September. I used to dislike this month. It used to be synonym for the return to school, another ten months of forced mental labour, another cold season coming, darker, shorter days. Now I relish this month. Maybe it’s because in Scotland, no matter what the season, the landscape retains its beauty. Maybe it’s because I will never have to go back to school, or uni. Maybe it’s because I can start shopping for cosy, woolly jumpers. Maybe it’s because it’s chestnut season again. Vegan ‘cheesecakes’ (we really need to rename them) are typically made with cashews. I’ve nothing against cashews, except that they are expensive; their creamy texture is ideal for cakes. Butw hat about roasted, peeled chestnuts? They are buttery and soft, perfect for cheesecakes when you think about it. I used ready-peeled by St Dalfour chestnuts for ease; they were so delicious I could hardly stop myself from eating them all straight out of the jars. This was my first time making a vegan cake with a raw buckwheat crust. I processed the buckwheat in my Vitamix into a fine powder, then added pitted, chopped dates. The result was the tastiest raw cake base I’ve ever tried: nutty, sweet and chewy, not to mention nutritious. I’ve written about my love for coconut sugar before on several occasions, so I’ll spare you the speech. If you haven’t tried it for yourself, you really must. Cut up a fresh fig and caramelise it in coconut sugar. Just try it and tell me what you think. I love September. Summer and autumn come together in a harmonious embrace. Buttery chestnuts and caramelised figs. Woolly jumpers and cheesecake.
Chestnut & Caramelised Figs Vegan Cheesecake
- Pulse the raw buckwheat to a coarse powder in your food processor or Vitamix. Add the pitted, chopped dates a little at a time whilst the machine keeps blending. Within a couple of minutes you should have a sticky ‘dough’.
- Press this dough into the bottom of a springform tin measuring 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inches). Leave in the fridge to set.
- Blend half of the chestnuts, the milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Keeping the blender going, add the remainder of the chestnuts a little at a time. Blend until silky.
- Pour into a large mixing bowl. Fold in about two thirds of the chopped dried figs.
- Pour the mixture over the cheesecake crust and leave to set in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours or overnight.
- Melt the coconut sugar in a pan with just a splash of water (no more than 1 tbsp). When it starts to bubble up and thicken and take on a dark colour colour, add the fig pieces. Caramelise the pieces for a few minutes then remove the pan from the heat. Cool for a few minutes before placing on top of the cake, as well as the remaining pieces of dried fig.
- Keeps in the fridge for about 4 days (but the caramelised figs need to be eaten pretty much immediately).