Blueberry ‘Cashew’ Cheese Cake

Several years ago Emily asked me to create a recipe for a healthy purple cake without the addition of food colouring. The creamy filling is purple coloured with fresh blueberries sitting on a chewy chocolate base. This cake is for Emily and Alyahna. I hope that your amazing efforts continue to flourish and bring support to those most in need... the beautiful children of this world. Note: You will need a basic food processor to make this cake to blend the cashews and make the base.



  • 1 cup Brazil nuts or other nuts
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil optional, helps to hold the base together
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs or an extra tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 1 cup cashews soaked 3 - 4 hours
  • approx. 3/4 cup creamed coconut see note below
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 cups approx 200g blueberries (or other fresh or frozen berries)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon


  • Line the base of a 20cm spring-form cake tin with baking paper.
  • Base: Process the nuts and coconut into a course meal. Add the remaining base ingredients and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Press firmly into the prepared cake tin, using a spatula to smooth. Chill in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  • Filling: Rinse the soaked cashews in a sieve. Tip into the clean food processor bowl, add the creamed coconut and honey and process until smooth. This will take 2-3 minutes with the machine running, stop several times to scrap down the sides. Once creamy add the berries and lemon juice and blitz until smooth and the mixture is a vivid purple colour.
  • Assemble: Remove the base from the freezer and pour over the berry filling, spreading evenly. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set. To serve, garnish with extra berries. Eat within 2 days.


Creamed Coconut: This is basically the thick cream part of a can of coconut cream. You will need to use a natural brand without the addition of emulsifiers. The day before making the cake put a can of coconut cream into the fridge upside-down. When ready to make the cake open the top of the can, tip out the milky liquid (reserve for using in a curry etc.) and scoop out the thick coconut cream (creamed coconut) to blend with the cashews. Depending on the brand you will get about 3/4 cup, use all of it, the more the better.

This recipe is dedicated to an inspiring woman. A woman who faced with a huge loss has forged on with strength and humility to give back to others. This woman is Emily Sanson-Rejouis. Some of you may be familiar with her story. For those who are not, Emily, her husband and three young daughters were living in Haiti in 2010 when the devastating earthquake shook the city of Port au Prince.

Emily, who was at work at the time of the earthquake, was unharmed. In the mayhem she returned to the apartment building her family lived in to find it had collapsed with her family trapped inside. With the aid of several men she was able the save her youngest daughter Alyahna (1) from the rubble. Her other two daughters, Kofie Jade (5) and Zenzie (3), and her husband Emmanuel did not survive the earthquake.

After a mammoth effort from the rescue team in Haiti the bodies of Emmanuel, Kofie Jade and Zenzie, were flown home to Nelson for the funeral. As I was 8 months pregnant on the day of the funeral we got there early to get a seat. I remember watching the crowds flooding into the Nelson Cathedral. This tragic loss had been felt by the larger Nelson community and many people came to give their support to Alyahna and Emily.

There was not a single dry eye as Emily stood before us and spoke with complete honesty of her loss, her sadness, and the love she had for her children and husband. In Emily’s own words ‘you cannot control everything that happens to you in life but you can control how you respond to it. In my darkest hours I have pledged to Emmanuel, Kofie-Jade, Zenzie and Alyahna to rise like a phoenix from the ashes – to Never Give Up.’

In the 3 years that have passed since the earthquake Emily has put her energy into creating Purple Cake Day. A charity event that supports children around the world to get the education they need to break the poverty cycle and create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. Purple Cake Day is about kids helping kids. In the first year they raised money to build a school for children in Haiti, last year for Nepal, and this year they are raising money for children in Kenya. Purple Cake Day is to be held tomorrow, 8th March, read more about it and how you can get involved on the website. You can read Emily’s story here.







Join the Conversation

  1. Nadia Giske says:

    A thoughtful and fitting salut to the fantastic work of Emily and her Purple Day supporters. Thank you.
    PS Great photos!

    1. Thanks Nadia, Emily’s life has moved many of us. She is an exceptional woman 🙂

  2. A perfect way to use up the mass of berries that are rambling through our land. I really need to stretch myself beyond the usual cookies and cakes. The story about Emily really moved me. Having been caught up in the Christchurch earthquake when I was there on business I know how fragile life is. To turn such a tragedy into such an inspirational mission is so humbling.

    1. Hi Julie, yes her story is a moving one. She has inspired me to take the small things less seriously as life is unpredictable.

  3. rebecca sheehy says:

    Hi Nicola, what a wonderful recipe for purple cake day. I am only sorry I didn’t get it in time, but it is on my list for next year. I wondered if you had tried the Trade Aid coconut milk, it is organic but is so creamy and doesn’t separate out. It does have Guar Gum in it, so I am not sure if it would work or not. What do you think?

    1. Hi Rebecca. yes it is a very yummy purple cake! No I haven’t tried the Trade Aid coconut milk but it sounds delicious. With this recipe you really need coconut cream as you want the thick almost solid cream off the top for the cake this helps it set when chilled.
      Nice to hear from you again 🙂 Nicola

  4. What a lovely tribute, Nicola. I could only hope to conduct myself with the same grace and humility in such circumstances, though goodness knows I would certainly hope to never be faced with such devastating tragedy. Certainly helps one keep things in perspective, doesn’t it?!

    Your cake looks heavenly, and nice to know that it is also healthy and guilt-free 🙂

    1. Hi Sue, yes she is amazing. I can’t imagine how I would react in such a circumstance.

      The cake is divine, really easy too. Probably took less time to create than a baked cake.

      See you soon x

  5. Oh my goodness this looks so good! I love that the ingredients are nice and simple, will definitely have to give this one a go soon!

    1. Thanks Lydia, yes it is quite something. And surprisingly easy to make.

  6. I have just discovered your blog and this inspirational story! I am always amazed at the adversity that some people face and come through to go on and help others. She is a Saint! I am so inspired to try this recipe, it is nothing like I have ever made. I will think of Emily as I create your purple cheesecake.

    1. Yes Emily’s story is very inspiring and humbling at the same time. I hope you enjoy the cheesecake!

  7. Hi Nicola, I just made your purple cake today for my son’s second birthday party. He loves the colour purple and with Purple Cake Day at the end of the week it seemed appropriate. It was gorgeous! Light and sweet with a delicious chewy chocolatey base … wonderful textures. I used frozen blueberries and combined with the cold creamed coconut needed to whip the filling in a bowl in a sink of warm water to get a nice smooth consistency. Thank you, everybody loved it.

    1. Hi Katie, yay I love hearing that my recipe is a success. This is quite a special cake for many reasons. I was lucky enough to spend sometime with Emily this weekend and she is just such an amazing vibrant person. I will be talking some more about Purple Cake Day on this week blog as it kicks off on Friday.

  8. Hi Nicola – I’ve had this recipe bookmarked ever since you posted it, and finally going to make it this weekend. Using frozen blueberries do you suggest I thaw them first or use from frozen?
    Been such a long time since I’ve seen you – hoping all is well with you xo

    1. Hi Sue! Long time, I hope you are well 🙂
      I haven’t made this cake with frozen blueberries but I would imagine it will blend more easily if you let them thaw some first otherwise the coconut oil and cream may seize up.
      Nicola x

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