Not every dessert needs to be laden with processed sugar, nor does it always have to contain fruit. By combining the right ingredients, you can make a tasty dessert with carefully chosen vegetables, such as courgettes.
Nuts also play a big part in this vegan dessert, not just because they are healthy, but they provide a texture to any dish that would often contain cake, biscuits, cream, milk or eggs. In this dessert, both the crust and filling are given the right texture by breaking down nuts to provide a creamy sweet flavour without any hidden sugars.
But it is the vegetables that are surprising – who would have thought that the humble courgette could taste so good and be so heart healthy? You really don’t need fruit with this, but you can always add a few berries to the top if you wish. Blueberries go very well with this dish, as they are not as sweet as some other fruits.
Even non-vegans love this dessert as it really does taste a lot like a traditional cheesecake.
Serving: 10 (approx.)
Preparation Time: 25 mins
Cooking Time: No cooking, but 4-5 hours setting time
For the filling
- 250g raw cashews
- 150g courgettes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 10tbsp maple syrup
½tsp pure vanilla extract
2 pinches finely ground sea salt
For the crust
6 Medjool dates (pitted)
300g pecan nuts (or walnuts or macadamia)
2tbsp coconut oil, melted
Pinch fine ground sea salt
1tbsp maple syrup
Remember to soak your cashew nuts for at least two hours. Rinse well and drain. Set aside.
Make the crust first – you can even do this the night before, if you don’t want to do everything on the same day.
Place the dates in a food processor (do these first as they take longer to chop up due to their texture). Add your chosen nuts, oil, maple syrup and salt and process everything together. The mixture should be sticky. Don’t rush this, as over processing will allow the nuts to release too much oil).
Scrape the mixture from the processor into the bottom of your tin and press down firmly and evenly. Place in your freezer whilst you make the filling or leave overnight.
To make the filling, put the cashews into a strong blender on high, and blend until the nuts have become ground down to almost powder. Add courgettes, maple syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice and pinch of salt, and continue to blend until smooth. Use a spatula to scrape round to ensure everything gets blended evenly.
Pour into your readymade crust and smooth over with a spatula or palette knife. Place the whole cheesecake into the freezer to set. This will probably take about 4 or 5 hours, but make sure it sets firmly, even if it takes a bit longer.
Remove when ready to serve or leave in the fridge for an hour before serving. Avoid leaving the cheesecake out on a work surface, as it will start to disintegrate at room temperature.
You don’t need anything else with this as it is very rich and creamy already! If desired, you could grate some lime zest over the top for a little more acidity.