*This Black Bottomed Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake is dairy free, vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, grain free, and raw. It has a crunchy, chocolate nut crust, a rich chocolate ganache layer, and a layer of swirled chocolate and vanilla ‘cheesecake’.
For as long as I can remember, Sunday’s have been a day for big family dinners. Growing up, my Dad would whip up an herb crusted roast, mashed potatoes & gravy, carrots with browned sugar, and butter soaked kernels of corn. I, being the oldest (of 7!) made the dessert, which would usually be a sugary cake of sorts. My Grandparents would come over and my Grandmother (who had MS) would let us ride around in her motorized scooter.
Now, life has changed in so many ways. We’ve all moved to different places, siblings have married, our lifestyles and diets have changed, and I find myself running around chasing after four children of my own. But the one thing that has remained a constant are Sunday dinners. My grandmother has passed on now, but my Grandpa still makes his way over each week, as do several of my siblings with their spouses and children. My Dad still cooks the meal each week, but now it consists of some sort of fish (usually salmon), and a wide variety of vegetables (the green beans sauteed with bell peppers are my favorite).
And I still bring dessert. Every week.
But even my desserts have changed. No longer refined sugar-laden or vegetable oil-soaked. Plant-based foods and desserts have made themselves a permanent part of our diet and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Take this cheesecake, for instance. It’s made with nothing but nourishing, plant-based ingredients with a little bit of organic maple syrup to sweeten. But it looks so decadent and rich that, be honest, would you really think it was made with such ingredients by looking at it?
I brought this cheesecake over on Sunday as my dessert contribution and decided to test that question out. I usually preface the serving of my desserts with a quick explanation of what it’s made of, mostly because I’m so proud of making something so sweet yet nutritious.
But not this time.
I brought my Dad a slice and he said “uh-oh. Well, this definitely isn’t one of your healthy desserts”.
I told him to taste it and tell me.
So he did…..and he still wasn’t sure! So imagine his surprise when I listed off the ingredients. He polished that piece of in a flash and declared these little cheesecakes his ‘new’ favorite dessert.
This triple layered cheesecake starts off with a crunchy crust, made of pecans, walnuts, and a few dates. You could use all walnuts or all pecans, but I like the mix of the two so that you don’t have an overwhelming flavor from one or the other.
The next layer is a rich, dense ganache, made with chocolate, coconut oil, raw cacao powder, and coconut milk.
The top layer is the ‘cheesecake’, and is made by soaking cashews and then blending them with a little maple syrup, coconut butter, and vanilla. The mixture is then separated and what remains in the blender has raw cacao powder added to it to make a the chocolate portion of the swirl.
The freezer makes fast work of assembling this cheesecake, but you could chill each layer in the fridge, as well. It will just take a little bit longer to put together.
Don’t be scared of the ingredient list! These cheesecakes are a breeze to put together and you’ll be using several of the ingredients a few times over because of the layers.
A FEW TIPS:
*If you forget to soak your cashews overnight, don’t fret! I do this all the time. I’ll plan on making something that needs soaked cashew and come time to make it, I’ve totally spaced to soak them the night before. For a quick fix, pour hot/warm water over the cashews (enough to cover by an inch) and let them sit for an hour. Drain, and you are in business!
*If you don’t have both types of nuts for the crust, use all of one type. You could even use almonds, if you prefer. I do love the walnut/pecan combo, though.
*When it comes to swirling the chocolate and vanilla batters together, use whatever tool you have handy! This could be a butter knife or a spoon. I, personally, like to make my swirls with a single chopstick. It’s small, thin, and easily reaches the bottom of the pan while keeping the swirls even from top to bottom.
*If you don’t have a springform pan handy, a deep cake pan will work. Since you can’t remove the sides, line the whole pan with a piece of parchment paper before you press the nut crust in. You can do this by cutting out a circle of parchment paper that has the circumference of both sides and the bottom of your pan, plus about two inches, to be safe. You’ll need to press the sides in and flatten them as best you can. Make sure there is at least an inch of parchment paper sticking out of the top all the way around so that you can easily pull the whole cheesecake out of the pan when it’s set. Then you can peel the paper off of the sides and slice! The large cheesecake in the pictures was done using this method. Not as pretty, but it works in a pinch when your springform pans magically disappear (where are all of my pans!?! I almost feel the need to hire a private investigator).
- FOR THE CRUST:
- ¾ cup Pecans
- ¾ cup Walnuts
- ¼ cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (finely shredded works best)
- pinch of Sea Salt
- 3 Medjool Dates, pits removed
- 2 tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder (sub cocoa powder if you don't have cacao)
- 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
- FOR THE GANACHE LAYER:
- ¾ cup Dark Chocolate Chips (use a brand that uses natural sweeteners, if you can)
- ¼ cup Coconut Oil
- ¾ cup Coconut Milk (canned)
- 3 tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- FOR THE CHEESECAKE LAYER:
- 3 cups Cashews, soaked overnight
- 1½ cups Almond Milk (coconut milk works too)
- 2 tablespoons Vanilla (you may only need 1 tablespoon if your vanilla is strong)
- ½ cup + 3 tablespoons Maple Syrup, divided
- ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
- 2 tablespoons Sunflower Lecithin
- 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
- ⅓ cup Coconut Butter (softened)
- ¼ cup Coconut Oil, divided
- ⅓ cup Raw Cacao Powder
- FOR THE CRUST:
- Place the nuts and coconut in a food processor fitted with an 'S' blade. Process until the nuts become like a coarse meal. Add the salt, dates, cacao powder, and coconut oil and process until the mixture comes together to form a semi-coarse meal that sticks together when pressed.
- Scrap the mixture into the bottom a greased 9" springform pan and press down into an even layer with your hands and then the back of a spoon, to smooth. Place in the freezer.
- FOR THE GANACHE LAYER: Place the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a saucepan. Heat on medium and stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate chips have melted and oil is mixed in. Remove from heat. Add the coconut milk, cacao powder, and vanilla and stir until smooth and well mixed. Pour the mixture over the frozen crust. Tap on the counter a few times to smooth out the top and place back in the freezer while you make the cheesecake filling,
- FOR THE CHEESECAKE LAYER:
- Place the soaked cashews in a blender (make sure you drain them first) along with the almond milk. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, the salt, sunflower lethicin, lemon juice, coconut butter, and ½ of the coconut oil to the blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour ½ of the mixture into a bowl and set aside.
- Add the cacao powder and the remaining ½ of the coconut oil to the blender, along with the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup.
- Remove the pan from the freezer. Spoon the chocolate mixture and the vanilla mixture into the pan using a large scoop, alternating each scoop between mixtures (use a separate scoop for each mixture) so that there are large chocolate portions and vanilla portions spaced evenly in the pan. Use a butter knife or chopstick to swirl the mixture lightly together.
- Place back in the freezer for 1 to 1½ hours until firm.
- TO SERVE:
- Remove from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing. Keep frozen when not being served. This cheesecake can be well wrapped and stored in the freezer for several months.