Rich, creamy and full of flavor — this dairy-free, raw cheesecake is made with fermented cashews instead of cream cheese. Make it either using fresh lime juice or lemon juice for a refreshingly tangy cheesecake.
BEFORE YOU START: If you have not already, be sure to soak the cashews for the filling. If you are fermenting the cashews, you will need to start a couple of days ahead. See step 3 for how to naturally ferment the cashews.
Note: Instead of almonds, other nuts such as walnuts can be used and/or they can be mixed 50/50. Macadamia nuts can also be added for extra richness. In this case, use only about 3/4 cup of macadamia nuts with the other nuts as they are quite rich and contain more oils.
Combine the almonds (or nuts of choice), vanilla and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until the mixture until it is finely ground and meal-like.
Slowly add the dates a bit at a time, pulsing to make a tight mixture that holds together.
Note, the mixture should just hold together when pressed with your fingers. If the mixture seems a bit too dry, add another date or two. If the mixture seems a bit too wet, add a few more nuts.
Once ready, press the mixture into the bottom of whichever pan(s) you are using — a 9 1/2-inch springform or an individual cheesecake pan (the pans shown in the picture have removable bottoms).
Alternatively, for a cheesecake that will look a bit more rustic, you could use smaller ramekins or muffin tins. In this case, line the ramekins or tins with two strips of parchment in the form of an X and then place a circle of parchment on top of the X — these “tabs” will make removing the cheesecake easier later.
Place the pan(s) into the refrigerator or freezer while you make the filing.
For the cashews, soak overnight in double the amount of water. To ferment the cashews, rinse them the next day and then cover again with double the amount of water and let sit at room temperature to ferment for another 24 hours. When done, the cashews should have a slight tang to them.
*Note: For this particular recipe fresh homemade Almond Milk was used, which will produce a creamy, richer finished product than if using store-bought. Also note that the ratio of nuts for the home-made almond milk was 1 1/4 cups nuts to 3 cups water.
Also note that instead of the almond milk blended fresh fruit can be used instead to create another cheesecake variation.
**Lecithin can be found in many health food and some specialty grocery store. Liquid or powder lecithin will work for this recipe. Be sure to buy organic.
Combine the nuts, almond milk, lime juice, agave, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until very smooth.
At this point, make sure you have your pan(s) ready to be filled — before adding the coconut oil and lecithin.
Note: Because measuring can sometimes vary, depending on measuring cups used, the person etc. The amount of coconut may need to be increased. Before adding the lecithin and coconut oil, check to see how much filling you have — if there is over 6 cups of filling, you will need to increase the amount of coconut oil to 1 cup (instead of the initial 3/4 cup).
Next, add the lecithin and coconut oil to the nut mixture and process until very well blended. If adding zest, add at the very end and just pulse once or twice to incorporate. Note that this will add little flecks of zest throughout the cheesecake, which you may or may not want.
Immediately pour the cheesecake mixture into the pan(s) and transfer to the refrigerator or freezer for an hour or two, or until fully set and firm.
If you have made a large cheesecake, slice and serve individual pieces. If you have made mini- cheesecakes, remove them from the pan and serve. Serve the cheesecake(s) plain or top with a dollop of coconut whipped cream and garnish with a bit of fresh zest, if desired.