This post is pre-valentines inspiration for all those people needing some dessert idea's to make for your loved ones! This one comes with a twist. Yes - you guessed it - it's dairy free. That shouldn't stop you making it though. It is thoroughly moreish and will want you coming back for seconds and maybe even thirds.
This post is also for those northern hemisphere folk who have pomegranates in season at the moment. Over here in Australia they aren't in season yet - however you can still buy them as an imported product from your local supermarket. Pomegranates are normally in season during the autumn and winter period.
We planted a pomegranate tree in our yard a year or so back. We still have a ways to go before it will be bearing fruit, probably 5 years or so but I cannot wait for the day I walk out my door and I am able to pick off a beautiful pomegranate from the tree. I find pomegranates one of the most pretty fruits - the little arils (pink seeds) are like little gem stones ripe for the eating. They can be a little annoying to pull apart but I find cutting the pomegranate into wedges and using a fork to flick out the little arils into a bowl does the trick. What more could you want in a cheesecake? A bitter-sweet chocolate base followed by a silky, citrus infused center, topped off with a piquant pomegranate jelly. Thats what these little darlings are all about!
Cheesecake has been non-existent in this household for at least 5 years or more since I was diagnosed with dairy intolerance. (yes poor husband who still can eat dairy) I loved cheesecake with a passion like an Italian loves his spaghetti. New york baked cheesecake was one of my utmost favourite desserts and I truly cannot remember the last time I enjoyed the soft, velvet taste of it in my mouth. Mind you the lack of calories from eating a piece probably has been a good thing!
I have been researching over the years trying to find a "dairy free" cheesecake recipe which didn't use Tofu as the main filling ingredient. I finally found the ingredient that will make all my dreams come true. Cashews. Yes that's right the humble cashew nut. This little nut does some wonderful things once soaked and fermented overnight! It turns into a cream cheese flavoured piece of magic. I found out how to do this through one of my favourite blogs - Healthful Pursuit. I would of never thought to use cashews but it seems the raw eating, vegan world has known about this little trick for some time. Cashew "cream" as it is known is used in so many different ways to substitute dairy - such as ice creams, cream, sour cream etc. The unroasted cashew does not have a strong flavour which makes it perfect to be used to carry other flavours.
To be honest I have no idea what we will be doing for Valentines Day this year. It all kind of falls on the wayside when you have a baby and occasions like this require time and effort which we're a bit lacking in lately. I still want to do something special but maybe not the full blown get dressed up and go out to dinner thing. Maybe something more like a nice home cooked meal with a good glass of wine finished off with a fancy dessert - like these little Pomegranate Cheesecakes. I said to hubby that we shouldn't have to celebrate our love on a particular day - it should be like this everyday....... HA!
I gave one of these little cheesecakes to my sister to try, as she is also dairy intolerant. I got a message back from her exclaiming how scrumptious they were. So at least I know they're a winner. Most of the recipes I put on the blog are eaten by my husband or myself, which leaves it to us to discern if the recipe is a success or not. So if you have made one of my recipes and think something needs a bit of tweeking be sure to let me know via a comment or through my contact page. I am always welcome to feedback.
Mini Dairyfree Pomegranate Cheesecakes
Prep Time: 24 hours
Cook Time: 20 min
Keywords: bake dessert dairy free cake
Ingredients (6-8 mini cheesecakes)
- 1 3/4 cups cashews, raw, unsalted
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- 3/4 cup white spelt flour
- 1/3 cup dark cocoa, unsweetened
- 1/3 cup sugar (can replace with coconut sugar)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch chilli powder optional
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 x batch cashew cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 3 tablespoon maple syrup
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 pomegranate, deseeded - about 1/4 cup of seeds
- 1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup water, extra
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoon cornflour
- 1/2 teaspoon gelatin, powdered
- Red food colouring optional
InstructionsCashew Cream Cheese
Place the raw cashews in a glass dish and cover with water. Place in the fridge to soak for 12 hours. It is important that you place it in the fridge otherwise the nuts go a little rancid sitting on the counter. The cashews should be swollen and soft.
Drain and rinse the cashews with water.
Place the rinsed cashews into a blender or food processor (I used the latter as it gave a creamier consistency). Place the remaining cashew cream ingredients, starting with 2 tablespoons of the water and adding the remaining if necessary to get a smoother consistency.
Process for 2-3 minutes until a smooth consistency is achieved. Place into a bowl and set aside on the bench top for 2-3 hours.
Place a fine sieve over a bowl and line with muslin or cheesecloth. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the lined sieve. Pull up the sides of the cloth and tie the top with a piece of string or twine.
Hang the cheese bag from a wooden spoon placed over the opening of a jug or large vase. It needs to be extended into the air to allow the remaining liquid to drain from the cheese to firm it up.
Leave it a warm place for 24 hours.
Remove the cheesecloth and place into a lidded container an put in the fridge to cool down.Chocolate Crust
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line the base and sides of a 6 hole muffin tin.
In a small bowl sift all of the dry ingredients together.
Place the coconut oil into the bowl and mash with a fork to resemble bread crumbs.
Add the almond milk a tablespoon at a time, stirring with a fork until the dough comes together.
Spread out evenly on the base of the muffin tin holes about 1cm thick. (You may have some dough left over. Use this up by rolling out and cutting out with cookie cutters. Bake at the same time as the crust. )
Place into pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove and cool.Cheese Cake Filling
Place the cream cheese from the fridge into a bowl along with the remaining cheese cake filling ingredients.
Mix to combine the ingredients thoroughly.
Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the muffin holes on top of the cooled chocolate crust.
Spread into the hole evenly making sure that there is no air bubbles in the mixture and leaving enough room to add the jelly later on.
Smooth the top of the filling and place into the fridge while you make the pomegranate jelly.Pomegranate Jelly
Place a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the pomegranate seeds, water and sugar.
Bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer. Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes to soften the seeds and let them colour the liquid. The liquid will become thicker and saucy looking. Add more water if the liquid evaporates too quickly.
Add a few drops of red food colouring if you need the mixture to be a bit more vibrant.
Place the gelatin into the warm mixture and disolve.
Mix the cornflour with the extra water and pour into the pomegranate jelly. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the jelly thickens.
Remove from heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
Spoon the jelly over the top of the cooled cheesecakes.
Place back into the fridge and let it set for 2-3 hours.
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This dessert may seem like a lot of work but for a special occasion it will definitley worth the effort. Making the cashew cream cheese a few days ahead of time will get ahead with making the cheesecake and the rest of the steps can be prepared on the same day.
To make the crust gluten free simply swap the spelt flour to a gluten free alternative such as quinoa flour or almond meal.
I dedicate this post to all the dairy intolerant folks out there who have cheese cake withdrawls! You now can have your cheesecake and EAT it too!
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