These mini vegan pumpkin almond cheesecakes are the perfect festive fall treat! Gluten-free graham cracker cookie crust is stuffed with a tangy, naturally sweetened pumpkin almond cheesecake filling. The filling is made by blending together raw almonds, almond milk, coconut butter, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and pumpkin pie spices until smooth and creamy. I recommend serving these beauties with a dollop of coconut whipped cream!
It's hard to believe we've nearly rounded the corner into October. This year is passing more quickly than any other I can recall.
But then again, every year seems to zip by just a little more quickly than the last, doesn't it?
Why is that?
My theory is that the more routine and predictable our lives become, the more prone our consciousness is to drifting away from the present moment. And when our minds are out of the present moment, time plays funny tricks on us. It speeds up, it slips away, it disappears.
Compare this, of course, to our childhood, teenage, and early adult years when nearly every experience we encountered was a novel one.
Novel experiences tend to grasp our attention more fully.
They engage the expanse of our senses and they stick within our memories more clearly because of the emotional responses they elicit.
Thus, when it comes down to it, doesn't the duration of time we perceive exist only within our memories? So really, truly, it's our memory of the way time has passed that dictates our perception of its duration.
And if we're not fully immersed in each passing moment, we perceive less of the reality of each and therefore tend to form fewer memories around it.
Thereby, each day fades into the next and when we reflect back on the time that's passed, we perceive a quickening of sorts. A slip in time from one similar day to the next similar week.
All this to say that the value of maintaining a sense of presence within each passing moment is that one day, our perception of an entire lifetime will hinge on the way we lived within and experienced even the most mundane of days.
And if we challenge ourselves to dedicate just as much conscious awareness to ordinary moments as we do extraordinary ones, perhaps we'll perceive our lives as well-lived, full, and expansive instead of short, fleeting, and momentary.
I know this all seems entirely unrelated to vegan pumpkin cheesecakes, but I promise there's a tie in if you'll just stick with me.
Despite building my mornings around mindful acts, I recently found myself rushing through the days and afternoons to get to...? I'm not sure where. That's the funny thing about rushing. Sometimes I rush, rush, rush and then realize I'm not at all sure what the hurry's been about.
Whatever the reason, I realized this constant push to hurry was stealing the joy out of my days and out of the work I do.
A few weeks back, I made a conscious effort to slow. it. down.
To linger, open up my senses, and allow myself to be more fully present in even the more monotonous of moments (e.g., washing dishes, cleaning, running errands, etc.).
It's amazing what a small shift in attention can do. Just a few days into this concerted attempt to take back the present moment, I felt a greater sense of peace and appreciation. I also experienced a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration.
Ever since, I've been applying this mindfulness practice as often as I can. Taking time to slow everything down and really soak up the goodness.
One of the best places to put mindfulness to work? The kitchen.
With so many forms of sensory input—taste, touch, sight, smell, and even sound—cooking and baking is an excellent way to engage all the senses in a single task.
And as I prepared, baked, and tasted these mini vegan pumpkin almond cheesecakes, I found myself in a state of flow with the moment. Mixing, sifting, blending, filling, baking, and sprinkling my way to inner peace.
If you'd like to join in on the mindfulness + pumpkin cheesecake goodness, you'll need a handful of ingredients and about an hour of kitchen prep time.
I promise you these beauties are worth every. single. second.
To make them, you'll start by preparing the tart crusts.
These buttery, graham-cracker-like crusts are a slightly larger (yet still mini) version of the tart shells I shared with you in this recipe over the summer. They're incredibly simple to make and require a short list of ingredients that you're likely to have on hand if you're used to making my dessert recipes (read: oat flour, coconut sugar, etc.).
While the tart shells bake, you'll get to work on that dreamy pumpkin almond cheesecake filling.
The filling is a play on the vanilla cashew-coconut icing from this recipe and this recipe as well as the vanilla cashew buttercream from this recipe. Only the cashews have been swapped out for almonds, apple cider vinegar has been upped to yield a zingy cheesecake-like tang, and pumpkin purée has been added along with a few trusty warming spices (think: cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger).
To make it, you'll simply add all ingredients to a blender, and blend on high until smooth. That's it.
Once the pumpkin cheesecake filling is prepared and the crusts have cooled, you'll get to work on assembling.
Simply spoon a bit of the pumpkin almond cheesecake filling into each graham-cracker-cookie crust. Then, chill the cheesecakes in the freezer for one hour to set the filling.
Finally, serve as is or with a dollop of coconut whipped cream and a sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg.
Mini Vegan Pumpkin Almond Cheesecakes
Graham Cracker Cookie Crust
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup virgin coconut oil, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups oat flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 2 tablespoons filtered water
Pumpkin Almond Cheesecake Filling
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons raw almonds, soaked for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight) and drained
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons melted coconut butter, it should be runny and pourable—see note*
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- ⅓ cup unsweetened canned pumpkin purée
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- Coconut whipped cream (optional)
For the Graham Cracker Cookie Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a mini muffin tin with parchment paper baking cups.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the coconut sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla on high speed for 1 minute.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the oat flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Place within reach of the mixer.
- With the mixer off, add the water to the coconut sugar mixture and start beating while slowly adding the oat flour mixture. Beat for 30 seconds, or until the dough pulls together into large, moist mounds as it moves around the mixing bowl. When you first add the dry ingredients, the dough will be dry and crumbly; however, just keep beating on high—the finished dough will look and feel similar to Play-Doh. If the dough is still dry and crumbly after beating for 30 seconds, add more filtered water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until it pulls together.
- Scoop approximately 1 ½ tablespoons of the dough into each baking cup, dividing any extra dough evenly among the 12 baking cups. Use your fingers to press the dough firmly and evenly into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of each cup, forming a well.
- Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs at the tip. If you prefer a soft, chewy, cookielike crust, bake for 10–12 minutes; if you prefer a crisper crust, bake for 12–14 minutes. They'll puff up quite a bit while baking; however, they'll fall and settle back into crust shape as they cool. Also, don't worry if there is an oily sheen to the crusts when you first remove them from the oven; the oil will be reabsorbed as they cool.
- Transfer the pan to an oven-safe cooling rack. Cool completely.
For the Pumpkin Almond Cheesecake Filling
- Add all filling ingredients to a high-speed blender, and blend on high until completely smooth.
- Spoon the filling into the cooled crusts**. Transfer to the freezer for 1 hour, or until the cheesecake layer has set.
- Serve each with a dollop of coconut whipped cream, if desired.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 2 days (the crusts will become soggy if you store the filled tarts longer than this, so if you're preparing in advance, see the recipe notes for how-to and tips).