Strawberry Cheesecake Squares
It's the hottest time of the year just about everywhere right now, and Southern California is no exception. In fact, most Angelinos will tell you that the past month has included some weird very june-gloom-esque weather. Lots of cloudy, humid mornings leading to sunny, hot afternoons. Basically, every afternoon becomes an excuse for me to run to the grocery store and pick up a pint of DF Mavens Mint Chip (my latest obsession) Ice Cream and then come home and eat it all, justifying that without it, I would be a puddle! The problem? I still kind of puddle out around 3 pm when the heat reaches its peak, but I've also eaten 600 calories worth of ice cream and my daily allotment of sugar. Whoops! This week I'm giving up the ice cream and packed the freezer with these sweet, low sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Squares. They're just the right amount of sweet on top of a chewy date-oat-nut crust, and make the perfect afternoon cool-down treat or late-night snack. They're packed full of good fats from the nuts and coconut milk, and are a nice break from a traditional round cheesecake. Easier to serve + share! Plus, when it's as hot as it has been here lately, you only want to have to pull out a piece at a time because, you know, MELTING. As you can see as proof above (well, and below), things got a bit melty under photography lights in the hot hot afternoon, but it still tastes amazing. If its that hot, keep them in the freezer until ready to serve. Otherwise, you can soften them a bit in the fridge, but since coconut milk/cream is so melty, the cooler the better for these babies. Let's eat!
1½ cups cashews
1½ cups oats
1 cup pitted dates
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
4 heaping cups strawberries, green tops removed
1 - 14 oz. can coconut cream OR 2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight + liquid drained
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup melted coconut oil
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup OR agave nectar
Soak cashews in warm water for at least one hour. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or high speed blender. Grease or line a 9x9 inch glass baking dish. Press date & nut mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Refrigerate or freeze to set coconut oil, about one hour.
Blend strawberries, coconut cream, vanilla, coconut oil and maple syrup in a high speed blender until completely combined. Remove crust-filled baking dish from the fridge and fill evenly with the cheesecake mixture. Cover + place in the freezer or fridge to set for at least 3 hours or overnight. When ready, remove from the fridge, cut with a large knife into 12 even squares, and plate. Sprinkle with crushed cashews, fresh strawberries, and a bit of coconut whipped cream, if you like. Since coconut cream can get melty in the heat (like in some of the photos above!), this dessert is best left in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to eat it. It lasts indefinitely covered in the freezer, and makes 12 medium-sized or 15 small cheesecake squares. Enjoy!