A Plating Palate: Strawberry-Cashew Raw Cheesecake

Desserts, in general, tend to benefit from a few different garnishes. To plate this Strawberry-Cashew Raw Cheesecake, I used small basil leaves, edible flowers, roasted pistachios, strawberry pieces, whipped coconut cream, freeze dried strawberry powder and strawberry sauce. To add dimension to a dessert plate, it’s useful to cut the dessert into smaller pieces.

This first plating style starts with a splash of strawberry sauce on a large white plate. I accomplished this by placing the plate in the sink, spooning a bit of sauce and hitting the plate from about two feet above. The cheesecake portions are spaced evenly, but the scattering of basil and colorful flowers give the plate an element of randomness. A thin layer of strawberry powder around the plate ties all the parts together.

In this next style, I chose to emphasize the strawberry sauce in more intentional strokes. This creates apparent contrast between the plate, sauce and cheesecake. The cheesecakes hold the focal point of the plate, and are supported by small randomized groupings of petals, basil and sliced strawberries. This style is the most minimalist approach.

The final plating utilizes a large dinner plate to maintain a good amount white balance, while still offering the diner a generous portion. Start by spooning the strawberry sauce into small starbursts on the plate. Next, gently spoon coconut whipped cream in two, non-symmetrical successions. Place the cheesecakes in a C-shape formation, to help accentuate the curvature of the plate. Liberally fill in any open spaces with colorful garnishes, so that the open space on the left is that much more stark.

For the Strawberry Cashew Cheesecake:

2 cups cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup warmed coconut oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon strawberry extract
1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberries, ground
Pinch of sea salt

For the Strawberry Sauce:

1 package (about 14 oz.) frozen strawberries, thawed
1/2 cup maple syrup

For the Coconut Whipped Cream:

1 (14 oz.) can full-fat coconut milk, chilled upside-down overnight
1 vanilla bean, scraped

For the Garnishes:

1 handful edible flowers
1/4 cup freeze-dried strawberries, ground
Dehydrated lemon slices
1 handful small basil leaves
1/4 cup pistachios
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

1. Drain and rinse soaked cashews. In a high speed blender, combine cashews, water, maple syrup, coconut oil, extracts, lemon juice, freeze dried strawberries and sea salt. Blend until smooth and thick.

2. Pour into a shallow 12×12 pan. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 1 hour.

3. Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out cheesecake circles.

4. To make strawberry sauce: In a high speed blender, blend strawberries and maple syrup until smooth. If a thicker consistency is desired, reduce sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.

5. To make whipped coconut cream: Remove layer of cream from coconut milk can, leaving the water behind. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Fold in the scraped vanilla bean and chill until ready to use.