Mardi Gras Cheesecake

Hi from New Orleans! My husband and I are visiting our friends, Jeanne and David, and we’re here for Mardi Gras for the first time. While here, we’re going to nighttime parades, daytime parades, a costume ball, and a dressy ball! We’re getting the entire experience in 5 days for sure!

Mardi Gras always begins 46 days before Easter, so it changes every year. For the 12 days prior to this date, there are hundreds of parties and balls held, as well as 60 plus parades that date all the way back to 1781! Each parade is themed and the floats are decorated (sometimes extravagantly!), and the people on them throw beads, cups, homemade items (decorated purses and shoes, toys) and more. In between the big floats- there are 25-30 in each parade- are marching bands, dancing groups, and the famous “flambeaux” who have been a part of the parades since 1830 and carry gaslight torches lighting up the parades. All in all, it’s a pretty wild experience.

My husband, Todd, is riding in the Bacchus Parade this year on the Bacchagator float, which promises to be an absolutely amazing experience! Our friend, David, who rides in it almost every year and was able to secure a spot for Todd, said it’s like being a rock star for a couple hours! I will be in a ball gown in the Convention Center waiting to see the entire parade at the end.

This brings me to the colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green, and gold. They were actually chosen in 1872 to honor Russian Archduke Alexis Romanoff. Purple stands for justice, green stands for faith, and gold stands for power. These three colors are EVERYWHERE here in New Orleans!! People’s homes are decorated in these colors, clothing and jewelry fits the color scheme, and even the food is made with these colors (hello, artificial food colors & additives)!

One of their most iconic desserts is the King Cake. It’s a cross between a french pastry and a coffee cake covered in white icing and dusted in purple, green, and gold sugars. Traditionally a small plastic baby is hidden inside (safety hazard much?) and whoever finds it is the king or queen of the party. Obviously King Cake is not super gluten free or vegan friendly, so I thought it would be a fun challenge to create our version of a King Cake in a layered cheesecake form or individual tarts. Either way, you can’t lose!

 

Mardi Gras Cheesecake

Mardi Gras Cheesecake

Ingredients

    CRUST
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 3/4 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 dates, presoaked in water 10-15 min to soften
  • 3 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • BASE CHEESECAKE LAYER
  • 4 1/2 cups soaked raw cashews, soak 2-4 hrs to soften
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 7 tbsp maple syrup or agave
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • Nut milk- enough for smooth consistency
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • GREEN LAYER
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp spirulina
  • adjust maple syrup if necessary (maybe add 2 tsp-1 tbsp additional)
  • PURPLE LAYER
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp acai powder
  • 1 tsp maqui powder
  • YELLOW LAYER
  • 2/3 cup frozen mango
  • 1/3 cup pineapple
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1/2 lime juiced

Instructions

    Pulse crust ingredients together in a food processor until mixture is crumbly, well mixed, and it sticks together. Press crust firmly into bottom of pan. Put in freezer to let harden for about 30-45 minutes.
    Blend ingredients for base layer together until smooth and creamy. Then divide base cheesecake layer evenly into 3 even bowls/containers. One by one, pour each one back into blender with one of colored layers until well blended. You can either pour into individual tart pans or if layering, pour first color on top of crust and place in freezer for about an hour. Then repeat process 2 more times. Let all 3 layers sit for at least 3-4 hours to firm up. Spread coconut whipped cream on top, and cover with the fruit of your choice. Put back in freezer until whipped cream layer hardens. Once hard, let sit out for about 10 min so you can slice with sharp knife. Enjoy immediately. Any leftovers should be covered and kept in freezer.
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