While I was doing my weekly supermarket shopping recently, I spied Donna Hay’s latest magazine – Fresh & Light (Issue 8) – which was jam-packed with savoury and sweet dishes made with whole, less refined ingredients.
There are so many recipes I’d like to try out, but the one that initially caught my eye was for these divine looking individual cheesecakes. The bases are made up of nuts, dates and gluten-free flour; the filling, from yoghurt and cottage cheese, and both get their chocolate flavour from raw cacao powder. Not exactly the cheesecake we’re familiar with, but a wonderful alternative if you’re trying to reduce your fat and refined sugar intake.
The result is a dessert that is perhaps less sweet than you might be used to, but one which is gorgeously decadent nevertheless. The base is, understandably, quite nutty, though it stays relatively soft especially when it’s chilled. The cheesecake filling is like a dense chocolate mousse – rich and not overly sweet. Where you get the sweetness, is from the maple sweetened sauce drizzled over top.
I felt the dessert needed an equally thick, dense cream to accompany it and so I served it with a whipped cream/creme fraiche combination. To finish, I added some raspberries (given it’s winter over here, I defrosted some frozen ones), and these provided a much needed element of freshness to the dessert.
In my family, it’s always a bit of a risk to serve something a little left of field. A couple of family members described the cheesecake as “interesting”, however my very fussy older brother who usually finds many desserts too sweet for his liking, absolutely raved about it.
By the way, you can totally prepare these babies ahead of time. I made them 24 hours ahead of serving and chilled them overnight. And, actually, I had a left-over cheesecake the day after that (i.e. 48 hours later) and found the base had softened further, resulting in a cake-like consistency which I much preferred.
If you’d like to try a more wholesome version of cheesecake; one that still delivers on taste and texture, then this would be a great recipe to give a go. Enjoy!
- 120g (3/4 cup) almonds
- 90g (about 6 large) fresh dates, pitted
- 60g (1/3 cup) rice flour
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (of you can use cocoa powder)
- 1 egg yolk
- 185g (3/4 cup) cottage cheese
- 140g (1/2 cup) natural Greek-style (thick) yoghurt
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons raw caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 teaspoons water
- 50g dark (70%) chocolate, melted, plus extra, shaved, to serve
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons boiling water
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup creme fraiche
- Fresh, or defrosted frozen, raspberries
- Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
- Place the almonds, dates, rice flour, cacao and egg yolk in a food processor and process for 2 minutes or until the mixture comes together.
- Divide the mixture between 6 x 8 cm lightly greased round loose-bottomed fluted tart tins and press into the bases and sides. Place on a baking tray and cook for 10 minutes.
- While the bases are cooking, make the cheesecake filling. Place the cottage cheese, yoghurt, egg, cacao, sugar and vanilla in a clean food processor and process until smooth. Place the cornflour and water in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
- Add to the food processor with the melted chocolate and process for 1–2 minutes or until well combined. Divide the mixture between the tart shells. Cook for 15 minutes or until just set. Place in the fridge to cool completely (I let mine chill overnight). Remove from the tins.
- To make the chocolate sauce, place the cacao, maple syrup, vanilla and boiling water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Place in fridge if making ahead.
- Drizzle the tarts with the chocolate sauce and top with shaved chocolate. Whip the cream in a medium sized bowl until it begins to thicken. Add the crème fraiche and beat until thick and fluffy. Dollop cream beside each cheesecake and serve with fresh or defrosted frozen raspberries.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting