Welcome to Body Fuel Nutrition! I thought I would make my very first recipe post a special one and create a cheesecake for you all to enjoy. Since it's Valentine's Day this weekend I couldn't resist making something with chocolate. This cake is a tribute to my girlfriends and the time I ate almost an entire cheesecake... can I tell you how much I love dessert?! It's been kind of a running joke with us the past ten years so I thought I would create a cheesecake to commemorate our teenage days-but this time it's actually GOOD for you! Rich, creamy, tangy and gluten and dairy free, this cheesecake has all the right elements to make it delicious. I hope you whip one up for someone you love this weekend.
These days you have probably heard the words chocolate, cacao and cocoa and thought to yourself, are they the same thing? Let's clear up the confusion.
Cacao has been around for an incredibly long time-some 2000 years- and can be called a superfood. It is rich in antioxidants and minerals, one of the highest minerals being magnesium. Magnesium is extremely important for regulating muscle tone-especially the muscle of the heart. It is also important in energy production and the formation and excretion of urea. Cacao is different from cocoa though- cacao is raw and made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans, so it keeps it's nutritional content. Cocoa on the other hand has been processed by heating at high temperatures which changes its molecular structure which in turn changes the nutritional content. Use cacao powder when making raw treats and cocoa powder when heating, as heating may cause destruction of the nutrients rich in cacao. Cacao can also be bought as cacao nibs, which are simply just chopped up cacao beans. These are a lovely addition to cookies and other sweet treats such as granola bars. Like cacao powder they are not sweet. You'll notice I've added them to the recipe below as they add a lovely texture to the crust. It you prefer your crust a little more smooth feel free to leave them out.
Most chocolate is made from cocoa powder and the nutritional content really depends on the quality you buy. Cocoa beans tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides so make sure that you purchase yours organic and fair trade. When choosing your chocolate, pick one that has a high percentage of cocoa solids-70% or higher. You also want to make sure that you are buying chocolate that is not chock full of sugar as too much sugar negates the health benefits. I like to make my own raw chocolates but when purchasing chocolate for nibbling I prefer to buy raw chocolate as it is made from cacao beans and is lower in sugar, higher in nutrients and tastier than regular chocolate. A favourite brand of mine is Sacred Chocolate.
Chocolate Coconut Cheesecake
For the crust:
-2 cups fresh Medjool dates
-1 cup almonds
-1/4 cup oats (use gluten free oats to make this recipe gluten free)
-1 Tbsp cacao
-1 Tbsp cacao nibs
For the filling:
-2 cups cashews, soaked at least 12 hours
-1 can of full fat coconut milk
-2 Tbsp lemon juice
-1/4 cup coconut oil
-100g dark chocolate (I used 85% cocoa)
-1/4 cup honey
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-1/4 tsp salt
1. Soak the cashews in filtered water for at least 12 hours. Drain and rinse cashews.
2. Pulse dates, almonds, oats, salt and cacao in a food processor until the mixture starts to clump together. It should stick together fairly well when pressed between your fingers.
3. Fold in the cacao nibs.
4. Using a springform pan (I used a 10 1/4" pan), press the crust mixture firmly into the base of the pan and slightly up the sides. Set aside while you make the filling.
5. Put cashews, coconut milk and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides. This may take a few minutes depending on how powerful your blender is.
6. In a double boiler on medium-low heat melt the coconut oil. Add chocolate and melt, stirring frequently. Add honey, vanilla and salt and stir until ingredients come together and become smooth. Remove from heat.
7. Add chocolate mixture to cashew mixture and blend until smooth. Pour filling over your crust. Place in fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
8. Top with toasted coconut, fresh fruit or coconut whipped cream. Enjoy with friends!
I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day eating delicious food with people you love.
Love and light, from my family to yours,