Secret Ingredient Strawberry Cheesecake [Non-Dairy & Paleo]

I know a lot of you have been eagerly awaiting this recipe and I don’t blame you… Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about any of my previous creations.

Well, okay, maybe I have and I just don’t remember. Yeah! Now that I think of it, I probably have. Like when I made these decadent Sweet Potato Brownies, or maybe that Chocolate Truffle Cake

But this time, it’s different.

I mean, seriously guys, this cake is completely insane. It’s just like CHEESECAKE except it’s got no cheese in it. NO CHEESE!!! How crazy is that!? Totally crazy, I say. Demented, even!

But just you wait until you find out what exactly IS in it! It’ll blow your mind. Seriously.

Honestly, I was the first one surprised when it actually turned out. It was, after all, my first attempt at creating a non-dairy cheesecake, and for a first attempt, I sure went all out. I brought forth the heavy artillery…

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

If you know me, you know just how much I love cheesecake. Now, having decided to practically give up on dairy, it was only a matter of time before I tried my hand at making a non-dairy version of my favorite dessert in the whole wide world. In fact, I was only waiting for strawberries to be in season, for I really had my heart set on topping that baby with gorgeous bright red, plump and juicy strawberries.

To be honest, though, I totally expected this cake to be a complete disaster. A flop. A monumental waste of time and valuable ingredients. I was prepared to be extremely disappointed and perhaps even shed a tear or two.

Still. It was too big, too bold an idea for it to remain untested.

I almost wish that I could keep the secret ingredient a complete mystery and have you try the cake without knowing, but then how are you going to make the cake if you don’t know? What if the recipe read: …and now, add the secret ingredient! Right… that wouldn’t fly all that high.

So I guess that at some point, I’m gonna have to let you know…

At some point…

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

But not now…

First, we gotta make the crust. That part isn’t a mystery at all. In fact, I pretty much used the same recipe that I’d used for my Crème Brûlée Cheesecake, except this time, I didn’t blind-bake the crust.

To make it, simply add all the required ingredients to your food processor and process on pulse until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

You then want to transfer that mixture to a springform pan that you will have previously lined with parchment paper and press it firmly against the bottom and side of the pan.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Bring that crust up to about halfway up the side of the pan, like such. No need to be super fancy and take your ruler out, here. The crust looks much prettier when it’s unequal, I find. When you’re done with that, set the pan aside and start working on the filling.

Yikes! Looks like I’m gonna have to tell you what that secret ingredient is fairly soon…

I’m a bit scared, to be honest. I hope you guys won’t run off when you finally find out what it is!

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Alright, so you haven’t forgotten to soak your cashews overnight, have you? I hope not!

And no, cashews aren’t the secret ingredient. In fact, they’re a pretty standard cheese replacement in a lot of non-dairy recipes. But I didn’t want to use all cashews, I felt it would require WAY too much nuts for my liking… I had to add something else!

But now, let’s rinse the cashew pieces under running cold water and add them, along with the coconut milk to the bowl of your food processor. Process this until real smooth and creamy, scraping the sides a few times, about 5 minutes total.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

HA! Can you see that? There it is! It’s now time to add the secret ingredient. You know what that is, right? One of my ultimate favorite ingredients in the whole wide world, the super versatile, the almost magical, the wonder veggie: CAULIFLOWER!

Yes ma’am, you heard that one right. Grated cauliflower that’s been cooked and squeezed dry; the very same kind of cauliflower that I use to make Paleo Pizza Crusts, Tortillas and Creamy Fritters.

For realz. I’m not kidding. I told you I’d had a bold idea!

Alright now pick your jaw up off the floor, we have a cake to finish. In goes the cauliflower (yes, yes, cauliflower) and the processing resumes until the batter turns really smooth again, about 3-4 minutes.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Now add the honey, coconut oil, salt, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar and vanilla and then resume processing until well combined, about 30 seconds.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Throw in the lemon zest and juice and mix to combine.

See that little gizmo I’m using? If you don’t have one of these gadgets, you should definitely invest in one. I used to think they were totally useless, until I started using lemon and lime juice on a regular basis. This squeezes ALL the juice out of your fruits and keeps the pits out of your dish.

Plus, it keeps your hands nice and clean, too. A dream, I tell you. Totally worth the investment.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Now we need to add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds between each addition.

I like to feed my eggs right through the feeding tube, that way I don’t have to stop the motor all the time. Just don’t go and drop a piece of egg shell in there, ‘cuz there’s no way you’ll ever be able to fish it out…

Lastly, you’ll want to add the tapioca flour and give your filling a final 30 second spin.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Pour the creamy filling over the reserved crust.

See? No lumps, no visible pieces of cauliflower. It’s all smooooooth and creamy, baby!

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Place the cake over a piece of aluminum foil and fold it over the pan so the exterior is completely covered. Now place your cake in a rimmed roasting pan, then delicately pour some boiling water into the roasting pan so it goes to about 1/4 of the way up the side of the pan.

Your cake now has to go in the oven for a total of close to 2 hours.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

See how this came out of the oven without a single crack? BONUS! A cheesecake that doesn’t crack. I’m certainly all for that!

And wait ’til you get to feel how nice and firm yet spongy this is! Unbelievable!

You might have to pick your jaw up off the floor once again…

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Alright, let’s get busy working on the finishing touch, shall we?

Bring 1 cup of strawberries and half a cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Let that boil vigorously for about 5 minutes, until the strawberries have relinquished pretty much all of their pretty red color to the water.

While the strawberries are boiling away, sprinkle some gelatin over half a cup of cold water and let it bloom for a few minutes.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

See how nice and red and syrupy that water got?

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Strain the strawberry juice through a fine meshed strainer set right over the bloomed gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved, then stir in maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt.

Let this mixture cool until it gets thick and almost starts to set. You can place it in the fridge to speed up the process but make sure you check on it often.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

While your strawberry jelly is setting, arrange the strawberries nicely over the top of your cake

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Try and arrange them so the top gets completely covered and none of the strawberries go too far off the edge. It’s almost like making a puzzle! You need to choose the right size strawberry to fit the right spot!

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

As soon as your jelly is thick enough, apply it generously over the fresh strawberries with a pastry brush. If you find that it has set a little bit too much, you can give it a few seconds in the microwave to soften it up some, but make sure you don’t leave it in there for too long. Go 3-5 seconds at a time, no more.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Your cake then needs to make a final trip to the fridge until that strawberry jelly is completely set.

Patience my friend… you’ll get to taste it very soon.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

After about an hour, you’ll finally get to slice through that beauty. Now is that gorgeous or what?

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Take my word for it, this cake is simply UH-MA-ZING! I think I would even choose it over the real thing. The texture is so firm yet so creamy, and the taste is sweet yet salty and tangy at the same time, just like you’d expect a good cheesecake to be.

And no, you cannot taste the cauliflower, nor feel its presence in the least. I can guarantee that you would never ever guess it’s in there. You, or your guests, for that matter. Never. I swear.

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Just look at how creamy this cake is. I’m like totally blown away. Frankly, it far exceeded my expectations. Well, considering I was half expecting that it would end up in the bin, let’s say my expectations weren’t hard to exceed.

But I just ended up loving it so much, now I’m wanting to make all kinds of different flavors, using this exact recipe as a foundation, INCLUDING the not so secret anymore ingredient, of course!

Until then, I just can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

Non-Dairy & Paleo Strawberry Cheesecake

Yield: Serves 12-16

NF based on 1 of 16 servings

Non-Dairy & Paleo Strawberry Cheesecake

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

    The crust
  1. Line the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment paper. To do that, remove the ring and cover the bottom with parchment paper. Fold the excess paper back under the plate and, while holding it in place with one hand, put the ring back in its position with the other hand. Bring the excess paper back from under the pan but do not cut it off.
  2. Grease the side of the pan with lard or ghee or any other healthy and heat resistant fat you prefer.
  3. Add all the ingredients of the crust to your food processor and process on pulse until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand. Press at the bottom and side of the pan. You want to bring the crust up to about halfway up the side of the pan.
  4. The filling
  5. Preheat the oven to 350F
  6. Use a box grater or the grater disc of your food processor to grate the cauliflower.
  7. Place the grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover loosely with plastic film; microwave for about 4-6 minutes on high. Let the cauliflower cool for a few minutes until it can be handled safely and then squeeze it as dry as you possibly can. Set aside to cool.
  8. Bring 3-4 cups of water to a boil.
  9. Rinse the cashew pieces under running cold water and add them, along with the coconut milk to the bowl of your food processor. Process until real smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  10. Add reserved cauliflower and resume processing until really smooth again, about 3-4 minutes.
  11. Add honey, coconut oil, salt, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar and vanilla and then resume processing until well combined, about 30 seconds.
  12. Throw in the lemon zest and juice and mix to combine; add eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds between each addition.
  13. Finally, add tapioca starch and give your filling a final 30 second spin. Pour over the reserved crust.
  14. Place the cake over a piece of aluminum foil and fold it over the pan so the exterior is completely covered. Now place your cake in a rimmed roasting pan, then delicately pour some boiling water into the roasting pan so it goes to about 1/4 of the way up the side of the pan. Place that rig onto the middle rack of your oven and bake for 15 minutes then decrease the temperature to 250F and bake for another 90 minutes.
  15. Turn off the oven and crack the door open. Leave the cake in the oven, undisturbed, for about 1 hour, or until cool enough to be handled with your bare hands, and then slide it out of the oven.
  16. When the “cheesecake” is completely cooled, run a knife around the rim and refrigerate uncovered for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  17. The garnish
  18. Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water and let it rest for a few minutes to allow the gelatin to soak up as much water as possible.
  19. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of strawberries and half a cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Let that boil vigorously for about 5 minutes, until the strawberries have relinquished pretty much all their pretty red color to the water.
  20. Strain through a fine meshed sieve right over the bloomed gelatin, then stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt and let this mixture cool until it starts to set. You can place it in the fridge to speed up the process but make sure you check on it often.
  21. While your strawberry jelly is setting, arrange the strawberries over the top of your cake to completely cover it.
  22. Apply the strawberry jelly generously over the fresh strawberries with a pastry brush. If you find it has set a little bit too much, you can give it a few seconds in the microwave to soften it up, but make sure you don’t leave it in there for too long. Go 3-5 seconds at a time, no more.
  23. Place the cake in the fridge until the jelly is completely set, about an hour, then slice and serve.
http://thehealthyfoodie.com/non-dairy-paleo-strawberry-cheesecake/

Oh, and just because I dunno… I thought this cake was a very pretty subject, I got a bit carried away and took 2 million pictures, so I’m sharing a little more than usual.

I’m sure you guys won’t mind a little food porn, will you?

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

Non-Dairy Paleo Cheesecake | thehealthyfoodie.com

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Comments

  1. says

    Love it!
    So, it’s practically a main meal which means I can have an extra serve as dessert?!
    Hidden veggies are the best. I love getting my kids to try to guess what’s in their food. Bet they’d never guess your secret ingredient.
    A stunning cake with Beautiful photos.

    • says

      Thank you, I appreciate your kind words! Honestly, I’d be ready to put money on that one… I don’t think anyone could ever guess by taste alone what went into the making of this cake. In fact, I’m not even sure that anyone would guess that it was non-dairy, if they weren’t told! ;)

  2. says

    wow it is shocking there is cauliflower in there! i would like to try it. that would be one healthy cheesecake!

  3. says

    Mind = blown.
    Seriously Sonia, you’re such a genius! This is a very creative idea that I’m dying to try! I loooove all kinds of cheesecake, but healthy ones win my heart every time! And this one is such a stunner – not even in a million of years would I tell this was healthy! Awesome job!!!
    Enjoy your Sunday! xxxx

  4. Jody says

    What is the baking temp? Directions say preheat to 250, bake for 15 then decrease to 250 for another 90. Did you mean preheat to 350? I have it in the oven right now and baked it for 15 at 250. What do I do??

    • says

      I definitely meant to say preheat oven to 350! Real sorry about that, Jody!!! Thanks for pointing it out. I say just carry on, keep baking the cake for another 90 minutes. It’ll still set, I’m not worried!

      Please let me know how it turned out!

  5. Becky says

    AWESOME!!! This looks amazing and I’ll be making it soon! One question though. My husband is diabetic and even though we eat Paleo, some recipes are still way too high in carbs for him. Do you have any recommendations for reducing the amount of sweetener in the recipe? Normally I start off by cutting the sweetener in half, in this case, the honey would be reduced to 1/2 cup but I’m not sure what I’d use to replace the 1/2 cup of liquid lost. Any ideas or do you think changing the sweetener level would effect the overall success of the recipe too much? We both love cheesecake and this looks so delicious that I reeeeally want to make it but I don’t want to torture him if he can’t have it. Oh, and a smaller serving won’t work. That would just be mean :-)

    • says

      I’m not sure that I would go as far as reducing the honey by half, Becky, but you could probably get away with cutting down to 3/4 of a cup… would 3/4 of a serving do the trick? ;)

      There’s also a lot of carbs in the strawberries and jelly. What you could do is top the cheesecake with sliced strawberries as opposed to whole, that way you would probably cut this down by half, too! Or you could also top your cheesecake with blueberries, instead!

      Hope this helps, and hope you (and hubby!) enjoy the cake! :)

  6. Jordan Leigh says

    I KNEW IT! GAH. The day you posted this on Instagram I said to myself “hmmm… I bet she went and used that dang cauliflower!” (Or rutabaga…. Don’t ask lol) man Sonia, you must really be starting to run off on me…

  7. says

    Wow Sonia you never cease to amaze me! Cauliflower? How do you even come up with these brilliant ideas of yours?? You’re a genius! I can’t wait to make this one, it doesn’t even look complicated! I’ll make a test with my BF and tell him it’s a “regular” cheesecake and I’ll report back haha.

    • says

      YAY! I so can’t wait to hear. So far, everyone who’s tasted this cake absolutely LOVED it. I am really looking forward to hearing what you and your BF have to say about it! :)

      And thank you so much for your kind words. Vous êtes trop aimable, ma chère. A real gem! :)

  8. Anit says

    Maybe I’m just not thinking because I’m tired, but…
    1) Is it 1 cup of ground hazelnuts for the crust, or measure 1 cup then grind?
    2) Similarly, for the cauliflower, should I cook 500g or should I have 500g of dry cauliflower after cooking and squeezing?

    I’m looking forward to trying this with my daughter. Sounds fantastic!

    • says

      It’s 1 cup hazelnuts, then grind, and 500g raw cauliflower, then cook and squeeze.

      Please do let me know how you liked the cake, Anit. I’d really love to hear your thoughts, as well as your daughter’s! :)

  9. says

    oh my wow! GORGEOUS. just GORGEOUS. I’m amazed at the ingenuity that went into making this cheesecake! I hope I have dinner party soon so I can make this beautiful cheesecake!

  10. Jody says

    I made this cheesecake and WOW!!! It is EVERY bit as fantastic as the photos look. My dairy-eating husband also approved. It’s light, creamy, and has the perfect mouth-feel of a cheesecake. As a cow’s milk-intolerant person, I am THRILLED to have a cheesecake back in my diet!!! This base is going to be the start of a whole new world of desserts for me.

    • says

      WOW thank you so much for this awesome feedback, Jody, this is like PURE GOLD to me! I am SO happy to hear that you feel exactly the same way I do about this cheesecake! You have seriously just made my day! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      Hope you come up with many great “cheesy” creations of your own… and hey, feel free to share! ;) :D

  11. Sally says

    This tastes AMAZING Sonia!! I made it yesterday and was very sceptical as most primal/paleo “Cheesecakes” taste way too cashew-ish and basically nothing like the real deal. To my surprise it tasted nothing like cashews, cauliflower or coconut milk….it just tastes like cheesecake! I’m completely baffled at how tasty this turned out, and am so grateful that you’ve shared this recipe.

  12. says

    WOW – I am so glad I stumbled by your blog – this “cheesecake” sounds incredible!!! I have used navy beans to make some mini ones before, but this looks so much better – and you snuck cauliflower in!!! I am in awe – WOW – oh wait I said that already! Wow!

  13. Mandy says

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your cheesecake!!!! The aroma of the filling before it even went into the oven was amazing :-) Unfortunately I may have to eat most of it myself (Yum), as my son won’t even look at it and my daughter has a nut allergy – so I wondered how long it’ll keep in the fridge?

    • says

      I would say about a week, Mandy… maaaaaybe you could stretch that up to 10 days. You could always try freezing it without the strawberries. I suspect that would work very well.

      Glad you’re loving that cheesecake, btw, and thanks a bunch for taking the time to let me know. I greatly appreciate that. (Oh, and your son has no idea what he’s missing out on… Bah, more for you, I guess!) ;)

      • Mandy says

        I’ll try freezing it and see how it goes, and I couldn’t leave it in the fridge for a week, it’s all gone :-) All be it I did share a fair bit with friends :-)

  14. Joanna says

    This looks fabulous! I’ve have missed cheesecake so much…I can’t wait to try it.

    Two questions:

    1) We don’t own a microwave. What would be the next best method to cook the cauliflower?

    2) My husband doesn’t like most nuts. Do you think substituting raw macadamia nuts for the hazelnuts would work?

    • says

      You can steam the cauliflower instead of microwaving it, Joanna. That’s the method I used in this Cauliflower Fritter Recipe

      As for subbing macadamia for hazelnuts, I’m not sure… the fat content of macadamia is much higher than that of the hazelnuts… if you do try it, be really careful not to over process them, as they turn to butter fairly quickly, and maybe add an extra tablespoon of coconut flour to make up for the extra fat content.

      Let me know how things go if you end up making it! :)

  15. says

    I was surprised but at the same time not surprised..I have been making sushi for years using raw cauliflower instead of the usual rice and my teenage boys never knew it was cauliflower they were both amazed..Like you I love a good cheese cake..

  16. Naomi B says

    Hi Sonia,
    Thanks for this great recipe. I just finished slaving in the kitchen over It and it’s in the one now. I’m excited to taste it! I was wondering if you’ve ever tried freezing this cake? With no topping on it. Please let me know. Thanks!

  17. Katherine says

    I have just made the recipe and after the full time in the oven, it still is not set. I didn’t change anything. I also squuzed every ounce of water out of the cauliflower so don’t think it is an excess liquid problem. Does it set in the 6hrs in the fridge, or should I just keep it going in the oven?

    • says

      I’m real sorry to hear, Katherine. The cake should be completely set as it comes out of the oven… You’ve probably taken it out of there, by now, so hopefully it did set eventually for you! Please let me know what you did and how it turned out.

      • Katherine says

        I put it back in and kept on checking it. It set eventually. Took another hour on top of the original 2. I think that maybe I put too much water in the base of the pan that the cheesecake was surrounded by. The setting process seemed to speed up once all the water had evaporated. Will add the strawberry layer tomorrow then try the following day. Fingers crossed it tastes as good as it smells!

      • says

        That could very well explain it, as more water would take longer to come up in temperature. I’m real happy to hear that it eventually set, though, and I truly hope that you like the taste as much as you did the aroma! (it does smell good, doesn’t it?)

        Keep me posted! :)

  18. Donna says

    I’m so looking forward to trying this cheesecake. I just finished a cleanse and am hoping to implement new healthy ways of eating. Me and my hubby both have a sweet tooth so healthier options that tastes great too is priceless! Which makes me bring up a question. With all the sugar that goes into the cheesecake, can it be considered healthy? Gonna make it anyway, just wondering. ☺

    • says

      Well, Donna, a treat is a treat is a treat! Only they are not all created equal… this one contains nothing but healthy ingredients, so as long as one doesn’t overdo it, I would say that yes, it is a healthy treat indeed! :)

  19. says

    I’ve made lots of regular cheesecakes but I’ve gone dairy & sugar free so this is wonderful, if it really does taste like cheesecake. I’ve found that using a water-bath causes to make my crust soggy (even if I use 3 layers of foil) so I boil water and put in a roasting pan on a rack underneath the cheesecake pan to create steam. If I did this would I have to adjust the baking time? Also, would unfiltered apple cider vinegar work okay or would it make the texture weird?

  20. Inna says

    hi! Your recipe sounds amazing! Do you think there is any chance that subbing out eggs for chia seed eggs might work? My kiddo is allergic and I’m still breastfeeding. But in dying for some cheesecake!!

    • says

      To be honest, Inna, I have zero experience with chia seed eggs, so I wouldn’t be able to tell… Personally, I wouldn’t risk it, especially not with a recipe that calls for so many eggs, but perhaps someone who’s got a little bit more experience with them might be able to tell you otherwise.

  21. Harleigh says

    Sonia!
    I have to thank you for this recipe! I have made it twice – once exactly as written in the recipe and once subbing all of the cauliflower with pumpkin (cooked and dried just like the cauliflower) for a pumpkin cheesecake. O ma gawd, the best cheesecakes I have EVER eaten.
    So my question is this: Could I leave out the honey to make a savory baked cheese round (crustless) with herbs?

    • says

      What fantastic ideas, Harleigh! Love how you turned this into a pumpkin cheesecake, and I am absolutely certain that making this into a savory cheesecake would work just as well! Please, please do keep me posted as to what you did if you end up experimenting with this! :D

  22. Rachel says

    Would this recipe work if I omit all the honey and replace it with a fruit as a sweetener, like applesauce, dates or banana?

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