My first exposure to raw eating was when my mum bought a copy of “Uncooking with Raw Rose” from a health food store on Vancouver Island a few summers ago. My entire family found it to be quite entertaining (perhaps not the original intent of the book!), especially the logic given for going raw: well, cows eat grass and grow big and strong, so we should just skip the middleman, eat grass and we will also become big and strong. Uhhh… Right-O.
Anyways, I put the raw diet out of my mind as school started shortly thereafter and I really enjoy eating meat, baking things, etc. too much to give it up. Besides, it’s REALLY difficult to eat 100% raw in Calgary because for half the year the produce is iffy at best and can be ridiculously expensive given that it has to be shipped such a long distance to get here. (Plus, I have to count my blessings as Mr. Bean is okay eating lots of vegetables, having gluten free (plus dairy and egg free at the moment) meals and puts up with me when I do things like the Daniel Fast. I don’t think he could do it if I went completely meat free and to be honest, I don’t think that I could do it either!) Nevertheless, I do realize how things are more nutrient rich when they’re raw and try to eat as much raw produce as possible. :)
Fast forward to 2011: when I was perusing the internet for vegan/sugar free/unprocessed food recipes, many of the recipes I came across were raw. Interesting. I thought that the methods used to create dishes were quite interesting (you mean you can make cheesecake out of cashews and use dehydrators to make cookies?!?) and I started thinking about how “cooking” raw would be a culinary challenge worth undertaking – similar to my adventures in baking and cooking gluten, dairy and egg free.
Then, the lovely Brittany of Real Sustenance asked me if I wanted to participate in April in the Raw and I said yes. (Where else will I have a better opportunity to learn about raw cooking than by participating in such a carnival?) But this left me with a conundrum: what should I make? I mean I could make a salad or something, but that almost seems too easy. So, I went to my parents house and borrowed good ‘ol Raw Rose’s cookbook and began perusing the internet for inspiration. In my over zealous nature, I decided to combine two raw desserts: a carrot cake from Raw Rose’s book and raw vegan cheesecake, of course with my own twist. I LOVE “real” carrot cake with pineapples and coconut in it, so why not try adding that to the raw recipe? It seems to have worked out quite well and is incredibly tasty! The cheesecake part, in my not so humble opinion, is just as good if not better than actual cheesecake!
Raw Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cheesecake Icing
For the carrot cake:
2/3 c. + 1/6 c. each of raw walnuts and pecans, soaked for 4 hours
1 c. de-pitted dates
1/3 c. raisins
2 tsp. cinnamon
Scant 1/2 tsp. each nutmeg and cardamom
Pinch sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
3 1/2 c. carrots (cut into 1″ chunks before measuring)
1/2 c. freshly grated coconut
1/2 c. fresh pineapple chunks
- In a food processor, process soaked walnuts and pecans until in small bits.
- Add the dates and process until no more big date chunks exist.
- Transfer nut mixture to a large bowl and add raisins and spices. Mix until well combined.
- In food processor, process carrots, coconut and pineapple until fine. (I should have processed mine for a bit longer!)
- Add carrot mixture to nut mixture and mix until very well combined.
- Press into a lightly greased 8 – 9″ springform pan, using a spatula to pat down edges so surface is flat.
- Put in the fridge to set.
2 c. raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours
1/2 c. lemon juice
1/2 c. raw agave nectar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2/3 c. freshly grated coconut
2/3 c. coconut oil, melted slowly in oven or on stove
3 – 4 tbsp. coconut milk (I forgot this, so mine was a bit thick)
- Process together cashews, lemon juice, agave, coconut and coconut milk.
- Then add in the melted coconut oil.
- Process until smooth. Taste it and see if it needs anything.
- Pour on top of the carrot cake.
- Put back in fridge and let it chill for a few hours until set.
- Serve with coconut cream and pineapple pieces if desired, but most importantly enjoy!
Given that this was the first time I had made a raw dessert, I definitely learned a few things:
- I added too many carrots (as they were very small to start off with), so I reduced the amount called for here.
- The food processor I have isn’t the best as it struggled to get things to be really fine or smooth – but beggars can’t be choosers as it was free!
- Adjust amounts of flavourings if desired in both the cake and the cheesecake. I think you should make sure that both parts taste good to you as this creates a lot of cake!
- I made little snacking cakes by filling ramekins about 1/2 full with carrot cake and covering them with a large spoonful of the cheesecake mixture. It’s like a carrot cake muffin with cream cheese icing but raw and in a dish.
- You can use all pecans or all walnuts in the carrot cake if you desire. Honey can probably be substituted for the agave nectar – just start by adding around 1/3 c. and then adjust to desired. sweetness. :)
Have you ever tried making a raw dessert before?
If you want to see more raw recipes, make sure that you follow along with April in the Raw!