It’s hard to believe I was in Maui just a few weeks ago…it already feels like a distant memory, but the best of memories. I don’t think it’s ever been so hard to come back home from vacation! The beaches, landscape, sun, hiking, snorkeling, sunrises, towns, relaxation, and not to mention the food(!) were just perfect. My boyfriend and I are already discussing our return trip next year. Beyond our outdoor adventures, we of course spent quite a bit of time discovering the best places to dine, whether it was for a refreshing shave ice or a classy beach-front dinner. We had a little too much success!
By far the best dessert we had was something called the “Pono Pie“. We ate this delectable treat at the barefoot bar at Hula Grill, while a Hawaiian man sang and woman danced. Life doesn’t get much better. The Pono Pies are made by a chef on Maui, and they are completely raw, vegan, gluten- and GMO-free, and are made from local breadfruit, macadamia nuts, coconut, and other fresh fruits and flavors. They looked and tasted quite a bit like cheesecake, but are entirely plant-based.
Although I knew I couldn’t replicate this treat exactly, I wanted to try a simpler version that included a couple of the staples of Maui: macadamia, coconut, and citrus. I also wanted a heartier nut crust, to balance out the creamy coconut filling. Just like the Pono Pie, my version is made entirely of plant-based ingredients, and free of dairy, egg, grain, and soy. And still, or maybe due to this, it is deliciousss, and plenty sinful tasting! It’s quite filling, but despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to stop at just one sliver. Best of all, it’s incredibly easy to make and involves no baking or heating at all! All you need is some type of blender or food processor, and a freezer.
One budget tip: macadamia nuts are ridiculously pricey, so if you’re looking to save, feel free to use cashews instead. It will still taste great. You can also get creative with the cheesecake filling and add different types of flavors, for example orange or mango, or even lavender or almond extract. You could also always add chocolate – that is always a winning version in my experience! Also, for those who have an extreme sweet tooth, feel free to add a touch more sweetener to both the crust and cheesecake. Aloha!
- 2 cups almond meal
- 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, softened
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked overnight (if rushed, pour boiling water over nuts and let sit 1 hour)
- 1 large lemon’s juice
- 1/2 cup coconut cream (refrigerate can of coconut milk and scoop creamy part off top)
- 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 large lemon’s zest
- 1/4 cup coconut flakes (if you’d like them toasted, bake coconut flakes for less than 5 minutes at 350 degrees, until just golden brown)
- Mix together all crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Use masher or hands to evenly distribute oil and honey throughout almond meal.
- Press crust mixture into greased or lined 9-inch pie pan. Press down firmly and evenly.
- Place crust in freezer to harden while you prepare cheesecake.
- Place soaked macadamia nuts in a food processor (or Vitamix if available). Grind until fine crumbs.
- Add all other cheesecake ingredients to processor/Vitamix/blender and process until as creamy as possible.
- Once crust is hardened, use spatula to spread cheesecake mixture evenly over the almond meal crust.
- Garnish with lemon zest and toasted coconut.
- Cover and place in freezer for at least 2 hours before serving. Store in freezer and enjoy cold!