I’ve developed a tradition with my mum, where we make a cake for my birthday every year, so naturally we had to keep to it up for my 21st birthday this year! Being born on the 5th of July always meant that I was off school on my birthday, so I was always able to chose how I wanted to spend my birthday. Up until I was 17, I’d always wake up at 7am to go training (for swimming), then I’d go home and have a massive food feast with my parents, go back to training in the evening, and then I would go out with my friends and dance the night away. As of recently, I’ve upped the food intake and ever so slightly abandoned the exercise element to my day. However, to my surprise, I managed to get a 30′ bike ride in after my lunch, which was followed by a long and relaxing visit to my grandparents’ house, before we all headed out for dinner. For the cake element to my birthday, I went to a local nut and dried fruit factory in Cyprus with my mum, in order to make a delicious raw cheesecake!
Turning up to the nut factory has become a regular practice every time I come home for the holidays, as we like to stock up our pantry for the whole summer. It turns out cheaper in the long run and means that we’re never making last minute super market runs for granola, snacks, or any recipes that we decide to make on the spot. Walking out of the factory with a large bag filled with around 12kg of dates, dried fruit, coconut shreddings, and various nuts actually felt like a gym workout within itself, haha!
We decided to go out to wagamama for dinner with my parents and invited my grandparents, my two aunties, and three cousins as well. I absolutely love their food because so many dishes can be made vegan and their sides are so versatile and delicious! The wagamama banch close to where I live is by the sea, so you get a beautiful atmosphere along with your meal. Not to mention that they also have a sushi menu, which is so cheap and yummy! Below are pictures of the night and the food. I ordered a pad thai without egg to make it vegan), vegetable dumplings, a side of seaweed greens, some kimchi, and sushi with cucumber, asparagus, and avocado. Amongst the pictures, you can also see the view by the wagamama, which is so pretty compared to some of the other branches! It’s interesting to think that you can pay the same amount for the same food at a franchise restaurant, yet have a completely different experience according to the location and service you receive.
Now, for the cheesecake bites…. I initially used the recipe to make a round cheesecacake for the purposes of presenting it like a CAKE for when we all came back home after the restaurant. I’ve added a picture of the decorated cheesecake in the slideshow above. I even decorated it with coconut shreddings and wrote a ’21’ ontop! The tray I used was a 23 cm cheesecake tray and it made for 12 generous slices. However, I decided to cut the leftovers up into cubes, to make large “bitesized” dessert pieces. The recipe is SO simple, and the key ingredients that you’ll need are just dates, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts (optional), a sweetener, and cacao powder!
Raw (vegan) Caramel cheesecake bites.
For the base:
• 1 cup soaked medjool dates (pitted)
• 1/2 cup cashews (soaked for at 2 hrs in warm water)
• 1/2 cup walnuts
(You could use any other nuts for the base, but I like the texture of walnuts)
• 1 cup coconut shreddings (optional, but I used it to parallel the coconut shreddings that I used to decorate the cake)
For the filling (caramel cheesecake layer):
• 2 cups cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours in warm water)
•1 cup soaked medjool dates (pitted)
• 1/2 cup maple syrup / other sweetener of choice
• Juice of 2 lemons
For the chocolate top layer:
• 1 cups cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours in warm water)
• 1 cup hazelnuts
• 1 cup raw cacao powder
• 3/4 cups soaked medjool dates (pitted)
• 2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 cup maple syrup/ other sweetener (optional, but I used it to maximise the sweetness)
Toppings: I just used coconut shreddings, but you could crush hazelnuts ontop, add chocolate syrup etc.
- FOR THE BASE: Add the cashews, walnuts, coconut shreddings, and pitted dates into a food processor, or highspeed blender and process onuntil a sticky dough has formed.
- Scoop out into a greased, or lined 23cm springform (cheesecake) tray and pat down until smooth.
- Place into the freezer to set while you make the filling- approximately half an hour.
- FOR THE FILLING: Place the 2 cups of pre-soaked (at least for two hours) cashews, along with the lemon juice, maple syrup and dates into the food processor/ or high speed blender, and process until smooth. Make sure to blend until the nuts have completely blended into the mixture to form a consistency that is thick and creamy, but not doughy.
- Pour this over the crust, smooth out with a spatula and return to the freezer.
- Allow this to set fairly firmly before you prepare your topping, it took me about 45 minutes, so it will definitely take longer than it took for the base to harden as the middle layer was more runny.
- FOR THE TOP LAYER: When you’re ready to make the topping, add the soaked cashews, hazelnuts (don’t have to necessarily be pre- soaked), cacao powder, maple syrup, medjool dates, and salt , to the food processor/ high speed blender and process until smooth. The consistency of the top layer should be similar to the middle caramel layer.
- Pour this over the middle ‘caramel’ layer and return to the freezer to set solidly.
- I sprinkled the top with coconut shreddings before placing it into the freezer, in order to ensure that they’d freeze half into the layer.
- If you’re going to serve it up within a few days, keep it in the coldest part of your refrigerator. But if you want to keep it longer, then slice it up and keep in a container in the freezer to serve later in the week. You can then thaw out as much as you want to eat, but can also eat it directly from the freezer if you live in a hot country.
- It will keep for approximately 2 weeks in the freezer, whilst maintaining its initial flavour and texture!
- Enjoy and feel free to tag me in any recreations on my instagram – nutritionalnatasa, or alternative, don’t hesitate to comment below or to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any queries!