(Warning: this is a long post. Go get a cup of coffee or tea and come back…I’ll wait…)
Cheesecake. It is a wonderful thing and I don’t think anybody…not one single person…should be deprived of it.
But cheesecake is kind of hard to work into our daily plans, isn’t it? It’s richness makes it filling but, in and of itself, it doesn’t have sufficient protein to count as a “meal.”
Well, what if that weren’t so? What if you had a way to eat a controlled portion of cheesecake that gives you a decent amount of protein and fiber? Would you embrace cheesecake then?
(“Sign me up!”)
You may have already seen my recipe for banana cheesecake. Yummy though it is, I always have a bit of a portion control problem on my hands with that thing. Namely, I want to eat the whole darn thing! Unfortunately (fortunately?) my pouch doesn’t put me on lockdown until I’ve had a good bit of it. So…this started as an experiment in portion control.
So I put them in 4 ounce ramekins. Worked like a charm! Even figured out how to make just four—one for me, one for each of the divas and one for my lunch the next day. But then, as I got to making these lil’ things more and more, I realized there is an opportunity here for something WONDERFUL. Customization!
I’m giving you the basic recipe for my cheesecake and then I’ll give you tips on how to add a little variety.
Nik’s Basic Cheesecake Recipe
(makes 4 servings)
1 – 8 oz. package Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
4 oz. unflavored non-fat Greek yogurt
½ – ¾ c. Splenda (depending on your sweetness tolerance and what you are adding to it)
1 tsp lemon juice
2 scoops unflavored protein (these days I use BiPro USA unflavored whey)
Optional: 1/4 c. sugar-free syrup of your choice. I recommend starting out with something like sugar-free caramel.
(“That’s it?”) Yes, that’s it!
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
Mix cream cheese, yogurt, protein powder, syrup and Splenda well. Add in egg and lemon juice and mix again. To mix, you can use a handmixer in a bowl. I used my Magic Bullet. Much easier clean-up!
Pour the cheesecake filling into the 4 ounce ramekins. Place all ramekins either in a creme brulee set, or if you are poor like me, simply place them in a baking pan. Fill the pan with warm water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes or until they are set (how can you tell? Jiggle a ramekin. If it quivers, it’s not done yet!). Then turn off your oven, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and allow the cheesecakes to cool down with the oven. Remove and cool further on the counter.
(“For real, Nikki, that’s it??? Don’t play with my emotions!”) YES…that’s it!
Now let’s talk about those cracks. Those are not a result of the ingredients or the methodology. Those are a direct result of…Murphy’s Law. I made these this morning and had to take the girls to school. The cakes had about 15 minutes to go. I said to myself “I’ll just leave ’em in there. It only takes 5 minutes to get to the school and back…” Famous last words. We all know when we say that there’ll be two traffic jams and some construction. There was and it took me 30 minutes to make a trip that should have been five minutes. Hence, they were a bit overcooked. If you cook them the appropriate amount of time that will NOT happen. 🙂
So let’s talk customization. There’s three places, from my perspective, where you can change things up:
- The Filling
- The Crust
- The topper
I went crustless with these (in the interest of time) but here are a few ideas
Nik’s Beloved Fiber One Crust:
(makes enough for the above recipe)
½ c. Fiber One original cereal
2 tbsp light butter spread
1 tbsp Splenda
In a mini-food processor pulse cereal until a crumb mixture forms. Pulse in butter until well mixed.
Press ¼ of mixture into each ramekin and top with cheesecake mix
Whole Wheat Cheerios Crust (more resembles graham cracker in texture):
½ c. whole wheat Cheerios
2 tbsp light butter spread
1 tbsp Splenda
Same as Fiber One Crust
I did two different fillings. In the basic cheesecake, I put some Davinci sugar-free caramel mix. The others, of course, were chocolate, using cocoa powder. But the possibilities are endless. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (omit the lemon if you do chocolate)
- 2 tbsp of virtually any sugar-free pudding mix
- 2 tbsp decaffeinated instant espresso mixed with 1 tbsp water (to make a paste…this is especially good in conjunction with the cocoa powder but you’d need to bump up the Splenda to 1.25 c. to accommodate the bitterness)
There are two types of toppers, in my opinion. “True” toppers and swirls.
For true toppers, you can simply purchase a can of no-sugar added pie filling of your choice (except pumpkin…I don’t see that working out well) and spooning it on top. Cherry and Strawberry work well. Or you can simply use fresh fruit like berries.
The photo at the top of this post is inspired by Jen’s Banana Pudding. I topped the chocolate one with some whipped cream, no-calorie chocolate syrup and a wedge of a Thin Mint cookie. Do whatever inspries YOU!
I did not do a swirl but for a swirl you could use:
- No sugar added jelly or preserves (nuked for about 10 seconds to liquify)
- Melted chocolate
- Sugar free caramel syrup (like the kind that goes on a sundae)
To achieve a swirl, you’d pour your cheesecake mixture into your ramekins and then put a dime sized dollop of whatever you are swirling on top of the mixture. Use a butter knife to create a swirl pattern.
Don’t be disheartened if you get minor cracks in your cheesecake (bad decison making notwithstanding). I JUST made my first crack free cheesecake (since I am from Baltimore…insert obligatory “The Wire” joke here…yes, yes…chuckle, chuckle…) and I just so happen to have a picture of it. Lookit:
It was like Christmas morning to see a crack free cheesecake, but keep in mind I’ve been making them for YEARS!
Any way you slice it, this cheesecake recipe and method is a keeper for us WLS folk! I hope you enjoy it as a part of your holiday feasts.