Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pear-Ginger Cheesecake

When you need a break from heavier desserts, this little beauty is the way to go. I may say that a lot when it comes to raw desserts but it is just so true. This raw 'cheesecake' recipe is satiny smooth, delicate yet spicy and has a subtle addition of chocolate with a light crunch from the crust.

Pear and ginger make the perfect relationship in this recipe. Pears have such a unique and light flavor that on its own, some people aren't in love with it. Some. However, add the spice and aromatics that ginger offers and this is quite the relationship duo striking the right balance! Actually I think these flavors would make a good martini.

When needing to live in my raw food moments, it's so nice to be able to go to a dessert that mimics the looks of a traditional cheesecake. A little trickery for the mind to make me think I am getting something from the bad side of town. The fun part is that the taste is usually so good that it is weird to stop and think, "Wow! There is no butter, no flour, no refined sugar, and no bad fats in this. Crazy!"... & no, it does not taste anything like a real cheesecake but gets its name based on look and preparation for setting up in the traditional cheesecake springform pan. Sometimes after eating these desserts both Andy and I will reflect on the ingredients and list them out and it's cool to think of raw food in this way; fruits, nuts, spices, healthy fats = dessert (what!).

Even though this is a completely natural and raw dessert, it is (as a lot are), made with generous amounts of nuts which can carry a high calorie count and some healthy fats. Even these desserts must be eaten in small portions. This is not a license to pig out because it's essentially a healthy dessert...and that is your warning. It will be tempting with this recipe and others like it because the filling is so smooth and delicate it's almost like eating a beautiful mousse that you want to experience over and over.


Chocolate-Almond Crust
1 3/4 cups dry almonds
5 tablespoons cacao powder
3 1/2 ounces date paste (weight)
1 teaspoon liquid vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Pear-Ginger Filling
3 cups soaked cashews
3 cups chopped pears ( about 16 ounces weight)
3/4 cup agave syrup
3/4 cup ginger juice
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon liquid vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon lecithin
1 cup coconut oil


Chocolate-Almond Crust
  1. Add to food processor the nuts, salt, vanilla, and half the amount of date paste, and any other ingredients the recipe may call for.
  2. Process all ingredients until the crust starts to rise on the sides of the food processor bowl. Stop the machine and mix with a spatula or spoon.
  3. Repeat a few times until the nuts are well broken down. Add remaining date paste and continue processing until mixture is consistent. The final result of the crust should be a mixture that can hold together with a gentle pressure and can be broken apart with a clean break.
  4. Assemble a 10-inch cheesecake pan with the bottom up (opposite the way it would normally be used with lip facing down). This makes it much easier to serve. Lightly grease the entire inside of the pan with coconut oil.
  5. Distribute crust evenly on the bottom of the cheesecake pan and lightly compact by hand. Set aside until ready to be filled.

If the nuts are too chunky, try sharpening your blade. You can also lightly process the nuts and salt by themselves before adding the other ingredients. Adding all of the date paste at once will not allow the nuts to break down properly. Some chunky nuts are okay if this is a preference but must be broken down enough to make the crust to come together.
When pressing the crust into pan, be careful not to use too much pressure, as this will result in the crust sticking to the pan and making the serving process challenging. On the other hand, if you are not pressing firmly enough the crust will be crumbly and messy. If crust is not sticking together and breaking apart cleanly, you need to add a small splash (1/2 - 1 teaspoon) of liquid vanilla and process a bit longer.

Making the cheesecake filling

  1. Add to the blender all ingredients except the coconut oil and lecithin.
  2. Blend well until smooth and creamy ( 3 - 5 minutes).
  3. Stop blending and add the lecithin and melted coconut oil.
  4. Resume blending until oil and lecithin are well incorporated
  5. Pour filling into springform pan with prepared crust. Recipe may call for a swirling decoration (instructions below). If you want to, or are asked to, make a swirl reserve 1 cup of filling and add:
    1. 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
    2. 3-4 vanilla beans (scraped insides only)
  6. Place in freezer to set for 1 - 2 hours or until middle of cheesecake is firm to the touch.
  7. Remove springform ring by inserting a non-serrated paring knife along the inside edge of the pan. Open springform, remove cheesecake and decorate to your liking.

Swirling (optional)
Swirling is a decorating technique that is a quick and easy way to make a dessert look elegant and delicious. Swirling always requires two or more contrasting colors. The stronger the contrast, the more beautiful the swirl will be.
The basic rule to creating a beautiful swirl is to have each of the fillings as close to same consistency as possible. This causes them to smoothly and easily flow and glide into each other. The process is simple, although requires practice over time to perfect, and these general rules apply to the 10 inch cheesecake recipes.

  1. Pour all but 1 - 2 cups of the finished filling into the pan (onto prepared crust).
  2. Blend the reserved cups with the ingredients the recipe calls for. This should be a brief blend phase as you just need to combine the added ingredients. Often the recipe will call for some additional liquid (like vanilla) to compensate for any added dry ingredients.
  3. Now, confidently begin to pour into the pan (only pour 3/4 of the reserve mixture). Do not pour lightly. You want some of the colored mixture to pierce the surface of the filling, moving around to evenly distribute throughout the cheesecake, which will be visible on the individual slices.
  4. After you have poured 3/4 of the reserve mixture, start to pour lightly the remaining mixture, letting a ribbon of the filling to fall onto the surface. Once you pour lightly, the filling should sit directly on top the surface of the rest of the filling. Make sure to get near the edges, but not touching.
  5. Now, grab a chopstick or something similar, and insert it just below the surface and begin to move it around, swirling the fillings into each other. Try to make it as balanced as possible, meaning both colors will be equally visible. It is important to know when to stop as too much swirling will blend everything together and there will no longer be a contrast of colors. Actual swirling time is minimal and the effect is achieved quickly.

Cheesecakes will keep for at least four days. Store covered in the fridge.


  • Date Paste - you can make this by pitting and chopping dates, then boiling them in a heavy bottomed pan with 1 3/4 cups water. After bringing to a boil, let simmer for 1 minute.  Drain and cool. Then puree in a blender. I added a splash of whiskey to my dates while they were cooling just prior to blending.
  • Ginger Juice - Using ginger root from the store ( required 2 very large pieces) shave off the skin with a knife and juice in an electric juicer. You can also use a garlic press to squeeze juice out of the ginger root, although I think that would take forever. You can online search other options but it can be a do-it-yourself process.
  • Coconut-Oil - has a low melting point. You do not need a high flame to melt this and I recommend a low and slow melt. Coconut oil can be sensitive and if you heat it too high, too long it can go rancid. It's a delicate and beautiful oil.
  • Lecithin- what the hell is that? I didn't know, have never used it, and had to look it up.  Our Vons, who rarely has what we need, didn't have this either. You can sub vegetable oil or canola oil.
  • I botched my swirling because, well, I didn't read #5 :) . But it still looks nice and gave it some unique aesthetic appeal.
  • My garnish for the cheesecake is pear slices that have been dusted with cinnamon and dehydrated.


Source:Sweet Gratitude


  1. Looks like a real deal cheesecake! Very beautiful. Even though you say it doesn't necessarily taste like cheesecake, it sounds divine! I want a slice.

  2. Looks amazing. It just says 3 slash 4 ginger juice - is that meant to be cups? I can't wait to try it.

    1. Hi there,
      Sorry about that, it is meant to say " 3/4 cup". Thanks for noticing and I have updated the post :)

  3. Hey I was wondering what the setting agent in this cheesecake is?

  4. There is no setting agent, per se. It is the reaction of the ingredients combined and allowed to set up inthe fridge that cause them to solidify in a form that can be cut.

  5. I haven't tried this recipe but saw it in a recipe book that I have. I was stunned by the amount of ginger juice and actually thought it was a typo. 3/4 cup of pure ginger juice is not too strong in this cheesecake? If I'm juicing veggies and I add more than 1" of ginger root per 20 oz., it tastes overwhelming to me... Any opinion from those who have tried this recipe?

    1. Hi Jennifer! I would love to give you an adequate response to your question but my experience is that people's opinions are as different as their tastes. Case in point, my BF always warns me when making a savory dish with garlic, that it's going to be "really" garlicy! He knows I love it. But not everyone does. Maybe try the recipe with 1/2 a cup and see what your personal tastebuds tell you. If you make it again add more or less to your taste. Also, you can maybe add a dollup of lovely whipped coconut cream so should it be too strong for your taste, there is something to tone it down and mute the spice.

    2. I made it with 1/2 c ginger juice and I thought it was perfect, maybe a smidge too gingery. But my guests liked it and my BF said he'd put in more ginger! ~Thanks

  6. Thanks so much for the update Jennifer. It sounds like it was a success and you found your almost sweet spot! I am glad you tried it and appreciate your posting.