Cashews are by far one of the most versatile foods in the vegan kitchen. They are used in so many of the recipes that my wife and I use. They are the base for our vegan parmesan cheese, we use them to make salad dressings, we use them to make cream sauces, and today I am using them to make a vegan cheesecake.
And not just any vegan cheesecake, but a tri-color one made with fresh cranberries, mango, and apricots we harvested from our own trees last summer and stored in our freezer. Here’s how I made it.
For the Crust:
- 1 cup roasted almonds
- 1 cup tightly packed dates, seeded
Place both ingredients in a food processor and blend until no large pieces remain, just small bits. Test the mix by pressing a small amount between your fingers. If dry, add more dates. If wet, add more almonds.
Next, lightly grease a ceramic pie dish with coconut or avocado oil. Pour the almond and date mixture into the dish and press into place with your hands. Set aside.
For the Filling:
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces, soaked in hot water for 1 hour
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 cup coconut cream (use just the fat for a creamier texture)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- approx. 1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh cranberries
- approx. 1/2 to 2/3 cup mango, fresh or frozen
- approx. 2/3 to 3/4 cup apricots, about 1 1/2 fresh
Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend on low until well combined, then turn on high and let run for 1-2 minutes or until creamy. Separate the cream into three equal amounts. It should be approx. 7 ounces per 1/3rd of the mixture.
Return 1/3rd of the mixture to the blender and add the mango. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as needed.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl, removing as much as you can. Then add another 1/3rd of the cashew blend along with the apricots and blend that until smooth. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.
Again, scrape this mixture into a bowl and set aside. Repeat with the final 1/3rd of the mixture and the cranberries. Blend until smooth, then taste and adjust as needed. This final mixture should be slightly tart, as the sweeter flavors of the other two will offset it.
Next, decide which layer will be first. Pour that mix onto the crust and spread it to make it smooth. Set aside on the counter at room temperature for a few minutes to allow any air bubbles to surface.
Tap the ceramic dish a few times to pop the air bubbles, then set the dish in the freezer for 10 minutes to pre-set this layer. Choose your next layer and repeat this process, again putting the dish back in the freezer for 10 minutes to pre-set the second layer.
Repeat with the final layer, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 4-6 hours to set. Once set, you can serve frozen, or place in the refrigerator for an hour or so to let soften before serving. Decorate with some extra cranberries and a sprig of mint. (more pictures coming soon!)