It is very easy to create metaphors between love and food. Food is divine – an appetizing allegory for love – which is definitely and infinitely delectable. Both are visceral, encompassing and intellectually impossible to reduce down to the sum of their parts. It is all sensory – visual, tactile…gustatory.
And of course, there is nothing sweeter than when love is new! Optimistic, longing, so exciting that there is almost a very physical manifestation of anticipation and desire – you glow, you become animated, more attractive, almost a magnetic force. And then as a relationship develops…becomes more open, there is a gorgeous blooming and lingering…and savoring, in slow motion…. colors become saturated as what you have been anticipating is realized. Life is good. And suddenly new.
I wanted to make something that paid homage to this love coming to fore.
I think that nothing less than a most decadent dessert will suffice! And while dessert typically ends a meal, this one was inspired by a beginning.
This was all kindled late one night as I was sitting in my kitchen, alone with my cup of tea, daydreaming. Remembering a beginning. And all the excitement and Technicolor dreams that go with it – so I let the daydream wander into freespace and of course, the way that I am, it eventually culminates in…food. I wanted to replicate the waves of emotion that new love brings – the excitement, anticipation, openness, richness. With an element of surprise and unexpectedness. I imagined a marriage of sweet and tart, liquid, luscious, creamy, interrupted only by not-quite-salty punctuations of a crumbly crust and finished – naturally, as if there was a choice – with the unabashed velvet that is chocolate ganache. The beginning of love deserves no less commemoration!
With this much inspiration, I had no choice but to work (late hour be damned), like a woman possessed, to realize this figment of taste in my imagination. In a veritable fugue, I feverishly gather ingredients that I have faith will all come together to make this hyperbolic confection.
Now you have to remember that while I have an uncompromised goal in mind, I work within a modernist design construct of form+function. What does this mean? Well, in a nutshell, that which causes a wanton sensory reaction must also be….healthy. Sounds anti-climactic but think of it in the health as bondage realm. And don’t get me started on raw! Not so anticlimactic now! (wink).
And I laugh, because, really, the best relationships are, well, healthy. Touche. Cliché.
That is where the element of surprise comes in – all this richness and decadence comes not from the common cream but from the coupling of cashews and coconut.
So here are two versions of what I call the Velvet Underground: Raw Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache. One of them made rosy with raspberries. Because it is, after all, about red hot love.
Take a bite, close your eyes and remember that time. When it all started.
And allow me to take a cue from Bryant Terry and suggest a soundtrack while you’re cooking and definitely while you’re sharing the fruit of your labor: Hotel Costes 5 or Thievery Corporation’s The Mirror Conspiracy. Then it becomes an all-sensory experience!
Raw Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache
Part 1 – The Crust
¾ cup almonds
¾ cup macadamia nuts
¾ cup pitted medjool dates
1 tsp sea salt
Process the nuts into small pieces with salt in a food processor. Add the dates and process until combined and sticky. Press into the lined bottom of a springform pan and refrigerate or freeze until set. Make the filling.
Part 2 – The Filling
3 cups cashews
¾ lemon juice, fresh preferred
½ cup agave syrup or maple syrup
¾ cup coconut oil (must be liquid, place bottle in bowl of hot water if solid)
1 tsp. vanilla
Optional: ½ pint raspberries
Cover the cashews in water and soak for about an hour. Drain and place in blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste for preferred sweetness and tartness. Pour into prepared springform pan. Place in freezer to set.
Part 3 – The Ganache
1 ½ c. grain sweetened chocolate chips
1/4 cup almond milk creamer (or other nondairy creamer)
Place chips in a heatproof bowl. Slowly heat the almond milk creamer in a pan, take off heat when it simmers. Pour over chocolate chips and mix until chocolate is melted. Cool for a few seconds while mixing. Pour over filling. Decorate with fresh berries. Place in freezer to set.
When firm, place in the fridge until ready to serve.