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Vegan Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Brownies

I don't know about you, but when I look at a recipe that has multiple components, that is a sign to me that it is going to be outrageously delicious. Others might look at the same recipe and think all the steps just sound like a lot of work and not worth all the effort. But me? Give me a vegan caramel pecan cheesecake brownie over a standard brownie any day of the week. I want to put in the work baby. 
Surprisingly enough, although this recipe does have a few different components to it, each step is really straightforward and simple to put together. 
You start with the "caramel", which is made from medjool dates, almond butter, maple syrup and a bit of vanilla extract. Honestly, you could have fooled me. If I didn't make it myself, I would never be able to tell the difference. 

The cheesecake batter is made from coconut cream, cashew butter, more maple syrup and vanilla extract, and a bit of cornstarch to thicken it up. It comes together in a blender in seconds and then you are onto the brownie base.
It's your standard brownie batter which the exception of flax eggs to substitute regular eggs, coconut sugar in place of granulated sugar, and avocado oil rather than butter.  The original recipe creator mentioned that avocado oil contrary to coconut oil keeps the brownies soft after cooling and I do agree.
These were the fudgiest, richest brownies I have ever had. And combined with the cheesecake layer, caramel swirls, and toasty pecans- it was a total flavor bomb in my mouth. 
If you're looking to impress your guests this week, then you need to make these for sure. They are guaranteed to blow them away, and after the fact, be sure to let them know that these are actually vegan, gluten-free, AND refined-sugar-free. Mic drop.

Vegan Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Brownies

Yield: 16 brownies
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For the caramel:
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted (soaked in warm water for 30 minutes)
1 heaping tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon alt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water, as needed

For the cheesecake:
1/2 cup cashew butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the brownies:
1/2 cup avocado oil
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 cup coconut sugar
2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed + 6 tablespoons water)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped


For the caramel:
In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Caramel should be a "pourable" consistency, but not runny. Add water as needed. Set aside. 

For the cheesecake:
In a blender, add all ingredients and blend together until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish with non-stick spray, then line with parchment paper, and spray again.

For the brownies:
Combine ingredients for flax eggs and refrigerate for 15 minutes. 

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together avocado oil, almond butter, and coconut sugar until well-combined. 

Add flax eggs and vanilla extract, and whisk together until well-incorporated. Pour in flour, cocoa powder, and salt; then use an electric hand mixer to beat together until smooth. Batter will be thick. Fold in pecans.

Pour brownie batter into prepared baking dish. Drop tablespoons of cheesecake and caramel mixtures on top of brownie batter, then swirl together with a knife. Sprinkle additional chopped pecans on top. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until set; be careful not to over-bake or the brownies will turn out dry! 

Let cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator. 

slightly adapted from Fragrant Vanilla 

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