My latest experiment, and this post, comes off the back of other recent raw chocolate adventures [detailed in my posts It’s all about the chocolate, Part 3 and How I turned a melted mass of chocolate mess into a dessert worth eating].
This rich raw chocolate ‘cheesecake’ is so very, amazingly, ridiculously good that you wouldn’t know it is 100% raw, organic, dairy free, sugar free and gluten free; suitable for coeliac sufferers and vegans alike. The smooth texture is mousse-like and most definitely naughty in flavour.
I have to admit to taking my inspiration from The Raw Kitchen at the Fremantle Markets a few weeks ago. I brought a piece of their chocolate cheesecake home with me and tasted it over slow hours, lovingly rolling the melting mouthfuls over tantalised tastebuds. This creation is not exactly the same — but I still think it’s pretty awesome, just quietly.
You may have heard the term ‘red velvet’ before as a reference to the colour created by using chocolate and beetroot together; this cherry pairing with chocolate creates a mouthwatering flavour and unctuous texture that will leave you wanting more.
Recipe #101: Velvet chocolate cheesecake. Yields ~12 slices, depending on how generous you are feeling. Created in conjunction with Mac, my Thermomix, however you could equally use a food processor. All of my featured ingredients are raw and organic.
You will need — for the base:
► 6 dates
► 50g blanched almonds, finely ground into meal [or you could use almond meal to start with]
► 70g Brazil nuts [aside: just eating two Brazil nuts per day can boost levels of selenium and general health!]
► 50g walnuts
► 40g hazelnuts
► 50g shredded coconut
► 15g raw cacao powder
► 25g honey [note that I would ordinarily use agave syrup here, except that I was running low. Just remember that using honey = not vegan-friendly]
► 15g maple syrup
► good pinch of salt
► macadamia oil (may not be needed)
You will need — for the filling (all ingredients at room temperature):
► 100g coconut oil/butter
► 2½ cups cashews, soaked in cold water overnight
► 120g agave syrup
► 380g cherries and their syrup, pitted [I used a jar of organic cherries in their juice, available from a good organic grocer. You could also use frozen cherries; there should be jars of morello cherries available from your local supermarket if all else fails]
► 125g cacao powder
► seeds of 1 vanilla bean
► good pinch of salt
You will need – to serve:
► maple syrup
Start by lining the base of a 20cm round spring-loaded cake tin with baking paper.
To make the base, process the dates finely and add the almond meal. Add the rest of the nuts and process until you have a mix resembling large crumbs; try not to overprocess, as texture variation in the base is a good thing here! If you have a Thermomix, you can stir through the remaining ingredients on ‘speed soft’ set to 2 or 3; for food processor users, remove the nut and date mix and stir through the remaining ingredients by hand.
Take a little of the mixture in your hand and press it firmly together by making a fist around the mix. It should clump together.
> If it doesn’t stick together, at least loosely, add a swirl of macadamia oil (or another mild-flavoured oil) to the mixture and mix well.
Press the base mixture into the prepared cake tin, ensuring that the mixture forms a wall at least partway up the side of the tin. Chill this while you make the filling.
For the filling, heat the coconut oil to liquefy it. You can do this in your Thermomix at speed 2, 37°C, for 2-3 minutes or you can use a saucepan over a hotplate.
Add the soaked (and strained) cashews to the coconut oil and process until fine [Thermomix — speed 10 for up to a minute > ensure you do all of your processing at 37°C, or the coconut oil will start to solidify], then add all other ingredients and process on high speed until you can not see any more grainy bits (this takes 1-5 minutes in the Thermomix, depending on the consistency you like).
> If you find your mixture is not processing well, add a splash of cold water to the mix.
I strained the mixture through a fine chinois (very fine sieve) for an ultrafine texture, but you don’t have to do this.
Remove the base from the fridge and pour over the mixture. Use a spatula and a few good taps against a table to level the top of the cake, then chill for at least 2 hours (or an hour in the freezer). Best results come after 4 hours of chill time.
To serve, I steeped some extra cherries in maple syrup, which I blobbed over generous slices of the cake. You could equally use your favourite fresh or frozen berries instead.
We were listening to Beady Belle as we indulged.
I hope you enjoy this just as much as my dinner guests did last Monday night!
Addendum of 2 August 2010: I added a note about the use of honey in the base. Although I think the flavour works well, you may need to use another sweetener, such as agave syrup, if you are planning on serving this dessert to someone on a strictly vegan diet.