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Raw Cherry Garcia "Cheesecake"

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This recipe is inspired by 2 things - from My New Roots food blog of Sarah's Raw Cashew Dreamcake and by one of the many favorite flavors of Ben & Jerry's - Cherry Garcia.  I've been meaning to make Sarah's recipe with blueberries instead, but found that my kids had eaten most of the blueberries, so I had to go for a different type of fruit.  We still had 2-3 bags of fresh cherries and this week I remembered to actually buy more 85% dark chocolate.  How can you go wrong with cherries and chocolate?  Yum!

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of a single slice - my kids finished off the rest of  it before I could take more pics

Anyway, I did take some pictures of this "cheesecake" that actually has NO DAIRY.  The "cheese" part is really made of cashews.  This "cheesecake" does not require baking either, so is perfect for those hot summer days.  I made this near at the last minute and we made do with how it turned out.  The freezer did help.

Makes 1 - 8" Round - 10-12 slices

Ingredients for Crust:
  • 10-12 Medjool dates softened, pits removed
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 tspn sea salt
Ingredients for Filling:
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, Grade B
  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hrs or overnight (I only had 3 hrs to soak mine)
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • zest of 1 lemon (I like extra lemony flavor and will do that next time)
  • 1 1/2 tspns vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cherries, pits removed
  • 2 oz of coarsely chopped 85% dark chocolate in small bits
Directions for Crust:
  • Put all ingredients in food processor and process to the consistency you want.  If you want a fine crust, process for longer.  When you take a little bit out with your fingers and press together, it should hold.  That's how you know if it's processed enough.  
  • Spread the crust mixture on the bottom of an 8" springform pan.  Make sure it's about even and there are no gaps.  Gentle press down.  If you don't have a springform pan and have a pie plate or a square baking dish, you can use these instead.
Doesn't this look beautiful?  It tastes yummy, too!
Directions for Filling:
  • Drain raw cashews from the water and put cashews in blender.  Add the fresh lemon juice, extract, coconut oil, maple syrup. 
Raw cashews, lemon juice, vanilla extract, coconut oil, maple syrup
  • Process until very smooth.  This may take a couple minutes or more, but you really want to use your most powerful blender.  If you have a Blendtec or a VitaMix, this may be only a minute.  I used a Blendtec.  However, if you're using a less powerful blender, this may take 2-4 min.  You want the mixture very creamy smooth.  
It was very creamy.  I used the "Smoothie" option on the Blendtec, which is less than 1 min.
  • Pour 3/4ths of the mixture over the crust in the springform pan.  This will look like a creamy vanilla color.
I actually poured 2/3rds of what I had and should've done 3/4ths
  • Now add the cherries and chocolate to the remaining 1/4th of mixture still in the blender.  Blend until the cherries are smooth.  The chocolate does not necessarily need to be smooth, as it tastes great with little bits of chocolate.
This doesn't look like much, but it's 2 cups of pitted cherries.
  • Pour the cherry mixture over the creamy layer.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and put in freezer until solid.  This will probably take 3-5 hrs.  (I didn't have time to do this)
Ideally make it the night before, but this was in the freezer for 1 hr before I took it out to take with me to Single Moms
  • To serve, take a sharp knife and run under hot water and slice.
  • Top with additional fresh cherries & grated chocolate.  (I didn't have time to do this.)

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