Ahem. I’m going to interrupt my Roseanne marathon over here to talk about my recent stab at making an oh-so-trendy raw vegan cheesecake. But first let me reminisce about my favourites.
Éclairs and their light, slightly sweet cream filling. Rich, moist mocha cake paired with silky espresso buttercream. Strawberry shortcake. Lemon tarts. Crème freakin’ brûlée. Basically, I love dessert! To say that I have a sweet tooth would be a serious understatement.
And then, on the other side of the spectrum, there is the notion of healthy desserts. Does that even make sense? I get that gluten and dairy free options are pretty popular these days, but in my heart I just feel like it ain’t dessert if it’s healthy. Well, I should say that I thought that dessert couldn’t be healthy, but I’m starting to realize how misguided I was (and to some extent probably still am). I found it pretty hard to imagine that something made without butter, eggs, and/or flour could actually taste good and satisfy my cravings for a sweet treat. On top of that, I’ve tried a lot of gluten free options that have had the consistency of cardboard and have tasted even worse (well, I’m assuming they tasted worse since I haven’t actually tasted cardboard). But then I made this raw vegan cheesecake that proved me wrong!
I went over to my friend’s place last weekend to test this recipe out (check out her blogs – Gluten Free Bitches and Sarah Types). I asked her if she wanted to make it with me because she’s made desserts like this before, so I thought she may have some tips or tricks up her sleeve. In reality, it was crazy easy to make and didn’t require two people for the process, but it was also an excuse to hang out (and she introduced me to the show Broad City, for which I am immensely grateful!).
Assembling this dreamy dish was easier to make and ready in less time than it takes to bake and cool a cheesecake, and it’s essentially guilt-free (assuming you don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting). We didn’t have a food processor to use, so we used a NutriBullet. It would be easier to make with a food processor, but it still worked great with the NutriBullet – we just ended up adding a little more liquid to get those cashews movin’ and groovin’. I want to say I think trained monkeys could make this, but I know some people might find that offensive. But I’ve basically said it anyway, so yeah.
Raw Vegan Vanilla Strawberry Cheesecake
For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
- Pinch sea salt
- 2 cups pitted dates
For the filling
- 3 cups cashews
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I prefer vanilla bean. Check out this quick video on how to scrape out the seeds – if you don’t know, now you know. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bICPn7Ifrh8)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup coconut syrup, or maple syrup, or agave nectar (the recipe calls for agave, but we mixed coconut syrup and maple syrup because it was what we had on hand.)
- 1 cup strawberries
- Soak the cashews in water overnight. Drain and set aside.
- Place the almonds and sea salt in a food processor and grind. Add the dates and combine until the mixture sticks together if squeezed in the palm of your hand. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of a springform pan (the recipe we referenced called for a 9″ pan, but we just used whatever we had on hand).
- Use a high speed blender or food processor to blend all ingredients except for the strawberries until silky smooth.
- Pour a little more than half of the filling mixture into the springform pan and use a spatula to smooth. Transfer to the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set.
- Blend the strawberries into the remaining filling mixture. Once the first layer has set, spread the strawberry layer on top. Transfer whole cheesecake to the fridge or freezer and let it set before serving. (We used the freezer so that it would set quicker.)