I really want to start this post with a thank you, to all of you who read my posts, send me wonderfully kind, thoughtful messages, make my recipes and share my photos with the world. A year ago, I was not in the happiest place mentally in my life; I had finished University and was completely lacking direction and motivation, and was feeling isolated and alone having moved to a new city. I believe that food really does have the power to heal you, and so in January I began sharing photos of my (very sad!) little bowls of porridge and nicecream on Instagram, to encourage myself to nourish my soul with healthy, wholesome foods, and to connect with other raw foodies (as they are few and far between around here!).
I started this blog as a way to practise my photography, and to try to regain some of the creativity I had lost whilst studying, and it has been the most challenging, but rewarding thing I have ever done. Not only am I now able to use other settings on my camera besides ‘Automatic’, but I have been fortunate to connect with so many inspiring, compassionate, talented people, which has given me amazing opportunities, and a real sense of purpose and direction again. One of these opportunities, was being given the honour of having a number of my recipes featured in the special ‘Raw Food Diet’ edition of Free From Heaven this month, which was a very surreal experience as I have never seen my work in print before; such is this digital age we live in! Not only this, was I was incredibly lucky to be offered the opportunity to work at the magazine, which feels like a dream come true! I feel so blessed to be able to continue to do what I love, so thank you all for giving me the confidence to continue posting photos beyond the decidedly boring porridge bowls!
But now onto more important matters; matters concerning caramel, apples and cheesecakes- all in one dessert, (because I know that’s what you really came here for!). These little mini raw caramel apple cheesecakes are half delicious spiced apple pie, and half creamy vanilla cheesecake; they’re basically a combination of two of the best desserts of all time, and as a result, are completely irresistible.
My mum came to visit me last week, and as she has never tried raw food before (except for a couple of my cookies and brownies), I decided to take her to the Health Hub in Bristol, which serves completely gorgeous raw food, like their absolutely perfect raw lasagne and Sun food platter. I always expect people to react the same way I did when they try raw food for the first time; for me it was a complete light-bulb moment of clarity, but I think she would have been happier if they’d added a little cheese and given her a bread roll on the side! However, she was much more excited when we got home and I served her up one of these lovely, sticky morsels, and she is not an easy woman to please!
The base is a chewy layer of walnuts, almonds and dates, spiced with cinnamon, filled with a melt-in-your-mouth layer of creamy vanilla cheesecake, all topped with a generous layer of sweet caramel apple. I probably should have made these larger, because they were so tiny and cute, that I convinced myself it was ok to eat two at a time, so they did not stick around for long! Self restraint does not exist around these puds, let me tell you that! Although, does the words self-restraint and dessert ever go together in the same sentence? Unless, of course, that sentence is ‘I have no self-restraint around desserts!’
Autumn is here in all it’s chilly glory, and that means the season of glorious, warming, spiced foods is upon us! Cinnamon can helps cut short the life of the common cold, and can help alleviate some of the symptoms, as it has anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only this, but it is a powerful immune booster too, so eating foods packed full of cinnamon as Winter approaches is a good way to help prepare your body to fight off any nasties that are flying around. These desserts are not only delicious, but as they are packed full of cinnamon, you can eat them, safe in the knowledge that you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to fight bugs and viruses! And they do also say, that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, so these cakes are basically a necessity in the months where we are more prone to coughs and colds! So now you have no excuse not to make these scrummy cheesecakes!
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- ¾ cup (95g) walnuts
- ¼ cup (30g) almonds
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 7 Medjool dates
- 1 Tbsp coconut syrup
- ¾ cup (112g) cashews (soaked overnight)
- 4 Tbsp coconut syrup (OR maple syrup)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 4 generous Tbsp coconut butter (OR coconut oil)
- 30ml coconut milk
- ¾ apple (I used Jazz variety)
- 8 Medjool dates
- 3 Tbsp coconut syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of pink Himalayan salt
- 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
- Place the walnuts and almonds into a food processor and pulse until you they turn into a coarse flour.
- Add in the dates, coconut syrup and cinnamon, and pulse again until the mixture sticks together and has a dough like consistency.
- Dampen your hands slightly, and roll the raw dough into a ball in your hands, and then roll the dough flat between two pieces of greaseproof paper until it is very thin.
- Use a circular biscuit cutter to cut small circles out of the dough.
- Press the circles of dough into a tart tin, lightly greases with coconut oil, and place the tin in the freezer to harden whilst you make the cheesecake.
- Gently melted the coconut butter (or oil) over a pan of water, making sure it does not get too hot.
- Place the cashews into a blender with the coconut syrup, coconut milk and vanilla bean paste, and pulse to combine.
- Add in the coconut butter and blend until smooth and creamy. You may need to add a couple more tablespoons of coconut milk, or coconut syrup (to your taste), to help make this layer extra creamy if your blender is struggling.
- Fill each pastry case, leaving a little room at the top for the caramel apple, and place the tin into the freezer for 20 minutes to harden whilst you make the caramel apple.
- Peel the apple and remove the core.
- Place the apple in food processor and pulse until the apple has been chopped into small pieces. Then remove the apple from the food processor and place it in a separate bowl.
- Pit the dates and place them into a blender (or food processor) with the vanilla, salt, coconut syrup, water and cinnamon and blend until you have a smooth caramel.
- In a bowl, mix together the apple and caramel by hand until well combined.
- Remove the cheesecakes from the freezer, ensuring they are solid enough to spread the caramel apple layer on top, and place a generous tablespoon on top of each cheesecake.
- You may eat the cheesecakes straight away, or if you want to make the top layer a bit more chewy, place cheesecakes back into the freezer to harden for 30 minutes.
If you want to know more about the ingredients used in this recipe, please visit my ‘Raw Pantry’ page!