Alex and I have been writing letters to one another since the beginning of this year.
It all started with Instagram. I had been following Alex’s feed for quite a while, in awe of her eye for photography and perfectly composed images of mouth-watering eats. Over time Alex noticed me liking her pictures and followed me back. We started commenting. Conversing over our images of latte art and breakfast bowls. That’s where it all began.
I’m going to keep all my letters from Singapore in a box; a treasure trove to delve into now and again, whenever I need that transportation to someone’s heart – as Alex so eloquently wrote in her first letter to me.
This tradition that we’re preserving is heartwarming, as I feel that the written word holds so much more meaning now: in times where our computer screens blink instant messages and emails at us almost continuously, if we let them. It’s so valuable to be connected in such a way but there’s no direct intimacy that lies beneath, no real craftsmanship that streaming lines of cursive provide. Only an internet connection, a qwerty keyboard and a quick ‘hello’.
What’s lovely is the sheer fact that our friendship, now blossoming through our letters, sprang from Instagram. A social media site. The combination of new media forms such as Instagram with more conventional communication methods such as letter writing fills me with hope that writing letters may become habitual once again. It’s not expensive to send a letter halfway across the world. And even if it was, the release that I feel when I take the time to sit down and focus wholeheartedly on telling Alex stories about my life… Well, it’s worth every penny.
Now, gushy writing aside, on to the cheesecake.
Good-for-you cheesecake. Ok. Perhaps it’s not really ‘cheese’ cake. It’s high in fat, yes, because – well, duh – it’s a dessert. Consumed in moderation however, this ‘cashew-cake’ is one heck of a lot better for you than all of those empty calories you may consume in your regular slice of cheesecake.
Don’t let me fool you completely, though. Of course, offer me a slice of ‘regular’ cheesecake and I’ll wolf it down. I’ll probably lick the plate clean too.
I’m only human.
This little number, with a base comprised of nuts and what I like to think of as nature’s candy: the wonderful date, and a filling packed with heart-healthy cashew nuts, is decadent but nourishing too.
RAW + VEGAN BERRY VANILLA CASHEW-CAKE (serves 10)
- 100g coconut flour (you can substitute with rolled oats or desiccated coconut)
- 25g almonds
- 25g hazelnuts
- 5 medjool dates, pitted
- 2 tablespoons almond milk or water
- 200g raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 4 hours
- 60ml agave nectar, maple syrup or honey (if not vegan)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Seeds of 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1tsp vanilla extract)
- 3 tablespoons almond milk or other non-dairy milk
- A handful of mixed frozen or fresh berries (I used blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and strawberries)
1. Line a 6″ round baking tin with coconut oil and parchment paper.
2. In a food processor or blender: blend the coconut flour, almonds and hazelnuts until they resemble a flour consistency. Add the dates and almond milk and pulse until dough begins to stick together.
3. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the tin and put in the freezer until later.
4. In a blender: blend the cashews, liquid sweetener of choice, lemon juice, almond milk and vanilla bean/extract until smooth and creamy, which may take up to 4 minutes depending on the speed of your blender. Add the berries, and blend again.
5. Pour the mixture over the crust and put in the freezer to set. Chill for 3 hours, until firm.
6. When ready to serve, thaw for 20 minutes and top with fresh strawberries/other berries. Cheesecake will keep in an air tight container in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.