Raw blueberry cheesecake with crumb topping

Raw foods are a growing trend these days, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with the new concept of germinating, sprouting, processing and dehyrating. It seems raw foods are mainly a focus for the health-conscious crowd and more open-minded foodies, but for me, it’s also a way to learn a new and fascinating approach to vegan dessert-making. It certainly has opened up a whole new world of ingredients and processes that are unlike anything I have tried before. After years of practising precision and care required to bake deliciously moist vegan cupcakes and flaky pie crusts, I have realized a handful of this and a dash of that can take my desserts to a whole new level–and without even turning on the oven.

When my sister came to visit a few weeks ago, she brought the perfect gift for a newbie raw foodie: a dehydrator! I went to work on a new batch of goodies, which required some prep time–germinating walnuts and almonds for several hours and sprouting buckwheat and sunflower seeds for about three days. But when all is said and done, it was just a matter of throwing the ingredients into a food processor and then placing them on the teflex sheets of my dehyrator. By the time I came home from work the next day, I had a beautiful assortment of healthy snacks just waiting to be gobbled up.

The goodies included raw granola made of buckwheat and sunflower sprouts, pumpkin and poppy seeds, apricots, dates, bananas, currants, lavender, ginger and cinnamon; soft banana bread chips made of almond flour, walnuts, dates, bananas and cinnamon; and rosemary crackers made of flax seeds, almonds and rosemary (to go with my homemade raw cilantro salsa).

I’ve also discovered that raw is the way to go if you’re looking for a delicious and interesting take on cheesecake. I was never a fan of regular cheesecake even in my pre-vegan days, but a raw cheesecake can take a gourmet dessert to a whole new level, and it’s healthier to boot. I had some raw blueberry filling in my freezer that was left over from the blueberry pie contest I participated in last month, so I had a good excuse to throw together a raw cheesecake with a nutty topping for added crunch.

If you’ve never tried making a raw cheesecake before, I highly recommend it. All you need is a food processor or high-powered blender and a springform pan–oh, and some room in your freezer. You don’t need to hunt down any rare ingredients for this recipe. The lecithin granules can be found at bulk or health food stores. If you can’t find them, it certainly won’t ruin the recipe–they are used as an emulsifier and add to the creaminess factor of the cake, but it still works without them. Enjoy!

Raw Blueberry Cheesecake with Crumb Topping | A Dash of Compassion

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Raw blueberry cheesecake with crumb topping

Yield: one 8-inch cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

For the filling:

  • 3 cups cashews, soaked overnight
  • 3 cups blueberries, picked over and rinsed
  • 15 dates, soaked for 1 hour
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • seeds of 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 tsp dried lavender (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raw agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp lecithin granules

For the crumb topping:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup oat groats
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions:

For the crust:

    1. Process the almonds in a food processor until they become a course meal. Add the rest of the ingredients and process to combine. The mixture should stick together when pressed between your fingers. Press the crust into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan and place in the freezer to firm up.

For the filling:

    1. Rinse cashews and dates and blend them in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the coconut oil and lecithin granules, and blend until smooth. Finally, add the coconut oil and lecithin granules and blend to combine. Pour onto prepared crust and place in the freezer.

For the crumb topping:

  1. Chop the walnuts and dates briefly in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse lightly to combine. Crumble the topping evenly onto the cheesecake filling, pressing gently. Keep the cheesecake in the freezer until ready to serve.