Almost Raw Vegan Cheesecake Cups with Berry Chia Jam
My kitchen is home to dreams. I like to watch the way the light changes the color of things from morning’s fae blue to afternoon’s yolk yellow and then evening's purples like smashed blackberries. This little room with its gas range, long wood chopping block and seasonal swarm of ants — this is my canvas. In here I whip my visions into life like peaking meringues. I watch well formed plans shatter. I watch barely formed strategies flourish. In the Summer I settle into its clutching heat. In the Winter, I blearily wander through it like a sweater clad beastie in sock feet. Cold coffee. Hot coffee. Buckets of tea. Piles of journals. So many food scraps to feed the compost pile. My brain teems with millions of little thought sprouts in this space. The really worthy ideas take root, leaf out and take on a life of their own.
This raw vegan cheesecake is one such sparkle thought. It started out as a chia jam and coconut yogurt cup (still a good idea). But after one trial of that I decided it would be much more wonderful and delicious as a cheesecake cup — with layers of date-sweetened toasted cashew butter, tangy berry chia jam, and great fluffy mountains of this immensely dreamy vegan cheesecake filling. I WAS RIGHT.
Incidentally, Logan invited over some of our friends for coffee on the morning I styled and shot this recipe. They freaking LOVED these lil dessert cups. They’re not special-diets oriented, really. So it was an awesome confirmation that yes indeed these taste awesome to everyone.
Almost Raw Vegan Cheesecake Cups
This cheesecake is creamy, luscious and light. The berry jam balances out all of the sweet creaminess with the perfect amount of punchiness. Lemon zest and cardamom add a touch of Scandinavian femininity. The toasted cashew crust has a caramel-like depth and a bit of toothsome grit, to play against the smooth character of the jam and cheesecake cream. As you guys probably know by now, I like to play with balance in my dishes and desserts. I think marrying opposites creates delicious intrigue and glamour. Crunchy hangs out with creamy. Delicate rubs elbows with punchy. Sweet smokes a blunt with savory. It’s all good.
Now, I know when you look at this recipe you're going be like WOAH that's a lot of steps. But, really, it's very simple. The only things you cook are the jam -- for 10 mins -- and the toasted cashews -- for 6 mins. Everything otherwise is blended + cooled. Then you layer it together.
The minimum chilling time for the cheesecake cream is 3 hours. So you might want to make that ahead. I wanted to pipe my cheesecake cream into fancy swirls so I chilled it overnight and then stuffed it into a piping bag fitted with a swirly tip. Then I got my swirly vibe on. It's very fancy looking, but not necessary. Do as you like. Just make sure you get a big ol' spoonful with a bit of each layer for your first bite. HEAVENLY.
I used frozen strawberries for the jam in the cheesecake cup pictured. You can use any berry you like, but raspberries and strawberries I think are particularly good. Use your fav berry and tell me how you like it!
If you make these raw vegan cheesecake cups, leave me a comment! I LOVE to hear feedback and touch base with you guys. Feel free to tag anything you make from the blog with #willfrolicforfood if you post to Instagram or Twitter! xo -- Renee
- Cheesecake Cream
- 1/2 cup cashew pieces
- 1 cup coconut cream (scooped from the top of a chilled can of full fat coconut milk)
- 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- optional: contents of 2 probiotic capsules, caps discarded
- Toasted Cashew Crust
- 1 cup cashew pieces
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3-4 fresh pitted medjool dates
- pinch Celtic sea salt
- Chia Jam
- 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, raspberries or blueberries (as you like)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon chia
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup + more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest + 1/2 teaspoon more to garnish
- fresh mint leaves, to garnish
- handful fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, as you like)
- In the bowl of a high powered blender, combine the cheesecake ingredients: cashew pieces, coconut cream, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and the contents of 2 probiotic capsules. Blend on high until totally creamy and emulsified, scraping down the sides of your blender and continuing to blend as you need. A high powered blender like a vitamix or nutribullet does this in about 30 seconds. Scrape the cheesecake filling out of the blender cup into a bowl with a lid and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours up to overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread 1 cup cashews out on a baking sheet evenly. Toast for 6-8 minutes, keeping a close eye on the nuts to make sure they don't burn. Once toasted, remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Add the cashews, coconut oil, dates and sea salt to the bowl of a high powered blender. Pulse to blend until the dates are incorporated into the cashews, but stop short of blending into a butter. You want a little bit of texture and grit so it feels more like a graham cracker crust. Scrape the "crust" from the bowl of the blender into a bowl and set aside.
- Combine the fruit and water in a small saucepan and cook on low heat until the fruit has softened, 5-10 minutes. Add the chia, vanilla, cardamom, lemon juice, maple syrup (to taste) and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Stir everything together, smashing the fruit into the mix as needed until it's loosely macerated. Cut off the heat. Let the mixture set for 10 minutes, then pour into a glass container, cover and cool.
- Fill 2-3 cups with toasted cashew "crust," then a layer of cheesecake cream, a sprinkle of lemon zest, berries, then jam, another layer of cheesecake cream, more lemon zest and berries to top. Garnish with mint. Enjoy chilled. Dig in!