At the risk of you doubting the deliciousness of this recipe I do want to say that this is the first time I went all out on testing a cashew 'cheese'cake recipe of my own. Maybe it's that I thought it would be too much work (it isn't, just takes some patience) or that I didn't trust myself with *that* much dessert just laying around (I shouldn't have) but I made this extra creamy, chocolatey, layered dream for very good reason - my mom's 60th birthday! She is also vegan and I really wanted to surprise her with something truly special for such a momentous occasion and lets just say that neither she, nor our omnivore family members were disappointed. This is a 'cheese'cake to suit everyone - rich flavor, crunchy crust, creamy filling, chocolatey, tangy, ultra indulgent and fairly healthy. Best part? No one will know it's good for you! It is the perfect thing to bring to a summer party or a birthday event - the presentation is alone gets people all worked up in a chocolate tizzy!
My Mom always loved chocolate and she used to make a crazy mousse cake topped with whipped cream and fresh berries in the summer months that people would go nuts for. I used her favorite flavor and texture profiles to inform this recipe because the day was about her, after all. In the weeks approaching my Mom's big day, I researched and tested - looking at different methods and recipes for vegan 'cheese'cakes. I even bought cashews in bulk. I was ultimately most informed by Minimalist Baker's killer 'cheese'cake recipes but I took notes from a few other sources as well finding the perfect blend of ingredients to make for a truly decadent dessert.
I should warn that this cheesecake does take some time to prepare - so plan to make it in advance. Upside: It stores in the freezer wonderfully. I topped mine with raspberries (mainly for presentations sake) but next time I'd love to try adding a layer of coconut, a drizzle of peanut butter sauce or even some vegan whipped cream - it will be great any way you 'slice' it (that pun is for you Mom). Happy birthday, I love you.
Serves: 16 small pieces • Prep Time: 30 minutes • Chill Time: 6 hrs - Overnight
- Spring form pan (8-10" will work best)
- Food processor
- High Speed Blender
- 20 Medjool dates, pitted (apx. 1.5 cups, packed tightly)
- 1 cup nuts (I used toasted hazelnuts but almost any nut will do)
- 3/4 cup oats
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. pink salt
- 3 cups raw cashews soaked overnight
- the juice of two large lemons (scant 2/3 cup)
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1, 14 oz. can full fat coconut milk (add both the solid and liquid)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup or coconut sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 cup cacao/coco powder, divided and added to half the mixture to make the chocolate layer
- 1/2 tsp. pink salt
- 1/2, 14 oz. can coconut cream (not coconut milk, can be found at Trader Joe's)
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1/4 cup cacao/coco powder
- 2-4 tbsp. maple syrup, to taste
- 1/3-1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 1 tsp. instant coffee powder
- 1/2 tsp. pink salt
- 1 large carton raspberries
1. A day or two before you want to serve the cake make the crust and filling to ensure ample chill time so the layers can set up. To make the crust combine dates, oats and nuts in a high speed blender on high power till you reach an even, crumbly consistency. Add in vanilla and salt, pulse again. The mixture should come together when pressed between your fingers - if it is too dry, add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup.
2. Press crust into the bottom of a springform pan that is sprayed lightly with oil (to make sure the cake doesn't stick). Work your way up the sides slightly with the crust to make a lip. Set in the freezer to firm up while you make the filling.
3. To make the cheesecake layers add all of the filling ingredients listed above (excluding the coco powder if you want a chocolate and vanilla layer) to a high speed blender. Blend on high till fully combined. The mixture will look thin, but not to worry, it will set in the freezer.
4. Pour half of the cheesecake mixture into a storage vessel and hold in the fridge. This will serve as your "plain" or vanilla layer. Blend the cacao powder into the remainder for your chocolate layer.
5. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and pour the chocolate layer over the crust. Put back in the freezer to set for at least one hour before pouring over the vanilla layer.
6. Cover the springform pan with plastic wrap and put the whole cheesecake back the freezer to set for at least three hours or ideally overnight.
7. Once the cheesecake is completely solid it's time to make the ganache. Simply combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan on low-medium heat - whisk till just fully melted and combined. You can also do this ahead of time and store in a glass vessel - reheat to a pourable consistency simply place the jar in simmering water for a few minutes stirring occasionally.
8. Pour the hot ganache evenly over the cheesecake while still in the springform pan. Decorate with raspberries and set in the fridge for at least an hour or until the ganache is fully set.
9. About 20-30 minutes before you're ready to serve remove from the fridge and release the springform mold. Slice into pieces and plate it up!
Leftovers: Stores great in the freezer for a week or two - just be sure to keep it covered with some plastic wrap or transfer to a storage container. Allow the slices to defrost for a half hour or so before enjoying!