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This is dessert addiction
Chocolate "Cheesecake"
       If you've been following along with me lately, you know how I've been JUMPING ONTO MY SOAPBOX extolling THE VIRTUES OF GREEN VEGETABLES and THE SINS OF SUGAR But, I have to admit that it's not so much for you that I've been preaching, as it is for me. I've been a very good girl, eating all the right things for weeks. But, I can feel it coming. That pendulum is starting it's swing back the other way. And I CAN almost FEEL MYSELF BRACING FOR A FALL.
       Now I've been down this path a thousand times before. I WAS EVEN MACROBIOTIC FOR 3 WHOLE YEARS. After that, you would think that MY SWEET TOOTH would have moved on, but no----it was LURKING IN THE SHADOWS of my stomach, just waiting for the right time to pounce. With the last swoosh of that pendulum, I EVEN OPENED UP A CUPCAKE SHOP! So as much as I'd like to say I've beaten the habit- I just can't.
       My lifelong challenge has been trying to find a way to make peace with that sweet tooth fairy. And, my mantra has always been-- if I eat something sugary, then I have to have something green to balance the scales. Actually, I do it the other way around---green juice first and then I figure I can reward myself with a treat. Right? That's my kind of backwards logic.
       If I had my way, and it was a healthy option, I would be sitting squarely on the side of the scale that tips towards dessert. But I know that doing that would only yield in a sad sigh of frustration the next time I try to zip up my pants. I NEED REALLY GOOD SUBSTITUTES that will actually TRICK MY TASTEBUDS into thinking something yummy, unhealthy, and swooningly delicious has been invited in. So here is one of the treats I've tricked my sugar-loving body with over the years-an extra creamy, super chocolatey chocolate "cheesecake."
       FULL DISCLOSURE HERE, this is not officially a traditional cheesecake, but.... it's so close , that I've tricked whole crowds of people into thinking it was. It's even gluten, dairy and cane sugar free. And if that wasn't enough, it's raw. What does that mean? Technically something raw means that it is not heated over 118 degrees, so that the enzymes in the food are not destroyed. In the raw eating community, the enzymes are everything.
       You still with me? I hope so, because this is really delicious. There are a few non-pantry items in this recipe, but any health food or large grocery store will carry them if you want to give this a try. If you have it, a high speed blender, like a Vitamix, is highly recommended to get it super creamy.
Lessons Learned:
1. Turn the base of the springform pan upside down with the edge raised up. That way, when you cut slices, they will easily slide off the base.
2. To neatly remove the cake from the ring of the springform pan, I take a few paper towels, run them under really hot water, wring them dry, and then go around the pan holding them up against the sides. I do this just for a few seconds to soften and release the edges.
3. To neatly cut slices, heat the knife under hot water, and thoroughly dry first.
4. Sweets are a part of my life forever! I'm going to have to learn to compromise to be happy. That means that if I fall off the bandwagon, and dive into the cookie jar, I just have to get back on that horse!!

Chocolate "Cheesecake"
(inspired by The Sweet Gratitude Cookbook)

For the crust:
1 cup raw almonds
8 pitted dates, about 4 ounces
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups raw cashews, preferably organic, soaked overnight or 8 hours in 3 cups water and drained
1 cup water
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup raw agave syrup, or raw honey
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons espresso powder (not raw, but highly recommended)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons soy lecithin granules
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons coconut oil. preferably organic, melted

For the chocolate drizzle:
2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 Tablespoons raw agave syrup
1-2 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

Make the crust:
       Lightly spray an 8 inch springform pan with vegetable cooking spray, or brush with coconut oil, and set aside.
       In the bowl of a food processor, process the almonds until finely ground about 25-30 seconds. With the processor running add the dates one by one through the feed tube until chopped fine. Add the salt and vanilla through the feed tube as well, and continue to process until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It might form a ball, depending on how fresh the dates are. Press the mixture into an 8 inch springform pan, going up the side about an inch. Set aside.

Make the filling:
       In the jar of a high speed blender, add the cashews. water, cacao, agave, vanilla. espresso powder and salt. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. With the blender running, through the lid opening, add the lecithin and blend another minute. Keep the blender running, and add the coconut oil. Blend one more minute, scraping down the sides of the jar if necessary.
        Pour into the prepared springform pan. Chill for at least 8 hours, or freeze for 4. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for up to 2 months.

Make the drizzle:
       Before serving, in a small bowl, stir all of the ingredients together until smooth. Drizzle over the cheesecake.

To serve:
       Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Remove the ring and drizzle with the chocolate sauce. Slice with a knife that was heated under hot water and wiped dry. Drizzle with more chocolate sauce, if desired.

Makes 10 servings. YUM!!!
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