The first week is easy and filled with enthusiasm. Then reality hits you as you realize the old stand-bys of spaghetti or tostadas are no longer available to you. You have to make a whole new list of "go-to" recipes. And that is a daunting task. This is a journey I have just started. I am keeping my food journal here so that when you are in a rut or are starting to panic you can look here for ideas and perhaps even inspiration.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ricotta-Lemon Cheesecake with Fresh Cherry Sauce

My second installment for cheesecake! Actually it's still the same recipe as the birthday cake but this time I added a fresh cherry sauce. It's June and it's my husband's birthday - cherries are in season and I wanted to mix it up. So, I added the optional sauce, which was phenomenal! I found that with reducing the sugar content the cake can taste a little dry and this sauce certainly made up that. Enjoy!

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups ground almonds or walnuts
1/3 cup melted butter
2-3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375. Mix together all ingredients until well combined. Press into the bottom of a 12-inch spring form pan that has been tightly wrapped around the base with aluminum foil.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before adding filling.

For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar (less if you can handle it - I only put in 1/2 cup)
5 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 pound ricotta cheese

In a mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on low speed until well incorporated, smooth and light, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add lemon zest and continue to mix, remembering to scrape down the sides as necessary. Slowly add the ricotta cheese to the batter and mix until smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared crust and bake in the middle of the oven until it starts to set, about 45 minutes. Lower the oven temperate to 325 and cook for another 20-25 minutes. The top should be a nice golden brown and it should have risen above the edges of the pan by this point. There should be no "jiggling." Remove from the oven, use a thin sharp knife and run the blade around the inside of the cake to loosen the sides. Loosen the outer ring (but don't remove!) and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack. When completely cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature before serving.

For the sauce:
2 cups fresh or frozen cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon warm water

In a medium saucepan combine cherries, honey and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and let simmer a few minutes before removing from heat. Don't let it simmer too long or it will release too much liquid. While your cherries are heating in a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the warm water and let dissolve, then add to the cherry mixture. Transfer to a bowl or container with a lid and put in the refrigerator for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Once it starts to "set" you can cover the top of your cheesecake with the cherry sauce or drizzle over individual slices as you serve it.

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