You may have seen the inspiration for this recipe in the post earlier this week – my trip to a local farmstand and farmer’s market and the fragrant herbs that drew my culinary interest. I wanted to make something special with the basil I brought back, and was inspired by a unique ice cream flavor – basil ice cream – that I tried at Sweet Rose Creamery in Santa Monica, CA and also at Bistro du Midi in the heart of Boston’s downtown. I discovered that basil is a beautiful way to incorporate herbs into a dessert, traversing the line from the savory flavor profile prominent in Italian cuisines to an earthy and bright one.
Perfect for warmer days, this recipe doesn’t require you to use the oven. In fact, you will need a freezer instead! Additionally, unlike many cheesecake recipes, there is added nutritional benefit by having fresh herbs, dates, and almonds (more on that later).
Gluten-Free No-Bake Basil Cheesecake with Balsamic Chocolate Drizzle & Sweet Sliced Strawberries
(for 8-9 mini cheesecakes. Total Preparation: 40 minutes, + 4 hours Chilling)
2/3 cup raw almonds
12 medjool dates
1/2 cup coconut oil
8 oz/1 cup of cream cheese, softened (just leave out for about 10 minutes before you use it)
8 oz/1 cup of mascarpone (italian cream cheese)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1.5 cup fresh basil, washed and patted dry
3 tablespoons almond milk (or another type of milk if you prefer)
balsamic chocolate + strawberry topping
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 oz or 100 g of dark or bittersweet chocolate
1 pint strawberries, washed, sliced
- First, make the crust. Combine almonds, dates, and coconut oil in a powerful blender (or a food processor with adequate volume available) until crumbs are homogeneous and there are no big chunks of nuts.
- Using your spatula, empty about 2-3 tablespoons of the crust mixture into either cupcake liners or ramekins. I tried both types which worked fine.
- Using your thumbs, or the end of a wine cork, press down gently until you make a solid base at the bottom of the vessels.
- Place the vessels in the freezer for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the cheesecake filling. This is important to set the crust.
- Combine cream cheese, mascarpone, and agave nectar in a stand mixer (or in a mixing bowl to be used with hand mixer). If you use a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to combine until the texture is smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
- Prepare the basil leaves by trimming the largest leaves off of your potted (or outdoor if you have one) basil plant if you have one first, trimming a leaf at a time until you have about 1.5 cups worth.
- Wash the basil leaves in a colander and pat dry with a paper towel to remove extra moisture.
- In a food processor, combine leaves with 3 tablespoons of almond milk (or another type of milk if you prefer). This will make a liquid basil concentrate after about 1 minute or so. You want to make sure that after processing, there are no large chunks of basil.
- Add the basil concentrate to the whipped cream cheese mixture. The color is light with flecks of green basil. You may want to test out the filling mixture just for fun ;).
- Fill the vessels with the pressed crust from the freezer with the filling mixture.
- Place the filled cheesecake vessels into the freezer for about 4 hours.
balsamic chocolate drizzle + fresh strawberry garnish
1. In a small saucepan, heat balsamic vinegar on medium heat until boiling, then turn the heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Break chocolate into smaller chunks, then add in gradually until melted and thick. Cool for 30 minutes. The consistency should be thick but also smooth and able to be drizzled easily.
3. Wash, de-stem, and slice strawberries and chill until ready to garnish.
Plating and Finishing touches
- remove the cheesecakes from their silicone cups easily by lightly massaging the edges to loosen the frozen cheesecake. In ramekins, using a butter knife around the edges and prying it out gently works as well.
- Drizzle the chocolate using a mini spatula over the cheesecakes and top with strawberry slices.
- Serve immediately as these are best enjoyed chilled.
- stand mixer
- small silicone spatula
- food processor
- Vitamix blender (or food processor with enough volume for ingredients)
- reusable, dishwasher safe, silicone cupcake liners (like these or these)
- ramekins (small, freezer-safe ceramic ware)
- small saucepan
What does it taste like?
I brought these to a dinner gathering with 10 adults and the feedback was awesome! No one had tasted anything like it before and it not only looked beautiful, but was well-enjoyed.
Here are some of the comments from my taste-testers:
“a refreshing palate cleanser – like the sorbets or ice creams between meals at a fancy restaurant”
“surprising! mind blown.”
“I feel good about eating it – it is more healthy!”
“It is almost vegan.”
“there is an herb in here?!? it tastes so good!”
The bright acidity and depth of the balsamic chocolate, paired with the bright, light creaminess of the basil cheesecake filling, the nutty texture of the crust, was perfectly complemented by sweet strawberries. With a variety of textures and flavors that all worked synergistically together, the result was a beautiful, light, earthy, garden- fresh delicacy unlike anything else.
What is so good about dates, raw almonds, coconut oil, or basil?
Dates – these are filling energy, mood-boosting and add a little natural sweetness. They’re rich in minerals, including calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. It also contains vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
Raw almonds– have vitamin E, calcium, healthy fats, and reduce inflammation, in addition to being satiating.
Coconut oil- yes, it is a fat, but knowing what it is in fat that is good or bad helps give you a helpful discriminate taste when it comes to fat: the kind of fat matters. Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid which is broken down easily by the body (instead of stored) and may provide a little metabolism boost. It also contains anti-microbial lauric acid. These help power up your cell membranes and make them strong.
Basil– rich in vitamin K1, important for healthy blood vessels and have a substance called flavonoids that protect cells from oxidative damage.
Strawberries– are rich in vitamin C and contain ellagic acid, which helps balance blood sugar.
Now that you have the recipe, you need some gorgeous dishes to serve them on. I have a giveaway of these same 4 beautiful dessert (or salad!) plates in Surya Teal by NYC-based 222 Fifth designers – so be sure to check them out for inspiration for your next most beautiful tablescape. They’re pretty and dishwasher and microwave safe. This giveaway is running till Friday September 16, 2016, so don’t miss your chance to enter!
**Update**The winner of this giveaway is @asequinedlife – congratulations!! I hope that you enjoy making gatherings beautiful with the unique and intricate style of these 222Fifth dishes, sharing delicious food!
You can also keep track of your entries by clicking below.
To enter on Instagram, complete all 4 steps:
- Follow @BlueBootsGo on Instagram.
- Follow @222Fifth on Instagram.
- Like either giveaway post on Instagram with the photo of this dessert.
- Comment either giveaway post on Instagram with your favorite fresh herbs on that post and use the tag #222FifthxBlueBootsGo
To enter on Facebook, complete any of these steps (you can also keep track of your giveaway entries on the Giveaway tab on the left panel, on the Rafflecopter)
- Like the Where the BlueBoots Go page on Facebook.
- Visit the 222 Fifth page on Facebook.
- Comment on any of the Facebook posts announcing the giveaway with your favorite fresh herbs and use the tag #222FifthxBlueBootsGo.
To enter here on the Where the BlueBoots Go blog, complete any of these steps (and mark your entries on the Rafflecopter above)
- Subscribe to the Where the BlueBoots Go blog from the home page and never miss a post.
- Visit the 222 Fifth blog – more fun recipes, stories about food, and ideas for making a beautiful tablescape.
- Like this post and Comment with your favorite dish to make when making a meal for others!
I partnered with 222Fifth to bring you this beautiful set of 4 dessert plates. The opinions and all content of this post are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that are a part of the BlueBootsGo lifestyle and help bring you more adventures on Where the BlueBoots Go!
Happy creating & eating!