Friday, February 4, 2011

Cheesecake!

Hey guys! Everybody enjoying the weather?

I came across this lighter cheesecake recipe as I was browsing through Baking Bites' page the other day and was immediately inspired to try it out.
You see, I've made a couple cheesecakes in my lifetime, and they have only been sub-par. It's tough to make a healthier cheesecake when you don't have enough experience making much of anything. But now that I have become more experienced, I decided it was about time to tackle cheesecakes again.

This recipe is supposed to make a big, dense, New York style cheesecake that uses cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and neufchatel cream cheese instead of full fat cream cheese and (sometimes) sour cream. In order to achieve that nice, dense texture you strain the cream cheese and greek yogurt so it is less watery.

I decided to take a short cut and bought a graham cracker crust (this was before I made homemade graham crackers). I didn't want to buy overly expensive organic graham crackers (since the name brand stuff is full of things I would never consume) and then only use some of the package. Plus, I spotted this organic Arrowhead Mills graham cracker crust a couple of weeks ago that I really wanted to try out.
It has a great ingredient list:
organic evaporated cane juice, organic wheat flour, organic whole wheat flour, organic palm shortening, expeller pressed soybean oil, organic evaporated cane juice syrup, soy lecithin, organic corn starch, salt, baking soda, natural flavors.


Okay, so maybe buying a premade crust kind of opposes my "too expensive organic graham crackers" argument, but I just really wanted to try this crust out!

Obviously there's a difference between a 9-inch pie dish and a 9-inch spring form pan that I completely forgot about when skimming through the recipe...woops!
Anyways, everything was going well and I followed the recipe exactly (except let the greek yogurt/cottage mixture drain for longer, about an hour and a half) until I noticed that my food processor was eerily close to overflowing because there was so much filling. Hmmm did I follow the recipe correctly? Yes...How is this going to fit into my pie dish?
I filled my pie crust to the brim with filling and still had over half leftover!! I then followed her directions for cooking the pie, which ended up burning the crust and leaving a big crack in the middle because I was using the completely incorrect pan. *sigh*
After it had cooled completely, I covered the cheesecake with a frozen berry blend (cooked on the stove with a little sugar) to cover up the unsightly crack.
Not the prettiest, but it's all about the taste!
I cut it into 8 slices...
Ohhhh yeah...looking better by the second!
The verdict?
SO AMAZING!!!! The texture was off the charts! The is by far the best cheesecake I've ever had-low fat and full fat alike!! I would have never guessed there was cottage cheese in this at all and the crust was amazing too! The best part about this recipe? It calls for a tablespoon of lemon zest so obviously I was in love with the lemon-berry combo. If I ever wanted to do a more decadent cheesecake (with something like chocolate and caramel sauce, or a chocolate crust) then all I have to do is omit the lemon zest! I love how cheesecakes are like blank canvases.

What to do with the extra filling? Why, make another cheesecake, of course!
This time with a homemade graham cracker crust (with homemade graham crackers) and in a pan that would actually fit the rest of the filling. I used a 10-inch spring form pan, so the cheesecake was thinner then my first one, but a lot wider.
I ended up following directions on the side of the spring form pan's box for cheesecake that said to cook it at 375 for 40-50 minutes until it only slightly jiggles in the middle, then turn off the oven and leave it there till it has cooled. This way the cheesecake isn't exposed to super cold air all of the sudden and prevents it from cracking.
Yay, my first cheesecake I've made that didn't crack!!
This time topped with a fresh blueberry sauce that I made the same way I made the first one.
Sliced up..
Mmm...
This cheesecake was even slightly better than the first because the filling had a lot of time to mix and mingle in the fridge. Also, since I cooked it right, the texture was absolutely perfect. The crust turned out great. It was a mixture of 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup melted Brummel and Brown, and two tablespoons of sugar that I prebaked for 10 minutes at 375 before putting the filling it.

I can't wait to make this recipe again, as one big cheesecake in my spring form pan! Guys, you MUST make this recipe!!
***
I finally ran out of my homemade chocolate hazelnut butter, so I decided it was about time I made chocolate almond butter! This time I made it less sweet and added some salt.
2 cups freshly roasted almonds
1/4 cup-1/3 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon (or a little more) salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Process almonds until you've reached the butter stage, add the rest of the ingredients adding the oil in a slow stream while processing.
It fit perfectly in this jar!
Yumm..this was surprisingly pretty smooth as far as homemade nut butters go! It wasn't as chocolaty as my chocolate hazelnut butter, but I think that's because I used normal cocoa powder instead of dark cocoa powder. Either way, its still super yummy and addicting. So far no oil separation issues, either!

I also recently made ginger cinnamon swirl bread!! I used this recipe for ginger applesauce bread I found. I made the small 1 pound loaf and used a different combination of flours then what it stated using 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup bread flour, and 1/2 cup graham flour. Instead of cooking it up in the bread machine, I put it on the dough cycle and rolled it out into a rectangle slightly longer than my bread pan. I sprinkled a mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon over the top and rolled the whole thing up, folding the long ends into the bottom. I let it rise for a little over an hour (and it rose very well)-
Just a one-pound loaf!
 and then baked it at 350 for about 20-30 minutes (I wasn't really looking at the time).

Ta-da! I brushed it with a little butter to give it that nice shine. This loaf was so light!
Cute swirl!
Okay so I definitely needed more swirl, so next time I will probably double the filling.  The taste and consistency was like that of a cinnamon roll, especially spread with a little cream cheese...
I spread one slice with cream cheese and ginger jam, soft and pillowy (holy yum) and the other I toasted and spread with chocolate almond butter, delectably crispy, with pops of cinnamon in each bite.
I can't wait to make this again!! Next time I could try raisins in the swirl, or do a chocolate swirl instead...ah! So many possibilities... I need more ideas!
Any help? :D

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