Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Vegan Raw Gluten-Free Frozen Cashew Pomegranate Cake

When New Year’s comes around I get excited about the changes, friendships, love, and memories that are sure to come the following year. Today was the most wonderful start to 2012. Unseasonably warm weather, sunshine, fresh air, lovely people, a dog named Javier, tea, and a (healthy) post-hike dessert.

Photo Credit: Kat Muscianesi, Fresh Eyes – Daily Unlimited Snapshots on Flickr

One of my best pals is vegan and I’m always happy to try a new treat for her. I found the recipe for the cashew pom cake on www.bonappé in an article about a vegan Christmas meal. It was the perfect cake for a fresh start to 2012.

This frozen, vegan “cheesecake” is lightly sweet and a bit tart. Soaked cashews whip up to a creamy filling, which is quite satisfying when paired with the nutty crust. What did I change from the original recipe? I left out of the hemp seeds for sake of needing to run to one less market, and replaced them with 2 tablespoons extra of sunflower seeds. I used both almonds and walnuts in the crust to avoid hurt feelings. I also skipped the cardamom and swapped vanilla extract for the vanilla bean. Still delicious! The recipe calls for 2 pomegranates and I reserved some seeds for garnish. If you enjoy snacking on poms, it’s worth getting 3 total and using 2 full poms for the topping.

If you have a food processor (or blender) and a freezer, this recipe is simple to make. That’s the beauty of a raw recipe! And you can skip feeling guilty about eating it. Sure the nuts are high in fat, but it’s good fat, and 1/3 cup of sweetener is nothing compared to most dessert recipes.

The finished cake is beautiful - just be sure to clear your freezer so you don't end up with a dent from an ice pack like I did!

A note on de-seeding pomegranates: Watch out! If you’ve never ripped open a pom, you can expect flying juice that will stain your clothes if you don’t immediately wash them. Throw on an old shirt or an apron. Cut the pomegranate in half to the center, and then use your hands to continue splitting the pom in half. It’s best to always hold the pom away from your body, facing the countertop. Cut the half in half again and carefully tear the seeds away from the membranes. I like to drop the seeds into a bowl of water. Any remaining membrane pieces will float to the top and you can easily strain them away from the seeds.

I can think of so many ways to change up this recipe... blackberries! Raspberries! Blueberries! Strawberries! Chocolate! Or sweetened with maple syrup and covered with bananas! Yum!

Happy New Year!

Vegan/Raw/Gluten-Free Frozen Cashew Pomegranate Cake

Adapted from bon appétit December 2011
8-10 servings

1½ c. raw almonds or walnuts, or both!
½ c. + 2 T. raw shelled sunflower seeds
12 Medjool dates, pitted
2 T. coconut oil
1 t. sea salt

1/3 c. coconut oil
1/3 c. agave nectar
2 c. raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. vanilla extra

Seeds from 2 medium pomegranates
Juice of ½ lime

Blend the nuts, sunflower seeds, and dates in a food processor for 1 minute. Add dates, oil, and salt and purée until the mixture comes together. Press into the bottom of an 8 in. springform pan. Chill.

To make the filling, heat oil and agave in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking, until liquid. Place mixture in the food processor and add cashews, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla. Purée until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Pour filling over crust and chill in the freezer about 30 minutes.
Remove the seeds from the pomegranates carefully, removing all pieces of membrane. Place the seeds and lime juice in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour over the cashew filling. Chill in the freezer until solid, 30-60 minutes.

Let stand at room temperature 10- 15 minutes before serving.

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