SALTED VANILLA, RAW CARAMEL AND AVOCADO GANACHE (MALTEASER) CHEESECAKES
This is one of those recipes you need to brace yourself for. There are so many recipes out there, and in particular, so many healthy ones, that seem intimidating. No amount of raw chocolate or promised health benefits can persuade everyone to spend hours soaking nuts, de-fleshing coconuts or fermenting vegetables. Raw cheesecakes - a.k.a cheezecakes - are a good example of this, and were, about 6 months ago, something I self-categorised into recipes 'I'm relatively afraid of' / don't have time for.
The thought of whacking open a fresh coconut (regarding you can actually get hold of one wherever you live), and remembering to soak your cashews the night before is definitely no encouragement. Before I'd made my first raw cheesecake, I found the idea of flying back to LA (where I'd first had a slice of raw, vegan food actually done well) to pick up a pre-made one more appealing than doing it myself. But, be assured, it isn't that difficult, it isn't even that time consuming and it is defilingly worth it.
Obstacle number one
Find a young, Thai coconut
Obstacle number two
Hack that coconut open without ruining your hand(s)
Obstacle number three
Soak your cashews
(not really an obstacle but something you have to think ahead with)
Min. 2-4 hours / Ideally 8 hours
Lining up your shit in preparation makes everything about raw dessert making so much easier and more enjoyable (not that there is anything particularly unenjoyable about making raw caramel and eating raw biscuity leftovers). Approach the situation with the right ingredients, the right equipment (you need a good blender and/or food processor) and plenty of confidence. Reduce the pressure you may have put upon yourself by knowing that if, for whatever reason, things don't go to plan, there is absolutely no way that anyone is capable of making fresh coconut flesh, creamy chocolate and a 'buttery' biscuit base taste bad. If it doesn't go right, just call it something else and eat it anyway.
T H E B A S E
(makes one large cheesecake. If you have any left over depending on the depth of your crust, 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
Zest of 1 Lemon - optional
1/2 Cup Toasted or Activated Buckwheat Groats - optional (adds an amazing extra crunch to the base)
M E T H O D
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 oil and lemon 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.
R A W C A R A M E L L A Y E R
5 Medjool Dates
3 Tablespoons Almond Butter
2-3 tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Maca
2 Tablespoons Agave
2 Tablespoons Nut Milk or Boiling Water (only if the mixture needs help blending in your blender)
M E T H O D
Making sure the dates are pitted, place all of the ingredients into your blender or food processor and begin to blend, beginning at a low speed, and gradually increasing. If the dates are breaking up instead of coming together into a paste, add a little more coconut oil along with some boiling water to help it to blend smoothly. Once smooth, scrape the caramel from your machines and spread it evenly or in clumps across your base. It is sometime nice to just dollop a bit here and there, as a full layer can be quite rich.
Return to the freezer whilst you prepare the cheesecake layers.
S A L T E D V A N I L L A L A Y E R
1 Cup Cashews, soaked
2 Cups Young Coconut Flesh, optional (can also use solid tinned coconut milk)
3/4 Cup Almond Milk (or other plant based milk of choice)
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt or Splash of Tamari
1/4 Cup Agave or Coconut Nectar (can also use raw honey or date syrup)
1/3 Cup Coconut Oil, soft but not melted
1 Teaspoon Nutritional Yeast, optional (to add a cheesy flavour)
M E T H O D
Start by blending the cashews, coconut flesh (or milk), almond milk, lemon juice and salt in your blender on a medium speed. Increase it to a high speed, and gradually add the agave and the coconut oil whilst the mixture is still blending (if your blender permits). Add the nutritional yeast, if using, and add a little more coconut oil if the mixture is clogging in the blender and refusing to blend with ease. Taste, and if you're happy with the flavours, scoop the mixture over your caramel studded biscuit base. Depending on your personal taste preference, you may want to add more salt, more sweetener or more nutritional yeast.
Once spread evenly over your base, return to the freezer whilst you make the chocolate layer.
+ NOTE. If you want to create a marble effect between the two layers, don't return the vanilla layer to the freezer. Set it aside in a cool place whilst you prepare the chocolate layer, but if you chill it, it will harden and you won't be able to stir it through with the chocolate layer.
A V O C A D O G A N A C H E L A Y E R
(you can also make a raw chocolate sauce to top your vanilla with, which with set to be crunchy. Simply follow my instructions for raw chocolate here).
1 1/2 Cups Cashews, soaked
The Flesh of 1/2 Ripe Avocado
1 Cup Almond Milk (can also use other plant milk)
1/4 Cup Agave
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Powder/Seeds/Bean Paste/Extract
1/2 Cup Cacao Powder
Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil, melted
2-4 Tablespoons Cacao Butter, optional / not essential (only if you want to make a really rich cheesecake)
M E T H O D
Start by blending the cashews, avocado flesh, almond milk, agave, vanilla and salt in your blender on a medium speed. Increase to a high speed, and when it has begun to become smooth, stop the blender and add the cacao powder. Blend again, and add the coconut oil whilst the mixture is still blending (if your blender permits). If you are using cacao butter, add this now too. Add a little more coconut oil if the mixture is clogging in the blender and refusing to blend with ease. Taste, and if you're happy with the flavours, scoop the mixture over your salted caramel layer. Depending on your personal tastes, you may want to add more salt, more sweetener or more cacao powder.
Take your fully layered cheesecake, and if you want to create a marbled effect, pour the chocolate layer evenly over the salted vanilla layer. Make sure the top layer finds its way to the edges of your tin. Take a teaspoon and gently begin to swirl and spread the mixtures into each other. Use the spoon end, not the handle end, and make gentle movements. Be careful not to smudge the two mixtures too much, or they will end up combining and you will just create a single coloured, light brown cheesecake, which will still taste delicious but won't look as impressive.
Top the cheesecake however you like! Use chopped nuts, chopped raw chocolate, cacao nibs, berries or even banana to create a banoffee taste sensation. I also shaved a little of the cheesecake flesh from around the edges to create flaked chocolate pieces.
Return to the freezer for at least 45 minutes. You can store in the freezer until 30 minutes before it is ready to serve. If it is for your own enjoyment and not for a particular occasion, id suggest cutting it into small portions and freezing them, so that you can have a freezer stocked full of healthy snacks/desserts.
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