Keep cool this summer with these vegan strawberry cheesecake popsicles
This word puts a massive grin on my face. Yes, the two of us are partial to this decadent dessert but over the past few years we’ve somehow adopted ‘cheesecake’ as the name for our group of best friends. Long story short, we were at a cheesecake restaurant in Vancouver (not the Cheesecake Factory, I’ll get to that later in this post) and while we were paying at the till, we spotted a CD titled ‘Cheesecake’ and joked that if Chew ever made a record, she’d name it that too. We love to sing out loud with our best friends so from that day onward, whenever we sang in a way that was worthy of being on a CD, we’d say “cheesecake!” We ended up calling ourselves ‘Cheesecake’ and use the term regularly. Everything relevant to our Oahu vacation was titled ‘Cheesecake in Oahu’. When we found out there was a Cheesecake factory in Waikiki, you can better bet that Cheesecake went to have cheesecake during their Cheesecake in Oahu trip. It was our finale dinner and secret birthday celebration for Pam, which is a hilarious story in and of itself.
Remember the rhubarb raspberry crumble birthday cake I made last month? Before we flew off to Hawaii, we celebrated Pam’s birthday in advance. It was really all part of the scheme we had to keep the Cheesecake Factory dinner a secret. If we had cake and sang ‘happy birthday’ before the trip, she’d think we had already had our celebration and would not suspect another celebration. The tactics we used to distance ourselves from Pam while we had to arrange the dinner and purchase gifts worked surprisingly well and we have since used these techniques to surprise Eileen for her birthday a few days ago.
First, Chew and I had to ensure that Pam would get a special cake. Since we always traveled in a posse of 5, it was difficult to make up in excuse for one person to venture off alone. Right before we got back to our hotel after strolling around Waikiki, Chew and I decided to ‘check how much laundry costs’ while the others went back to our unit. We ran many blocks back to the Cheesecake Factory to place a cake order. We selected 5 slices and got them to make a chocolate plaque for us. The whole trip took us about an hour and when we finally arrived back at the unit, Pam asked us what took so long and we had to make up a white lie and say we went to another laundromat to compare prices. Ha!
The next task for all of us was to purchase presents. The night before the surprise dinner, Chew begged Jaimie to drag Pam to Forever 21 so that she and Eileen could buy a gift, or “get Eileen sunglasses” is what they told Pam. Jaimie’s acting is always convincing and we spent the next 2 hours in the store. What was most impressive was how Jaimie bought Pam’s gift right in front of her and she had no idea. We were playing with the accessories and came across a pink ball cap with a frenchie on it. Pam said she thought it was cute and Jaimie casually asked “Do you like it? Would you wear it? Do you like this one of the watermelon one?” Then she purposely lost us and went to pay for it. When we saw her with a yellow bag we asked to see what she bought and she said “I just got tired of carrying my wallet so I asked the staff for a bag.” It sounded like a very Jaimie thing to do so we both fell for her trick. Pam ended up pulling the same hoax on Eileen the following month when she asked Eileen which balloons she liked better at the dollar store. When she picked up a ‘happy birthday’ balloon as well, Eileen asked why she would need a birthday balloon and Pam simply said “I just feel like buying a happy birthday balloon” and Eileen didn’t think anything of it.
Our vacation ended with a platter of cheesecake and lots of laughter as we spilled the details of how we kept the whole event a secret. The reason behind our odd behaviour finally made sense. In true Cheesecake Factory style, we struggled to stomach the final bites of cheesecake on a stomach full of entrees.
Baked or frozen, we love cheesecake in all it’s forms. There are several cheesecake recipes in our recipe index, some vegan and some traditional, but these vegan strawberry cheesecake popsicle stands out because for once, it’s not an entire cake. Fresh strawberry puree is swirled into a vegan cheesecake batter and finished off with crunchy granola. This vegan dessert is all made in a blender or food processor and can be prepared in advance so you have time to enjoy your own summer parties!
- 8 oz. (227g) vegan cream cheese at room temperature (I used Daiya)
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- Zest from ½ lemon
- A pinch of sea salt
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large ripe strawberries
- About ⅓ cup your favourite granola
- Make the cheesecake mix in a blender by blending the vegan cream cheese, almond milk, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
- In another blender or small food processor, blend the strawberries into a puree.
- Prepare popsicle molds or arrange 6 mini paper cups in a loaf pan. Add 1 tbsp of cheesecake mix to each cup, followed by 1 tsp of puree and a sprinkle of granola. Repeat until cup is almost full and finish off with a layer of granola. If using paper cups, wrap the top with squares of aluminum foil and pierce the popsicle sticks through the centre; the foil helps keep the sticks upright as they freeze.
- Place filled cups into the freezer and freeze overnight until solid. Remove popsicles from molds and enjoy immediately.