Ultra creamy and ultra decadent this no-bake Nanaimo Bar cheesecake is the ultimate in delicious desserts. I get asked what my favorite dessert is all the time. Without so much as a pause or second thought my answer always is and always will be: Nanaimo Bars. It was high time to use my beloved treat for flavor inspiration and boy oh boy did this vegan and gluten-free no-bake Nanaimo Bar cheesecake ever turn out spectacular.
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The Best No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake
Buttery and rich chocolate, salty cashews, and sweet shredded coconut form the base of this iconic Canadian confection and will have any and all salty/sweet fans drooling. A thick glorious silky smooth layer of custard cheesecake comes next with a subtle tang that contrasts beautifully with the sweet custard. And last but certainly not least, a thin top layer of dark chocolate ganache. Come on, this no-bake Nanaimo Bar cheesecake sounds heavenly, right?!
What Makes Up A No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake
- Chocolate Crumb Base – a buttery rich chocolate cookie crumb base with salted cashews and sweetened shredded coconut.
- Custard Cheesecake Middle – silky smooth custard cheesecake with a subtle tang that contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the custard.
- Chocolate Ganache Top – a thin layer of luscious dark chocolate ganache topped with more salted cashews and shredded coconut.
Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake Ingredients & Substitutions
As always this recipe is gluten-free and vegan. That said, I do test each recipe with “regular” ingredients and make notes of alternatives or swaps so that everyone can enjoy it.
Here are a few key ingredients for this cheesecake but make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom recipe card for the complete ingredient list.
- Chocolate Cookie Crumbs: Graham crackers, nilla wafers, or chocolate biscuits would all work as long as they are finely ground into a coarse sand texture.
- Cashews: Traditionally Nanaimo bars have walnuts but I prefer the taste and texture of cashews. You could swap in any type of nut or omit and add more coconut.
- Sweetened Shredded Coconut: Not a coconut fan? No problem! Swap in more nuts and/or more chocolate cookie crumbs.
- Whipping Cream: Seeing as how this is vegan, I used Becel plant-based whipping cream. If you are not vegan or dairy-free use regular heavy whipping cream.
- Cream Cheese: Again, as this is written vegan, I used plant-based cream cheese. Feel free to swap in regular full-fat cream cheese, the brick kind, in place.
- Custard Powder: There is no substitute for this. You have to use custard powder. Most retail grocery stores will carry Bird’s custard powder and amazon has it as well.
- Chocolate: As with the above ingredients. you can use either vegan or regular chocolate. We prefer the darker side of the chocolate spectrum but any type of chocolate would work.
Step By Step Instructions
Here’s how to make this no-bake Nanaimo cheesecake. You’ll need a large mixing bowl, a stand mixer or handheld electric one, a 9-inch spring form pan, parchment paper, and a spatula.
Step 1: Prepare the crust. In a large mixing bowl combine all the crust ingredients together and mix. Line the springform pan with a parchment round and pour the crust mixture in. Press the crust up against the sides of the pan and then use a flat heavy bottomed glass or measuring cup to press down and compact the crust base. Place in the freezer while you prepare the cheesecake batter.
Step 2: Make the cheesecake. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat the room-temperature cream cheese on high for 1 minute or until smooth. Add in the icing sugar, custard powder, salt, and yellow food coloring (if using) and mix again until combined and smooth. Set aside.
Step 3: Prepare the whipped cream. Place a metal bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. Beat the heavy whipping cream on high until stiff peaks are achieved.
Step 4: Fold the cheesecake batter. Add the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and with a spatula gently fold it in together. Take your time with this and be careful to not knock the air out of the whipped cream.
Step 5: Chill. Pour the custard cheesecake batter onto the crust and smooth the top even. Place the cheesecake into the refrigerator and allow it to chill for at least 9 hours but preferably overnight so it fully sets.
Step 6: Prepare the ganache. On the day of serving place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and heat the heavy whipping cream in a pot until it reaches a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 6 minutes. Whisk it together until fully melted and smooth. Allow the ganache to cool back to room temperature before topping the cheesecake with it.
Step 7: Remove the cheesecake. Run a knife or an offset spatula around the edges of the cheesecake to help release it. Remove the springform pan and transfer it to a serving plate or stand if desired.
Step 8: Decorate. Spread the cooled ganache over the top of the cheesecake evenly and decorate with extra coconut and cashews if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake Success Tips
Let’s set you up for cheesecake success with a few helpful tips and tricks.
- Give the springform pan a good spray with non-stick baking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and then give it another spray. This will help the cheesecake come out without much fuss.
- Be very careful when folding together the cream cheese mixture and whipped cream. If you are too rough it will beat the air out of the whipped cream and the cheesecake will not set.
- Don’t skimp on the chill time. Cheesecake needs a long time to chill in order for the fat to solidify.
How To Store/Freeze Cheesecake
This no-bake Nanaimo Bar cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 7 days in the fridge. If you’d like to freeze it, I recommend wrapping individual slices in plastic wrap and placing them in the freezer for up to 6 months. To thaw, remove from the freezer and sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
The Best No-Bake Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake
I cannot wait for you to try this indulgent decadent dessert. A buttery chocolate base, silky smooth custard cheesecake center, and a rich chocolate ganache top. This is Nanaimo Bar delight in every single no-bake bite.
Nanaimo Bar Love
Need more Nanaimo Bars in your life? Ya, me too! Here are a few other Nanaimo bar recipes I think you’ll love.Print