Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Win Friends and Influence People With Vegan, Gluten-free Cashew "Cheese"cake
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!
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.
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.