…or maybe the most delicious and healthy vegan recipe for an unforgettable white chocolate experience without sugar, gluten or baking. The truth is that raw vegan desserts are our favorites, especially when we are talking about cheesecakes with a creamy stuffing and a base of crunchy nuts and dried fruits. What I like the most is the unlimited variety of ingredients one can use in the creamy stuffing – nuts, fruits, nut-butters, zests etc – making each time a totally different dessert. The only thing we need is a relatively good blender!
This time, the basic concept of my recipe was to make a dessert with a rich white chocolate taste and the amazing aroma of vanilla. These two ingredients may have a prominent position in our olfactory and tasty memory, but on the other hand, we don’t meer them that often in the plant-based kitchen. However their combination is something I always considered magical and that’s why I planned to use it this time in order to make a white chocolate vanilla raw vegan cheesecake. You may ask yourselves how can we make a raw vegan dessert with the taste of white chocolate and the scent of vanilla? Simply by using raw cocoa butter and the small black seeds of a natural vanilla bean in its preparation! Relatively small amounts of these two are enough!
Indeed, the result was even better than what I could imagine! The cream is just mouthwatering with a sweet taste thanks to the agave syrup, a beautiful vanilla aroma, a silky, creamy texture and an intense chocolaty flavor thanks to the cocoa butter whick makes this cake unbeatable! Raw nuts , ground together with sweet dates make the crispy, sweet, dense base that holds the cake and adds taste and texture to the recipe.
for the base
- 1 cup dates (medjool or other varieties, without sugar or glucose)
- 1 cup walnuts or almonds, shelled
for the white chocolate cream
- 2 cups cashews, soaked for 6-8 hours and drained
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 100 g (about 1/2 cup) cocoa butter melted
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 vanilla bean, the seeds or 1 tbsp homemade vanilla extract
for the decor
- mixed nuts and seeds
- mixed dried fruit
1. For the crust: Wash the dates, drain and pit them and put them in the food processor along with the nuts. Process for a few minutes until a soft dough is formed. If you do not like the small pieces of nuts in the base, process the nuts until they become powdered and add the dates afterwards.
2. For the white chocolate cream: Put in the blender half of the cashews, lemon juice, agave nectar, water, vanilla and the melted cocoa butter and blend for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is creamy and uniform. Add the rest of the cashews and blend for few more minutes until they are incorporated in the mixture and the texture of the cream is smooth and homogeneous.
3. Assembly: Line a cheesecake pan of 20-22 cm diameter with greaseproof paper and spread the crust mixture over the bottom. Press with your hands to distribute equally and form the crust. Pour the white chocolate cream on top of the crust and refrigerate for 8-12 hours to set.
4. Before serving garnish with chopped nuts, seeds and dried berries. Keep in the fridge.
Dakos (or ntakos), also known as koukouvagia (which means owl!) is a traditional Cretan meze consisting of a thick slice of soaked barley rusk (paximadi), topped with olive oil, chopped, fresh tomato and mizithra or xinomizithra, a kind of traditional Cretan cheese. The recipe I’m sharing today is very similar to our traditional Cretan dakos apart from that I substituted the traditional cheese with a homemade vegan mizithra cheese. Traditional vegan cheese varieties such as the Cretan xinomizithra are always very interesting and I am really happy I made vegan the kind of cheese with which I grew up!
Cretan dakos, is one of the things that brings to my mind sweet memories from my grandmother. The reason for that is that she used to make three or four times each year a huge (really huge) batch of barley bread with her own sourdough and she used to bake it in her wood oven twice, in order to make barley rusks (paximadia). These would serve as our bread for the next two or three months, till the next time she would bake (as in many other Cretan households). Barley rusks are between the most common foods found in every Cretan home and the basis to the traditional dish that is called “dakos” ( some tourists by mistake call it “tacos” but it has nothing to do with that!). As a child, when I was hungry, sometimes my grandma would make me a dakos, by soaking a barley rusk for a few seconds in water (the traditional Cretan rusks are so hard that they cannot be eaten unless they dampen!) and then she would drizzle it with olive oil, a little salt and a little chopped tomato and oregano.
This vegan version of the Cretan dakos is an delicious idea when our time is scarce and we need a quick, delicious and tasty lunch or when we are looking for a stunning appetizer.
For the fermented raw, almond, soft cheese (vegan mizithra or xinomizithra)
- 2 cups almonds, raw
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp apple-cider vinegar or other white vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp soy yogurt (optional) or a probiotic capsule
- Soak the almonds for eight hours in filtered water. Usually I let them soak overnight. The next day drain and peel them. To remove the peels more easily, soak for 5 minutes in boiling water and peel while they are stil hot.
- Put the almonds in the blender along with the rest of the ingredients and blend until creamy. To make things easier, stop the blender every few seconds and with a wooden or silicone spatula, clean the walls of the bowl and mix slightly.
- To obtain the salty, sharp taste similar to the xinomyzithra, mix in the soy yoghurt and let the almond cheese sit in a warm place for 8-10 hours to ferment.
Almond xinomizithra can be kept in the refrigerator for 5-6 days or more and from day to day its taste will become sharper.
Ingredients for 2 dakos:
- 2 barley rusks
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes grated or chopped
- 2 tsp of olive oil (or more)
- 4 tbsp vegan mizithra cheese
If your rusks are too hard -like the traditional- just soak them in a bowl of filtered water for 2 seconds (not more) before consuming. Pour one teaspoon of olive oil over each rusk and with a spoon top with a pretty large layer of tomato. Salt the tomato and add 2 tbsp of xinomyzithra in every dakos. Garnish with ground oregano and perhaps a few olives and serve immediately.
Note: Feel free to use the almond pulp left from making almond milk in order to make your own vegan mizithra. In that case, I would suggest mixing in one tablespoon of olive oil after fermentation, for a really rich flavor.
From time to time I stick with several plant milk recipes, depending on the season and the ingredients that are available and of course on my appetite. So lately, after about two months of using almost exclusively pumpkin seed milk (during winter we consume a lot of pumpkins and I didn’t want to waste the pumpkin seeds), I’ve become almost obsessed with homemade oat milk. This obsession started one morning that I was about to enjoy my usual morning vegan latte when I realized that there was no milk in the fridge, I had not soaked almonds to make almond milk and the time (6.30 in the morning) was totally inappropriate to visit the nearest organic food store and buy something. What I needed that time was a quick and easy recipe for a plant-based milk that could also work for my coffee.
Luckily, homemade oat milk, along with homemade coconut milk, are cheap and easy to make – it only takes few minutes and minimal effort- and they both have an amazing flavor. Rolled oats is something I always keep in my cupboards, so in less than ten minutes I blended a cup of rolled oats with water, I strained the oat milk and I prepared an espresso, in order to make my precious vegan latte.
One of the things that I really like with oat milk is that it has a neutral flavor, slightly sweet taste, much better than the commercial oat milk varieties and a relatively dense consistency with makes it very satisfying. Moreover, when I simmer it a little bit to make my latte, it becomes thicker, giving to my coffee a nice creaminess without the additional fat and the calories found in the coffee-creamers or the coconut milk.
The remaining pulp in the strainer can be added in our breakfast bowl or it can be incorporated into the dough for a homemade bread, as it is rich in vitamins and minerals, just as oat milk is.
- 1 cup rolled oats (opt for gluten-free if you prefer)
- 3 cups water at room temperature
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp brown sugar or the sweetener of your choice
1. Put the oats in the blender together with the water and blend at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, depending on your blender.
2. Lay a sieve with cheesecloth and strain. Squeeze the cloth to drain most of the liquid.
3. If you want you can add sweetener of your choice and flavor with natural vanilla extract. Store in sterile glass bottle in the refrigerator. You can keep it for up to three days.