Berry cashew cheesecake with vanilla coconut cream

A raw cashew cake must be one of the easiest summer desserts ever invented. There’s no baking involved, so your kitchen stays cool, and you do the same. Just take this make-ahead beauty out of the freezer 20 minutes before you want to serve it, slather the top with clouds of vanilla-infused coconut whipped cream and pile it high with fresh, ripe berries. Everyone will be oh-so-impressed and you won’t break even the slightest sweat.

The basic structure of the raw cashew “cheesecake” is a nut + date pressed crust topped with a creamy filling of soaked raw cashews blended with a small amount of liquid (lemon juice + coconut milk, in this case), a liquid sweetener (I used agave syrup), and coconut oil. Using a high-powered blender, such as a vitamix, helps to achieve an ultra smooth and creamy texture. Raw cashews really can do it all, apparently; after the cake is frozen and thawed before serving, the cashew filling has a texture incredibly similar to a traditional cheesecake, yet it’s completely dairy-free and egg-free.

You can keep your cheese(less)cake simple and fill it just with the lemon cashew filling, or blend all or a portion of your cashew cream with berries to make a berry cheesecake or a layered cake. The recipe is super flexible and playing around with it is fun and foolproof. This time around I made a triple-layer cake, blending one-third of the filling with raspberries and one-third with blueberries, with the basic lemon portion serving as the foundation layer since it has the thickest consistency.

I used an 8-inch springform pan; if you don’t have one of those around, use a pie dish or another type of baking dish about 8 inches in diameter, and line it with plastic wrap to ensure easy unmolding of the cake when you’re ready to serve it.

Berry cashew cheesecake with vanilla coconut cream

Adapted from My New Roots

Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Vegan
Makes one 8-inch cake

for the crust:
1/2 cup raw almonds (walnuts or macadamias also work well)
1/2 cup pitted dates (preferable the Medjool variety, which is super jammy and moist, but I’ve also used drier Deglet dates with good results)
2 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut
2 tablespoons coconut butter
1/4 teaspoon fine Celtic or kosher salt

for the filling:
1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours and drained (discard liquid)
1/3 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup or raw honey, if preferred)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup coconut milk

juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (thawed if using frozen)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed if using frozen)

coconut whipped cream:
1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar

to garnish: 2 cups fresh berries of your choice

Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan with coconut oil, or line a pie dish or baking pan with plastic wrap.

Combine all ingredients for the crust in a food processor. Pulse until a dough forms. It should stick together when pressed with your fingers; if it doesn’t come together (it depends on the moisture content of the dates), blend in another tablespoon or two of coconut butter. Press date-nut mixture into prepared pan to create an even crust. Set aside.

Combine soaked cashews, agave, coconut oil, coconut milk, lemon juice, and vanilla bean powder in a high-powered blender (e.g., vitamix). Blend on high until the mixture is completely smooth, about 2 minutes.

Pour 1/3 of the cashew filling into the prepared crust, using a spatula to spread it evenly over the crust. Transfer to the freezer to let it set up a bit, about 15 minutes.

Pour 1/3 of the remaining filling into a separate bowl. Blend the portion of the filling that’s still in the blender with the raspberries. Remove cake from freezer and pour raspberry filling over vanilla layer, then freeze again for 15 minutes.

Blend remaining one-third of filling with blueberries. Remove cake from freezer and spread blueberry filling over raspberry layer. Cover pan with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours or overnight.

To make the coconut whipped cream, scrape the solidified coconut cream layer from the top of the can of chilled coconut milk into a bowl (use the remaining liquid in smoothies, etc, or freeze for later use). Add vanilla bean powder and agave. Whip with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Chill until ready to use (you can do this the night before and keep in the fridge until ready to serve).

Allow the cake to thaw at room temp for about 20 minutes before unmolding from the pan. If you used a springform pan, run a small knife around the edge of the pan before removing the outer ring; otherwise, remove cake from dish and remove plastic wrap.

Place cake on a serving dish and top with coconut whipped cream and berries right before serving.

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