Thursday, February 11, 2010
Vegan Valentine: Raw Cashew "Cheesecake" Bites
Nothing says I love you like cheesecake. That sounds like innuendo, but I’m being literal. Me, I was never a cheesecake kind of girl. Even when I consumed dairy products I did so in relative moderation (Except for whipped cream. Lovely, lovely whipped cream…) so something about heavy, milky cheesecakes always put me off. Once I tried to make a cheesecake for the Man of Science for Valentines Day. He liked it, but just looking at the pile of dairy products on the counter made us both a little queasy. Cream cheese! Sour cream! Whipping cream! Butter for the crust! Yikes!
However, a few weeks ago I was working in the west end of the city and I stopped at Rainbow Foods. For those of you who don’t live in Ottawa, Rainbow Foods is a fairly large independent health food store with an amazing selection of products, edible and otherwise. It’s the only place in the city I’ve been able to find large containers of natural dish soap that actually cleans my dishes.
So, I was on my way to the soap section when I spotted a single-serving raw cheesecake in the prepared foods aisle. It had no sugar, dairy, soy, gluten, or anything else problematic in it. As soon as I was back in my car, I dug in immediately. Verdict? Delicious! And not even in a “this is delicious for something with no sugar, dairy, soy or gluten” kind of way. Just plain delicious. All on its own. I e-mailed Megan and rhapsodized about it, pledging to make my own version at home as soon as possible.
Poking around the internet, I found this recipe from Vegetarian Times seemed to be the big winner in the raw cheesecake department. I use it as the basis for mine with a few tweaks. I can’t wait to do some more experimenting with flavours. Chocolate would be pretty nice. But we begin here with lovely vanilla. Enjoy! I hope this recipe gets you some action, if that’s what you’re in the market for this February! At least the object of your affection won’t be weighed down by all kinds of dairy products. Hmmm, maybe there’s something to this whole “vegans make better lovers" thing after all!
Raw Cashew Cheesecake Bites
(adapted from Vegetarian Times)
1 ½ cups raw, unsalted macadamia nuts
1 ½ cups raw, unsalted cashews or cashew pieces
½ cup pitted, chopped dates
¼ cup dried, unsweetened grated coconut
6 tbsp coconut oil (heated until liquid)
¼ cup agave nectar
Juice of one lime or one lemon
½ vanilla bean, insides scraped out
-Soak macadamia nuts and cashew nuts in separate bowls of cold water, over night in the fridge.
-Drain water from nuts. Place macadamia nuts in a food processor and pulse until they are small crumbs.
-Remove nuts and then pulse dates in processor until they are a mashed, sticky blob.
-Combine macadamia crumbs, date mush, and grated coconut into a uniform mixture.
-Press this mixture into the bottom of a square (8 inch or so) cake pan. You can line the pan with tin foil for easy removal if you’d like.
-Clean out food processor and put your drained cashews into it.
-Add coconut oil, agave, lime, vanilla and process until completely smooth.
-Spoon cashew mixture on top of macadamia mixture and spread it out as evenly as possible.
-Place pan in freezer for at least an hour. Then remove, cut into small, cute squares, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.
-Megan ate one of my testers for this recipe when we were out drinking beer and knitting one night. She was quite delighted by it, and I was glad it lived up to my enthusiastic description of its prototype. “I will make these!” she promised.
-I am off to New York City tomorrow! I will, as usual, try to report on what vegan delights I get to eat when I’m there. It will be a whirlwind trip and I’ll be home on Monday. There are two different kinds of soup in the freezer so the Man of Science doesn’t starve in my absence (black bean tomato that I made and potato leek that he made).
-Once again, I don’t recommend presenting this to a conventional omnivore and calling it “cheesecake”. I would just say it’s a frozen treat and leave it at that. Because the chances are too high that someone will give you a hard time about it not being “real” cheesecake and I like to keep the aggravation in my life to a minimum.