Chili cheesecake in the raw

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, you’re either a skeptic or a romantic. I used to be the former in a big way and I only thought of the February 14 hoopla as another marketing scheme brought to us by Hallmark.

And then I met my husband. I’m not saying our relationship is always full of rainbows and butterflies, but having him in my life makes me pretty darn happy—the kind of happiness that often puts me on cloud nine and gives me hiccups from giggling too much. After being together for four years now, I’ve learned that this kind of love deserves to be celebrated.

On special occasions like Valentine’s Day, nothing says “I love you” like cheesecake. Of course, I’m not talking about one of those heavy dairy-loaded versions made with cream cheese and loads of sugar. Let’s be honest: raw is what’s sexy these days! With this Valentine’s Day version, I wanted to heat things up a little. So out came the cayenne pepper, ancho chili powder and chipotle powder, and some cinnamon to balance out the heat. The end result was to die for: a raw chocolate chili cheesecake that combines a chocolate nut crust, a decadent layer of smooth chocolate fudge, a spicy nut layer (the flavour of red cinnamon candy hearts was my inspiration), and a chocolate crumble topping. I’m particularly pleased with the heart-shaped decorations I made for the cake topper, which involved a last-minute decision to dehydrate a thin layer of the spicy nut filling. They came out like sweet and spicy heart-shaped chips! I absolutely love them.

Raw Chili Cheesecake | A Dash of Compassion

I’d like to thank Lindsay of Cook.Vegan.Lover. for giving me the inspiration for this recipe. While I always enjoy creating new recipes for special holidays, she first got my engine running when she announced a Fiery Vegan Valentine Contest not too long ago. [Update: I ended up winning Best Dessert and Recipe That Most Embraced the Theme! Thank you to all who voted.] I hope this cake helps to heat things up a little for you and your beau this Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

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Raw chocolate chili cheesecake

Yield: one 6-inch layered cheesecake



    • 1 cup raw almonds
    • 1/2 cup raw pecans
    • 1/2 cup chopped dates, soaked for 10 minutes
    • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Chocolate fudge filling:

    • 3/4 cup raw cacao powder
    • 1/2 cup raw agave nectar
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Spicy nut filling:

  • 2 cups raw macadamia nuts or cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 cup raw agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup water



    1. In a food processor, process the almonds and pecans to a coarse meal. Add the dates, cacao powder and salt and process to combine. The mixture should hold together when pressed between two fingers. If it seems too dry, add a tablespoon of water.
    2. Reserve about 1/3 cup for the cake topping and press the remainder of the crust into the bottom of a 6-inch springfrom pan and set aside.

Chocolate fudge filling:

    1. In a food processor, blend together all ingredients, except the coconut oil, until smooth. You may need to scrap down the sides of the mixing bowl a few times.
    2. Finally, add the coconut oil and pulse just to combine. Spoon the mixture on top of the crust and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to set.

Spicy nut feeling:

  1. In a food processor, process the nuts and agave nectar. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. You may need to scrap down the sides of the mixing bowl a few times. (See notes below if you would like to make the heart-shaped garnish before proceeding to the next step.)
  2. Spoon the mixture on top of the chocolate filling and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the top with the remaining crumbled crust mixture and press it down gently so it sticks to the filling. Set the pan in the freezer for at least 2 hours to set. Store in the freezer until ready to eat and allow the cake to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

To make the spicy heart-shaped garnish, take a few spoonfuls of this mixture and spread a thin layer onto a dehydrator teflex sheet. Dehydrate at 110 degrees for about 12 hours. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make imprints in the mixture and continue to dehydrate for another 24 hours, or until dry and slightly crisp.



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13 Responses to “Chili cheesecake in the raw”

  1. Jennifer and Jaclyn @ sketch-free vegan — February 2, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

    beautiful and lovely, love the addition of the hearts. Should I be this scared to put chili in my chocolate? Everyone is doing it, I guess I just have to take the risk :P

  2. otherwisehealthy — February 3, 2011 @ 12:06 am

    Wow, that looks beautiful! I'm so impressed by your raw dessert creations. Amazing!

  3. VeganLisa — February 3, 2011 @ 3:29 am

    Incredible, Nicole!
    I wish I could come over and steal a slice. I hope someone made you cake today. If not, I will make you something raw and decadent when I get home.

  4. Kita — February 3, 2011 @ 4:43 am

    From a non-vegan: Everything about this looks and sounds amazing! I will be forwarding this bookmark out to some friends :) Found you on Foodgawker. Thanks for the post :)

  5. Noelle — February 3, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

    Beautiful dessert. Very decadent indeed. I could only imagine eating a bite for fear of breaking out because of so many nuts! :D Congrats on your Foodgawker post.

  6. Ricki — February 4, 2011 @ 1:34 am

    Nicole, this sounds (and looks) spectacular. I want to make this for V-Day now! Thanks for such a gorgeous recipe. :)

  7. Olivia — February 4, 2011 @ 4:15 am

    Oh my god I want to make this so bad! I love the idea that it's raw, I've been itching to try some raw desserts for a while now. I was thinking of doing red velvet cupcakes on Valentine's Day but this might just win out…

  8. thevegmom — February 12, 2011 @ 12:59 am

    Wow! This looks amazing!!

  9. Ariana Anderson — February 24, 2011 @ 12:56 am

    This looks amazing! What could I use in place of coconut butter and coconut oil in this recipe? I'm senstive to coconut! :(

  10. Nicole — February 24, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

    Ariana: That's a tough question, because the coconut butter and oil help hold it together (since they stay solid at room temperature). I'll have to experiment and get back to you :)

  11. Ariana Anderson — February 25, 2011 @ 2:41 am

    Ok, great! Thanks so much! And when you do, would you mind using your macadamia nut option (since I'm also sensitive to cashews!!! I Know, boo-hoo!!) and omiting the chili powder? It could just be a regular cheesecake I suppossed or maybe you could make it another flavor…chocolate perhaps…who knows! Sorry I'm giving you so much to worry about!

  12. Nicole — February 25, 2011 @ 4:18 am

    Ariana: I'll see what I can do. It'll be a good project for me :)

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