Paleo cheesecake is very simple to make. All that is required is a bit of time to let cashews soak in water overnight. This allows the cashews to absorb a lot of the moisture, therefore making them easier to blend the next day. If you are in a rush, the cashews only absolutely need to soak for two hours. But the results will not be as creamy as when they are soaked overnight. Really give your food processor a workout to get a super smooth and creamy texture from the cashews.
Coconut oil also plays a large role in the recipe; substituting it for something else would not work as it sometimes does for other recipes. It is vital to helping the cheesecake maintain its shape as it cools and hardens. Lemon juice is also added, though start with a small amount and taste the mixture before adding more. If the blended batter looks very thick, add more almond milk a tablespoon at a time until it is smooth. The batter will then harden in the freezer.
So, the cheesecake part of this recipe is easy. Blend two batches of ingredients, toss them in the freezer, and done. You can walk away at this point. Top the bars with some blueberries and mint, and call it good. Or you can continue on to the caramel. The only reason this recipe is hard is because of the caramel.
Once the cheesecake has been put into the freezer to set, you can turn to the making the caramel. The caramel is the not-so-healthy portion of this recipe. It also uses palm sugar and palm shortening, which are not ingredients you just happen to have in your pantry. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes amazing. But it is a bit difficult.
The caramel sauce must be closely monitored and stirred regularly while it is cooking on the stove. Try to keep it at a frothy, rolling simmer. And if you are impatient like me, you might think it will never turn out. But after about 15-20 minutes the sauce turns a deep, caramel brown. Once it is ready, immediately spoon it onto the bars. The caramel will harden as it cools, making it harder to spread. The recipe makes about a cup of caramel, which was more than I needed, but it depends how much caramel you like.
Lastly, top the bars with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt to get the delightful sweet and salty combination. It might not taste exactly like dairy cheesecake, but it comes darn close to being the best substitute I ever had. It is a rich, succulent, sweet, and salty dessert.
- For the crust
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 5 pitted Medjool dates
- 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
- Pinch of salt
- For the filling
- 2.5 cups raw cashews
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp almond milk
- For the caramel
- 3/4 cup coconut cream
- 1/4 cup ghee
- 1 cup palm sugar
- 3 tbsp honey
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup palm shortening
- Place the cashews in a bowl of water. Cover and soak overnight, rinse, and then drain.
- Place the dates in a bowl of water and soak for 10 minutes. Rinse and set aside.
- To make the crust, line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Place the walnuts and almonds into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the dates, coconut flakes, and salt and blend until combined. Press the mixture into an even layer in the pan. Place in the freezer to chill while the filling is prepared.
- To make the filling, place all of the filling ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until it reaches a smooth, batter-like consistency. Pour the mixture over the crust in the baking pan. Place back in the freezer for at least one hour to harden.
- Meanwhile, make the caramel. Whisk together the coconut cream, ghee, palm sugar, honey, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a soft boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and is a rich golden brown.
- Allow the sauce to cool for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the palm shortening until dissolved. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer and cut into bars. Add a dollop of caramel onto the top of each bar and use a spoon to spread over the top. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately or store in the freezer.