Adapting a recipe can be really tough, but when you finally break through and create something pretty damn close to the original, within your specifications, it can be so satisfying. If I want to make shortbread without the butter, that's easy: a non-dairy spread or goat's butter can be substituted. Recently, though, I wanted to make cheesecake. and really - how can you have cheesecake without dairy or eggs? It's impossible. Until I discovered raw cheescake. Raw veganism sounds like no fun at all to most people and can be daunting. But it can also be a wonderful world of opportunity for anyone having digestive issues related to food intolerances or allergies (with the exception of nuts, of course). I applaud the raw vegan "bakers" out there for creating beautiful and delicious desserts with completely natural ingredients. It's actually quite amazing what you can make with a little creativity and love.
The other day, I went to Whole Foods in central London to pick up a few specialty items, when I noticed a slice of raw passionfruit cheesecake in the fridge section. It looked entirely too good not to try, so I grabbed a biodegradable fork and sat at one of the nearby tables with my little slice. To my non-cheesecake-eating eye, it looked and smelled like the real thing. And tasted EVEN BETTER. I don't think I've ever been a huge cheesecake fan - perhaps, subconsciously, it was because of the horrible way I'd feel afterwards. But I find that it is too heavy, maybe too sweet, and just the thought of that much cream cheese in anything makes me feel ill!
The basis of a raw cheesecake is cashew nuts, which have been soaked in water to soften for about an hour. With this in mind, and after tasting the passionfruit version at Whole Foods, I had to try it out for myself. The recipe I used came from the 'Give It To Me Raw' forum - amazing where a little googling will take you. And with the help of my trusty food processor, this little miracle was born:
If you do plan on making this yourself, one thing you should note is that it does take time. Between the cashews soaking and the freezing and then slight thawing before serving, I'd make this one day in advance, then transfer it from the freezer to the fridge in the morning of the day you plan on serving it.
Recipe adapted from emily lee angell, from the give it to me raw forums
- 2 cups raw macadamia nuts
- 1/2 cup dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 3 cups cashews, soaked for 1 hour
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 3/4 cup raw honey
- 3/4 cup coconut oil, softened but not melted
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- berries or fruit of your choice to serve
- To make the crust, add the macadamia nuts and dates in the food processor and whiz until finely ground and sticking together (like a pastry would). Sprinkle the shredded coconut evenly on the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Press the crust mixture onto the coconut (which prevents it from sticking) - make sure there are no holes and that it is even throughout the pan.
- To make the "cheese", blend the cashews, lemon juice, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt, and 1/2 cup water in the food processor. This may take a while, as the longer you process, the smoother the consistency (which you want!)
- Pour the cashew mixture onto the crust and remove any air bubbles by tapping the pan on a flat surface. Cover with cling film and place in the freezer until firm (overnight).
- Remove the whole cake from the pan while frozen and place on a serving platter. Defrost in the fridge until ready to serve, with berries or fruit (raspberries, strawberries or passion fruit are all great!).