Being known as a healthy eater has its drawbacks.
My meals have now become suspicious. Suspicious for healthy ingredients. What have I hidden in the meal this time?
Trust me, I cater to my audience. If baking for myself, I’d easily experiment with squash carob brownies, cauliflower chocolate cake, chocolate chip chickpea blondies or chocolate mint black bean cookies. I have even gambled with (oh so good) chocolate tofu mousse pie with my family for Easter.
But for the harshest critics, I go all out.
Thus when Rob’s family came over for a birthday celebration and I offered to supply dessert, I had to determine my plan of attack.
Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mousse Pie? I knew it was a winner, but I had no tofu.
Rob suggested my Carrot Cake Cupcakes since he really liked them, but I thought they might be a bit “out there”. Carrots for a birthday dessert? (Only mine..)
Experiment with a new recipe? I considered Terry’s Italian Cashewcotta Cheesecake or Ethiopian Chocolate Flourless Torte, but still had the issue of missing ingredients.
Then I worked backwards. What do I have in my pantry? Coconut oil, nuts and cocoa powder. Cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Sounded delicious already. I peered around the corner of the cabinet and pulled out hazelnut butter. Eureka! A raw chocolate hazelnut cheesecake.
I like raw desserts because I can sample the batter and can easily gauge how it will turn out. Licking the batter from the blender, I knew this was going to be good. The next afternoon, I brought out the cheesecake to thaw. I cut a piece before everyone arrived. You know, for blogging photography purposes. But I sliced off a tiny sliver so I could do some tasting research, too.
I know I said my last raw cheesecake was utterly sinful, but how can a key lime pie compete with a chocolate cheesecake? A chocolate hazelnut cheesecake? It can’t. This my friends, was pure cocoa bliss.
Better than Nutella filling in a cheesecake form, on a cocoa-hazelnut-date crust. Decadent but not too rich and not too sweet. Perfect.
Trust me, I was very confident with this dessert.
Before I served it, I was pummeled with questions, though. “What IS this?” I was asked. Ingredients or the name of the dish? Ingredients, tell me. Nuts, coconut oil, cocoa powder, agave, dates… Avocados? I hate avocados.. No avocados…
Thank goodness it was a resounding success. Definitely my best dessert yet.
Better Than Nutella Cheesecake (Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake)
Adapted from The Sweet Life
1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup dates, pitted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups raw cashews, soaked 4-6 hours and rinsed
5 tbsp agave nectar, or to taste
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp hazelnut butter (I recommend hazelnut butter because it can be difficult to puree hazelnuts into a smooth consistency)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1. In a food processor fitted with its S-blade, place hazelnuts and pulse to chop until they are very finely ground. Add dates, cocoa powder and salt and pulse until a coarse meal. It should stick together when pressed. If your dates were dry, you may need to add some water. Scoop out crust mixture in a 9” spring-form pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a pie plate lined with saran wrap), and press firmly, making sure that the base is relatively even throughout. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
2. In the most powerful food processor / blender you own (a high-speed blender is best but a food processor could work, too), place the drained cashews, agave, water and salt. (I had troubles with my blender as the mixture was thick so I took it out and blended the rest by hand). Next, add the hazelnut butter, melted coconut oil and cocoa powder and blend until fully incorporated.
3. Spread filling overtop the crust and freeze for at least 2 hours. Allow to thaw an hour at room temperature or in the fridge for 4 hours, or overnight, prior to serving.
*Note: This is almost raw because I used regular cocoa powder and my hazelnut butter was made from dry-roasted Turkish hazelnuts.