Peanut Butter No-Bake Cheesecake (with PB and J Option)
Until the past few years I haven’t been a fan of cheesecake. I think the aversion began when I was afraid of anything containing dairy, due to the fact I was told I was lactose intolerant and I would have major stomach issues. Turns out, I can eat dairy within reason and gluten was the culprit.
I thought I would give cheesecake another shot but with my twist on it. Since I eat a large majority of the things I create/make, it’s gotta be healthy or the waistline would suffer much more. I had great results with agar agar powder when making my coconut milk panna cotta so I thought I would give it a try with a no-bake cheesecake. This worked beautifully!!!
I made a no-cream cheese cheesecake with peanut butter, cottage cheese, almond milk and a no-bake chocolate crust and it has a rich and creamy texture and no fuss with a cracked top either! I’ve attempted a baked cottage cheesecake a couple times in the past with okay results – but it was nothing to write home about, this however is!
I served this cheesecake “plain” with chopped peanuts and another slice with a sour cherry compote – oh boy, this contrast is lovely! It’s the old-time favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich all dressed up in dessert form. The sweetness of the cheesecake, the saltiness of the peanut butter and the tartness of the cherry compote made me giggle with excitement. Strawberry or raspberries could also be subbed in place of the cherries for a yummy combo too.
Peanut Butter No-Bake Cheesecake
For chocolate crust (makes one 6 inch crust, can be doubled)
1/4 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup raw almonds, peanuts
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal (or your favorite GF flour)
2 Tbsp cocoa or cacao powder (or carob powder for caffeine free)
4 medjool dates (soaked if really dry)
dash of sea salt
1/4 cup of powdered coconut/palm sugar (I pulsed mine in my magic bullet)
1 cup of non-dairy milk, divided (I used unsweetened almond)
1 1/4 tsp agar agar powder (not flakes, will need 3x as much)
2 cups of 2% cottage cheese (if really watery, strain for 15 minutes – mine was really thick)
1/3 to 1/2 cup unsalted, natural creamy peanut butter (I used 1/2 cup) – can substitute sunbutter for peanut free
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of stevia extract or liquid stevia to taste
chopped raw or roasted unsalted peanuts
For sour cherry compote (inspired by my orange scented cranberry sauce)
1 1/4 cup frozen tart red cherries, chopped (could use fresh pitted cherries)
1 1/4 cup fresh cranberries (you could use frozen too)
3-5 Tbsp coconut palm sugar, honey, agave OR 7-110 medjool dates OR a combo (adjust sweetness to taste)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup apple juice
For the crust:
1. In the bowl of a food processor, add all ingredients and pulse until combined. A ball should form and stick together. If too wet, add more oats, nuts or flaxseed meal and if too dry add a tiny drizzle of oil, milk or water and pulse again.
2. Press into a 6 inch springform pan (no need to grease) and set aside while you prepare the filling.
For the filling**:
1. In a small saucepan, combine agar powder, 3/4 cup of milk and powdered palm sugar and stir. Let side for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a blender or Vitamix, combine cottage cheese, peanut butter, vanilla, pinch of stevia and remaining 1/4 cup of milk. Blend until smooth and well incorporated (1-2 minutes)
3. Heat the agar, milk and palm sugar over medium heat until simmering and bubbles start to form. Stir constantly for one to two minutes until sugar is mostly dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken.
4. Remove from heat and add to blender. Blend immediately for one minute or until well combined.
5. Pour over prepared crust and let chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours up to overnight (or until set). Remove sides from spring form pan carefully, garnish with chopped nuts and serve with compote if desired. Enjoy!
For cherry compote (you will have extra after using for cheesecake, could use as a sauce for pancakes, breads, garnish etc):
1. In a medium saucepan, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to bring to a simmer on medium-low and let cook for about 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Halfway through cooking (5-6 minutes) use a fork or a spoon to mash berries and cherries and release more of their juices. Let cook for another 5 minutes, occassionally stirring and mashing until thick. (sauce will thicken more as it cools)
3. Serve immediately warm or refrigerate until ready to serve for a chilled sauce. Heat on low to reheat if preferred warm and enjoy!
*If using dates for your sweetener for the compote, soak them until soft and puree them along with the juice before cooking
**Recipe Notes: I used one 6 in springform pan for the peanut butter cheesecake with the crust and poured the remaining filling into two glass serving dishes for a crustless cheesecake for kicks. This is an easy alternative if you don’t want to make the crust! You could pour it into cocktail glasses and serve with a compote or crushed gluten free graham crackers :) You could even make individual cheesecakes and divide and press the crust to the bottom of individual ramekins or glasses for easy serving.