Fermented Cheesecake

Dairy-free FERMENTED CHEESECAKE (egg-free, Paleo, GAPS-friendly, Keto variation, vegan)

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Skeptics abound in every group. Perhaps someone will say cheesecake isn’t cheesecake without cheese? I prefer to think of cheese as a flavor and technique of food preparation that most people love and a cultured, creamy whole food that has health benefits. Under this definition Dairy-free Fermented Cheesecake has an enthusiastic place in the healthy home’s dessert arsenal! Although this recipe is technically vegan, the cheesecake is great for Paleo, Keto and traditional food enthusiasts.  The dessert includes an incredibly fun fermentation process, uses sprouted nuts (easy!), is mindful of phytic acid and proper food preparation for gentle, effective digestion and is full of probiotics. This recipe is also egg-free and GAPS-friendly.

The Fermentation

This cheesecake is a fermented nut puree. The cheese flavor comes from the fermentation of the nuts (and/or seeds). The sweetener is added after the fermenting is complete; otherwise alcohol and undesirable yeasts would be produced.

The fermentation step is not difficult; rather, the process is fun! You’ll see more on this below…

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Choosing the Ingredients — Nuts and Seeds

I have chosen two nuts to use in the cheesecake, neither of which is technically a nut.  I have chosen cashews, which are actually a fruit, because they’re “blonde,” or pale in color, like the color of cheesecake and because they are mild in flavor. Also, having been soaked before pureeing, they are queenly in their creaminess.

I have chosen pine nuts, which are a seed, because they are also pale in color, creamy when pureed, and they have a lovely flavor that adds complexity to the cheesy outcome.

If you can afford raw macadamia nuts, they are the third excellent choice for these same qualities.

(If you’re doing the Keto diet, macadamia nuts and pecans are both great choices. Pecans can be used in part, because they will not be as creamy. Macadamia nuts can be used solely, or combined with pecans.)

Cashews are not raw; so they do not need to be sprouted. (Cashews must be heated considerably in order to be separated at harvest time from a poisonous component with which they grow.) They are often soaked in recipes like this one simply because they blend more easily and become creamier after a 1-2 hour soak.

Pine nuts, however, do get soaked in a saltwater solution, in order to neutralize their enzyme inhibitors and reduce their antinutrients. This is an important step to make the seeds’ nutrition accessible and to make them more digestible.

Which brings me to my next important and exciting point! Fermentation of nuts reduces phytic acid in them. Just like soaking and the sourdough process make grains and nuts more digestible, making cheese out of nuts continues to reduce antinutrients in them, even after soaking.  They also become a rich source of probiotics.

Here are the photos so you can see the rapturous process. Fermenting nut puree is a magical experience.

 

Fermentation of nuts reduces phytates in them. Just like soaking and sourdough make grains and nuts more digestible, making cheese out of nuts continues to reduce phytates in them, even after soaking. They also become a rich source of probiotics.

AFTER Nut Fermentation www.eatbeautiful.net

You can see the fermentation that occurred overnight!

 

THE RECIPE

Dairy-free Fermented Cheesecake
Prep Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
 
You will need a springform pan to make this recipe. Use a very large pie plate if you don't have one. (With a pie plate you won't unmold the finished product; and you may have extra filling.)
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Megan
Ingredients
The Filling
  • 4 cups cashews labeled raw (although technically all cashews have been pasteurized)
  • 2 cups pine nuts , soaked*, see method below in Recipe Notes
  • 1.5 cups filtered water
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil melted and cooled slightly, divided
  • 3/4 cup raw honey (use maple syrup for a vegan version; for Keto version, use favorite Keto sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 + 1/8 cup filtered water
  • 2 T. sustainably-sourced gelatin Use code BEAUTIFUL10 at check out for 10% off all items; (or use same amount of powdered agar agar for vegan version)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. high-quality probiotic see link in article for sourcing
The Crust
The Raspberry Topping
  • 12 ounces frozen or fresh raspberries defrosted if frozen
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey (for Keto version, use stevia to taste)
  • 1 T. sustainably-sourced gelatin Use code BEAUTIFUL10 at check out for 10% off all items.
Instructions
Filling and Assembly Instructions
  1. Place cashews in 4 cups water for 2 hours, to soften.
  2. Drain and rinse cashews in a colander.
  3. Place cashews, rinsed wet pinenuts, water, 1/2 cup coconut oil, lemon juice, vanilla, and sea salt into high-powered blender. Puree on high speed 50 seconds. Puree in two batches if your blender can't handle this quantity, dividing the water and melted oil between both batches.
  4. Add probiotic and puree again, just briefly, 10 seconds.
  5. Pour puree into medium size deep glass bowl (the smaller surface area the better, no larger than 7 inches across) or jar, pressing down to release any air bubbles. Smooth top surface so it is flat. (Take care not to smear any puree on upper sides of bowl. All puree needs to be neat and flat for next step.)
  6. Optional step based on temperature: Slowly pour remaining 1/4 cup melted coconut oil onto surface of puree, taking care oil floats on surface instead of mixing into puree, as much as possible. It needs to cover entire surface of puree, and touch all glass edges. (This oil seals puree and creates an anaerobic environment. It is not necessary if you do the overnight ferment in the yogurt maker or in a very warm home. But for longer nut puree ferments of 2 days or more, in cooler homes, it is essential. Either way, this 1/4 cup of oil should be included in the recipe. I personally find it an easy and fun step and do it either way.)
  7. Loosely cover jar or bowl, so air can escape, but nothing can get in. If your container isn't clear glass, take note of puree's level, making a mark on its outside to indicate height.
  8. Place container is warm, dark location for 12 hours to 1.5 days, until you see puree become sponge-like and porous with many air pockets. The height of the puree will have risen as well. (Placing container in your yogurt maker can expedite the process so it's done overnight.)
  9. When puree is fermented empty contents into large mixing bowl.
  10. Place 1/4 cup water in small saucepan. Sprinkle surface with gelatin. Heat, stirring, for 1 minute, until gelatin is dissolved and water looks foamy. (If using agar agar powder, soak powdered agar agar in 1 cup water for 10 minutes and let it simmer for 5 minutes or until it dissolves completely.)
  11. Remove from heat, allow to cool briefly and add honey. Stir to mix.
  12. To the large mixing bowl add gelatin-honey mixture, folding it in gently but thoroughly. Set aside while you make the crust.
  13. Once crust is made, pour filling into crust and smooth the surface.
  14. Refrigerate for 3 hours.
Crust Instructions
  1. Place cashews into blender. Pulse until a FINE meal is formed. You want as few chunks as possible (without making nut butter). This will help the finished product crust hold together well.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse again until oil creates a nice even crumble with cashew meal. Do not over-pulse or you will create nut butter.
  3. Dump crumble into springform pan. Press firmly into base and 1/2" up sides of springform pan.
Topping Instructions
  1. Place 1/2 cup water in small saucepan. Sprinkle surface with gelatin. Heat, stirring, for 2 minutes, until gelatin is dissolved and water looks foamy.
  2. Fold in raspberries and honey. Puree approximately half the mixture.
  3. Nest fine mesh colander over saucepan with whole raspberries and honey. Pour puree through colander and whisk to remove seeds. Gently fold puree together with whole raspberry-honey mixture, so partial chunks remain.
Final Assembly
  1. After cheesecake has chilled for three hours in fridge, pour raspberry topping evenly over its surface.
  2. Chill for three additional hours, or overnight, before serving.
Recipe Notes

Soaking and Sprouting

For every 4 cups of raw seeds or nuts, cover with room temperature, filtered water by two inches, and 2 tsp. sea salt.  Stir well to dissolve the salt.  Leave out overnight at room temperature to soak.  Drain them in a colander; and rinse them well.

(As a side note, regarding cashews, they can not be sprouted.  Their shells are toxic and a heating process is used to eliminate the chemical poison and to free the nut (which is actually a fruit) from its lining.  Therefore, no cashew we buy from the store is technically “raw,” even if it is labeled thus.  Shorter soaking times for cashews are still beneficial; whereas longer soaking times will render them slimy.  2 hours is adequate.)

 

Fermentation of nuts reduces phytates in them. Just like soaking and the sourdough process make grains and nuts more digestible, making cheese out of nuts continues to reduce phytates in them, even after soaking. They also become a rich source of probiotics.

I’d love to see your fermented cheesecakes! If you make this recipe, you will feel proud. Post a photo to share! 🙂

Comments 46

  1. Megan this is just genius! I have never heard of fermenting seeds before. As someone who is dairy and egg free I really appreciate this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I hope you get to make it! My dairy-free daughter is over the moon about the creaminess and I have an egg-free son; so this one works for everyone. 🙂

  2. Megan, this is AMAZING! As soon as you mentioned you would be posting this I couldn’t wait! I was so excited to see it today. Beautiful cheesecake ,,, I wish I had some tonight. Yum!

    1. Thanks, Emily, so sweet!! I wish I could share leftovers with you!! My kids ended up eating the last of it today. It’s a bit filling and satisfying too, because it’s so nutrient-dense. I don’t feel guilty giving it to them for breakfast. 🙂

    1. Loriel, if he can have macadamias or other nuts you can still make it. 🙂 Any nut will work! I have chosen the 3 creamiest.

    1. Yes, with all of our food allergies we are thankful that nuts aren’t a problem. This cheesecake is great for us with the dairy-free, egg-free combo.

  3. Wow Megan, this looks unbelievable! I have to admit, I am a bit intimidated by the process of a recipe like this. I have never put that much effort into making desserts, but it is something I’d like to try when I have a free day and nothing going on. It looks so amazing! Great pictures. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂 <3

    1. Thanks, Raine. I was amazed how fast this recipe came together. It took much longer to write the recipe out than to create it, lol. 🙂

  4. this is good for vegetarians but cheese in the cheese cake is missing!!! it should be named nutteese cake 🙂 but it is awesome recipe will try once.

    1. Thanks, Jay, point taken! 🙂 I think it will win your vote if you make it once. 🙂 Enjoy the process too, so much fun! 🙂

  5. Megan, Your cheesecake looks beautiful and is full of nourishing ingredients to make you feel good too! I soak my nuts and seeds all the time to get rid of the phytates and make them easier to digest but fermenting them and make cheesecake is fabulous! I am eager to try your recipe.

    1. Hi Jennifer, yes, the best alternative is to buy cashew “pieces” from Hummingbird Wholesale in bulk on-line. I hope that works for you. 🙂

      1. Megan,
        Thank you so much! I’ll sub out cashews. Just a note, I checked out Hummingbird Wholesale (and had heard them recommended elsewhere as well), but they don’t ship outside of the Northwest section of the country, so I’m out of luck. 🙁 Thanks again for this amazing-looking recipe; I can’t wait to try it!

  6. YEAH to NOT having nut allergies. I’ve fermented cashews several times to make a savory cheese (so yummy with smoked salmon and nut based crackers) and turned 3 friends on to this miraculous process. Loving the healthy digestive benefits from fermentation with probiotics. I can’t wait to try this sweet application and use fresh picked raspberries from my garden. I’m headed to a wedding out of town next weekend and this will be a special treat for my friend and me since we can’t eat wedding cake.

    1. Great to hear, Melissa!! I hope you enjoy the process and the outcome! I think you’ll love mixing the fermented nuts with the honey…so pretty and exciting!! Cheers!!

  7. Hi Megan, quick question about the base. I’m planning on using 50/50 walnuts/cashews. I’ll sprout the walnuts overnight and soak the cashews for 2hrs as instructed. But do they need to be thoroughly dried before grinding them into meal? Or is it okay if they’re still wet? Thanks!

  8. One more question please ☺️ My batter doesn’t seem to be fermenting. I added 1/4 teaspoon probiotics (GutPro) and put it in my oven at 50degrees. Didn’t feel comfortable running the oven overnight so it had 6hrs of heat (then turned off overnight) and now it’s been going another 6hrs today and it still hasn’t risen. Is it possible it just won’t ferment? Or should I leave it for even longer? Thanks!

    1. Hi Izabela, I can’t guarantee the effectiveness of your probiotic or the other variables. Sigh– ferments are SO magical, but can be unpredictable. The main thing is to cover the surface with oil to keep it anaerobic while you wait. But you only have a few days for it to inoculate before it could go south. I wish you luck and sorry I don’t have more insight into your exact situation. It’s possible it just needs a warmer kitchen!

      1. Hi Megan, thanks so much for responding! Guess what, it worked! It didn’t raise, and it doesn’t look spongy but it’s got a distinct sour “cheesy” taste that’s absolutely amazing!! So happy yay 😄

  9. Hi, Megan, I just experimented the fermenting. Is the final fermented nut cheese normally tastes sour? Or maybe the sour taste is because I did not cover the surface with oil..? It tastes more like sour yogurt than cheese..

    1. Hi Blaire, it’s so hard to say when I’m not with you in your kitchen, but probably, yes. Mine gets very aerated, but as long as yours is sour (but not off or icky or pink etc) you probably have fermented your nuts/seeds. Go with your gut instinct on whether you’re good to proceed.

  10. I can’t even believe how bubbly and fermented those nuts get! And I bet, with so much fat and protein from the nuts, one tiny slice is PLENTY!

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