A few years ago, as I first began to explore the exciting and creative world of raw foods, I realized that incredible things can be done with raw nuts, dried fruits, coconut oil, and vanilla. From cookies, to truffles, to tarts, there’s a way to create a raw, vegan version of almost any beloved sweet. Truth be told, I often enjoy the raw version even more -- if only because I’m impressed with the ingenuity that went into crafting a fabulous dessert without so much as whisking an egg, sifting a cup of flour, or turning on the stove.
There are a few key tricks to the perfect raw dessert. One is to soak and then blend soft, buttery nuts, like cashews or macadamias, to create a creamy base. Save the crunchier, heartier nuts, like almonds, walnuts, or pecans, for raw pie crusts or crumble toppings. And use coconut oil whenever possible; when blended with dried fruits or nuts, it creates a silky yet firm texture. Be sure to refrigerate your raw dessert before serving, since coconut oil won’t be solid above room temperature.
More: Turn raw cashews into a cream that enhances almost any dish, sweet or savory.
You can see all of these tricks of the trade on display in the following raw strawberry cheesecake. Cashews, lemon, and coconut oil create a decadent filling, while dates and almonds make up the simple crust. Blend fresh, seasonal berries into half of the filling mixture, and you have a beautiful, impressive, and no-bake dessert -- perfect for days when you can't bear to turn on the oven, and dinner parties where you're looking to impress your guests with a decadent vegan treat.
Raw Vegan Strawberry Vanilla Cheesecake
For the crust
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
Pinch sea salt
2 cups pitted medjool dates
For the filling
3 cups cashews
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cups melted coconut oil
1 vanilla bean, cut in half, seeds scraped out, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 cup strawberries
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.
Photos by James Ransom
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: Dessert in the Raw