Friday, October 3, 2008

I like family with my cheesecake please

If culinary decadence could be described in one word, it would be cheesecake. I know, I know, cheesecake puts a wrench in the raison d'etre of my blog but this is not your ordinary cheesecake. (Who says a healthy lifestyle does not include cheesecake anyway?) From the moment I made the decision to start a food blog, I have enjoyed the process of relearning the art, the science and the history behind many traditional recipes. Not just relearning how to make them but how to incorporate them as part of a healthy lifestyle, that is, as an unforgettable taste sensation which which does not wreck havoc on our efforts to stay or get healthy . No other dish has proven to be as much of a challenge in this aspect than cheesecake. Yes, I could have just whisked together fat free cream cheese, some eggs, flavorings, baked it, chilled it , and voila, "healthy" cheesecake. But, a cheesecake is more than just a disc of sweetened cream cheese. Have you ever had a slice only to taste an overwhelming amount of sugar, nothing else? I have had this happen to me on occasion. Or, have you ever had a slice with a texture that was hard to discern from that of card board? Acheiving the perfect texture, together with the lusciousness that is characteristic of this grand daddy of desserts, is a task too often not afforded it rightful reverence.

In the two weeks I spent experimenting with different sweeteners, different proportions of fat, etc, a couple valuable tips were learnt. (1) Brown rice syrup is a great sweetener when used to sweeten desserts. Not only did it enhance the chocolate flavor in this recipe but it also has a low glycemic rating. It contains approximately 50 % carbohydrates, 45 % maltose an 3 % glucose. With low glycemic foods, there is a steady release of sugar into the blood stream as opposed to high glycemic foods that inject large amounts of sugar causing a high spike in blood glucose levels which can then increase insulin levels, the number one reason people develop type two diabetes. (2) Blending, as opposed to using a hand or stand-mixer, produces a more "velvety" texture. I was unable to get as smooth a filling with a hand mixer as I was with the blender. In the end, I found that making a healthy, decadent dessert takes sufficient preparation, and if you're like me and want to experiment with flavors, a little creativity. 

It also helps to have a goal or company to entertain. I specifically made this dessert for tonight because, in less than eight hours, my father and my youngest sister will be here. I will be seeing them for the first time in four years. Well, I've "seen" them via the internet, but to be in the same country, the same city, under the same roof after so is almost overwhelming. It feels like a dream so I won't allow myself to be ecstatic until I know for sure that their plane has landed at MSP airport. Strangely though, for the first time in my adult life, I don't know what to cook. A complete blank. What does one prepare on an occasion such as this? At least I have a cheesecake.

Mocha Cheesecake

2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup matzo meal
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg white
2 tbsp canola oil

1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp instant espresso
2 tbsp water
8 oz fat free cream cheese
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 egg
1 tbsp corn starch

Set oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9" spring form pan or pie dish with cooking spray. To prepare crust: combine all ingredients well, until the crumbs clump together easily. Pour out unto the greased pan and using your finger tips or the back of a spoon, press along the bottom and half way up the sides. Bakes for 15 minutes and set aside until filling is ready.

To prepare filling: In a heavy saucepan over medium low heat, pour milk and chocolate chips. Stir continuously until chocolate has melted. Dissolve instant espresso in 2 tbsp warm water and add to milk and melted chocolate. Stir, remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. With the pour lid off, slowly pour in the chocolate mixture and continue blending until fully combined. Pour into the prepared crust and set in a water-bath. If using a spring form pan, remember to seal the bottom with aluminum foil to prevent the water from seeping in. Bake for one hour, then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours before serving.


Zesty Cook said...

My favorite dessert of all time... Cheesecake - enough said... love your blog too :)

Natasha said...

Thanks Zesty Cook! Cheesecake is just pure decadence, isn't it? By the way, I like your recipe for lettuce wraps, especially the added touch of curry powder.

kellieh said...

I love Mocha, I love Cheesecake, Enough said. Can I add this fantastic recipe to my site

rubybean77 said...

You inspired me to make my own cheese cake this weekend! I also passed an award on to you. Check it out on my blog.

Reeni said...

It looks lovely! Thanks for the information on brown rice syrup, I am going to experiment with it if I can find some. Enjoy your time with your family.

Natasha said...

Thanks for the comments here. I was nervous about posting this one because I didn't think people will go for the brown rice syrup, but you wonderful people proved me wrong. Renni, you should be able to find brown rice syrup at any organic food store. It is worth trying in desserts, at least once.

Guru Uru said...

This cheesecake sounds like a winner to me :D
All your desserts are amazing! Can't wait to see more!

Choc Chip Uru
Latest: Microwave Fruity Syrup Oat Cake

Natasha said...

Thanks Guru! I hope you get to make it one day.