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.
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.
- 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
- 1/8 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.