Whoa. So you know how I felt like the last vegan person on earth to try chickpea omelettes? Well. I have now become the latest person to try cashew cheesecake, too. I can officially say that I understand what all of the hype is about. And is there any tastier dessert combo than banana and chocolate? (Except, maybe, banana and peanut butter).
Lately I’m becoming increasingly enamored with chilled and/or raw desserts, because I find that it’s pretty hard to mess them up! The recipes that I found online for cashew cheesecake tended to call for coconut milk or coconut oil, and I wasn’t really feeling the coconut today, or the added fat in a dessert that already has tons of fat (hey, it’s still nowhere near as much of a caloric sugar bomb as dairy cheesecake!). So, I decided to blend up some cashews without any other fat add-ins and just see what happened. It came out really well on the first try!
I actually almost didn’t make it to the taste-testing part. Some brown rice syrup had crystallized around the rim of the jar, and after I finally got the lid off, when I went to grasp the jar edge, the crystallized part slashed up my finger pretty good. Fun fact: I’m a former EMT, so I luckily happened to know just what to do. My last serious kitchen incident, a mandolin-related one about 3 years ago, sent me to a plastic surgeon – so this event was pretty unexciting in comparison. I was able to get back to work on the cashew cheesecake a little bit later on. Crisis averted! It’s true what the studies say…. sugar is dangerous.
Anyway, vegan cheesecake is crazy-good (the cashew version anyway; I still haven’t tried one that’s done with tofu). I am definitely a convert. I can’t believe how creamy and luscious the filling is, and the hints of lemon juice and vanilla keep it from being too rich. Ugh, it’s really hard to write about this without going to get another slice! I made this without oil or refined sugar, which I’m happy about. My next project will be one that’s a little more balanced in terms of fat-carbohydrates-protein. For now, this is an awesome treat =]
Banana Cashew Cheesecake with Chocolate Hazelnut Crust
For the chocolate hazelnut crust:
- 1/2 cup pitted dates soaked overnight in the fridge, or in hot water for 2 hours
- 2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts skins removed (see notes)
- 6 tbsp quick oats
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp brown rice syrup
- generous pinch sea salt
For the chocolate hazelnut crust:
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until fine crumbs are formed. Divide in half and press into two 5-inch tart pans (or don't divide it, and just make one standard-sized tart), reaching up an inch or so around the sides.
- Place in the freezer while you make the filling.
For the banana cashew cheesecake filling:
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until mixture is completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed (in my regular food processor, I had to blend for almost 5 minutes to get it smooth).
- Spread the filling into the prepared tart crust(s), and return to the freezer.
- Freeze for at least 2 hours (if using cashews that were soaked in the fridge), or for at least 4 hours (if using cashews that were soaked in hot water).
- Store leftovers in the freezer. Do not bring to room temperature before slicing; this dessert is best eaten straight from the freezer and should slice easily even when cold. If it's too firm to slice, thaw it for just a few minutes; running your knife under hot water should also help.