Healthy cheesecake recipe doesn't skimp

October 28, 1992|By Patricia Jamieson | Patricia Jamieson,Contributing Writer

Q: Help! Everyone loves this cheesecake recipe. Is there any way to keep its delicious flavor and make it healthier?

A: The two pounds of cream cheese in the filling, almost three-quarters of a pound of pure fat, posed a real problem. We tried omitting cream cheese entirely, replacing it with a mixture of pressed cottage cheese and yogurt cheese (non-fat yogurt with much of the liquid drained from it). But the filling oozed water and the crust turned soggy.

On the next trial, we balanced the effort by adding some low-fat cream cheese to the mixture. We also added cornstarch to correct the waterlogged crust. This version came closer to the original.

Yogurt cheese again came to the rescue as a substitute for the sour cream in the topping, and we increased the sugar and vanilla slightly to compensate for its tartness. Instead of walnuts in the crust, we added low-fat crunch with Grape-Nuts cereal and moistened the crumbs with a little vegetable oil rather than butter. A topping of fresh fruits completed the transformation. All told, we were able to drop 26 grams of fat per serving.

Reduced-fat cheesecake

Crust

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 crackers)

1/2 cup Grape Nuts cereal

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Filling

2 cups non-fat cottage cheese

2 cups yogurt cheese made from non-fat plain yogurt (procedure follows)

1 8-ounce package low-fat cream cheese, softene

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Topping

2 cups yogurt cheese made from non-fat plain yogurt (procedure follows)

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Fruit and Glaze

4 navel oranges

1/4 cup apricot preserves

2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier4 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced

2 cups hulled strawberries

To make crust: Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together crumbs, cereal and oil. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan and set aside.

To make filling: Place cottage cheese in a fine sieve and press down on it with a wooden spoon to drain off liquid. Put the pressed cottage cheese in a food processor and process until smooth. Add yogurt cheese, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, egg whites, cornstarch, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and process until smooth. Spoon the mixture over the crust. Set the pan on a baking sheet and bake until just set, 40 to 45 minutes for a 10-inch cake or 50 to 55 minutes for a 9-inch cake. Remove from the oven and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Retain oven temperature at 350 degrees.

To make topping: In a small bowl, stir together yogurt cheese, sugar and vanilla. Spoon over the baked cheesecake, starting at the center and extending to within 1/2 -inch of the edge. Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake for 5 minutes longer. Let cool on a rack. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or for up to 3 days.

To glaze cheesecake: Using a sharp knife, remove skin and white pith from oranges and discard. Cut segments away from their surrounding membranes and reserve. In a small saucepan, melt apricot preserves over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in orange liqueur. With a pastry brush, brush about half of the apricot preserves mixture over top of the chilled cheesecake. Arrange kiwi fruit, orange segments and strawberries decoratively over top. Brush the remaining apricot preserves mixture over the fruit.

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