I have a little raw blueberry cashew celebration cake to share with you today, and a story or two (yep! more kitchen fails). A few days ago one of my readers asked me for some rush ideas for a birthday cake for her son's first birthday. Party theme: blue, white, gold. Cake criteria: wholesome and fit to impress a large crowd of "normal eaters" ... Hm... unlike the usual requests I get, filled with a lot of allergen-free needs, etc. this one seemed quite straightforward. And of course, what would impress a crowd of "normal" eaters? Well that one's easy >>> cheesecake, of course -- my answer to everything! :)
When you have a crowd of 200 people to cater to, you want to make it quick and easy, fail-proof, and picky eater approved. That's where I think raw cheesecakes really shine. I've yet to see a person pass them up or not be impressed with them (unless for allergy reasons, of course). They're always a super easy crowd pleaser. So that's where my mind went (did I mention I cheesecake everything?!).
Only, truly, I wanted a blue colored cheesecake. I haven't used food dyes in ages, and didn't have any of my go-to natural ones on hand. My pursuit of creating natural blues in the past has been less than satisfactory. You'd think blueberries would turn blue when blended, but they're deceptive little berries -- lead you on, but turn everything purple instead. Nothing else that's blue came to mind. At least not anything I had on hand...
So I scoured the web and found some tutorials on how to make blue out of red cabbage and baking soda. Darn it, I knew there was a reason I was staring at that red cabbage at the grocery store for so long -- pity I didn't end up buying it! Living remotely means you have to make use of what you've got -- no random trips to the store (unless you have a spare day or two for that sort of thing ;) ). So I looked around my kitchen and started some experimenting, applying the red cabbage theory to other reds and purples I had on hand. Picture mad scientist Audrey entrenched in chemistry experiments all day -- if only they let me do baking in high school chemistry class, I think I would have done quite well :) .
In the process I learned that blueberries don't make a good dye -- you need tons of baking soda to a point where it's all you can taste. Plus one of my attempts turned a boggy GREEN :S. Black currant on the other hand worked a treat (I had some in the freezer from the summer of all things). I made the prettiest shade of blue with some:
SUCCESS....Right?! Well, I used it to make what looked like the prettiest cheesecake -- simple, but with lovely soft shades of blues and whites. I was so excited about it, but then... sad trombone! It turned out a complete mess. The baking soda totally destabilized the cheesecake, and the whole thing didn't set and instead turned into what tasted like a blob of baking soda :O At that point I'd run out of things I could turn into a blue, but also the prospect of that happening again just didn't seem appealing. Back to the drawing board...
What's gold? Cashews. What's even more gold? Toasted cashews. What's white? Cheesecake. What's blue? How about we leave them blueberries intact... ;) That worked. PHEW. The cheesecake turned out lovely, and I think very appropriate for Baby's first birthday. Funny how I can complicate things so much, when a simple combination does the job quite effortlessly.
P.S. After all my experiments, I only had enough materials to make a very small cake. Doubt this 5-incher could feed 200 people... So to have it make more sense for a party, the recipe would obviously need to be multiplied. I put in ingredient amounts for a 9" cake in brackets for that reason.Print
Raw Blueberry Cashew Cheesecake
A raw, vegan blueberry cashew cheesecake themed in white, blue, and gold colors. Guaranteed to please even picky eaters.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 5" cake (or 9" cake)
- Category: Cake
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Dessert
- ¾ cup raw or toasted (for a more golden look) cashews (9": 4½ cups)
- 1 soft medjool date, pitted (9": 6 dates)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (9": 6 tbsp)
- ½ tbsp agave or maple syrup (9": 3-4 tbsp)
- ½ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked and strained (9": 3 cups)*
- 3 tbsp agave or maple syrup (9": 1 cup)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (9": ¾ cup)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, liquefied (9": ¾ cup)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (9": 1 tbsp)
- ⅛ tsp salt (9": ¾ tsp)
- optional: ¼ teaspoon raw ground vanilla bean (9": 1½ tsp)
- optional: ½ teaspoon - 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (9": 1 tbsp)
- ¼ cup fresh blueberries (9": 1½ cups)
- optional: edible dried blue cornflowers
- Process all filling ingredients, except agave / maple, into a fine crumble. Add the sweetener and process to combine into a sticky mixture. Transfer this mixture into a 5" springform pan (or a 9" depending on what you're using -- see notes above recipe), and press into a crust along the base and walls. Place in freezer while working on the next step.
- Process all filling ingredients into a smooth mixture in a high speed blender. Pour this mixture into the prepared crust, filling it a tiny bit lower than the edges of the crust walls. Sprinkle with fresh blueberries and flower petals (if using). Freeze for 5-6 hours or overnight. Enjoy! Keep leftovers in the freezer.
*To pre-soak cashews: place in a glass bowl, cover with water, and leave to soak for 4 hours (or overnight in the fridge). Then strain and discard the water. For a quick pre-soak, cover with boiled water and soak for 15 mins, then strain and discard water. (Note: this technique doesn’t preserve the nutrition of the recipe as well as the traditional soaking technique above). Note: the purpose of soaking the nuts is to re-hydrate them and plump them up for blending into a smooth, cheesecake-like consistency. Proper soaking techniques also maximize nutrition and digestibility. If you’re interested in learning more about nut soaking and other dessert prep tips and tricks, I delve into these subjects in detail in my book Unconventional Treats.
P.P.S. I have a few other blue, white, and gold ideas to share for cakes. I just loved this one, so sharing it here. And if you wanted to do this, but can't have the nuts, you can adapt the cauliflower cake to make a similar concept (I'd use blueberry jam instead of raspberry, which would add a bit of a purple into the mix, but make a lovely cake too).
Loved making it last night and can’t wait to serve it today for dessert at dinner. One question I have is when do I need to take out of freezer to serve, serve at room temperature, or put in refrigerator (how long) before serving? Thank you , Mikey
Hi Mikey. I usually thaw my cakes out about 10 mins or so (can vary depending on how hot it is where you are), on the counter, just until it reaches firm but sliceable consistency. Enjoy it!
Audrey, I hope you can help me. I messed up somehow with this cheesecake. I followed the directions and ingredients exactly. I used your tip for fast-soaking the cashews. Boiling water, then covered for 15 minutes. My filling came out like a paste, and there was hardly any at all. The quantity was more like a layer, or a spread. Thinner than the crust! Lol The consistency was like a paste. It did taste good, but it didn't taste, look, or feel like cheesecake. Nothing like your beautiful picture. What did I do wrong? Is there an ingredient missing? Milk? Coconut milk? Something to give it a cream consistency? I really want to try this again. The crust is really good! Thanks for any advice you have.
Hi Kim. 2 questions:
1. What size cake pan did you use (and did you adjust the ingredients quantity accordingly? The base recipe is for a tiny 5" cake, but the ingredients for a 9" cake are in parenthesis next to each ingredient).
2. What type of blender did you use?
3. Were any of the ingredients modified?
This will help me narrow down what might have gone wrong. Sorry your experience wasn't a "smooth" one :) Hopefully we can figure out how to fix that up.
(P.S. My original reply seems to have gone missing, so I'm reposting it, albeit it seeming quite belated).
I'm trying to make a gender reveal cake for a healthy plant mama and my little brother, do you think this cake would work if I put the blueberries in the middle of the cake as opposed to the top/not close to the edges?? (Do you think it would taste good if I were to put strawberries instead??)
Hi Brie, yes, I think it would work just fine. The only thing to note is that frozen blueberries taste like... well, like frozen blueberries :) so if someone gets a large hunk of frozen blueberries in the middle it might not be the tastiest part of the cake. But if you spread them in a way that's thinner or more moderated I think that would work fine. Same for strawbs! It's a neat idea btw.
Excellent recipe, made it into 6 mini cheesecakes and added some blueberries to the filling. 10/10 will make again!
Thanks so much for sharing. Mini cheesecakes of this sounds great! :)
How long do you soak the cashews for? What do you mean "strained"? I've never soaked cashews before so I'm a little clueless!
Hi Lindsey. I just added soaking instructions to the recipe (see the notes section), so should be clearer now. Please let me know if you have further questions. Enjoy the cake :)
Can you divulge the secret of applying the chopped nuts to the sides of the cake? Love all your recipes! Thanks.
Hey Valerie. I actually didn't apply them to the sides of the cake here in a traditional sense (like you know those cakes you buy at a bakery..). What I did here is just shaped the crust (while working with it step 1) to be a thin layer along the base and all the way up the sides. Then poured the filling in and let the cake set.
In traditional frosted cakes though, if you wanted to add nuts to sides, first you need some kind of a frosting that will hold them (i.e. a cheesecake doesn't make a good frosting subject as it's too firm..), and then you just take small handfuls of the nuts and apply them to the sides a handful at a time. It's a bit tricky to explain, but once you start doing it it's quite simple and you get the hang of it quickly :). But this technique is not necessary for this recipe.
Cashews, vanilla and freshly picked blueberries...such delicious flavors and melt-in-your-mouth awesomeness! Thank you, Audrey! It turned out so good! Oh, and, it was super easy to make. Thank you!
Aw, so happy you liked it Lana! :) Thank you for the feedback.
Hi, Audrey, thank you so much for the recepie, but I have a question regarding the quantities of cashews. Are they correct while changing from 5" to 9"? I will be making 10" :) Thanks in advance!
Yes, the 9" ingredients are in brackets. You could make a flatter 10" from that, or multiply the 9" ingredients by 1.5 to make the 10" look like this or by 2 to have a tall 10". The only problem is that your blender might struggle with the larger amount of ingredients, so you'll probably need to make the filling in 2 batches just to be safe.
I hope that question is not too embarrassing.. it´s regarding the quantities of cashews.. when I change from 9" to 10" you wrote I should multiply by 1,5.. so that means for every inch i multiply the ingredients by 1,5..but does that not mean I should first multiply ¾ (because that´s for 5") by 1 ½ for 6" and what comes out multiply by 1 ½ to get 7" and that by 1 ½ for 8" and the quantities for 8" by 1 ½ to get the 9"? I`m just confused, because I have to change the quantities in the other recipes as well.. I`m sorry if my question is a bit complicated...
Hi Hang. I can understand the confusion. No worries :)
The one inch increase doesn't seem to warrant the 50% increase of the recipe... but in many cases it does :) The way the conversion works is not so much based on the diameter in inches, but on the volume of the pan. I calculated the ideal measurements for increasing / decreasing cake sizes based on average pan volumes (which are listed in the downloadable guide at the bottom of the post above), so the conversions I propose are based on the average amount of liquid a pan can contain. A 1" increase in diameter significantly increases the volume of liquid the pan can hold as you get to the larger size pans. So in the smaller pan sizes (say you're jumping from 4" to 5") it's not a huge deal, but when you're jumping from 9" to 10" the volume increase is much larger). Additionally larger pans tend to have taller sides, which means more volume going upwards to keep the taller look of the cake intact.
thank You so much! that makes sense now otherwise I was a bit confused. all your cakes are amazing btw. I make a few every week! sooo addicted to them:)
Ester Perez says
This looks amazing and pretty simple! I haven't used cashews in my crust! I bet they would be great! Does the orange blossom water give a hint of oranges?? Never tried that! Sounds exotic :) Xoxo, Ester
I love using cashews in crusts. They're softer, gentler, sweeter. And also I love the comfort of just buying one kind of nut for the whole recipe -- sometimes that just makes more sense than buying a lot of different ingredients. Then again, I love using all kinds of nuts in crusts, so it's just a matter of preference and I'd go with whatever I have on hand or feel inspired by. In this recipe the cashew crust made extra sense because of its golden hue, which fit the occasion :)
Edit: Forgot the orange blossom water -- so it actually doesn't taste like an orange. It's more of a delicate floral flavor. Quite delicious and fragrant. It's used a lot in Middle Eastern cuisine and also in many European baked goods (like in France, Spain, etc.). It's a nice new flavor to try out sometime.
Ester Perez says
Thanks Audrey! I will have to try that orange blossom water. ..sounds lovely. Great point for the cashew crust! The colors do look beautiful! Xoxo, Ester
You are the sweetest! A super special start of easter! !! Thank u sooo much! !!! Lots of love! !!!!
So happy it works, Maria :) I posted the second recipe on the blog btw, but I love this one most personally -- super easy and delicious.
What can i use instead of coconutoil? Thank you
You can use 2 extra dates in the crust in place of the coconut oil. In the filling, a good substitute can be: cacao butter or dairy-free butter.
Sarah | Well and Full says
Ahh the elusive natural blue food coloring!! Girl, if you can find a blue food coloring that works in a raw vegan cheesecake, I'm pretty sure you will be crowned Baking Queen of the World ;)
I know -- it's so elusive that coloring. I'll have to nail it though -- on a mission here ;)
Natalie | Feasting on Fruit says
The still elusive natural blue! I got really excited when I saw your picture of the bowl of blue creaminess, but then I read "blob of baking soda" part and sadness again. It's funny I'll get so caught up in appearances and then remember oh yeah it has to actually still taste good too :D I saw Fully Raw Kristina's blue smoothie recently that she made with spirulina and blueberries so i tried it...nope grey. I don't know how she did it!? This little cake still came out super cute and color-themed though. I love the flavors--blueberry, vanilla, and cashew are all favorites of mine <3
Thanks Natalie :) Yes, and I can't forget Tiina's beautiful blue parfait too -- only sadly I don't have any Finnish winter lighting to share with others for the recipe to work ;) -- that was her trick.
The baking soda trick works in things like frostings -- I've seen people do it with purple cabbage juice and it looked gorgeous. I found the video this lady made helpful, in case you need some fuel for your own experiments ;)
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
Blueberry = not blue...purple/violet! The biggest conundrum of the food world ;)
But all the gold...well yes <3 Cashew are gold in every aspect!
You should have used some purple sweet potatoes! They get blueish when baked! But add baking soda and it's the same greyish..sometimes green color! Hahahaha!
Oh, how I wish I could lay my hands on some of those purple potatoes. I've yet to find them anywhere!