Ricotta Cheesecake with Blackberries

This makes a decadent cheesecake – you can use whatever berries are in season, just make sure they are the peak of ripeness!

FOR THE CRUST

  • 1 c toasted pecan pieces
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 32-ounce whole milk ricotta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp amaretto (rum or Grand Marnier may be substituted)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 8 ozs (about 2-1/2 c) fresh berries

Preheat the oven to 325°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the crust: place the almonds, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until the nuts are finely chopped and the mixture looks sandy. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, cooled melted butter and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the nut mixture and pulse several times until the ingredients are well combined, moistened and crumbly. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and, using your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup, press into an even layer. Place the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill; then bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden. Let cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the cream cheese, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the ricotta and process until the mixture is smooth and light, another 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, processing for 5-10 seconds between each addition. Add the vanilla, amaretto, cornstarch and orange zest and process until mixture is just combined (do not overmix).

Pour the filling into the crust, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake the cheesecake for about 50 – 60 minutes, until the top is lightly golden, the edges are set and the center is quite jiggly but not totally liquid (it will continue to cook as it cools). Carefully remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it’s not sticking to the sides then cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours or overnight.

For the topping: After the cake has chilled, place the berries evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For serving: Remove the sides of the springform pan and slice.

Serves 8 – 10.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Because it’s that time of year!

Ingredients:
8 oz softened reduced-fat cream cheese
¾ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 can pumpkin
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
24 graham crackers
6 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, process the gramah crackers until finely chopped, add butter and process until well combined. Press into a 10 inch pie pan. Bake 10 minutes and allow to cool.

Wipe out the food processor bowl. Add cream cheese, sugar and vanilla, pulse until combined. Add eggs, one at a time; blend well after each. Mix in pumpkin and spices. Pour into graham cracker crust.
Bake 55 minutes or until filling is set. Run knife around edge of pan. Cool to room temperature; chill at least 4 hours.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

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What could by tastier or cuter than mini pumpkin cheesecakes for Thanksgiving? These are low fat too!

Ingredients:
30 gingersnap cookies
2 TBSP canola oil
2/3 c brown sugar
2/3 c fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 c pumpkin puree
8 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 300°.

Place cookies in a food processor; process until finely ground. Add oil; pulse to combine. Place 12 cupcake wrappers in a 12-cup muffin tin. Divide cookie crumb mixture evenly among muffin cups; press crumbs firmly into bottom.

Bake at 300° for 9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack.

Wipe food processor clean. Place brown sugar, yogurt, pumpkin, and cream cheese in processor; process until smooth. Add pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, salt, and eggs; process until smooth. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake at 300° for 15 – 18 minutes or until centers of cheesecakes barely move when pan is touched. Remove pan from oven; cool on a wire rack to room temperature.

Cover pan; refrigerate cheesecakes 3 hours or until well chilled.

Serve with caramel sauce or whipped cream.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

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Not having dessert is NOT an option for me – so I came up with this healthier version of pumpkin cheesecake bars. I know I baked a winner when my oldest eats it!

Ingredients:
Crust
1 c quick oats
½ c whole wheat flour
¼ c all-purpose flour
¼ c ground almonds
⅓ c butter, melted
3 TBSP Coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

Filling
3 egg whites
⅛ tsp creme de tartar
8 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
1 whole egg
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
⅓ c Coconut palm sugar or brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 11 baking pan.

Mix together the crust ingredients, until well distributed and crumbly. Dump the crust mix into baking dish. Gently press down, and even out height. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

While crust is baking, Beat the 3 egg whites with the creme de tartar, until forming stiff peaks. Set aside.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients in different bowl until well mixed, then fold the egg whites into the filling, until smoothly distributed.

Spread filling over crust and bake for 20-22 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerator. Serve well chilled with whipped cream.