If you’ve never tried a raw dessert, these Caramel Apple Cheesecakes are a perfect intro (especially on an autumn day).
Raw food ‘cooking’ and I got off to an awkward, if memorable, start. I was already intrigued by the concept, and had sampled and loved quite a few raw dishes at some of my favorite vegan restaurants that featured raw cuisine (like Caravan of Dreams) when I was living in NYC (and was still a committed vegetarian). Later, having relocated to Connecticut, when I saw that a local cooking school was offering a whole series on raw cuisine, I jumped at the chance immediately, securing my slot well in advance.
By the time the class rolled around, I was newly pregnant and in the throes of so-called morning sickness. For me, like so many other moms, this was really more like feeling intensely carsick 24 hours a day (if ONLY it were limited to morning). Very little food sounded appetizing at all, the least of which was vegetables – normally something I loved and thrived upon. I still attended the class, never one to let money or learning opportunities go to waste, so although Lily was only about the size of a peppercorn at the time, she prevented me from tasting more than a few perfunctory nibbles of everything we created. Drat!
But first trimesters pass in the blink of an eye, and soon enough I was able to make the items I had missed out on at home, thanks to the booklet our instructor had given out. Though living exclusively or even primarily on raw foods doesn’t work for me, I appreciate many of the benefits: how nutrient-dense it is, how it’s naturally dairy-free (and much of it is quite paleo-compatible, actually, if you’re including it in balance).
It’s especially great for having the occasional dessert treat – hence this creation. With the seasonal shift well underway, I was starting to crave some caramelly, cinnamon apple flavors. A bit of experimentation led to this! It takes a bit of prep and assembly, but the effort is totally worthwhile. Multiple household members reported back with enthusiastic reviews. (Then again, none of us are pregnant. Proceed with caution if you are.)
- 1 cup raw pecans
- ½ cup Medjool dates, pitted (you're using more dates below, so add them all up when planning)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 apple, diced (honeycrisp are my current faves)
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight (use about 4 cups water)
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup melted virgin coconut oil (more coconut oil in sauce below; add to your total)
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (again, you're using more below)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- CARAMEL SAUCE:
- 10 Medjool dates, pitted
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- about ½ cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Let's make the crust and streusel! Combine the pecans, the first batch of dates, the cinnamon and the sea salt in your food processor. Pulse until the mixture takes on a dense sandy texture. Press about 1½ to 2 tablespoons (depending on the size of your containers) firmly into the bottom of your 6 containers (small mason jars, parfait dishes, whatever you like). Toss the rest of the pecan/date mixture together with the diced apple and set aside.
- On to the cheesecake! It's as straightforward as can be. Drain those cashews and rinse 'em. Place them and all the ingredients under "Cheesecake" above (the coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, salt) into a high speed blender and blend until very, very smooth. Spoon into your parfait dishes, dividing it evenly, and set aside.
- Speaking of: Blend all the remaining ingredients for the caramel sauce, until (again) very smooth.
- Now all we do is layer the remaining components! Spoon or pour some of the caramel sauce over the cheesecake layers. Loosely crumble the pecan/apple streusel over than, and then top with more caramel sauce - I put it in a ziploc bag and piped it out.
- Chill for an hour or so and serve.
— posted by Anne