If any of you are following me on Instagram, you might know that I embarked on a 30 day no sugar challenge for the month of April. This means that I decided to avoid all types of added sugars including white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, raw cane sugar, agave, honey, stevia and maple syrup. The first 7 sugars were not that hard to eliminate since I do not regularly cook with any of them. Maple syrup on the other hand... ouff! That was more of a challenge! It is the main sweetener I use in all my baking. I also absolutely love using it to caramelize fruits - caramelized bananas, pears and apples are my absolute favorite oatmeal toppings.
For the first couple of days of this challenge, I found myself really craving cookies, granola, my usual pancakes and all types of sweet baked goods. I started to brainstorm on how I could naturally add sweetness to my favorite baked goods. The most obvious replacement was: DATES! Dates are amazing, because not only are they naturally sweet and incredibly tasty, but unlike other sweeteners, they contain fiber, which we know is beneficial for our digestion and reduces LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol). Dates are also packed with vitamins (B, A, K & C) and minerals (magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper & more). They are pretty much a super fruit as we like to call them ;)
So I started experimenting with incorporating dates in some of my go to dishes. I made a date sweetened granola (still working on perfecting the recipe but it will be up on the blog soon!)! I also made pancakes using a couple of dates as the sweetener, by blending them up with almond butter and almond milk and then incorporating them with my dry ingredients. I topped those pancakes with a sugar-free berry compote and it was super tasty, satisfying and sweetened to perfection.
Because I was so impressed by how good these pancakes came out, I decided to challenge myself even more and create a completely sugar free vegan cheesecake. I had never made one before and never read a recipe online that did not use maple syrup in the cheesecake filling, so I thought, why not create it myself?
As I was brainstorming on the flavour profile of this vegan sugar free cheesecake, I thought I could use some of the products sent to me by Matcha.Blue to add some color to my dessert. Matcha.Blue has all sorts of colorful powders like premium organic blue, pink and red matcha, blueberry powder, beetroot powder, raspberry powder, and Hawaiian green spirulina to name a few. For this recipe, I wanted to create a dreamy, pastel cheesecake so the blue matcha and blueberry powder seemed like the perfect add-ins for this cheesecake.
I also wanted to add a more burned caramel flavour to this cheesecake, which I thought would pair beautifully with the walnut-date base. Therefore, I opted for maca powder to flavour some of my cheesecake filling.
Just a note on the level of sweetness of this cake. On its own, the filling is not as sweet as some of the fillings I have tasted in the past, because I chose to use only 3 dates so that their brown color would not affect the color of my cheesecake, making it harder to dye with the blue matcha and blueberry powder. However, because of the crust that is made with dates and walnuts, I found that it was not necessary to add more dates to the filling. I would recommend tasting the filling by itself before pouring it on the base and adjusting the sweetness to your personal liking.
Finally, if you don’t have blue matcha or blueberry powder on hand, you can totally omit them and only use maca powder. Another option would be to dye your cheesecake using turmeric powder or a touch of spirulina (beware to not put too much spirulina as it has a strong flavour!).
This cheesecake was truly a lot of fun to create! I loved seeing the beautiful colors come to life and was so excited to realize that I was actually able to create a super creamy, rich and decadent cheesecake without any processed sugar! Maybe I will go an extra month without sugar...or maybe not ;)
3/4 cup dates*
1 cup walnuts
Pinch of salt
1 cup cashews soaked in boiling water for 1 hour, drained
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/8 cup melted coconut oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp maca powder
1 1/2 tsp Matcha Blue powder, diluted in 1 tsp of warm water
1 1/2 tsp Blueberry powder, diluted in 1 tsp of warm water
Frozen or fresh blueberries
Date-walnut energy balls (read below)
*If your dates are hard, soak them in hot water for 30 minutes then drain and use them as directed.
For the base:
- Line the bottom of a 7 inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add dates, walnuts and salt. Process until a sticky dough forms. Measure 1/4 cup of the mixture, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
- Transfer the rest of the mixture into the prepared spring form pan. Using your hands, press the walnut date crust evenly along the bottom of the pan. Transfer to the freezer.
For the cheesecake:
- Add cashews, coconut milk, coconut oil, dates and lemon juice to a high speed blended and process until silky smooth, adding more coconut milk if needed to blend smoothly.
- Divide the filling between 3 bowls.
- To one bowl, add some maca powder. Stir. Taste and add more powder if you want a stronger maca flavour.
- To another bowl, add some blue matcha. Stir. Add more powder (diluted in a touch of water) if you want a more intense color.
- To the last bowl, add blueberry powder. Stir. Add more powder (diluted in a touch of water) if you want a deeper purple color.
- Pour all 3 fillings into the crust. Swirl using a butter knife to create a beautiful pattern. Cover with a plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
- The next day, remove cheesecake from the freezer. Let sit on the counter for 10 minutes, remove from the pan and set on a serving plate. Let unthaw for an additional 15 minutes.
- Form mini balls with the remaining date-walnut mixture.
- Decorate your cake with fresh berries, date-walnut balls and hemp hearts.