Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake aka Creamed Walnut and Strawberry Tart

Creamed Walnut and Strawberry Tart

Since trying to follow a ‘vegan at home diet’, gone are the sumptuous cakes, cookies and wonderful pies that I've been known for.  Now, I only bake those forbidden items when one of our boys comes home, or any other time that I arbitrarily determine might warrant a celebration.  In all honesty, I already tried to eliminate high calorie desserts from our diet anyway, before we started the ‘vegan at home’ kick. But, I still have not lost my sweet tooth and I’m always looking for a good dessert: enter the ‘Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake’.
I will have to say that I take exception to the idea that this dessert is, in fact, a ‘cheesecake’.  In my mind, it is not.  A cheesecake is first and foremost, made with cheese, and the vegan cheesecake is not. 
I made this dessert recently when we were fortunate enough to have our youngest son home.  We had already celebrated his arrival home with a delicious layer cake (not vegan) and once that was gone, I thought about trying this recipe. 
While serving this to my tasting partner and son, I commented that this was NOT a cheesecake and while vegan aficionados might call it a cheesecake, I would not.  Our thoughtful son stated that by calling it a ‘cheesecake’ the vegan aficionados would understand what the recipe might yield- a crunchy crust with a creamy layer topped with a fruit layer.  Having just been selected to Law Review, he makes a valid and diplomatic point.  My tasting partner said he would not argue with me about anything food related and I could call it what I liked (smart move). I choose to call this a “Creamed Walnut and Strawberry Tart”. 
This tart is quite tasty and filling and my tasting partner and I both gave it two thumbs up. It does require some preparation time: soaking the walnuts for at least 3 hours and preferably longer. 

recipe after the jump

 Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake aka Creamed Walnut and Strawberry Tart

Serves 12

For the crust:
1 1/2 cup raw almonds
Pinch sea salt (or table salt)
2 cups pitted medjool dates

For the filling:
3 cups cashews
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cups melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey (or agave nectar if one is completely vegan)

1 cup strawberries

1. Soak the cashews in water overnight or for three or more hours. Drain them of water and set aside.

2. Place the almonds and sea salt in a food processor and grind roughly. Add the dates and process until the mixture is uniform and sticks together when you squeeze a bit in the palm your hand. Press mixture evenly onto the bottom of a 9” spring form pan.

3. Use a food processor (or if you have a high speed, expensive blender that might be better) to blend all filling ingredients except for the strawberries, until silky smooth.  You may need to stop often to scrape it down.

4. Spoon just more than half of the filling mixture into the spring form pan. Use an inverted spatula to smooth it over. Transfer to the fridge for thirty minutes or more to let this layer set.

5. Blend the strawberries into the remaining filling mixture. Set it aside in a bowl while the first layer is setting. Once the first layer has been in the fridge for thirty minutes or longer, spread the strawberry layer over the plain vanilla layer. Transfer whole cheesecake to the fridge and let it sit for two hours or longer before slicing and serving.

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