Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

One of the best things about being married and having family close by is hosting Thanksgiving, because even though I don’t eat turkey, I’ve always really loved the holiday. Aaron makes the turkey and I make everything else and get to indulge in foods that my mom always deemed to bland for consumption when I was a kid. When your in-laws aren’t Indian, they don’t feel the need to douse the mashed potatoes in Tobasco and add chili paste to the green beans.

After hosting our first Thanksgiving last year, it was clear that oven space is prime, so not only is a raw pie healthier, it’s more practical. Plus, it is so so easy, and this is the one time of year when easier always wins for me. God knows I cannot be trusted to roll out a pie crust under pressure. I swear pie crust can smell fear, and after the pumpkin pie disaster of 2011, give me a press in pie crust recipe any day.

Raw Pumpkin CheesecakeRaw Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe has been a long time coming, mostly because the first time I made this cheesecake and removed it from the pan, the filling completely oozed out the sides and onto the floor. I’ve often said that I have no shame when it comes to desserts, but even I won’t lick cheesecake remains off the ground.

Gloopy cheesecake didn’t keep me down for long, though. I’ve tweaked this recipe a couple of times since then, so not only will it hold it’s shape now, but it will taste so good that even your pumpkin hating hubby will eat it and enjoy it! Ok, I can’t guarantee that, but mine certainly did. If you’re not concerned about the pie being raw, you can roast the pumpkin and use the puree instead of the raw shredded pumpkin. I plan to try it that way for my own Thanksgiving table.

As for the soy lecithin being raw, I’ve done some research and I’m still not 100 percent sure. Apparently sunflower lecithin is raw and a good alternative for those with soy allergies. I’ve never tried it, but I would love to hear your results if you do.

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

 

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Serving Size: One 6-inch cheesecake

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 1 cup pitted medjool or deglet dates
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • For the Filling
  • 1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight
  • 2 cups shredded butternut squash or pumpkin (the small pie pumpkin, not the carving kind) soaked for 2-3 hours and drained
  • 1/2 cup raw agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup raw nut milk
  • 1/4 cup carrot juice (optional) for color
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (use refined if you don't want coconut flavor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO soy lecithin
  • For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 24 hours
  • 1 tablespoon raw agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

    For the Crust:
  1. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and process until they come together into a ball. The mixture should be pliable.
  2. Press the mixture into a 6 x 3 inch springform or cheesecake pan and set aside.
  3. For the Filling:
  4. In a high powdered blender, combine the cashews, shredded pumpkin, agave, nut milk, carrot juice, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and blend for about 5-10 minutes until completely smooth.
  5. Add the coconut oil and soy lecithin and blend for an additional 15 seconds until smooth (don't over blend here or the coconut oil will start to solidify).
  6. Pour the mixture over the crust and tap the pan against the counter a few times to knock out any air bubbles.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
  8. Top with coconut whipped cream (recipe follows), cinnamon, and pecans.
  9. For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
  10. Open the can of chilled coconut milk and scoop out the hardened cream into a bowl (you can save the coconut water for smoothies).
  11. Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut cream until fluffy.
  12. Add the agave and vanilla and beat to combine.
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-Coconut whipped cream recipe adapted from Oh She Glows.
-I’ve tried several brands of coconut milk, and some separate better than others. I’ve had the best luck with the Thai Kitchen brand.
-If you don’t want to use the carrot juice, you can add an additional 1/4 cup of nut milk to the filling
-I recently swapped out my broken springform pan for a cheesecake pan and found it much easier to use.

No Bake Tiger Butter Tart

Tiger Butter Tart

Have you heard of tiger butter? It’s basically just white chocolate, peanut butter, and dark chocolate all swirled together to look like tiger stripes. I was first introduced to tiger butter on my 7th birthday, so it’s kind of a nostalgic flavor for me. I had a candy making party at the shop where my mom took cake decorating classes, and even though we made lots of different candies that day, I can’t remember any other than the tiger butter. Maybe there’s something about the chocolate peanut butter combo that just sticks with you. Or perhaps it’s because I was in a sugar coma from all of the candy I ate, so I don’t remember much else. I do remember my friends and I eating the hell out of some tiger butter, though. My poor mother…

I didn’t think about tiger butter for a long time after that, but when I moved to LA, they had tiger butter caramel apples at a candy shop near Hollywood and Highland. Every time a friend or family member would come to town, we’d do the usual touristy stuff and as a reward for seeing the walk of fame for a gazillionth time, I would treat myself to a tiger butter apple.

Since it’s almost Halloween, I had planned to make tiger butter caramel apples in the spirit of the holiday. I soon realized that these apples required more coordination than I had, so I ended up making this tiger butter tart instead, and I think it tastes even better than the apple version. I suppose it’s no longer a Halloween themed treat, but it does taste like candy. Plus, it’s way easier to make. The swirl pattern is simpler than it looks.

You’ll start by pouring in your peanut butter ganache filling into the prepared tart shell. Then take your chocolate ganache and put it into a piping bag or a plastic bag (make sure it’s slightly cooled so you don’t melt the bag) and creating a zig zag pattern over the peanut butter mixture. As you can see, it doesn’t have to be precise. Next, take a wooden skewer and stick it about halfway down into the filling (don’t let it touch the crust) and make a figure 8 pattern all throughout mixture. Again, doesn’t need to be precise. It will still come out looking pretty.

Tiger Butter Tart

The first time I made this, I used whole Oreo cookies for the crust, but combination of whole Oreos with a sweet tart filling was tooth achingly sweet. I ended up using a mixture of Newman’s Own alphabet cookies and chocolate graham crackers just because it’s what I had on hand. You could also use the outsides of Oreo cookies minus the cream or those elusive chocolate wafer cookies (which I finally found but were quite expensive). I ended up using a stick of melted butter in the crust, but you may need more or less depending on what kind of cookie you use. Just make sure the texture is not too crumbly or you won’t be able to mold it into the tart pan. A chocolate shortbread crust would work nicely too. Maybe I’ll try that next time when I’m not too lazy to roll out dough.

I hate to dirty extra dishes so the first time I made the filling, I dumped the white chocolate into the pot of hot cream and whisked the heck out of it to make it smooth keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. However, you’ll end up with grainy ganache if you do this. Put the white chocolate in a separate bowl, pour the cream over it, and let it melt slowly. It’s worth the extra dirty dish.

Tiger Butter Tart
Tiger Butter Tart

No Bake Tiger Butter Tart

Yield: One 14x5 Tart

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 10 ounces chocolate wafer cookies
  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • For the Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Plastic bag
  • Wooden skewer
  • For the Peanut Butter Filling:
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) good quality white chocolate, chopped (not candy melts)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Instructions

    For the Crust:
  1. Put the chocolate wafer cookies in a food processor and process until they are finely ground.
  2. Add the melted butter and mix until the cookie crumbs are well coated.
  3. Press the crust into a 14x5 inch tart pan (I used this one) and refrigerate while you make the filling.
  4. For the Chocolate Ganache:
  5. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  6. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until just boiling.
  7. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  8. Whisk gently until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.
  9. For the Peanut Butter Filling:
  10. Place the chopped white chocolate in a heat proof bowl.
  11. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until it's just about to boil.
  12. Pour the heavy cream over the white chocolate and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  13. Whisk the ganache gently until smooth.
  14. Add the peanut butter a few tablespoons at a time and whack gently after each addition until the mixture is smooth.
  15. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the prepared tart crust.
  16. To Make the Swirl
  17. Once the chocolate has cooled slightly, put it into a piping bag or a ziploc bag.
  18. Snip the corner off the end of the bag and pipe onto the peanut butter filling in a zig zag pattern.
  19. Put a wooden skewer halfway dow into the mixture being careful not to touch the bottom and swirl it around in a figure 8 motion.
  20. Refrigerate the tart for about an hour, or until set.
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Vegan Key Lime Pie Bars

Key Lime Pie Bars

I’ve never been much of a pie person. I rarely eat it and I make it even less often, mostly because of how I feel after I eat a slice. I’m not saying that cake is light or healthy, but even with a strong tolerance for rich desserts, a slice of pie (especially cream pie) can put me down like nothing else. Case in point: a few weeks ago, I ate a slice of coconut cream pie and immediately wanted to take off my pants and lay down on the floor for the rest of the afternoon. Totally not worth it, especially for mediocre pie.

My outlook on pie changed a few weeks ago when I went to Oregon. I had heard about these raw vegan pies that were sold at the Portland Farmer’s Market on Saturday, but I was in Portland for only a couple of hours on a Friday night (you can read about the road trip debacle here). After some research, I was able to locate a key lime pie at a Whole Foods, and have been completely infatuated with recreating them ever since. The texture was so creamy, and not at all what I expected from a raw vegan dessert. ┬áDid I mention that they are mini? Even better.

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