Raw Orange Chocolate “Cheese” Cake Revisited

by Susan on November 11, 2012

A funny thing happened when my publisher sent me a copy of my latest book to proof. I really disliked one of the pictures. I took it a couple of years ago, when I was just learning how to shoot food. There was a lot of trial and error at that point and this photo was in the error category.

I made the decision. I needed to reshoot the “cheese” cake. Since I was reshooting, I decided to redo the recipe, too. The original raw “cheese” cake was good but I wanted to lighten up the texture a bit. I also wanted a little more orange flavor. I am pretty darn happy with the results. 

You will want to make this cheese cake the night before for proper setting up. Think of it as a make a-head dessert. You can add the extra layer of crumbs either on top or in the middle. I kind of like the way it looks in the middle!

Orange Chocolate “Cheese” Cake

Serves 12


  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 4 dates, soaked until soft
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder

1. Place almonds and pecans in food processor and process until finely chopped. 

2. Add dates and cacao. Process until well blended. Mixture should stick together when you pinch it.

3. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a 7-inch spring form pan
lined with parchment paper. Make sure you press it well. 

4. Set the remaining 1/3 mixture aside to use for filling layer or to sprinkle on top.



  • 1/2 cup orange zest
  • 2 cups cashews, soaked until soft (4+ hours), rinsed and drained well
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (approximately 3 oranges, depending how juicy they are)
  • 2/3  cup raw agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1. Zest oranges and set aside.

2. In high-speed blender, combine cashews, coconut oil, orange juice and raw agave nectar. Blend until smooth. 

3. Add zest and ginger. Pulse just to combine. 

4. Pour over crust. 

5. Refrigerate overnight.

6. Top with remaining crust.

Chef’s Note: If you want to use the crust as a layer (like photo), you will need to pour half the filling mixture into the pan and place it in the freezer for a bit (DO NOT LET FREEZE) to let it set up. Sprinkle crust over bottom layer then carefully pour in the remaining filling mixture.
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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

kathryn henry November 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm

love the recipe but not sure how much agave nectar…2/3 what?


narf7 November 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I have NO problems revisiting something this delicious 😉


jaime @ sweet road November 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I’ve always wondered how a vegan cheesecake could be made since cheesecake was always my favorite dessert growing up. I’ve always wanted to try but never really knew where to start so thanks for sharing the recipe!


Jaye@Curvatude November 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm

mmmm….need to make this!


this is lemonade November 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm

This definitely looks delicious, the photos are seriously gorgeous. I love the look of the crumbs in the middle too! Cheesecake is a definite top dessert or tea-time treat for me. Yum, pinning this for near-future reference :)


the 3volution of j3nn November 12, 2012 at 6:51 am

That sounds SO good! I can’t get enough chocolate and orange lately. I like the short list of ingredients, too. Easy peasy!


Valerie {all mussed up} November 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

The jaffa (orange/choco) flavour combination is one of my very favorites — I can’t wait to try this out!


Brooke November 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Looks delish! I’m totally going to have to try this :)
Would pure maple syrup work the same in place of agave?


Susan November 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

It is not as sweet and has a much thinner consistency. You would have to use quite a bit more and adjust the coconut oil so the cake will still set up. You can find good raw, organic agave. :-)


Patricia Robinett November 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Susan, you are the Leonardo da Vinci of raw food. :) Can’t wait to try this and share it with my friends.


Alia November 13, 2012 at 6:55 am

This looks absolutely divine. I will be searching for a 7-inch springform pan on this little island of Bali just so this amazing cake can be made. Thank you for creating such magic here.


Jutta November 13, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Do you soak & dehydrate the almonds for the crust prior to use ?


Susan November 13, 2012 at 11:54 pm

I always do but it is not necessary for the success of the recipe. Cheers!


Jayne November 16, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Just made this and wanted to say thankyou for sharing the recipe! It was delicious and I was amazed how much the texture actually did resemble cheesecake! :-)


Susan November 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Glad you liked it! Cheers!


Mel November 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

Thanks for posting this!! I use your recipe for the chocolate cheezecake too and it’s a fool proof recipe that everyone begs me to make! This is for sure going to be my Thanksgiving day treat!


Michelle November 22, 2012 at 11:43 pm

OK- I’m not gonna lie. I saw this post and I actually SAW exclamation points! I will make this for the next family get together! They love trying out the cheesecakes I make.
Just one question. WHAT are your tips for zesting? I always fail at it (I think I’m failing anyways?) so a tip or two would be really handy! 😀
(Especially since 1/2 cup of zest is a lot! Would you recommend zesting, then juicing?)


Jasna November 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Would I be able to reduce some of the coconut oil? I’m thinking something like 3/4 cup and then set it up in the freezer instead?


Penny F December 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Hi! I´m super glad I found your website, I recently joined the raw food world and I´m loving it!.
I live in Peru – South America and we are in raw food heaven, but… no agave nectar here. We have raw sugar, “chancaca” honey which is made from raw sugar cane and we have honey or stevia but it comes in a package and I don´t eat anything that do not comes from the ground. Which one should I use?. Hope you can help me. Thanks a lot!


Kathryn S December 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Could I use coconut palm sugar in place of the agave? I’ve read that agave is actually packed full of fructose and can be worse than regular sugar. Thanks.


Susan December 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Not all agave is bad. I write about it in quite a few places here. As far as the coconut sugar, you can not replace a liquid with a solid and have it work out. You could try another liquid sweetener. Cheers!


Lois Doporcyk December 21, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Ooops – just started one with the previous recipe – loved it then – gift for a friend. Now I will have to follow “new rules” for X-Mas dessert : )


Susan December 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

You can always make the old one!!


hannah December 23, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I am sooo keen to make this – I love orange-ginger as a flavour combo and would LOVE it topped with dried cranberries for some festive cheer! But I ‘m interested why you swapped coconut butter (old recipe) for coconut oil (new recipe) – is that what lightens it? Thanks!


Susan December 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm

If you don’t like the coconut oil (I hardly notice it) you can buy coconut oil that is flavorless. Cheers!


Rachel December 28, 2012 at 3:53 am

Hi – I was really excited to make this as my first “raw food” recipe as dessert for our Xmas dinner. It was delicious and very easy to make. Only thing is that I ended up zesting about 9 or 10 oranges to get the 1/2 cup required which was a lot.

This dessert is definitely one to make for a special occasion :-)


Susan December 28, 2012 at 11:26 am

I have never had to use more than 2 oranges to get 1/2 cup zest. You might want to try a micro-plane zester/grater. Cheers


nat January 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Susan, thank you so much for such wonderful recipe, we already enjoyed it twice! All our family AND gusts liked this delicious cake! I did pass your website link to some of my friends, hope they will enjoy other recipes too.
thank you!
Happy New Year!


Susan January 1, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Thank you, and you are welcome!


Pat January 2, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Orange Chocolate Cheese Cake What is the caloires of this riche cheese cake?????


Susan January 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm

You will have to find a nutritional calculator on-line for this information. You can enter the ingredients and then divide by number of servings to get the total calories. It is pretty important to understand that many factors come into play when assessing the nutritional value of a food, not just calories.


Pat January 4, 2013 at 11:18 pm

THank you for your answer this very delicious cheese cake


April January 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm

My hubby is allergic to almond, do you suggest an alternative?


Susan January 19, 2013 at 4:30 pm

In crusts, almost any nuts can be used. Just take into consideration the flavors. IE, you would not put walnuts (bitter) with pecans (sweet). Cheers!


Katie January 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Hello! I made this last night and it turned out amazing! Thank you for sharing it with the world! I had figs instead of dates and it was perfect.


Kay February 4, 2013 at 7:19 pm

HELP!! Not sure what I did wrong, but mines didn’t set over night in the refrigerator….. I’m not sure if I bought the right coconut oil. Mines is in a bottle like cooking oil, which didn’t need to be melted???


Susan February 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I use raw, organic virgin coconut oil, cold pressed. The coconut oil for these recipes is solid at room temperature. That is how the desserts set up. Cheers!


Kay February 7, 2013 at 6:45 am

Thanks for that, I’m going to try again today.. Wish me luck…


Susanne February 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I have two questions.
1. Could I soak the cashews overnight? Say, much longer than four hours? I want to make the pie tomorrow for Saturday, but it would be convenient if the cashews are ready for use.
2. If I melt the coconut oil, I heat it up over the stove? Is the basic principle of raw cooking not that you don’t heat anything over body temperature?


Susan February 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Yes, you can soak your cashews overnight. You can melt the coconut oil over hot water or in a dehydrator. Cheers!


Susanne February 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm



Anna February 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I just made this yesterday. It worked perfectly and will certainly impress my guests tonight!! Thank you so much for the recipe!


Tammy February 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I do have one question though. I am finding I am not very found of the flavor of coconut oil. Maybe I made it wrong but it seemed to overpower the orange flavor. Is there anything I can do to tone it down a bit? Would coconut butter be the same?


Susan February 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm

You can get a coconut oil that is unscented and doesn’t taste like coconut. It isn’t raw, though. I haven’t tried coconut butter.


Monica February 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I made this recipe over the weekend, and am largely pleased. Really easy and delicious. I used blood oranges, and highly recommend doing so when they are in season.
However, although 3 oranges did, indeed, yield 1 cup of juice, it took an additional 4 oranges to get 1/3 cup of zest. I opted to go with what I had instead of making an additional shopping trip, and am glad that I did. Even with less than the called for amount, I found it to be just a touch too tart. I believe that a full 1/2 cup of zest would be too bitter. Going forward, I will just use the 3 oranges to source the juice and zest.


Susan February 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm

If you zest with a microplane, you will easily get 1/3 cup of zest from two oranges. If your oranges have thin skins, it may take a little more. Be careful not to get the white and it won’t be bitter.


Suzanne Z February 19, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Making this for my next book club! The girls will love it! How did you make the pretty orange peel swirls on top?


Sunny March 12, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Made this with pomegranate juice and your ganache as a topping with bittersweet marmalade in it. My co-workers loved it! Thank you!!!!


tish March 15, 2013 at 2:32 am

Can I or do I soak the pecans and almonds before hand, without hydration them? Or neither? Thanks!


Chelsea September 16, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Hi, I’m just wondering if this is 1 1/4 cups of coconut oil measured when its still hard or if it’s melted then measured? Thanks!


Olga October 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Hi Susan,
I made this for a dinner party and it was truly rawmazing :) My friends (and I!) loved it. It’s so easy to make, using few and easy-to-find ingredients. My blender and food processor aren’t powerful at all but with a little patience I got the perfect consistency, the cream turned out silky smooth and the crust – well, just as it should be. Thank you for the great recipe!
Love from France x


Amy Meole January 14, 2014 at 10:31 pm

I can’t wait to try this recipe, but I’m wondering what I could substitute the agave with. Any thoughts?? I don’t like to use agave since I heard they process it (even the raw agave) just like high fructose corn syrup. Any advice would be most appreciated! Thanks!! :-)


Susan January 14, 2014 at 11:13 pm

First, they do not process it just like high fructose corn syrup. Turning corn into a syrup is a lot more complicated then reducing the sap from the agave plant. That said, I don’t use it as much as I used to. You can substitute any liquid sweetener such as maple syrup but you will have to check for flavor. Don’t use too much or all the other ratios will be thrown off.


nic May 27, 2014 at 7:08 pm

do you have any suggestions for liquid sweeteners that might make good substitutions for the agave? I’m brand new to raw foods, and unfortunately the smell/taste of agave makes me gag – but this recipe sounds fantastic!


Susan May 29, 2014 at 5:23 pm

You can use maple syrup (not raw), liquid coconut sugar, yacon syrup. They all taste different and will change the flavor but give it a go. Cheers!


Susan July 21, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Hi Susan,
Just wanted to say a BIG thank you, this was awesome, a big hit with the whole family.. Cheers


Susan July 28, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Thank you, Susan! So glad you liked it! Cheers!


Archana lee January 20, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Hi, Susan,
On the cashews. . .would you resoak to soften cashews that have already been soaked and
dehydrated? Or simple soak raw cashews to make the filling?

Thank you,


Susan January 20, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Hi, Archana, The cashews need to be hydrated for this recipe. So a soak would be in order. Cheers!


sorina May 22, 2015 at 3:15 am

dear Susan,
A little question after I have read your beautiful recipe: cheese, how manny grams or cups I must use?
Sorry but I don’t find’it in the recipe… or I’m blonde :))))
thank you in advance,


Susan May 22, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Hi, Sorina,

Since this is a raw/vegan “Cheese” Cake, there isn’t any traditional cheese. Cheers!


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