When I went dairy-free, I thought I’d never enjoy cheesecake again. Oh, sure, there are soy cream cheese substitutes, but I can’t tolerate much soy, and besides, it tastes “off” to me. So when my friend Noelle at An Opera Singer in the Kitchen opened my eyes to the existence of raw vegan cheesecakes, such as the ones offered by Earth Cafe and this recipe, I was amazed. Amazed is such an understatement. I was ecstatic. Soaking raw cashews to make cheesecake? I tested out this theory when completing this Daring Bakers challenge, and was so impressed, I knew I had to go all out and make a cheesecake.
Then life got in the way, and the months passed, and still no cheesecake. I decided that we’d waited long enough, and I went ahead and made plans to make it. I made a crust following a recipe from The Almond Flour Cookbook, as that crust served me well in other pies I’ve made previously. (If you eat gluten-free and don’t already own a copy of this book, I highly encourage you to get one! The recipes are easy to make, require few ingredients, and are delicious.) I did add 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract to the crust, just to enhance the flavor. Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe, as there’s no real need to change it.
As for the cheesecake filling, it was a breeze to make. I don’t own a Vitamix (hopefully one day, I will!), but even my inexpensive blender yielded a creamy filling – it just took a bit of time to blend. I would even say that making this cheesecake was easier than a traditional cheesecake, because there was no baking of the actual cheesecake. No worrying that the cake will split. Just blend all of the ingredients, pour into the crust, and into the freezer it goes. And if you don’t constantly go peek at the cheesecake in the freezer, I imagine it’ll set up pretty quickly. Not that I would know anything about that.
I can’t wait to have an excuse to make this again. I might try a date and nut crust and go totally raw, as I’ve seen with other vegan raw cheesecakes, just to see the difference. But this cheesecake definitely was a delicious treat as is. So why wait? Whip this up, and sit back, relax, and close your eyes as you take your first bite. This is a dessert worth savoring.
Vegan, Gluten and Sugar-Free Cheesecake, adapted from The Daily Raw Cafe
3 c raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour
¾ c agave nectar
Juice of 3 small lemons (about 1/3 cup)
Zest of 1 lemon
½ c coconut cream (cream from top of coconut milk can)
2 t vanilla extract
¼ t almond extract
¼ t sea salt
3 T coconut oil
¼ c water
Drain cashews and place in blender. Add agave nectar, lemon juice, lemon zest, coconut cream, vanilla and almond extracts, salt and coconut oil and blend, scraping down the sides as needed with a spatula, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time, until a thick, smooth, creamy consistency results.
Once crust has been baked and cooled, fill with cheesecake filling. Freeze for several hours or until firm. Cut into slices while frozen, and thaw in fridge for about an hour before serving.
10 oz frozen or fresh blueberries
1 T agave nectar
1 t lime zest
1 T arrowroot starch whisked into 1 T cool water
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil, covered, on medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring once or twice, until the blueberries have given off their juice and have softened. Add in arrowroot starch slurry and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
(Also makes a tasty topping for ice cream, pancakes, and waffles!)