Toffee Apple Cheesecake (No Bake & Vegan)

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I haven’t posted in a while as life has presented us with the full spectrum of surprises recently – good, bad and complicated! Currently however we are simply enjoying lazy mornings and the general I-don’t-know-what-day-it-is-anymore haze of the summer holidays (although I use the term ‘summer’ quite loosely here). Eating out is costing me a fortune as we fit lunches around trips to the park, ice rink and soft play centres – but I am still coming up with treats at home, and this is the latest. My daughter ate a big slice of this yesterday because I told her it was a ‘chocolatey caramel ice cream cake’. The word ‘cheese’ generally sends her running for the hills, so was omitted for that purpose – however, this is a vegan ‘cheesecake’ and contains no cheese whatsoever, so it wasn’t much of a fib on my part. This is my second vegan cheesecake, the first being last year’s Dreamy Chocolate Cheesecake made using silken tofu in lieu of cream cheese. I am hugely interested in vegan alternatives, so was keen to experiment with a cashew base this time. Seasoned vegans know full well that cashews are the ultimate dairy replacer – when blended with water until smooth, they become the creamiest, most delicious thing ever! Depending how you use them, you can create sweet or savoury creamy sauces, and they also easily transform into a fabulous base for cheesecake. Cashews also happen to be fantastically good for you – high in protein and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy this dessert either – just make it and enjoy it. This is no funny-smelling ’70s vegan pudding; we are in totally delicious ‘regular cheesecake’ territory. Prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor!

For the caramel sauce (see notes below):
75g non-dairy spread (I really like Pure) or Stork (the one in the foil wrapper)
3 tbsp (45g) soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp (30g) golden syrup
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
250g coconut cream (like this from Sainsburys) or full fat coconut milk
Optional: 1/2 tsp caramel flavour (Dr Oetker’s is vegan!)

For the apples (see notes below):
6 regular eating apples
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp brown sugar

For the biscuit base (see notes below):
150g Choc Chip Hob Nobs
50g non-dairy spread, melted and cooled

For the filling:
200g cashews (raw, not salted/roasted!) soaked in cold water at least a few hours, preferably overnight
75ml water
75ml lemon juice
50g golden syrup
75g caramel sauce
Pinch of salt
60g coconut oil, melted and cooled
Half of the apple chunks

Make the caramel:
Melt the spread, sugar and golden syrup together in a deep saucepan. Stir in the coconut cream and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 5 minutes, stirring all the time. It should be a good caramel colour. Stir in the salt and caramel flavour, if using. Set aside. It will thicken as it cools. Make sure it is cool before using.

Prepare the apples:
Peel and chop the apples into very small chunks and place in a saucepan with the water, lemon juice and brown sugar. Simmer on a very low heat for about 10 minutes or until the chunks are very soft. Set aside to cool.

Make the biscuit base:
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Grind the biscuits until pretty fine, either in a processor, or do it the old fashioned way – by bashing them in a plastic bag! Add the melted and slightly cooled spread and pulse until combined. Place in a lined, loose-bottomed 8″ tin and use the back of a spoon to gently smooth it into an even layer. Pop it into the freezer to set while you make the filling, or place in the fridge overnight.

Make the filling:
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Place the water, lemon juice, syrup, caramel sauce, salt and (drained) cashews into a blender and blitz until it’s as smooth as can be. Be careful with a Vitamix, you don’t want to heat up the mixture! Pour in the melted and cooled coconut oil and blend again until just combined.

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Add about half of the apple chunks and pulse very briefly just to mix it all up. You don’t want to liquidise the apples. Pour on to the chilled biscuit base and smooth into place. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for several hours (overnight is best). When you are ready to serve, scatter the remaining apples chunks evenly over the cheesecake and lightly press them down, then remove the cheesecake from the tin. Drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce (you definitely won’t need it all!) and add a little extra when serving. This will keep just fine for a few days in the fridge.
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Notes:

  • The caramel sauce should be made first (a day in advance, if you like) and chilled before using. If you’re not vegan, you can just buy caramel sauce (you’ll find it in a squeezy bottle, probably near the custards in the supermarket). The biscuit base and the apple chunks can also be prepared in advance. This way, you can just put all the pieces together the following morning and just let it set in the fridge all day before slicing it up. The cashews need to be soaked in cold water for at least a few hours before using, or just leave them overnight.
  • I used Choc Chip Hob Nobs for the base, which are surprisingly vegan. When blitzed, they look completely chocolatey, which is a nice contrast against the neutral creamy colour of the filling. You can use any oatie biscuits you like though – many of them are vegan, but do check.
  • You do need quite a high powered blender to get the cashew ‘cheesecake’ really silky smooth. The first time I made a vegan cheesecake, I used my battered old Kenwood blender, which produced a slightly grainy result despite many minutes of blending. Not unpleasant, but not quite right. I recently bought a Vitamix which is almost embarrassingly easy to use and produced a silky smooth result in under a minute. So the overall results will depend on your blender.
  • This cheesecake, like all cheesecakes, benefits from overnight chilling before eating. If you make it in the morning, allow eight hours or so in the fridge before serving.

 

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