Friday, April 23, 2010

Say Cheese!

Today is National Cherry Cheesecake Day! I'd say any kind of cheesecake rates high as a romantic dessert because so many people are in love with it! I was at a dessert auction earlier this week, and out of the thirteen up for auction, more than half were some variety of cheesecake.

Who doesn't love an excuse to indulge in something this sinfully delicious? A lactation specialist once recommended that I eat cheesecake to enrich breast milk. Who was I to argue when both baby and mom could benefit from such a tasty treat?

Usually, cheesecakes are so richly decadent, they're near the point of being deadly. Those made with full fat sour cream, cream cheese, heavy cream and whole eggs are particularly suspect. Is love or a death wish served with that?

After one bite, the initial response is "ummm..." But seconds later, after the bite is swallowed, a hot, brick like sensation is felt in the pit of the stomach, followed by "uh...but it's so rich."

I want to enjoy cheesecake without risking my health--or gaining weight--so in honor of National Cherry Cheesecake Day, I'm sharing a recipe I've created for a slimmed down version. It's guilt free and tastes great. I've served it at dinner parties and people can't believe it's fat free! Hope you enjoy. Serve with love, not a death wish!

Fat Free Cherry Cheesecake

graham crackers (about 4-6 sheets, or enough to cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 baking dish)
3 8oz packs softened fat free cream cheese
1 t vanilla extract
2 t almond extract
1 cup sugar
2 T flour
1/4 t salt
6 egg whites
1/4 cup skim milk
2 cans light cherry pie filling

For crust, spray bottom of 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Grind graham crackers in food processor, or crush in plastic bag with rolling pin. Cover the bottom of baking dish with graham crackers crumbs. Pat down crumbs, then spray them with cooking spray.

For filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and extracts until fluufy. Stir together sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir into cream cheese mixture. Add egg whites; beat on low speed until just combined. Stir in milk. Turn into prepared baking dish. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 3o0, then bake 50-55 minutes more. Cool about 2 hours, then chill thoroughly. Top with cherry pie filling. Serves 12.

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