Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Raw-ish No-bake Faux-Cheesecake

First off, huge thank you to Allyson at Manifest: Vegan for the amazing recipe! You ROCK Allyson!!! If anyone out there is looking to fix up a delicious meal or dessert that falls under the vegan or gluten free diet category check out Allyson's blog!

Next off, a little background. About 6 months ago I started off on a hunt for a super vegan cheesecake. I tried a couple. Very unsatisfactory results. Not because they were vegan. No, no, no. It was because I have (on average) a slice of vegan cheesecake each week. And it's perfection. Absolute dreamy, creamy, perfection!

(Made by Vegan Treats, and distributed weekly to restaurants, grocers, and bakeries all over NYC!)

So, after the first couple failures I put my cheesecake baking quest on hold. I can't really remember why, but last month I got the cheesecake itch once again. I googled and googled, and discovered... raw cashew cheesecake? The photos were be-u-ti-ful. Go to google images now- you'll see! At that point I knew, this cashew cheesecake thing had to happen. Then I found Allyson's blog. Eventually a weekend freed up. And the rest is cheesecake history! With no further ado, the how to:
Mini Raw-ish No-bake Faux-Cheesecakes with Strawberry Topping

3/4 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup Medjool dates (I only used a 1/2 cup and the crust didn't stick together very well)
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup turbinado sugar*
1 3/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 pint strawberries
1/4 cup turbinado sugar*

- Soak cashews in water for an hour or more
- Place almonds and dates in a food processor, finely grind
- Scoop heaping tbs of crust mixture into each cup of a non-stick muffin pan
- Compact crust crumbs (I used my espresso tamping tool. Use whatever you have: spoon, the bottom of a small glass tumbler, fingers, etc.)
- Puree soaked cashews in a food processor
- In a saucepan on low heat, melt coconut oil, constantly stirring**
- Add melted coconut oil, water, lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt and sugar to the food processor
- Incorporate all ingredients thoroughly
- Fill each muffin cup with cashew batter
- Place in freezer for a couple hours
- Clean strawberries, mix with sugar and mash by hand over low heat in a saucepan for 5-10 minutes***
- Transfer topping into a covered dish and place in the refrigerator
- After mini cheescakes are sufficiently frozen (poke with a fork to make sure) remove them from the freezer and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  After that, they're ready for eatin'!!!
- Slide a small knife around the edge of each cheesecake to release it from the pan. Mine popped right out! Transfer to a small plate and add a generous spoonful of strawberry topping.
- Ta-da!!! Stick it in your face!

* I forgot to buy evaporated cane juice or agave syrup; hence the 'raw-ish'. Crystallized sugar isn't raw, babies. Even if it's marketed 'in the raw'.  It is vegan though!!!
** For the raw way to melt coconut oil check out Allyson's recipe directions.
***Yeah... I chose to forgo the raw topping. I love my classic topping recipe too much!!!

For the original recipe, visit Manifest: Vegan's Pretty Darn Raw Vegan Cheesecake with Blackberry Topping. I halved Allyson's recipe and made just a couple little tweaks. My version yields 12 mini cheesecakes.

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