pumpkin pie cheesecake with ginger cacao cookie crust & salted cashew caramel swirl (vegan & gluten free)

Say hello to my Thanksgiving/November-time centerpiece.

This is a Trader Joe's pumpkin pie pumpkin (their exact words). It is also mini, which is really the only reason that I bought it. 


It also happens to be the main ingredient in an AH-mazing Thanksgiving-esque dessert.  

I am KIDDING. I opened a can of pumpkin puree instead. Please, friends. But it is from Trader Joe's too. 

So that's my centerpiece story, and yes, I am moving on :).

WITH an annoying amount of cheesecake photos that aren't super dandy or pumpkin pie but I wasn't mentally or physically prepared to make another one. And it is like pumpkin pie because it is a pumpkin pie cheesecake. Plus the aesthetic of the photos is kind of this craziness of various shades of orange and sleepy gray/blue so.... fall? Thanksgiving? It is autumnal light/hues, so sure. I'm rollin hard with the Thanksgiving vibes.   


My family loves cheesecake. LOVES it. I like making things that everyone likes, because it is a personal challenge to produce a dish that everyone in my family will eat (you too?).

I can't totally blame them because, well, in my early celiac days I was not the baker lady that I pretend to be now. And my family tried some funky stuff. I brought this upon myself, but in my defense sans-gluten life is straight up weird. Like half the time your batter looks like mud. 

The present-day Alyssa baker lady is different. I usually know what I'm doing at least 50% of the time, and have the reputation of cook solidified in my family circle. Whew. 

Regardless of making other things, I always put myself in charge of dessert (my FAVORITE thing to make, and much to the annoyance of my mother :D) at Thanksgiving, so... this year it is cheesecake. Full of things that the family likes.  

Beyond the various family member preferences, I want to be able to eat the cheesecake too, so allergy-friendly it must be. What is always tricky, though, is getting an awesome cheesecake from non-cheese things. I do occasionally rant about how cashews are in everything, but welp, here we are looking at cheesecake that has cashews.  BUT it is cashews plus vegan cream cheese. Thank you, God, for vegan cream cheese.  

And a salted caramel swirl, of course. 


Quite literally, this dessert is my family in cheesecake form served up on a springform platter. 

We like chocolate, and pumpkin pie, and cheesecake, and I like salted caramel everything lately. So into a singular dessert these things go. That's what Thanksgiving is for, yes?  

OF COURSE I had to try it as is (it t'was pretty good), before deciding that yes, I do want more caramel on this cheesecake. And chocolate because we like the flavonoid-filled-wonder-confection. 


This is also a wee messy because I was covering up the whole "caramel swirl" anyways. Plus messy is super fun. Entire blob of caramel on my cheesecake slice? YES. PLEASE. PLEASE NOW. 


I also have a really nifty cake stand that, if Thanksgiving was happening in my hobbit hole, would absolutely be making an appearance. I think my mom has one. 

This totally matters, by the way, because this cheesecake is special and should be elevated above the other desserts. Some reasons why I am fond of this deliciousness: 

1. It is very much like a classic cheesecake in that it is baked and forms a beautiful autumnal-orange-pumpkiny swirl

2. Has a fabulous texture that holds up well in the fridge or in the freezer

3. Caters to the pumpkin pie, chocolate, and cheesecake lovers of your Thanksgiving circle

4. Can be slathered in chocolate and caramel (or whipped cream) if you so desire 

5. Is rich like cheesecake but not so overwhelming that you cannot enjoy it post-Thanksgiving


If nothing else, come Thanksgiving time you could say that you made a cheesecake! Peeps will be impressed. They will be extra impressed if you tell them it is vegan-friendly and celiac-friendly. I say again: thank you, God, for vegan cream cheese. 

This is a dessert that you make ahead (it needs to sit overnight like a traditional cheesecake), but in my mind that is a bonus because it is one less thing to do on Thanksgiving day. Yay! 


Bring this one to that holiday table, friends. Your family will thank you :D.


pumpkin pie cheesecake with ginger cacao cookie crust & salted cashew caramel swirl


vegan & gluten free

prep time: 1 hour + refrigerate overnight

cook time: 10 minutes + 50-60 minutes

makes: 1 9-inch cheesecake  



For the ginger cacao cookie crust:

4 T brown rice flour

4 T sorghum flour

2 T raw cacao powder (or quality unsweetened cocoa powder)

2 T coconut sugar

2 T Earth Balance or butter

2 T roasted cashew butter

1 ½ T pure maple syrup

¼ tsp ginger powder

¼ tsp baking powder

tiny pinch sea salt

For the pumpkin pie cheesecake filling:

2.5 cups pumpkin puree (~1 ½ 15 oz. cans)

1 cup cashews, soaked*

1 8-oz container vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya plain) or regular cream cheese

¾ cup pure maple syrup

4 T roasted cashew butter

1 T vanilla

1 T pumpkin pie spice

tiny pinch sea salt

For the salted cashew caramel (double if using for topping):

2 T roasted cashew butter

2 T pure maple syrup

1 T Earth Balance or butter

½ tsp vanilla

Tiny pinch sea salt

⅛ tsp ginger, to taste

For the chocolate topping (optional):

1 70% dark chocolate bar (I used endangered species 72%), chopped

2 ½ tsp Earth Balance



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.*

  2. On stove top, bring a pot of 3-4 cups water to boil. Once water is boiling, turn off heat, leave over burner, and dump cashews into the boiling water and let sit, covered, for 30 minutes.

  3. Combine all of the cacao ginger cookie crust ingredients. Press into the bottom of the springform pan (you should have a thin crust). Parbake for 10 minutes, then remove crust and increase oven temp to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Set crust aside while preparing the filling.

  4. Combine all of the filling ingredients, including soaked cashews, in a high-speed blender.* Blend on high for 2-3 minutes, or until mixture is pureed and there are no bits of cashew. Pour on top of baked crust in springform pan.

  5. Combine all of the salted caramel ingredients in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20-30 seconds, then whisk together to combine. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes, then spoon on top of cheesecake.

  6. Using a butter knife, run knife through filling and caramel, creating swirls.  

  7. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, then decrease oven temperature to 325 and continue baking for an additional 50-60 minutes.

  8. Allow to cool completely, then place in refrigerator overnight.

  9. The next day, prepare chocolate and more salted caramel for topping. Spread melted chocolate over top of cheesecake, then drizzle salted caramel on top.

  10. Place back into the refrigerator or freezer (wrapped in saran wrap) until ready to serve. If freezing, place cheesecake in refrigerator ~1 hour before serving.



*Alternatively, you could skip the cashews and use an additional 8 oz container of vegan cream cheese.

*Spreading a thin layer of oil (or Earth Balance) on the pan will help the parchment paper to stick.

*Alternatively, you could use a food processor.