Cheesecake For a Sweet New Year

Even to the seasoned eater approaching new cuisines with an open mind, it can still be difficult to fully embrace something that falls well outside of established norms. Far beyond unexpected flavor combinations or uncommon ingredients, raw “uncooking” essentially turns the entire concept of hot food preparation on its head. Largely due to a lack of exposure, the concept remains abstract at best for most of the world, which I’m quickly learning is a real shame.

Working with the incredibly talented Gena Hamshaw on her upcoming cookbook has open my eyes, radically changing the way I view raw foods in general. Rather than the crazy gourmet raw foods we so often see in fine restaurants, the heart and soul of raw edibles is more about ease and straight-forward ingredients that are manipulated as little as possible. Inspired by her revolutionary recipes, I couldn’t stop thinking in the raw when it came time to craft my annual Rosh Hashanah dessert.

Apples and honey, the symbol of a sweet New Year, are almost painfully common flavors for the occasion, but a fresh approach to the presentation makes it taste new and exciting once more. Building the dessert on a crust made of dried apples and nuts, the apple flavor is intense, concentrated down into a small package, and packing a huge punch in even tiny wedges.

What can you use for vegan honey?

For the honey component, it may or may not pass the scrutiny of the raw police, but nothing can even touch the floral sweetness of Bee-Free Honee. I had the pleasure of reviewing it for Laika Magazine a million moons ago, or so it feels, and have been hooked ever since. Dark agave can substitute in a pinch, but nothing else comes close to the incredibly accurate flavor that this honee bears, without the input of a single bee. Besides, what could be better for the holiday than a “honey” that is in fact made out of apples? There’s something quite poetic about that synchronicity.

Is that a red onion on top?!

Long story short: No. That’s a case of “do as I say, not what I do.” Walking in the door of my Nana’s house with cheesecake in hand, everyone who laid eyes on the original presentation feared that I had topped my treat with slivers of raw red onion. Immediately scrapping that concept and grabbing the first green apple I found, thin half-moons were much more visually pleasing, and the different color helped erase that initial unsavory impression. As I’ve now learned, this is an opportunity to leave the fancy garnishes at home. The rich flavors will speak for themselves.

Yield: Makes 12 - 14 Servings

Raw Apples and Honey Cheesecake

Raw Apples and Honey Cheesecake

Building the dessert on a crust made of dried apples and nuts, the apple flavor is intense, concentrated down into a small package, and packing a huge punch in even tiny wedges.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes


Apple-Pecan Crust:

  • 1 Cup Chopped Raw Pecans
  • 1 Cup Dried Apple Rings, Firmly Packed
  • 2 Large Medjool Dates, Pitted
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Honey-Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Filling:

  • 1 Cup Raw Macadamia Nuts, Soaked for at least 6 Hours
  • 1 Cup Raw Cashew Pieces, Soaked for at least 6 Hours
  • 3 Ounces (6 Tablespoons) 100% Pure, Food-Grade Cocoa Butter, Melted
  • 1/2 Cup Vegan Honey or Light Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 Whole Vanilla Bean

To Garnish (Optional):

  • 1 Large Green Apple
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice


  1. For the crust, start by tossing the pecans into your food processor with the s-blade installed. Pulse thoroughly until the nuts are mostly broken down into a fairly fine but coarse powder. Add in the dried apples, dates, cinnamon, and salt, and pulse again to incorporate. Continue processing until the fruits are blended in, no large chunks remain, and the mixture sticks together when pressed.
  2. Transfer to a 9-inch round springform pan and use your hands to press it firmly and evenly across the bottom. If it proves too sticky to easily handle, lightly moisten your hands before proceeding, or use the bottom of a flat measuring cup to help achieve a smoother surface. Stash the pan in the fridge while you move on to the filling.
  3. Thoroughly drain the macadamias and cashews before placing them in a high-speed blender. Add in the melted cocoa butter, vegan honey, and lemon juice. Because I’m lazy, I tend to just chop up my vanilla beans into inch-long pieces and add the whole pods in as well. You can always pull them out and save the spend pod for another use, such as vanilla sugar.
  4. Turn on the blender on low to start chopping up the nuts, and slowly increase the speed until you’ve reached the highest setting. Thoroughly puree, pausing to scrape down the sides of the canister as needed, until completely silky-smooth. This could take as long as 5 – 10 minutes depending on your machine, so be patient.
  5. Pour the resulting filling over your prepared crust, tapping it gently on the counter to knock out any air bubbles. Smooth over the top with your spatula before returning the whole assemblage to the fridge. Chill thoroughly, for at least 3 hours before serving, for the cheesecake to fully set to a slicable consistency.
  6. If desired, cut in half, core, and thinly slice a green apple and toss with lemon juice to prevent browning. Arrange the slices artfully across the top right before serving. Slice into thin wedges with a sharp, and keep chilled for the best texture and flavor.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 252Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 47mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 3gSugar: 19gProtein: 3g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.


31 thoughts on “Cheesecake For a Sweet New Year

  1. Happy New Year to you, Hannah! I love the apple & Bee-Free-Honee garnish on the cheesecake! I still have the Bee-Free Honee in my pantry (back in Oregon), I wish I can bring it with me to celebrate the dessert with you! Have a lovely weekend!

  2. Ha! Yeah, I guess red onion wouldn’t be the best topping :) I do like the color contrast with the red peel on the apple though. Beautiful, simple dessert–Happy New Year!

  3. Happy Rosh Hashanah Hannah! What a beautiful dessert. You and Gena are both amazing, and I had no idea Gena was producing a cookbook! Great news! I’ve wanted to try using cocoa butter for some time now so when I do get some I’ll be sure to refer back to this recipe.

  4. L’Shanah Tovah! Last night I ate a disgusting amount of apple matzo kugel. I wish this cheesecake had been an option instead. I also think I ate a whole apple dipped in a ridiculous amount of agave by the end of the night.

  5. Yikes! What a brilliant use of cocoa butter! I’ve got some of that BeeFree Honee, and have been wondering how to use it!

  6. “The heart and soul of raw edibles is more about ease and straight-forward ingredients that are manipulated as little as possible.” Love, love, love your simple, minimalist approach to raw recipe creation–it should be about appreciating the real flavor of the food!

    PS: The cheesecake filling ingredient list has me droooooolin’.

  7. Happy new year – that cheesecake is definitely worth celebrating too! I am definitely behind the idea of simpler raw food – I really enjoy eating raw food, but I don’t make a lot at home, because it seems to involve a lot of kit and special techniques. Anything I can do at home gets a big thumbs up!

  8. This looks amazing, Hannah! I am so glad I finally have access to cocnut butter. I usally don’t make raw desserts because so many call for it. This will all change soon.

  9. Happy New Year! Awesome looking cheesecake! But now I can’t stop seeing those red onion slices, I didn’t at first since I saw the apples in the background and just assumed they were apples on top. :-)

  10. Happy new year, Hannah! that is an awesome sounding cheesecake. Interesting way to making it. am totally new to this raw food movement.

    love how you styled the cheesecake too!

  11. Happy New Year Hannah…and what a great idea to have this cheesecake…absolutely perfect for Rosh Hashana.
    Have a wonderful week my dear :D

  12. I love Love LOVE the use of those dried apple rings! ;) Wheeeeeeeeeeee! :))))
    Ok sorry for spamming. But that’s a wonderful cheesecake – although I wish I could see photos of the version without “red onions”! ;)
    I’d love to discuss the honey-and-veganism-topic with you one day. You know, just to exchange opinions. I clearly need some more vegans over here!
    Love, Lara

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