There’s this line from my college thesis, the little collection of poems that helped me stumble out into the world with my first degree in creative writing, that I consider one of the few salvageable things in it. I’m horrible this way, doubling back and dismissing things I’ve written when they lose their luster. I know I’m not the first or only one to do this, but—geez—it’s no good. As soon as something isn’t shiny and new in my mind, my impulse is to burn it to the ground and make something shinier and newer. I’m getting better. Kelly and I talked about this on the podcast this week and I mentioned that I really feel like I’m getting more patient with my creative self as I approach 30. (God, I am SO PSYCHED to be 30, but that’s for another time.) So far, this has been my favorite part about getting older.
The line from my college poem is something like, (I cannot give you the exact line because I’ve successfully eliminated any paper trail and three hard drive crashes later, there isn’t electronic evidence. And, well, I feel absurd quoting myself, but here we go…) “we throw bread in the air and hope for birds.” I remember liking this line at the time, feeling that bit of tense energy that comes when you’ve written something that connects with something else somewhere and it is good. Now, I look at those words and admire just how emo they are. It’s real early-twenties vulnerability that I bet I wouldn’t be able to write now.
Here’s the best part: for the past year or so, I’ve been ears deep in giving myself to new creative things and if that isn’t just like throwing bread in the air and hoping for birds then I don’t know what is. This is why I’m shutting down this OMG I’M ALMOST 30 nonsense because rather than writing a cute metaphor for taking risks I’m getting better at actually doing it. I’m quite sure it took me longer than it takes most folks to muster the confidence to do this, but here I am.
I have a vegan cheesecake to share with you. It’s not at all related to getting shit done unless a non-dairy cheesecake represents a risk for you, in which case I suggest you buck up and put some cashews in a blender. I know that for some of you, no amount of adjectives will convince you that this treat is just as creamy, tangy, and rich as its dairy counterpart, but it is all of those things. I also like this recipe because, save for the meyer lemons, these are ingredients that I tend to have on hand.
adapted from My New Roots
- 6 medjool dates, halved and at room temperature
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 1/8 t salt
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
- juice of 2 meyer lemons
- zest of 2 meyer lemons
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1/3 cup liquid coconut oil
- 1/3 cup agave
- Rub coconut oil on a 6-inch springform pan and set aside.
- In a food processor or mini-chopper combine the dates, pecans, and salt. Blend until uniform and the pecans look like a very coarse meal.
- Press the pecan/date mixture into the springform pan using your fingers to achieve a relatively even thickness. Set aside.
- Strain the cashews of their soaking liquid and rinse them well. Place them in a blender with the remaining ingredients.
- Blend on high until the mixture is very smooth. This took me about two minutes of blending and I had to stop and scrape the sides a few times.
- Pour the filling mixture onto the crust and smooth the surface. Cover with foil and place in the freezer until solid.
- When ready to serve remove from the freezer 30 minutes prior to serving and immediately remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Garnish with candied meyer lemons (see notes below) if desired.
- Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge.
- If you prefer not to use agave or don’t need this to be vegan, replace the agave with honey or another liquid sweetener of your choice.
- To pretty it up, I followed these instructions from Martha Stewart to candy a single meyer lemon for a garnish.
- Before I had my 6-inch springform pan, which is now one of my most beloved, I made a version of this in a saran-wrap lined round pyrex and it worked ok. I left enough extra saran-wrap that I was able to use it to pull out the cake
- This can be done in a normal (ie: $20) blender. No Vitamix here
- I ordered my meyer lemons here.