Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Can the lighter side be just as good?

Cheesecake ranks up there as one of our favorite desserts. Although it is usually packed with quite a few calories, there are a few ways to lighten them up - we used a new technique with this one.

Caramel Swirl-and-Apple Cheesecake is not something you can just throw together and expect to be ready quickly. Because of the way it is made it is essential to start a couple days ahead of time. To cut down on the calories, the new technique was to use Yogurt Cheese instead of all cream cheese. When you are picking out the yogurt, it is best to find one that does not have added starches, thickeners or geltain. For this recipe, I ended up using Dannon.

Several layers of cheesecloth are set into a colander and the yogurt is placed on top to let the excess whey drain away. This thickens and firms up the yogurt. It is best to let this sit for at least 8-12 hours. Once this is done, you can proceed on as you would any other cheesecake. Make sure all the ingredients you use are at room temperature. This will help ensure a very smooth mixture. For cheesecakes, I stopped using springform pans awhile ago. I always use a regular round pan with high sides and the bottom lined with parchment since I do my cheesecakes in a water bath to avoid cracks. Even though I would wrap the springforms with foil, half the time water ended up leaking in anyway, so this method prevents that. You may think it would be tough to unmold, but it is quite easy - you only need to warm the bottom of the pan just a little and they have always popped right out for me.

This cheesecake is firm, so creamy and the caramelized apples on the bottom bring so much flavor. The apples are sauteed in orange juice and brown sugar until tender. When the liquid has evaporated, the apples are spread over a crisp cinnamon graham cracker crust. The cheesecake batter is then poured in, and caramel sauce is drizzled over and then swirled to marble the top. You want to bake this until the edges are set, but when you touch the baking pan the center should still have some jiggle to it. This cheesecake is best after letting sit in the refrigerator overnight, allowing the flavors to marry. To answer my question, yes - the lighter side can be just as good, if not better!

After the first time we tried this grain, I could not wait to use it again. After looking around I finally decided on a recipe, so we had Quinoa Tabbouleh for dinner tonight. This recipe came together quickly, but needed to sit for a bit so the flavors could mingle. Lemon juice and parsley add such a fresh taste while cucumbers bring a coolness. Juicy golden raisins add an interesting contrast of texture against the curly quinoa. After eating this, I can't wait to find the next recipe to use this grain. I can see eating this quite a bit during the summer!


  1. Hi Joe!!
    I love drained yogurt, it gets so much thicker and creamier, yummy!
    Cheesecake is my husband's favorite dessert, so I make it quite often. It was nice reading a review of this one, as it is one of the recipes of my "to try list", I just adore cooked apples!
    I also tried quinoa a while ago and fell in love with it, so tasty and flavorfull! I just bought a new box and was planing on trying a new recipe still this week, hope it works out as well as your "tabouleh"! Which by the way looks very good, I may try this one too!

  2. I still have not made anything with the quinoa I bought a while back. This looks very tasty though! I love tabouleh, but nobody else here likes it.

  3. Ok I put the Caramel Swirl-and-Apple Cheesecake on my "to do list" too, just below the toffee bars...

    the quinoa is so good as well as so rich in nutrients. I strongly recommand it !!! delicous and healthy, the perfect match!
    PATTI, I "sympathize" with you... I most of the time have to prepare "single portion" of tabouleh... sab.

  4. This looks so good! Could you use pureed cottage cheese? I actually first tried pureeing cottage cheese from a recipe you posted some time ago and I absolutly love it, great texture. Now I'm craving cheesecake... :)

  5. oooh! joe does it again. I love Quinoa - it's a regular staple. I even eat it for breakfast. (I will do that recipe soon on my blog...) That cheesecake is fabulous. Yogurt cheese is a great idea. I have seen cheesecakes with low or non-fat ricotta but this looks creamier.

    I just love how you love tasty food AND care about the health aspects - fabulous lifestyle leading to a long life of eating!

  6. I have to try your lighter cheesecake ideas - JF loves it but we're both on a little post-honeymoon diet, so this might be the perfect thing!

  7. Your cheesecake is making my mouth water! What a great idea to use yogurt cheese. I will definitely add this to my lighter food menu.

    I love quinoa and it is so healthy. I actually prepare it like couscous sometimes. One of my favorites is to make the quinoa as the package directs, although you should toast the grain first since it really brings out a nutty flavor. Then I make a cilantro pesto in the food processor with a bunch of cilantor, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt & pepper. Pour the pesto onto the still warm quinoa and mix well- it turns the quinoa a beautiful shade of green. After it cools, toss it with some corn (cut off the cob is best), black beans, chopped tomatoes and red onions. It's so yummy and keeps so well.

    Thanks again for the daily updates. I look forward to reading them.

  8. Hi Joe - I love your site so much. It's the first site I check every day. I have quite alit of things I want to try from your posts, but I think this cheesecake moved to the top of the list.

    Quite often I used the drained yogurt to make dips and spreads, but I never thought to use it for sweet things. I can't wait to try this.

  9. I really need to find and buy quinoa, it looks so good. Note: Must go to the health food store this weekend! :) I don't think it is in my local markets...

  10. I love cheesecake. I love caramel! Sounds like a match made in heaven!

  11. Ana - I can't wait to see what new recipe you make!

    Patti - Give it a try, I have really liked working with Quinoa.

    Sabine - Yeah, it really is a great grain!

    Michele - Hmm, I've seen (and used) cottage cheese in cheesecakes, but I would compare the rest of the ingredients against recipes made for that and see if there are any differences. It should work though!

    EP - I can't wait to see how you have it for breakfast!

    mebeth - I might be baking up some more different ones soon too!

    Tokyoastrogirl - Thank you! I love your idea for using up Quinoa, now I just have to buy some more!

    Keri - Thank you for visiting! I've read about using it in dips - do you have any favorite recipes?

    ungouremtgal - I hope you can find it, because it really is that good!

    Michelle - Thanks! (PS I'm currently having a slice...!