Thursday, January 12, 2012
After a long holiday season, a move and some vacation time, I'm back! For a bit there it was overwhelming with all the things going on and food is always a big chore to figure out but things have settled and I have a new recipe today!
The move went smoothly and we arrived back at the house with little issue. After arriving at the house however, found the washing machine to be broken. Since I was leaving a few days later and needed to do laundry, there was a mad before Christmas dash to try to find a washing machine. I found one, was very happy with it, and left with clean clothes.
Tropical vacation awaited in beautiful Costa Rica. The itenerary was full of amazing things like sightseeing and enough walking to trek across a mountain. Started at Arenal, went across the lake, over to Monteverde, back to the city and then onto Manuel Antonio Beach - which also included a hike through the jungle. It was great fun and as much as I worried about having nothing to eat, I was really surprised at how easy it was to find things I could eat and how generous people were with finding things for me and accommodating my ridiculous diet. I'm completely addicted to plantains now. And yes I know they're bad for me! Plantains happen to be chock full of starch, you might as well eat a white potato, but the first day there, I woke up to some of the best plantains I've ever had. I believe they were roasted in the skin, so they weren't really dry and had a lot of flavor. Served with 'sour cream' (which I'm convinced is the same thing as plain yogurt) and the local white cheese, it was beyond words. My mouth was watering for days after that just thinking about it. I tried it at another place and they unfortunately - were very grand - but their plantains did not quite make the pass as well as the others.
So, I get home and am bent on trying to replicate these plantains, but good luck on the cheese. I have seen it in the store and it makes me cringe. I'm not sure what they think it's supposed to taste like but I want the real thing!
Up next, I found a recipe on about.com for a sugar free gluten free cheesecake. I usually take things like that with a grain of salt knowing that for the most part they are either disgusting or so odd they don't quite taste the same. After reading the ingredients and figuring I had nothing to lose I gave it a shot. OH. MY. GOODNESS. If you haven't been off sugar for a while, you will be able to taste the sugar substitute. If you have not had sugar for a long time, you're going to take one bite and realize this is the dream cheesecake you've always wanted! I find the flavor to be almost identical to a New York cheesecake. Very rich and flavorful, made from a base of nuts and cheese, how could you go wrong? I have this one for breakfast! Just like the coconut cream pie... that's another story for another day.
I do love cheesecake very much and finding this recipe was a God send. However. When was the last time I got a recipe and DIDN'T upgrade it just a bit? I changed the sweetener in the crust, converted it all to ounces (WHERE ARE YOUR SCALES!?) and basically got some nice tips to keep your cheesecake looking pro!
On my soapbox of using a scale I will say this: I ruined a cheesecake yesterday. How? Well, I had the ingredients perfect but I overbeat it and then overbaked it. Two of the worst mistakes you can make. I will admit I was using a new pan, but the laws of physics don't change. Usually. Ok, mostly in this case! Imagine had I not had a scale and perhaps only overbeat it. I would have had a very hard time figuring out what had gone wrong. From knowing my measurements might be slightly off to if my oven is running high... which still could be a possibility. This way at least I know I was spot on with my ingredients, that was not the cause of the downfall. By the way, it's really painful to throw an entire cheesecake into the trash.
The picture was the only one I had, with my igadget. If I get a better one, I'll be sure to post it here.
Gluten free, sugar free, New York Cheesecake
You can use a springform pan. I use an 8x8 square stone baking dish. The heat distributes more evenly and seems to make a great texture. If you want to be able to release the cake, simply line the pan with parchment and have someone help you lift it from the pan to the serving dish, I have NO guarantees this will work as the crust is fragile. However, baking it in the stoneware makes for pretty presentation and no one will mind at all.
3 packages of cream cheese 1.5lbs (softened)
4 large eggs (room temp)
1/2 oz of vanilla
1/4 oz of lemon juice
2 oz of sour cream
1/2 to 1/3 oz of NuNaturals stevia (ONLY this brand!! It does NOT get bitter but using too much can cause a bit of an aftertaste)
8 oz almond flour
3/4 oz flax seeds
3 oz melted butter
2 oz of sugar free maple syrup
Heat oven to 375 (place an unglazed paving stone on the bottom rack of the oven while it preheats.)
Mix ingredients for the crust in a bowl and press into the bottom of your springform pan or baking dish moving it up the sides a bit, until it's evenly distributed.
Prick the bottom with a fork. Place in oven for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browning on the edges.
Meanwhile, take softened cream cheese and beat in a mixer for a few minutes to make sure it is smooth. Mix in sour cream, then add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. Do NOT overbeat. Once the eggs are in, they will continue to fluff as you beat the mixture. Overbeating will cause dryness and cracks. If you'd like to eat a cheesecake with a spongecake texture - go ahead, keep beating until it's super fluffy. For the rest of us that akin cheesecake to a fine type of créme brulée, well this cheesecake is going for that kind of texture - don't over beat it. Smooth, creamy, almost pudding, but not.
Put your cheesecake in the oven and drop the temperature to 200. What you're doing now is basically simulating a water bath, without all the hot water. The heat should start out fairly warm, around 350 but drop to 200 over the next 25 minutes or so. Watch it carefully, the cheesecake is done when the center still wiggles when you shake the pan. If it's solid, you've overbaked it. You may get a few cracks coming out of the oven. Sometimes it's helpful to cover it with a towel so it doesn't take the shock of the cold air and shrink - resulting in cracks. If you do not care if your cake is cracked as long as it tastes good, well wait a second. It will continue to cook as it sits on your counter. Allow it to finish setting and then when it reaches room temp, put it in your fridge overnight.
The next day you should pull out a beautiful, delicious, rich and creamy, New York sugar free, gluten free cheesecake!