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Peanut Butter & Strawberry Chia Jam Cashew Cheesecake Bars

Peanut Butter & Strawberry Chia Jam Cashew Cheesecake Bars

PB&J flavors will never get old. I don't care how old you are, there's something so nostalgic and perfect about good old peanut butter and jelly. I took these flavors and made them a little bit more grown up: cashew cheesecake bars with strawberry chia jam and Wild Friends Classic Creamy PB! The best. 
The crust is made of cashews, dates and a little sea salt (sweet and salty forever!), and the cheesecake base is made from soaked cashews, coconut milk, coconut oil, a little honey and maple for sweetness, lemon juice, vanilla, and peanut butter of course! They're so creamy and delicious, and can easily be made vegan by subbing the honey with more maple syrup.
On top of the crust is a layer of homemade strawberry chia jam. Can't get enough of that stuff. Love the texture. You can totally sub storebought jam if chia jam isn't your thing, but I highly recommend trying it. Also, these are no-bake! Gotta love no-bake desserts.
These are a tiny bit of a labor of love, but are SO worth it. Make them for a loved one on Valentine's Day!
Ingredients:
 
For the chia jam:
1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chia seeds
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1 1/2 cups Medjool dates, packed, then pitted (about 22 medium/large dates)
pinch of sea salt
 
For the filling:
2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours or overnight 
1/2 cup canned coconut milk (full-fat works best)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon honey (sub maple syrup if vegan)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Wild Friends Classic Creamy Peanut Butter
pinch of sea salt 
For the top:
remaining chia jam
3 tablespoons Wild Friends Classic Creamy Peanut Butter
Directions:
Begin by making the chia jam. In a small saucepan over medium/high heat, combine the strawberries, maple syrup, and water. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes or until strawberries are broken down and begin to become syrupy. Remove from heat and stir in chia seeds. Set aside to cool. I usually stick mine in the fridge. 
To make the crust, add cashews to a food processor and pulse until fine. Add the dates and sea salt and blend until mixture forms a "dough" when squeezed together. 
Line an 8x8 square dish with parchment, and spray liberally with coconut oil or nonstick cooking spray. Press crust mixture into pan, pressing firmly. Once chia jam has cooled, spread 1/2 cup plus one tablespoon of the jam over the crust. Set aside. 
To make the filling, add the soaked cashews, coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, honey, lemon juice, vanilla, peanut butter, and sea salt to a food processor or high-powered blender. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Pour mixture over crust and smooth out with a rubber spatula. 
Gently spoon remaining chia jam in dollops over the cheesecake. Gently spoon the peanut butter in dollops over the cheesecake as well. Using a toothpick, create a swirl pattern with the jam and peanut butter by dragging the toothpick gently over the top in various directions. 
Freeze for at least 3.5 hours. To cut into bars, run a sharp knife under hot water, dry it off, and then cut into bars. It helps create an easier, cleaner cut! 
Enjoy!