No-Bake Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
The creamiest, dreamiest vanilla cheesecake on an oaty coconut crust topped with sweet and fragrant macerated strawberry jelly. These vegan cheesecake bars are easy to put together and don’t require any baking. The fruity creamy combo makes these cheesecake bars the perfect dessert for Valentines, or as a refreshing summer treat.
WHAT INGREDIENTS WILL I NEED FOR THESE STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE BARS?
Toasted coconut flakes: Toasted coconut gives a deliciously malty flavour to the base of these cheesecake bars. If you can’t get toasted coconut flakes you can either, buy raw coconut flakes and toast them until slightly browned under your grill. Or you can substitute it with desiccated coconut.
Cashews: These are used in the crust but also to give the filling a wonderful creamy “cheesecake” flavour.
Gluten free rolled oats: Oats give the crust a wonderful, well, “oaty” flavour! You can use regular oats if gluten-free isn’t a dietary requirement.
Sea salt: A pinch of salt is a game changer for desserts. It helps to balance out the sweetness of the dessert, and it also intensifies it’s flavour!
Medjool dates: You can use any soft dates for this recipe, I love using medjools for their soft texture and sweet caramel flavour. If your dates are hard/tough, try soaking them in some hot water for 30 minutes to help soften them up first!
Coconut oil: This is used in the crust as a binding agent and for the filling as a setting agent. When chilled, coconut oil solidifies, which makes it a great natural setting agent for no-bake desserts.
Coconut cream: This gives the dessert a rich and creamy texture. You can also use canned coconut milk, but you’ll only want to use the thick part from the top of the can.
Vanilla soya yoghurt: If you’ve been a long-term reader of the ATD blog, you’ll have seen this ingredient pop up in many of my no-bake recipes. The addition of a plant-based yoghurt helps to lighten your no-bake dessert. I love using the vanilla flavoured one for an extra pop of flavour, however you can also use a plain version and add an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract to the filling.
Pure maple syrup: My absolute favourite sweetener for cheesecakes, as the strawberry layer is already sweet this recipe doesn’t call for much maple syrup. Feel free to reduce the amount to even less if you’d prefer a less sweet dessert.
Lemon juice: The acidity adds a tangy cheesecake flavour to the filling.
Vanilla extract: this is a must for desserts, especially strawberry desserts! Make sure you opt for a brand that is vegan-friendly such as Neilsen Massey pure vanilla extract and Taylor and Colledge vanilla bean extract.
Strawberries: You’ll want to use fresh strawberries for this recipe, however, don’t worry if they aren’t the sweetest you’ve ever tried, as they are going to be macerated in caster sugar, which will create a sweet strawberry syrup.
Agar-agar powder: This is the setting agent used to set the strawberry layer of the cheesecake bars. Make sure you use the powdered variety, or if using agar-agar flakes, convert the quantity according to the brands’ instructions.
HOW TO MAKE THESE VEGAN STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE BARS
The chewy crust is delicious even on it’s own and is made using just a few wholesome ingredients. First the dry ingredients (toasted coconut flakes, cashews, rolled oats and salt) are blitzed in a food processor until they resemble a fine crumb consistency.
Next you’ll add in the “wet” ingredients (dates and coconut oil) which will help the dough come together and become sticky. The crust is then pressed into the base of an 8 inch square pan pre-lined with parchment paper. The best way to get a nice even crust is to use a flat-bottomed glass to compact and smooth it out in an even layer.
To get the creamiest filling, make sure that you pre-soak your cashews. Taking this step will also make it much easier on your blender to whizz through the filling ingredients and get the smoothest result possible. Simply place the cashews into a bowl with water and allow them to soak for 4 hours. If you’re in a hurry you can soak them for about an hour in hot water. Rinse the nuts once soft and they are ready to use!
If you’re using canned coconut milk instead of coconut cream, make sure you refrigerate the cans in advance (overnight works well). Chilling the cans will separate the coconut cream from the water.You can then simply scoop out the thick coconut cream from the top of the can. Tip: the left-over water in the bottom of the can makes a nice addition to curries, soups or porridge, so don’t throw it out!
Pour the filling into the pan and gently tap it on your work counter to remove the air bubbles. Next pop it into the freezer for about an hour so that it sets enough to take the strawberry layer without having them sink into the batter. You can prepare the strawberry topping while you wait for it to set.
To make the strawberry layer you’ll first marinade the hulled and quartered strawberries in some caster sugar, otherwise known as macerating. When sugar is added to fresh strawberries, it pulls the moisture out of them resulting in a sweet syrup which infuses and softens the berries. Add the fresh strawberries to a bowl and sprinkle with caster sugar, cover the bowl and allow them to sit for an hour or so.
Next make the jelly that will set the strawberry layer. To prepare the jelly first add the water and agar-agar powder to a jug and stir well until dissolved. Add the agar-agar mixture to the saucepan along with the syrup from the strawberries and bring to the boil. Agar-agar is the setting agent and it needs to be heated in order to activate it.
Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes, whilst whisking continuously. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the strawberries and stir to evenly coat them in the juice. Quickly spoon the strawberry mixture evenly over the cheesecake filling. (you’ll need to work very quickly as the strawberry mixture will jellify and set once it hits the cooled cheesecake filling). Set the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours (or preferably overnight). Once set, use a hot wet knife to slice into portions.
Store in an airtight container and consume within 3-4 days.
WHY MAKE THESE STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE BARS?
- Fresh and fruity: the strawberry flavour in these cheesecake bars is intense thanks to the addition of caster sugar, creating a sweet strawberry syrup which compliments the creamy cheesecake layer.
- Creamy and light: the cheesecake layer of these bars is incredibly smooth and creamy, and has an almost mousse-like consistency, making them airy and light.
- Easy to make: being no-bake, these strawberry cheesecake bars are incredibly easy to make.
- Vegan-friendly: this recipe (along with all the other recipes on my blog) is made using only plantbased ingredients and does not contain any animal derived ingredients such as dairy, eggs or honey.
- Gluten-free: be sure to opt for gluten-free rolled oats if you’d like to keep these cheesecake bars free from gluten. Disclaimer: always check the labels of the ingredients if you suffer from a food allergy or intolerance.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS NO-BAKE CHEESECAKE
Vegan No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
- 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
- ½ cup cashews
- ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats use regular if gluten-free not required
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 6 medjool dates pitted
- 1 tbsp coconut oil solid
- 200 g cashews soaked *see notes
- ½ cup coconut cream or tinned coconut milk *see notes
- ¼ cup vanilla soya yoghurt or coconut yoghurt
- 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp coconut oil solid
- 400 g fresh strawberries hulled and quartered
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- 120 ml water
- ½ tsp agar-agar powder
- For the crust, add the toasted coconut, cashews, oat flakes and salt to your food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes to form a light crumb.
- Add the dates and coconut oil and continue to blend until the mixture sticks together to form a dough.
- Line the base and sides of an 8" square pan with parchment paper and press the dough into the base of the pan using a spatula or flat bottomed glass. Set aside.
- To make the filling, add all of the ingredients to your high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour the filling into the pan and gently tap it on your work counter to remove the air bubbles.
- Place in the freezer to set for about an hour while you prepare the strawberry topping.
- Add the hulled and quartered strawberries to a bowl and sprinkle the caster sugar on top. Cover the bowl and allow to sit for an hour, stirring every so often.
- Pass the strawberries through a sieve and add the collected juice to a saucepan. Set the strawberries aside in a bowl.
- Add the water and agar-agar powder to a jug and stir well until dissolved. Add the agar-agar mixture to the saucepan along with the syrup from the strawberries and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes, whilst whisking continuously. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the strawberries and stir to evenly coat them in the juice. Quickly spoon the strawberry mixture evenly over the cheesecake filling. (you'll need to work very quickly as the strawberry mixture will jellify and set once it hits the cooled cheesecake filling).
- Set the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours (or preferably overnight). Once set, use a hot wet knife to slice into portions.
- Store in an airtight container and consume within 3-4 days.