Sunday, June 10, 2012

Frozen Strawberry Lemon 'Cheesecake'

Hello there.  Life has been busy and wonderful.  Apologies for the silence.  Donny and I flew down to D.C. last weekend for a dear friends' wedding in Virginia, a garden party set on the Potomac River.  On the flight home, I kept replaying scenes of the wedding in my head and smiled.  It was a beautiful sunny day in June, the kind of day every bride hopes for.  We drank wine on the grass, danced barefoot into the night, and indulged in cake as light as air.  It was a weekend filled with good friends, good food, and lots of laughter.  I thought I'd share a few scenes I captured during the day, including the pink and yellow flowers scattered around the venue.  Pink and yellow also happen to be the inspiration behind the strawberry and lemon flavor in this cake.

We arrived back in Boston on Sunday under a cloudy gray sky.  The week that followed is somewhat of a blur.  My party dress still sat in a wrinkled ball in a backpack I had yet to unpack.  I barely had time to go grocery shopping or complete a single load of laundry, never mind cook a decent meal.  I consumed a lot of cereal and almond butter on toast.  I also took in a little houseguest, a chihuahua in transition, who I'm happy to report found a lovely home by Friday morning.  This filled me with overwhelming joy and I could finally sleep a solid night's sleep.  Life resumed to normalcy and I found my way back to the kitchen thanks to the arrival of strawberries.  I picked them.  I ate them.  And then I made a cake.  Not just any cake, but a cheesecake.  And not just any cheesecake, a 'cheesecake' made with cashews.  Did I mention it's raw and frozen and doesn't require any baking?  I can't take credit for this idea.  Most any raw dessert cookbook will likely have a raw cheesecake recipe. I've also seen beautiful versions here and here, which I've adapted from.

This cake is dairy free, gluten free, and sweetened with raw honey.  The crust is made from ground almonds and dates, which makes for both a sweet and crunchy base.  The filling is comprised of cashews, coconut oil, lemon juice, and honey.  It's so wonderfully different than the traditional version.  It's light, tangy, and has a luscious smooth consistency that can't be beat.  What really puts this cake over the top for me is the final layer.  It reminds me of strawberry Italian ice, a frozen slushy mixture that melts and oozes down the cheesecake as it thaws out on the counter.  It's become my go to indulgence, transporting me straight to my happy place, a place that allows me to avoid my overflowing hamper temporarily.  I could actually go on avoiding most of life's unpleasantries with a slice of this cake.  I'd encourage you to do the same.  

But first I'd encourage you to go strawberry picking because this season's juiciest and sweetest berries will make the best cake.  I picked a few quarts yesterday morning with this cake in mind.  I also take back what I said before about never massacring June strawberries in a blender.  I did it and I don't regret it.  I should warn you; the most difficult part of this recipe is waiting for the cake to freeze before eating it, and then waiting again for it to thaw.  Minus the wait, it's all pretty effortless.  Cut a giant slice of pretty pink goodness and find cause for celebration.  It looks like June is shaping up to be pretty sweet so far.  I have photos of a beautiful bride and a beautiful wedding to prove it.  

~Frozen Strawberry Lemon 'Cheesecake'~
Adapted from Roost and My New Roots

1 cup almonds
1 cup Medjool dates
1/4 tsp sea salt

3 cups raw unsalted cashews, soaked overnight and drained
1 cup strawberries
2/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup raw honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup strawberries
1 tbsp raw honey
1/4 cup orange juice

Crust: Pulse almonds, dates, and sea salt in a food processor until well combined and crumbly.  Press the crust into the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan.

Filling: Combine cashews, strawberries, coconut oil, raw honey, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in a food processor or high-speed blender until smooth and well combined.  Pour the mixture on top of the crust and spread evenly.  

Topping: Add strawberries, raw honey, and orange juice to blender.  Blend until smooth and pour on top of the 'cheese' layer.  Freeze overnight.  Take the cake out to thaw for about 40-50 minutes before serving.  You'll want to cut it when it's still semi-frozen.  Serves 8.


Donny said...

I love this dessert, so delicious and light, the topping added the extra sweetness you expect in a cake, without all the Sugar! The best part is, it feels like an ice cream cake (which I love) when it's still a little frozen in the middle.
Great Recipe!

Colleen @ Culinary Colleen said...

Wow, what an interesting recipe. Sounds like the perfect dessert for a hot summer day!

Annette said...

I love this recipe, no bake that's my kind of dessert as you know I do not bake, so even I can put this on my table and say I made dessert. Can't wait to try it, love the pictures.

Clair said...

This is unbelievably gorgeous. What a masterpiece.

Your other photos are also beautiful, and your description of the wedding made my heart melt. Sounds like an amazing time.

Anonymous said...

Your photos are simply breathtaking, ridiculously beautiful! And your writing also, this recipe just looks amazing. You make something so simple seem so gorgeous!

Stephanie said...

Colleen, it is! I have a feeling I'm going to be making it all summer long.

Mrs. Skoog! Your first comment :) You would love this and yes, you could certainly make it! Maybe we can replace the carvel cake with this one for the birthdays ;) I'm obsessed with it. It's that good!

Clair and love2dine-thank you so much!

SkinnyMommy said...

This dessert looks fantastic! Beautiful pictures too!

Amy said...

Wow! This looks absolutely amazing, Stephanie. I love how it's a frozen dessert, it looks perfect for a sunny day in June. And I am jealous that you got to attend such a beautiful wedding in Virgina. It looks idyllic. Glad life is keeping you busy and happy, that's the best thing to be I think.

thyme (Sarah) said...

Wow. that wedding does look beautiful. But...that is stunning. It is so soft and sweet that would be at a bridal shower event. Are you a fan of the blog "Green Kitchen Stores"? I'll bet you would love their recipes...all raw, vegan, and sugar free...

Stephanie said...

Sarah-you're right, it would be a great bridal/baby shower dessert for sure. And I am a fan of Green Kitchen Stories. Isn't that blog amazing? I found it a few months back. Such amazing photography. It's so inspiring, isn't it? They have some of the most creative desserts I've seen.