Prepare the cashews by soaking in water for at least 4 hours then drying the nuts using paper towel and finally spreading over a baking sheet and popping in a hot oven (420 F) for 10 minutes to get rid of excess moisture. You can do this the night before.
In a bowl dissolve the coffee in 1 tablespoon of warm water. Combine with the chopped dates and set aside for 15 minutes stirring occasionally and squashing the dates with the back of a spoon.
Blitz the biscuits to fine crumbs. You can also do this by placing the biscuits in a plastic bag and crushing using a rolling pin. Place the crumbs in a mixing bowl, combine with the melted butter and stir thoroughly ensuring the crumbs are completely coated.
Line the base of a 20 cm (8 inch) spring form pan with parchment paper. Press the biscuit mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. Use the bottom of a glass by pressing gently to create an even surface. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. After 25 minutes start making the filling.
Place the cashew nuts, dates (along with any liquid that hasn’t been absorbed), cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in a high speed blender and puree until very smooth (but do not overblend).
Remove the cake pan from the freezer and pour in the filling mixture spreading evenly. Gently tap the pan against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Place the cheesecake in the freezer for about an hour.
Remove from the freezer, run a spatula around the cheesecake and carefully remove the ring. Remove the base and place the cheesecake on top of a large plate. Dust with the cacao/cocoa powder (optional) and serve!
Use either regular or decaffeinated coffee.
I used regular (small) dates, not Medjool.
Use regular or low fat digestive biscuits. I discovered that low fat biscuits often contain marginally less fat but more sugar so decided to use regular biscuits. Personal choice. You can also use another base recipe if you like.
Make ahead: You can make this cake ahead but do not dust with the cocoa powder until you are ready to serve it. To save time I also recommend preparing the cashew nuts the night before.
Storing: Keep refrigerated, loosely covered, for up to 3 days.
Freezing: After you’ve removed the side ring place the cake back in the freezer for 2-3 hours (do not dust with the cocoa). Remove the bottom of the pan and either place the cheesecake back in the freezer until completely frozen or cut in half or into quarters and freeze smaller pieces. Once completely frozen place in a freezer bag or plastic container and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve either defrost completely or remove from the freezer about 40 minutes before serving to soften it a little without fully defrosting. Sprinkle with the cocoa just before serving.
Preparation time includes the time needed to freeze the cheesecake base as well as soak the cashews.