There’s no question I’m a brunch gal. Not only do I regularly post pancakes, waffles, and other brunch-bunch favourites on the blog, but amongst many other healthy cooking classes, I teach an entire class about brunching like a champion at a local cooking school called The London Chef. Perhaps it’s because I live in the so-called “brunch capitol” of Canada. Or perhaps it’s because I know how much better I feel when I’ve had a solid meal to start off my day. Either way, brunch is one of my favourite ways to enjoy the best of all foods with the company of loved ones, and still have the rest of the day ahead of me for various kick-ass activities.
Now, even though pancakes, waffles, granola, and chia puddings are all in that sort of “dessert-like” category (let’s be honest here, muffins are just hearty cupcakes without icing), its still nice to serve some sort of period at the end of the mealtime sentence.
This decadent dark chocolate espresso cake is the perfect thing for just that. It’s grain/gluten-free, refined-sugar free, dairy-free, egg-free (in fact it’s totally plant-based), and therefore hopefully pleasing to a number of your brunch guests with dietary considerations. And the mocha flavour goes smashingly with a latte, espresso shot, or even Bailey’s and coffee (hey, this is a no-judgement zone), as the feasting comes to a close. Best part of all, you can make it the day before and let it set in the fridge overnight so it’s ready to go without a fuss as the stunning centrepiece of your sweet-treat side table.
Decadent Dark Chocolate Espresso “Cheesecake” (Plant-based and Paleo-friendly)
Prep time: About 10 minutes
Setting time: At least an hour, or overnight
Makes about 16 slices
For the base…
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 2 tblsp coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of sea salt
For the filling…
- 3 cups cashews, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup thick coconut cream (the fluffy top of the can)
- 1 ½ cups coconut oil, melted
- 200g chocolate (75% or darker)
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup finely ground espresso
For the base…
- In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts, almonds, dates, and coconut oil until well combined. You’re looking for a somewhat crunchy texture that holds together well. To test it, press the mixture up against the side of the container or roll it in your hand. If it holds its shape, it’s good to go!
- Scoop the mixture into a 9-inch spring-form pan, (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a pie plate lined with cling wrap), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout. The base should be about a ¼ inch thick. If you have extra, you can store it in the freezer for another time!
- Once formed, place in the fridge to set while you make the filling.
For the filling…
- In a high powered blender, blend together the soaked cashews until you’ve created a thick and creamy paste.
- Add in the coconut cream and continue blending until well combined.
- Add in the maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or slowly on low heat in a saucepan, stirring in a small amount of extra coconut oil to avoid burning.
- Blend in the melted chocolate, and finally the espresso grounds until everything is completely smooth and velvety.
- Remove the base from the fridge, pour in the filling, and place back in the fridge to set overnight, or at the very least for a couple hours.
- When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge, release the spring-form mould, and top with garnishes of choice (pictured here with a chocolate and caramel drizzle, toasted coconut chips, candied hazelnuts, dark chocolate chips, and coffee beans).