Best of the CRANDIC Spotlight: Chef Katy Meyer (and her Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart recipe)

Katy Meyer, chef and owner of Trumpet Blossom Cafe. — Jason Smith/Little Village

“I look forward to autumn every year, one of the many reasons being it’s pumpkin season and pumpkins are a favorite food of mine,” the Best Chef in the CRANDIC, Trumpet Blossom’s Katy Meyer, said in an email. “Not only are pumpkins beautiful, interesting, and technically considered a fruit, they provide a delicious base for both sweet and savory dishes.”

“Since I have a late October birthday I would always ask for a pumpkin pie instead of a birthday cake as a kid and this tradition has carried into my adulthood,” Meyer said. “I end up making my own birthday treats these days and each year I make a slightly different incarnation of pumpkin pie but recently I switched it up a little and made this dessert, which I call a pumpkin cheesecake tart.”

Meyer agreed to share that recipe with us for this issue.

“The filling uses local pumpkin that we roast but you can definitely substitute butternut squash (the difference is virtually undetectable),” she said. “The cheesecake portion of the recipe is based on a pretty simple savory cashew cheese that we make and the end result is a perfect balance of savory, tangy, spiced, and sweet.”

“It satisfies all my pumpkin cravings and is possibly my favorite dessert I’ve created,” Meyer said.

Katy Meyer’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart

A vegan pumpkin tart from Katy Meyer, chef at Trumpet Blossom Cafe. — courtesy of Jenni Cannella

To make graham crackers

With a stand mixer or handheld mixer, cream together:

  • ½ cup brown sugar (brown sugar is made by incorporating a few drops of molasses into sugar)
  • ½ vegan butter, we use Earth Balance
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup sift together
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, or graham flour, or gluten-free flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Add dry to wet and fold together by hand until combined, but do not overmix

Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, refrigerate for one hour
Remove from fridge, let it sit for about 10 min.

Flour work surface and roll dough out to about 1/4” thickness

Use a fork to dock the dough intermittently

Bake on parchment-lined pan in preheated 350-degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until it starts to darken just a bit around the edges and is not soft to the touch

To make crumbs

Let graham cracker cool and then break into pieces and pulse in a food processor until it’s uniform in size; you want it to be very fine and dry (you’ll have more than you need for the following recipe; if you don’t use them for something else right away, store them in the freezer for up to six months)

To make tart crust

In a food processor add:

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts (toast on a dry pan in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, careful not to burn)
  • 3 tbsp pure maple
  • 10-15 pitted dates (medjool are most popular but we always use deglet)

Pulse until everything is chopped finely & incorporated and a uniform texture is achieved

You should able to take some dough and squeeze it together and it should hold its shape

Press this into the bottom of a greased round tart pan, making sure to evenly distribute & get right up to the edges

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, careful not to burn; it should just start to darken around the edges

Let the crust cool completely

To make the filling

In a food processor add:

  • 2 cups raw cashews (soak overnight or cover with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat and let soak for half an hour; rinse before using)
  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin (no need to puree beforehand since everything will be blended)
  • 1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 3 tbsp vanilla soy creamer (or plant-based milk of your choice plus ½ tsp. vanilla)
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • ¾ tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp pure maple
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • couple pinches salt

Blend until a smooth consistency is reached

Top the tart crust with filling and chill for at least an hour; overnight is ideal

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 289.

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