I am in a Christmas mood. It is pretty satisfying to have finished all the Christmas gift wrapping as well as the Christmas cooking earlier this year (since we had our family Christmas dinner earlier than usual). Last night, kid#2 and I walked down Orchard Road to see the lights. It was an unfamiliar feeling to not have to prepare for another big cookout, or have lots of work tasks hanging over my head. For the first time in weeks I had literally nothing worrying me. It felt more than being at a loose end; truth to tell I felt a little lost without having something to do. Or think about. Or prepare for. Not that I’m complaining – next year promises to be another roller coaster year, so I am absolutely savouring the moments of no worries and nothingness.
And actually that must have happened at the birth of Jesus – the frenetic activity, the big move to Bethlehem, just to make it in time for the census. Poor Mary, heavily pregnant, tired and uncomfortable in the last trimester of pregnancy, made to travel long distances only to discover that there was no shelter and no comfort at the end of the journey. Then the isolation of the barn and manger – just animals for company – it cannot have been that quiet – the animals bedding down for the night could not have been silent or still. Yet for Mary and Joseph there must have been a sense of a difficult journey ended and a new adventure beginning with the birth of Jesus.
Life interrupts us. I am sure that Mary and Joseph didn’t expect to have to give birth to a baby in a stable and far away from home. Similarly we are constantly interrupted on our lives’ journeys. Illness. Loss. A misunderstanding. A broken relationship. And very often our families are not the same and our inner peace is broken. But the wonderful thing is that Jesus came to give that inner peace that confounds logic and circumstances. And when we finally slow down from our frenetic activity and our endless doing, we can hear the sound of truth. That Jesus came into the world to save us because we each need to be rescued from ourselves.
So I ended our family Christmas dinner with this cranberry cheesecake. I have an aunt who adores cheesecake and therefore cheesecake is pretty much a feature in all our Christmas dinners. But the cranberry cheesecake this year was particularly beautiful – the redness of the cranberry topping is not just seasonally appropriate, the bright colour reminds me of the joy of the season. Christmas and the love of God that came down 2000 years ago is really worth celebrating.
Low Carb Cranberry 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
- 50 ml cold water
- 2 tbsp gelatin powder
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- grated zest from 1 orange
- 150g fresh/frozen cranberries
- 1/4 cup sugar substitute
- Preheat oven to 170 deg C
- Mix almond flour, and other crust ingredients in a blender. Mixture should be crumb-like.
- 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).
- Bake open for 10 min then remove from oven to cool.
- In the meantime, beat cream cheese for several minutes till whipped consistency (a hand mixer is good enough for this).
- Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla extract and sugar substitute and beat some more.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat until just mixed. Do not overbeat at this point.
- 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.
Place pan into another baking tray and fill with hot water until halfway to 2/3 way up the sides of the pan.
- 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.
- Cool the cheesecake.
- Pour 50 ml ice cold water into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin powder over the top.
- Pour some hot water into a larger bowl and place the bowl of gelatin and water into the hot water and keep stirring till the gelatin dissolves. Set aside.
- In another pot, bring the orange juice, orange zest, sugar substitute and cranberries to a boil for about 5 – 10 minutes until the cranberries pop. Cool the mixture slightly, then mix in the gelatin and pour over the cheesecake. Place the cheesecake into the fridge overnight. Serve cold.