Okay, I have been teasing you enough with the product I have spent the last few days eating in order to provide a comprehensive review of almost an entire product line.  The secret product was…Earth Café’s Gluten-Free cheesecakes.  Well, not just gluten-free but raw, vegan, wheat, and cholesterol free as well.  Did that pique your attention?  I know, you are probably thinking gee, that is great that they are basically everything-free but I bet they are free from taste as well.  Au contraire mes amis…that could not be further from the truth.  Well, to be honest, I too thought exactly the same thing when Craig from Earth Café reached out to me and wanted to know if I would be interested in trying them out.  Yes, I was very skeptical because the concept of a dairy free, raw cheesecake just did not seem appealing.  Quite frankly had Earth Café not reached out to me this would have been one of those things that I likely just would not have tried.  I mean let’s face it cheese-less raw cheesecake seems to be a contradiction of terms.

Thankfully I took Craig up on his offer and he and the fine people at Earth Café actually overnighted a sampling from the O.C. on the West Coast to me here in N.Y.C. and everything arrived perfectly intact due to careful packing.  But I digress…I received five of Earth Café’s most popular flavors: Blueberry Thrill; Rockin’ Raspberry; Cali Style Lemon; Cherry Dream; and Peach Passion.  Let’s just say I knew what I would be having for dessert over the upcoming evenings.  Ah, see why this review took a bit longer than usual?

I am, however, only human so I enlisted the help of my non-GF other half so that I could eat one myself and taste a portion of another to better expedite the tasting process.  I started with the Rockin’ Raspberry.  As I took the first bite, I am not sure what I was expecting but it was certainly not the creamy deliciousness that first hit my palate.  I was confused and looked at the container which the slice came in to read the ingredients.  Where was the cream cheese, the butter, the sugar?  Not here and believe me when I tell you NOT missed.  Just twelve simple, vegan ingredients that somehow Earth Café had managed to turn into a rich, creamy, downright delicious cheesecake that’s not a cheesecake. 

The raspberry variety was chock-full of fresh raspberries that packed a welcomed sweet and tart bite.  The “crust” was nothing more than fantastically soaked chopped nuts that added overall flavor and added complexity but did not distract from the filling itself.  The crusts are finely chopped nuts and appear to be cashew, pecan, and walnut mixes.  I say appear because I am going by the ingredient list on the packages but clearly Earth Café are magicians in the kitchen so I am not sure if any of these comprise the body as well or just the crust.  The filling was so complex with the real raspberry taste paired with zesty lemon and cinnamon undertones all in a creamy base from coconut and sweetened with agave nectar.

Now here’s where it gets interesting…my other half is not a cheesecake fan by any stretch of the imagination – but I needed help and was dying to taste the Blueberry Thrill variety.  He was still not quite sold but dug in and all I can say is he now likes cheesecake (well, Earth Café’s).  So if your home is divided by the cheesecake fans and non-believers, these products meet everyone’s needs.  The blueberry pie was just as rich and decadent as the first – just chock-full of fresh blueberries.  It is the fruit in these decadent treats that really helps you to understand the taste benefits of raw eating.  The fruits tasted as though it had just been picked and thrown into the cake right then and there.  I know, you are thinking sure it did but I was as shocked as you will be at how vibrant and flavorful the ingredients were – and they never set foot anywhere near an oven.

The next evening I continued to work my way through the flavors with the Cherry Dream version.  Once again, same fabulous base with wonderfully ripe red cherries that were…wait for it…still crisp to the tooth.  By this point in time I had resolved myself that I needed to just stop wondering how they are able to do this and embrace the concept raw vegan cheese-less cheesecake.  The following evening it was time to crack open the Cali Style Lemon (lemon has always been a personal favorite of mine as flavors go) and it did not disappoint.  We are talking some serious tang here.  This was indeed my personal favorite of the lot – so light and creamy packing a tart punch that still did not take away from the overall flavor itself.

Sadly (only because I was now out of slices) the Peach Passion was last in the line-up and it did not disappoint.  The sweet fresh peach taste was crisp and delicious and again paired perfectly with the creamy base and subtle spiciness of the nuts.

If you think raw desserts are going to be boring, I encourage you to give these cakes a try.  I was probably one of the hardest sells but am so glad I gave it a try.  I don’t know how they do it – nor do I question it.  The bottom line is that Earth Café makes a more healthful gluten-free option that tastes, in a word, AMAZING.  My thanks to Craig and all of the folks over at Earth Café for making a believer out of me.

For those of you on the West Coast, you can find their products in many Whole Foods and other markets based on your location.  Check out their Store Locator to find out if they are at a location near you.  If not, there is always mail order.  You can view their online storefront to check out all the delicious options that abound.

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