Pink dragon fruit (pitaya) + rose water in a creamy, delicate raw cheesecake is such a simple, dreamy treat — made all the more lush and creamy with the help of a little coconut cream instead of oil ?
Now about that pink pitaya… finding pink dragon fruit in Canada (or at least in Ontario) has been mission impossible from day one — and I’ve looked everywhere! (or at least it feels like). So much white pitaya, and sometimes a yellow variety will crop up too (both of which I adore of course), but no pink pitaya to be found for the life of me. To this day I’ve yet to taste a fresh pink dragon fruit.
Why does that matter?! I don’t know, but I’m a crazy fruity person and have a zeal for tasting all kinds of new things and this pink pitaya became an elusive unicorn I’ve been chasing with fervor…
And so, while Ontario appears to have some bizarre pink dragon fruit prohibition going on ? I’ve opted for the next best thing — pink pitaya powder. And while I’m still waiting for the day my fingers are stained pink by a juicy fresh pitaya, getting powdered (dehydrated) pink pitaya comes with some interesting perks:
- I get to experience some manner of pink dragon fruit ???
- It makes an absolutely gorgeous natural pink (from the gentlest of pinks to the deepest of fuchsias) food coloring
- As a powder added to a raw cake it tastes absolutely amazing. Contrast that to beetroot powder, which while I love, there’s a limit to how much I could get away with adding to a cake before it starts tasting like a boiled beet ?
- Using a dehydrated powdered form of fruit creates a much creamier cake since there isn’t extra liquid being introduced into the mix via the fruit juice / water content — i.e. amazing cake texture for the win
Believe it or not, I actually only used the tiniest amount of powder for this cake (it is a tiny cake of course, so it’s not overly disproportionate) to get all these pretty shades in there. You could add a lot more to up the flavor of the pitaya or to get deeper shades.
I liked the balance between the hint of pitaya and the hint of rose — it seems the perfect flavor pairing. I’ve been repeating it in my smoothies some days since — just love it.
Also keep in mind that fruit powder is very concentrated. I couldn’t find an exact stat for dragon fruit, but an example I have experience with would be — 1 whole beet yields 1 tbsp dehydrated powder. 1 Vitamix pitcher full of dehydrated greens yields about 2-3 tbsp powder. I imagine just based on my own experience of making fruit and veg powders that 1 pitaya would probably be about 2 tsp of powder or so (which also explains the cost of fruit powders — imagine how many pitayas had to be concentrated into that powder baggy!).
Now to the sourcing part — I got my dragon fruit powder from Just Blends, whom I mentioned in detail in this blue surf cake recipe post. In short though, it’s a small-scale company I can really recommend — the products are really good quality, relatively affordable, and ship world-wide.
If you are unable to get pitaya powder, you can go with a bit of beetroot powder here or another berry powder instead, or use some natural food coloring. But if you are curious to try it out, I say give the pitaya powder a try (if you haven’t already) — it’s a wholefoods, great quality, nutritious product, and will help you make beautiful pink cakes, smoothies, and so on.
I also worked out a discount for Unconventional Baker readers with Steph, the owner of Just Blends, so if you buy from there and want to get a better price use coupon code: UB10% to get ten percent off your purchase. ??
Once you’ve got the powder, you’re all set on your way to delicious, lightly fruity, fragrant, and exotic little cakes ??
As per usual, this recipe is for a tiny 4″ cake (using this type of springform pan). You can also make a flatter 5″ cake if you prefer to use a 5″ springform, or simply use some silicone cupcake molds or a parchment-lined small tupperware container for alternative sizes.
If you want to make a larger-sized cake, you can refer to the downloadable cake sizing up/down guide at the bottom of this post. Also please note, since it’s been coming up a fair bit in questions — I use a classic old-fashioned Vitamix for my recipes. Many of the newer blenders, including the new low profile Vitamixes have a wider pitcher bottom, which means a tiny recipe like this won’t work properly — for the smoothest results in one of these blenders you’ll need to double the recipe just because you need a bit more mixture volume to get things blending properly.
Ok, let’s cake:
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 3 soft medjool dates, pitted
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ¾ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked & strained (*see notes below)
- ⅓ cup coconut cream from a can of full fat milk that's been chilled overnight in the fridge
- 3-4 tbsp maple syrup (to taste)
- ½ tsp raw ground vanilla bean (or contents of half a fresh vanilla bean pod)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1¼ tsp (or more) pink pitaya powder
- 1 tsp rosewater
- Process all crust ingredients in a food processor. Transfer into a 4" springform pan and press down into an even flat crust. Freeze while working on next step.
- Add all filling ingredients, BUT ONLY ¼ tsp pitaya powder, to a power blender and blend into a smooth creamy consistency. Remove a third of this mixture and pour it into the springform pan over the crust, trying to keep it mostly to one side (let's say keep it to the right).
- Add in ½ a tsp more pitaya powder to the remaining mixture in the blender and blend once again to combine. Transfer half this mixture into the springform pan, placing it mostly into the center, or slightly to the left side.
- Add another ½ tsp pitaya powder to the remaining mixture in the blender and blend to combine. Transfer this mixture into the pan, pouring it mostly to the left. Now use a skewer or a small spoon to lightly swirl the mixtures together. I used a circular motion and went mostly around the edges of the pan to create a swirled effect. Feel free to improvise -- just don't over-mix or the different layers will merge into one color.
- Decorate with desired toppings. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight. Keep frozen until serving time. Slice and enjoy! Keep any leftovers frozen.
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.
This post contains affiliate links to the following products I use / recommend for this recipe: edible rose buds, rosewater, 4″ cake pan and 5″ cake pan, silicone liners, Vitamix 1, and Vitamix 2, natural food coloring, and the Just Blends powders if you use the coupon code UB10% to get a 10% discount off your purchase.