Today’s recipe was presented to me as a challenge. I received an email asking if I could create an apricot and chocolate cheesecake that was nut-free. It came at the perfect time because were going to be celebrating my husband’s birthday with a few friends and I thought I could
test share this wonderful dessert with them. :)
I also welcomed this challenge because I have been working more and more towards creating recipes without nuts. Nut allergies are becoming the new gluten! Kind of scary actually. But even I have to watch my intake of nuts so the timing was perfect.
When creating raw cheesecake desserts there are two main things to focus on, texture and firmness. You want a creamy mouth-feel, and you want the cheesecake to stand up on its own. So, with those two factors in mind, I got busy. One other small issue was that fresh apricots are not season this time of year so I had to rely on dried apricots. I used Turkish apricots and made sure that they didn’t have any ingredients other than apricot in them! The trick was to soak them for a few hours to really soften them up so I could create a smooth puree.
The flavor of an apricot manages to uniquely combine peach-like-sweet with tang. They are high in beta carotene and lycopene, and are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. A great “side effect” to my overall recipe. Pairing apricot with chocolate, is about as incredible as it comes. But then, I guess in reality, what doesn’t pair well with chocolate!? Books have been written on the health benefits of raw cacao (chocolate) so I won’t even begin to try to share all of it with you but did you know that cacao is the highest whole food source of magnesium, which also happens to be the most deficient mineral in the diet of modern cultures? Magnesium relaxes muscles, improves peristalsis in the bowels and relaxes the heart and cardiovascular system.
The third main ingredient that I used in this recipe is coconut and I used it in many forms. Coconut oil, Young Thai Coconut flesh and coconut flakes! You can read here for an inside snippet on the health properties to coconut if you wish. The coconut flesh helps give a creamy texture to this cake and the oil, which hardens at 76 degrees or lower, gives us that firmness when chilled.
So, last night we shared this cheesecake with many of our friends and needless to say, no leftovers came home with us. That is always a good sign. As I watched people enjoy the cheesecake, savoring each bit, I felt good knowing that they were eating something that was so good for them and the sneaky part is, is that they weren’t even aware of it. As I shared with one gal the ingredient list, she sat back in awe. She turned to me and said, “You mean I don’t have to feel guilty for eating this?” Allthough that caused a chuckle to rise in my throat it also made me aware that we should never have to feel guilty about the foods we eat. That little comment once again confirmed that I am on the right track of creating and sharing these recipes with others… hoping one day they will take over the world!!! Healthy food that is! hehe
Ingredients: yields 9″ Springform pan
- 3 cups (248 g) organic coconut, unsweetened, shredded
- 8 (90 g) moist medjool dates, pitted
- 3 Tbsp (42 g) coconut oil
- 1/2 cup (62 g) flax meal, (ground flax seeds)
- 1/4 cup (20g) raw cacao powder
- 2 tsp (2 g) ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp (2 g) sea salt
- 3 Tbsp (64 g) raw agave nectar
- 2 Tbsp (30 g) water
- 2 cups (260 g) dried apricots
- 2 cups hot water (soaking water for apriocots )
- 2 cups (316g) Young Thai Coconut meat
- 1/2 cup (168 g) raw agave nectar
- 3 Tbsp (60 g ) lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp (2 g) sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups (254 g) raw coconut oil, warmed to liquid
- 3 Tbsp (20 g ) lecithin powder
- 5 Tbsp (1 oz) cacao powder
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- Prepare the Springform pan. Wrap the base with plastic wrap and snap the base into the ring. This will make it easier to remove when for slicing and serving.
- Combine the coconut, dates, oil, flax meal, cacao, cinnamon, salt, agave and water in the food processor, fitted the the “S” blade. Pulse until the batter sticks together.
- Evenly sprinkle the crust batter over the base of the pan. Then firmly and evenly press the crust down. I used a large spatula to get really clean edges. See photo below.
- Place the crust in the freezer while you create the filling.
- Soak the dried apricots in 2 cups of hot water for 1+ hours. The softer they are, the easier they will blend to a creamy texture.
- After the apricots are done soaking, place then in a high-powered blender along with the soak water. Blend until creamy.
- Add the coconut meat, agave, lemon juice, and salt. Blend till creamy.
- Drizzle in the melted coconut oil while the blender is running. Make sure you have a vortex happening so it will draw the oil in which makes for an even mixture. Once that is incorporated, add the lecithin and blend until combined.
- Pour all but 2 cups of the batter into the Springform pan. Tap the pan on the counter top to bring any bubbles to the surface. Do this on a towel to save your ears.
- Add the cacao and vanilla to the 2 remaining cups of batter that are still in the blender. Process until well mixed.
- Pour 4-5 large puddles of the chocolate batter around the pan, on top of the other batter.
- Drag a skewer stick around and through the batter, drawing the colors into each other. Be careful that you don’t dig in to deep and disrupt the crust.
- Place in the fridge for 4-6 hours to firm up or place in the freezer for 2-4 hours. This cheesecake can be served chilled or frozen. To remove from the pan use warm knife (run it under the hot tap for a second) and run it around the inside of the loosened band.
- This cheesecake will last for 4 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.
- For clean cuts between slices, cut the cheesecake when frozen. Also use a hot knife, wiping the blade inbetween each cut. Also if you cut the cheesecake into smaller slivers it will help with portion control. Those who are not used to raw desserts often dish up way to much not realizing how rich they are.
- This cheesecake can be served frozen or chilled. I ran a test on one slice and it stayed firm well into the 4th hour of being on the table, of course half of it was missing by then. (haha) The room tempature was roughly 68 (F) or 20 (c) (for my foreign friends).
- For decorations, if you feel the need… drizzle chocolate ganache over it and/or place edible flowers on top.
- Keep the cheesecake leftovers in the fridge or freezer.
In the photo above, I wanted to show you how the lecithin I used looks. The pile on the right is granulated lecithin,
this is how you will get it from the store. I then grind it in my Bullet or spice grinder to a finer powder, as shown on the left.
Tricks for making the crust: First wrap the base with plastic wrap. This helps when tranferring the pie
to a plate or cake stand. Next, I use this large spatula to press the crust down firmly and evenly. Then using
the rounded edges I clean up the edges of the crust so it is nice and smooth. This may not seem like such a big deal
because we pour the batter over it but when you remove the ring and cut your slices, the evenness of the crust will show.
Swirled and ready to be frozen or chilled!
Before I let you go… I just wanted to share a little “blender cleaning trick” with you.
Below is what my blender looked like after making the chocolate ganache. Lushious
tid-bits of frosting left in the corners! We can’t have that!
To remedy this, just pour some nut milk into the blender and blend for about 20 seconds.
The end result… a scrumptious, rewarding glass of raw chocolate milk!