A dessert that’s only a little sweet and refreshingly tart would be this Paleo and Vegan Key Lime cheesecake. Creamed cashews are whipped with sweet dairy free condensed milk, topped with an elite whipped coconut cream, and sprinkled with lime zest and toasted coconut for the final touch. And of course only using Key Limes fresh from Florida. It’s truly a dessert of champions.
I’m not at all shy to admit that I will only use Florida Key limes for a Key Lime pie. Why? Key limes are smaller and have a thinner rind when compared to other limes, with extraordinary flavor. Slightly more bitter, tart, with a distinct and strong aroma gives them a uniqueness that cannot be interchanged. Thus, they are the prime variety lime for a dessert. And I’m feeling a bit of Florida nostalgia right about now, so they must be Key limes. Let me have my grudge. <3
But, I get it. Key limes are rare and are not easily available outside of Florida. In fact, I went to four different grocery stores in Mass, including Whole Foods a specialty produce store, to find them! My final stop was the ordinary grocery store a block from my house, and was ecstatic to find a huge stock of these petite beauties.
Still, you don’t have to be as obsessive as me and visit every produce store within a sixteen mile radius to find them. You can order a sackful here or use Nellie and Joe’s bottled version. Key limes can be a pain to find even in peak season, so I’ll forgive you for using any available lime. Though, nothing beats fresh hand-squeezed Key Limes. Yes squeezed around 16* or so by hand, since most juicers are too big for these cute little limes.
I was nervous about a key feature in this cheesecake: the balance between sweet and tart. I personally do not care for Key Lime desserts that are cloyingly sweet, yet you may know I’m very sensitive to bitter things. Yet I do appreciate rare and unconventional bitter flavors, notably from Key limes. Those flavors should not be distracted by excess sugar and sweetness. So, this Key lime cheesecake is just sweet enough but lets that Key lime tartness shine through. And the balances is well received.
A blend of soaked cashews and macadamia nuts are used for the base, now common with Paleo and Vegan “cheesecakes.” I heated coconut milk and syrup to reduce the liquid, which eliminates the need to chill the can of coconut milk overnight for the cheesecake layer. Reducing the liquid from the milk and syrup also lets me use a lot of Key lime juice, which is the star ingredient after all. However, chilling coconut milk cans overnight is still required for the whipped coconut topping.
Paleo and Vegan Key lime cheesecake, with love from Florida.
- 3 cups of Raw Cashews
- ½ cup of Macadamia Nuts (or substitute more cashews)
- 1 can of Full Fat Coconut Milk
- ⅔ cup of Maple Syrup or Raw Honey
- ⅔ cup of Key Lime Juice
- ⅔ cup of Melted Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- Zest of one Key Lime
- 2 cans of Cold Full Fat Coconut Milk (chilled overnight)
- ¼ cup of Arrowroot Starch
- 1 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup or Honey
- 1-2 teaspoons of Coconut Flour (optional if needed)
- Soak the cashews and macadamia nuts for 6-8 hours in water.
- Make the condensed milk by boiling the can of coconut milk and syrup at medium heat for about 30 minutes. You should be left with about ¾ cup of condensed milk. Let cool completely.
- In a food processor, combine the soaked cashews and Key Lime juice and pulse until creamy and smooth.
- Add the condensed milk and coconut oil and blend until smooth.
- Pour over cookie crust shell.
- Chill in the refrigerator for about 6-8 hours.
- Chill your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
- Open the coconut milk can from the bottom and pour out the liquid portion.
- Beat the solid portion on high speed for about 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the coconut flour if the mixture still appears flat and runny.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until fluffy.
- Spread on top of the cheesecake layer while in the sprinform pan, sprinkle with Key lime zest and toasted coconut, then chill for about an hour or so.
- I wasn’t really counting how many key limes I had in the 1lb bag. Sixteen just seems like a sweet number right now.