No bake Vegan Cranberry Cheesecake Squares

We made vegan cream cheese and now we’re going to do something awesome with it. Are you ready? It’s one of my favorite dairy-free recipes to date!

You’re going to start by making a walnut-based crust. It’s just four ingredients, none of which are dried fruit. As much as I love the no bake crusts that use dried fruit and nuts, I wanted to do something different with this and ended up finding walnut flour in the process!

Then, you’re going to make cranberry sauce. A bit of orange zest here, some boiling there, it’s a cinch.

Lastly, you’re going to mix your awesome, homemade, vegan cream cheese with some vanilla, coconut nectar, and BAM. Layer it all up, stick it in the fridge and you’re good to go.

The most painful part of the whole process is limiting yourself to one two squares per day. Hey, it’s Christmas, we could all do with learning to embrace our indulgences.

If you do dairy, try using goat’s milk cream cheese instead of the regular run of the mill cream cheese. It adds bold flavor to these already delicious squares. I made two versions of this recipe, one with my homemade cream cheese and the other with Happy Days Plain Goat Cheese Spread (all images are of the vegan version) and was surprised at how darn similar the two were. Aside from the bold taste that is goat cheese, each batch performed so similarly and the consistency was like for like. Score!

For the lactose-reduced, dairy-based recipe, head on over to the Happy Days Inspirations page.

For the vegan version, scroll down and commit to making this during the holidays. Oh man, just commit.

To print, email or text this recipe, click here.

4.8 from 8 reviews
No bake Vegan Cranberry Cheesecake Squares
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Grain-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Dairy-free, gluten-free cheesecake made with homemade vegan cream cheese layered between a grain-free base cookie base and a homemade cranberry orange sauce.
Ingredients
Cookie Base:
Cranberry Orange Filling:
  • 2 cups frozen cranberries
  • ¼ cup coconut nectar
  • Zest from half an orange
  • Juice from 1 orange (yields approx. 3-4 tablespoons)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Cream Cheese Filling:
Crumble Top:
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground walnuts or walnut flour
Instructions
  1. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper draped over each side for easy lifting. Set aside.
  2. Combine all cookie base ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork until well combined. You'll know the mixture is ready when it forms into a ball easily.
  3. Reserve ¼ cup of the mix and press the rest into the prepared pan. Make sure it's nice and compacted and flat. Place in the fridge.
  4. Then, prepare cranberry orange filling. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, uncovered on medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes until mixture has thickened. You want it to be about the same consistency of cranberry sauce, a bit thicker. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  5. Then, combine all cream cheese filling ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to combine until smooth. Remove the cookie base pan out of the fridge, top with cream cheese mixture and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Return back to the fridge until the cranberry mixture has cooled.
  6. Top the cream cheese layer with cranberry sauce, removing the cinnamon stick before doing so. To do this, drop mounds of the sauce all over the pan so that you don't have to spread the sauce to far along the top of the cream cheese. This will help you avoid mixing the two layers together. Go gently.
  7. Once the cranberry layer is smoothed, combine the reserved ¼ cup cookie base mix with an additional 2 tablespoons of ground walnuts. Sprinkle over the top of the pan.
  8. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to chill overnight. I left it for 24 hours.
  9. When ready to serve, lift out of the pan with the edges of the parchment paper and cut into 12 squares with a sharp knife, cleaning the knife between each cut to maintain the colors and layers of the squares.
Notes
For the walnut flour - make you own by adding raw walnuts to your food processor and breaking down into a flour. That, or you could try replacing the walnut flour at a one to one ratio with almond flour. For a grain-based option, try the base from this recipe. For the coconut nectar - other liquid sweeteners could be used like honey (no longer vegan), raw agave nectar or date syrup.
Will keep for 4 days in the fridge. Can be cut into squares and then frozen for up to 1 month.

View nutrition information (once on page, scroll down)

Begin by making a batch of vegan cream cheese or, grab a couple of containers of Happy Days Plain Goat Cheese Spread and follow the goat cheese-based instructions here.

You want to mash the base ingredients with a fork, or your hands, until everything is combined well.

When it’s ready, the mixture will form into a ball really nicely. Reserve 1/4 cup of the mix and press the rest into the parchment paper lined baking pan. I like using parchment paper because it makes lifting and cutting the squares so much easier than if you just press it into the pan. This is a necessary step!

Get your sauce ready by adding all of the ingredients to the saucepan. It may look like there isn’t a lot of liquid in the pan but the berries will pop and everything will work out. Just stir and keep a smile on your face… and try not to snack on too much sauce. I was down at least 2 tablespoons come the end of the process.

Meh.

While the cranberry sauce is hanging out, you can get the cream cheese ready. Add the ingredients, stir with a spoon and plop onto the walnut base.

Get it real smooth and refrigerate.

Then add the cranberry sauce. Smooth it out gently. Don’t go too fast here or you’ll end up combining the layers and making a hot mess of everything.

Add reserved mixture with the extra 2 tablespoons of walnut flour mixed in. Crumble it between your fingers as it falls to the pan.

Refrigerate overnight, cut and dig in!

Holy moly Christmas.

Comin’ home

An old friend of mine offered to share her last buddy passes with me so that I could go home to Calgary for a little while. I’ve wanted so badly to hug my daddy, stay up late with my little sister, and head to the spa with my mom for a pedicure. My soul needs this trip so badly and I’m so lucky that I’m in a position to just be able to pick up and go.

I’m blown away by the kindness and thoughtfulness that went into this little miracle I’ve been gifted with. I am so very grateful! It doesn’t matter how big, or small, even if it’s opening a door for someone, or offering to help shovel and neighbors driveway, we all have the ability to create these little miracles for others.

After this morning’s yoga class I’m packing up my bags, kissing Kevin and the puppies goodbye and heading home for a while!

See you on the West coast ;)

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

    • The cranberries really make the picture pop, eh? Cool that you make a similar cream cheese. It’s good, isn’t it?

  1. Is there anything I could use instead of coconut nectar? Can’t find it around here. Maple syrup?

    • Hi Sally – any liquid sweetener should do the trick. Maple syrup is a bit runnier and sweeter, so I would use about 25% less

  2. These look incredible! My roommate and I are planning a fancy Christmas dinner, and I think I just found what I’ll be making for dessert!!

    My mum is in the airline biz, so I know the magic that is flying free via buddy passes! Have fun with your family in Calgary!

    • Fun! Kevin and I are planning the same thing, just for the two of us. Is it just going to be the two of you?

  3. Now THAT is a beautiful bar. I love the combination of creamy with cranberry. So beautiful and healthy, Leanne! I would love to try these. And your soy free cream cheese looks amazing!

    • Thanks Michele. While the cream cheese takes a little while, it’s pretty easy and heck, squares like this at the end of it? It’s TOTALLY worth it :)

  4. Leanne, they’re gorgeous! And they corners have such clean, perfectly sharp corners, clean cuts rule my world :)

    And so do no-bake bars loaded with cranberries and a thick! layer of cream cheese! Loving this one!

    • Cutting bars perfectly is a task in and of itself, isn’t it? Jeez. You must be really good at it given all the tasty bars and squares that come out of your kitchen!

  5. Mmmm these look delicious. Have a great time back home, and make sure to give your friend a big ol’ hug for those buddy passes! Flying across the country is SO expensive around Christmas…

  6. Holy deliciousness!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to lick the screen… those picture!! This is the kind of food photography that makes my belly rumble and gets drool all over my keyboard. These look sooo incredible!!!!
    I am so happy for you that you are making the trip home. Sounds like it is just what you needed. Hope you have an awesome time!! :)

  7. Well, I was already planning on making this lovely looking cream cheese, but now you’ve really convinced me! This looks absolutely divine, and so so pretty! I wonder if this recipe would work with pecan flour? I’m not such a fan of walnuts, but pecans I can’t get enough of. This is going straight on my to-make list. I envision this on my Xmas dessert table!

    • I’m sure it would work with pecan flour. I was about tempted to get the pecan flour instead of walnut, but the walnut was like $2 cheaper per 100 grams. Lower cost always wins! I can’t see them being all that different. Enjoy!

  8. Your awesomeness cannot be overstated! This looks delicious!! I forwarded it to a friend who has recommitted to a vegan diet and really needs this kind of uberdelighfulness in her world.

    So glad you’re getting a chance to go home – we all need that kind of healing on a regular basis!

    • Love that you used the word awesomeness. YES! Haha glad you liked today’s recipe, Michelle. You’re right, seeing family is so healing. Can’t wait to get there!

  9. What a beautiful dessert that just screams Christmas. I love how thick the cream cheese layer is and the bright cranberries. You outdo yourself every time. Hope you have a blast with your family in Calgary!

    • Thank you Tamikko! I did enjoy looking at these bars. They’re almost too pretty to eat… almost.

  10. … humph. I had plans to make a healthy butternut squash and cranberry salad. Now I’m making dessert. Maybe I’ll have some cranberries leftover afterwards. :)

  11. thse square look so amazingly delicious! YUM-O! Question: what can you sub if you have allergies to coconut? my brothers gf is VERY allergic to coconut so my love for baking with coconut has had to make some changes – would love to hear your thoughts! :)

  12. Ummm ok, you’ve got my FULL commitment on these!! In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d be content with any of the layers on its own!I hope your flight goes smoothly tonight, and that you have an AWESOME time at home! Email coming your way tonight! :)

    • I was thinking that too – just add cream cheese to a bowl with cranberry sauce and raw walnuts. BAM done.

  13. Gorgeous! I’m throwing an xmas party next week, and have been thinking about making a vegan dessert so everyone can eat sweets – this is it!

  14. I’ve made an almond version of the cream cheese before. It’s amazing how much it tastes like cream cheese!

    • Oh great to know that almonds work too. Thanks for sharing, Carol!

  15. These look amazing (as usual) Leanne! Hey, do you think the cranberry filling could be used as a cranberry sauce side dish for Christmas? It’s one of my contributions to family dinner & I’ve never made it before/need a recipe. :)

    • Thanks Jo! Heck ya it could! That’s what I was planning to do for Christmas, too. It was so delicious although when I make it as a side, I’ll reduce the coconut nectar by half. Enjoy!

  16. More cranberry goodness! YUM!

    Now that you gave me a reason to, I’m really tempted to try your vegan cream cheese.

    And where in the world did you get such beautiful cranberries? Trust me, my sauce would’ve been down way more than 2 tablespoons! ;)

    Enjoy your time at home. Getting away from all the snow, aren’t you? ;) How long are you going for? Will you be spending the Holidays with your family out West?

  17. This looks an amazing recipe for Christmas and looks perfect to take into work (my colleague is gluten intolerant and diabetic). I’m just wondering would I use the same amount of agave as I would coconut nectar? I’ve never used either ingredient before but I doubt I’ll locate coconut nectar, and I know agave is readily available even in the supermarkets.

    • I think agave would work just fine, Jessica. Once heated, they act pretty similar. Enjoy!

  18. Hi Leanne, I’m on a totally sugar-free diet – could I substitute Stevia for the coconut nectar? If so, how much? Thanks – it looks scrumptious!

    • Hi Deborah – can you have dried fruit? Just not sure how you’re going to make the crust without the sugar, but a couple of mashed dates would help stick it all together. I’m sure you could use stevia for the cream cheese and cranberry sauce. I haven’t baked with it in a long time, but I’d start with a pinch and increase after a couple of taste tests. Hope that helps :)

  19. Thanks Leanne! Technically, I’m not supposed to have dried fruit either, but can’t imagine how a fraction of a date per serving will hurt’ so I will give it a try. If any other ideas pop up, do let me know. I just love your blog!

  20. oh my heart warmed and my eyes welled up when I read that you get to go home for a visit! Enjoy your time with your family. :)

  21. O Holy NIGHT!!! These look so good, but I prob wont make them :( No time to wait for that cream cheese, plus make your crafty draining device :eek: Lovely lovely LOVERLYYY!!

    • Ha, Oh Holy Night, thanks for making me laugh. Perfect. If you can handle your dairy, you can use plain cream cheese, or goat’s cream cheese. Tehy have a lot of store bought vegan cream cheeses now, too!

  22. I made these for a dinner party and they came out amazing! I was going to make my own vegan cream cheese, but my husband ate all my cashews, and I didn’t have time to buy more. So, I used a store-bought vegan cream cheese. It wasn’t soy-free, but it still tasted pretty good and make the cooking time a lot faster.

    • Haha well, at least your husband was having a healthy snack! Glad you enjoyed the recipe, Rachel :)

  23. I so want to make these… but I really really dislike walnuts. :/

    Are there other alternatives to the crust, possibly something with less nuts? They don’t agree with me.

  24. I was waiting for this one… I may try it with my goat cheese!! Tangy and tart – sweet go well together!

    I am so happy for you to be able to go home… most deserved, my friend! Enjoy!

    • You’re right, the contrast was really, really nice. Gosh, I need to make more of these darn squares! It’s been so lovely being at home. I never want it to end!

  25. I am 7 years old. I think the cranberry sauce was good, but i think the cream cheese tasted a lot like vinegar.

    shirley

    • Hi Shirley – I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t particularly like the bars. Did you leave the cream cheese to sit in the cheesecloth for the advised duration? I know sometimes when I’m rushed, I’ll think the cream cheese is ready after a couple of hours and end up with a mass of vinegar cream cheese stuff.

  26. Thank you for this recipe! My mom has been following the MS recovery diet since 1997 and hasn’t been able to enjoy the cheesecake that she still makes for the rest of us every Christmas. This year I was able to make our family’s favorite holiday treat for her too.

  27. I absolutely loved these Cranberry Bars! My whole family ate them up for Christmas. I didn’t make them vegan, using lite cream cheese instead, but everything about them was amazing! Thanks!

    • That’s great, Angie! I’m so happy that you and your family enjoyed them over the holidays :) Happy New Year!

  28. I made these and they were great. Only I didn’t have the patience to chill the end product for 24 hours and decided to op the thing in the freezer and then forgot to take them out before they froze completely. Turns out they’re very good frozen and I imagine they stay well for ages, too :)

    • Well, you discovered a whole new way to eat them! I bet they’d be good like that in the Summer. I froze a bunch of mine and they stayed frozen for awhile but totally edible the whole time. You’re right, I bet they’d be good in the freezer for a couple of months at least! Glad you liked them, Kyrke!

  29. very excited to try this tonight with my mama! However, I’m allergic to walnuts. I have hazelnut flour on hand, I’m assuming this would work just as well?

    • Oh fun! I miss cooking with my Mom. Such a great activity. I haven’t baked with Hazelnut but think it should be okay… maybe start off with the same amount of flour but a little less oil, maybe 3 tablespoons and see how it holds together. Always better to add a bit more than freak out because you can’t take any away!

  30. Hi there, I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about your site. Both my son and I have several food intelerances so this site is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. One question about this amazing looking recipe. We are nut free, is there another flour I could use instead of the walnut flour? Thanks again!

    • Woohoo! I’m pretty pumped that you’re pumped, Michelle. Heck yes there is. You could use any graham cracker base. Just bake, allow to cool completely, then follow the cheesecake instructions. I hope that helps! All of the bar bases on my site have almond flour…. but I have a couple in my new cookbook (coming out next month) that are FREE of nuts! Stay tuned :)

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