I don't think I've ever walked by a fruit stand selling physalis (also known as ground cherries) and not picked up a punnet. These lovely vibrant, sweet and sour berries are too much to miss out on. Besides, the look of them makes me happy -- they are such a graceful little berry; like something out of a fairy tale. Not to mention: total autumn vibes ??
Turns out they make a pretty darn good raw cheesecake too.
If you've never tried physalis, I highly recommend giving these berries a try -- especially if you love things with a bit of a zing, like passion fruit, citrus, etc. ?
They go by different names in different places: physalis, ground cherries, cape gooseberries, golden berries, Inca berries, Aztec berries, and the list goes on... Honestly, with such an international audience picking the right name for the berry has been the most difficult thing about describing this recipe ?. Every time I say "physalis," someone asks if I mean "ground cherries," if I say "ground cherries" I'm asked if it's the same thing as "golden berries," and so on... I don't even know what we say here in Canada anymore -- just sticking to physalis! :) If they're called something else in your country, leave a comment -- the more the merrier ?. The good thing is the berries' look is so distinct, you won't miss them at the fruit stand.
And when you're done admiring the lovely husks, remove them and get caking!
If for some reason you can't find any where you are / current season, etc., or just can't have these berries, a lovely similar and slightly exotic-flavored alternative is this longan fruit raw cheesecake. But of course I hope you do find some of these berries, so you can give both these cakes a go... ??
In a raw cheesecake recipe like this they add a beautiful natural pastel yellow color, a lovely tartness, and a playful autumnal feel. And of course, as with various other berries, a good dose of added nutrition.
It's a nice switch-up from a regular old cheesecake treat for when you're feeling like something more sophisticated, but which requires the most minimal effort to get there (aka pretty much all my baking in a nutshell ??).
A couple of notes:
- I used pistachios to accent the cake as a topping and loved the added flavor. In retrospect, I think this cake would be lovely with a pistachio crust as well.
- As usual lately, this recipe is for a small 4″ cake. Triple (thinner) or quadruple (taller) for a 6″ if you prefer. Note, if you have a low-profile blender, you might have to increase the cake size. I make these small cakes using my Vitamix, but I know for those that upgraded to the newer low-profile models blending small batches for raw cakes can be a challenge. I explain a bit more about it on my baking resources page. Also, see cake multiplication guide further down to help you increase the cake size as needed.
Raw Physalis Cheesecake
A raw cheesecake made with golden berries (also known as physalis), which lend their sweet and sour notes and pastel yellow hue to this treat. This recipe is grain & gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4" cake
- Category: Cake
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Dessert
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 1 soft medjool date, pitted
- ½ tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tbsp coconut oil
- ½ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked and strained*
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 20 physalis berries, de-husked
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp salt
- A few more physalis berries, chopped pistachios
- Process all crust ingredients in a food processor into a sticky crumble. Transfer to a 4" springform pan and press down into a flat crust. Freeze while working on the next step.
- Blend all filling ingredients in a power blender into a smooth consistency (make sure they're all at room temp first). Pour the filling into the pan over the crust and smooth out the top. Decorate with desired toppings.
- Freeze for 5-6 hours or overnight. Thaw out slightly, slice and enjoy! (Keep leftovers frozen).
*To pre-soak nuts: 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). Additional 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.
Is something missing from this recipe? Like where is the cheese to be able to call this a cheesecake??
Hi Kristen, welcome to my website. I share desserts that are dairy-free / vegan, and that are often raw and quirky. This cake is actually a type of dessert called "raw vegan cheesecake" -- it's typically made without cheese, but the ingredient combination lends the flavor and texture of a cheesecake here.
Can I leave out the sweetener if the fruit is sweet enough for me? or does the syrup have any other purpose?
It adds 3 things in the recipe: sweetness, flavor, and liquid content to help things blend together and have a good final texture. If you choose to omit it, I'd compensate with something like a bit of plant milk instead.
Awesome and thank you for your effort!!A quci question,how much is s cup?I live in Spain,so not sure what to work with😀Thank you ia!!
Hi Anna, a cup is 250ml. So if you have a container that holds that amount, use that (I use actual measuring cups though which makes the process a lot simpler). You can also always google the weight of 1 cup of cashews, etc. So for example, 1 cup of whole raw cashews = 125gr, etc. Hope that helps :) Enjoy!
Can you use other berry fruit?
Hi K, you can, but it will change the flavor quite a bit in this particular recipe. Physalis berries are very tart and have a unique flavor, so if you substitute with another fruit you'll need to just adjust the levels of sweetness, add a bit of salt, etc. to taste. It might be easier if you picked a recipe already based in another fruit to work from -- there are lots of similar recipes to this one with other fruits on this blog, if you look on the recipes page and click on the categories "cake" and "fruity" for example. Here are a few examples:
Jenifer Alex says
This fruit is my favorite. I love Physalis. And you made cheescake from the, its amazing. Love this recipe and i will definitely try this. these pictures are damn pretty and i wonder how much tasty this little cake would be. Can't wait to eat this lil lil cake. yum yum.
Thanks so much -- enjoy it :)
Breathtaking! I took one look at that cake and thought, Wow Audrey knows how to decorate! As if I didn't already know that. This looks like your best one yet!
Any idea where I can find these? I live in San Jose, CALIFORNIA
Thanks so much :)
I find them here in Canada in grocery stores that either have a fancier fruit aisle, or in ethnic shops. Around this time of year though I sometimes see them just with the berries at regular grocery stores as well. I'm not sure where to find them in San Jose, but I would try Wholefoods or another whole-foods grocer. Good luck!
Yum! And so darn pretty! My friend forages golden berries, but I have only enjoyed them dried. I love how you highlighted their interesting flavor in this stunning little cake =)
Thanks very much, Ashley. I love the dried ones too, though I find them a bit more tart usually.
Diane Varney says
Way too much salt for this tiny cake (and I love salt).
Edit: Diane, sorry, editing my previous comment. You're right -- it was a typo! ? Just saw your email so went digging through my notes to be sure and yeah, I actually misread them.. ??♀️
I saw in your email you mentioned you made it with passionfruit instead, which I find is even more tart, so maybe that made it even worse because of the extra sour element. Either way, I adjusted the recipe. Thank you for pointing it out.