Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Win Friends and Influence People With Vegan, Gluten-free Cashew "Cheese"cake

vegan, gluten-free cashew cheesecake

My friend Adam and I were out for dinner the other night and we got to griping about being vegans who eat wheat. We're both finding lately that when "special" meals are offered for vegans, the meal often ends up being gluten-free as well. The restaurant (or airplane, or conference center, or whatever) is killing two restrictive diets with one stone, as it were. Which is fair, I guess. But sometimes when people who aren't used to making gluten-free OR vegan meals make something that has to be both, well... it just sucks. I'm sure gluten-free meat eaters feel the same way.

Never fear, my friends! Here I present you with a dessert that is both vegan and gluten-free AND delicious!

cheesecake

This was the first of the desserts I made for the party on Saturday. It's a variation on the cheesecake bites I made a few years ago, but a bit richer and with a slightly different crust. I think I like the walnuts better than the macadamia nuts, anyway.

It's such an easy and delicious recipe to make, and perfect if you're expecting gluten-free or vegan guests who might actually enjoy having dessert (imagine!) All but one piece of this got eaten at our party and I think the last piece was just leftover because people were being polite. Unfortunately I left it out all night when it really should have bee refrigerated, so I didn't think it was fit for human consumption the next day. That didn't stop The Man of Science from eating it though, and he appears to be still alive and well. So maybe I was being overly-cautious.

cheesecake

Vegan Cashew Cheesecake

1 ½ cups raw walnuts
½ cup pitted dates (the softer the better)

1 ½ cups raw cashews
6 tbsp coconut oil (heated until liquid)
¼ cup agave nectar
Juice of one lime or one lemon
2 tbsp almond milk

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 tbsp vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)

Soak walnuts and cashew nuts in separate bowls of cold water for at least six hours (overnight works best) in the fridge.

Drain water from nuts. Put walnuts in a food processor and pulse until they are small crumbs.

Add dates to food processor and pulse with walnuts until they're mixed in.

Press this mixture evenly into the bottom of an 8 inch (or so) cake pan. A springform pan works really well here. Also, if you want to eventually take the cake out of a pan and put it on a nice plate for show, you will be happier if you add a layer of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan.

Put remaining ingredients in food processor and blend until as smooth as possible, stopping to scrape down the sides when needed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: One of the most useful things I learned at the cooking class I took a few weeks ago (which I will tell you all about in next week's post) was that cashew cream curdles when it gets mixed with something too hot. So let that coconut oil cool down before you add it or you'll have a mixture that looks like cellulite. Which no one wants to eat.

Spoon cashew mixture on top of walnut mixture and spread it out evenly, then put the pan in the freezer for at least half an hour.

Melt chocolate chips over low heat on the stove, stirring constantly. Add in margarine and stir to combine.

Let chocolate cool for five to ten minutes, then remove cake from freezer and spread chocolate in an even layer over top. Sprinkle with sliced almonds or whatever garnish you like. Place in the fridge until serving.

cheesecake

J.

14 comments:

laceylovesfood said...

This is absolutely gorgeous.

Alli said...

WOW- I am making this delightful looking ditty this weekend! We are going over to a friends house for dinner and he is off gluten and interested in all things vegan hehe maybe he will be 'one of those people' who actually need both! Thanks, I will let you know how it turns out..just made cashew cheeze and it was amazing sooo I'm guessing this will be devine.

Sarah S. said...

I love that this is vegan and gf, but what really sold me was the no refined sugar or pre-made vegan cream cheese. If I weren't traveling over Easter (nyc trip! thx again for voting!), I'd totally make this to bring to Easter dinner. So help me, I'll come up with an occasion to make this soon.

M.O.S. said...

Gesundheit.

rachel said...

this looks great!! before i make it, quick question- 1 1/2 c. cashews is listed twice in the ingredients list. do half of them go in the crust?

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Sarah: Yes, I like the low sugar element, too. If you leave off the chocolate and top it with fruit or something, you'd have only the agave sweetening it all. It's also soy free if people have that allergy as well.

MOS: thank you, dear.

Rachel: Whoops! That was a mistake! That's what I get for proofreading too quickly. I've fixed it now. Thanks for pointing that out.

the [sugar] apothecary said...

OOOH. That looks delicious. My sister has a gluten free diet, and a cashew/date crust sounds AWESOME! Mmm.

berealyoga said...

Hey babe! I noticed you didn't include vanilla bean in this version (whereas you did in the "bites") -any reason for this? Me-me loves vanilla! And your blog! ;)

Kelly said...

How yummy looking!
Do you think the recipe would work as well with maple syrup instead of agave? Or some other sugar substitute?
Thanks!

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Berealyoga: I just didn't have any vanilla beans handy this time, actually. I'm sure you could throw some in if you wanted! :)

Kelly: I'm sure maple syrup would work just as well. It has a stronger flavour than agave, though, so you'd probably taste it more.

berealyoga said...

Hi Jenn,
I made this cake and it was delicious! But the problem was, it was oozy. That's right, oozy. And the topping was too hard that trying to cut into the cake compounded the oozing factor -- so in the end, it was more like a pudding. I'm not one to give up easily, so I'd love your thoughts/advice on the matter! Thanks for being so great! xo

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Hmmm, not sure what the problem was! Maybe it needed longer in the freezer for some reason? The coconut oil should solidify pretty quickly after it's mixed in. Maybe try fewer liquids next time? Leave out the almond milk and go easy on the lemon juice? If you manage to fix it the next time, let me know!

berealyoga said...

Uh,did you say "Freezer"??? Okay Jenn, I'm the knobb! Gulp. I only put it in the fridge....I'm just going to eat my cashew pudding in the corner now...

Anonymous said...

This is the best vegan cheesecake I've ever had! I will be making it over and over again, thank you!!