As the last couple of 90 degree days have finally dwindled away, I find myself looking eagerly towards the bright, brisk days of fall. But while you’re waiting for the temperatures to drop and the leaves to turn, why not have the family or some friends over for one last cookout to celebrate the end of summer?  Grill up some veggies, throw on some black bean burgers and make some peach tea- do it up right! At the end of the night, serve up a slice of this Strawberry Pomegranate Cheesecake and watch as your friends/family members, melt into a pool of nothingness. The crisp tartness of the pomegranate paired with the fruity sweetness of the strawberries and the creamy coconut conjure up afternoons at the beach, eating popsicles without a care.

1 cup raw Almonds
1/2 cup Freeze-dried pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp Cocoa powder
1/2 cup Shredded coconut
1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
3-4 oz. Prune paste*

3 cups raw Cashews, soaked*
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp Pomegranate concentrate
8 medium Strawberries
1/2 cup Maple syrup or agave nectar
1/4 cups + ! Tbsp Pomegranate molasses
3/4 cup Almond milk or any non-dairy milk
1 1/4 tsp Coconut extract
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 cup Coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp organic Red Food Coloring (i.e beet juice)

Begin by coarsely chopping the almonds and chocolate chips together in a food processor. Pour the mixture into a  large bowl. Add the cocoa powder, pomegranate seeds, shredded coconut, salt and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.

*To make the prune paste, process the prunes together with several tablespoons of water. It should be sticky and slightly watery.

Work the prune paste through the nut mixture. The crust will be ready to use when you squeeze it in your hands and it holds it’s shape. Throw it back into the food processor to further chop and mix everything together. it should clump together into a ball. Press the mixture down into he bottom of the springform pan.

Using a large blender, sturdy immersion blender or a combination of the two, begin the filling by chopping up the drained cashews, milk, maple syrup, concentrate and molasses.

*Prepare the cashews ahead of time by covering them completely with water and allowing them to soak. Cover them and refrigerate them for a minimum of 5 hours.

Add in the extracts, strawberries and food coloring. Blend for 5-10 minutes. You want the filling to be silky smooth. If you can feel tiny buts of nuts with your fingers, continue blending. If you happen to have a weak or small blender, after several minutes, switch to an immersion blender. Once you’ve reached the right consistency, slowly pour in the coconut oil. Mix thoroughly.

Pour the pomegranate filling into the springform pan. Smooth out the top with a spatula. Tap it several times on the counter to allow any air bubbles to rise ot the top. Smooth the top over once more. Cover the pan and refrigerate it for a minimum of 5 hours before serving.

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