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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Mini Heart Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cheesecakes (2 Ways) (Raw, Vegan, Paleo, Refined Sugar Free)

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

This is the last treat in my Valentine's 2023 series of recipes. Luscious, sweet cherry filling combines with a chewy chocolate crust, slathered in your choice of silky dark chocolate or sweet pink/red white chocolate to create something irresistible. Adding to the drool-worthiness of this recipe is the cherry swirl made w/ sugar-free cherry preserves. The resulting mini heart-shaped cheesecakes are as aesthetically pleasing w/ an excellent mouthfeel as they are sweet and bursting with flavor. And there's an oil-free and coconut-free option for this cake, but it will still have nuts. This cake is also raw, vegan, paleo, GF, and refined sugar free, and has a pairing of flavors and variety of textures and that you'll fall in love with.





So this is my final Dimpled Date Valentine's 2023 recipe! I know, I know I promised 5 recipes and this one will chalk it up to only 4, but I think four separate recipes for a single holiday is pretty good :) PLUS there's St. Paddy's Day to focus on, so it's time to make the shift to the next holiday.


This recipe makes 2 mini cheesecakes (w/ leftover scraps from cutting out the second heart cheesecake) that you can coat in red/pink/purple clean-eating white chocolate and/or clean-eating dark chocolate. Or ofc, you can leave these cheesecakes plain and they'll still be excellent, albeit not chocolate-covered cheesecakes. For mine, as you can see, I did one with dark chocolate and one with pink/red white chocolate. I'll mention later in this post how I decorated mine.






Honestly? This cheesecake is my fave Valentine's recipe from this year. It is wicked tasty, bursting with sweetness, cherry and almond flavors, and chocolate (need I say more?) with an incredible variety of textures, from the chewy chocolate crust to the creamy cherry filling to the gooey cherry preserves to the snappy chocolate coating.


ANNNND, this cake is 100% raw, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and refined sugar free, but please note: the filling is sweetened with maple syrup. And as previously mentioned this cake can be made free of coconut products and oil (but will still contain nuts [cashews]). If you want, you can try substituting fresh/defrosted frozen strawberries or raspberries for the cherries (although you might want to adjust the sweetness if using raspberries), and I'm sure the cake would turn out delicious! And don't you just love that subtle marbling of colors in the white chocolate coating (see photo below)?! I'm sure you could achieve an even better marbling effect if you used purple white chocolate too.






Wanna know how I decorated my cakes? I made up a batch of my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate and a batch of my Silky Smooth White Chocolate (recipe in this post), then I divided the white chocolate in half and colored one half with natural/vegan/sugar-free pink food dye and the other half with natural/vegan/sugar-free red food dye. Then, for the dark chocolate-covered cherry cheesecake, I took a piece of acetate strip and lined it up so the straight edge lined up along the middle of the cheesecake so one side of the heart was covered with the acetate strip (for me it covered the right half of the cake). Then I poured the dark chocolate over the half of the cheesecake not covered by the acetate strip and let it drip down the sides and then settle for a couple of minutes before gently removing the acetate strip so as not to let the chocolate get on the plain side of the cake. The purpose of this technique is to make only one half of the heart covered in the dark chocolate. But if you want, you can cover the entire top of the heart cheesecake in the dark chocolate. For the other cheesecake, I just poured the pink white chocolate and red white chocolate over the top of the cheesecake at the same time so it marbled and dripped down the sides until I was satisfied with how it looked. Or you could pour both colors of white chocolate over only half of the cheesecake if you desire.


For the finishing touches, I added dried rose buds down the center of the cake half-covered in dark chocolate and carved out a little bit of the plain half of that cake for the advanced kohakutou decoration. Then I stuffed several small red kohakutou (crystal gummies) in the crevice for a "bursting geode" effect, Dimpled Date style. For the white chocolate covered cheesecake, I simply garnished by sprinkling a small handful of rose petals. But you can really decorate these cheesecakes however you desire! And you don't have to use my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate or Silky Smooth White Chocolate, you can use store-bought (like Enjoy Life! brand name) or your favorite homemade vegan refined sugar free dark/white chocolate instead.


For a tutorial on how to do the refined sugar free kohakutou, check out this post.


Below are 2 pictures of what this cake would look like before covering in chocolate:









Substitutions


For the crust, you can substitute raw unsalted cashews, raw unsalted almonds, or raw unsalted macadamia nuts for the shredded coconut. The dates can't be substituted, but you may use whatever variety of dates you would like such as Medjool or Deglet Noor. For something a little different, you can substitute half of the dates for the crust with unsweetened dried sour cherries for a tart-sweet chocolatey crust infused with cherry flavor (please don't substitute all of the dates with the dried sour cherries because the crust will be too tart). The flax meal can be replaced with whole flaxseeds, unsweetened shredded/desiccated coconut, chia seeds, or hempseed. The cacao powder can be substituted with cocoa powder or unsweetened carob powder if you don't want a chocolate crust. Alternately, you can make an "Oreo" crust by using 2 cups of my Healthy "Oreos" or my Protein "Oreos" (in this post), frozen for 20 minutes first then blended with 3 Tbsp melted coconut oil or 3 Tbsp melted vegan butter. Ofc you can use any kind of vegan/GF/refined sugar free "Oreos" you would like here. If you don't want a chocolate crust, you can use 150 grams of dates (soaked in hot water for 20 min first) blended w/ 200 grams of blanched almonds.


For the filling, the raw unsalted cashews can't really be substituted. But perhaps, raw unsalted macadamias would work instead. The maple syrup can be substituted with agave, coconut nectar, date syrup, or even honey (if you're not strictly vegan). But if using maple syrup please use 100% pure maple syrup. For the cherries, you can either use fresh cherries (preferably one of the sweeter varieties) or unsweetened frozen cherries (pref. frozen dark sweet cherries) defrosted in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, you could try using fresh or defrosted frozen strawberries OR fresh or defrosted frozen raspberries in place of the cherries. For the cherry juice from the defrosted frozen cherries, you may substitute it with 30 ml // 2 Tbsp unsweetened tart cherry juice OR 30 ml // 2 Tbsp filtered water. The coconut oil cannot be substituted, but may be omitted* (see note below). The coconut butter can be substituted with unsweetened creamy raw/activated almond butter or unsweetened creamy peanut butter (for a PB + J sort of thing).


*NOTE: HOWEVER, you may omit the both the coconut oil and coconut butter entirely, and the cakes still come out great and very similar to if they were made with those ingredients. The flavor stays the same and the texture is still very creamy (albeit slightly different) without the coconut oil and coconut butter. By omitting these ingredients, you can make this recipe coconut-free and oil-free (if you use cashews/other nuts in the crust and coconut-free & oil-free dark/white chocolate for coating the cakes as well).


The lemon juice in the filling can be substituted with filtered water or additional tart cherry juice. The vanilla extract can be replaced with an equivalent amount of scraped vanilla bean, pure ground vanilla beans, or sugar-free vanilla powder/paste/syrup. I don't recommend omitting the vanilla, but if you must, you may omit it. The almond extract is highly recommended because it complements the flavors beautifully and helps bring out the cherry flavor. But if you must, replace it with an additional 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. The sea salt may be swapped out with table salt or can be omitted. The dragon fruit powder/beet powder/natural & vegan food coloring is entirely optional and serves to color the filling. You may leave it out and the filling will still have a pale pink color.


The cherry swirl is also optional, but you can use sugar-free cherry preserves/jam/jelly such as Rigoni di Asiago's Fior di Frutta Fruit Spread in Cherry flavor (I know this brand is sweetened with apple juice concentrate, so if you want to avoid that you may use your sugar-free cherry preserves of choice. I will be updating this recipe with a recipe for fruit-sweetened cherry preserves at some point). Or (if you can have sugar), you may use any kind of cherry preserves/jam/jelly.


For the dark chocolate coating, you may use my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate OR your vegan/refined sugar free dark chocolate of choice, melted first (or if you can have sugar, you may use Enjoy Life! brand's dark chocolate chunks/morsels, melted first). For the white chocolate coating, you can use either my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate, my Silky Smooth White Chocolate (in this post), OR your vegan/refined sugar free white chocolate of choice, melted first (or if you can have sugar, Enjoy Life!'s Mini White Chips, melted first). For coloring the white chocolate, you may use natural/vegan/GF/sugar-free food coloring of choice (such as Supernatural Kitchen, Color Garden, or Color Kitchen brand names). And the chocolate coating is optional, you do not have to cover the cakes in chocolate.


Lastly, for decorating you may use dried flowers of choice (such as dried rose buds/petals), leftover filling cream piped on top of the cake, fresh cherries on the stem, high-quality silver leaf/gold leaf, or (for the advanced decoration) red/pink/purple kohakutou for a bursting geode effect (from this recipe). You may use any other decorations you desire, or just leave it as is with the coating of chocolate.







"Future Recipes Sneak Peek"


Folks, it's that time again... The "Future Recipes Sneak Peek," of course! In which I reveal new recipes headed to The Dimpled Date soon. Four lucky new recipes (like a 4-leaf clover) for St. Paddy's that I've perfected an are headed to The Dimpled Date soon are:


  1. Green Vegan/GF Linguine Alfredo (no cashews, no nuts)

  2. Moist Matcha Almond Cupcakes

  3. Paleo Pumpkin Seed Butter Cookies (w/ Cinnamon Chips)

  4. Vegan/GF Fruit-Sweetened Irish Soda Bread (2 Ways)

BONUS NEW RECIPE COMING SOON (not perfected yet):


5. Pumpkin Seed Butter Bonbons (Nut-Free/Coconut-Free)


...AND MORE!!


Check back in on my cozy nook of the internet soon for more culinary greatness.


Have a new recipe you want to see more of? Like this recipe and leave your suggestion in the comments!






As always,

Enjoy! <3

-K.



Mini Heart Chocolate-Covered Cherry Raw Cheesecakes (2 Ways) (Raw, Vegan, Paleo, GF, Refined Sugar Free, Coconut-Free & Oil-Free Option)


Soak Time: overnight

Prep Time: 45 minutes (incl. time to make chocolate coatings)

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Chill Time: 8 hours or (pref.) overnight

Total Time: at least one overnight PLUS 8 hours 45 minutes

Servings: two 4" heart-shaped mini cheesecakes (w/ leftover scraps) OR one 8" heart-shaped large cheesecake


Ingredients (chocolate crust):


-1 1/2 cups // 130 grams unsweetened shredded/desiccated coconut (can sub raw unsalted cashews)

-1 cup // 130 grams Medjool dates, soaked in hot water for 20 min

-1/4 cup // 20 grams flax meal

-2 1/2 Tbsp // 20 grams cacao powder (can sub cocoa powder)


Ingredients (cherry almond cheesecake filling):


-2 1/4 cups // 300 grams raw unsalted cashews, soaked (pref.) overnight in cold water OR technically soaked 1 hour in hot water

-scant 1/2 cup // 110 ml 100% pure maple syrup

-1 cup // 150 grams defrosted frozen unsweetened dark sweet cherries* OR fresh cherries (pref. a sweeter variety)

-2 Tbsp // 30 ml cherry juice (from the bag of defrosted frozen cherries) OR unsweetened cherry juice from freshly squeezed dark sweet cherries (can sub unsweetened tart cherry juice)

-(optional): 1/4 cup (unmelted for measuring) // 50 ml (melted for measuring) virgin cold-pressed unrefined coconut oil, melted

-(optional): 2 Tbsp // 20 grams coconut butter (unmelted for measuring) (AKA coconut "manna"), melted

-1 Tbsp // 15 ml lemon juice

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1 tsp almond extract

-pinch sea salt

-1 1/2 tsp red/pink dragon fruit powder OR 1/2 tsp beet powder OR vegan/natural pink/red food dye (optional // to color pink/red)


Ingredients (cherry swirl) (optional):


-1/2 cup sugar-free cherry preserves/jam/jelly (like Rigoni di Asiago's Fior di Frutta Fruit Spread in cherry flavor) (optional)


Ingredients (option 1: dark chocolate coating):



OR


-1 cup your vegan/refined sugar free dark chocolate of choice (store-bought or homemade)


Ingredients (option 2: white chocolate coating):


-2.8 oz cacao butter (cocoa butter)

-2.8 oz unsweetened dry coconut milk powder (OR oat milk powder)

-1 oz date sugar (date sugar, NOT date palm sugar)

-3/8 tsp vanilla bean powder OR 1 tsp vanilla extract

-natural/vegan/GF/sugar-free pink/red/purple food coloring (such as Supernatural Kitchen brand)


OR


-1 cup your vegan/refined sugar free white chocolate of choice (store-bought or homemade)

-natural/vegan/GF/sugar-free pink/red/purple food coloring (such as Supernatural Kitchen brand)


For decorating:


-dried rose buds/rose petals

-leftover filling piped as cream on top of cake

-fresh cherries on the stem

-quality silver lead/gold leaf

-red/purple/pink kohakutou (advanced decoration // see this post on how to make them)


Directions:


1. Make sure you've prepped your ingredients by soaking nuts, defrosting frozen fruits, etc. overnight. Soak the dates for the crust in hot water for 20 minutes. Prepare one 4" heart-shaped cake ring AND one 6" heart-shaped cake ring OR two 4" heart-shaped cake rings (if you have two) by placing them on a large cake board or a large flat cutting board lined with parchment/wax paper or 2 large cutting boards/cake boards lined w/ parchment, and cutting two pieces of acetate strip for each half of the heart shape for both of the heart-shaped rings and slipping those inside the cake ring so they nestle up against the walls of the rings (you'll have to bend the acetate strip to fit into the round nooks of the heart-shaped rings). You should have a total of 4 pieces of acetate strip (2 pieces for each cake ring). A little overlap of acetate strip is fine. Alternatively, use an 8" heart-shaped cake ring to make one large heart-shaped cheesecake if you don't want mini cheesecakes. FYI: the brand name of the heart-shaped cake rings I use is Maykito and I bought their set of 4", 6", and 8" heart-shaped cake rings on Amazon. The acetate strip is completely optional but it gives your cake those really crisp, clean edges. Also *technically* a 4" heart-shaped springform pan AND a 6" heart-shaped springform pan (OR just an 8" heart-shaped springform pan) would work, but the edges of the cake will be uneven, not sharp, and likely cracked or sloppy. But if presentation isn't an issue, go with a springform if that's all you have.


2. Make the crust: add the shredded coconut (or cashews), flax meal, and cacao powder to a food processor, and blend thoroughly until well-combined and the mixture begins to stick to the sides of the food processor. Add the soaked & drained dates and blend until the mixture clumps together and/or gets stuck in the food processor. Then, turn off the food processor, remove the blade, and use your hands to mix the crust together until it becomes more cohesive and dough-like (use gloves to avoid messy hands). Press this crust into the prepared cake rings into an even layer, using the base of a drinking glass or the bottom of a measuring cup as needed to get a flat even crust. Set aside and DON'T chill yet.


3. Make the cherry cheesecake filling: add all ingredients except the coconut oil, coconut butter, and natural colorant (dragon fruit powder/beet powder/natural food coloring) to a high-speed blender like a Vitamix (or alternately used the washed out food processor again) and blend on high until smooth, silky, and creamy. Scrape down the sides and re-blend as necessary.


4. If using the (optional) melted coconut oil and melted coconut butter, add them now by drizzling them through the tamper hole into the the other ingredients while the Vitamix is turned on on a low speed. Once incorporated, turn the speed to high for 10 to 15 seconds, then turn off.


5. Lastly, add the (optional) natural colorant (dragon fruit powder, beet powder, natural food coloring) and blend until the color is incorporated.


6. Have your (optional) cherry preserves ready. Pour a little of the cherry cheesecake filling over the crusts, then add a couple dollops of the sugar-free cherry preserves overtop. Swirl the cherry preserves with a toothpick/chopstick, then pour the rest of the cherry cheesecake filling into the molds, and finish with a couple more dollops of the cherry preserves and give them one last swirl with a toothpick. Tap the pan a few times against the countertop to release air bubbles.


7. Pour any leftovers of the cherry cheesecake filling into a piping bag fitted with a coupler, secure the bag, and place in the fridge until tomorrow (by morning, the chilled cream will be like frosting that you can pipe on top of the cake or anything else you desire).


8. Place the cakes in the freezer to chill 8 hours or (even better) overnight, ensuring they remain level in the freezer.


9. The next morning, make some red/purple refined sugar free kohakutou (crystal gummies) if desired for the advanced decoration by following the directions in this recipe (Step #14 in that recipe).


10. Unmold the cake(s). Lift the cake(s) off of the cake board/cutting board and dislodge the cakes from the cake rings (either by pushing up from the bottom of the crust or using a cylindrical object with a round flat lid like a cooking spray container or another comparable object (or a protein powder container w/ a round lid if doing the 8" cake), placing the cake on top of the container and holding onto the outside of the cake ring, pushing the ring down to release the ring from the cake. Or you might get lucky and the ring slips right off). Keep the 4" heart-shaped cake ring handy. Peel off the parchment/wax paper from the bottom of the crusts and place the cake(s) onto your serving plates/cake boards. Lastly peel off the acetate strips and discard the acetate strips. If using springform pan(s), simply release the latch to unmold the cake(s) and place on your serving plate.


11. If using the 4" heart-shaped cake ring and 6" heart-shaped cake ring: defrost the 6" cake in the fridge for exactly 3 hours (no more, no less). You MUST defrost it in the fridge because defrosting it at room temp will cause uneven defrosting. After 3 hours, remove the 6" heart-shaped cake from the fridge and using the empty 4" heart-shaped cake ring (or a 4" heart-shaped cookie cutter), cut out a 4" heart from the 6" cake. Press down hard into the 6" cake until you've cut all the way through the crust (use a cutting board as needed to help force the cake ring down). Then peel back the scraps of cake around the cut out heart (you can eat these leftover scraps). Finally, release the cut out 4" heart cheesecake from the ring. Place it back in the fridge to chill. If you used two 4" heart-shaped cake rings or one 8" heart-shaped cake ring, obviously this step is unnecessary.


12. Defrost the cake(s) in the fridge for another hour. It's important to defrost it in the fridge rather than at room temp because defrosting at room temp can cause uneven defrosting (the outside of the cake may be defrosted but the inside will likely still be frozen or semi-frozen). That being said, once you've enjoyed the cake and cut it into slices as leftovers, the slices can always be defrosted at room temp from the freezer (although, even w/ slices, it's still advisable to defrost in the fridge for the perfect texture). Defrosting the cake in the fridge is also crucial for easy cutting.


13. In the meantime, check to see if the cream fillings in the piping bag (if you had leftovers) are pipeable by attempting to pipe a few shapes. If not, defrost the cream at room temp if need be, until pipeable, up to 1 hour.


14. Make a batch of my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate and/or Silky Smooth White Chocolate (in this post) as per the directions in those recipes, but DON'T chill them yet. For the Silky Smooth White Chocolate, divide it between 2 bowls and color them two different colors using natural/vegan pink/red/purple food coloring. Alternately, melt 1 cup your vegan/refined sugar free dark chocolate of choice and/or melt 1 cup your vegan/refined sugar free white chocolate of choice (divide the white chocolate in half and color it two different colors).


15. Cover the cakes w/ chocolate: take the un-chilled dark chocolate and/or the two different colors of un-chilled white chocolate. If desired, you can cover half of the cheesecakes with the white chocolate and/or dark chocolate or cover the tops of the cheesecakes entirely with white and/or dark chocolate. To cover half the cheesecakes w/ chocolate: take a piece of acetate strip and line it up so the straight edge lines up along the middle of the cheesecake so one side of the heart is covered with the acetate strip (for me it covered the right half of the cake). Then, pour the dark chocolate (or two colors of white chocolate) over the half of the cheesecake not covered by the acetate strip and let it drip down the sides of the cake and then settle for a couple of minutes before gently removing the acetate strip so as not to let the chocolate get on the plain side of the cake. But if you want, you can cover the entire top of the heart cheesecake in the dark chocolate or white chocolate. For the white chocolate, pour the two colors of white chocolate over the top of the cheesecake at the same time so it marbles and drips down the sides until you're satisfied with how it looks. I personally covered half of one of my cheesecakes w/ dark chocolate and the other cheesecake entirely with the two colors of white chocolate.


16. Add the finishing touches: add dried rose buds/rose petals, fresh cherries on the stem, quality silver leaf/gold leaf, pipe the leftover cream on top of the cake(s), and/or decorate the cakes however you desire (alternately, leave as is). If you covered one or both of the cakes only half with chocolate, you can decorate w/ the kohakutou advanced decoration on the half of the cake not covered with chocolate. Simply take a sharp pairing knife and carve out a little bit of the defrosted cake, removing a small chunk large enough to form a crevice to stuff the crystal gummies in. Then, stuff the kohakutou in the crevice (having a couple stick out to give that "bursting geode effect"). See this post for more tips on how to decorate with kohakutou. When you're satisfied with how it looks, it's done!


17. Serve this cake to your Valentine (your partner, friend, family member, or yourself) to show them some love. Serve with a black forest cocktail, an iced/hot vegan chocolate covered cherry latte (or vegan hot cocoa bombs), or a cherry mocktail. Enjoy, and Happy Valentine's Day! Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days, or store the slices in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 1 month. If taking straight from the freezer, defrost at room temp for at least 15 to 30 minutes first.


NOTES:


-Place the amount of frozen cherries you need for this recipe in a bowl in the fridge overnight to defrost


-All the different ingredients in all the components of this recipe make it rather hard to calculate the nutrition facts. I hope to update this post soon when I have the time to calculate the nutrition.


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