gluten free/ raw treats/ vegan

raw blackberry cashew cheesecake

I’ve recently fallen head-over-heels in awe with raw desserts. Have you been under this spell as well? I’ve been trying to rationalize my newfound excitement for unbaked treats, but I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it… the magic is elusive. Part of my wonderment can probably be explained by the unbelievable simplicity of raw desserts (most of them, anyway). The required ingredients are often whole foods (cashews, dates, blackberries) and, even when they aren’t (coconut oil, maple syrup), they don’t take center stage. Whole foods are able to shine in the spotlight. This isn’t a dig at “processed” foods; I’m definitely not renouncing my love of flour and oil and cheese, but I am happily welcoming in this new way of approaching “sweets” with wide open arms.

Cashews are the cement of this cake; they are the perfect package of cream + sweetness. Along with a heaping cup of nuts comes a generous amount of blackberries and dates. And then a little bit of oil, and some lemon juice and vanilla extract to add complexity of flavor, and…. you’re already 3/4 of the way done. Of course a raw cake be essentially naked without a granola-esque crust of some kind (is that a common sentiment?) I love how malleable and forgiving this raw cake is; out of oats but have another grain on hand? Simply swap out one for the other. No shredded coconut in the pantry? Add more nuts or seeds or a little bit of nut butter to make up for the creamy white fat. I’m pretty spellbound by the capabilities of whole foods, and the myriad ways something as unassuming as a nut can be transformed into a beautiful, fairy-esque cake.

Ingredients~
Makes two 4-inch cakes, or one 8-inch cake

Crust:
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 heaped cup cashews and walnuts (or other nut mixture of choice)
1/3 packed cup pitted dates
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
2-3 tsps maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener
Pinch salt

Filling: 
1 1/4 cups soaked raw cashews
2/3 cup ripe blackberries
1/2 packed cup pitted dates
3 tbsps unrefined coconut oil, melted
2 tbsps milk of choice (I use almond as it’s light in flavor)
2 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions~

1. First, soak your cashews if you haven’t already; you can either speed-soak them in hot water for 30 minutes to an hour, or soak them in room-temperature water overnight. Once done soaking, drain them and set aside.
2. To make the crust, add the nuts to a food processor and pulse a few times until a coarse meal forms. Add the oats, coconut, and pinch salt, pulsing 1-2 times until slightly more ground, but not until the oats resemble a fine flour. Scrape out the dry mixture and add the dates, blending along with the oil and maple syrup, until a thick, gooey mixture forms (make sure there aren’t any inordinate chunks of date left). Add the dry ingredients back to the date mixture and blend to incorporate.
3. Line cake tin(s) with parchment paper before pressing the crust mixture into the bottom of the pans with your fingers. Set in the fridge to chill and slightly harden while you make the filling.
4. Add all of the filling ingredients to a high-speed blender or food processor, and blend on low-medium until a smooth, creamy mixture forms. There shouldn’t be any noticeably large chunks of cashew or date left. Pour the filling into the prepared crusts and return to the fridge for ~3 hours, or until your finger doesn’t leave an indent when lightly touched (preferably overnight if you can wait that long). You can speed up the process by putting it in the freezer, but if you forget about it for too long you will have to let it defrost at room temperature for a bit before slicing (the flavors also become blunted when the cake is too frozen!)

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