I had a couple of spoons of rose water ice cream to finish off a meal when out to dinner last week, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I really enjoyed the delicate, fragrant but subtle tones of rose water, which is made by steeping crushed rose petals in water, teamed with a simple ice cream custard.
Come Monday, and there I was tracking down some rosewater to replicate that taste sensation. Upon some further investigation (ie. flicking through a couple of my cookbooks) it turns out that rose water is also used as a flavouring in savoury, Middle Eastern dishes (as well as the traditional Turkish delight, baklava, teas etc). Something that I will no doubt try in the future.
As I don’t have an ice cream maker and ice cream really is my mother’s forte, I decided to try my hand at a raw, dairy-free “cheesecake”. Instead of being made with cheese, sour cream and/or butter, dairy-free cheesecakes are either made based on nuts or silken tofu. Large amounts of tofu and me don’t go so well together, so this version is based on raw cashews, soaked for a couple of hours in water, and then blended up into a frenzy of creaminess. The result is a lighter, healthier version of the traditional cheesecake, although being nut-based it is not a “low fat” option. And of course I had to pair it with my favourite fruit, mango.
The base is also raw, and made by blending together almonds and dates to form a crust. Very simple.
The formula for this cheesecake was loosely based on the Chai “Cheesecake” with Earl Grey sauce from the My Darling Lemon Thyme cookbook (which I’ve made before, and is delicious). The recipe makes about 12 slices – it is fairly rich, so you only need a thin wedge.
- 3/4 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 cup dried shredded coconut
- 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon cold water
Filling & topping
- 3 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours (preferably 6 hrs to overnight)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
- 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 5-6 tablespoons honey (if vegan, use maple syrup)
- 25mL + a dash of rose water*
- 2 ripe mangoes**
- 1 large handful of shelled pistachios (for serving)
- Grease and line with baking paper the base and sides of a 23cm spring form cake tin (or fluted tart pan).
- Add all the base ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor and blend on high until the almonds are flour-like and the ingredients combined. This will be fairly quick in a high speed blender, but may take a few rounds of the machine (and scraping down the sides) in a food processor. Press the base into the cake tin with your fingers, and put in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
- Rinse the blender and then add the cashews, coconut oil, lime juice, sea salt, honey and rosewater into the blender (or food processor). Blend until ingredients are combined and form a smooth, silky filling. Taste – you may need more lime juice, honey or rosewater.
- Pour half of the filling into the cake tin over the base, and return to the freezer. Add the flesh of one mango to the blender, and blend to combine. After the cashew filling has slightly firmed up (10 minutes), pour in the other half of the mango filling. Return to the freezer, cover with cling wrap to prevent it frosting and freeze for at least 3 hours (preferably overnight).
- Slice the second mango in half, and cut thin slices from the first half. With the second half, add this to the blender with 1/4 cup of cold water and a dash of rosewater and puree to form a mango dressing.
- About 10-15 minutes before serving, remove the cheesecake from the freezer. Top the cheesecake with the mango slices and pistachios, and drizzle with the mango dressing. Serve immediately. Unless you like the filling more oozy-creamy (in which case, you can keep it in the fridge – the mango layer is especially oozy due to the water content), keep the cheesecake in the freezer.
* You can buy rose water at specialty shops such as Jones the Grocer, and in some health food stores. If you can’t find it, or don’t like it, you can replace it with vanilla essence.
** If mangoes aren’t in season, you can just leave them out of the cheesecake, and top with whatever fruit is in season.