Vegan Funfetti Cheesecake Bites

  

I grew up with Easter baskets, but I didn’t grow up “celebrating” Easter by any means. When I visited dad’s house during Easter time, though, my stepmother would have beautiful Easter baskets prepared for my brother, myself and of course, my half-sister. If you follow me on my blog, Jewhungry, then you know I am the product of a Jewish mother and a Christian father. My parents divorced when I was 4 and I was primarily raised by my Jewish mother and I am an observant Jewish woman today. That said, I have so much respect and gratitude for the experiences from the exposure to Christianity that I had growing up. At the time, I would’ve said I had respect for it because of the awesome Easter baskets and Christmas presents. Now, as a grown woman and mother, I have respect for it because it’s part of my heritage and what brought me to where I am today.

While I toyed with the idea of figuring out how to do a Passover basket, I realized it just wouldn’t be the same. Also, I’m not a huge fan of cultural religious appropriation. However, if I were to put anything in a Passover basket, these cute little funfetti bites would be it. Not all nuts are kosher for Passover, but hazelnuts and cashews are definitely kosher. Plus, they pair beautifully with the dates. And what doesn’t look good with rainbow sprinkles? You also don’t actually bake these guys so, win-win!

I was inspired by the vegan goddess that is Dana over at The Minimalist Baker. If you don’t know her stuff, well, I’m just gonna assume you’ve been in a coma for years because that’s the only conceivable reason I could understand for not knowing her.

I hope this dessert brings you and your loved ones sweet holidays. Happy no baking!

 Vegan Funfetti Cheesecake Bites {No-Bake + GF}

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted (if dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes then drain)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt

 

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, quick soaked*
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. full fat coconut milk (see instructions for note)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (or more) rainbow sprinkles

 

Instructions:

1. Add ingredients for the crust into a food processor and process until a loose dough forms – it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add a few more hazelnuts or almonds.

2. Grease a standard mini muffin tin.

3. Scoop in heaping 1 Tbsp. amounts of crust and press with fingers, making sure to really pack it in there. Set in freezer to firm up.

4. To quick soak cashews, pour boiling hot water over the cashews, soak for 1 hour uncovered, then drain and use as instructed.

5. Add all filling ingredients to a high-speed blender and mix until very smooth. For the coconut milk, I like to scoop the “cream” off the top because it provides a richer texture. But if yours is already all mixed together, just add it in as is. (Pro tip – Put a can of coconut milk right into the fridge as soon as you get home from the grocery store. This will guarantee you have the ‘cream’ on hand for just such an occasion as making raw cheesecake bites!)

6. Blend all filling ingredients for roughly 1 minute or until silky smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

7. Pour filling into a separate medium size bowl. Add in your sprinkles leaving a handful to the side for sprinkling on top just before freezing.

8. Divide filling evenly among the muffin tins. Tap a few times to release any air bubbles.

9. Evenly disperse the last sprinkles
onto the tops of each cheesecake to create a pretty little topping. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard – about 4-6 hours.

10. Once set, remove by running a butter knife along the sides of the crust. They should pop right out. Let sit for a few minutes so you don’t break your teeth on them. Keep in the freezer for up to 1-2 weeks.

This recipe was reprinted with permission from jewhungrytheblog.com

Tahini Vanilla Ice Box Cake

  

Tahini ice box cake

Valentine’s Day. How does this fit into a Jewish or interfaith home? Technically, yes, Valentine’s Day is named for a saint. It was first instituted by Pope Gelasius I in 496 C.E. to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Valentine. Yet scholars know almost nothing about this St. Valentine. There is an abundant amount of  literature on St. Valentine but most of it is not historical but based on legend. And, truth be told, Valentine’s Day is not a “religious” holiday. The association of a saint does not necessary make it so. I’m sure some might take issues with the previous sentences but to my estimation, Valentine’s Day is an American “holiday” and perfect for families that celebrate Jewish and non-Jewish holidays.

My kids go to private Jewish preschool. They haven’t come in contact yet with Valentine’s Day. But, our oldest will be headed to public Kindergarten next year and we can almost guarantee that we will be met with Valentines. And I ask you? What’s not “Jewish” about showing your like and care with the giving of sweet cards and yummy treats? But, if you’re like me and you’re still struggling with the concept of bringing Valentine’s Day into your home, then why not make it a little more Jewish with the inclusion of seemingly “Jewish” foods like, I don’t know, tahini!

Therefore, I bring you a simple and delicious tahini and vanilla ice box cake. I love ice box cakes. They’re great for impressing your family and friends while not having to actually cook anything. I mean, what says, “I love you” more than frozen tahini in the shape of hearts set in a pink ice cream cake!?

Tahini Vanilla Icebox Cake

Ingredients for Halva:

  • 2 cups honey
  • 1 1/2 cups tahini, well stirred to combine

 

Ingredients for Icebox Cake:

  • 2 pints vanilla ice cream
  • 2 teaspoons of natural red gel food coloring or 4 1/2 teaspoons red liquid food coloring (optional)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • (optional) 1 cup rainbow sprinkles

 

Directions for Halva Hearts:

Halva hearts1. Heat honey on medium heat until your candy or instant-read thermometer reads 240˚ F, or indicates the “soft ball” stage of candy making. To confirm that you are at the “soft ball” stage, drop a bit of the honey into a cup of cold water. It should form a sticky and soft ball that flattens when removed from the water.

2. Have the tahini ready to heat in a separate small pot, and once the honey is at the appropriate temperature, set the honey aside and heat tahini to 120Ëš F.

3. Add the warmed tahini to the honey and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. At first it will look separated but after a few minutes, the mixture will come together smoothly.

4. Continue to mix until the mixture starts to stiffen, for a good 6-8 minutes. Pour mixture into a well-greased and parchment paper-lined 8 x 8 deep-set baking sheet or loaf pan (it MUST have at least 1 inch sides on the pan you use as it’ll keep the tahini within the pan), or into a greased and parchment paper-lined cake pan with a removable bottom.

5. Let cool to room temperature and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Leave in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours. This will allow the sugar crystals to form, which will give the halvah its distinctive texture.

6. Once done, cut out at least 8 – 10 hearts using a sharp, metal cookie cutter.

Directions for Vanilla Ice Box Cake:

pink ice cream

stir ice creamice cream

 

 

Ice cream over heartsAdd hearts to ice cream1. In a chilled bowl combine vanilla ice cream and food coloring. Cover and freeze for 1 hour or until mixture is spreadable.

2. Line a 9-inch Pullman or a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with two sheets of plastic wrap, enough to cover the bottom and sides, allowing plastic wrap to extend over sides of pan. Spread half of the vanilla ice cream evenly in the bottom of the pan.

3. Place the tahini stars down the center of the ice cream pressing down so that the bottom points of the stars are completely submerged in the pink ice cream and the tops are just visible, and placing stars so that they are touching. Freeze for 1 hour.

4. Spread the rest of the pink vanilla ice cream in an even layer over the stars to cover. Cover the top of the cake with heaps of rainbow sprinkles. Freeze for 24 hours or until very firm.

5. Use the plastic wrap to lift mixture from pan. Transfer to a serving plate and cut about an inch into the cake to reveal the first heart. Enjoy!

finished ice cream cake