I have a new favorite dessert. It’s summer, and I’m avoiding sugar, as well as anything else that contributes to heat in the body—caffeine, meat, salt, etc. I run hot already, and to stay cool and happy, adjusting my diet to the season helps. I still eat moderate portions of meat and a bit of salt or sweetener here and there, but it’s drastically reduced (probably a good thing regardless) and more and more of my meals consist of raw foods made from fresh fruits and vegetables and some sprouted grains. Who needs recipes this time of year? All you have to do is pick it off the vine/tree/bush, wipe it off on your shirt, and dive in. Sun-warmed and divine.
But, well, you might still want this recipe—it’s raw, vegan (except for the honey, but you could substitute agave nectar), and of course gluten-free! a cheesecake that actually tastes like cheesecake, except that it’s much easier, much less expensive, you don’t have to worry about it cracking across the top (if you’ve ever made homemade cheesecake, you know what I’m talking about), and you don’t end up heating your kitchen up unnecessarily by running the oven. Perfect.
I found this recipe originally in The Complete Book of Raw Food cookbook—a favorite of mine, filled with creative ideas for eating a raw diet. The original version, if you’d like to check it out, is titled “Just Like Cheesecake.” Below is my version, altered only slightly to lower the amount of sweetener (honey) and allow for more variation. If you don’t want to do the topping as prescribed, you can just use fresh fruit or low- or no-sugar jam to top it. Trust me, we took it to our friends Robbie and Jeff’s last night for dinner (great polenta pizza, Robbie!) and it was a hit, shown above with some of our watermelon t’ej as dessert wine. Life is very, very good.
Raw Vegan Cheesecake
- 2 c. nuts (I liked pecans best, but walnuts and brazil nuts were good, too)
- 1/2 c. dates, soaked and drained
- 1/4 c. dried, unsweetened coconut
- 3 c. raw cashews, coarsely chopped and soaked for at least an hour
- 3/4 c. lemon juice
- 2/3 c. honey
- 3/4 c. coconut oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 to 2 c. fresh or frozen fruit
- 1/2 c. dates
Place all the ingredients for the crust into your food processor. Pulse until thoroughly chopped and well mixed—it should be sticky and slightly crumbly. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate or springform pan. Set aside.
Drain the water off the cashews. Place all filling ingredients in a high-powered blender or a food processor. Blend just until smooth. (If using a blender, do not run it too long or you may overheat the engine). Pour the filling into crust—it may not be perfectly smooth, but it’s okay. Cover and put in the freezer for at least an hour to set up. Once it has frozen—or at least gotten thoroughly chilled—you can move it to the refrigerator. It will have the consistency of regular cheesecake.
Combine topping ingredients (I’ve used raspberries or blackberries with dates, but some no-sugar jam would be lovely…) in food processor and pulse till smooth or thoroughly combined. Spread over the top of the cheesecake before serving.
Eat just one slice if you can, I dare you. But then again, not much guilt if you eat more than one piece *grin* Enjoy!