes in my day -- from pumpkin cheesecake to dulce de leche -- you name it, I've probably tasted it in cheesecake form. My favourite flavour was key lime -- I loved the delicate balance of sweet and sour. Check out my gluten free vegan version of key lime cheesecake here.  

Since going dairy-free a few years ago, real dairy cheesecake has not graced my lips. I have however made some coconut based vegan versions which were lovely but a bit too coconutty in flavour to be really authentic in my opinion. Today's recipe is for a creamy vegan and gluten free Chocolate Marble Cheesecake. Most vegan cheesecakes that I have found online require either cashews, tofu or a processed vegan "cheese" product like Daiya. This recipe does not contain gluten, soy or nuts and hides a ton of healthy ingredients in every creamy and delicious bite.

If you've ever made a real dairy-laden cheesecake you probably know that they can take FOREVER to bake. Like I'm talking hours. Why? Because cheesecakes are traditionally baked at a fairly low temperature, sometimes in a water bath, to ensure that the cake cooks evenly and doesn't burn on the edges or get too dried out inside. This is not that kind of cheesecake.

You'll be glad to hear that this "cheesecake" recipe is almost no bake. Its easy to make and requires next to no cooking time at all. In fact the only thing that gets baked is the crust which bakes on its own until it becomes firm in about 10 minutes in the oven. The cheesecake filling is made in your steamer and your blender and sets firm in your freezer. Ah, simplicity. 

Now back to those hidden healthy ingredients. I don't want to frighten you but this cheesecake is made with a ton of vegetables. Yes, I said vegetables...

Pureed japanese sweet potatoes and butternut squash make this cheesecake super thick. Coconut cream and coconut oil create a silky smooth texture and help the fillings set firm when chilled. A touch of apple cider vinegar gives that cheesecake tang, and cacao powder and melted chocolate make the chocolate filling taste super rich and decadent. 

If you plan to make this recipe, I suggest making this cheesecake the day before you plan to serve it. Whenever I entertain I love to make dessert in advance if I can because it allows me to relax and focus on the rest of the meal preparations on the day of.

As I mentioned before the crust bakes quickly and the fillings are a breeze to prepare in your steamer and blender. The only difficulty in this recipe is waiting for the cake to set firmly in the freezer before serving it. By preparing it the night before, your cake will set firm while you sleep. All you need to do is transfer it from the freezer to the fridge about two hours before you want to serve it, then slice and enjoy. 

I'm really happy with how this Chocolate Marble Cheesecake turned out but I should note that this recipe is still vegan and gluten free so don't expect it to be exactly like you remember. Its pretty close though, super creamy and delicious and doesn't contain any unhealthy ingredients. As far as I'm concerned its a success!

Do you ever stop and wonder where the time goes? As I sit here typing this out on a Sunday afternoon I realize exactly where it goes when you're a workaholic like me...Its strange because when I was a teenager I used to feel like time dragged. Even in my early 20s I was fairly anxious and unhappy and just wanted to hurry up and be a grown up. Now that I'm more settled, happy and older, I feel like time is racing by. This year I've spent a lot of time slowing down, staring at my husband (not kidding!), family and friends, and just taking it all in because it all just slips away so fast.

Make this Chocolate Marble Cheesecake for your family or friends this Valentine's Day. Cheesy hallmark holiday resentment aside, I know I'll be whipping up something special like this because these days I'll make just about any excuse to celebrate the ones I love. 

SERVES 4-6 (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free) 

  • 2.25 cups peeled and chopped Japanese sweet potato
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tsp arrowroot starch
Steam sweet potato pieces until totally soft and mashable. Transfer to blender with remaining white layer ingredients. Puree until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl a refrigerate for later.

  • 1+ 1/3 cup peeled and chopped butternut squash 
  • 1 cup cauliflower (or more butternut squash or japanese sweet potato)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup (or 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp brown rice syrup)
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 2 cups frozen bananas
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
Steam the squash and cauliflower until soft and mashable. Add to blender. Melt chocolate and coconut oil together in a small pot over low heat. Add to blender with everything except bananas and blend until smooth. Add frozen bananas and blend until smooth. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until later.
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 3-4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3/4-1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
Add all crust ingredients to food processor and blend until a crumbly mixture forms. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper and add crumbly mixture into it. Press down firmly, spreading crust on all of the bottom of the pan. Bake 10-15 minutes in oven preheated to 350 F until edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool fully.

Carefully remove the crust from the parchment paper, keeping it in one piwcw. Discard the paper, placing crust on a plate. Line the same baking pan with plastic wrap ensuring bottom and sides are covered fully and that a little of the wrap extends beyond all sides of the pan (this makes it easier to lift the finished cake out of the pan later). Carefully place the crust back in the bottom of the freshly lined pan. Top the crust with the chocolate mixture, then top with big blobs of the white mixture. Gently swirl the two fillings together to create a nice swirl pattern. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place the pan on a level spot in the freezer and freeze the filling to set firm throughout (overnight is a good idea, minimum 6 hours). Transfer the set cheesecake from the freezer to the fridge at least 2 hours before serving. This will thaw it slightly, improving texture and flavour and will make it much easier to cut and serve.

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