img_2093No-bake cheesecakes have been reborn! And just in time for spring flings, bridal/baby showers, and summer buffets. Almonds and cashews set the stage for these creamy, dreamy cheesecakes. And the coconut whipped cream is a brilliant alternative to dairy cream. The flavor is yummier, the texture is fluffier, and holds its shape longer than regular whipped cream.  I had such a difficult time deciding which flavor of cheesecake to make, I made a collection in miniature just so I could sample them. The strawberry is made with orange zest, the raspberry with lemon zest and banded with white chocolate, while the coconut-key lime is…well, I think you get the picture. (see recipe)

img_2130 I remember almost to the day when no-bake cheesecakes took America by storm. It was 1966. My mother brought home a box of JelI-O cheesecake mix and whipped up a strawberry cheesecake. It was a show-stopping hit at her Tupperware party. Pretty soon, permutations were sprouting up faster than Philly cream cheese could keep pace. Overnight Jell-O no-bake-cheesecake became a national sensation. And the concept of refrigerator pies was embraced by the American housewife as the greatest invention since, well, refrigeration. And if memory serves me, it was right about this time when Betty Crocker Cookbook sales took a nosedive, too. Why labor for hours in the kitchen measuring, sifting, mixing, and baking? When all you had to do was blend a package of cream cheese with the filling packet, drizzle some margarine over the prepackaged crushed graham crackers, press it into a pie shell, refrigerate, and viola! Instant gratification.

img_2132Nowadays, it’s not solely about convenience, although it’s a consideration. It’s more about eating healthy, and let’s not forget yummy deliciousness. Now, if you can combine all three, you’ve hit the trifecta. That’s not to say there isn’t some planning involved, there is. First, you have to decide which flavor, or you can combine all three. After that, it’s just do-ahead stuff, like soaking the cashews overnight for the filling. Make one large cheesecake, or dress these little darlings up with your favorite citrus fruits, berries, and coconut whipped cream so your guest can sample a variety. Either way, this cheesecake will add a touch of elegance to any buffet table it graces.

Recipe notes: What you will need: 9″ inch tart pan with removable bottom or 6″ springform pan, Cuisinart food processor or Vitamix, zester, and mixer. Active prep time: 30-minutes. Decorating time: 15-minutes. Yields 8-servings. Difficulty level: Fairly easy

Crust:

  • 3/4-cup whole almonds or 1 -cup sliced ( If you prefer just almonds, use 1 1/4 cups for whole and 1 1/2 for sliced)
  • 1/2-cup cashews (optional)
  • ½ -cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup Stevia
  • 1/8 -tsp or pinch of cinnamon (optional)
  • pinch Himalayan sea salt
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • 4-Tbsp melted coconut oil

Preparation:

img_1344img_1271

  1. In Cuisinart food processor, process cashews, almonds, coconut, cinnamon, Stevia, and salt until nuts are finely ground.
  2. Drizzle in coconut oil and pulse until mixture clumps together.
  3. If using a tart shell with removable bottom, press mixture evenly into the shell. For springform pan, press crust onto the bottom about a 1/2 inch thick. In using a springform pan, you will end up with excess crust, which can be used to decorate the side of the cheesecake. Chill.
  4. FYI: The original recipe calls for the crust to be “raw.” However, if you prefer it toasted, bake @350 for 10-15 minutes or until light golden brown.
  5. Allow to cool. Refrigerate to set crust before continuing with filling.

Filling:

  • 1 ¾ cups raw cashews, soaked in cool water overnight
  • 1- cup Stevia
  • 1-tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-cup silken tofu.
  • 2-Tbsp zest** lightly packed
  • 1-cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch Himalayan or sea salt
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • 1/2-cup coconut milk*** or almond milk
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • 6-oz deodorized cacao butter melted or 3/4 cup coconut oil. Bring to room temperature before adding to filling. Yields enough for a 9-inch tart or 6-inch springform pan.

Taste batter and adjust sweetness and flavoring

**I recommend a peeling zester for longer confetti strands rather than a micro-plane.

**Using the tofu and real coconut milk gives the cashew cheese a creamier, smoother texture.

Strawberry/Blueberry

Same ingredients: add orange zest and optional flavoring of 1-tsp orange extract or 1-Tbsp of Grand Marnier.

Raspberry

Same ingredients: add lemon zest

Key-Lime

Same ingredients: add lime zest, key-lime and coconut extract

Note: key lime tends to have a stronger flavor, so taste test the filling to acquire a balanced proportion. Neither should overpower the other. (For decorating)

Preparation:

Note: I highly recommend that if you have a Vitamix, use a food processor to start and then transfer to the blender for a creamier texture.

  1. Place cashew in a bowl, add just enough water to cover them, cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Refrigerate and soak overnight
  3. Next day drain and rinse cashews
  4. Transfer to a food processor, add Stevia, chia, vanilla, zest, juice, and salt.
  5. While the processor is running, gradually add milk.
  6. Continue for 2-3 minutes until smooth, scraping down side of the bowl as needed.
  7. Add the melted cacao or coconut oil and pulse until smooth.
  8. Taste for sweetness and adjust flavoring.
  9. Spoon mixture into chilled shell or springform pan and spread evenly.
  10. Refrigerate at least 4-hours before unmolding and decorating.

img_1214elefantz-cashew-orange-creamimg_1222

Whipped Topping:

  • 16-oz or 2- 6.8oz Kara coconut cream in the carton* chilled (available in the Asian section of most markets, or at Asian grocery stores or online.)
  • 2-Tbsp Stevia
  • 1/2-tsp vanilla extract

Preparation

  1. img_2069Chill beaters and bowl.
  2. On high-speed beat cream, add Stevia, vanilla, and whip till firm peaks form when beaters are lifted.
  3. Cover and chill.

Note: The difference between success and failure of this whipped cream will depend on the brand used. I don’t recommend using canned coconut cream, I highly recommend a homogenized brand in a carton such as Kara.

Unmold cheesecakes:

img_2047img_2051

  1. Run a sharp knife under hot water.
  2. Insert a knife between cake and side of the pan and gently run a knife around the cake to loosen. Unlatch spring to release pan.
  3. Using the palm of your hand, gently press on the cake, to avoid the cake from sticking and pulling, and slowly lift ring to remove.
  4. Run a knife under the bottom of the crust to release from the pan.
  5. Using a spatula, lift the cake and transfer to a platter for ease of mobility.
  6. Using leftover crust, press crumbs onto the side of the cake, working in a circular motion for even distribution.
  7. Wash, slice, and prepare the desired fruit and pre-zest additional citrus.

img_2055img_2056

For strawberries:

  1. Spread layer of whipped topping to create an anchor for the berries.
  2. Arrange slices concentrically for 1st ring, and counter-concentrically for 2nd ring.
  3. Spoon dollop of whipped topping in the center before mounding blueberries.
  4. Glaze berries with raspberry or strawberry-basil gastrique (optional)

img_2072img_2073img_2075

For key-lime:

  1. Mound whipped cream in the center, and finish with coconut chips.
  2. Arrange lime slices and garnish with zest.

img_2081img_2112

img_2107For the raspberry cheesecake:

  1. Although chocolate banding is optional, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, it adds a touch of elegance to the cake.
  2. After attaching the collar, spread a one-inch layer of whipped topping inside and arrange berries.
  3. To remove parchment from the collar, gently peel away paper; the paper should come off easily.
  4. At back steam, hold the blunt side of paring knife perpendicular against chocolate.
  5. Using the other hand, pull paper against the knife to snap away from the overlap of the remaining chocolate.
  6. Drizzle with raspberry gastrique (optional).

img_2086 img_2087

Recipe inspired by Bonjon Gourmet