Berry and Lemon Cheesecakes

This colorful raw dessert will brighten any brunch.
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Unbaked vegan cheesecakes mimic the taste and texture of conventional cheesecakes as the filling is made by blending nuts and liquids in a high-powered blender. In these cheesecakes, the berries have a subtle natural sweetness that is brought out by the tartness of lemon. Plus, the berries impart a gorgeous color! I reduced the berries on the stovetop to bring out their subtle flavor and to evaporate any water (to prevent the cheesecakes from crystallizing if you store them in the freeze.

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Ingredients

Base

  • 1 cup (160 g) almonds
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) pitted dates, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Cheesecake Layers

  • 1 cup (about 150 g) fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, or berries of choice
  • 2½ cups (325 g) cashews, soaked in water for at least 4 hours
  • 1 cup (240 ml) coconut cream, canned and only the thick white part at the top of the can 
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) + 2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted cacao butter, divided
  • 1/4-1/2 cup (100-200 g) rice malt or maple syrup, or any other plant-based liquid sweetener to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice and the zest of those lemons 
  • Dash of vanilla Extract
  • Pinch of tumeric

Preparation

1. To make the base: Process the almonds in a food processor until they form small crumbs. Drain the dates and add them to the food processor with the cinnamon and salt. Process until the mixture comes together. Press the mixture in the bases of cupcake silicon molds and set aside.

2. To prepare the berry puree: Add the berries to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil while stirring for 5 minutes, or until all the berries break down and most of the berry juice evaporates. Set aside.

3. To make the cheesecake filling: Drain the cashews. Add them to a high-powered blender with the coconut cream, coconut oil, ⅓ cup (75 ml) of cacao butter, sweetener, and salt. Divide the mixture between 2 bowls. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, and turmeric to one bowl, and mix. Spoon the lemon cheesecake into the cupcake molds, filling each halfway. Put the molds in the freezer and the remaining lemon cheesecake mixture in the fridge.

4. Add the berry puree and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) to the remaining plain cheesecake mixture, and puree with a stick blender or a stand blender until smooth. When the lemon cheesecake mixture in the molds is dry to the touch, fill the molds with the berry cheesecake. Return the molds to the freezer and put the remaining berry cheese-cake in the fridge.

5. When the cheesecake surface is firm to the touch and the sides can be squeezed without resistance, carefully remove them from the silicone molds.

6. To decorate: When the leftover cheesecake mixture has firmed up, it can be used for piping. The mixture should be the consistency of thick buttercream. If it is too runny, let it set in the fridge for longer. If it is too firm, let it soften at room temperature. The mixture needs to be very smooth to be piped. Put the cheesecake mixture in a piping bag and decorate cupcakes as desired.

7. The cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

TIP: If you prefer fully raw cheesecakes, reduce your berries in a dehydrator. Dehydrate them at 115°F (45°C) for 6 to 8 hours, or until they reach a jam-like consistency.

Excerpted from Incredible Plant-Based Desserts by Anthea Cheng. Quarry Books. 2019. Reprinted with permission.

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