Birthdays are an excuse to dive head first into all of your favorite guilty pleasures. I don’t know about you but most of my guilty pleasures involve chocolate. What? Yours don’t? Usually on my birthday I eat a lot of chocolate and a lot of dessert. In fact on my birthday I like to just replace entire meals with dessert. I know what you are thinking and no, I don’t just eat dessert all day long on my birthday with no actual sustenance in between!…(Okay fine I do, but it’s MY birthday I can do what I want!) But my guilty pleasures aside there were three, count them three, back to back birthdays at CrossFit this week. So of course I had to make something really outstanding for my CrossFit girls Jen, Shreya, and Michele.
Your CrossFit friends are a special variety of comrades, they are indeed a very unique type of friend. These are people that I sweat with, that I suffer with, that I am in severe pain with, that I bleed with, that I laugh with, that I cry with, that I scream with, that I would go to war with. These people see me at my best, my worst and everyday in between, their PR is my PR and vice versa. It’s kind of like a marriage of sorts, only we don’t live together and we have to pay to see each other on daily basis.
So you can only imagine how amazingly awesome my birthday ‘cake’ had to be to celebrate these ladies in all their glory! So I was thinking, if birthdays equal guilty pleasures a.k.a chocolate, and I need to make some sort of ‘cake’… what could I do?…(scratching my Paleo chin)…Ah ha! Paleo Chocolate Cheesecake!!!
So after we did the WOD today we all gathered round, took birthday pictures and sampled the Paleo fare! It was so delicious! And I’m not just saying that because I made it! It came out exactly how I wanted! The chocolate crust was so rich and full of flavor, it made the perfect imitation Oreo crust or Fauxreo crust if you will. The zucchini gave it an amazing true to cheesecake texture, so creamy and smooth. I was in guilty pleasure Paleo heaven! Even poor Jackie who gave up chocolate for Lent had to have a bite, bless her heart! And even the boys looked like they were enjoying themselves! It made me so happy to see everyone hanging out, eating my Paleo chocolate cheesecake, at 7 o’clock in the morning, celebrating each other and these amazing friendships that we’ve forged through battle, together, in the CrossFit barracks.
I recommend really paying attention to the lemon juice on this one. It’s not that big of a deal but I’m a perfectionist and I really wanted the chocolate flavor to come through without being overpowered by the lemon. You need the lemon juice though to give it that sour cheesecake flavor, so just go by taste, keep adding a little lemon juice until it’s just right! After pouring into the pan I used a rubber spatula to smooth and even out the top. I then put the cheesecake in the freezer to set for an hour. Then I did my handy dandy microwave melting of 85% cacao dark chocolate in a Ziploc baggie, cutting the corner trick, to drizzle chocolate over the cake. (You can find a more detailed version of that sentence in my chocolate covered strawberry blog). I also broke up some dark chocolate squares and placed them sideways into the top of the cake. At this point it was still soft enough to do so. Then I popped that bad boy back in the freezer overnight!
- 2 heaping cups (8½ ounces/240 g) raw pecan pieces
- ¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup, dark
- ¼ cup (18 g) cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon smooth almond butter
- ⅛ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 2 cups (310 g) raw cashew pieces, soaked in water at least 4 hours or preferably overnight
- ¼ cup (60 ml) melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup (60 ml) canned full-fat coconut milk
- ¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup, dark
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (184 g) peeled and diced zucchini
- ½ cup (36 g) cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup (38 g) coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1 to 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
- Line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
- Place crust ingredients into the bowl of a high-powered food processor. Process until crumbly and combined, scraping down the sides of the processor as needed, about 30 seconds.
- Press the crust evenly into the pan, starting with the sides and working down to the middle.
- Line an 8-inch (20-cm) springform pan with parchment paper; set aside. Prepare the dough for the Fauxreo Crust, following Step 2 on page xxx.
- Press the dough into the bottom of the cake pan. Place in the freezer to set.
- To make the filling: Drain the soaked cashews and put them in a blender; process the cashews until they are somewhat broken down. Then add the coconut oil, coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Next, add the zucchini, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, salt, and lemon juice. For the lemon juice, add 1 tablespoon at a time; go by taste to make sure the lemon flavor is there but not overdone. Blend again until a smooth and creamy batter has formed.
- Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the cheesecake batter evenly into it. Place back in the freezer to set for at least 4 hours.
- Remove the cheesecake from freezer 20 minutes prior to serving to allow it to thaw. Prepare the Ganache and let it cool somewhat (if poured while still hot it may melt the cheesecake as well as the chocolate shaving garnish). Once the ganache has cooled to the touch, remove the cheesecake from the pan and pour the ganache over the top, letting it drip down the sides, if desired, and garnish with chocolate shavings, if using. Store in the freezer for up to two weeks. Let thaw 15 minutes before eating.
- Unsalted butter in place of almond butter in the crust.
- 1:1 substitution of unsweetened vanilla almond milk in place of canned full-fat coconut milk in the filling.
- Fauxreo Crust - 1 day ahead
- Chocolate Cheesecake - 1 week ahead