Raw Vegan Monday: Strawberry Cheesecake

It would seem that I can not help myself with my self-imposed Raw Vegan Mondays. I didn't really think I would do it this week, but I guess I changed my mind last night when I was looking for more dessert options...

Because I wanted to keep it raw, I thought I would search for a nut-free raw crust. If you know of any recipes out there, please let me know! I searched high and low on the Internet, and couldn't find one. I'd imagine this would pose a problem to someone with a nut allergy wishing to eat this way, but really I was thinking about myself.

Most raw vegan desserts I've been seeing are very nut heavy. In fact, this cheesecake is based entirely on a creamy cashew center. Of course, I could just opt for a bowl of fruit, but what fun would that be? Last week's Chocolate Pudding Pie was so good (and lasted very well, by the way, we had the last slices after our Beet Gnocchi dinner Saturday night), that I thought it would be hard to beat. Certainly, it is if you love chocolate... but if you love cheesecake, let me introduce you to this raw vegan version.

I found a base recipe at Gone Raw, but then proceeded to cut some nuts and sweetener from it to result in a not quite as nut-heavy endeavor. My cheesecake is light and refreshing, and can be stored in the freezer - a total plus for a daily dessert indulger such as myself.

I happened to have a lot of preserved lemon and no fresh lemon, so I used it. You could also use grated lemon peel, or add a touch of lemon juice if you have fresh to work with.

Raw Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake (adapted from Bees Knees Kitchen via Gone Raw)

Makes one 8 inch springform pan (I used my tart tin, since I don't have a little springform)

  • 1/2 c. walnuts, ground to a "flour" in a spice mill
  • 16 dates
  • 1 T. water
  • pinch of salt
  • flax meal, to achieve proper consistency
Process the dates in a food pro until they are well chopped. Add the walnut flour and pinch of salt and pulse to combine. Test the consistency - I added 1 T. of water, then added a bit of flax meal to achieve my ideal. Press into an 8 inch tin, I left mine mostly on the bottom and not up the sides. It is a very thin base.

Cheese Filling:
  • 1 1/2 c. cashews, soaked in plenty of filtered water overnight
  • 1/4 of a preserved lemon (rinsed thoroughly and flesh removed, peel sliced thinly)
  • 2 T. coconut concentrate
  • 1 T. raw agave nectar
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract (not raw, so you could use vanilla seeds scraped from a pod)
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food pro (or VitaMix for the creamiest result). I got pretty smooth by using my hand held immersion blender on the cashews first, with about a tablespoon of water to get them going. Then I transferred them to the food pro and continued with the blending and adding of the other ingredients. Taste and adjust the sweetness level to your liking. Spread over the crust in the 8 inch tin.

Strawberry Top:
  • 1 heaping cup chopped strawberries
  • 1 t. agave nectar
Pulse in a blender (I used my kitchen shears to cut up the strawberries, and that worked fine) until coarsely chopped and releasing some juice. Spread over the top, to within a half inch of the sides.

I put my cheesecake right into the freezer, and then took it out after lunchtime to slice it. It cut into nice neat slices and tasted delicious! Light, slightly lemony, and not at all too rich like a conventional cheesecake. I think if you like icy cold things as I do, it's perfect right from the freezer, but I am also going to try letting some defrost in the fridge for a few hours before eating to test it at another temperature. I cut my whole tart into slices (I got 9 plus the one I ate...) and froze them in a container between sheets of waxed paper, so I can be assured of dessert for at least a week to come. I may try a balsamic reduction one day too, but then it would involve cooking...

I really think that raw vegan desserts are so attractive to me in part because I really do feel less guilty about eating some every day. I tend to eat them slower and savor them more than traditional desserts, I don't know if that is because I'm trying to read into the flavors more or what. While again, I can't promise yet another week of Raw Vegan Monday, I know that this is one diet and foods experiment that is going to linger on for some time!