Lemon Pitaya Cheesecake Tarts (vegan, dairy-free, reduced sugar)
There is something magical about pink desserts, isn’t there. And knowing this pink comes from a fresh fruit called Pitaya, or dragon-fruit, makes it even more special.
This fruit, which incidentally tastes like a kiwi, is native to Mexico and Central America, but it is grown in other parts of the world as well now. The white version is easy to obtain in high-end markets on the East coast where I live, but the color in this cake comes from the pink version which I can’t find fresh in the Washington DC area so I use a frozen brand found in the grocery store freezer frozen fruit section.
Either pink or white refers to the fruit’s inside color. In both versions, the outside skin is a wonderful pink, and actually has an other-worldly look so you’ll see it in futuristic movies and television shows, including Terra Nova, anyone remember that show?
And not only is it cool to look at, it is wonderfully nutritious (see this study), so I love using it in desserts.
Dragon-fruit is low in calories, high in essential vitamins and minerals, and fiber. It is also a strong anti-oxidant, and supports a healthy gut. It also is beginning to be known for boosting the immune system and iron levels.
And fun fact, it grows on a plant which has flowers that only bloom at night!
Anyway, enough about this pretty pink fruit.
Let’s talk less sugar in this dessert!
Most vegan cheesecake recipes call for maple syrup and/or Medjool dates. But I eliminated both and used only 1 tbsp of date sugar in both the crust and filling.
Date sugar, you say? Yes! A delicious caramel-tasting sugar from our friends at Bob’s Red Mill that helps you reduce sugar in your recipes.
How you ask? Because this date sugar is not made from the popular Medjool date, but instead the Deglet Noor date.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the Medjool date for it’s fiber and nutrients, but it is a tad sweet. So if you want to hold down your sugar in any given recipe, Bob’s Red Mill‘s date sugar made from Deglet Noor dates is useful.
Specifically, Deglet Noor dates are less sweet than a Medjool date in this way: One Deglet Noor date has 4.5 sugars compared to one Medjool date which as 15.6.
So by adding less sugar and by using a sugar that is less sweet, the crust doesn’t taste super sweet, more like a tea biscuit. So if sweet is really what you want, you’ll want to add more.
The tart filling however, I dare you to tell me it is not sweet enough, haha. And that’s because I added a lot of lemon juice and lemon juice gives your taste buds the illusion of more sweetness. Lime actually does an even better job of this, so feel free to use that instead.
Well I do hope you enjoy my pink tarts!
Crust - for 2 (6-inch) round tarts pans
- Set the cashews to soak overnight. The next day, rinse and set aside.
- Rub two 6-inch tart pans with some melted coconut oil, and dust with cacao powder, or flour of your choice.
- Process the base ingredients until a sticky dough forms. Press it into each tart to form the crust. Put the pans in the freezer while you make the filling.
- Process the filling ingredients until you have a pourable consistency. You can add a bit more lemon juice if your batter is too thick. Refrigerate leftover filling in a piping bag, ready to pipe rosettes when you are ready to eat.
- Pour into each tart, and freeze them overnight. Thaw at least one hour to slice and serve. Top with rosettes (I didn't photography mine with rosettes!), fresh pitaya slices and lemon for presentation. Keep refrigerated.
Thank you Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post. The recipe, ideas, content and opinions expressed here are all my own. I do recommend you try Bob’s Red Mill products, you will be so inspired by all their healthy unique products!
Dee Dine is founder of Green Smoothie Gourmet, a plant based recipe blog, and author of the recent cookbook, Crazy Healthy with 4 Ingredients . On this blog you’ll find incredibly easy recipes with hidden veggies for anyone wanting to eat healthier, regardless of diet. Dee has graduate degrees in sciences and journalism. More about Dee Dine here.