Growing up in Asia I think I didn’t really eat that much cake. Firstly, our typical Chinese home dinners would usually end with fresh cut fruits, and Chinese dinners in the 70s (oops, that dates me) would typically end off with a sweet dessert like almond jelly or at best a kind of Chinese red bean pancake. We did have cake occasionally but this was pretty much the legacy of Singapore’s colonial past with pound cake for tea (anybody remember Sarah Lee?) or pandan chiffon cake.
Times have moved apace however and cafes, bakeries and patisseries are on every corner. Cake is now an expected feature of buffet or celebratory meals. I confess having grown up without much cake as a kid it has never been part of my taste vocabulary and I am still not that fond of it.
The exception goes however to cheesecake. Not for me the wimpy no-bake or tofu cheesecakes but the true-blue, full-blooded NY cheesecake. Dense, rich, a perfect counterpoint of sweet lemony tartness with creamy cheesy goodness. Years ago when the cooking/baking bug bit me, I remember my 2 cherished recipes I learned were tiramisu and NY cheesecake.
NY cheesecake does need a little attention to detail. For example, the cream cheese and egg batter cannot be over-beaten as this would aerate the cake which would rise then flop badly. Secondly it is baked in a water bath that ensures even and measured cooking. Thirdly cheesecake is something that tastes brilliant the day after and I have learned that rushing it and even getting a few hours in the fridge somehow doesn’t cut it.
Turning cheesecake into a low-carb version was not that difficult. Almond meal base works instead of a graham cracker crust, and sugar substitutes can be used for the cheese portion. Because sugar substitutes are used, the top of the cheesecake usually doesn’t caramelize and brown (for my full carb, normal sugar version I usually bake with a piece of aluminum foil lightly covering the cake pan for about an hour before removing the foil to let the cheesecake brown slightly.) So lower carb fruits like blueberries, kiwi or strawberries are my favourite way of topping off this cake.
Low Carb NY Cheesecake
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/3 cup (75g) butter, chilled
- 1/3 cup sugar substitute (I use Splenda)
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 20 drops stevia extract
- 4 blocks (225g each) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (original, not low fat) brought to room temperature.
- 1 1/3 cup sugar substitute
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs at room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C
2. Mix almond flour, and other crust ingredients in a blender. Mixture should be crumb-like.
3. Press crust mixture into base of springform pan/tart pan (the base of the pan can be line with baking paper for easier removal of the cake later on).
4. Bake open for 10 min then remove from oven to cool.
5. In the meantime, beat cream cheese for several minutes till whipped consistency (a hand mixer is good enough for this).
6. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla extract and sugar substitute and beat some more.
7. Add eggs one at a time and beat until just mixed. Do not overbeat at this point.
8. Pour filling into springform pan. With an extra large size of aluminum foil, wrap the springform pan in the foil, making sure that there are no air pockets caught between the foil and the pan.
9. Place pan into another baking tray and fill with hot water until halfway to 2/3 way up the sides of the pan.
10.Bake at 170 deg C for 1 1/2 hours. Remember that as sugar substitutes are used, there will not be (or at least minimal) browning of the filling.
11. Cool the cheesecake then chill overnight. Can consider toppings eg blueberry, sliced kiwi or strawberries as a healthy fruity topping.