Not to throw down, but cheesecake has never been my favorite dessert. Nor has the Cheesecake Factory at that (sorry not sorry). But after finding myself with leftover cream cheese from a red velvet cake I made a few days prior and a party that I had yet to decide what to bring, I found myself baking about a dozen of these little cheesecake cups and keeping them all for myself because they were that good. Also sorry not sorry.
While I generally try to reduce my intake of dairy, making a cheesecake without cream cheese is like trying to go on a run without shoes. It’s kind of essential. You can do it, but it won’t be that fun. A little healthy twist set the cheesecake bites on an almond flour base using only natural sugar and one kick-butt homemade caramel sauce. Rather than buy grocery store caramel sauce, it’s actually quite easy to make at home with minimal ingredients. I took a tip from Pinch of Yum though you can find plenty of homemade caramel sauces online, both dairy-full and dairy-free versions. Once made, you can also use it for other purposes like drizzling on top of apple slices, stirring in yogurt, and on top of oatmeal.
Gluten-Free Cheesecake Cups with Vegan Sea Salt Caramel
- Cupcake tin
- 1 1/4 cups almond meal
- 2 Tbsp firmly packed coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
- 6 Tbsp butter melted
- 4 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
- 1.5 cups coconut sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp almond butter
- 2 Tbsp arrowroot starch for thickening
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- sea salt or cinnamon to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Combine almond meal, coconut sugar, and zest in medium bowl.
- Stir in melted butter.
- Line cupcake tins with liners.
- Divide evenly and press crumb mixture into the bottom of liners so there is a solid bottom, about 1/4".
- Bake 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from oven and set aside to cool while you make the filling.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
- For the filling, use your stand mixer and beat the cream cheese until fluffy.
- Add the coconut sugar and beat until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs, lemon juice, and zest, and vanilla. Beat just until smooth.
- Pour filling into the prepared liners.
- Bake at 325°F. until the center is just set, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.
- While the cheesecake cups are baking, over medium heat in a saucepan, melt the coconut oil and maple syrup together, then stir in the almond butter, vanilla, and arrowroot starch until thoroughly combined.
- Drizzle on top of cooled cheesecake cups. Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.