Almost raw deconstructed cheesecakes
A week before we left for our backpacking trip through Europe, there was an unexpected knock on the door, in the early hours of the morning. I answered it, surprised to find a USPS carrier with a parcel for Thom. He needed to sign for it. And since I'd have been a fool to wake that man at 7AM, I scribbled my name and took the package. I walked through our narrow kitchen, caught the name of the sender, and quickly realized that the thing I was holding in my hands was an engagement ring. My heart started pounding so hard I thought I was going to puke. I panicked. And then I ran down the hall and caught the carrier just as she was getting on the elevator. I handed her the package and told her she had to come back and have my boyfriend sign for it because I was pretty sure there was an engagement ring inside and I couldn't ruin it for him. She started going on and on about how it was her first day and that she thought he'd want the package delivered instead of a slip left in the mailbox, and how she felt horrible that she ruined the surprise. I stopped her right there and said, "Lady, we've been together for five and a half years. If he's going to propose, it's going to happen while we're traveling this summer. You didn't ruin a damn thing."
So I woke Thom (much to his dismay) and he signed for the package. He pretended like he was still half asleep and assured me it was nothing important. Even though you don't usually have to sign for things that aren't important. He went back to bed and I laid on the kitchen floor, hand cupped over my mouth, simultaneously laughing and crying, trying to wrap my mind around the fact that he wanted to marry me even though I'd spent the entirety of our relationship being very vocal about my thoughts on marriage, it being a dying institution, yadda yadda yadda.
I was 99.9% certain that he'd propose in Paris. And when that never happened I thought - surely - he didn't bring the ring. Because what kind of person would walk around with a ring hanging out in the bottom of a 65L backpack? Or maybe he brought it and realized it's probably not a good idea, after all, to propose to someone who claims they don't ever want to get married. Either way, I knew one thing: we weren't getting engaged on the trip. And I was sad. So sad that I started a fight over nothing and then realized OH MY GOD. I think I do want to get married. So you can imagine the massive, emotional wave that washed over me when he pulled out the ring in Prague, nearly six weeks after we left, in the park where he used to spend many afternoons daydreaming and doodling and devising plans for the future. I confessed that I knew about the ring. And he was pissed until I told him I had convinced myself that there wasn't going to be a proposal. He laughed and rolled his eyes at the fact that I thought he would pop the question in Paris.
So. Here we are. Just over two years from that moment in our old, downtown loft, and so much has happened since then. I said yes. We bought a house. Rebuilt our empire. Went back to Iceland. I found myself in Morocco. Planned a wedding. He planned a honeymoon. We snuck away and got legally married. And then we followed our hearts and did the damn thing in Ireland, on that tiny island where the Cassidy Clan originated, surrounded by 35 of our favorite humans. I'll never forget the immense amount of love that radiated from our guests that day. Our officiant gifting us with a 6th century stone from the abbey, which was passed around to all of our people; they held it tight and channeled their happy thoughts and well wishes into its porous surface. Seeing my dad for the first time, standing with a tour group of older women who refused to leave the island until they 'saw the bride'. Thom, wet eyed and smiling, at the other end of the aisle. The look on Maarten's face when he took his first bite of that boozy Irish wedding cake (which, as it turns out, was the biggest source of wedding stress) (HEH). The boozy Irish wedding cake. Courtney's simple yet thoughtful gift that moved us to unmanageable tears. The way strangers embraced us when they realized we had just gotten married. And the epic celebration that unfolded in the crowded streets of Dublin, at 2 in the morning.
The happiest and most beautiful event of our lives is now in the past. But the good news is that the amount of support and warmth we received that day was enough to generate happiness that will last an eternity. It could move mountains. Right all the wrongs. And in case you couldn't tell: I'm really, really happy I changed my mind about marriage.
I'm also really happy my refrigerator still has two jars of this cheesecake tucked inside.
Notes: You don't have to use raw almond milk, but I had a batch of the homemade vanilla variety on hand and needed to use it up before it went bad. I prefer pecans as they lend a rich flavor to the crust, but you can use any nut or seed your little heart desires. To preserve true raw status, swap the oats with 1 cup of nuts (or seeds) and replace the maple syrup with 8-10 medjool dates - however, your cheesecake filling will be a bit darker than what's pictured. If you have peaches sitting around, they make for an equally delicious topping (especially when tossed with a bit of vanilla bean powder).
ALMOST RAW DECONSTRUCTED CHEESECAKES
2 cups raw cashews, soaked 4+ hours
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons raw almond milk
1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
Pinch of fine sea salt
3/4 cup thick rolled oats
3/4 cup raw pecans
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder, optional
2-3 medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon raw almond milk
Raw pecan pieces
In a high powered blender, such as a Vitamix, blend the soaked (and drained) cashews, maple syrup, lemon juice, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and salt on high speed until smooth and creamy; about 1-2 minutes. Divide the cream between four medium jars (or eight small ones) then transfer to the fridge to chill.
In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the oats, pecans, salt, and vanilla powder (if using) into a fine meal. Add the dates and pulse until combined. Add the almond milk and pulse just until incorporated. The mixture should be crumbly, but should stick when pressed together. If it's too dry, add additional almond milk one teaspoon at a time. Divide the crumble between the jars then top with assorted fruit and pecans. Chill in fridge for at least four hours before eating, although overnight is best to achieve that thick, luscious cheesecake texture. Cheesecakes will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to one week, or they can be kept frozen (without fruit topping) for up to four weeks. Thaw in fridge overnight before eating.
Yield: 8 servings (4 jars)