Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

Yields:  approx. 8 servings

I was never much a fan of pumpkin pie growing up, so this year I decided to try out a pumpkin variation of my regular cheesecake.  And... doesn't a chocolate pecan crust sound like a perfect pairing?

This little guy is subtly sweet, and the seasonal flavors meld to give you a holiday treat that won't soon be forgotten!

Chocolate Pecan Crust

Ingredients

1 cup pecans
1/4 cup raw cacao (I like Navitas Naturals)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 scant tsp salt
8-12 medjool dates, peeled and pitted (start with 8 and add more as you need them)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 325.

2.  Skin and pit all medjool dates:  Place dates in a bowl and cover with water.  Allow to soak for about 5 minutes.  Peel skin from soaked dates and squeeze out the pit.

3.  Prepare your crust:  In your food processor, combine pecans, cacao, cinnamon, and salt.  Process until well combined and broken down but not pulverized.

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Add dates and process until blended. (Start with 8 dates, and then add more if needed.  Your "dough" should be slightly gummy so that when formed into a ball, it holds.)

3.  In a standard pie plate (I used a 9 1/2″ deep dish Pyrex plate) press dough evenly along the bottom and sides of the plate.  Bake at 325 for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool.

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Filling

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for 8 hours (over night)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

1.  Cover cashews with water and soak uncovered for at least 5 hours.  (Overnight does the trick.)
2.  In your food processor, combine all ingredients and process until creamy.  Depending on your processor speed, this may take a while (and some patience).  Continue to scrape the sides and persevere–a smooth, creamy texture is important!
3.  Pour filling into crust and bake at 325 for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the cheesecake filling begins to crack around the edges.  Keep an eye on it to make sure the crust doesn't burn (place a pie crust shield over the crust if it does begin to burn.)
4.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.
5.  Remove from refrigerator 10 minutes before serving and then dive in!

xox