Shavuot, or the Festival of Weeks is one of my favourite holidays. Not only it is the holiday where you get to enjoy a myriad of dairy culinary delights, it falls out during the time of year where the weather is still pleasant. It is also a sweet but short holiday (maybe a bit too short for me) making it more relaxing on my nerves. While I normally enjoy traditional and more meat oriented meals, I can always appreciate a “non-traditional” dairy meal every once in a while.
When people often describe a healthy dessert, cheese cake doesn’t always pop up on the radar. I happen to love cheesecake, especially New York style cheesecake. Cheesecakes are normally dense, rich, and loaded with high fat and sugar content. This light but luscious cheesecake recipe that I’m about to share with you is healthier than your normal bakery bought cheesecake mainly due it is beneficial ingredients. The yogurt and ricotta cheese contribute calcium to this cheesecake. The blueberries are a star companion to this lemony cheesecake because of their fine color, flavour, and nutrition value. A bit of fresh lemon juice and zest adds a refreshing flavour to this cheesecake. Chocolate cheesecake is my favourite but this lemon cheesecake is a great break for chocolate lovers such as myself and hubby. He didn’t fuss over the blueberry sauce which is a plus for me. 😉
For the crust, you will need:
- 5 oz of low-fat graham crackers or tea biscuits
- 1/4 cup of slivered almonds (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 3 tablespoons of almond oil, olive oil or vegetable oil
For the cheese filling, you will need:
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 15 oz container of low-fat or non-fat ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup of non-fat sour cream or leben
- 2 large eggs separated
- 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup of low-fat or non-fat vanilla yogurt
For the blueberry sauce, you will need:
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of honey, maple syrup or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Process crackers, sugar, and almonds in a food processor. Process to fine crumbs. Add just enough oil to barely moisten the mixture and mix well. Lightly grease a 9 inch spring form pan. Press crumb mixture in an even layer and about 1 inch up sides of pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Let it come to a complete cool. Leave the oven on at 350 degrees F.
To make the cheese filling: Set aside one tablespoon of sugar to beat into the egg whites. Beat ricotta and leben until very smooth. Gradually beat in sugar. Then beat in egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, flour, and vanilla. Stir in yogurt. In a small bowl, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Add in the reserved sugar and continue beating egg whites till stiff. Fold them into ricotta mixture. Carefully pour into cooled crust. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until top center is firm but still sakes when you gently move the pan; cracks will form in the cake. Allow it to cool at room temperature.
To make blueberry sauce: Puree 1/4 cup of blueberries in a blender. Transfer to a small saucepan. Add water, syrup, and cornstarch. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, constantly stirring. Stir in the remaining blueberries and simmer for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice or syrup as needed.
Yields 10 servings