Baking & Dessert

By Aine Carlin | June 9, 2011

Photo: Aine Carlin

I’ve become increasingly fascinated with raw cuisine and in particular, raw desserts. If you have yet to try any raw desserts I urge you to do so otherwise you are seriously missing out. You don’t have to be vegan or raw to enjoy these treats. True. I often get comments and messages from people telling me how much they like my recipes but don’t make them ‘because they’re not vegan’. This always baffles me. It feels the same as if someone said they love Italian food but won’t cook it because ‘they’re not Italian‘! Please, believe me when I tell you, you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy vegan food and you certainly don’t have to take on raw foodist status to indulge in some decadently moreish raw cheesecake.

Photo: Aine Carlin

I’ve dubbed this recipe a ‘Cherry Bakewell Cheesecake’ in honor of that most delightful of pastries (Cherry Bakewell Tart), which hails from, yep you’ve guessed it, Bakewell! If you’ve never been, Bakewell is a gorgeous little town ‘up North’ – the North of England that is. It’s very cutesy, adorable, scenic, picturesque, get the picture? Put it this way, picture a postcard. Got it? Good.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Growing up I was never a huge fan of pastries, all except for the Cherry Bakewell. It was those almonds that did it for me and probably prepared me for my later love of frangipane and marzipan and anything remotely almond-y – Amaretto anyone? (A side note: did you know that some Amaretto does not actually contain any almonds? I know! I digress.)

Photo: Aine Carlin

We’ve established that I like almonds and have a penchant for Cherry Bakewells, but what with my veganism and everything I can no longer indulge in authentic Bakewell tarts and therefore have had to get a little bit creative. I thought while I was getting all creative I might as well go the whole hog, so to speak, and make it a raw affair.

Photo: Aine Carlin

You may or may not be surprised to discover this ‘cheesecake’ contains absolutely no cheese. None whatsoever. It is made solely from…wait for it…cashews! Can you believe it? Some of you might be dubious, cautious or even perturbed to learn that cashews make the creamiest, smoothest, luscious(est?) cheesecake that is sure to rival the real thing. Honest. I don’t kid when around when it comes to dessert and once you’ve tasted this cheesecake you’ll know I speak the truth.

Photo: Aine Carlin

For Crust
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup soaked dates, chopped
  • 1 tsp almond extract
For Cherry Cheesecake Layer
  • 1 1/2 cup pitted fresh cherries
  • 1/2 cup soaked cashews
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
For Vanilla Cheesecake Layer
  • 1 1/2 cups soaked cashews
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
Topping
  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds

Directions

1. Place the cashews in a large bowl and cover with filtered water. Allow to stand for 4-6 hours. Soak the dates in a smaller bowl for about an hour or until they are reasonably soft. (Otherwise you could just use Medjool dates, which are already very soft.)

2. Place all the crust ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until crumbly. Line a cake tin with baking parchment and turn the crust mixture into it. Press firmly to the edges using the back of your fingers. Place in freezer for 30 minutes.

3. Rinse out the blender and add the cherries, agave and lemon juice. Blitz until completely smooth, it should be liquid like. Next add the cashews and coconut oil and blitz until completely smooth and creamy. It should be quite thick. Taste for sweetness, if you prefer it sweeter then add a little more agave.

4. Take the crust out of the freezer and carefully pour in the cherry cheesecake mixture, scraping down the sides with a spatula (waste not, want not!). Smooth with a spatula until it is completely even and return to freezer for an hour.

5. Meanwhile, rinse out the blender again and add all the ingredients for the vanilla layer. Blitz until completely smooth. This layer will be less thick and almost more like a cashew cream. When the cherry layer has set carefully pour over the vanilla mixture. Smooth with a spatula, sprinkle over the flaked almonds and place in the freezer for several hours.

6. When it has set, transfer to the fridge for 30 minutes before trying to remove it from the tin.

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