Long-distance dedication: reunion treat in absentia

September 07, 1994|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Months ago an invitation came in the mail from my cousins announcing a family reunion in the Deep South. Checking my calendar, I discovered a conflict made it impossible for me to attend. Disappointed but still wanting to participate from afar, I thought of a way to do so.

The announcement had described a potluck dinner which would include freshly caught grilled catfish provided, along with salads, by the hosts. Others were asked to bring summer vegetables, breads and desserts. Knowing that my relatives all love cheesecake, but that most of them are also watching fat contents, I set out to create a cheesecake rich in flavor but lower in fat than a traditional one.

My efforts yielded Margarita Cheesecake, a lime- and tequila-scented confection made with low-fat dairy products. A graham cracker crumb crust, bound with a small amount of butter, is packed into a springform pan, and the filling, a mixture of low-fat or nonfat cream cheese and light sour cream blended with sugar, orange liqueur, tequila, lime juice and eggs or egg substitutes, is poured into it.

After calling a cousin, who also happens to be a talented cook, and explaining my proposal to her, she agreed to prepare the dessert for the Moore family reunion. One cheesecake, she explained, would never be enough. She recommended at least three for this group of spirited eaters!

Margarita Cheesecake

Makes 10 servings

CRUST:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

FILLING:

1 1/2 pounds low-fat or nonfat cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups light sour cream

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)

2 1/2 tablespoons tequila

2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

4 large eggs or equivalent egg substitutes

TOPPING:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light sour cream

2 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 1/2 teaspoons sugar

2 to 3 teaspoons julienned lime peel

2 to 3 teaspoons graham cracker crumbs

For crust, place graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in an 8- or 8 1/2 -inch springform pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Mix well with fork until all crumbs are moistened. Use fingers to pat mixture evenly on bottom and about 1 inch up sides of pan. Set pan aside.

To prepare filling, beat cream cheese and sour cream in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar gradually in a thin stream. Lower speed and add Triple Sec, tequila and lime juice and beat until incorporated. Add eggs and beat just to blend. Pour filling into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees on center rack until filling is set, 45 to 50 minutes. Turn oven off.

Meanwhile, to prepare topping, whisk together sour cream, lime juice and sugar. Remove cake from oven and spread topping over cake. Return cake to oven, shut door and leave 45 minutes longer. Remove cake from oven. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

To serve, remove sides of pan and place cheesecake on platter. Make border on top with julienned lime peel and sprinkle graham cracker crumbs in center of cake.

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