Another weekend, another Christmas do. Is your December shaping up something similar? Although I must confess I do love it, as it’s just another excuse to make a delicious new recipe of some sort, and test out the plant-powered goodness on family and friends.
Last weekend we had a big Croatian family Christmas lunch with my partner’s family out on the lawn under marquees, and I volunteered to bring a dessert. I wanted to make something that was still reminiscent of a traditional New Zealand Christmas, but also with a plant-powered edge.
Strawberries are in high season here in New Zealand, and are the quintessential addition to any New Zealand Christmas. Those of you in the northern hemisphere will probably find that very strange, and are more likely to be digging into warm Christmas pudding with custard! But in NZ Christmas is all about BBQs, salads and of course strawberries. There could be no other dessert more classic of an NZ Christmas than a pavlova with strawberries and cream.
I wanted to make something similar that incorporated our beautiful freshly picked strawberries as well as traditional whipped cream, but without the eggs and dairy in regular pavlova recipes. There’s nothing better than a delicious plant-based raw cheesecake, so thus this summery strawberries and cream version was born.
Whilst we normally think of the mighty orange as the king of vitamin C, strawberries in fact contain more of this immune-boosting vitamin. A small 100g serve of sliced strawbs, or 2/3 of a cup, provides you with 59g of vitamin C, 11% more than oranges at 53mg and almost 100% of your recommended daily intake. Some research has also suggested that they have beneficial properties in terms of lowering cardiovascular disease and cancer risk.
In addition, they are one of the lowest Glycemic Index fruits with a GI of 40, meaning that they have a limited impact on blood sugars. They are therefore good for diabetics or those with insulin resistance, as well as anyone wanting to manage their blood sugars and energy levels. Strawberries are also very low in energy density, which makes them a great option if you’re looking to manage your weight.
This beautiful cheesecake looks impressive, but is really very simple to make and only requires a high speed food processor and some nut-soaking time. I have used brazil nuts for my base which added another layer of complexity to the flavours, but you could also use almonds for a more traditional cheesecake base flavour. As this cheesecake contains a lot of fresh fruit via the strawberries, it’s best eaten straight out of the fridge, otherwise may melt on your hot summery lunch table if left too long. I’ve topped mine with whole fresh strawberries, but you could also top it with sliced strawbs and fresh mint which would be delicious.
You can also opt for two separate layers of cream and strawberry, or try swirling the two together as I’ve done inside. Or if that’s too tricky you can add all the filling ingredients together and just make one thick strawberry pink layer. Give it a go this week! And if you’d like to share your beautiful Summer Strawberry Cheesecakes over on Instagram, tag @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics so I can come say hello and check out your glorious towering creations. Have a wonderful week.
Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
- 1 1/4 c brazil nuts
- 1/2 c desiccated coconut
- 1/2 c medjoul dates (or regular dates, soaked)
- Zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
- 2 1/2 c cashews soaked 2hrs and drained
- 1 c coconut milk
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 c virgin coconut oil melted
- 1/3 c coconut nectar
- 2 tbsp cacao butter melted
- 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 1/2 c fresh strawberries chopped and packed
- 1 tsp acai powder OR 1 tbsp grated beetroot
- 2 tsp psyllium husk
- Extra strawberries to top
- Line a cake tin (one with a removable bottom) with a circle of baking paper, cut to fit.
- Base: add all the base ingredients to your food processor and blend until crumbly and fine. The mixture should hold together - if it is too crumbly, add 1 tbsp of water/soaked date juice. Press into your cake tin and flatten down completely with a rubber spatula, then place in the freezer.
- Cream filling: add the cream filling ingredients and blend until super creamy and smooth, scraping down the processor in between. Pour half of this mixture into the tin.
- Strawberry filling: add the strawberry filling ingredients to your remaining cream filling and blend until creamy and smooth, then pour this mixture into the tin.
- Optional swirl: if desired, use a spoon to scoop from the outside of the cheesecake to the centre, lifting up the cream filling and turning the cake tin around so that you complete around 8 scoops.
- Put the cheesecake in the freezer overnight. In the morning, remove from tin and top with fresh strawberries. Place back in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Make it nut-free: replace the brazil nuts with sunflower seeds and use watermelon seeds instead of cashews in the cream filling.
- In the base, you could also use almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts. Or do a half half with sunflower seeds which are often more affordable.
- I use Trade Aid's organic fair trade coconut milk in all my recipes. Unlike some coconut milks/creams which separate, this one has a beautiful thick even consistency making it perfect for cheesecakes, as well as using as a pouring cream or in my Coconut Cashew Chia Cream recipe. It's called "coconut milk" but is much more like a coconut cream. You can order it here.
- The acai powder and/or beetroot are totally optional, but add a deeper pink colour as well as extra antioxidants!
- If you don't have psyllium husk, you can use another 1/4 cup of virgin coconut oil to firm the strawberry layer.