If you read this blog at all regularly you know of my fondness for raw desserts, so when I was given the opportunity to sample some raw cheesecakes from Earth Cafe, I of course jumped at it. Earth Cafe is a company that makes organic, vegan, raw, desserts, by hand. They operate out of California, but their cheesecakes are sold in stores around the country (I counted 17 states), and they also ship individual orders through their online store. I had seen them at Kale's, my neighborhood natural foods store but had not yet tried them, so I was anxious to get a taste of what VegNews magazine called the "Cheesecake Champion" and "the best raw cheesecake we have ever sampled" and see what all the fuss was about.
There are few things better than coming home from a long day and finding a box marked "perishable" on your door step and knowing that cheesecake (especially healthy cheesecake, dairy-free cheesecake, less guilt-inducing cheesecake), awaits inside. I open the box and the packaging and dry ice to find four generous slices of cheesecake inside. (OH HAPPY DAY!) The individual containers got a bit banged up in the shipping process, but the slices of cheesecake inside looked unharmed and pretty delicious. Craig, my cheesecake benefactor and company President, had sent slices of Strawberry Fields Forever, Blueberry Thrill, Rockin' Raspberry, and Who's Your Daddy?, a carob mousse cheesecake.
The cheesecakes store well in the freezer so I was able to take my time with the sampling process. Overall the cheesecakes all tasted fresh, the texture was extremely creamy and the crusts were rich, nutty and buttery. They use fresh ingredients, (things like fruit, nuts, coconut, agave, vanilla and cinnamon), organic when possible. I tried the cheesecakes at various stages of "frozenness" and as with most raw desserts I have tried, I like them best somewhat, although not solidly, frozen.
Strawberry Fields Forever: Creamy with good fresh strawberry flavor. Probably the most mild tasting of the 4 samples but still fruity and quite good. (A layer of strawberries or even peanut butter would have taken it to the next level for me).
Blueberry Thrill: Gorgeous purple color and good, strong berry flavor. This one has the right tart-sweet combination that I like in my blueberry treats and ran a close second as my favorite.
Rockin' Raspberry: This one was my hands down favorite. Maybe it was the layer of raspberries in the middle that added that extra flavor and dimension to the otherwise creamy texture, but this one really stood out for me and was the first one finished.
Who's Your Daddy?: I am going to confess to not be a lover of carob, I find it a bit chalky usually and that was my first impression with this one when I tried it thawed in the refrigerator for a few hours. It had a creamy texture but a bit of that chalky-drying after taste. I put it back in the freezer and tried it again and my opinion changed--it lost the carob and tasted more like dark chocolate. Still not my favorite (I tend to prefer fruity-flavors in my cheesecake anyway), but really good semi-frozen and I certainly wouldn't turn down a piece of it. ;-)
Calorie counts for raw cheesecakes are not low (they run between 177 & 194 calories a serving, with 2 servings in an individually packaged slice and 16 slices in a cheesecake), but they are much healthier calories and healthier fats than in your normal sugar and dairy-laden versions. Plus, as with many raw desserts, they are so rich and satisfying that a small slice is more than enough. The whole cheesecakes run about $35.00 online so about $2.19 per slice. (I have to check and see what the individual slices run in the stores here). Not inexpensive, but not unreasonable in the world of raw food desserts especially when you look at all of the ingredients involved and the fact that they are handmade.
Earth Cafe has a delicious, quality product worth the high praise and I am happy I got to try their cheesecake (A big thanks to Craig & team!). I would buy them, probably by the slice--in fact I want to see if they are carrying the Banana Cream, Coconut Carob and Cali-Style Lemon slices here to buy and try sometime. A good occasional indulgence that I feel good about eating, they would be appropriate for raw foodists, healthy eaters or anyone who simply likes a delicious dessert. You can check out the different cheesecakes on their website here or see if there is a store near you carrying Earth Cafe's desserts here.
Have a delicious week!
Have a delicious week!