I am by no means a raw foodie. While I do see the huge benefit of consuming plenty of raw plant based foods, I love cooking as well as the flavour and texture of cooked food so I am happy with maintaining a balance between both. Raw cauliflower ‘rice’ and ‘notatoes’ are just not for me! My obsession with raw cakes and desserts however continues to grow and grow! Unlike some underwhelming raw savoury dishes that I have tried (I have also tried many very tasty ones!) I have never ever eaten a raw cake or raw dessert that was not totally delicious. They are usually bursting with as much yummy flavour as their dairy and sugar laden counterparts, but leave you feeling much healthier, better and lighter afterwards, even after several slices…
This month’s raw cake experiment was this raw lemon tart. I used the same type of base that I use for all my ‘cheesecake’ bases and like my white chocolate and strawberry cake, used cashews for the filling, along with the ‘secret’ ingredient… seaweed! This was required in order to get a texture closer to lemon curd and lemon meringue pie. It works, it doesn’t taste of fish, and no one has to know! ;-) But they might be pretty interested if you tell them!
The seaweed or ‘sea vegetable’ I used is Carrageen ‘Chondrus Crispus’ also called Carageenan and ‘Irish Moss’. This food was traditionally eaten along Ireland’s coast lines, particularly the Western sea board, for centuries, where it was steamed and eaten with potatoes. It has become popular in vegetarian and vegan cooking as it has thickening, binding and gelling properties similar to gelatin so that it can be used to make animal free jellies and desserts. Many see it as a super food, containing masses of trace minerals, as well as protein, calcium and magnesium while others claim that it should be entirely avoided as it will cause inflammation and digestive issues. It seems that this mostly refers to carageenan gum which has been highly processed and is in a entirely different form than unprocessed sun dried carrageen straight from the sea.
There is no evidence for either side of the argument so my stance here is moderation is key! If you eat kilos of carrageen it probably wouldn’t be very good for your body, just like if you ate kilos of anything else. A slice or three of raw lemon curd cake is just fine in my opinion! As with all sea vegetables, I would only use organic varieties due to the massive pollution and contamination which we are destroying the oceans with! I pick organic nori for my sushi and salads as well.
The agave syrup in this recipe is another controversial ingredient in the health world, as above, I use it in moderation, but if you avoid it entirely, experiment with using a different liquid based sweetener instead. The turmeric in this recipe is just to add a yellow colour, don’t use too much or you’ll get an Indian spiced lemon cake! That has actually just given me an idea for chai lemon blondie bars but I’ll leave that to another day!!… I served this cake with raw vanilla cashew cream, just blend one cup of soaked cashews with one third cup of water, vanilla and sweetener.
- 1 cup walnuts (soaked overnight)
- 1 cup almonds (soaked overnight)
- 6 – 10 dates
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 50g carrageenan or Irish moss (soaked overnight)
- 1 cup lemon juice (4- 5 lemons)
- 1 cup agave syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
- 1/2 cup cashews (soaked overnight)
- 1tsp vanilla essence
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- Pinch of turmeric powder
To make the crust, soak the almonds and walnuts in a large bowl of filtered water for 8 – 12 hours. Drain and put in a food processor along with the dates, vanilla essence and salt. If you are unsure of the moisture content of your dates, add six and pulse the mixture. If you think that it needs a bit moisture to bind together, then add an extra two and pulse each time, until you get a consistency like moist breadcrumbs. Line the base of a spring form pan with parchment paper and press the mixture in to the pan. Press down firmly with your fingers or the back of a spoon to ensure that the filling is smooth, solid and compacted. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
Soak 50g of carrageenan in one cups of water overnight. Make sure to use a big bowl as it’s volume will expand. Remove from the water and rinse in a sieve. Place the carrageenan and 1 cup of water in a blender and process until very smooth. Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers, if it feels a bit grainy, process it again until it’s totally smooth. It’s volume will expand and it will become warm from the processing, this is okay! When smooth and thickened, add the lemon juice and agave nectar and process until well combined and smooth. You want everything about this cake to be smooth, smooth, smooth! Add the cashews, vanilla, turmeric and continue to blend until… smooth! Finally add the coconut oil and blend thoroughly. Pour into the crust and chill for an hour or two in the fridge before serving. You can also pour this filling in to individual soufflé pots.
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