Paleo and Dairy-Free Strawberry Cheesecake

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This cheesecake will seriously blow your mind. Not only is it grain- and gluten-free, it is also dairy- and refined sugar-free. To top things off, this cheesecake actually tastes as good as, if not better than the “traditional” dairy-, sugar-, grain-laden version. It’s dreamy, creamy, smooth, dense and comes with that trademark tang that so many paleo and dairy-free cheesecakes miss. To me, this recipe is the find of the century!

{I am so excited about this that it cannot wait its turn on my backlog of recipes I have yet to upload!}

The base/crust is made with walnuts, dried coconut, coconut flour, coconut oil, honey and spices; the filling is made with cashews, coconut milk, cauliflower (yes, you read it right), honey, coconut oil, eggs, cinnamon, salt, apple cider vinegar, vanilla powder, lemon juice, lemon zest and tapioca starch (not always considered paleo, as it contains very little nutritional value). The cheesecake is topped off with fresh strawberries, and glazed with fruit-sweetened strawberry jam.

I had seen this recipe for some time now, and I somewhat shied away from it, because of the cost of the ingredients. I calculated the whole cheesecake would cost me around $60+ to try. It doesn’t help that I buy all organic stuff, but to add on the super-expensive nuts I buy (free from gluten/wheat, soy, peanuts and dairy) and the organic raw honey – ouch!

Eventually, I gained the guts to make it as my birthday cake. As I was blitzing the first ingredients it looked pretty good. Smooth and creamy. Then I added the cauliflower, and it turned lumpy. At this moment in time, I tasted the mixture and nearly threw up. It was not overly pleasant. With difficulty, I carried on, adding the ingredients, smelling it between the blitzing, and with each addition, I could almost hear the ker-ching of $$$$ going down the drain in something that I had created that tasted vile and would find itself in the garbage. Not surprisingly, I didn’t taste the mix again…. that was until I had put the cheesecake in the oven and was cleaning up. I licked the cheesecake filling off the spatula and was so, I repeat, so very surprised at the flavor. It knocked my socks off. It was creamy, with the perfect amount of tang and sweetness. If someone told me this was “traditional” cheesecake, I would have believed them. I saved some on the spatula and let A taste it when he got in. The first thing he said was “that’s really good, what’s in it?”

On chilling overnight, the cheesecake sliced like a dream. The first mouthful was love at first bite. To me, it is incredible that this specific mix of ingredients could create something so close to the traditional cheesecake. Thank you so much Sonia!

Now that I look back, $60+ for a whole 23 cm (9 inch) cheesecake is a lot for me (because I’m tight), but if I only get 10 pieces from it, it’s only $6 a slice. I’m pretty sure that ordering a slice of cheesecake in a restaurant is equivalent to this, if not more.

Some may say that it has been a while since I have tasted cheesecake, and you’re darn right. The last time I ate cheese cheesecake was two years ago, in 2013. My taste buds and memory may be off kilter, but the taste buds of A, and a few others are not. They still eat sugar, dairy, and gluten. The words/phrases associated with this cheesecake were: scrumptious, incredibly delicious, so yummy and I’d have that again.

When you make this cheesecake, don’t tell the recipients that it is paleo, dairy-free refined sugar-free or contains cauliflower. They will NOT believe you afterwards. Oh, and, and… if your brain can take in all of the awesomeness from this cheesecake, it is also freezable.

[Note: I would like to warn you of the volume of the cheesecake filling. We have a 1.7 l (7 cup) Cuisinart food processor, and a tiny bit of the mixture dribbled out of the bowl whilst I was blitzing it at the end.]


PALEO AND DAIRY-FREE STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE

makes one 23 cm (9 inch) cheesecake, at least 12 slices

adapted from the healthy foodie: secret ingredient strawberry cheesecake (non-dairy & paleo)


Ingredients

for the base/crust

  • 150g (2 c) desiccated (finely shredded) unsweetened coconut
  • 85 g (1 heaped c) raw walnut halves
  • 30 g (1/4 c) coconut flour
  • 55 g (1/4 c) extra-virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons softened raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

for the filling

  • 270 g (2 c) raw cashews, soaked overnight, rinsed
  • 225 g (1 c) full fat coconut milk (from a tin)
  • 500 g (1.1 lb) raw cauliflower florets, grated, cooked in microwave, covered for 4-6 minutes, cooled, and moisture squeezed out
  • 335 g (1 c) raw honey, softened
  • 170 g (3/4 c) extra-virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 32 g (1/4 c) tapioca starch/flour

for the topping

  • 680 – 900 g (1 1/2 – 2 lb) fresh, ripe strawberries, rinsed, dried and hulled
  • 150 g (6 1/2 tablespoons) fruit-sweetened strawberry jam, gently heated, pushed through a mesh sieve


Method

1. Line the base and sides of a 23 cm (9 inch) spring-form pan with parchment paper.

2. To make the base/crust, blitz the ingredients together in a food processor until sandy. Press into the base of the spring-form pan and halfway up the sides.

3. Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F.

4. To make the filling, blitz the cashews in a food processor until smooth, then add the following ingredients, blitzing until smooth after each addition: coconut milk, cauliflower, honey, coconut oil, salt, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, vanilla powder, eggs (one at a time), lemon zest and juice and tapioca flour. Pour into the base/crust.

5. Cover the bottom and side of the pan with foil (to prevent water getting in) and place into a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with boiling water, up to about quarter of the side of the pan.

6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 120 C/250 F and bake for an additional 90 minutes.

7. Turn off the oven, open door slightly and let cake cool in the oven, undisturbed for 1 hour or until cool enough to handle with bare hands. Remove from oven and let it reach room temperature before chilling for 6 hours/overnight.

8. Release the cheesecake from the pan and remove the parchment paper. Place onto a serving plate.

9. For the topping, arrange strawberries on the top to fit. Brush the warm strained jam over the strawberries and chill for ~1 hour before slicing and serving. Enjoy! (I know you will).

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