I whipped up these delightful little treats for us to enjoy over the weekend. I had a block of cream cheese sitting in my fridge for far too long, and was inspired to make a little no-bake cheesecake for dessert. Looking around my house, I realized I didn’t have any heavy cream, sour cream, or even yogurt on hand to make a classic no-bake cheesecake, but I did have a few cans of coconut milk in my pantry. I did some research and found this great recipe from The New York Times Cooking featuring a whipped coconut milk and cream cheese base, that absolutely became the inspiration for my recipe below.
I love the flavor combination of coconut and lemon, so I was sure to add some lemon juice to my cheesecake base. The tartness also helped this cheesecake feel like it was fully made of dairy, as coconut milk generally lacks the tartness of fermented dairy products like yogurt or sour cream, and can read as kind of flat and flavorless in some applications (especially where there are not a lot of other flavors to boost the coconut milk). The added tang here is definitely a welcome addition.
I decided to make a granola topping instead of the traditional graham-cracker crumb base, partly out of necessity (I don’t generally have graham crackers in my house, but I always have oats), and partly out of practicality (I felt like there was a lot of moisture in this cheesecake base compared to a typical cheesecake, and thought the crust would become soggy overtime). The result was a toasted butter, oat, coconut, and maple granola that is sprinkled on right before serving, ensuring a crunchy, buttery textural contrast to the creamy cheesecake base.
This is a great recipe that comes together pretty quickly, with some planning! A key step here that I picked up in The New York Times Cooking article is to pre-chill the can of coconut milk at least overnight in the fridge (I accidentally left mine in the freezer all night, which also worked fine after defrosting). This pre-chilling stage is pretty crucial for a good result in the final cheesecake base, as the cold temperatures allow the fat in the coconut milk to firm up and separate out from the excess liquid within the can, creating a layer of white coconut cream (which you would use for the recipe) and about ¼ cup of watery liquid that can be discarded. This is a fun little trick to help concentrate the coconut cream right within the can, and it worked great! So, if you want to make this dish, remember to throw your can of coconut milk in the fridge the day before you’re ready to make it for optimum coconut cream separation!
Recipe down below, photo up top! This made enough for about 8 half-cup servings of the base, plus plenty of granola for the top. Excess granola can be used to top yogurt or as breakfast cereal as well, so don’t let that go to waste! These stored well in my fridge for at least four days, so this is a good make-ahead item for entertaining or as meal prep for a week of decadent little treats. Just be sure to add the granola right before serving to keep it nice and crunchy (store in a sealed bag or container for optimum freshness).
What’s better than having a fridge stocked with chilled little desserts ready at a moment’s notice? I hope this recipe inspires you to meal-prep some dessert for yourself this week, because you deserve it!
Coconut Lemon No-Bake Cheesecake with Coconut Granola
- For the Cheesecake Base:
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
- 1 can coconut milk
- ½ cup sugar
- Juice of one lemon
- For the Coconut Granola Topping:
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut
- ⅓ cup almond flour (or crushed/chopped almonds)
- ¼ cup flax seeds
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
For the Cheesecake Base:
- Place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator over night to separate the coconut cream from the extra liquid in the coconut milk.
- I did this in the freezer overnight (by accident) and it also worked well, although the can bulged slightly which made it harder to open. I thawed it on the countertop for a few hours before use).
- Add the block of cream cheese into a stand mixer along with the sugar, and whip until fluffy and smooth on high speed, about 5 minutes.
- Open the fully chilled can of coconut milk, and pour out the liquid (there should be about a ¼ cup of syrupy-looking liquid at the top, with the white, solid coconut cream on the bottom). Discard this liquid.
- Scrape the coconut cream into the bowl of the mixer with the cream cheese, and continue to whip on high until fluffy and fully combined, about 5-10 minutes.
- Once fully combined and smooth, and lemon juice and whip for one minute more to fully incorporate.
- Pour cheesecake base into individual portions (ramekins, mason jars, or glass yogurt containers would work great here). This should make about 8 portions of about ½ cup each.
- Place the cheesecake portions in the fridge to fully set, at least 4 hours or up to overnight. This will allow everything to become nice and firm when serving.
For the Coconut Granola Topping:
- Add the butter to a sauté pan and melt over medium high heat.
- Once fully melted, add oats, shredded coconut, almond flour, and flax seeds to the bottom, and use a wooden spoon to coat everything thoroughly in the melted butter. Continue to cook over medium heat until the oats and coconut begin to look toasted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Everything should smell toasty and aromatic as well.
- Turn the heat off from under the pan, and add the maple syrup and salt. Stir to combine, and continue stirring for about 2-3 minutes off the heat to allow the granola to cool slightly and prevent burning/overbrowning from the heat of the pan. Allow the granola to cool in the warm pan for about 30 minutes without stirring, which will allow it to solidify into clusters.
- Break the clusters of granola up into bite-sized chunks using your fingers.
- When ready to serve, remove cheesecake portions from the refrigerator, and top with a generous serving of granola.
- Grab a spoon and enjoy!