The start of May means strawberry season! That makes me so happy because strawberries are one of my top picks. It's like a little gift from mother nature as it's not only the month we celebrate Mother's Day, but also my birthday!
For the next few months, while they are in season, I try to include these berries when they are at their best...big and bold in their color, as well as naturally sweet! Try your farmers market for the cream of the crop. Strawberries are considered nutritionally valuable in Vitamin C along with manganese. They also rank low on the glycemic index chart. And as the temperatures warm up, choosing strawberries is a wise choice due to their high water content at 92%, which will aid in hydration. Strawberries are known to have cardiovascular benefits and improve eye health as well.
So naturally, I decided we needed a strawberry cheesecake on the menu for not only for the celebrations of the month, but to just celebrate the start of their season. With the cheesecake being cashew based and the crust being pecan based, it's loaded with some healthy proteins as well as being nutrient dense. I drizzled some homemade white chocolate over the top for a pretty finish. The taste is incredible! After all, who doesn't like strawberries and chocolate?
2 cups raw pecans
1 & 1/4 cup packed and pitted dates
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
pinch of sea salt
Strawberry Cheesecake Filling:
3 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours
3 cups strawberries, stems removed
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
White Chocolate Drizzle:
1/4 cup raw cacao butter, melted
1/4 cup coconut butter, softened
2 Tbs pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*For a touch of pink, add 1 tsp beet root powder
1. Start by soaking your cashews for a minimum of 4 hours in filtered water. Rinse thoroughly after soaking.
2. While your cashews are soaking, use your food processor to make the crust. You will place the dates (soaked to soften if necessary), pecans, and pinch of sea salt in your processor. Grind well until the ingredients are of a fairly fine consistency, but not pasty. Then add the shredded coconut. Pulse a few times until incorporated.
3. Line a 9 inch springform with a parchment round. Press the crust ingredients firmly into the bottom and place the pan in the refrigerator until firm and ready for the cheesecake filling.
4. To make the strawberry filling, place the soaked and drained cashews in your Vitamix, along with the blueberries, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Blend until creamy and smooth. You might need to stop your Vitamix a couple of times to scrape down the sides, making sure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Use your tamper to help expedite the process. Note, you will not add the coconut oil until the other ingredients are mixed first. Once blended and smooth, add the coconut oil and mix well.
5. Take your springform pan out of the refrigerator. I like to line the sides of the springform pan with parchment paper to ensure an easy removal of the pan from the cheesecake. Once your pan is thoroughly prepped and the crust is firm, add the cheesecake filling and spread evenly over the crust. Cover the cheesecake and place in your freezer for about 5-6 hours, or until your desired consistency is reached. You can keep it in the refrigerator as well, it may take longer to firm up though.
6. Once it is firm, start making your white chocolate drizzle. Over low heat, melt the cacao butter. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the coconut butter and maple syrup. Mix well. You don't want it to be too thin when you drizzle it on the cheesecake. So if needed, place the white chocolate mixture in the refrigerator for 3-5 minutes. It thickens up fast so don't leave it in there too long. You just want it to be pourable, but not watery. If you want a pink hue to the white chocolate, mix in 1 teaspoon of beet root powder.
7. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer. Drizzle the white chocolate over the top and/or sides. Top with optional garnish, such as fresh strawberries or coconut whipped cream if desired. Slice and enjoy! Store leftovers in either your freezer (for longer storage), or refrigerator.