Almost Raw Apricot Bourbon Cheesecake (GF + V)
Today my kitchen is: Coffee grounds. A pan still warm from cooking eggs. An empty wine bottle. Postcards and olive oil bottles and folded cream burlap. Wilting flowers in a glass vase. Water glasses in many colors collected together. Jars of almond butter. Art prints spread out on a pile of throw-away pillows on top of a pile of shelves we've just discovered we can't hang. A piece of yarn from one of Angels knitting projects. A tiny jar stuffed with protruding black feathers. Cloudy light, rain going tip pitter pit pat against the roof and the grass outside. All manner of bird chirps and clacks and shweewoos shweewoos. The tiniest praying mantis on the windowsill, I'm sure trying to figure out "where to next?
I like the way the world slows and resets in the rain. I like the water in the air and watching the ripening green fruit on my cherry tree bob as water droplets shift from the top leaves slowly down to the bottom leaves. I like a piece of this cheesecake, eaten slowly, bite-by-bite whilst still in my pajamas (there she goes eating dessert for second breakfast again...).
The phrase "vegan cheesecake" is just about as ridiculous to say as "100% hemp bison." It's not an oxymoron, but it doesn't make any sense. If there's no cheese in cheesecake, is it cheesecake? I think we would all agree: no, no it isn't. But I folded bourbon-, honey-, and St. Germaine-soaked chopped apricots into a creamy vanilla-cashew-apricot base. Then I spread that over a nutty-sweet sunflower seed crust. And barring calling it semifreddo or ice cream cake or unicorn food, cheesecake is the closest equivalent in flavor and texture and, well, overall experience.
Also, sunflower seed crusts are the new black, you guys. Partly because it's a new way to spin a press-in-crust and partly because it's cheap as hell with tons of heady nutrition. I just said heady and I stand by it.
So boozy fruit is awesome regardless of context, but lemme just tell ya: it makes a hell of a difference in frozen treats. The addition of alcohol keeps the fruit in the cheesecake base from hard-freezing. Your teeth and your mouth will thank you with each pleasant bite.
- The Crust
- 2 cups sunflower seeds, roasted and unsalted
- 2/3 cup almond meal
- 4 tablespoons cold pressed coconut oil
- 4-6 medjool dates, pitted
- pinch Celtic sea salt
- The Filling
- 10-12 medjool dates, pitted
- 2 cups raw cashews
- hot water
- 2 cups fresh apricots, pitted and chopped roughly (about 10-12 small apricots) + 5-6 more apricots, pitted and quartered, to top
- 1 tablespoon St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
- 1 tablespoon best quality bourbon whiskey
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 3 tbsp raw honey
- 3 tbsp cold pressed coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped of its seeds
- *optional: mulberries or another dark purple berry, to garnish + whole raw cashews, to garnish
- Line a 9" spring form pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a Cuisinart or high powered food processor, combine the sunflower seeds, almond meal, and coconut oil. Blend up to 1 minute, or until the mix becomes sandy and soft. Add the dates and sea salt and combine once more until your mix becomes a pliable dough.
- Empty the contents of the food processor out into the parchment lined spring form pan. Press the crust evenly into the bottom of the pan.
- Combine the pitted dates and cashews in a large mixing bowl. Add enough hot water to the bowl to cover everything. Let sit for 30 minutes, then drain. (To go more "raw" you could also soak the dates and cashews together overnight, then drain.)
- In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup chopped apricots, Elderflower liqueur, bourbon, and honey. Let set together at least 30 minutes.
- Add the cashews and dates to the bowl of a Cuisinart or high powered food processor fitted with an S blade. Add the honey, coconut oil, and vanilla and process until the mix is creamy and smooth, 2-5 minutes.
- Add 1 cup chopped apricots to the bowl of the blender and blend once again until smooth.
- Scrape the cashew cheesecake filling out into a large mixing bowl and stir in the boozy chopped apricots (pour in all of the honeyed liquor at the bottom of the bowl as well). Mix until well incorporated.
- Pour the filling over the sunflower crust, spreading it out evenly with a silicon spatula or spoon. Smooth the top of the cheesecake as you like, then freeze at least 6 hours up to overnight. If the cheesecake is hard-frozen let thaw 20 minutes before serving.
- Top the cheesecake with the pitted and quartered apricots, mulberries or any other berry you like (optional), and more cashews. Enjoy!