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Salted Caramel Espresso Swirl ‘Cheesecake’


With a crunchy base made from dates and almonds and a creamy espresso-flavoured filling, this raw and refined-sugar-free cheesecake recipe comes from new plant-based cookbook Whole.

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Published this month, Whole features recipes by Victoria-based Harriet Birrell (author of previous cookbook Natural Harry) for a range of wholefood dishes ranging from lasagne and nachos to nut-free chocolate mousse and kombucha mocktails

Salted Caramel Espresso Swirl ‘Cheesecake’

It doesn’t get much better than coffee in cake form. This cake tastes as good as it looks, if not better. The filling is creamy, the base is sweet and crunchy and the caramel swirl is smooth with just the slightest hint of saltiness. Talk about balance. It’s all in the quality of the ingredients, as usual. Organic is best. I like to take a ceramic mug down to our local cafe to grab a few shots of espresso from them for the cake. It always results in the best flavour.

Serves about 12
Prep time: 30 minutes (+ setting time)
Difficulty: Medium


155g (1 cup) raw almonds
8 medjool dates, pitted

Caramel espresso swirl:
10 medjool dates, pitted
60 ml (¼ cup) espresso
1 tablespoon hulled tahini
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla powder∗

460g (3 cups) cashew nuts
125 ml (½ cup) maple syrup
60 ml (¼ cup) plant-based milk (eg coconut, almond or rice milk)
60 ml (¼ cup) espresso
1 teaspoon vanilla powder∗
1 pinch salt


Pour near-boiling water over the dates for the swirl and leave to soak.

Cover the cashew nuts in near-boiling water also and leave to soak while you prepare the base.

Combine the base ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you get a sticky consistency.

Press the mixture into a cake or slice tin lined with baking paper.

To make the filling, drain and rinse the cashew nuts. Blend all the filling ingredients on high speed in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Pour over the base.

Drain the dates. Add all the remaining caramel espresso swirl ingredients to a blender or food processor, pulse to combine and blend until smooth.

Pour evenly into the tin in a swirl pattern and, using a chopstick, gently stir the mixture in, making small figure eight motions.

Place in the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours to set. Remove 10–15 minutes before slicing and serving.

∗ Available in most wholefood and health stores, as well as online, vanilla powder is made by grinding dehydrated whole vanilla bean pods. Some brands have added sugar for baking, so check the ingredients list.

This is an edited extract from Whole, by Harriet Birrell, published by Hardie Grant Books, $50. Photography: © Nikole Ramsay

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