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Old 10-01-2004, 08:03 PM
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Glorious cheesecakes

By Katy Wheeler

Cheesecake must arguably be the ideal dessert for a low carber. This is because, unlike most regular desserts which contain a large percentage of carbohydrates in flour and sugar and so on, a cheesecake contains a good percentage of fat and protein in the cream cheese and eggs, and these elements form the largest proportion of the ingredients. So this must make a cheesecake the veritable king of low-carb desserts!

Easy to modify
In fact, as a bonus, cheesecakes are generally very easy to modify to cater for someone following a low-carb lifestyle. Only a few key ingredients need to be changed to transform a regular cheesecake recipe into a lower-carb version.

It is particularly easy if you use Splenda (sucralose) for your sweetener because one tablespoon of Splenda is roughly equivalent in volume to one tablespoon of sugar. To replace the cracker crust, almond flour works very well and adds more protein and good fats to the recipe, and pre-baking the crust helps to ensure that the cheesecake has a more cookie-like crust.

Allowing the crust to cool completely also helps in this process, so prepare the crust well in advance and allow to cool before adding your filling for the best results.

Don't be tempted to replace the cream cheese with lower fat soft cheeses because you will be adding in unwanted carbs from the fillers that are put into low-fat cheeses to add taste. Similarly, don't miss out on the eggs because not only do they add protein and good fats to the recipe, but they will help your cheesecake to set and produce the lovely thick texture of a good baked cheesecake.

Making a cheesecake is very simple, and I find using the same base for all flavors is fine. All the completed cheesecakes are cooked at a medium temperature for 25 to 35 minutes and then left in a cooling oven with the door ajar to allow the cheesecake to firm up while it cools. Then, the cheesecake is refrigerated until needed. (The flavors definitely benefit by being left overnight, if possible.)



The fillings for the different cheesecakes which follow here each use the same basic ingredients; all use cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and Splenda, but the flavors are variable and come together to produce three quite different cheesecakes.

I find cheesecake also to be a very good dessert to present to guests at a party because very few non-low carbers will guess that it is not a regular cheesecake. If the ground almond crust is pre-baked on a cookie sheet, the crust becomes very similar in texture to a cracker crust and certainly, in my opinion, once the filling has been added it is practically indistinguishable from a regular crust. This is because the main ingredients in the filling don't need to be altered at all, except for the substitution of artificial sweetener instead of sugar.

You can also vary the amount of sweetener you use in any of the recipes. For example, I like my lemon cheesecake to be very lemony, but many people would find that too sharp and would add more sweetener than I do. Similarly, the chocolate cheesecake might need extra sweetener, as I like the chocolate flavor to be very rich and dark. Therefore, it is a good idea to taste the batter filling after you have added the sweetener to see if you think a little additional sweetener would be more suitable to your own tastes.

Best pans
From the point of view of equipment, I have found the best pans to use are the non-stick variety with a loose bottom. Then when you are ready to serve, all you need to do is slide a flat knife around the pan to loosen the edges and the cheesecake can easily be released from the pan and presented on a serving plate still on its pan base. Greasing the pan with butter also makes it easier to serve the cheesecake. A pre-heated baking sheet is a good idea both to create a crispier crust, as mentioned above, but also to catch any leaking melted butter which might escape from your pan whilst cooking.

These lower-carb cheesecakes are still fairly high in carbs for a low-carber but, of course, cheesecake is really a recipe best kept for special occasions only!

Baked Lemon Cheesecake
This is a delicious recipe; fresh and lemony, and good for a summer party. Remember to taste the batter after you have added the sweetener to see if more is required.

Ingredients:
For the crust:
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 medium unwaxed lemon plus 3 lemon slices 2 cups cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 medium eggs
1/2 cup Splenda
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup golden raisins, seedless (optional) (raisins are not allowed on many low-carb plans)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions:
1. Grease an 8-inch loose-bottom round cake pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Place a cookie sheet in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter with the almond flour. Spread the mixture on the bottom of the cake pan and smooth the top. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.

3. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a cake rack. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Grate the zest from the lemon and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Add this to the remaining ingredients (except the raisins) in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth.

5. Fold in the raisins, if using. Scrape this mixture into the pan on top of the almond flour base and level the top. Arrange the slices of lemon on top of the mixture as a garnish and bake in the oven on the cookie sheet for 25 minutes until the cheesecake is just set. Then, turn off the oven, open the oven door and leave ajar until the cheesecake is cold. Chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. Serves 10.

Per serving: 11.45g carbohydrates, 2.66g fiber, 9.05g protein, 40.99g fat, 131.57mg cholesterol, 156.30mg sodium, 441.69 calories

Baked Blueberry Cheesecake
You can substitute any berries here -- I prefer raspberries, but blueberries work just as well. The berries are added to the batter just before turning into the pan, and the juices look very pretty slightly swirled into the mixture and also look very attractive on the finished cheesecake! If you use frozen berries, you don't need to defrost them before using. Again, remember to check your batter for the appropriate sweetness for your tastes.

Ingredients:
For the crust:
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
2 cups cream cheese
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 medium eggs
4-6 tablespoons Splenda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries (or other berries) fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Directions:
1. Grease an 8-inch loose-bottom round cake pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Place a cookie sheet in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter with the almond flour. Spread the mixture on the bottom of the cake pan and smooth the top. Place in the oven on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a cake rack. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Beat the cheeses and eggs together in a large bowl and add the lemon rind, Splenda and vanilla. Beat to a smooth batter. Taste the batter and add a little more sweetener if desired. Gently mix in the berries and spoon over the base, smoothing the top. Place back in the oven on the cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F or until the cheesecake just set.

4. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and leave to cool. Chill for a few hours or overnight. Serves 10.

Per serving: 10.98g carbohydrates, 3.45g fiber, 8.94g protein, 36.69g fat, 115.26mg cholesterol, 150.47mg sodium, 398.33 calories

Chocolate Cheesecake
This is a very rich, thick and dark cheesecake and you may want to adjust the sweetener to taste. You can also substitute sour cream for heavy cream if you prefer. Depending on the depth of your pan, you may not need all the filling, but if you have any left over, you can make mini crust-less cheesecakes by baking the remaining filling in small individual glass ramekins.

Ingredients:
For the crust:
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
2 cups cream cheese
3.5 oz bar of Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Chocolate, melted and cooled (this chocolate does contain sugar but is sold on many low-carb store web sites)
2/3 – 3/4 cup Splenda
3 medium eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Directions:
1. Grease an 8-inch loose-bottom round cake pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Place a cookie sheet in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter with the almond flour. Spread the mixture on the bottom of the cake pan and smooth the top. Place in the oven on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a cake rack. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Beat cheese and melted chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Add Splenda (3/4 cup used in analysis) beat until smooth. Add the eggs, cream and vanilla and beat on low speed until combined.

4. Pour filling carefully into the crust-lined pan, saving any left over for individual crust-less cheesecakes as described above. Place pan on baking sheet in the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 35 minutes or until centre appears just set when gently shaken.

5. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and leave to cool. Chill for a few hours or overnight. Serves 10.

Per serving: 10.01g carbohydrates, 2.71g fiber, 41.03g fat, 9.91g protein, 133.88mg cholesterol, 160.78mg sodium, 441.58 calories


printed from "From the Homefront" newletter
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