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.
The recipe comes from Cook, Eat, Thrive: Vegan Recipes from Everyday to Exotic.
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
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.
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.
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.