A bright and fresh tasting raspberry, lime and coconut allergy-friendly vegan cheesecake on a raw seed and cacao base.
We are very fortunate that all of the food choices we make in our home are exactly that, choices. I am acutely aware of how limiting and all encompassing living with allergies can be. Growing up, my brother's food allergies were so severe that as a young child he wore a badge saying "Please don't feed me". As a parent now, I can only imagine how that constant threat of an unexpected reaction in your allergic child must feel. Scary, really scary.
A while ago one of my readers asked how in the world she could make a cheesecake for her son, who is allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts and soy. Well that question sure got me thinking and I've been pondering the question ever since. There is always a way.
For a healthier cheesecake, I'd usually make a raw base with almonds and dates as the main ingredients. In this case I've swapped the nuts for a range of seeds, which work with coconut, dates, cacao and coconut oil to form a textured and richly chocolatey base. One of the seeds is buckwheat - if you're not familiar with it, rest assured it's not wheat and is totally safe to eat if wheat is one of your allergies. Buckwheat is a seed, related to rhubarb.
For the topping I went with a simple combination of lightly sweetened coconut cream, raspberries and lime, set with a little agar and coconut oil. The fat of the coconut cream and oil ensure there's a rich and creamy mouthfeel, and the raspberry and lime keep the whole thing light and actually quite refreshing in flavour.
Agar may sound like an exotic or difficult ingredient, and I'd agree it's certainly not standard in most pantries. Bear with me though. Agar, also known as agar-agar (or kanten, in Japan) is an algae-based alternative to gelatin (an animal byproduct). It works in a similar way to 'set' a liquid, but its consistency is a little different in that it doesn't have that plastic, jelly mouthfeel of gelatin. Agar is a colourless powder which has no taste or odour, and it's inexpensive to get hold of from Asian supermarkets or your local whole foods store (go to Bin Inn if you're in New Zealand).
The internet tells me there are a few simple rules to follow to have success with agar, #1 make sure you start by adding it to cold liquid, and #2 the liquid it's dissolved in must be brought to boiling point to activate agar's setting properties. Well that's not too hard is it?
I have to say I'm ecstatic with the result of this kitchen experiment. Removing the springform tin and seeing how perfectly set the cheesecake was, and how beautifully it sliced, made me a very happy girl! Free from the big five common food allergens (dairy, egg, wheat, soy and nuts), vegan and refined sugar free, this could well be the ultimate allergy friendly dessert.
You'll need a food processor to make this recipe.
For the base:
- 1 cup dates
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup dessicated coconut
- ½ cup cacao powder or substitute cocoa
- ¼ cup buckwheat groats
- ¼ cup coconut oil melted if solid
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
For the topping:
- 2 cans lite coconut cream (totalling 800ml)
- 2 cups raspberries (I used frozen, there's no need to defrost)
- Zest and juice of one lime (approximately 2 tablespoon lime juice)
- ¼ cup maple syrup or sweetener of your choice
- 3 ½ teaspoon powdered agar
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
For the base:
- Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend for 5-10 minutes, until the texture has small crumbs, and will hold together when pressed with your fingers. Some of the buckwheat will remain whole, and that's fine, they provide a welcome crunch.
- Tip the mixture into a 22cm diameter non-stick springform cake tin. It's not essential to line your tin as the topping and base will both release easily, but lining at least the base will make it a bit easier to lift the cheesecake out when it comes to serving time.
- Use the back of a spoon, or a drinking glass, to press the mixture down firmly and evenly.
- Put the base in the the freezer to set for at least half an hour. You can make the base ahead of time and leave it in the freezer until you're ready too, if that suits you.
For the topping:
- Put coconut cream, raspberries, lime zest, lime juice and maple syrup into a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth.
- Tip the topping mixture into a saucepan and stir in the powdered agar.
- Bring to a boil, stirring often. Once the mixture has come to boiling point, turn the heat down and simmer for five minutes.
- Add coconut oil and stir through. I then returned the mixture to my blender and gave it a quick blast to make sure the coconut oil was properly combined.
- Let the mixture sit and cool for about 20 minutes, then pour the mixture into the cold tin and refrigerate until set. Once the mixture is cool, it will be firm. Mine was well set and ready to serve six hours after going into the fridge.
- Garnish with fresh or freeze dried raspberries, if desired.