Wednesday, November 24, 2010

M: T II, Just Desserts

Welcome to Mission: Thanksgiving II,  the second part of my South Beach friendly thanksgiving. This time the sequel may be better than the original, because this redux has cheesecake!

Sugared cranberries

Low carb cheesecake (based on Classic Cheesecake from
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
1/3 cup sugar free vanilla flavored protein powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 cups (2 packages) cream cheese
1 cup (1 package) neufchatel cheese
1 cup egg substitute (or 4 whole eggs)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup + 1/2 tsp Truvia

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the hazelnuts finely or pulse in food processor to a fine texture. Stir in whey protein powder and then butter until well combined. Press evenly into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the crust cool.
Drop the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Blend Truvia, cream cheese, neufchatel, and salt with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Continuing to mix on low speed, add 1/4 cup egg substitute (or one egg) at a time, allowing the mixture to blend 1 minute before adding more egg. Scrape down the bowl and paddles. Add the lemon juice and zest, mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into cooled crust, spread even. Bake for 35 minutes or until the edges are set but the middle of the cheesecake still jiggles. Shut off the heat and allow the cheesecake to cool slowly in the oven for about an hour. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The whey protein powder I used is Designer Whey Protein, which is sweetened with stevia, and I bought it at Trader Joes. Truvia is a granulated stevia sweetener that is slightly more sweet than sugar and has a vanilla-like scent.

Sugared cranberries

Sugar-free Sugared Cranberries

1 package (12 oz) fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups Splenda (or equivalent sweetener, such as 1/3 cup Truvia or 1/8 tsp liquid stevia)
1 cup Truvia

Rinse and drain cranberries. Pick out stems and any soft or mushy cranberries. Transfer berries to a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, combine water and Splenda, and bring to a bare simmer. Pour the hot liquid over the cranberries, cover with a small plate to keep the cranberries submerged, and macerate in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, drain the cranberries, removing and discarding any that have split open. Pour enough Truvia to cover the bottom of a large plate or shallow bowl. Put a handful of the still wet cranberries into the Truvia and shake to cover them. Remove the covered cranberries to a cookie sheet and repeat with more Truvia and cranberries. Allow the cranberries to sit on the cookie sheet for an hour so the coating will harden. Serve immediately or wrap the cookie sheet in plastic wrap and store in a cool dry place for a few days.

I used Splenda in the macerating liquid in this recipe because I had extra on hand and it dissolves very easily in water. For that same reason, it is not ideal to crust the berries with, as it will melt on contact and not make a nice granulated, snowy coating like the Truvia. If you choose to store the berries for a short time, don't put them in a completely airtight container and leave them in a single layer. The crust will soften and not adhere to the cranberries if they are piled on top of one another and sealed up tightly.
Serve these crunchy, sparkling little sweet-tart treats straight up in a candy dish to snack on, top your cheesecake with them, or add them to a  festive drink. Here's a cheery seasonal libation to float them in:

Ginger Spritzer
4 cups water
1 piece fresh ginger, about 5 inches long
1/2 teaspoon liquid stevia (or equivalent sweetener of your choice)
Seltzer water 

Slice the ginger thinly. You don't have to peel it. Combine sliced ginger with water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a bare simmer and cook about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add liquid stevia. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine sieve to remove ginger solids. Pour syrup into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, pour 1/2 cup ginger syrup over ice in a large glass. Fill the glass with seltzer. Top off with sugared cranberries and serve immediately.

If you're into libations of a more adult variety, try adding a shot of rum or vodka to your drink. Or nix the seltzer completely and serve the ginger syrup over champagne, as Martha Stewart suggests.

Mission: Accomplished.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


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