lemon & blueberry cheesecake
It doesn’t take much to become wistful for summer. The squeeze of a lemon. The smell of coconut. A photo of the Taranaki surf. As we press through the vicissitudes of these last few cold, white months before summer, our anticipation heightens in memory of the hot, dry July we experienced last year. Raspberries, freshly picked from the roadside, a cold wine on the back deck late in the evening, dirt and sun-lotion caking the skin after a day hiking in the sun.
If anything can encourage my hope for summer, it’s a light, sweet dessert. Cold on the lips but warming for the soul. I rarely redo a recipe for the blog, but I’ve been dying to see this cheesecake in its full glory. Plus I procured a new cake stand. Fun isn’t it!
I first made this very unique not-really-cheese-at-all-cake at the end of last summer, because although we were craving the cool, creaminess of cheesecake, I was hesitant to buy the necessary 3 blocks of cream cheese at $7 a hit at our Northern store. With a great stash of cashews on hand (they’re not expensive when ordered from down south and store wonderfully in the freezer) I figured it would be nice to mix it up a little and try this popular alternative to the traditional using soaked cashews in place of cream cheese. This time I used a completely different base, a baked one, more like that of a crumble bar. It worked beautifully with the freshness of the ‘cheese’ – a significant squeeze of lemon juice, fresh vanilla bean seeds, a dash of honey and a blueberry topping, to cool the lips and warm the soul while this snow continues to hang around.
For the crust
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup flour of choice (spelt, wheat or gluten free)
1/2 cup wheat bran (or alternative grain flakes)
1 scoop vanilla flavored whey protein powder (optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup egg whites (or 1 egg)
1/4 cup date paste
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Spray a 9” springform cake tin with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until broken down to a coarse grainy texture. Add wet ingredients and process until well combined. Pour into prepared baking pan and spread uniformly all the way to the sides to form a crust. The mixture will be rather sticky and hard to spread; to make the process easier, use a rubber spatula dipped in water. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until nice and golden brown; remove from oven and set on wire rack to cool.
For the filling
3 cups raw cashews soaked for three hours (or 30 hour in boiling water)
3/4 cup fresh meyer lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut oil (no need to warm it)
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped, pod discarded
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
To make the cheese, blend the cashews, lemon, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, and sea salt. Blend until smooth and adjust to taste. Pour mixture on top of the “crust” and carefully tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.
For the topping
2 cups frozen berries
1 tbsp honey (or to taste)
1/4 cup apple cider (to loosen a little)
Place honey, berries and cider/juice in a high speed blender and process until smooth. Pour over “cheese” mixture.
Place the pan in the freezer for at least three hours or overnight. Before serving place on counter to thaw slightly. This is best served semi frozen, soft enough to run a serrated knife through.