I've been drooling over cashew-based raw foods for years, my favorite being the raw vegan "cheesecake" at places like Ecopolitan in Minneapolis and Cafe Gratitude in California. I imagined that these foods involved more magic than I could muster, and so I never attempted to make them myself.
Last week, as always, my mother was making the ever-popular Yule Log (or Bûche de Noël for you francophiles) for her annual pre-Christmas family dinner. I have been making an additional dessert for some years now, usually an apple or pecan pie. This year I wanted to do something different that utilized the fresh, local fruit that I crave whenever I visit California. I decided to make a fruit tart with a custard filling much like a vegan cheesecake. It turns out there is no magic, just a little preparation and some trial and error.
I'll do my best to reproduce the recipe here, but since it's a result of a lot of eyeballing and taste-testing, you may want to add ingredients bit by bit and figure out what tastes right in your kitchen. If you'd like more precision, try the original: I adapted the recipe from Post Punk Kitchen's strawberry cheesecake.
1 cup pecans
1 cup almonds
8 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
Chop together in a food processor or blender until it holds together when pressing between your fingers. It should still have a coarse, crunchy texture, yet be evenly chopped. It is best to pulse in short bursts and mix intermittently with a spatula to retain evenness. Press into the bottom and sides of a shallow tart pan. (I used a pan with a removable bottom and wavy sides, and so the tart retained its lovely shape when I popped it out of the pan.)
1-1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 cup agave syrup
1/8-1/4 cup water
juice of 2-3 limes
juice of 1/2 clementine (or mandarin, satsuma, or other small orange)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted to a thick liquid (melt in microwave for 5 seconds and then stir)
Whip the cashews with some of the water until smooth and creamy. It should not be lumpy, crunchy, or gritty at all. Add the fruit juices, agave, and salt to taste. Add the coconut oil and blend well. Pour the mixture into the crust and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to set.
1 pint strawberries (I bought 3 pints so that I could get enough of the sizes I wanted)
a few blueberries, raspberries, and other berries or soft fruit
|My mom had already sliced it before I managed to get a photo off, but you get the idea.|