The creamiest vanilla cheesecake on an oaty coconut crust topped with sweet and fragrant macerated strawberry jelly. These vegan no-bake strawberry 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' Day, or as a refreshing summer treat.
What to expect from this recipe
- Fresh and fruity: the strawberry flavor in these cheesecake bars is intense thanks to the addition of caster sugar, creating a sweet strawberry syrup that complements 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.
- Gluten-free: be sure to opt for gluten-free rolled oats if you'd like to keep these cheesecake bars free from gluten.
Toasted coconut flakes: Toasted coconut gives a deliciously malty flavor to the base of these cheesecake bars. You can also buy raw coconut flakes, and toast them until slightly browned under your grill. Or you can substitute it with desiccated coconut.
Cashews are used in the crust but also to give the filling a wonderful creamy "cheesecake" flavor.
Gluten-free rolled oats: Oats give the crust a wonderful, well, "oaty" flavor! 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 its flavor!
Medjool dates: You can use any soft dates for this recipe, I love using Medjools for their soft texture and sweet caramel flavor. 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 soy yogurt: 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 yogurt helps to lighten your no-bake dessert. I love using the vanilla flavored one for an extra pop of flavor, however, you can also use a plain version and add an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract to the filling.
Pure maple syrup: My absolute favorite 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 flavor 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. 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 this recipe
The chewy crust is delicious even on its 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 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 for 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 that 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 a 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.
More vegan cheesecakes
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- 400 g fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- 120 ml water
- ½ teaspoon 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 it 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 a 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.
- Soaked cashews: Soak the cashews in water for 4 hours, rinse and drain.
- Coconut milk: Refrigerate the tin of coconut milk overnight, then only use the thick cream from the top of the can.
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