raw chocolate cherry mousse cake + birthdays

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It was my birthday this past weekend! We ran to the city for a couple of days and had a really wonderful time. A cozy and delicious dinner here, some craft cocktails, lots of coffee, my favourite pizza in the world here, picked up a really great new magazine and popped into some favourite shops. The air is getting a bit warmer all around, I just started a new job (complete with a crazy-hectic opening week) and I’m another year older. Change is all about. It feels sunny and welcome.

I don’t usually aim for a fancy to-do on the big day. Several years have seen a snow storm on the exact day or right around it anyway, ruining much anticipated childhood birthday parties (and much anticipated birthday cakes for that matter). A good meal, time spent with people I like and some sort of treat with a candle in it makes me pretty happy. And so my adult birthday celebrations have gone, fairly quiet with minimal fanfare. Generally some cozy brunch is involved too. There’s a certain warmth and intimacy to that kind of celebrating, just a little elevation above the norm. I find life is pretty amazing on any given day, so I’m grateful for every little bit within and around the ordinary.

And in the vein of being grateful, I’m bringing you a recipe inspired by the best raw dessert cookbook ever. Cafe Gratitude’s book is my go-to for healthy and mind-blowing desserts. I’ve made countless variations of their treats to rave reviews and total bedazzlement every time. Everything is gluten, sugar, refined flour and animal product free and so, so luxurious. I will offer a little tidbit straight up: this cake isn’t cheap to make. About 5 cups of raw nuts total, virgin coconut oil, dried sour cherries, raw cacao, lots of vanilla… I know, I know. Considering the occasion, I opted to wallow in a bit of abundance.

Thinking about this cake as an investment in your health wouldn’t be too much of a stretch though. It’s a much more wholesome alternative to traditional cheesecake. Rich in healthy fat, protein from the nuts, natural sweeteners, plenty of fruit (fresh and dried) and some antioxidant action. Instead of feeling lethargic, you can relish in the surprising amount of energy and clarity you feel post-dessert. That is truly something to celebrate.

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raw chocolate cherry mousse cake
serves: makes one 8.5-9 inch round cake
special equipment: a 8.5-9 inch spring form pan, food processor and a blender (you might be able to do the filling in the food processor too)
notes:  I think the cashews could get pulverized enough in a food processor. I haven’t tried it, but it seems likely. Omit the diced beet if you’re using the processor for the filling though (it’s mostly for colour anyway).

2.5 cups raw almonds
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 cup dried sour cherries
8-10 pitted medjool dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

2.5 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 2/3 cups almond milk
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1/2 cup raw honey (or maple syrup or agave nectar etc.)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup frozen pitted cherries, thawed
1 small beet, scrubbed and small diced

Lay overlapping sheets of plastic wrap inside the ring of a spring form pan. Place the bottom disc on top of the wrap and snap the ring into place. Set aside.

Make the crust: place the almonds in the bowl of the food processor. Flip machine to high to break the nuts a bit. Stop the machine. Add the cacao powder, salt, sour cherries, dates, vanilla and coconut oil. Pulse the mixture a bit to begin the mixing. Flip the machine to high until the almond pieces look quite small and the dried fruit is evenly chopped up/distributed throughout the mix. Stop the machine and pinch some of the mixture together with your fingers. If it holds, you’re set.

Dump the crust mix into the prepared spring form pan. Spread it around evenly and start applying pressure to firm it into the pan. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to make the crust a bit smoother. Set aside.

Make the filling: Combine the cashews, almond milk, coconut oil, honey (or maple syrup), lemon juice and salt. Bring blender to high slowly. Blend the mixture on high until smooth and liquified. Pour all but 2 cups of the mixture into the prepared spring form pan. To the remaining filling, add the pitted cherries and diced beet. Blend on high until smooth. Pour remaining mixture quickly and confidently into the centre of the cake. Then, with about 1 cup of filling left, start to lightly drizzle the hot pink filling around, creating a marble effect within the cake.

Cover the cake with plastic wrap (it will be quite liquid at this point) and gently slide it into the freezer. Let it firm up for about 2 hours. Transfer to the fridge once solid so that it’s ready to serve whenever the craving strikes.

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  • la domestique28/02/2012 - 12:33 pm

    Just discovered your site via Adrienne Eats blog, and the cake looks so pretty! Happy birthday to you.ReplyCancel

  • Zita28/02/2012 - 12:34 pm

    I have a similar cake on my blog (raw raspberry cashew cake) but this looks oh so yummie! :)ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey28/02/2012 - 1:34 pm

    Happy Happy Birthday, love! This is breathtaking and a perfect way to celebrate. :)ReplyCancel

  • jeni28/02/2012 - 1:47 pm

    happy birthday! i wish that this recipe had gone up a smidge sooner so that i could make it for my boyfriend’s mom. it was her bday this weekend too!ReplyCancel

  • Erin28/02/2012 - 2:56 pm

    Happy (belated) Birthday Laura! This is an absolutely gorgeous way to celebrate your birthday (and I have to imagine, I wouldn’t miss the real cheesecake! This sounds delicious!)ReplyCancel

  • Margarita28/02/2012 - 3:16 pm

    Happy late birthday! This cake looks like heaven… P.S. That pretty plate with the green edges, I almost bought it at TJ Maxx… but I didn’t. I’m officially regretting that decision after seeing how pretty it really is.ReplyCancel

  • Adrienne28/02/2012 - 5:05 pm

    Happy Birthday, Laura! This looks + sounds amazing!ReplyCancel

  • raechel28/02/2012 - 5:51 pm

    Happy birthday! What a gorgeous cake!ReplyCancel

  • Jacqui28/02/2012 - 8:24 pm

    Oh man, that is definitely a “cheesecake” I could really get into! Yum! And happy birthday to you too!ReplyCancel

  • sarah28/02/2012 - 11:12 pm

    Gorgeous! I love these pictures.
    And happy birthday! I hope this year brings you a lot of beauty and goodness.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa // thefauxmartha29/02/2012 - 1:03 am

    Wowzers! This is beautiful. And raw. I’m impressed! Happy Birthday and cheers to a lovely year ahead!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer29/02/2012 - 1:39 am

    Happy Birthday!!! That mousse cake looks amazing, you wouldn’t know it was raw and that the mousse didn’t contain dairy!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar29/02/2012 - 7:47 am

    This is absolutely lovely! So pretty!ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf29/02/2012 - 9:11 am

    I’m so excited to have discovered your blog – it’s incredibly beautiful! And although this cake may have cost a bit to make it looks absolutely worth it – simply stunning :-)ReplyCancel

  • Laura29/02/2012 - 11:20 am

    I just found your blog via Happyolks via Green Kitchen Stories and I just love your site! I love your food philosophy and that you have a real connection to the earth and seasonal eating. You’re photos and recipes are beautiful and inspiring and I look forward to stopping by your site more often. Happy belated birthday!
    Laura V.
    BG, GermanyReplyCancel

  • Erin29/02/2012 - 12:32 pm

    This looks delicious! I was excited to see that it was vegan, but because it has honey in it, it’s technically not :/ReplyCancel

    • Laura29/02/2012 - 12:44 pm

      Hi Erin,
      You could use maple syrup or agave nectar (as noted) if you wish. The flavour will be virtually the same.

  • Sofia29/02/2012 - 2:30 pm

    I don’t normally go out of my way to eat a raw or vegan diet, but this mousse looks better than any baked cream version I’ve seen in a while! Will have to try it sometime, thanks for sharing =)
    Just discovered your blog, love it, can’t wait to explore more!ReplyCancel

  • Koko01/03/2012 - 7:33 pm

    Wonderful ingredients and beautiful product! Happy birthday!ReplyCancel

  • Anna @ the shady pine02/03/2012 - 12:11 am

    That pink colour swirling through the cake is so pretty. I LOVE the ingredients you’ve used here!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea02/03/2012 - 12:59 pm

    Wow, Laura, you’ve really outdone yourself this time! I’m so impressed!ReplyCancel

  • art and lemons02/03/2012 - 10:42 pm

    Happy Birthday to you, Laura! Sounds like a fabulous birthday and this mousse cake is as sunny and delightful as the change you speak of. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Kasey03/03/2012 - 11:45 pm

    I have yet to try a recipe for Cafe Gratitude’s book, but for years, I lived just around the corner from the restaurant! I have to admit that some of their dishes were hit or miss. I’ve been fascinated by these types of cakes (I saw a similar version of My New Roots) and your photos certainly make it look to die for. Hope you had a fabulous birthday!ReplyCancel

  • Cookie and Kate05/03/2012 - 10:12 am

    Happy belated birthday, Laura! Your cake is a real stunner.ReplyCancel

  • celia07/03/2012 - 8:57 pm

    This is a beautiful dessert! I especially love that you added chocolate and cherries to this cake, makes it sound and look even more delicious!ReplyCancel

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  • Loren27/02/2015 - 4:56 pm

    I just put the most beautifully marbled masterpiece in my freezer and can’t wait to show it off to my friends tomorrow. I used cocoa nibs instead of powder because I like the crunchy energy burst. ***I think you forgot to mention adding the 2 T of vanilla extract in the directions, but I remembered to add it. Happy Bday wknd – eat lots and lots of cake!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Riina07/08/2015 - 4:59 pm

    I too made a modification of this cake for my birthday, thank you for the recipe, it became one of my favourite recipes right away! I used raspberries instead of cherries, we have them growing in our yard. I’ve also never seen dried or frozen cherries here in Finland…ReplyCancel

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