Nut recipes: Mocha maple "cheese'’ cake and nut milk
Nadia Lim using the good fats in nuts to create alternatives for those that are lactose intolerant or concerned about the amount of saturated fat in their diet.
Botanically speaking, a nut is a dried fruit with a seed (the flesh inside), and a protective ovary wall (the shell). They are one of nature’s amazing foods that contain all three macronutrients: fat, protein and carbohydrate in significant proportions, as well as a vast array of vitamins and minerals (particularly vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and selenium), and are high in fibre too. The fats contained in nuts are monounsaturated, the heart-healthy fats that are good for your cholesterol.
Their high fat content (up to 80 per cent of a nut depending on the type) makes them an incredibly useful substitute for dairy foods for those who are lactose intolerant or worried about the amount of saturated fat in their diet. You can make a smooth, silky, white milk from almost any nut — in this recipe I have used almonds, but it works just as well with brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamias and cashew nuts.
Although they’re high in healthy fats, nuts still contain a lot of calories so are best eaten in moderation. The ideal way to include them in your diet is in place of saturated fats (e.g. cheese or butter), and if you eat them regularly, make sure it’s only a small handful. Make sure you choose natural or dry- roasted (not fried in oil) nuts, and be aware that any chocolate, sugar or salt coating could cancel out their heart-healthy effects. Buy them in smaller quantities as they go off quickly, or keep them in the freezer — this is a great way to keep them fresh and avoid them going rancid.
Mocha maple "cheese'’ cake
This "cheesecake'’ is in inverted commas because it contains no cheese or dairy. The rich creamy filling is made from cashew nuts, soaked in water to soften them before being blended until smooth. The texture mimics cream cheese so well that it comes as a surprise to first time eaters that there is no dairy in it.
140g (just over ¾ of a cup) raw almonds
¾ cup desiccated coconut
8 large medjool dates (pitted)
4½ Tbsp melted coconut oil (or you can use unsalted butter)
Pinch of salt
2 cups raw cashew nuts, soaked in water overnight
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp liquid honey
4 cup coconut cream
2 tsp vanilla essence or extract
1⁄3 cup very strong brewed coffee
100g good quality eating dark chocolate (e.g. Whittaker’s Dark Ghana or Green and Blacks organic 70% cocoa chocolate)
1 tsp coconut oil (or another neutral oil like grapeseed oil)
Drizzle of maple syrup
Dark chocolate shavings
- Place all base ingredients in a food processor and blitz until well combined and crumbly. The mixture should hold together well when pinched together. Press into the base of a lightly greased and lined spring-form 20cm (or near enough) cake tin with the back of a spoon.
- Drain soaked cashew nuts and place in a food processor with coconut oil, maple syrup, honey, coconut cream, vanilla and coffee. Blitz until very smooth — this will take at least 3-4 minutes in the food processor. Pour mixture over the base and place in the fridge while you melt the chocolate.
- Break chocolate into pieces and place in the top of a double boiler with the coconut oil, or in a glass bowl set above a pot of barely simmering water, and stir gently until melted.
- Take cheesecake out of the fridge and drizzle melted chocolate all over. Create swirls with a fork if you like. Cover and place in the freezer for at least two hours or until set.
- Decorate cake with a drizzle of maple syrup and dark chocolate shavings. If serving from frozen, let it thaw on the bench for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Home-made nut milk
Making your own nut milk is easy — all you need is some nuts, water, a blender and a sieve. You need to soak the nuts in water for at least 2 days, and can use any type of nut e.g. almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, cashew nuts. If you want your milk to be white, use blanched nuts (without the skin). If you don’t mind a bit of discolouration, you can just use nuts with the skin on. Straining the milk is optional for a smoother milk.
Makes 3 cups unstrained almond milk or 2 cups strained almond milk.
1 cup raw blanched (skin-off) almonds
Good pinch of salt
2 cups cold water (preferably filtered, but tap water is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp liquid honey or maple syrup
- Soak almonds in water for at least 2 days, or up to 5 days.
- Drain almonds and place in a blender with the 2 cups of cold water, salt, vanilla and honey or maple syrup. Blend on high speed for about 2-3 minutes or until very smooth.
- Keep in the fridge and drink as is, or if you prefer a smooth milk you can strain it through a sieve.
If you strain the milk, the almond "paste’' that is left behind can be used, stirred into puddings or used in baking.