Rosita was a friendly young cheese monster, as far as cheese monsters go. She would chase small children around with a mouth full of muenster, but it was all in good fun and when the chasing stopped she always let the kids nosh on her melted roqueforts and camemberts. As she grew older, she had the urge to become more sophisticated, aspiring to look like the elegant cakes and pastries she saw parading down the Hors D’Oeuvres Esplanade every Sunday afternoon, with their petits-fours pinafores and mille-feuilles petticoats. So Rosita signed up for the procedure. Three sessions of graham-cracker-cookie-crumb-grafting and lemon-honey-infusions later, she emerged, a delicate hybrid representing the best of the cheese and pastry worlds.
Rosita returned home with a new spring in her step. But she soon realized that being a cheesecake was not the social affair that being a cheese monster was – unlike cheeses, there were very few varieties of cheesecakes, and the ones that she did encounter tended to be snooty. “Oh, so you’re a surgically-enhanced cheesecake,” she got a lot. The worst were the lot from the Cheesecake Factory, who acted like they were god’s gift to palates everywhere. Personally, Rosita considered the S’more-Twinkie-Peanut-Butter-Cup cheesecake an abomination…and shriveled a little inside whenever an undiscerning customer picked it off the menu.
Frustrated, she set off for the shores of Vietnam, hoping to escape the crassness of her home country. At first, Rosita was offended that so few people recognized her and those that did paid her no attention.
But she soon grew to enjoy her anonymity, as well as the vast array of new flavors to sample…lemongrass, lime leaves, hot chilis…her mind raced as she regarded the bounty of unfamiliar ingredients. She was in the midst of examining some galangal in a Hanoi market when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning around, she beheld a handsome cheesecake with an even, tan complexion and a heartiness of appearance that she found intriguing.
“Hello,” said the other cheesecake. “My name is Minh. Are you from the North?”
“Yes,” replied Rosita. “New England.”
“Oh!” said Minh, his eyes shooting open. “I’ve always wanted to go there. I hear you have a great strawberry crop.”
“That’s true,” said Rosita. “You like strawberries?”
Minh nodded. “I’ve been trying to get some for years…it’s taken me a while to find everything I needed.” He pointed at himself.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” began Rosita hesitantly. “What did you use to be? I didn’t think cheese monsters were so common in this region.”
“They’re not,” said Minh. “Virtually non-existent.” He took a deep breath. “Pre-op, I was actually a cashew tree.”
“Really?!” said Rosita. “Wow!”
“I grafted with coconut…and one more thing. A secret ingredient.”
Rosita looked at Minh with admiration. “You know, I can get you some fresh strawberries…”
Minh clasped his hands together. “Really?! That would be fantastic!”
“I’ll have them sent over as soon as I’m back.”
Three weeks later Rosita was true to her word – and two weeks after that she received a postcard with a picture of Minh bedecked in the reddest of strawberries, a wide smile beaming from his face.
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 2 cups cooked cauliflower, squeezed/drained dry
- ½ cup coconut oil
- zest of 2 lemons
- ½ c honey or ⅔ c maple syrup (V) (or can mix ¼ c of both)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- juice of 1 lemon
Graham Cracker Crust:
- ½ c almond meal/flour
- ⅓ c tapioca flour
- 4 tb coconut flour (optional)
- 6 tb ghee or coconut oil (V)
- 2-3 tb honey or 4 tb maple syrup (V)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
- 3 - 5 tb water as needed
- 2 c fresh strawberries
- ¼ c strawberry or raspberry jam
- ¼ c water
- Crust: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until you get an even crumbly texture. Press firmly into a pie plate or springform pan.
- Filling: Soak cashews overnight or for at least 4 hours, then drain.
- Add to food processor, along with coconut milk and cooked cauliflower.
- Food process until smooth, and then add the rest of the ingredients (lemon juice last/right at the end).
- When well-combined & creamy, pour over crust in springform pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for ~45-55 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
- Clean & cut the tops off strawberries and place on top of cheesecake.
- Heat up jam + water on stove and brush glaze across top.
- Cut, and enjoy your cheesecake from another mother/of a different color! 🙂