Lately, I have been exploring all the different ways that I can use cashews in recipes. I have made savory cashew cream sauces, cashew truffles, and “cheesecake”. All of them were really amazing and each time I indulge my adoration of cashews, more ideas for ways to use them pop into my head, like this chocolate peanut butter swirl icebox cake. This recipe is inspired by an icebox cake I had a few years ago with the same flavor profile except it was made with heavy cream and mascarpone cheese and gluten-laden cookies. It was rich and decadent and although it was delicious, the ingredients just don’t fit into my family’s diet anymore.
I love dessert and I am a true believer that the desserts at a holiday gathering are as important, if not more important, than the main course. I mean, they are the grand finale after all! So for this holiday season I set out to make a healthier version of that sinful slice of icebox cake from a few years ago that would fit into my family’s diet. It too is rich and decadent like the previous version, but it is also gluten-free and vegan. All of that dairy has been replaced by cashews which makes me so happy that I can hardly contain myself. Do you have an ingredient that you just can’t get enough of?
- For the crust:
- 1 cup gluten-free oats
- 1 cup fresh, pitted, and roughly chopped Medjool dates
- ½ cup raw almonds
- For the filling:
- 2½ cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 4 hours
- ½ cup melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup cane sugar syrup
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- Beans from 1 vanilla bean pod or 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
- 2 bananas
- ¼ cup filtered water
- ½ cup gluten-free, vegan mini chocolate chips
- For the topping:
- ¾ cup gluten-free, vegan mini chocolate chips
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter, melted
- To make the crust: Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper and set aside. Pulse the oats, dates, and almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "S" blade until the dough sticks together and the pieces are all uniform in size. Press the oat mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and place it in the fridge.
- To make the filling: Combine the cashews, coconut oil, cane sugar syrup, peanut butter, vanilla beans, bananas, and water in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "S" blade. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Once the filling is completely smooth, about 5 minutes, add in the ½ cup mini chocolate chips and pulse until incorporated. (There should be enough heat in the filling from the long processing time to melt the chocolate chips.) Pour the filling on top of the crust and smooth the surface. Gently tap the pan against the counter a few times to work out any air bubbles that are trapped in the filling.
- Decorate: Sprinkle the chocolate chips across the top of the cake and gently press them into the filling. Place the cake in the freezer for 8 hours, preferably overnight. Before serving, remove the cake from the freezer, drizzle the melted peanut butter across the top of the cake, and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Release the springform pan from the cake right before serving. Store in the refrigerator if not eating right away. This cake will last for up to 5 days in the fridge.