Post Halloween, we’ve always got some pumpkins left over, mostly because we buy extra knowing that they will last a couple of months and we can enjoy pumpkin season into the winter. Therefore. it’s usually mid-November onwards that I get creative with pumpkin recipes. This Vegan Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake is one example of how you can easily infuse pumpkin into a variety of sweet dishes.
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How to make the Vegan Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake
Cooked pumpkin, tofu and vegan cream are blended together to form the cheesecake filling, which is poured into a gingernut biscuit base and baked for 2 ½ hours on a very low heat. This is not a dessert you make on the same day you want to eat it, unless you’re starting early in the morning and planning it for a post-evening meal. In addition to a lengthy cooking time, you need to leave it for about an hour in the oven to cool with the door ajar, then chill it for at least 4 hours (I make it in the evening and chill it overnight). On top of that, the chocolate ganache topping takes a further hour or more to set. Although this all sounds like too much hard work, the actual making of this vegan chocolate and pumpkin cheesecake is as simple as it gets, and takes very little effort. Most of the time it’s either sitting in the oven or the fridge, leaving you to get on with something else.
This recipe makes a large, deep cheesecake. The tin I use is 23cm (9 inches) wide and 7cm (2 ½ inches) deep. Springform is essential. The tin that I use is here. If you have a smaller tin, you can try halving the recipe, though I haven’t tried this. You will also need to shorten the cooking time to perhaps around 90 minutes if you are halving it, but keep an eye on it so that the crust doesn’t burn.
You will also need a food processer to make most if this recipe.
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Vegan Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake
Prep time: about 30 minutes. Cooking time: 2 ½ hours. Cooling and setting time: About 6 hours.
For the Base:
400g/14 oz (2 packs) ginger nut biscuits (make sure they’re vegan)
100g/3 1/2 oz vegan butter, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
For the Filling:
630-650g/about 1 ½ lb raw pumpkin flesh, diced
1 x 400g/14 oz block firm tofu, drained
350ml/ 3/4 pint vegan cream
250g/9 oz golden caster sugar
100g/3 1/2 oz soft dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g/7 oz dark chocolate (make sure it’s vegan)
100g/3 1/2 oz vegan butter
For the Chocolate Ganache:
100g/ 3 1/2 ox dark chocolate
100g/3 1/2 oz vegan butter
3 tbsp icing sugar
First you want to cook the pumpkin and allow it to cool before adding it to the filling. To do this you can either put it in a pan with a little water and a lid and steam it for about 15 minutes, or put it in a microwavable container, with little water and a loose-fitting lid, and cook it on 80% power for about 10 minutes. When the pumpkin is cooked all the way through, drain it in a sieve and allow it to cool. Once it has cooled, press against it with the back of a spoon to squeeze out any excess moisture from the pumpkin (there will be quite a lot). Set the drained pumpkin aside until needed.
To make the base, put the biscuits into the good processer and blitz for about 25-30 seconds, until you have smooth crumbs, then transfer them to a mixing bowl. Melt the vegan butter in the microwave (usually about 20 seconds) and then mix it in with the biscuit crumbs until fully incorporated.
Grease a springform 23cm (9 inch) by 7cm (2 inch ) cake tin with vegan butter, making sure all of the inside is well covered. Now pour in the biscuit crumbs and press them firmly along the base and sides of the tin, right up to the top. There will be enough to give you about a 3/4 cm thick biscuit base all around. Once you have finished, place the tin in the fridge and chill for about 1 hour.
While the base is setting, you can make the filling. Put the drained pumpkin, the tofu, cream, vanilla extract and sugars into your food processer and blitz until completely smooth (do this in batches if you need to). Transfer the mix to a large mixing bowl.
Melt the chocolate and butter separately in small bowls (I used the microwave for this), then blend them together. Allow the chocolate mix to cool down (it should be quite cool) then spoon some of the cheesecake batter into it. Mix this through, until fully incorporated, then spoon it back into the rest of the cheesecake batter. Mix thoroughly, then pour the batter into the cake tin. The filling should come to about 1cm or so below the rim of the biscuit crust.
Preheat the oven to gas 2/150C/300F.
Put the cheesecake on a rimmed baking sheet (butter will leak from the bottom of the tin as it is cooking) and place it in the lower part of the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, then turn off the oven. Leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door ajar, and allow it to cool in the oven for about 1 hour. The cheesecake will firm up during this time. After this you can leave it on the kitchen counter to go completely cold. Chill the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Once it is fully set you can make the chocolate ganache. To do this, melt the chocolate and the butter separately, then blend them together. Sieve in the icing sugar to prevent the formation of lumps, then whisk it in with the chocolate and butter. Allow the mix to cool and thicken, then spoon it over the set cheesecake batter. Give the ganache another hour to set in the fridge, then the cheesecake is ready to serve.