Strawberry Cheese{free}cake

February 26th, 2012  |  Cakes & Cupcakes, Free of Gluten, Fruit, Sweets  |  5 Comments

I have a seriously hard time believing that a dessert without any sugar, butter, flour, eggs or cream can be worth the effort to even bother to take a bite.  And the side note to any recipe--especially desserts--that says "Vegan" most certainly guarantees my cold shoulder.

Then, the other day, at my first "cookbook club" meeting, my friend Heather presented this strawberry coconut dessert to us and said there was nary granule of sugar... and it was "healthy".

A healthy dessert?  Blah.  Why even bother?

I had some serious druthers about it as I sat and looked on while the others dove in....then I finally gave in and tried it.  Holy crapshoot--it was freakin' awesome!  I couldn't stop eating it, nor could the other club members.  We immediately requested the recipe and my other friend made it for me {and I'm sure herself} two days later.  It was so coconutty and refreshing and light and simply fabulous!   I've spent more time daydreaming about that dessert in the last two weeks than I have about getting into my old size 27 jeans over the last six months!  It was truly divine.

So when I saw this beautiful photo on Pinterest of a raspberry cheesecake made with cashews, lemon juice and vanilla, I figured what the heck--why not give it a try?  If nothing else, it would at least be a pretty picture and was kinda-sorta similar to Heather's dessert.  I did not for one second believe, however, that it was going to taste like cheesecake.  No sugar, no cream cheese, no sour cream, no eggs....there was no way,  but I proceeded.....skeptically.

Ok, I was soooo wrong.  There, I said it.  I was WRONG.

It was magical tasting!  When I first dipped my finger into the "batter" I could NOT believe that it wasn't cheesecake!!!!  I had to try it {over and over} again to be sure my tastebuds were working properly.  Ahhhh!  It was sooo creamy, lemony, vanilla-y.  Just simply wonderful--and the crust was fabulous as well....simply a mixture of toasted pecans, dates, a little salt, and a dollop of coconut oil.  Yum!

I ended up switching out the raspberries in favor of strawberries [just in time for National Strawberry Day] and adding in the little extra coconut oil to the crust since I really can't get enough when it comes to coconut and that's what Heather used in her crust.

The best part of this dessert is that I was able to eat as much as I wanted to with very little guilt.  As I continue on my quest to drop 10 lbs {and get back into my 27s} before April 1, I will most definitely be making this again and you totally should too!

Recipe adapted from My New Roots

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup soft Medjool dates, pitted
¼ tsp. sea salt
1 tablespoon raw coconut oil

Filling:
1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked in water overnight {or at least 5 hours}
juice of 2 lemons-about 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract {or seeds of one vanilla bean pod, scraped}
1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
sliced strawberries for garnish

Directions:

 In a large food processor, process toasted pecans, dates, salt and coconut oil until mixture is coarsely chopped and evenly incorporated.  Press crust mixture evenly into a 7" springform pan; set aside.

Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan over low heat until coconut oil is melted.

In the most powerful blender or food processor you own, place softened cashews, lemon juice, vanilla and coconut oil/honey mixture and blend on high until very smooth.  I used my blender and blended for about two minutes.

Pour about 2/3 of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth it out with a spatula.

Add the strawberries to the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth.  Pour strawberry mixture onto the first layer of filling and smooth it out. Place cheesecake in the freezer until solid, at least 3 hours.

Remove cheesecake from freezer 30 minutes prior to serving.  Run a sharp knife under hot water and cut into {large} slices.   Top each slice with fresh strawberries and enjoy!  Keep any leftover cheesecake in the freezer.

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