These bars are heavenly! Before you get too excited, this is not real cheesecake. But maybe that thought actually excites you! After all, have you ever looked at the nutritional content in real cheesecake? The saturated fat and sugar content is off the chart! Sorry to be a downer. But hopefully this recipe will perk you right back up.
Bottom layer, top layer added, topped with shredded coconut, firm after set in freezer.
The top "cheesecake" layer is composed of cashews that have been soaked for approximately 4 hours. That is what gives us this incredibly creamy and fluffy version of a healthier alternative to cheesecake. Hard to believe, I know. But trust me on this, okay? Also, a word on the vanilla extract. If you are needing these bars to be truly raw, you will need to use alcohol free vanilla extract. However, alcohol free vanilla contains glycerin. So if that bothers you, either skip the vanilla or you can buy some fresh vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds.
The bottom layer is a simple mixture of dates, almonds, shredded coconut, and raw cacao powder. Simply process it up and press down into your pan. No big deal. If you decide to use frozen raspberries, thaw them under cold water and pat dry to remove any excess moisture. You can give them a gentle squeeze as their appearance isn't a big deal. They will end up being blended in your Vitamix.
One tip though, while this recipe is fairly simple, there is a lot of down time. The soaking of the cashews and then the bars will need to firm up in the freezer for a few hours. So, with that said, my advice is to plan ahead. I would make these scrumptious bars the day before I need them. They stay firm if you store them in the freezer. If you want a softer consistency, transfer them to your refrigerator an hour or so before you want to eat them.
1 1/4 cup pitted packed dates, soaked in water to soften if necessary
1 1/2 cup raw almonds
3 Tbs raw cacao powder
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
pinch of sea salt
2 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours
2 cups packed fresh raspberries (if frozen, thaw and pat dry)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract, optional
3 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper. This will allow you to remove the bars with ease. Place all bottom layer ingredients in your food processor and process until well incorporated. If you soaked your dates, drain them first and pat dry. The mixture may be a little crumbly but don't worry. It will pack down nicely in your pan.
2. Remove the bottom layer mixture from the food processor into your pan. Press down firmly until it is evenly and tightly packed. Place the pan in your freezer for about 20 minutes.
3. While the bottom layer is in the freezer, drain and rinse your soaked cashews. Place them in your Vitamix or other high speed blender, along with the raspberries, maple syrup, lemon juice, and vanilla. Blend until you reach a creamy, fluffy consistency. Then add the coconut oil. Blend well.
4. Remove the pan from the freezer and spread the raspberry cheesecake layer over the top. Garnish with shredded coconut or raw cacao nibs if desired. Cover the pan and return to the freezer for about 4 hours, or until a nice firmness has been reached. Slice into 16 squares. Store the bars in the freezer for a firmer consistency or the refrigerator for a softer consistency.