Cheesecake. I never make cheesecake. Well, not often. Not a huge fan, to be honest.
But what a great idea for getting a protein fix with dessert! All those eggs and high protein cheese, yoghurt, etc. Plus, you can do so much with them … the sky is the limit with flavours you can play with. It’s not a treat you would have every day but it’s comparatively guilt free.
So I made cheesecake. Fluffy, light as air cheesecake. This won’t weigh you down and it’s gluten-free, which is a bonus. The lightness comes from using egg whites whipped to give aeration and by baking it in a bain marie. This allows the cheesecake to bake gently (like a baked custard) and won’t burn the base and sides.
It is wonderful without the crust. But if you like a little crust, use whatever you like. I added a little ground nuts mixed with cacao nibs for texture and a little cacao bitterness.
Pure maple syrup is used to sweeten the cheesecake. Obviously this adds some simple carbohydrates and, if you are looking to make this a low carb dessert, then feel free to substitute whatever sweetener that you prefer (e.g. Splenda, Stevia blends). I only use maple syrup because I like it and I cannot use sweetener substitutes (they make me sick 🙁 ). You can also substitute some pureed dates, dried mulberries, or honey if you like. I only added about a tablespoon of maple syrup to the original recipe but that was a little too extreme even for me. If you are like me, and don’t like your sweets too sweet, you might try adding about 2/3 of the suggested sweetener in the recipe and see if the mixture is fine or your sweet tooth needs more.
Whey protein actually works well in this cheesecake. I used un-flavoured WPC. If you use a flavoured whey powder, factor this in … it will be pre-sweetened. Match the flavour to whatever flavour combination you are aiming for.
If you are a sweet-tooth and want to make the crust, you might want to add a little sweetener to that too or just use nuts. Cacao nibs are not sweet 🙂
I really love freeze-dried fruits. Just 100% fruit with nothing added. Easy to pulverise in a food processor and add flavour and very little in the way of carbs or kilojoules. Next time, I’ll probably add in some chopped fresh fruit too, in which case I’ll need less maple syrup.
Mango was the choice this time … well, it’s no secret that I love me some mango. So does everyone else at home so I figured this was my way to get them to test it out. Verdict: it’s a winner. Phew!! You can tell I don’t trust my judgement anymore. I like to get my father’s tick of approval because he loves his desserts and has a sweet tooth. If I can get him to eat it and like it, it’s a sure bet for anyone.
Fist pumping the air now because …
I got my family to eat protein desserts AGAIN and LOVE it!!! *evil grin*
Macronutrient profile provided below, as always.
Serves 6 (or 3 – 4 hungry dudes)
300 grams low-fat ricotta
150 grams non-fat thick plain yoghurt
30 grams whey protein powder (I used un-flavoured WPC)
165 grams (125 ml) 100% pure maple syrup
20 grams freeze-dried mango, pulverised in a food processor
2 teaspoons pure vanilla bean paste or extract
1 egg yolk
4 egg whites
35 grams almonds
25 grams cacao nibs
Preheat the oven to 165℃/325℉. Line the base and sides of a 20cm (8 inch) springform tin with silicon baking paper. Make a foil collar for the base to seal the springform pan. Make sure the collar comes up the sides of the pan.
You will need a larger pan to place the springform pan into and some boiling water. We are baking the cheesecake in a bain marie.
In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, yoghurt, protein powder, maple syrup, pulverised mango, vanilla, and egg yolk. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste to see if it is sweet enough for you.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks (but not dry). Gently fold into the ricotta mixture until no streaks remain. Be gentle so you don’t deflate the air from the mixture.
If using the base, grind the almonds and cacao nibs together in a food processor or nut grinder until medium-fine. It’s OK if there are a few coarse pieces left, for texture.
Evenly scatter the base mixture on the base of the prepared pan. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the top and smooth the top.
Place the pan inside the larger pan and pour in the boiling water until it comes up about half-way up the sides of the springform pan. It’s important that the foil collar provides a good moisture seal.
Carefully place in the oven and bake for about 60 minutes until the top is golden and the cheesecake is set. It may crack a little but that is fine. Switch off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door slightly ajar, for a further 20 – 30 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the outer pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely at room temperature.
You can then gently remove the cheesecake from the pan and place in the refrigerator.
Serve the cheesecake with fruit, chocolate, anything you like that fits with your dietary requirements.
You can flavour the cheesecake with anything you like. This will change the macronutrient profile, of course. Take that into account if you are looking for a different carbohydrate and/or fat ratio.
Some good flavour combinations that work well include:
Chocolate Mint: Omit the mango and vanilla. Add 20 grams of cacao and a few drops of peppermint oil or extract, to taste. Alternatively, you could even add some fresh mint, chopped finely or use it to infuse the yoghurt overnight before straining and adding to the mixture. Not liking of the mint? Use whatever … or what about …
Fruits: replace the mango with any freeze-dried fruit, pulverised in a food processor. You can even add some fresh berries or chopped fruit pieces to the mixture. Banana and passionfruit would be astounding. Citrus zest and a little juice would also be fantastic. Imagine Chocolate and Orange or Lime? The possibilities are endless! Add them before folding in the egg whites.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate: Omit the mango. Add 20 grams of cacao and some peanut butter, to taste. You can substitute any nuts for the peanut butter. Use the same nuts for the base, if using.
Macros are given here for the mango version with and without the crust. The mango only adds negligible calories per serve and only about 2 grams of carbs per serve. If you use other flavourings you will need to factor in the macros for those additions.
You can easily lower the carb content by using an alternative sweetener such as Splenda or Stevia blends, if you can and like to use them. That would make it a low carb dessert that is appropriate for days when you are keeping your carb count down.
I say it serves six but I know so many of you that would say it serves two or four, so yeah, go for it 😀