Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Raw Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Vanilla Month continues with one of my favorite desserts: cheesecake.

The very best cheesecake is made simply--not with dairy or soy cream cheeses, but with raw cashews. Soaked overnight, the nuts blend into a luxuriously smooth cream which meets with lemon juice, zest, agave nectar, coconut oil, and flecks of vanilla bean. This mousseline mixture tops a date nut crust, which tastes of caramel and graham crackers. It's a simple, no-bake recipe, and great for pleasing all kinds of palates.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
12-16 servings
I swirled the cheesecake above with strawberry puree (fresh strawberries, agave, and lemon juice), and it can accommodate any topping or addition you can think of.

For the crust:
3/4 cup raw pecans
3/4 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup dried flaked coconut
1/2 cup dates (6-8 medjool)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the filling:
3 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup raw agave nectar
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil (any consistency is fine)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
zest of 1 lemon
seeds scraped from 3" of vanilla bean

fresh fruit, date caramel, or fruit sauce, for serving

Make the crust:
Line a 9" round pan with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Make the crust up to two days in advance and refrigerate, covered in plastic wrap.

In a food processor, process pecans, almonds, and coconut until fine but not oily. Add dates and cinnamon, and process again, scraping down the sides as necessary. The crust it ready when it holds together when pressed against the side. Tumble mixture into prepared pan, and use the bottom of a glass to press the crust firmly into the pan. Set aside.

Soaked cashews. Why, yes! That is my cookbook in the background!

Make the filling:
Combine all filling ingredients in a blender and process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. This may take several minutes. Pour filling onto prepared crust. To release bubbles, tap against a counter, then run a knife through the mixture in a figure-8 pattern. Smooth the top.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

To serve, gently lift with the plastic overhang and ease onto a platter. Pull out plastic from underneath. Using a small offset spatula, smooth creases from the sides. Serve topped with fresh fruit, date caramel, or fruit sauce.

This is the last photo I have, because it's still chilling in the freezer. Tonight, I'm surprising my Mr. with twitter founder Biz Stone's Seitan Bourguignon over polenta and this cheesecake (don't worry; he doesn't read the blog!). I'll post a photo as soon as it's finished. It's going to go right here:

I hope you're celebrating love in some little way, whether it's meeting girlfriends for drinks or savoring a good piece of chocolate and a cup of tea late into the night. Happy Valentine's Day.


Anonymous said...

WoW! That looks amazing! Gotta try it! Can you also use a springform pan?

Joy said...

Yes, a springform pan is great for this. You might need to wrap a warm towel around the side for the cheesecake to release smoothly, but this shouldn't be a problem.

Mihl said...

What a great surprise to come home to!

Raw cheesecakes made with cashews are the best! And the ingredients are so much easier to find over here! I can get cashews at every store - but I ahve to order soy cheesecake online.

Belle said...

I made this recipe for my dads birthday and it didn't firm up all the way. It was sliceable, but only just. It came out more like a mousse or a frosting type consistency, definitely not cheesecake. Maybe it needed more coconut oil? Also found the lemon flavor too overpowering, even after decreasing the lemon juice.

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