cheesecake cups

I've been nutty for nuts lately and thought I'd share a couple of recipes that you can make using whatever nuts you have in the house.

Raw Nut Butter 

This makes as much or as little as you like, which is a bit ambiguous, but I made about 3/4 C because that's what my mini blender could handle. You might need to make more if you're using a bigger blender so the nuts are properly mushed and don't just sit below the blades. It'll keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but I guarantee you'll eat it by then!

Ingredients:

  • For 3/4C of nut butter, you need about 1 1/4 C of raw nuts* (I didn't quite have enough of one type of nut so ended up going nuts [sorry...not really] and used relatively equal parts almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pepitas and cashews. In hindsight, I'd scrap the pecans and walnuts and give my hazelnuts a scrub because the husks can be bitter in the end product.)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Water
  • Stevia/vanilla/cinnamon (optional)

* If you're using a stone-aged blender, soak the nuts in some water for a couple of hours before you blitz them.

Method:

  • Pulse the nuts on their own until you get a mixture that starts to resemble almond meal
  • Add the pinch of salt and keep pulsing. The natural oils in the nuts will start releasing and the mix will start to clump together. You may need to get in there with a teaspoon to loosen it up or re-distribute the mix. Turn the blender off while you do this, obvs.
  • When you hear that "whiiiizzzzzzzz-reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" sound that blenders make when the blades are spinning without actually blitzing anything, slowly add your water about two teaspoons at a time. Again, you might need to use a teaspoon to re-distribute the mix. Pulse away.
  • Keep pulsing and adding a little water until you're at your desired consistency. If you like your nut butter reeeeaaaally smooth and runny, I'd suggest using some almond oil along with the water.
  • Taste the mixture and add more salt if necessary. This is where you can add any flavourings - I used vanilla and cinnamon with a pinch of stevia. You could also mix in some honey or maple syrup, or leave as is with salt.
  • Pop into a container and keep in the fridge.

Why this nut butter has raw power:

Using raw nuts is generally more beneficial for the body because roasting can destroy a lot of the vitamins and minerals, and in some cases make the oils in some nuts toxic. Some nuts, like almonds, contain the amino acid asparagine, which has a potentially cancerous byproduct when heated. If you really want the toasty flavour of roasted nuts, either roast them for a long time on a low heat or give them a very quick toss in a hot pan. You're best to steer clear of roasting almonds and hazelnuts, particularly, though. I don't really need to explain why this nut butter is better for you than Kraft or Jif, but it's packed with whole ingredients, no sugar or trans fats, you get to control the salt content AND you'll feel mighty chuffed with yourself when you realise you just saved bucketloads of coinage from not buying supermarket nut butters.

 

Mini Cheesecake Cups (makes 12-18) (low carb. fructose/gluten/sugar free.)

These little guys are great for entertaining and perfectly bite-sized. Careful, though, they're nutrient dense and quite rich. Speaking from experience, you'll feel a bit off-colour if you eat too many heehee.

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 1/4 C raw almonds
  • 1/2 C raw cashews
  • 1/4C raw macadamias (use any combination of nuts that tickle your fancy!)
  • 1 Tbs melted organic grass fed butter
  • 1/4 C melted coconut oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Couple of shakes of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or pinch of organic vanilla powder
  • 3 Tbs granulated stevia (I use the Natvia brand)

Filling:

  • 1 x 250g tub quark*
  • 200g plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1/3 avocado
  • Stevia to taste
  • Drop of vanilla extract or pinch of organic vanilla powder
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

*Quark is a European cheese similar to cottage cheese - very high in protein and low in lactose. If you can't find it (I use the Casa brand and it's usually in the ricotta/mascarpone/cottage cheese section) you can use normal cottage cheese but make sure it's low sodium because otherwise these will taste like arse. You'll also need to whisk the lumps out of the cottage cheese. You can use ricotta or mascarpone, too.

Method:

  • Similar to the nut butter, pulse the nuts in a blender until they're evenly chopped. 
  • Add the other base dry ingredients and pulse until you've got a rough crumb.
  • Add the coconut oil and butter SLOWLY, A LITTLE BIT AT A TIME and pulse until the mix gets finer and begins to clump together. You don't want a wet mixture, you want it to be the same consistency as a normal cheesecake base - like wet sand...but chunkier.
  • Use a teaspoon to press the mix into mini muffin trays (if you've got silicon trays, they're the way to go for ease of removing!!). Make sure the base is at least 3mm thick, same with the edges. Use your fingers if it's easier to mould :).
  • Pop the tray(s) into the freezer to set
  • Pop the filling ingredients into a bowl - the amount of lemon juice/zest you use is completely up to how tangy you like your cheesecake. If you're planning on using a lot of juice, decrease the amount of Greek yoghurt you use, or warm the lemon juice and dissolve some gelatin in it so your mix isn't too runny.
  • Mix the filling ingredients with a whisk, blender or electric beaters until smooth.
  • Once the bases are set, remove them from the tray(s). I used a small palette knife to go around the edges then pop them out. Be gentle with your cups :)
  • Use a couple of teaspoons to dollop some filling into each cup. Top with organic coconut shreds, or a slice of strawberry, or a blueberry, some crushed pistachios, couple of dried cranberries etc etc
  • Either serve immediately on a platter, or pop into a container and keep in the freezer or a cold fridge until they're ready to be served. They will go a bit soft if you leave them out too long - it's the nature of butter/coconut oil which are only solid when chilled.

 

What are your favourite nut recipes? My FAVOURITE nuts are pistachios (raw, unsalted!). Yummo.

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