Monday, October 7, 2013

Raw Kiwi Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

I know autumn is the time for pumpkin baked goods and I usually try to cook with the seasons.  However, it was such a hot Indian Summer day in San Francisco yesterday, there was no way I was turning on the oven!  Plus, I was in the mood to make a raw cheesecake.  It's so fun figuring out which fruits to use, the color combos, how many layers, the shape and size, etc.  If you're in search of a flexible dessert, this is it.

This time, I went with a kiwi topping since I thought the dark seeds would match well with a chocolate crust. Cooking is like choosing an outfit, you know. :) And who doesn't love a burst of green in desserts?  At first glance, you'd think these were minty green grasshopper pies. But alas, these are tiny bites of cashew creaminess topped with cool and refreshing kiwi purée.

Makes 12+ pieces 

12 mini silicone muffin cups (like these) or a 12-cup mini muffin pan lined with paper baking cups

1/2 cup raw almonds (or other nuts such as pecans or walnuts)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup raisins (or pitted dates)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (or cacao powder)
1 tablespoon maple syrup, optional -- if you want a sweeter crust!
A pinch of salt
  1. Grind the almonds in a blender or food processor for a few seconds. Not too long, just enough to break them down a bit.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until a sticky mixture forms.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly among the bottoms of the mini muffin cups and press down well to form a crust. Set aside.
Cheesecake Filling
Heaping 3/4 cups raw cashews (soaked in water for at least an hour or overnight, and then rinsed)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
  1. Blend all the filling ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Place the mini baking cups on a large plate or baking sheet. (if using the silicone cups)
  3. Spoon the filling evenly over each crust, making sure to leave some room on top for the fruit topping.  Use the back of a spoon to flatten out the tops.
  4. Cover with foil and place in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes before adding the fruit topping.
Fruit Topping
2 kiwis, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon maple syrup, optional -- my kiwis were a little tart, so I added some maple syrup.
  1. Purée the chopped kiwis and maple syrup (if using) in a blender or food processor until smooth. 
  2. Spoon the kiwi purée over the top of each cheesecake.  Use the back of a spoon to flatten out the tops.
  3. Cover again with foil and freeze for at least an hour or overnight.
--> Let the cheesecakes thaw in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Depending on the crust to cheesecake ratio that you used, there will likely be some leftover crust and/or filling.  For immediate gratification, eat the leftovers as is (that's what I did!). Or if you have some extra molds or mini tart pans, you can probably squeeze out a few more little cheesecakes.  It's up to you! Alternatively, you can also use an 8-inch square pan and use this recipe to make one large cheesecake, which will look just as pretty cut up into squares. Just remember to line the pan with foil or parchment paper for easy removal.

No kiwis? Try fresh or frozen mango, pineapple, or berries for the fruit topping. Or leave the fruit out completely and top the cheesecakes with chopped nuts, shaved chocolate, raw caramel, or nothing at all.  Sometimes, simple is best! :)