The Lucky Wife, 4/6/2014 7:00:27 PMBy:
Today’s Secret Recipe Club Reveal takes us to a blog written within the country of Jordan … how cool is that? I always look forward to the Secret Recipe Club assignment and reveal each month, but I have to confess that I think this month’s reveal might be my favorite so far and not just because we get to experience a different culture. Those of you who enjoy healthier versions of recipes, such as thecauliflower pizza crust or the healthier 5-minute ice cream, will love what I have for you today.
For this month’s reveal I was assigned theChef in Disguise blog, which is authored by Sawsan, a Palestinian living in Amman, Jordan. Isn’t it amazing how the internet gives us the ability to read and interact with someone living across the world? It has made the world seem so much smaller!
Not to mention Jordan came up recently during a church Bible study and the role the country is believed by some to have in end time events. I was fascinated by what I learned about Jordan’s relationship with Israel in recent years.
It did not take me long to find a recipe on this blog to try. As a matter of fact, only as I began to write this post did I explore more of her blog, but I’m looking forward to looking around a bit more as I have time. Be sure to check out her About Page for some quick links to cultural information including famous landmarks of the Middle East. She challenges the preconceived ideas many have strictly from the media/television, and we all know how inaccurate those can be!
The recipe I found almost immediately that I knew I wanted to try this month was a healthier cheesecake recipe with no eggs and no baking, made using homemade labneh, or yogurt cheese. I am not a huge dessert eater, but my “holy trinity” of desserts would be cheesecake, oreos and chocolate/peanut butter. So when I saw the words “healthy” and cheesecake together, I had to check it out.
The healthy eating debate and spectrum
Now people who are health conscious would debate any recipe labeled healthy that has any type pf packaged or processed foods in it. I’ve learned quickly that there is a wide spectrum when it comes to those of us seeking to eat a healthier diet, from the extreme who eat a strict organic diet with no processed foods to those of us who are transitioning to a healthier diet at whatever pace we are willing to do or our lives allow us to. Becoming healthier is a process and there is a learning curve. We live busy lives and not everyone can make automatic, drastic changes overnight.
My focus on becoming healthier started when I was in college, maybe to avoid the Freshman 15, and has been an ongoing process ever since, which has taken turns I would not have expected. The discovery of food sensitivities has been a huge and important part of that process.
So after reviewing this cheesecake recipe, I knew I’d have to make some adaptations, as I usually do because of our family’s sensitivities. The recipe crust called for a package of digestive biscuits, which are semi-sweet cookies, or graham crackers. When looking for ingredients on packaging to avoid, I decided on a butter cookie.
It worked really well and I also used coconut oil in place of butter in the crust. (I have a liquid coconut oil but if yours solidifies you will need to melt it).
The recipe also calls for labneh, which is a yogurt cheese that is easily made at home, so this week you get two recipes from my reveal. You can check out the homemade labneh recipe here. I did not notice before making the cheesecake that she said to leave out the salt when making labneh for this recipe specifically. I will have to try that next time I make the cheesecake.
Her recipe called for a package of raspberry Jell-o. I decided to use cherry flavor instead. And lastly, the store where I bought the ingredients did not have fresh cherries for the cherry sauce, so I used dried cherries and reduced the amount of sugar since dried fruit is sweeter than fresh fruit.
When I had gathered my ingredients together and was getting ready to start on my recipe, I asked The Chef for some advice. If I make adaptations I often ask him questions to make sure I’m on the right track, since adapting recipes is not something I have been doing for a long time.
So when I told him I needed his advice for my recipe, he asked me if I wanted him to make it for me. It was a sweet and thoughtful offer, but I was like, “What is the point of me participating if you make my recipes for me?” So did make this cheesecake all on my own, just with a little advice for him for the adaptations.
The end result
When all was said and done and I was ready to take a bite of the cheesecake, I was slightly hesitant just because I’m not a big yogurt fan. I was afraid as much as I wanted to try a healthier cheesecake that it was going to be awful… or at least to me.
I cut a slice and then took a bite. Very pleasantly surprised …. It was yummy, y’all! And not only did I think it was yummy … so did my husband and mother-in-law! This is huge. Because she is a baker and known for her delicious treats. I would never, ever try to compete with her there. So when she ate a piece and liked it that was the icing on the cake, so to speak.
Now I am not sure I would like it without the cherry sauce. I’d like to try it without the Jell-o also. And I will have to make it again relatively soon since I love cheesecake so much and so my children will get to try it too. My son had to keep his diet really clean so that he could have one slice of pizza tonight at a party at church. That’s how bad his food sensitivities can be. And for some reason, my daughter never tasted it either. But they did help me make it, and they loved that!
But definitely, if you are a big cheesecake fan and also love trying healthier versions of things … give this one a try!
Be sure you read the notes on the original recipe though. She included some notes on selecting the yogurt to use based on whether or not you want a sweeter or tangier flavored cheesecake. I just bought a basic plain Greek yogurt for the labneh for this one. She also suggests making your own ricotta cheese, which I did not do for this one but may for the next one.
Easy Healthier Cheesecake Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Chef in Disguise
Easy Healthier Cheesecake Recipe
Author: Chef John
Recipe type: Dessert
This recipe is a Secret Recipe Club reveal and is a healthier version of cheesecake, surprisingly delicious to this cheesecake lover!
- FOR THE CRUST:
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 package butter cookies
- FOR THE CHEESECAKE:
- 17.5 ounces labneh (strained greek yogurt)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 package (85 grams) cherry Jell-o gelatin, or your choice of flavor
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 80 grams cream cheese
- FOR THE CHERRY SAUCE:
- 1 cup dried cherries
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon starch
- ¼ cup water
- TO MAKE THE CRUST:
- Process the cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Add cinnamon and drizzle the coconut oil. Mix well.
- Press into the bottom of a 7 inch baking dish.
- Place in the fridge to set.
- TO MAKE THE CHEESECAKE:
- Add boiling water to the gelatin mix in small bowl; stir a few minutes until completely dissolved.
- In your food processor, blender or stand mixer blend the labneh, ricotta, vanilla, lemon extract, sugar and cream cheese.
- Slowly add the dissolved gelatin and blend until you get a smooth and homogenous mix. (It’s very important to blend the cheese very well to get a smooth and velvety cheesecake.)
- Spread the filling over the crust. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 6-8 hours or overnight.
- TO MAKE CHERRY SAUCE TOPPING:
- In a pot place the cherries, sugar and ¾ cup of water.
- Bring to a boil over medium low heat, stirring every now and then for 10 minutes
- When you have 5 minutes left in the cooking time, dissolve the corn starch in the ¼ cup of water and add it to the syrup while stirring. This will thicken the sauce and give it a beautiful consistency.
- Store the leftover sauce in a clean dry jar in your fridge, it will last up to two weeks.