(Note: this post was originally published on May 12, 2019. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Am I five years old again? Perhaps. But you have to admit that these Unicorn Cheesecake Bites are darn cute and so much fun.
These adorable little treats remind me of my grandma, who taught me to bake and shared with me her love of baking. She always made cheesecake when I came to visit (and many kinds of Italian cookies, and also coffee cake, and muffins too, and sometimes chocolate cake). I loved baking with grandma because she let me sit on the kitchen counter and lick all the whisks and spoons. So these cheesecake bites are made in honor of my grandma, because baking should be fun and should make us happy! (Note: in the background of some of these photos you'll see my grandma's antique tea set, which I'm now honored to have).
Anything colorful is totally fun and whimsical, isn't it? When I was a kid, I absolutely adored My Little Pony (in case you're unfamiliar, they're multicolored plastic ponies with a super 80's vibe). I absolutely lived for them. I think these colorful cheesecake bites are total proof that we never outgrow our love of fun, whimsical things... or at least I certainly haven't!
The best thing about these cheesecake bites is that they nourish the body as well as making you feel like a kid again. Instead of being dense and heavy like traditional cheesecake, these cute bites are filled with plant-based nutrients and protein. Plus you can cut them into whatever size you like, so they can easily become a few-bite mid-day snack.
The crust is just almonds, dates, and dark chocolate; essentially a protein bar. The filling is just cashews, coconut milk, crystallized ginger, and vanilla, cramming these squares full of even more protein and delicious, nutty, healthy fats. In addition, they're naturally colored with "superfood" powders. (I don't really buy the idea of a "superfood", but I do strive to nourish my body with a wide range of plant-based nutrients, so bring on the matcha, turmeric, spirulina, etc).
Most importantly of course, these are seriously delicious! They're creamy and luscious, while still being light. The surprising addition of ginger really makes them pop and is so unique.
Nothing about these cheesecake bites is tricky, but they do have quite a few steps and require some chilling time. Refer to the recipe card for all the details. But in a nutshell, you'll make the crust and chill it. Meanwhile, you'll make and color the filling. Then, you'll add the filling one layer at a time, freezing the cheesecake in between each addition so that the filling can harden, thereby ensuring you have nice, even layers.
There are two main things you'll need to keep in mind in terms of timing. First, the cashews for the filling need to be soaked overnight. Remember to put them in water the night before you want to make these! Second, it will take you a couple hours to iterate through the cycle of adding and freezing each layer. No individual step will take more than 15 or 20 minutes, but this is best done on a casual weekend afternoon when you're not rushed.
One final important point. The amounts of superfood powders that I've listed in the recipe below are just starting points. For each color, I strongly suggest starting with just a little bit of the coloring agent and adding it slowly, mixing well after every addition. You can always add more if you want, but you can't take it away once it's in there, so use a gentle hand.
Note that the freezing time mentioned above will help you get even layers. I haven't tried it, but I expect these bars could also be really fun with crazy, uneven layers. If you want to try it, then there's no freezing needed! Just color your filling separately, and load it into the pan however you like. Swirls? Blobs? Wiggly layers? Just make sure not to mix them together too much in order to keep the different colors distinct. If you try this, I'm begging you to post your photos since I'm so curious how it will turn out!
Although the chill time might be a bit annoying, the flip side is that these cheesecake bars are entirely make-ahead. This means they'd be a great treat for a party, since all the work can be (or rather, needs to be) done ahead of time. I think desserts like this lead to such peace of mind, since you can make them days ahead of time and know they're happily waiting in the freezer. Just follow all the directions below, slice them, and freeze them in a tightly-sealed container. When you're ready to eat, let them warm up for 15 minutes then serve. It's like magic!
On a related note, because they're freezer-friendly, these make for great snacks or desserts throughout the week. Make them (or a double-batch??) for a party, then keep the leftovers in the freezer. Whenever you need a special treat, just take one out and enjoy.
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Aren't these just the coolest? You can cut them into little squares or triangles. You can garnish them with coconut, a drizzle of chocolate, or maybe a unicorn mane and horn. Have them for dessert or even a snack because they're probably better for you than most prepackaged protein bars. They're adorable, versatile, and so much fun.
If you have kids or know kids who like to bake, these would be a blast, especially mixing the colors. But to be completely honest, I had a blast with them all by myself! Food should be fun, right? So mix up some bright colors, play with your food, and have a unicorn tea party.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
These unicorn-colored cheesecake bites are made with nourishing ingredients like almonds, cashews, dates, and superfood powders. They'll make you feel like a kid again!