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Now I’m a dessert girl, but there aren’t many that are show-stoppers for me. I’m usually a sucker for the classics – nothing satisfies me more than a big scoop of real ice cream, a homemade chocolate chip cookie or warm apple crisp.

Desserts usually fall on my shoulders when we are cooking private dinners. Matthew is a genius in the kitchen, but is far too creative (bad at following directions) to follow the science of baking that so many desserts require.

This is a recipe that a small part of me wanted to hoard just for us because it’s THAT good, but Matthew wanted to share it with all of you because that’s what chefs do. I could never be a chef.

I first made this dessert for a dinner we cooked called “The Dowry on Lowry.” My parents hosted our wedding at their home last summer, so as a thank you gift we cooked a seven course dinner at our home for them and their amazing friends, Gordy and Julie. The street we live near is called Lowry Street, so the dinner was easily nicknamed by my ever-witty husband.

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Matthew created a very spring-forward menu banking on a rare nice day in March. I remember peeking out into our backyard while we were prepping that afternoon and seeing my mom and Julie basking in sunshine on the patio. It was perfect.

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We were also lucky enough that day to have Bernadette Pollard from Dette Snaps join us to photograph the evening. She captured the food and atmosphere of the evening perfectly.

But back to the dessert! It was the hit of the evening and it’s become a new favorite in our kitchen. Our guests loved it so much that we made it for a dinner we hosted for friends just weeks later and again for 100 people at a fundraiser dinner at my hometown’s Masonic Lodge.

My favorite thing about it? We cover any extra pieces in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer for emergencies, which pop up just about every night after dinner. After a few minutes of thawing, it’s heaven all over again.

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The texture is somewhere between frozen ice cream cake and cheesecake, and everyone who tries it seems to pick a different flavor out of the top layer – vanilla, coconut, nutmeg, etc. I never tell anyone what’s in the cake until they’ve tried it and fallen in love. At that point, it’s even better when I tell them that it’s gluten-free, raw, vegan and pretty darn healthy as far as dessert is concerned.

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Besides the cashews needing to soak for a few hours, this is quick and easy to throw together. The original recipe from Going Raw calls to make this in a 9-inch spring form pan, but we’ve used just about every shape and size pan you can imagine. One thing to keep in mind is that the larger the pan, the thinner the cake will be.

We hope you enjoy the Bernadette’s fabulous photos in the gallery below and this incredible recipe – we think you’ll love them both!

Raw Cashew Cheesecake
 {gluten-free, raw, vegan}

Serves 12

2 1/2 cups walnuts, soaked 6-8 hours and dehydrated*
1/3 cup dates
1/4 cup palm sugar
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

3 cups cashews, soaked 2 hours
1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup lecithin powder
3/4 cup cacao butter, warmed to liquid**

*You do not have to soak and dehydrate the walnuts, but doing so does result in increased enzyme activity in the walnuts = healthier!
**We subbed coconut oil for cacao butter.

To make the crust, grind the walnuts into a flour using a food processor. Add the dates and palm sugar and process until incorporated. Add the cacao powder, cacao nibs and sea salt and process again until the mixture starts to stick together.

Spread the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan lined with parchment paper. Starting in the center, press the mixture firmly and work your way out, making the crust as even as possible.

To make the filling, place the cashews, nut milk, agave, lemon juice, vanilla and lecithin into a high-power blender and process until very smooth. Add the cacao butter and blend again.

Pour the filling onto the crust and smooth using a spatula. From here, place the cheesecake into the freezer for at least an hour or two, or until firm. We store ours in the freezer, taking it out just a few minutes before we intend to serve.

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