Raw, vegan, and gluten-free, this Avocado Lime Cheesecake is going to be one of the best refreshing desserts you have ever tried. A nutty and chocolaty crust combined with a smooth, luscious, and tangy filling. It’s out-of-this-world delicious and totally healthy!
My recent trend in healthier eating has led me to do a lot more exploration in cooking styles I would never have thought of before. Vegan, raw, and gluten-free have never been among my go-to recipes, but I’m starting to see that there might be some interesting ideas to be had there. But don’t worry, I won’t be giving up my sweets and treats completely!
Beside my general inclination to eat healthier, diets that emphasize vegetables and grains are shown to have positive health benefits and be much better for the environment than a red meat heavy diet. The other things these diets emphasize are plant-based proteins and fats.
I’ve decided to embrace that and venture into an area I haven’t explored much: vegan desserts. Well vegan anything really. I’m just so fond of my creams and cheeses I haven’t played with vegan cuisine much. But I have to say, even I don’t miss them in this avocado lime cheesecake.
In line with my exploring the sweet side of avocados, I found this recipe in a local Lithuanian cookbook. I like the combination of dark, almost bitter chocolate as part of the crust, with the creamy and zesty lime and avocado filling. It’s a fun, tart version of a chocolate lime cheesecake that is amazingly refreshing on a hot summer day.
Adding sweetness naturally
Speaking of explorations, this no-bake, vegan, and gluten-free cheesecake also follows my recent trend of finding alternatives to processed sugar and flour. Dates are of course one of my favorites. Their stickiness is perfect for the crust in this recipe. Without gluten-containing flour, it’s hard to create a base that will hold up to a cheesecake. Especially raw. In this recipe, dates perform double duty by both sweetening and holding the crust together.
As much as I like dates, they certainly would have interfered with the creamy, luscious texture of the “cheese” portion of the cheesecake. Plus, with such intense flavors like lime and coconut, you need something to bring everything together. Maple syrup enhances all these flavors without overwhelming anything.
While a liquid sweetener might otherwise be difficult in a cake with no setting agent besides the fat (we will get into that later), you don’t need much in this case, so is doesn’t make it too runny. For one thing, coconut cream has a subtle sweetness of its own, so you certainly don’t want to over sweeten it. And one of the great things about this cake is how tangy and refreshing it is with all the lime. But if it isn’t quite sweet enough for you, add another tablespoon or two of maple syrup.
What are cacao nibs?
Cacao. The true essence of chocolate. Cacao nibs are basically what chocolate is made from. During processing, the cocoa seeds (also known as seeds of the cacao tree) are ground down and separated into the cocoa solids and the cocoa butter. Different mixtures of these two, plus some extra sugar and milk, are where we get all the variations of what we find on the shelves as chocolate.
Cacao nibs are little pieces of crushed cocoa seed. At this stage, they haven’t been processed beyond drying and fermenting. There is no sugar added, or anything to take away from that pure chocolate taste. They are known to be full of antioxidants which reduce inflammation and can reduce risk of heart disease.
Some people can find them a little bitter because they are used to a lower proportion of cocoa solids in their chocolate. But when dispersed as part of a crust, the cacao nibs offer an amazing texture and little bursts of pure chocolate. I particularly like them here, where their bitterness balances out the sweet of the dates.
What is the difference between coconut cream and coconut milk?
The plant-based fats are what provide the structure to this vegan cheesecake, as opposed to eggs or gluten from flour. Which makes it very important to have a lot of those fats. For this raw cake, we are getting those fats from coconut cream, coconut oil, and avocados.
Coconut cream is the high fat portion of coconut milk. The same way cream separates from cow’s milk, coconut fat separates from the other liquid. Coconut cream is a soft, gloopy consistency at room temperature, but when cold, solidifies and holds firm.
This is one recipe where you definitely need the full fat version of everything. No skimping. If you can’t find pure coconut cream, you can take the cream from a can of full fat coconut milk. Just refrigerate a can of coconut milk for 24 hours without agitating it, then scoop off the solidified cream that rises to the top. You can use the remaining liquid for cooking rice or adding to smoothies.
Another important note about the coconut cream in this recipe is that you are going to get the best results from a can of coconut cream that does not have any gum additives, like gaur gum. These are emulsifiers that prevent the fats and the rest of the liquid in the can from separating when they are sitting on the shelf. But in this case, you want them to separate so you can scoop off that high fat cream that will provide the structure for your vegan cheesecake.
When I first found the recipe, I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did. Raw, vegan, and gluten-free cheesecake? Is it really still cheesecake? Yes it is. All the qualities you would desire are there: a crumbly, chocolaty crust and a smooth, luscious, and tangy filling. Perfectly set and absolutely refreshing straight from the fridge. Never let healthy mean that something can’t be delicious!
Healthy Avocado Lime Cheesecake
For the crust:
- 3 oz. (100g) pecans
- 1/2 cup (40g) shredded coconut
- 3 tbsp (30g) cacao nibs
- 2 1/2 tbsp (20g) cocoa powder
- 3 oz. (100g) pitted dates
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
For the filling:
- 1 lb. (450g) avocado flesh (4-5 medium avocados)
- 1/2 cup coconut cream*
- 5 limes , zested and juiced (you need scant ½ cup lime juice)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 limes , zested, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Line an 8-inch (20cm) springform cake pan with parchment paper.
- Place the pecans and shredded coconut on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until toasted. Be careful not to burn the shredded coconut.
- Transfer the pecans and coconut to a food processor. Add the cacao nibs,cocoa powder, dates, and coconut oil and process until the mixture is crumbly.It should hold together when pinched. If not, add more dates, one by one, and process again.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake pan and press into the bottom. Refrigerate while making the filling.
- Place the lime zest, juice, avocados, coconut cream, maple syrup, and coconut oil into the food processor. Process until smooth. Taste and add more lime juice or maple syrup, if desired.
- Pour the filling over the crust. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or more.
- Gently run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the sides of the springform pan and release the sides.
- Zest two limes over the cake and serve. Keep in the refrigerator and consume within two days.