Gluten free and Refined Sugar Free
Have you ever had a bite of something, and the smell or taste struck a memory really powerfully in your brain that you’d forgotten you’d ever had? This happens to me always in the strangest of reminders. Whenever I smell diesel and marigolds at the same time, my body physically relocates to New Dehli. Suddenly I see hundreds of colourful bodies carrying overflowing baskets of bright orange flowers on their backs, in between moving cars and spindly rickshaws and heavy, docile cows decorated in cloth. The smell of burning oil and fragrant spices and pollution comes back in waves and I’m left blinking, remembering images I’d seen and forgotten years ago when I was just a child.
It happens whenever I smell melted cheese and corn thins. I can hear faintly Ocean Girl playing on TV, and I can smell the earth and coffee scent that perfumed my Dad’s old house. Meaningless memories of my sister and I eating makeshift pizzas using corn crackers as bases and watching re-runs of the Simpsons, come creeping back to me.
The same thing happened to me when I recently was eating a tub of froyo (don’t judge me! I may be mildly lactose intolerant and I may have limited funds but I will never stop eating froyo on a weekly basis!) and I ate a bite of the lychee topping. Suddenly I remembered the first dessert I ate as a child, tinned lychees with vanilla ice cream. Always with the red spoon. Always on the kitchen floor or under the table. I hadn’t thought of that dessert in years but after that bite I couldn’t get it out of my head. Out of that bite this cake was born.
In the centre, lychees are blended up with natural Greek yogurt and topped with a strawberry, raspberry, maple syrup and vanilla bean paste compote, then frozen until just set. It is so delicious! Like a tropical flavour bomb. Each layer has its own unique texture and there are so many flavours that somehow come together in the most perfect of ways.
If you can’t tolerate sugar then it might be hard to find lychees that aren’t in sweetened syrup unless you can get fresh ones. The best thing to do would be to probably replace the lychees with something like banana or mango, that is sweet enough fresh by itself.
The topping is probably the best part, with the tangy raspberries softened by the maple syrup and the burst of vanilla paste. I used an entire teaspoon here because I got too excited, but the flavour spreads out over the entire cake so I don’t think I was being too generous.
Although the flavour profile here is a real winner, you could take this cake idea in so many different ways! There were so many different elements of inspiration for me but I will leave a few links to other alternative healthy cheesecakes that I have ogled at in the past few weeks:
For the classic baked lemon cheesecake
For something pretty and girly
For a vegan berry cheesecake
Berry and Lychee Vanilla Yogurt Cake: Inspired from here :
300g (2 cups) dried organic apricots, soaked (if not organic, replace with dates)
185g (1.5 cups) walnuts
20g (1 tbsp) chia seeds
30g (1 heaped tbsp) desiccated coconut
45g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
For the middle:
350g (1 + 3/4 cup or 1 tin)seeded lychees (if using tinned, drained)
500g (1 pound) natural Greek yogurt
250g (2 cups) mixed strawberries and raspberries
15 ml (1 tbsp) maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Soak the dried apricots for at least an hour before continuing. Note that normal dried apricots as opposed to organic are dried with sulphuric acid (the orange ones, not brown) and will be too sour. Replace with dates. In a blender blend all the ingredients for the crust. Line a 20cm pan with baking paper and press in the crust carefully with a spoon in an even base layer. Refrigerate until firm.
For the middle, blend together the lychees and yogurt until combined. Pour over the chilled base. Refrigerate until slightly firm. Blend together the berries, maple syrup and vanilla and pour over the cake. Freeze overnight before serving. Remove from the freezer about half an hour before you want to eat it.
To remove from the tin, place the tin in some warm water to loosen the sides before pushing out. Serve with fresh berries!