Monday, June 7, 2010

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake with Strawberries

I'm really not a fan of cheesecake.  As a general rule, I don't think the calorie consumption that comes from eating blocks of cheesecake, is worth the fat intake and therefore the exercise after.  I'm willing to make full fat cheesecakes for my husband's birthday...but that's about it.  Other than that, I try to reduce the calorie content in all ways possible.

Another thing I am not a fan of is using eggs in dairy based desserts.  I love French cooking.  I should, therefore, love butter and eggs.  I am a butter convert.  I'm not an egg convert.  Don't get me wrong - eggs have their place.  Nothing beats eggs for making a fantastic cake or a show stopping yeast bread or coffee cake.  When it comes to desserts...I want to "have my cake and eat it too" by reducing the calorie and fat content.

This perspective makes me turn to egg substitutes such as mashed banana, ground flaxseed mixed with water, Ener-G egg replaces, and in the case of dairy based desserts, gelatin.  The gelatin I use is Knox's plain gelatin.  It contains something like 5 calories a packet!  It takes a little bit of time to get used to working with gelatin.  Gelatin is what enables me to make homemade marshmallows that stun the folks up at my parents' cabin on the lake!  "Gee, these taste just like the real thing!"  The real thing being Jiffy marshmallows.  Oye.  Anyhow, back to the cheesecake...

I buy 16 ounce containers of ricotta to make gnocchi, lasagna, or calzones.  I always have leftover ricotta.  I'm constantly searching for ways to use it up.  This recipe is a combination of researched recipes plus my own unique twists.  I hope that you enjoy it.

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake with Strawberries
Original Recipe by Emily

1 graham cracker crust
8 to 10 graham crackers
2 T melted butter

Procedure for Crust:
Crush the graham crackers in a heavy duty plastic bag that is slight open.  I have found that rolling the crackers with my marble rolling pin works best.  Crush them to a fine crumb - the finer the crumb, the better the crust holds together!

Melt 2 T of butter in a microwave safe container in the microwave (heat 20 seconds, stir, heat for additional time as necessary).

Stir the butter and graham cracker crumbs together.  Press into the bottom of a 8 or 9 inch springform pan.

Bake the crust at 375 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

1/2 envelope gelatin
1/2 c cold water
2 oz milk chocolate
2 oz dark chocolate
1/4 c white sugar 
2 T agave syrup
4 ounces fat free cream cheese
6 ounces full fat cream cheese
1 c ricotta cheese
2 - 3 T cocoa powder
2 T flour

Pour the water into a small  pan.  Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in pan.  Let bloom 5 mins.  I'm not sure why it is called letting gelatin bloom...but there we have it!  Heat the pan over low heat until the gelatin dissolves.  Add the chocolate.  Continue cooking over low heat until all of the chocolate melts into the gelatin and water mixture.

Beat the cream cheeses and ricotta cheese.  Beat hard so that air works into the mix and it becomes fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat until smooth (-ish - it is ricotta after all!).  Slowly mix in chocolate/gelatin/water mix and cocoa powder and flour.  The flour was added because of the amount of liquid in the mix.

Pour cheesecake batter into the graham cracker crust in the springform pan.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until set.  Decorate with fresh sliced strawberries!

Tip - when you go to release the cheesecake from the springform pan, run a butter knife under hot water.  Then, run the knife around the inside rim of the pan between the cake and pan.  This should allow you to release the cheesecake with ease!

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