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LEMON, ACAI, BEETROOT AND BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE

CAKES, DESSERT, GLUTEN FREE, RAW, SNACKS, SUGAR FREE, VEGAN, VEGETARIAN, SUMMERdanielle copperman3 Comments
PHOTO CREDIT: RITA PLATTS / LOUIE WALLER

PHOTO CREDIT: RITA PLATTS / LOUIE WALLER

Here's one for the weekend. There is no day more fitting than a Sunday, to upload a recipe dedicated to cheesecake. A healthy, raw, vegan, dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, grain free, and dangerously nourishing cheesecake, to be exact. 

This cheesecake is too good for words, and when I try to describe it to someone it comes out more in some kind of expressive facial dance combined with approving noises. There's really no way for me to put it into words. You won't understand until you've tried it yourself.

I recently met Rita and Louie through Rita's agent, who was interested in setting us up as three innocent girls with an unconditional love of good food, styling food and photographing food. Needless to say, we got on extremely well and spent an entire day positioning crumbs strategically, and eating enough cheesecake/eton mess/savoury muffins (recipes to follow) to feed an entire picnic party. It was a good day.

Since it's Sunday, you might be planning to spend the evening preparing food for the week ahead. You might be soaking some quinoa, making chia seed pudding to store in the fridge, or batch cooking stews or curries to chill or freeze, to have on hand as an instant meal for when you're short of time. I think this weekend, though, you should ignore your structured schedule, soak some cashews, de-flesh a coconut and concentrate on preparing to make this tomorrow. (It requires about 2 minutes to whack open a coconut and pour some water over a few handfuls of cashews, so if you are really serious about your week ahead, you could easily do this as well as prepping your usual meals). 

This recipe doesn't require any cooking, so once the prep is prepped, its a pretty easy and instant process from there. The food processor and blender will do the hard work for you (i remember making cheesecakes when i was younger, bashing away with a rolling pin for what seemed like hours, to crush a packet of digestive biscuits into a suitable base). The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for the cheesecake to set, but if you pre-occupy yourself with licking the blender clean, you'll hardly notice the time pass.

The base is made from nuts, coconut and dates, and is naturally sweet. As it sets in the freezer it develops into a crunchy, biscuity texture, which is hard to believe when it is in its blended phase. The fillings' main components are soaked cashews and coconut flesh. The two ingredients combine perfectly together to create a rich, creamy, mousse-life consistency. The coconut flesh adds some kind of airy bounce to the texture, whilst the cashews make it creamy and thick. Free from dairy, rich in protein, healthy fats and antioxidants and bursting with fresh, natural, vibrant colours and flavours, there is really nothing to stop you from making this.

+ If you have a nut allergy, try making the base with buckwheat groats, sunflower and hemp seeds, and the filling with coconut flesh, pine nuts (actually a seed, safe for most people with nut allergies) and solid coconut milk or the flesh from 1 avocado.

RAW BISCUIT BASE

INGREDIENTS
(makes one large cheesecake. If you have any left over, use it to top the cheesecake, or to make a few miniature ones)

1 Cup Raw Almonds
60g Desiccated Coconut
50g Raw Cashews
200g Medjool Dates
1 Large Handful Walnuts
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract/Bean Paste/Fresh Seeds
Salt
Zest of 1 Lemon - optional
1/2 Cup Toasted or Activated Buckwheat Groats - optional (adds an amazing extra crunch to the base)

METHOD

Place the desiccated coconut, buckwheat groats (if using), almonds, cashews and walnuts into a food processor, and pulse on a high speed for 1 minute, until they break down into a flour consistency with some small chunks. Add the dates, vanilla, salt, coconut and zest, if using, and pulse for a further 1-2 minutes.

+ With the coconut oil, melted or room temperature will both work. If you are using room temperature, though, concentrate on scraping thin layers of it into the food processor, rather than adding great big chunks, as this will encourage the mixture to blend more smoothly and easily.

Once the mixture has become almost dough like, but still a little crumbly looking, transfer it into a dish (can be round or rectangular, or you can even use individual miniature moulds). Spread the mixture around evenly, then use the back of a spoon or your bare hands to press the mixture firmly into the base of the tin. Make sure the mixture reaches the sides, and make it as compact as possible to ensure the finished cheesecake won't crumble and break. As you flatten it, it will begin to look more like a conventional cheesecake base.

Place in the freezer whilst you prepare the fillings.

ACAI, BEETROOT AND BLUEBERRY LAYER

INGREDIENTS
(makes one large cheesecake. If you have any left over, use it to top the cheesecake, or to make a few miniature ones)

1 Cup Coconut Flesh (If you can't get hold of this, you can work without it, but it creates the perfect texture)
2 Cups Cashew Nuts, soaked for at least 2-4 hours, preferably all day or overnight
1/4 Teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
3/4 Cup Coconut Oil, melted
1/2 Cup Almond Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract/Bean Paste/Fresh Seeds
2-4 Tablespoons Agave, or natural sweetener of choice (to taste)
120g Fresh Blueberries - not frozen
2 Tablespoons Acai Powder
2 Tablespoons Beetroot Powder (can also use grated beetroot if you don't have the powder - or omit the beetroot altogether)

+ You can also experiment with flavours here, using unsulphured apricots, fresh mango, lime juice, avocado or goji berries instead of blueberries. 

METHOD
(Allow about 45 minutes setting time, or leave in the freezer until ready to serve and transfer to the fridge 20-30 minutes before serving).

Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend for 2-3 minutes. Use a tamper if you have one, to help the mixture to blend. Add a little more coconut oil or nut milk if the mixture is too thick and lumpy. Scrape down the sides after 3 minutes, and blend for a further 1-2 minutes on the highest speed of your blender, until the mixture is entirely smooth. It should resemble the consistency of custard or creme fraiche. 

Once smooth, pour the mixture over your prepared base. You can mix in some chopped fresh berries or goji berries, or simply lay some chopped berries/fruit along the base before covering with the mixture. Make sure you leave enough room for the top layer.

If you want to make a 3 layered cheesecake, return to the freezer and proceed with the top layer. If you want the make a marbled affect cheesecake, don't place this layer in the freezer. Set aside whilst you prepare the top layer.

LEMON CREAM LAYER

1 Cup Coconut Flesh (If you can't get hold of this, you can work without it, or try using 1 cup solid coconut milk instead)
2 Cups Cashew Nuts, soaked for at least 2-4 hours, preferably all day or overnight
1/4 Teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
3/4 Cup Coconut Oil, melted
1/2 Cup Almond Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract/Bean Paste/Fresh Seeds
2-4 Tablespoons Agave, or natural sweetener of choice (to taste)
Juice of 3 Fresh Lemons

METHOD
(Allow about 45 minutes setting time, or leave in the freezer until ready to serve and transfer to the fridge 20-30 minutes before serving).

Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend for 2-3 minutes. Use a tamper if you have one, to help the mixture to blend. Add a little more coconut oil or nut milk if the mixture is too thick and lumpy. Scrape down the sides after 3 minutes, and blend for a further 1-2 minutes on the highest speed of your blender, until the mixture is entirely smooth. It should resemble the consistency of custard or creme fraiche. 

If you are making a 3 layered cheesecake, remove the cheesecake from the freezer and pour this top layer over the berry layer. Return to the freezer and allow to set for at least 45 minutes. 

If you are making a marbled affect cheesecake, pour this mixture on top of the berry layer, ensuring you cover the berry layer entirely, and reach the edges of the tin/dish. Then, use a teaspoon to gently swirl and spread the mixtures into each other. Be careful not to smudge or spread or stir too much, or you will just end up with a pale purple cheesecake, which will still taste delicious but won't look as fun. Make small, gentle movements and don't over do it.

Return to the freezer and set for at least 45 minutes. You can store the cheesecake in the freezer until you are ready to eat it, and transfer it to the fridge 30 minutes before serving, to allow it to soften slightly.

+ Store in the freezer for months, before or after serving. You can make it in advance and store it before a big event, or simply keep any leftovers in the freezer, so as not to waste any.