Friday, August 22, 2008

Sugar Free Lemon Cheesecake

I made this recipe by combining some awesome ideas from the Sweet Treats section at the Active Low Carber Forums. The base is a standard low-carb cheesecake crust, the cake is a slightly tweaked version of the incredibly Bawdy's Cheesecake, and the topping is a higher-fat version of NancyLC's Lemon Curd.
Here goes:
Preheat the oven to 350*F.
First make the base by combining:
1.5 cups almond flour (if you have other nuts you like, feel free to throw a few crushed ones in - macadamias are great for this)5 tbsp melted butter5 tbsp granular Splenda
Line an 8x8 cake pan with greaseproof paper. The easiest way to get the paper to "stick" to the pan is to smear a little butter from the butter wrapper around the pan and press the paper into place.
Press the cheesecake crust mixture into the bottom of the pan, and pop in the oven for 10-15 mins, until the edges start turning golden brown. I find the pre-baking stops the base soaking up the cake batter and becoming soggy.
While the crust is baking, combine the following in a large food processor or mixing bowl:2 eggs1 tsp vanilla extract1 tsp lemon extractJuice of one lemon1 1/2 cups sour cream1/2 cup sugar-free vanilla syrup (or 1/2 cup of Splenda or equivalent sweetener)
Blend until combined. Then add:
16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese (it's easier if the cream cheese is softened beforehand, and cut up into pieces before you add it)2 tbsp melted butter
I usually let the crust cool a while before pouring the batter on top. Then, I bake the cheesecake in my own improvised water bath. I plop the cake tin into a wok half-filled with water and then put the whole ensemble in the oven to cook. The water prevents the top of the cake from cracking. Alternative methods: a pan of water placed below the oven shelf you use for the cheesecake. This isn't absolutely necessary, so if you feel intimidated by it or don't have the pans, don't worry about it - it just makes for a prettier overall result.
Turn the oven down to 325* and bake for 35-40 minutes. IMPORTANT: After the cooking time finishes, don't open the oven door. Just turn it off, otherwise the whoosh of cool air will crack your cake. Leave the cake in the turned-off oven for an hour (more if you can), before letting it cool at room temperature, and then moving to the refrigerator.
While the cheesecake is baking, it's time to make the topping.
Grate the zest of two lemons into a bowl. (When you hit white, stop grating and move to the next section.) Add the juice of both lemonsStir in 3/4 cup of Splenda (or other granular sweetener)
Now, add two whole eggs, plus two egg yolks, and stir everything up.
The next part is to slowly, slowly cook the mixture so it turns to curd. Place your mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, and keep the heat low-med. If you cook it too fast, you'll get lemony scrambled eggs. (I always found this double-pan method intimidating, but give it a try, it's not as hard as it seems.) It should take around 10-15 mins to cook. Keep stirring so the heat moves through the mixture evenly. It should start thickening, and once it reaches a pudding-like consistency, remove it from the heat.
Add 6 tbsp butter for a richer, creamier taste. It will melt and combine if you stir pieces of butter in immediately. This is optional, so you can skip it if you'd like to marginally lower the calories of the final product!
Put your lemon curd in a container and place cling wrap over the top so it's touching the mixture, otherwise a skin will form. Place in the refrigerator to cool and thicken. This can be used as a topping for more than just cheesecake - on low carb yogurts, flax muffins and more. It tastes like an extremely intense lemon custard.
Once everything is cool, you can remove the cheesecake from the pan and spread the lemon curd over it. The result is a deliciously creamy, rich cheesecake with tangy lemon topping. Heaven for lemon lovers.