Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cassata Cheesecake South Beach Diet Friendly

I recently saw a delicious looking cassata-style cheesecake recipe in Chatelaine magazine (not listed yet on the web, but probably will be next month). It reminded me of a Sicilian Cassata I used to make years ago – the recipe was from the Italy volume of the Time Life Series, I’ve written about . That recipe had layers of pound cake and a ricotta cheese filling with nuts and candied fruit plus whipped cream and orange flavored liqueur with an amazing chocolate frosting. The recipe in the magazine is a lot less damaging to one’s waistline, but still over the top for anyone on the South Beach Diet. So I decided to transform it to one I could eat today (meaning South Beach phase two). Here’s my crustless version….

Cassata Cheesecake
Prep time:
15 -20 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes to 1.5 hours (it depends on the size of your pan. The larger the pan, the flatter the cake and the quicker the cooking time)
Fridge time: 3 hours minimum, but I liked it better the next day

Serves 10 (but don’t worry it freezes well and tastes fine after defrosting. I did try to eat it frozen hoping for an ice cream dessert, but that was a failure)

Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
8 oz/250 g low fat cream cheese
16 oz/ 454 g smooth low fat ricotta cheese
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup/ 250 ml Splenda (the real recipe called for 1 cup of sugar so if you use some other sugar substitute you’ll have to do the appropriate calculations)
3 eggs
3 tbsp all purpose flour (this really isn’t very South Beach but I figured that such a little amount for the whole cake would not really be an issue)
½ cup dark chocolate coarsely chopped (about 3 oz/85 g)
½ cup crystallized or candied ginger, coarsely chopped (just rinse off the extra sugar -you could use any dried fruits instead or in combination with the ginger)
½ cup shelled pistachio nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 300ºF/150ºC

2. Combine cream cheese, ricotta, orange zest and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the Splenda and blend. Add the eggs one at a time and blend after adding each one. Add flour and blend.

3. Pour mixture into a large bowl and mix in the chocolate, ginger, and nuts.

4. Prepare a spring form cake pan (I used an 8” one but I think next time I’ll use a 7” one so the cake would be higher/thicker): grease with butter flavored canola oil spray and line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment or waxed paper.

5. Pour the mixture into the pan. (I usually set my spring form pans on a lipped baking sheet in the oven just in case the pan leaks – I’ve had to clean more than one messy oven before I learned my lesson).

6. Bake in the center of your oven until the center is slightly jiggly. Depending on the size of the pan you use this can take from 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours, so keep checking after 45 minutes.

7. Loosen the edges with a knife and cool the cake in the pan over a rack for at least 20 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but best would be overnight.

Tips & Variations:

This cheesecake does freeze well, so you South Beach Dieters don’t have to worry about being tempted by all that cake. I just sliced the leftovers and put some parchment paper between the slices and stuck the whole thing in a zip lock baggie and into the freezer. It takes a little while to defrost, so I usually take out the dessert portions I want to use for dinner either in the morning and leave them in the fridge or before I start cooking dinner and leave them on the counter. Either way, they still taste delicious.

If anyone is really interested in the original cassata, I'll be happy to share the recipe from the book, but I won't be making it any time soon for us - waaaay too tempting!

Related links:


Nau-Dee said...

I too am on South Beach and LOVE new recipes. I have been enjoying your blog and the great variety and ideas you post. This cheesecake looks and sounds divine. Thanks so much for posting it and keep it up!!!!

Sarah Michelle said...

Nice variation , I'm always making with ice creams. Use the cheese will be a good experience. thanks :)