Dark Days: Strawberry Chocolate Raw Cheesecake
That’s a pack of ginger chews in the background, by the way, not cigarettes! (smile)
A day late and a dollar short with this Dark Days post, but, to put it delicately, let’s just say that I’ve gotten to know our house’s toilet a little more intimately than I would have liked this week. I’m sitting here with a bottle of Gatorade and a deep desire to eat something more than a saltine, but it ain’t gonna happen. Dorian, my cat, on the other hand, is loving the fact that I’m here all day–I mean, free human to sit on and and annoy and sleep with? Could life be any better? And at least there is a 7/11 one block away from us, which means access to Gatorade and Tylenol and Imodium and all that fun stuff. While I liked parts of living at the cabin for that brief stint, I’ll admit, civilization holds its perks.
But, to the Dark Days post. This week we were given the challenge to cook up something sweet for Valentine’s. While I grew up a chocoholic, I somehow lost the sweet tooth over time–my original blog was titled Cupcake Punk for a reason, but now I’d rather just mow down on some veggies or maybe a slice of sourdough bread. Or, really, let’s be honest, a cocktail or glass of wine makes for a great post-dinner sit and chat. So with the idea of “Valentine’s” and “dessert” on the brain, I really lucked out when we traveled to Raleigh and the State Farmer’s Market. Oh, hello, gorgeous solar grown strawberries. We were meant to meet, weren’t we?
With the gluten-free experiment still in place, it took awhile to land on the “perfect” dessert to try my hand at. I knew I couldn’t make it super-local since, besides buckwheat (which I’m out of), gluten-free flours are nowhere near local, but I did go the sustainable, fair-trade, organic route on top of the strawberries. And, for all the five years (yes, five years! I’m somewhere around my blogiversary–crazy times) I’ve been running this blog, I’ve never made a raw dish. Nope. Nothing raw. It’s not that I’m anti-raw-foods, it’s just that…well, I like cooking and I’ve never had the patience (or the money to invest in nuts) to carry it out.
Thus I bring to you a Strawberry Chocolate Raw Cheesecake. Delicately creamy with a punch of bright strawberry flavor, the cheesecake rings perfection. Most of the sweetness stems from the dates in the crust, though a little agave added to the “cheesecake” part sweetens as well, and a pinch of raw cocoa added to part of it lent a nice savory, chocolate note. G & I are both fans of the dessert, and, while I don’t plan on going raw anytime soon, it did give me hope for trying out more raw dishes. Win-win all around!
Strawberry Chocolate Raw Cheesecake
Adapted slightly from My New Roots
For the Crust:
1/2 c raw almonds
1/2 c soft Medjool dates, pit removed
¼ tsp sea salt
For the Filling:
1.5 c raw cashews, soaked overnight
1/4 c lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
1/3 c raw coconut oil, melted
1/3 c agave nectar
3 tbsp raw cocoa
1 c fresh strawberries (+ more to taste!)
To make the crust, place almonds, dates, and salt in the bowl of a food processor (remember to remove those pits!) and process until fine. Check to make sure that the crust sticks together when pressed. If no, add more dates until it does.
Press the crust into the bottom of a spring form pan (I used an 8″ but use a smaller one if you’d like the cheesecake to be thicker). Rinse the processor.
If the coconut oil is solid, warm over very low heat in a sauce pan over the stove. Once melted, add to the bowl of the food processor. Add the soaked cashews, lemon juice, vanilla, and agave nectar. Process until completely smooth (this might take awhile).
Pour out half of the mixture into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the cocoa powder. Pour the chocolate mixture into the springform pan and smooth out.
Add the strawberries to the processor bowl and process until smooth. Add more strawberries until it’s the right “strawberry-ness” for you (I probably used 1.5 cups). Pour on top of the chocolate layer and gently smooth out.
Cover with saran wrap and freeze overnight. When ready to serve, let it warm up for 30 minutes on the counter, then cut with a sharp knife. Keep leftovers in the fridge and enjoy!