Raw Hazelnut Cacao Cherry Cake

A big bowl full of fresh organic cherries is one of the most beautiful sights.  They are like smooth little edible fruit jewels.  Now is the season where they are the most flavorful and I was super excited to get my hands on some at a good price this week.  I can not believe I did not enjoy cherries as a child. It was probably because I was first exposed to those nasty artificially colored pie cherries in cans and I never had the real thing.  Thankfully I bought some real ones as a young adult and I fell in love.

So back to the cherries I bought this weekend, I decided that they would be glorious in a cake.  Not just cherries though, raw hazelnuts and cacao married with them. It sounded heavenly so I had to create it.  I made a simple hazelnut crust, a hazelnut cacao layer, a hazelnut cream layer and a cherry cream layer to be ribboned throughout with cherry puree, and a few crunchy hazelnuts and cacao nibs.  It went down like this...
When it emerged from the freezer, chilled and ready to eat, I was super excited! Not that I hadn't been tasting the fillings all along, because I had and they were yummalicious and addictive.

The flavors all together were a sweet party in my mouth.  Kind of like nutella and sweet cherries had a party together...and if you enjoy either of those things, you know it would be a freaking delicious combination!

If you get some fresh organic cherries, you must make this cake for your next special occasion.  Everyone will love it including yourself.  Although, you need not wait until a special occasion if you are hungry for this, because one needs no special occasion to be able to indulge and enjoy raw cake!

Raw Hazelnut Cacao Cherry Cake
Makes one 6 inch cake

2/3 cup raw hazelnuts
1/3 cup ground flaxseed

3/4 cup dried finely shredded coconut

1/8 teaspoon sea salt
10-12 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped (if they are not soft, soak them in water until they are and drain them well)

Cherry Puree:
1 cup fresh organic cherries, pitted
2 medjool dates, pitted (and soaked in water until soft if not soft)
a pinch sea salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice

4 cups young coconut meat*
1 cup raw hazelnuts, soaked for 8 hours in filtered water and drained
3/4 cup coconut water

2/3 cup raw coconut nectar, or coconut nectar
1/2  teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean
3/4 cup raw coconut butter (warmed to liquid)

1/4 cup raw hazelnut butter, divided

1 cup fresh organic cherries
additional 1 Tbsp coconut butter, warmed to liquid

3 Tbsp raw cacao powder

1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup raw cacao nibs

raw hazelnuts, fresh cherries, and cacao nibs for decorating

Lightly coat a 6 inch spring form removable bottom pans with coconut oil. To prepare the crust, process flax, coconut, hazelnuts and sea salt in a food processor until fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers (if not holding together, add more dates). Firmly press crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, and set aside.
For puree, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Set aside.
To make the filling, in a high speed blender or food processor, combine coconut, hazelnuts, water, coconut nectar, sea salt, and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. With the processor running, add the coconut butter and process for a minute until blended. Divide the mixture into three bowls. Add one back to the food processor and add 2 Tbsp hazelnut butter.  Blend until smooth.  Place back in the bowl.  Add the next bowl  back to the food processor, add cherries and 1 Tbsp coconut butter.  Process until smooth then place back in the bowl.  Next add the remaining bowl of filling to the food processor and add the rest of the hazelnut butter (2 Tbsp) and the cacao powder.  Blend until smooth, and pour back into the bowl.
To assemble cheesecake, pour the chocolate hazelnut layer over the crust, then drop some of the cherry puree by the tsp over that as well as the hazelnuts.  Pour the hazelnut cream layer over that, then drop some of the cherry puree over it and drop some cacao nibs over that.  Pour the cherry cream layer over that.
Drop some of the cherry puree over that and swirl with a knife in a spiral from the outside in to the center, then a toothpick if you want more intricate swirls.  Place in the freezer for about 4 hours to firm up.  When ready to serve, garnish the cake with raw hazelnuts, cherries, and cacao nibs.  Store in the fridge.

*If young coconut meat is unavailable, you can use 4 cups raw cashews soaked for 4 hours in filtered water and drained.

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