I’m so excited to bring you this rustic cheesecake. It’s my first foray into nut cheeses and I really cannot believe that I haven’t done this before. Firstly, if you had given me a slice of this cheesecake I would not know that the filling had no cheese in it. There is a lusciousness about it and a textured tanginess that I believed was only possible with cheese. I would never guess that the main ingredient was cashews. To further this point, all week Alex kept asking me what happened to the cashews we had and I kept telling him that they were in the cheesecake he’s been eating all week and two days later he’d ask again. He just could not make this connection. If you then told me that there was no flour in the crunchy, hearty crust, I again would just not believe it. This crust is made of almonds and dates although oats and walnuts or coconut would be exciting alternatives. I feel like I’ve just opened the door to heart healthy possibilities that we should have been eating all along.
I mentioned last week that Darya was coming! I’ll tell you more about her visit next week, but I have to say now that she is just as cool in person as she is online. Her breadth of knowledge about food and nutrition is unparalleled. She even enlightened us a little about my husband’s mysterious potato allergy. She said that it’s common to have sensitivities to plants in the night shade family and then asked if he had sensitivities to the only other two foods I’ve ever seen him a react to– tomatoes and eggplants. While he doesn’t have trouble breathing like he does when potatoes are involved, he definitely breaks into a sweat when he has them and always asks me if anything in the dish was touching potatoes. Darya just knew. Sometimes just naming a thing is a comfort and knowledge leads to understanding. We spent the weekend gallivanting around the city together. I took her to all the cafes and restaurants that were mandatory on a visit to New York, but we have so many more to go to! Then we made a meal together in my crooked kitchen and chatted all evening over whiskey and rosé. I’m so grateful for the experience of connecting so well with someone I feel like I’ve known for years even though we only met this past weekend.
To celebrate I bring you a non-cheese, cheesecake! It sounds a whole lot better than the word nut-cheese. I never knew how versatile nuts could be with the proper preparation or how mixed with certain ingredients (dates, lemon, nutritional yeast) it’s like a food marriage made in heaven–corn and lime, chocolate and coffee, peanut butter and bananas. The best part about this is that it requires no baking, just refrigeration. Perfect for a 4th of July weekend or to cool you down on a hot summer day!
TANGY RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE
For the Crust:
- 1 cup packed Medjool dates (~ 20 dates or 200 g, pitted before measuring)
- 1 cup raw almonds or walnuts
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- optional: 1/4 tsp sea salt
For the Filling:
- 1 3/4 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight in cool water, or in very hot water for 1-2 hours)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons finely ground chia seeds (white, unless you don’t mind a speckled cake like mine)
- 3 lemons (juice of 3, zest of 1)
- 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk (or rice milk)
- scant 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup, agave, or honey if not vegan (use less for a more tart cheesecake)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Optional: 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (for extra tang)
For Optional Flavors:
- 1/4 cup raspberries
Add dates to a food processor and blend until small bits remain and it forms into a ball. Remove and set aside.
Next add nuts, salt and process into a meal. Then add dates back in and blend until a loose dough forms – it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add more almond or walnut meal.
Divide crust among serving dishes (for mini cheesecakes) or press into a tart pan and carefully press with fingers to distribute. To pack it down, use a small glass or the back of a spoon to and really press it down, allowing some crust to come up the sides. If it sticks, separate the crust and glass with a small piece of parchment paper. Set in fridge or freezer to firm up.
Add all filling ingredients to a blender and mix until very smooth – up to 2-3 minutes. If it won’t come together, add a touch more lemon juice, maple syrup/agave or a splash more almond milk as the liquid should help it blend better.
Scrape down sides as needed and blend until very creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust flavor/sweetness as needed.
Divide filling evenly among the serving dishes (for mini cakes) or add to tart pan. If flavoring with raspberry add them on top now. Tap a few times to release any air bubbles, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set – about 6-8 hours depending on size of dish. Expedite this process by popping them into the freezer for at least 2 hours. NOTE: Slices or pulling from ramekins will be much easier after being in the freezer.
Top with a touch of whipped cream (coconut or regular) and fresh berries, or as is. Buen provecho!