Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Raw Truth

About two weeks ago, we held a small party with family and friends, celebrating the 10,000th pageview of our blog (we should hit 11k, today). Our good friend Jules, who we hardly ever get to see outside chance encounters at the Grower's Market, would be in attendance and she happens to be vegan. To make her feel welcome, I wanted to ensure more items were vegan than not, because it's awful to be at a party and be unable to eat anything. For the glorious finale, that meant a raw, vegan cheesecake.

Less cooking, more awesome
The "raw, vegan" part probably puts some people off initially and, with no cheese, I suppose it's technically not even a cheesecake. Even so, it's amazingly delicious. In fact, I've done the math and this raw, vegan cheesecake has fewer calories, cheaper ingredients, and is faster and easier to make than its standard counterpart. As a special summertime bonus, there's no cooking required whatsoever. That certainly sounds like it's worth a try, no?

Try me
I prepared our raw vegan cheesecake with some trepidation and some mishap. Be sure to use a blender when making the luxurious, agave-sweetened filling, as the amount of fluids puts it well above the maximum liquid level of most food processors. The unfortunate result of boldly persisting in light of this fact is said liquid quickly overflowing, flooding the central chamber, and leaking all over your kitchen. Raw agave syrup is really quite sticky when scrubbing it off one's floors. Not that I know from experience.

Contemplating their grisly fate
Even so, once I presented my experiment, it was a hit. I didn't even try to conceal that it was a raw vegan cheesecake from our guests, as that didn't seem fair, but subsequent blind taste tests confirm the difference seems nigh on undetectable. Silky smooth coconut-cashew cream forms a filling as richly decadent as any cheese and the crust is delicately crisp and sweetly salty. Punched up with the fruit, juice, or chocolate of your choice, it melts in the mouth in a cool and subtle symphony of flavor. How can it be at once so voluptuously satisfying and so refreshingly light upon the palate? Magic, I suppose.

Magical
Raw vegan white peach cheesecake
Adapted from the Raw Chef, by way of Delicioasa

Coconut oil is exceptionally rich in saturated fat, resulting in a hard, waxy solid at room temperature. To soften, rest the jar in a bowlful of hot water for several minutes, until about 1/2 the oil has transitioned into a clear liquid, then mash the liquid and solid phases back together with a fork to form a thick, buttery cream.

For the crust:

2 c unsalted cashews
4 tbs raw agave syrup
1/2 c coconut oil
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
4 tsp lemon juice

For the filling:

3 c unsalted cashews, soaked in fresh, cool water for 2 hours
1 c coconut oil
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
2 tbs pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 c raw agave syrup
1 1/2 c white peach puree (about 4 peaches)
1/2 c raspberries + 1 tsp fresh lime zest (garnish)

Use a food processor fitted with the standard blade attachment to pulse the 2 cups of dry cashews into a coarse flour.

Add the remaining crust ingredients and pulse a few more times until the mixture is wet and incorporated, but still retains some texture. You don't want to process it to cashew butter.

Textural
Scoop the crust mixture into the bottom of a lightly oiled 9″ springform pan with a rubber spatula and press down firmly to form a dense, even crust across the bottom of the pan. Chill as you prepare the filling.

Fun with fluids
Add all of the filling ingredients to a large blender and puree until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.

Smooth as silk
Pour the filling into the prepared pan and place in the freezer until completely set, with no wiggle at the center, about 1 hour. Transfer to a refrigerator and chill overnight.

Rock solid
Serve cold, garnished with raspberries and fresh lime zest.

Cheers!

8 comments:

Alessandra said...

This looks really yummy :-)

Ciao
Alessandra

James Pereira said...

Thanks so much, Alessandra! The peach flavor is fairly light, but I love how using white peaches preserves that pure New York cheesecake ivory color. Sub in any fruit you'd like to change it up (I had my heart set on passion fruit, but there hasn't been any at the grocery in weeks).

Cheers!

Niki said...

That looks beautiful!!!! Love the presentation. And the ingredients list looks tasty, i'll be making this soon for sure =)

James Pereira said...

Hi, Niki, I'm glad you like it!

Truth be told, I'm terrible at cake decorating with icing, so I always resort to fruit, flowers, and herbs, where nature has happily done all the work for me. :)

RecipeNewZ said...

This cake looks absolutely divine. I made raw cakes with coconut creme, but never with cashews. This would be a great way to start. Even if my cake turns out to be half as good as yours it will be a great success :-). Wonderful wonderful recipe. Love it. I will pin it as soon as I finish this comment :-).
I'd also like to invite you to check out a new recipe sharing website RecipeNewZ (with Z). We've only been around for 2 months, but we already have recipes from hundreds of blogs, and it would be great see some of your posts there too!

Anonymous said...

I use raw tahini instead of cashews for the filling. It is just so awesome whipped with strawberries or any other fruit. Much smoother.
I make the crust of walnuts crumbled with cacao nibs and mixed with peach puree. Dry the crust a little = yummy

James Pereira said...

Those sound like some amazing additions, I'll have to give them a try, soon!

Anonymous said...

could you put it in the freezer in the morning and serve it in the evening? is that enough time to have it set properly?