Who says that vegans are restricted? Vegans can eat sweet treats two and, quite literally, the proof is in the pudding. We’re delighted to share this ‘cheesecake’ recipe with you from Saffron Soul by Mira Manek (published by Jacqui Small).
There’s something wonderfully smooth about this ‘cheesecake’, decadent but not heavy, rich in flavour and texture but with a delightful lift of saffron-infused lime… and then there’s the fact that it’s vegan. Soaking the cashews makes the ‘cheese’ all the more digestible. The base layer is made of chickpea (gram) flour, dates and coconut oil with an oomph of cardamom so it’s entirely gluten-free; and there’s no refined sugar in this dessert.
For the base
- 120g (4oz/¾ cup) pitted dates, preferably Medjool (about 8 dates)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 100g (3½oz/1 cup) chickpea (gram) flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
For the filling
- 250g (9oz/2 cups) cashews
- 200g (7oz) coconut oil, melted
- 150ml (5fl oz/generous ½ cup) agave nectar or xylitol
- juice of 3 limes
- 1–2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the topping
- 5 tablespoons saffron compote
- finely chopped pistachios
- edible flowers for decoration
For the saffron compote
- juice of 2 lemons or limes
- 1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch) or kudzu
- 2 tablespoons honey
- pinch of saffron
Mix together the lemon or lime juice and cornflour (cornstarch) in a small saucepan off the heat. When combined, cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the honey and saffron and cook, stirring, on a medium–low heat for 5–7 minutes until it thickens (it should be the consistency of a thin cream, but may thicken later). Leave to cool.
- Soak the cashews for the filling in a bowl of water the night before you’re making the cheesecake, or at least 3 hours in advance.
- To make the base, if the dates aren’t soft, soften them in the microwave or a saucepan over a low heat with a little oil for half a minute.
- Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan. Once melted, add the chickpea (gram) flour and cook, stirring, for 12–15 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken and the colour turns from yellow to golden brown. It will darken very quickly once the colour changes slightly, so remove from the heat as soon as it looks just a shade darker. Now stir in the dates and ground cardamom. The dates should melt as you stir, but a few chunks will remain, which is fine as it adds a lovely crunch.
- Layer the base mixture in a 20 centimetre (8 inch) springform cake tin and press down to flatten evenly. Leave to cool, then place in the fridge to set and chill.
- Once the base is cold, make the filling. Drain the cashews, discard the water, and blend the cashews with the melted coconut oil, agave nectar, lime juice and vanilla extract in a high-speed food processor or blender for around a minute until a smooth and creamy consistency.
- Pour the filling onto the base and leave in the fridge to set for a couple of hours or overnight.
- Spread a layer of saffron compote evenly over the top of the cheesecake and decorate with blueberries, chopped pistachios and edible petals. Return to the fridge for at least an hour to set.
- As the base is hard to cut, remove the cheesecake 30 minutes before serving. Slice into 12 pieces and serve with extra berries For the saffron compote