The raw cashew cheesecake experiment

by Bart on October 3, 2009

As the saying goes, three times a charm.

No kidding!

After having only minor success creating a raw blueberry pie and a strawberry cheesecake, I decided it was time to find a recipe that has already generated a lot of positive feedback. I found one on the Raw Food Talk forum, but I ended up modifying it slightly. If you are interested, the link to the original recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.

For the crust I used the following:

  • 1.5 cups of almonds
  • 1.25 cups of pitted dates

Like with the other desserts, the almonds were processed in the food processor, then dates added. The mix was processed further to create a paste like consistency.

Having problems with the crust sticking to the pie plate in my previous desserts, I decided to use a small amount of coconut oil and a paper towel to spread the oil on the plate before adding the crust mix.

Finally the crust mix was shaped to fill the pie plate, then put in the refrigerator.

For the filling, I used the following ingredients:

  • 3 cups of cashews – soaked for an hour in a fridge
  • 1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (required 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of water

The dates and agave nectar are replacements for a cup of honey. The original recipe called for a full cup of lemon juice, and that just sounded like way too much.

Coconut oil is mostly saturated fat, but it’s a good saturated fat. Yes, you have read it correctly – a healthy saturated fat. I’ll write more about it at some point, but the thing to remember is that as with any fat, it should be used in moderation.

The really cool thing about coconut oil is that it is solid at room temperature, but it becomes liquid at around 76F. Because of that it can be used in desserts, where creamy, but solid, consistency is desired. When liquified and mixed with a filling for a cheesecake, for example, then kept in a freezer for a few hours, it will resolidify and create the desired texture.

Cashew cheesecake filling

Cashew cheesecake filling

This is probably the first time ever that my Vitamix was barely able to do its job. From the get go the sound it was making was very different from its usual – it was really struggling. To help it, I decided to run it in very short, 5 to 10 second bursts, and mix the filling with a tamper in between.

After about two minutes everything was mixed up, but I will likely have to figure out how to do this better next time. Perhaps processing cashews in the food processor would be a better choice, while still using the blender for the rest of the ingredients. The two can then be mixed manually in a bowl. True that the result will not be as smooth, but after all, if we are going for a fake cheesecake, a little texture is fine.

And it will certainly make my Vitamix feel better.

Crust and filling

Crust and filling

Once the ingredients were ready, it was time to combine them.

Raw cashew cheesecake

Raw cashew cheesecake

In my first two recipes, I refrigerated the pie, but this time, it was frozen in order for the coconut oil to do its magic. After about 4 hours, I transferred the cheesecake to the fridge for about 30 minutes before finally having a slice.

Slice of raw cashew cheesecake

Slice of raw cashew cheesecake

It was… delicious.

It’s been a long time since I had an actual dairy based cheesecake, but as far as I can remember, this one is a little bit more dense than any cheesecake I had ever tried. At the same time it’s quite soft, but holds it’s form very well and can be cut like an ordinary cheesecake.

The taste is fairly neutral, much like cashews, with slight coconut and lemon subtext.

The crust was also good, but I think oiling the plate with coconut oil might have been a bit too much. Perhaps sprinkling some almonds, much like flour, would be a better way to stop the crust from sicking to the plate, without giving it that extra “coconuty greasiness”.

One thing for sure, this thing heavy! If you decide to make a 9″ plate – make sure to cut it into 16 slivers, not 8 pieces.

Actually to make it lighter, perhaps a mixture of the cashew cheese and fresh berries might work better, although I am not sure if added to the blender or mixed manually would work best. I guess that’s something I’ll just have to try!

The original recipe can be found on the Raw Food Talk forum.

Related posts:

  1. The raw cheesecake experiment
  2. The raw blueberry pie experiment

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