This dessert does not require baking and can be made ahead, making it an easy addition to your holiday table.
YIELD: One 9 inch spring form pan, 8-10 servings
- 1 cup walnuts (almonds can also be used)
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- Pinch of salt
- 3 cups raw cashews, soaked for 6-8 hours, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup agave syrup
- 1/2 cup maple syrup, or honey (or use 1 cup of agave instead)
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 ripe pears, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
- 2 tablespoon of coconut oil, or butter
Salted Caramel Sauce:
- 1 can (14 oz.) full fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
- 1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) flake salt
- Make the Crust; Pulse the walnuts, pecans and a pinch of salt together in a food processor until finely chopped, with the food processor running drop the dates through the chute until the mixture comes together into a dough and sticks together when you pinch it with your fingers. You may need more or less dates depending on their size and moisture content. Press the crust evenly into the bottom of a 8 1/2 or 9 inch springform pan and place in the freeze to firm up while you make the filling.
- Make the Filling; Put all of the filling ingredients in a blender, preferable a high-speed blender, and blend until the mixture is smooth. Taste to adjust flavors as needed (i.e. acid, sweet, salt)
- Pour the filling over the crust in the springform pan, tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles and return the pan, uncovered, to the freezer to set for at least 2 hours. Be sure the pan is on an even surface.
- Make the pears; Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the oil or butter and the pears, sauté until the pears are golden brown and tender. About 15-25 minutes depending on the ripeness of your pears. A knife should insert into the pears easily. Set aside to cool completely.
- Make the caramel sauce; Add the coconut milk, sugar and maple syrup or honey to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to avoid bubbling over. When it begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer on low, stirring often, until the sauce is reduced and thickened. About 20-30 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, oil or butter, and salt. Set aside to cool.
- Assemble the cheesecake; Run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake up, this ensure easy removal (TIP: it helps to warm the knife in hot water first), remove the side of the springform pan. If you would like to take the cake off of the springform bottom, do it while the cake is still frozen to avoid a significant disaster! To remove the bottom, slide a large spatula under the cake and lift carefully, supporting the other side with your hands or another spatula, and transfer it to your cake platter. Arrange the cooled pears on top of the cheesecake and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.
- Just before serving, drizzle some of the caramel sauce over the pears and reserve the remaining sauce to spoon over each slice as you serve it.
The cheesecake can be stored in the freezer up to 4 days ahead of time, just transfer it to the refrigerator about 2 hours before serving to let is soften. The pears and the sauce can also be kept separately in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before using. Warm them both us slightly before assembling.