It's clear i've got deadline and a stack of work to do by the amount of distracting food creations i'm making. This week has been brought to you by the letter C for cashew, which like its other C word counterpart, Cauliflower, is the great pretender when it comes imitating other foods. In an attempt to keep my intake largely plant based, i've been playing with options for cheese.
The world of vegan cheese barely existed a couple of years ago. Since the rise of interest in plant based diets, and the new world of experimental chefs who have broken every rule there is when it comes to transforming food into unlikely textures, a real effort is not being made to make delicious cheese alternatives, with some significant success. Even the vegan cheddar cheese slices available at my regional supermarket are very palatable and on a burger, just like the real thing.
I wasn't banging out a brie or smoked gouda yesterday, simply a soft cashew cheese with fresh herbs much like a goats curd log and the subject of this journal, a raw vegan cheesecake. The fresh cashew cheese would have been the subject of its own journal entry, except it was so delicious that before it could be photographed, we ate it all.
The raw cashew cheesecake relies on soaked raw cashews to give a creamy texture, our old friend coconut oil for that rich mouthfeel, and the ever popular caramel to just be, well, insanely delicious. The great thing about this dessert is that it is gluten and dairy free, and uses good sugars in limited quantity. Yes, its still a treat, and not to be eaten solo in one sitting, but lets imagine that we are responsible adults and it will serve 8.
Base: Blend the base ingredients in a sturdy blender, roughly chop the dates first, the texture should be crumbly, sticky and hold together when pinched. Line a small springform baking tin with baking paper and press the base in with you hands until it is smooth and tightly packed. Pop this in the freezer.
Caramel: combine ingredients and bring a boil stirring madly, when a nice caramel consistency is reached, put to one side.
Filling: Blend all ingredients together until they are smooth and creamy, scraping the bowl down regularly.
Place filling on top of crust, then swirl about 3T of the caramel topping on, save the remainder to garnish or eat from the pan with a spoon. Cover and freeze overnight, release from pan and keep in freezer until you are ready to serve. Let thaw a little so you can cut with ease, this is delicious eaten frozen too. Serve with caramel sauce and a little whipped coconut cream if desired, or just go nuts on it as it is.
Dr Polly McGee is one part writer, and many parts assorted thinker, do-er, talker, eater, chef, explorer, yogi, kirtaneer and dog wrangler. She has worked in kitchens, bars and restaurants from frantic to fancy, managed multi-million dollar innovation grants programs, advised hundreds of start-ups on how to refine their business ideas and source funding, and championed causes from a variety of soapboxes, lecterns and stages. She is currently the Strategic Marketing Lead for Global Edtech Startup Prosper Education. Her new book, The Good Hustle, is coming out in February 2018