Baked Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

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This Baked Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake is a crowd-pleasing chocolate cheesecake that no one will ever guess is vegan! Rich and dense and creamy, just like traditional cheesecake, this chocolate cheesecake is dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free.
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Cooling Time 4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time: 6 hrs 30 mins
5 from 4 votes

This Baked Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts in recent memory, and I am so excited to share the recipe with you!

I served it at Thanksgiving in 2018 and then at Christmas in 2019 (yes, I skipped the pumpkin and took a non-traditional route in the Thanksgiving dessert department), and it was such a hit. My partner’s father couldn’t believe it was vegan, even though he knows I’ve been vegan for several years. And his friend’s jaw literally dropped as he devoured his slice and insisted that I start selling my cheesecakes to Whole Foods.

Does it sound like I’m bragging? Maybe. But only because I want to emphasize how much your family and friends will love this cake, including the omnivores!

The holidays can be a stressful time of year for us vegans, as most people want to indulge in traditional dairy-laden side dishes and main courses that feature animal carcasses. To avoid such stress, I try to be the chef in charge, or at least one of a few chefs in charge. That ensures that there are at least a few dishes I can happily enjoy, but also that the omnivores in my life will be happily surprised with delicious plant-based alternatives to holiday favorites.

I promise you that this Baked Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake is one of those crowd-pleasing recipes that everyone in your life–from the strict vegans to the carnivores–will love.

It’s rich and dense and creamy, just like traditional New York style cheesecake. But the richness of this chocolate cheesecake is well-balanced by the tartness of the cranberry-raspberry topping. And like any good cheesecake, this cake has the perfect sweet-tangy contrast. Oh, and did I mention it’s gluten-free? Yep, it is!

Baked Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredient Rundown

The crust is inspired by my favorite condiment from my pre-vegan days, Nutella. Luckily, it is easy to make a healthier, dairy-free version of Nutella, and this crust reminds me of that. It features toasted hazelnuts that get blended with cocoa powder, maple syrup and a pinch of salt for a delectable and rich crust.

As with my baked vegan pumpkin cheesecake bars, this cheesecake filling has three main components: raw soaked cashews, coconut cream, and store-bought vegan cream cheese.

I’ve done a lot of cheesecake recipe testing over the past year, and this triple threat combination works the best for achieving the rich creaminess, dense texture, and tangy taste of traditional cheesecake.

For vegan cream cheese, my recommend brand of cream cheese is Tofutti. I recognize that I haven’t had dairy cream cheese in a few years, but I honestly cannot tell the difference between (I actually like Tofutti more than I used to like regular cream cheese).

If you can’t find vegan cream cheese, you can omit it and use more cashews and coconut cream. You will need to increase the amount of each of those ingredients: use 2 cups raw cashews (instead of 1 1/4 cup) and use 1 cup coconut cream (instead of 1/2 cup).

For an ultra decadent cheesecake filling, I use melted dark chocolate instead of cocoa powder. I prefer using a 70% dark chocolate, but if you like things a little sweeter, feel free to use a 60% dark chocolate (just make sure there’s no added milk).

To enhance the chocolate flavor, I add a bit of espresso powder because coffee has this magical way of bringing out the chocolate flavor in baked goods without making them taste like coffee.

And now for the cranberry-raspberry compote, which is what brings this cheesecake together. Believe it or not, but I got the idea from a four-year old. Earlier this year, I made a gooey fudge cake for friends and garnished it with fresh raspberries. If it’s not cranberry season, just double the amount of raspberries.

My friends loved it, and fed it to their four-year old son. The boy child also loved the cake, but he made it a point to ask for more raspberries because the chocolate cake was so rich. This mini chef-in-training was onto something, and from now on, whenever I make a rich chocolate dessert, I make sure to pair it with something acidic or tart.

In this case, a cranberry-raspberry compote because it’s the holidays! The compote recipe is really quite simple, and if you have leftovers, I recommend serving it over waffles/pancakes/French toast or on top of some vegan vanilla ice cream.

Finally, a few technical tips for baking this vegan cheesecake. First, you will need to do some advance planning: (1) refrigerate the can of coconut milk for at least 24 hours to solidify the coconut cream and (2) soak the cashews for 8 hours or overnight.

Second, this recipe calls for a 7-inch springform pan. If you don’t have a 7-inch springform pan, you can easily buy one on Amazon :) But you can also use the handy cake pan conversion formula listed at the end of this blog post to increase the amount of ingredients to fit an 8-inch or a 9-inch springform pan.

Another option is to stick with the listed amount of ingredients and use a larger or smaller springform cake pan.

If you are using a larger cake pan (i.e., 8 inches tall), the cake will be shorter and therefore will need to be baked for less time; if you are using a smaller cake pan (i.e., 6 inches tall), the cake will be taller and therefore will need to be baked for more time. However, I haven’t tried this method so I can’t prescribe a certain bake time, but my guess is that you would bake the cake for approximately 5-10 fewer minutes.

Third, I wrap the bottom of the cake pan in aluminum foil and bake it in a water bath, which is the recommended method for baking traditional cheesecakes to ensure even cooking and prevent cracks. Usually, eggs are the culprit behind a cracked cheesecake, and since this is an egg-free cheesecake, the water bath might feel a bit unnecessary.

However, as a food photographer, I didn’t want to risk having a cheesecake with any cracks. So, if you are focused on presentation, I recommend taking the extra step of making a water bath (and wrapping the cake pan in aluminum foil to prevent any leaking). As you can see in the photo directly below, the surface of my cheesecake came out perfectly smooth without any cracks!

Speaking of that cranberry sauce, are you curious about it? Well, I made a double batch of the cranberry-raspberry compote and then I blended half of it until it was puréed and then strained the juice using a fine mesh sieve. Why did I do go through all that extra effort? Simply for the sake of taking a photo that showed off the sauce’s beautiful red color. For eating purposes, it is totally unnecessary, as I prefer the whole, chunky version of the compote, both taste- and texture-wise.

If you make this Baked Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake this holiday season, be sure to leave me a comment below!

HOW TO CONVERT CAKE PAN VOLUMES

V= H x Π x r2

  • V = volume of the pan, in cubic inches

  • H = the height of the pan (measure on the inside of the pan from the bottom to the height you would fill it)

  • Π = the constant 3.14

  •  r2 = half of the diameter of the cake pan

For a pan that is 9 inches in diameter and 2 inches tall, the volume will be:

Volume = 2 x 3.14 x 4.5 x 4.5

Volume = 127.17 cubic inches (rounded to 127)

So if you want to use a 9×2” springform pan instead of the 7×2” pan, you would calculate the Volume of both pans. For the 9×2” pan, it’s 127 cubic inches; for the 7×2” pan, it’s 77 cubic inches (2 x 3.14 x 3.5 x 3.5 = 76.93).

Then, divide the volume of the cake pan you are using (127 cubic inches) by the volume of the cake pan called for in the recipe (77 cubic inches). The result is 1.65. Round that to the nearest common fraction, and you get 1.666667, or 1 2/3. That means, if you are using a 9×2” springform pan, you would multiply all of the ingredients by a factor of 1 2/3 or 1.666667.

Baked Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

5 from 4 votes
This Baked Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake is a crowd-pleasing chocolate cheesecake that no one will ever guess is vegan! Rich and dense and creamy, just like traditional cheesecake, this chocolate cheesecake is dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free.
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Cooling Time 4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time: 6 hrs 30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Baking
Diet Vegan
Keyword: cheesecake, chocolate, instant pot
Serving size: 10

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/2 cup (~70g) hazelnuts, lightly toasted
  • 2/3 cup (~75g) almond flour or almond meal
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (~20g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (~22.5 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (~22.5 mL) melted refined coconut oil

CHEESECAKE FILLING

  • 1 1/4 cups (~175g) raw cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours or overnight
  • 1/2 cup (~120g) solidified coconut cream*
  • 8 ounces (227g) vegan cream cheese, softened** (Tofutti brand recommended)
  • 1/2 cup (~120 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 7 ounces (200g) of 60-70% dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (~15g) arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground espresso powder or instant coffee powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Cranberry-Raspberry Compote

  • 3/4 cup (~95g) cranberries*, fresh or frozen and defrosted
  • 3/4 cup (~85g) raspberries, fresh or frozen and defrosted
  • 1/3 cup (~64g) organic cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • *If it’s not cranberry season just substitute with more raspberries.

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
  • Line a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the sides with refined coconut oil or another neutral oil. If you are using a different sized springform pan, be sure to read the “how to convert cake pan volume” section above.
  • Make the Crust: To toast the hazelnuts, place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the skins are lightly blistered and browned. Wrap the warm hazelnuts in a clean, thin dish towel and cover for 1 minute to steam. Then rub the wrapped nuts vigorously to loosen the skins (not all of the skins will come off). Place the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the almond flour, sea salt and cocoa powder and blend until the mixture is mostly pulverized. With the motor running, pour in the maple syrup and melted coconut oil, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Once you have a slightly sticky texture that you can press together, press it evenly and firmly along the bottom of the prepared pan.
  • Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 15 minutes in order to firm it up. Set aside.
  • While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Wipe out the food processor bowl and add the soaked cashews and solid coconut cream. Blend until the mixture resembles ricotta cheese. Add the remaining Cheesecake Filling ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. It will take a few minutes for the cashews to get fully pulverized. Pour the cheesecake filling over the baked crust.
  • Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in two layers of aluminum foil. Place the wrapped pan in a roasting pan or shallow baking pan large enough to hold the springform pan. Then pour hot water around the bottom of the pan, taking care to not get any water in the cheesecake batter. This is a water bath and it will prevent the cheesecake from cracking in the middle.
  • Bake the cheesecake in the water bath in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until it looks a bit dry on the edges and jiggly but not wiggly in the middle. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 30-60 minutes or until it’s come down to room temperature. Allow to cool slightly and then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before serving. When ready to serve, top with the Cranberry-Raspberry Compote.
  • Prepare the Cranberry-Raspberry Compote (it can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator). Place the raspberries, cranberries, sugar, and orange juice in a saucepan, and cook on medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes, gently smashing down the berries as the mixture cooks. Allow the mixture to simmer for an additional 10 minutes until thick and jammy.

Notes

*To solidify the coconut cream, refrigerate a 13.5 ounce can of full-fat coconut milk for 24 hours or more. Most cans will yield 1/2-3/4 cup of solid coconut cream. You can also buy canned coconut cream separately.
**If you can’t find vegan cream cheese, you can omit it and use more cashews and coconut cream. You will need to increase the amount of each of those ingredients: use 2 cups raw cashews (instead of 1 1/4 cup) and use 1 cup coconut cream (instead of 1/2 cup).

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22 comments on Baked Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

  1. Rosalinda

    Can’t wait to try this! I love cheesecake and I love chocolate! And I’m vegan!

  2. Loli

    I don’t have vegan cream cheese. Could I use silken tofu instead?

  3. Annie

    This recipe sounds and looks delicious! Would it work with the daiya cream cheese as well?

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Annie, I think so! Given all of the other ingredients in this recipe, I don’t think the difference in taste would be noticeable.

  4. Michele

    I really want to attempt to make this for valentines day however my husband is allergic to hazelnuts & almonds. He is ok with cashews. What can I substitute the crust with?

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Michele, can he have walnuts or pecans? You could do a mix of walnuts and pecans and blitz in the food processor. Or a mix of nuts and wafer-style cookies, like gingersnap cookies. Here’s a link to another cheesecake recipe with a crust that is almond and pecan-free (it is for a slightly larger cheesecake in an 8-inch pan).
      https://www.rainbowplantlife.com/blog/ginger-orange-vegan-cheesecake

  5. Sika nasto

    I love your recipes ,thank you for sharing 💕

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Sika! I’m so glad you think so :) Thank you for stopping by!

  6. Linda

    The compote, the texture, the taste.. really amazing recipe!! Thank you for sharing it!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hooray! so happy to hear that. One of my favorite desserts to make for a special occasion. Thank you for your feedback, Linda!

  7. Gianna

    Can this be made a few days ahead of time?

    1. Nisha Vora

      Definitely! Just cover and store in the fridge. I would keep the raspberry cranberry compote separately and then top the cheesecake with it when ready to serve.

  8. Eni

    I would love to make this for New Year’s Eve. However, where I live there’s no vegan cream cheese :) what can I use as substitute? Thank you!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Eni,
      I just updated the blog post with a recipe note section – it gives you instructions. You will need to increase the amount of cashews and coconut cream. Hope that helps.

  9. Fran

    I can’t have soy or soy products ( like tofu). So can I use just more vegan cream cheese I make at home instead?It looks divine!!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Fran, you should be able to substitute the store-bought cream cheese with your own cream cheese. I am not sure what texture your cream cheese is, but it should work as long as it’s relatively similar. And if you’re interested in a non-soy-based store-bought cream cheese, Kite Hill Foods makes one from almonds :) https://www.kite-hill.com/our-food/cream-cheese-style-spreads/

  10. Meredith Steinberg

    First chocolate cookies and now chocolate cheesecake? You are a baking wizard who is making me so hungry! Bad decision to visit your blog when I’m starving lol

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Meredith! You are so funny, your comment made me laugh. Definitely not a good idea to browse food blogs when on an empty stomach ;)

  11. The Vegan 8

    Nisha, I’m in awe of how stunning your photos are! I mean, the dark chocolate with the contrast of all the red (my fave color) is just incredibly beautiful! Also, this cheesecake looks to die for. I can see why it was such a hit and I literally laughed out loud that you said you got the berry idea from a 4 year old, so freaking cute! Some of my ideas have come from my daughter too. Kids are smart and know what tastes good, haha!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Aww you’re so sweet, thank you for stopping by and for reading, Brandi! You are too kind and I am flattered you love the photos! Haha yes, I think I need to start consulting kids more often now, they might be on to something :)

  12. Carla Hanson

    You have so many wonderful holiday dessert recipes. I’ve never tried baking a vegan cheesecake, the vegan baking is still somewhat new to me but I am excited to try this out!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Carla! You are too kind. I am so happy you think so. Let me know if you try out this cheesecake :)

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