Strawberry Cheesecake…

I mentioned last night that I was trying out a new idea for Friday Night Bites… I’m going to use the times when I don’t want to eat out to experiment in the kitchen making things that I wouldn’t normally make. I also dubbed my kitchen, Nikita’s Cafe.

Now I realize that the majority of my meals are experiments, there are few recipes that I make ‘all the time’… I get bored easily and even when I’m making an old favorite, I still change it up somehow. But the idea behind more experimentation is that it is something outside of my comfort zone or perhaps an attempt to replicate something I had at a restaurant… pretty much anything goes. Because as much as I like to experiment, I am still cautious in the kitchen, not wanting to waste food. I’m not in the club of ‘eating your mistakes’, if it’s awful, we don’t eat it, period. But that means that perhaps I don’t always spread my wings and just try out something ‘wild’.

By using the amount of money I would have spent on eating out as my budget, it gives me a bit of freedom that I didn’t really have before. And it also makes room for me to experiment on something that we don’t necessarily expect to eat that night. Which takes off some of the pressure to have it completed ‘on time’.

Luckily I had made minestrone the night before it it yielded enough soup to feed a small army, so we had dinner taken care of… so for Friday I decided to make dessert…

My inspiration was this little guy…

Do you remember when I bought that? It was awesome, and looking at the ingredients, I realized that I had everything on hand. My recent purchase of Ani Phyo’s cookbook (Raw Food Essentials) lent me a place to start. I have made Ani’s raw apple pie a few times and so I had the idea that that crust would work really well for my experiment. For the strawberry cheesecake portion, I decided to use Ani’s cashew kream and add strawberries to the mix.

What I did

crust

  1. First I soaked the nuts, 1 cup each of cashews, almonds, and walnuts (each in their own bowl), for about 4 hours. Then I drained and rinsed them. During the last hour or so, I took out a bag of frozen strawberries to thaw.

  2. Next I put the almonds,walnuts (cashews will be used in the kream), and a pinch of salt into the food processor. Here’s where I made a mistake… I should have let the nuts dry before attempting this, the food processor was seriously not liking the wet nuts and had a hard time processing them into small pieces. I did the best I could.
  3. Then I tried to add a few dates… my dates are a bit old so they were a bit dry and put the food processor into ‘sailor mouth mode’… I removed the few unprocessed dates from the nuts

    and put them into my vitamix, along with the rest of the dates and some water to help blend. I think in total I ended up adding 1/2 cup water… the end product was a nice sticky sweet goo, but perhaps a bit too wet for my purposes since my nuts were also wet.
  4. I added the date goo to the nuts in the food processor… it seemed a bit happier and started to process the nuts to the size I desired.
  5. I then put the nut/date mixture into the bottom of a deep glass pan (8×8). It was a bit wetter than I wanted, so on a whim I decided to put it in the oven. I set the oven for as low as it would go (170°F) then placed the pan in the oven and then turned it off. I left the pan in the cooling oven the duration of the kream creation. Honestly, I don’t think it changed anything… better to have just let the nuts dry out prior to making the crust.

At this point, I was wondering why I didn’t make my tea first, because I could really use a break from the arrggg factor. I made some new-to-me tea… matcha. I added it to some slightly sweetened, slightly warmed soy milk… it was different, I think I like it, but it definitely made me feel better. A bit more zen-like.

kream

  1. After taking some time out to gather my thoughts and finish my tea… I added all the cashews and 1/2 cup water to the vitamix and blended well.

  2. Next I added ~1/2 cup coconut butter, 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract, and the bag of frozen strawberries (drained) and blended well.
  3. I tasted the mixture and decided that it needed just a touch of sweetness… so I added a squirt of agave syrup, and blended well.

cheesecake

  1. I took the crust out of the oven, which didn’t really work to dry it out, it was slightly warm, but not hot.
  2. Then I poured the strawberry-cashew kream into the crust. Covered it with saran and placed it in the fridge for a few hours.

When I went to serve it up, it was not solidified as much as I had hoped, so it didn’t come out of the pan very easily. The taste, however, was very good. My taste-tester asked for seconds. 🙂

Lessons learned

  • need to let the nuts dry before using in the crust… perhaps soak the nuts overnight and let dry throughout the day
  • need to figure out how to make the kream a bit more stable using raw ingredients… could use some ideas from those of you who uncook raw foods all the time 😉
  • add just a touch of lemon juice for signature tart of cheesecake… I didn’t use lemon because it can seriously ‘break’ a recipe if you use too much, but next time I think I will add just a bit, I think it will enhance the overall flavor
  • add more strawberries and possibly more agave… I think it could use more of a strawberry kick and perhaps just a bit more sweetness… I knew the crust was pretty sweet with the dates so I didn’t want to be overpowered by sweet, so this experiment is lightly sweet but still good.
  • great first attempt… we like this, it didn’t hold it’s shape, but ugly food is sometimes the best tasting! This still needs tweaking, but I’m very happy with the first attempt.

The great thing about this ‘dessert’ is that it’s made with nuts and fruit and can be eaten any time! 😀

Here’s how it looks right now (after a day in the fridge)… mmm… the kream is a bit more stable and overall it has more flavor than last night… I think this is one of those recipes that is best the next day!

Mmmm *mouth full*… Until next time…
~nic

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