Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cashew Cream Cake (raw and vegan!)

Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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Guys, it’s happened. I finally got around to making a raw cashew cream cake! Too long have I ogled at this beautiful creation and this one and tried to eat my screen with little to no success. I finally made the splurge and bought the cashews and coconut butter, and gave my blender a serious pep-talk. Don’t worry, dumpling month is charging on, we’re just having a minor cake break so that I can eat my way through the dumplings in the freezer.

I wanted fancy layers for my cheesecake because layers people. Layers are so much more exciting than non-layers. So the bottom layer is infused with cinnamon (because everything should be infused with cinnamon) and the top layer is mixed with poached rhubarb and vanilla compote. Holy to the yum. The compote itself was so amazing! I deliberately made way more than I needed so that I could eat it all week on my weetbix. I highly recommend this as you don’t need much at all in the actual recipe, but if fruit compote isn’t your thing, make a quarter of the recipe.
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The reason this post took so long to put up was because this whole week I’ve been super sick and just horrendous feeling basically. I went away for a week with my friends to a music festival and while that week was one of the best ever and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it, the following week has been rough. It’s been very rough. It started on the day we packed up and left the camping grounds and I’d completely, 100% lost my voice. I could not make a sound.

That transformed into a bad case of the flu, which today transformed into a stomach bug. I feel so nauseous I haven’t actually been able to try the cake yet….I KNOW! But my whole family and a number of friends have tried and raved, so I am going out on a limb and hoping it tastes as good assembled as it did on the back of a spoon when I was making it 🙂
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My blender honestly did die a bit in the making of this cake, but I have lamented here often that raw desserts can be tricky in my kitchen. Every time I decide it’s finally time to make an upgrade and start researching, there are so many conflicting accounts and opinions I give up and give my blender a hug.

If you don’t have a powerful blender like me, make sure you soak your cashews all night long. It really made the difference! Also give the blender lots of time to rest in between small batches, instead of trying to power through the whole thing in one go. This is definitely a cake to make, regardless of whether your crowd is vegan or raw! It feels so special with the pink layers and it tastes so light and wholesome. So I’ve officially joined the cashew cream cake bandwagon. Look to the future for more!

One Year Ago: Berry and Lychee Vanilla Yogurt Cake
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Recipe inspired by My New Roots and This Rawsome Vegan Life
Raw Cashew Cream Cake with Rhubarb and Cinnamon:

3 cups of cashews, covered in cold filtered water and left to soak overnight

1.5 cups walnuts
1.5 cups dates, chopped roughly
1 tbsp coconut oil

6 long stalks of rhubarb, cut into chunks
100g raw sugar
1/2 a vanilla bean
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup (185ml) coconut oil, melted if hard
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup (170g) raw honey or maple syrup for pure vegan
pinch of sea salt
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Line a 23cm baking tin with baking paper. Blend the walnuts, dates and tablespoon of coconut oil into a dough and press in to the bottom of the tin with your hands. Chill whilst you make the filling.

In a medium saucepan, very gently stew the rhubarb, sugar and vanilla bean (cut and seeds added to the pot) with a few tablespoons of water until completely soft but not straggly.

Drain the cashews well and put in the blender. Add the lemon juice, honey, coconut oil, salt and cinnamon. Blend until mix is as smooth as possible. Pour half into the cake tin and smooth around. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Blend the remaining half with about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of the rhubarb mix, to the desired colour and consistency (don’t add too much liquid – just the rhubarb pieces!) pour this on top of the cake and refrigerate the whole thing overnight. Serve cold, serves 10 – 12!
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Orange and Poppyseed Ricotta Cupcakes

Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free

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 The orange and poppy seed party continues! I think with these cupcakes I’ve officially won the yellow award. I mean seriously. Has anyone in the room seen a yellower cupcake? If so, shh. These still win because they are in gold cupcake cases!!! So there. Party cupcakes! 

These mini cheesecakes were actually birthday cupcakes for my beautiful friend Anna, way back in November! Anna means so much to this blog. She was the first subscriber! She was always the one to encourage me, and to send me helpful messages when I put up a post with no photos, or sometimes no words. She helped me so much with the photography! The reason your eyes aren’t bleeding right now is because of her. Serious. 

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Anna has been a bestie of mine for years now so I knew for her birthday I wanted to make something she’d really like. I knew she loved ricotta, because she eats it almost every day. And I knew she liked honey, because she eats her ricotta every day with honey. And she liked poppy seeds too! So these cupcakes seemed like the perfect idea. 

I based the recipe on David Lebovitz’ ricotta and orange cake, switching the double cream for yogurt and the sugar for honey. And adding a butt-load of poppy seeds.

The result was sweet and zesty little cupcakes that were crunchy from the poppy seeds, and slightly tangy from the yogurt. Feel free to sub back in the cream for a richer version, and the sugar too. Honey worked surprisingly well as a substitute. I was worried the extra liquid would change the consistency! I used raw honey though, which was slightly crystallised. So hopefully that wasn’t the only reason.

IMG_7894 If ever you try one of my recipes and something doesn’t work, please let me know in the comments! Sometimes ingredients can react super differently depending on the oven or brand, so it’s good to know which ones can cause problems. Also I often write up the recipes in about ten minutes just before switching my computer off and running out the door, so mistakes are bound to be included every now and then.

These little cakes are super light and delicate, perfect for those recovering from the holiday season. They will inevitably deflate a little, as is the nature of ricotta cheesecakes. Just cool them down slowly and fill the muffin cups more than you normally would.
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Orange and Poppyseed Cheesecakes: Adapted from this recipe
1kg (2.2 pounds, 35 ounces) ricotta cheese (full fat)
60g (1/2 cup) natural yogurt
zest of 1 orange
5 eggs, at room temperature
130ml honey
80g (1 cup) poppyseeds
1 tbsp gluten free flour (you could try corn, almond or oat flour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
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Preheat the oven to 180C (355F) and line 12 muffin holes with large papers. Mix the ricotta, yogurt and eggs together well. Mix in the zest, vanilla extract, flour, salt, honey and poppyseeds. Stir to completely combine. Pour even spoonfuls into the muffin cups to 3/4 full. Bake in the middle of the oven for 17-20 minutes, until risen and golden on top. Cool with the oven off and the door open before taking them out.
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Berry and Lychee Vanilla Yogurt Cake (gluten and sugar free)

Gluten free and Refined Sugar Free

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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.

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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.IMG_5739

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 

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Berry and Lychee Vanilla Yogurt Cake: Inspired from here :
Crust:

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)

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 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! 

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Brownie and Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

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I may have got a bit excited when my friend said I could make a cake for her 19th birthday. I possibly got a little over-excited. You could even say I let my excitement get the better of me. When I asked what she felt like and she alluded to light, coconut, fruity, that kind of cake, I think my brain may have been invaded for a brief period. IMG_3894

Instead what we have here is a cheesecake, folded through with chunks of milk chocolate brownie, slathered in dark chocolate ganache and topped with the freshest, reddest strawberries I have bought in quite a while. I was inspired by this amazing cake from Smitten Kitchen but, being nervous about my cups and tablespoon using skills, I used my own brownie recipe (saving the extra for other purposes- my mouth) and a slightly modified cheesecake recipe. The strawberries were an ode to the birthday girls original request for fruit.
IMG_3887The milk chocolate brownies were an attempt to dial down the richness of the cake. As well as this the biscuit base has massively reduced sugar and the filling does as well. Even so, this is not the dessert for the diabetes-ridden amongst us. It is very rich, very chocolatey, It is creamy and fudgy and crunchy all at the same time, and the strawberries are fresh distractions that sit happily on their bed of silky chocolate. I don’t know how Deb from Smitten Kitchen comes up with such great birthday cake ideas, but once you have a look at her sight you’ll agree. There’s just about every perfect birthday cake idea known to man on there.
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I recommend you make this cake. It may not win the beauty award, but it will make you, and your family, and your friends, very very happy. Or if you can’t be bothered, just make the brownies and add a swirl of cream cheese through the middle! I won’t tell anyone. IMG_3838

Chocolate Brownie and Strawberry Cheesecake: Recipe adapted from here:
1 quantity of This Brownie Recipe, minus the caramel.

For the Base:

250g (or 2 cups) crushed chocolate biscuits. I used Arnotts chocolate ripple

70g (full 2/3 cup) butter, melted

25g (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar

Mix all ingredients together well. Press into a lined and greased 23cm springform pan and bake for ten minutes, until firm.

Filling:

650g (23 ounces, scant 1.5 pounds) softened cream cheese

4 eggs at room temperature

200g (1 cup) granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Beat cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Slowly add  eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Slowly add sugar and vanilla and stop beating as soon as they are absorbed. Fold through about 2 cups of the chopped brownies, or as many as you feel you want in your ratio. Pour the filling into your prepared pan. Put a tray in the bottom of your oven filled with water, and place the cheesecake on a rack above this. Cook at 170° for 40 minutes until the outside is set but the middle is still wobbly. Leave in the oven with the door open to cool completely. Chill overnight. 

Ganache: Heat 55g (1/4 cup) heavy cream with 55g (1/4 cup) butter until almost boiling. Pour over 85g (scant 1/2 cup) dark chocolate pieces and stir until combined. Cool briefly before pouring on the cheesecake and smoothing over the surface. Top with strawberries or whatever berry is available and best. (About 250g or half a pound). Serve with a sprinkling of icing sugar. 

Crumbly Lemon Cheesecake with Blueberries

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This cheesecake, is beautiful. Look at it. Just gaze at that crumbly, buttery crust. Those plump blueberries. Mmmmm

Cheesecakes can be notoriously rich and heavy with all that creamy filling. This cake is none of those things. The lemon juice, the blueberries, the gingery crust and the yoghurt topping make this cake super light and zingy. 

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The topping of vanilla infused yoghurt mimics the New York style cheesecake with it’s sour cream, but while after a slice of a traditional cheesecake I usually feel like going to bed, this one has none of that heaviness. Steph’s cheesecake from Raspberri Cupcakes was my inspiration, but as a quick decoration I opted for fresh blueberries- the last of the season. Those macaroons are still a wee bit beyond my baking abilities I think! 

Recipe: From here.
240g (2 cups) crushed gingernut biscuits

1 tbsp sugar

55g (4 tbsp) melted butter

Filling:

390g (1 2/3 cups) cream cheese

150g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) mascarpone

210g (1 cup sugar)

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 eggs

Topping:

240g (1 cup) plain yoghurt

15g (1 tbsp) sugar

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 punnets of blueberries or any berry you can find

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Preheat oven to 160C (320F). Mix crushed biscuits, sugar and butter well, and press into the base of a greased and lined 25cm springform tin. Bake until the crust is set and golden. For the filling beat the cheeses together until just combined! Overbeating will affect the texture. Slowly incorporate the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Spread evenly into the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Leave to cool completely. 

For the topping mix the ingredients together until combined and pour over the cooled cheesecake. Scatter your blueberries on top! Enjoy.