My November/December Vegetarian Times Magazine came last week and I immediately began tabbing recipes, 12 to be exact. Everything looked so good, but the one I couldn't stop thinking about were these Almost-Raw Honey Cheesecake Bars with Cranberry Topping. They just looked so festive and I love experimenting with using ingredients like the cashews, (here soaked until softened and then blended until creamy), in different ways. Not only are these almost raw (except for the topping), they are also dairy-free and gluten-free--so good for everyone except those with nut allergies. I thought they would be fun to try out as a holiday dessert and I was curious to see how the texture would turn out--would it really be smooth and creamy like cheesecake?
Vegetarian Times says, "The only cooked ingredient in this creamy treat is a homemade cranberry topping. For a fully raw dessert, you can omit the topping and serve the bars plain, or garnish them with berries or sliced fresh fruit."
Almost-Raw Honey Cheesecake Bars with Cranberry Topping
Vegetarian Times, Nov/Dec 2009
(Makes 16 Bars)
3 cups raw cashews, divided
1 cup frozen cranberries
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp raw, unfiltered honey, divided
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup raw coconut oil, softened plus extra for greasing baking sheets
1 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup raw macadamia nuts
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
Cover 2 cups cashews with cold water, and soak 3 hours, or overnight. Simmer cranberries, 2 Tbsp honey, and apple juice in saucepan over medium-low heat 10-12 minutes or until cranberries pop. Cool 15 minutes. Pulse in blender or food processor until sauce is thick and smooth. Cool completely.
Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square glass baking dish with coconut oil. Process walnuts, raisins, and remaining 1 cup cashews in food processor, until mixture begins to stick together. Press into prepared dish, and chill 30 minutes, or overnight.
Drain soaked cashews. Puree cashews, macadamia nuts, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup coconut oil, remaining 1/4 cup honey, vanilla extract, salt and 3 Tbsp water in food processor 5 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.
Spoon cashew mixture over crust. Spread cranberry mixture over top. Cut through cheesecake with small knife to swirl. Freeze cheesecake 1 hour before serving. Thaw 5 minutes, then slice into 16 bars.
Per bar: 308 cal, 6 g protein, 25g total fat (7g sat fat), 20g carbs, 0mg cholesterol, 77mg sodium, 2g fiber, 10g sugars.
Notes/Results: Very good! I was surprised at how creamy the pureed nut mixture was and it paired perfectly with the tangy cranberry topping and nut crust. Granted it isn't as smooth as a regular cheesecake and you definitely get a slight nutty-coconut vibe from these but they are pretty tasty. I like them on the slightly frozen side--as they warm up they get a little soft and don't seem quite as smooth. They went together easily and I like the fact they use honey as the sweetener rather than a bunch of processed sugar. I would make them again, as well as play around a bit with the different components like the crust, which was delicious and would be great in other recipes.
What sorts of experiments with different ingredients or ways of cooking do you like to try?