So I have this awesome new raw maqui berry & tahini cheesecake to tell you about... but first I have a story -- another one of my infamous crazy cake ventures (of the broccoli incident kind... ). So if you've been following this space you know I like to try odd things in an effort to create dietary options for everyone (because I want everyone to have dessert and to have fun in the kitchen, and because I'm crazy curious and have strange ideas from time to time that I simply must actualize just to see what happens). Some of these crazy ideas often become cult classics on the web. And some end up sending me for the hills...
So I've been wanting to make a maqui tahini raw cheesecake -- I absolutely love those two flavors together (berries + tahini in general work quite well). It's one of my favorite nice cream flavors. And it's purple, and I like purple... Back to the point here -- a raw cheesecake with those flavors was easy enough to make, but I wanted to try something different, somehow make it nut-free maybe (due to a lot of reader requests for nut-free recipes). So I was trying to think what's nut-free and purple-friendly (that's not cauliflower)?
The answer seemed right before my eyes -- I was eating some black rice and thought hmmm... black rice is purple, I've never tried to "cheesecake" black rice... Let's do this. So I did. Seemed simple enough (though the flavors were a bit hard to adjust at first). It looked pretty... just like one of my regular cheesecakes. All seemed to go well. When I opened it up to take photos I was so excited. Such a pretty little cake!
...but I knew the gig was up when I couldn't slice through it. AT ALL. I let it thaw out... and thaw out... But still so hard to cut. I managed to carve it eventually. More like SAW it... It was a real muscle ripping exercise (and an exercise in patience too... I just had to keep telling myself it was good resistance training -- something I've been told I need to do more of ?). Anyways, I finally got a darn slice out of it. And then I tasted it...
Have you ever tasted WOOL? I imagine not. How about FELT? Anyone? This cake had the flavor, texture, and consistency of literally rolling up some felt and trying to bite through. Ridiculous. How is that even possible?! I think it's the kind of discovery nobody in history will probably ever come to. Only me, and my ridiculous attempt at making a raw-style cake from cooked black rice. ?
The whole incident made me kind of laugh. One of my best friends has always had a very strange phobia of biting down on wool. The thought of someone pulling a wool mitten off their hand with their teeth would make her shudder. I pictured myself serving her this cake... that would have been quite amusing to watch ? But I'm not that cruel, of course. So into the garbage the pretty (useless) cake went. Of course I had to quickly redeem myself, so I made a proper raw cheesecake with maqui and tahini and the usual suspects (cashews & co.) and it turned out absolutely delicious. Phew.
P.S. I got inspired with the mood and decorating of this cake by a painting from one of my favorite art books by Zeng Hao (in photo below). In case you're wondering after checking the book out... Yes, it's in Chinese. But the art work is phenomenal. And in any event, it inspired this cake... and I love how it turned out. Love spontaneous inspo like that.
A few other things. This recipe uses maqui berry powder. AKA my favorite berry powder. I know the berry powders have a stigma with some -- mainly they are too expensive, over-hyped, better go with fresh, etc. I personally agree with all those statements. Except for the over-priced part. If you've ever tried to dehydrate and create your own berry powders, you'd understand why these are worth every penny. You're actually getting pretty much equal value actually -- whether you're buying a pint of berries or a tablespoon of powder -- it's pretty much the same. The advantages of using a berry powder from time to time are: a). It lasts a loooong time, so you can always have some on hand for a quick nice cream or smoothie or cake. b). You can pack a lot of flavor and color with a pinch of berry powder into a recipe. c). I love maqui berries and they don't grow around here... so powder is pretty much my only option.
Alternatively, you can use any berry powder you like. Tahini + raspberries or blueberries is a pretty good combo. But did I mention maqui is purple? The loveliest shades of purple? :) This is the brand I always go for btw.
Oh, and one last note -- if you're not in the mood for a whole cake thing, or don't have an occasion to make a cake for, or just want dainty little treats instead, skip the crust and make tiny pods (as below) in a mini silocone cupcake pan. So good for a quick bite.
P.S. As per the usual lately, this recipe is for a small 4" cake. Triple (thinner) or quadruple (taller) for a 6" if you prefer.
P.P.S. For tips on how to make these types of cakes like a pro, check out my book Unconventional Treats.Print
Maqui Tahini Raw Cheesecake
A raw, vegan cashew based cheesecake bringing together the unique flavors of tahini and berries. Gluten-free.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4" mini cake
- Category: Cake
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Dessert
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 1 soft medjool date
- ½ tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp maqui berry powder
- ½ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked and strained
- 3 tbsp maple syrup (or agave)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, liquefied
- 2 tbsp maqui berry powder
- 2 tbsp water
- 1½ tbsp tahini (use a kind that tastes good to you)
- juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp raw ground vanilla bean(or another teaspoon extract -- but ground is recommended for best flavor)
- ¼ tsp salt
- Cacao nibs, rose buds and petals (I used lighter colored petals and darker buds), dark chocolate coated quinoa puffs or chocolate shavings.
- Process all crust ingredients, except maple syrup, in a food processor until a sticky crumble is formed. Add maple syrup and process again to combine. Transfer the mixture into a 4" springform pan and press to form a crust along the base and a bit up the edges all around. Place the pan in the freezer while working on the next step.
- Blend all filling ingredients in a power blender until completely smooth. Pour this mixture into the pan over the crust. Smooth out the top. Decorate with toppings.
- Freeze for 5 hours or overnight. Thaw out a touch and enjoy! Keep leftovers frozen.
The cake looks amazing!
Sorry but I'm confused about this cake - it doesn't seem to have any cacao in the filling or crust - where does it get its dark brown colour from? The berry powder and maple syrup? Should I add cacao to the filling?
Hi Justine -- the color is actually a darker purple and comes from the maqui berry powder (no cacao in the recipe). I photographed the cake at night time so the color in them appears a bit darker. The last photo was shot in daylight (of the tiny cake), so you can see the purple better. Hope that explains things :)
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
You have to try these things to discover they don't work :D What a sad story about the rice but at least this cheesecake turned out brilliantly!
Thanks Kari :) And yes, if I hadn't tried I would never have believed someone that such a thing could be made from food and not from wool or felt...
Maybe I'm blind and missing it, but what do you do with the little balls of crust that you've set aside?
Hi Sara -- thanks for the catch and sorry about that. I incorrectly copied it from the wrong set of recipe notes :S No balls -- just one base. Sometimes I make little balls to decorate the cake with, but I didn't do that in this cake. I just corrected this in the recipe.
Sarah | Well and Full says
How do you always make the most beautiful raw cheesecakes, girl? You're a magician!! :D
Thanks Sarah! Cheesecakes are beautiful cakes naturally :)
Natalie | Feasting on Fruit says
Rice in cheesecake, that is so out there I never would've even thought of it as the subject of a cake fail story :D The way you described it is so vivid though! And for some reason I read it as "rolling up in some felt and trying to bite through, so I'm imagining someone human burrito-ing themselves and then trying to eat the wrap :D The first thing that comes to my head for purple friendly and nut free is a purple sweet potato, but I think just sticking to good old cashews was a very good choice. I adore the purpleness <3
Oh yes, I wish I had some of those purple potatoes. They're just non-existent over here. There's only 1 kind of potato I can pick at the local store ? ... a purple sweet potato is a tad too exotic for these parts it seems. But yes, that would have been so awesome. And lol on the human burrito! No... more like taking a bunch of felt, rolling it up real tight into a "sausage" and trying to bite through. Probably the strangest thing I've ever tasted ?