Vegan cheesecake with an indulgent truffle texture. This Gluten-free and Paleo recipe is made with almonds, dates, maple syrup, chestnut puree and chocolate
I devised this recipe for a vegan friend of mine who is also gluten-intolerant and struggles to process sugar. Chestnuts are naturally sweet, and have an unusually high carbohydrate content for a nut. Due to the high-carbohydrate and low-fat content, they were a staple food in areas of southern Europe and Asia where cereal crops were not cultivable. For example, in the highlands of Tuscany, a cake made from chestnut flour called ‘Castagnaccio’ was popular as a potato substitute.
The texture of cooked chestnuts mean they are a very useful alternative to flour in desserts. Chocolate and chestnuts are a heavenly combination; the French celebrate this with bûche de Noël, a chocolate log filled with a chestnut purée that is served at Christmas. This recipe has a velvety smooth mouth-feel, but is surprisingly light on the palate – it is not like a rich chocolate torte that must be carefully rationed out to avoid feelings of over-indulgence.
I used every cook’s favourite chestnut puree: Clement Faugier. Other brands are available, but the wibbly green tin can be easily found in most delis.
for the crust:
- 125g almonds
- 50g walnuts
- 200g medjool dates (about 10), pitted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
for the filling:
- 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
- 100ml almond milk
- 440g can unsweetened chestnut puree (I used Clement Faugier)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Prepare the pie tin. Line the bottom and sides of a 20cm/8” round, springform cake tin with baking paper.
- Melt the chocolate. Place the chocolate and almond milk in a heatproof bowl, and set over a pan of simmering water. Do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water, so use a bowl that has a wider diameter than the pan. Stir until completely melted and blended. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
- Make the crust. Combine the almonds and walnuts in a food processor, and pulse until chopped into small pieces. Add the remaining ingredients (dates, salt, vanilla extract and olive oil). Blitz until the mixture clumps together to form a dark, speckled dough.
- Press the dough firmly into the bottom of the prepared tin. To ensure an even thickness, press down with the bottom of a glass.
- Make the filling. Wipe out the food processor bowl with a sheet of kitchen paper. Scrape in the melted chocolate. Add the remaining ingredients (chestnut puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt), and blitz until fully blended. Taste, and adjust the sweetness if necessary.
- Assemble the cheesecake. Spread the filling over the top of the crust. Smooth the top with the back of a wetted metal spoon.
- Cover with a plate and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until set. For best results, remove from the refrigerator half an hour before serving. To serve, release and remove the sides of the tin. Gently peel off the baking paper, and then slice into wedges.