This little raw cheesecake is not like the others… Can you tell? I didn’t think so. What’s the difference? It’s cashew-free! Now, in case you may not know why this is exciting — this little gem is the result of much experimenting to find the perfect alternative to the traditional cashew-based raw cheesecake. I know there are plenty of you who can’t do cashews, so today’s your lucky day.
You know me and my cheesecakes, right? Actually, if it’s your first time here, maybe you don’t… so let me fill you in: I LOVE making raw cheesecakes. They’re probably one of my favorite desserts to make, and something I whip up several times a week… (in fact, I make so many I can’t keep up with sharing the recipes for them on the blog, so I’ve been selfishly keeping them all to myself or shelving them for special projects instead… This one was going to suffer the same fate, but after getting so many requests for it since sharing a pic on Instagram I just had to post it here!). Almost every time I share a cheesecake recipe I get comments and emails from people who can’t do cashews, and feel a little sad about it because I want everyone to have their cake!
I use cashews for most of my cheesecakes because they are the easiest nut to work with — they have a pretty neutral flavor and a wonderfully smooth, soft texture that mimics the taste and feel of a real cheesecake pretty darn well. But you can most definitely make a raw “cheesecake” out of other nuts as well, and in fact I frequently do (especially when I run out of cashews…).
In most cases it’s not a straight substitution though, as each nut has its own flavor and texture, and the cake will behave quite differently if you just sub out cashews for other nuts. You often need to tweak the sweetness levels, add more coconut oil for binding, add a bit more flavor to offset any prominent tastes, look out for grittiness issues, etc. So as you can imagine, while I’m always happy to share substitution ideas on given recipes, it’s not always so straightforward if I haven’t tested it yet myself. Today however, I thought I’d give you a cheesecake recipe that’s naturally cashew-free so you don’t need to worry about any of those nagging details.
For this cake I used macadamia nuts. Ok, *cringe* don’t roll your eyes at me… I know macadamia nuts aren’t the cheapest, but they are great for this sort of dessert on several counts: they blend into an exceptional texture that mimics real cheesecake, they are naturally pale-colored, and have a fun flavor that pairs beautifully with the strawberries and lime in this recipe. Is it worth the splurge? I definitely think so! Most especially if this is made for a special occasion. Now, if you’re making it just for yourself and are concerned with the cost, I have a solution — get yourself a tiny pan and make a smaller version of this. I do that all the time, which brings me to my next point…
I’ve gotten several questions in the last few days about the pans I use. So I thought I’d give you a quick breakdown. Don’t worry, it’s nothing fancy or expensive. For this cake I used my 6″ springform pan. It’s my most used pan and I really like it. (Tip: if you’re buying a 6″ pan, look for the ones with tall rims, like the one I linked to, as they are so much more versatile). I also use several 4″ pans for smaller cakes that I love to use for when I feel like making a small treat. And then I have a 9″ pan which I hardly use these days (unless baking for a special occasion) because at the rate I’m going I’d be making waaay too much dessert to keep up with ;)
The recipes are quite adaptable to your pan size, though. Here’s a general guide of how to use my 6″ pan recipe: If using a 9″ pan — double the recipe. If using a 4″ pan — use a third of the recipe (or make the full recipe, but split between three 4″ pans).
Other suggestions — use a cupcake pan instead for smaller cheesecakes. I do that sometimes and it works a treat. Or tupperware containers — just line them with parchment paper first so you can remove your cake once it’s set and you’re good to go.
Ok, back to this cake… Strawberries + Macadamia + Lime make an otherworldly dessert! The strawberries and lime cut and balance out the richness of the macadamia and make this cake light, sweet, tart, and very flavorful.
But, if you still want to go with cashews for any reason, you can always use this older raw strawberry cheesecake recipe instead. I have many other recipes that use alternative nuts and seeds for cheesecakes that I’ll be sharing in an upcoming project I’m working on, so stay tuned if for any reason cashews and macadamia don’t work for you.
Also, feel free to let me know in the comments what you’re looking for / looking to avoid — I always like to hear what kinds of things you’re interested in! That’s how this cake came about, after all ;)
- *Make sure ALL ingredients are at room temperature before starting -- very important!
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 3 soft medjool dates, pitted
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (or agave, coconut nectar, brown rice syrup, yacon, etc.)
- 1½ cups macadamia nuts, presoaked and strained (cover with water overnight or with boiling water for 15 mins for a quicker version to soften the nuts, then strain)
- 9 tbsp maple syrup (or agave, coconut nectar, brown rice syrup, yacon, etc.)
- 5 tbsp coconut oil, liquified
- 7 tbsp lime juice
- zest of 1 lime (optional, for extra zing)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup fresh strawberries (or if using frozen, make sure they are thawed out to room temp)
- 1 cup more fresh strawberries
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, liquified
- Place all crust ingredients into a food processor and process into a fine sticky crumble. Transfer the mixture into your springrorm pan and press down into a crust shape. Place in the fridge while working on the filling.
- Blend all filling ingredients into a smooth mixture (a power blender like a Vitamix works best, or just pause frequently to scrape down the sides and keep blending). Transfer most of this mixture, leaving about 1-2 tbsp in the blender, into the pan over the crust. Set aside.
- Add extra strawberry layer ingredients into the blender and blend into a smooth mixture. Carefully pour this over the filling in the pan (I like to use a spoon and just plop the mixture bit by bit over the filling rather than pour it straight down so that it's distributed a bit more evenly). Use a skewer to swirl in the top layer into the bottom layer a little (optional). Top with any decorative toppings if using.
- Cover the pan (I like to cover it with paper towel then a sheet of plastic wrap and an elastic to help it not get too much of a frost bite, but it's optional) and place in the freezer for approximately 5-6 hours or preferably overnight for the cake to set. Remove the cake from the freezer and thaw out a little before serving (about 1 hour in the fridge or 15-20 minutes at room temp). Enjoy! (Freeze any leftovers).