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
A raw, vegan blueberry cashew cheesecake themed in white, blue, and gold colors. Guaranteed to please even picky eaters.
- ¾ cup raw or toasted (for a more golden look) cashews (9": 4 ½ 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": 1 ½ tsp)
- optional: ½ teaspoon - 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (9": 1 tbsp)
- ¼ cup fresh blueberries (9": 1 ½ 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).