“Did somebody say cake?!” – Mr. Ratburn, Arthur (Marc Brown’s genius mind never fails to cheer me up!)
And yes, I did say cake…CHEESECAKE!
I found this cheesecake recipe while looking through Good Housekeeping (April 2013). Being a huge fan of cheesecake (and being pretty cheesy, myself), I decided to impulsively rip out this recipe and adapt it to my own likings. I thought this would be a fun recipe to test, and adapt into a lighter cake. Cheesecake can be very rich, and I try not to overload food with processed sugars (even if it is delicious!). With that being said…
Let’s get to the cheese-to-the-cake already…
Now, this is the first time I have EVER made a cheesecake, let alone any type of “cake” from scratch.
The original recipe can also be found online at Good Housekeeping’s website:
The first thing I noticed with this recipe:
Some interesting facts about corn starch:
Until 1850, corn starch was used for industrial purposes and to starch laundry – no thank you!
This may not be reliable a very reliable source, but on Wikipedia, it is posted that…” Heated corn starch raises the blood glucose levels even faster than sugar, and like pure sugar, white bread and potatoes, it easily leads to excessive weight gain.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_starch
Plus, some baby powders on the market contain corn starch. Would you powder your baby with that cheesecake?
Whoever in their right mind thought of using corn starch in a cheesecake is beyond me. And personally, I do not think it is a very “good” idea, nor a healthy one at that, negating its purpose of being in “Good” Housekeeping. (I also do not find adding corn starches or corn syrups to be very flattering in food). In addition, adding an ingredient which acts as a thickener, which then converts to SUGAR when processed throughout body, into an ALREADY very sugary treat is very undesirable in my recipe book.
My solution: Stevia in the raw agave nectar (3 tablespoons)
(I was contemplating using maple syrup, raw honey or a light agave nectar)
[If one desires to put a gelatine type ingredient in the batter as a thickener, try sugar-free JELL-O vanilla pudding]
The result: The filling was not as thick as the original recipe would have turned out, but that was expected.
My second adaptation:
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese + 8 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese
in place of: 16 oz of cream cheese (which equates to 2 bars)
(In addition to the 15 oz of ricotta cheese) [I used part-skim]
I zested a bit more lemon into the batter before pouring it into the springform pan. I wanted more of an oomph of lemon, to add a zesty kick to it.
Other substitutions I considered for this recipe:
1 less egg (After the cake cooled, I found that 4 eggs seemed a bit extravagant)
Silk soy milk (original flavor) or heavy cream instead of half-and-half (due to the fact I used one less bar of cream cheese than it called for, it would have made the filling thicker)
Another note: 1 hour 30 minutes baking time is mostly spot on…however, mine over-baked when I let it sit in oven (for about 30 minutes) after it was turned off. Every oven varies, and that is something that MUST be taken into consideration. Also, because I substituted some ingredients, it was obvious that the baking time would vary from the original recipe.
Not too shabby, I must proclaim!
In the end, I do not think I will try this recipe again. Although Good Housekeeping “promises” their recipes are tested three times, this was one for the recycling bin. I was ecstatic when, after 6+ hours of sitting in the fridge, the cheesecake actually thickened and stabilized. I did not top it with berries, but that, of course, is up to the baker and/or consumer. I was able to cut it the next day, and I think 8 to 10 hours chillen in the fridge would have been more ideal.
Other great topping ideas:
Honey (even to toss the berries with some would be a pleasant surprise)
Dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips or shaven (or even a chocolate glaze) – it would add a more bitter note to the brightness and aromatic lemony goodness
Graham cracker crumbs – because let’s get serious…the graham cracker crust is usually the best part of a cheesecake
Balsamic (Dark Cherry) – it’s just delicious
Here is the recipe with my adaptations in full (one can compare it to the recipe from the original source)
- 1 1/2 cup(s) graham cracker crumbs
- 6 tablespoon(s) butter or margarine, melted (8 tablespoons = 1 stick)
- 1 tablespoon(s) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
- 2 lemons (for zest and juice)
- 8 ounce(s) reduced-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
- 8 ounce(s) BelGioioso mascarpone cheese
- 15 ounce(s) part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3 tablespoon(s) Stevia in the raw agave nectar
- 2 cup(s) half-and-half
- 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon(s) almond extract
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 1/2 cup(s) mixed berries, such as blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries (optional)
- 1 tablespoon(s) confectioners’ sugar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with heavy-duty foil to prevent batter from leaking out. Spray pan with baking spray. *this is a must because the cheesecake rose like a souffle!*
- In medium bowl, combine crumbs, butter, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Press firmly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until brown around edge. Cool on wire rack (or put into freezer to cool down faster). Reset oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- While crust cools, from lemons, grate 1 tablespoon peel and squeeze 1/4 cup juice; set aside.
- With mixer on high speed, beat the three cheeses until smooth. Add agave nectar, remaining 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, scraping bowl occasionally with rubber spatula; beat on low until well incorporated. On low speed, beat in half-and-half, vanilla, and almond extracts, and lemon peel and juice. Add eggs; beat until just blended. Pour batter onto cooled crust. Bake at least 1 hour (plus give or take 10-20 minutes). Turn oven off. Let stand in oven for at least 30 minutes.
- Place cheesecake on wire rack. Run thin knife between edge of cheesecake and pan. Cool in pan on rack 1 hour. Cover; refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.
- To serve, top with berries; sprinkle confectioners’ sugar through sieve over berries. (optional)
Good Housekeeping Original Berry Ricotta Cheesecake Recipe: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipefinder/berry-ricotta-cheesecake-recipe-ghk0413
I give claps to Good Housekeeping for this one…but I also found two other cheesecake recipes from advertisements throughout this issue. So that kind of says something, one may think 🙂
My final say on this cheesecake recipe, in rhyme:
It has been said, “Don’t overbeat the eggs or it’ll crack”.
I say, don’t use corn starch – that’s just whack!
Thanks for reading!