Let’s talk guilty pleasures.
Okay, yes, in reality there should be no such thing as a “guilty pleasure” because we eat decently healthy 80% of the time, leaving us room to splurge about 20% of the time (the 80-20 rule) without feeling an ounce of guilt.
I don’t follow that suggestion to an absolute “T,” but I do try to eat healthy most of the time and save the not-so-nutritious stuff for special occasions.
All that goes to say that I am a dessert connoisseur — probably not in the way you were thinking. Yes, I always consider my options (and who doesn’t love options?), but I look for quality. If I’m going to have dessert, it better be worth it. I’m not a fan of a low-fat diet food ice cream sandwich with unpronounceable pseudo ingredients. I want the real thing made with cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla bean.
Cheesecake. Known as an especially rich dessert, some cheesecake recipes easily include a 4 8-oz blocks of cream cheese just for one cake. I agree, a little bit of an overload. I guess if you only see the final product, it’s easy to forget just how much cream cheese is in it! Cheesecake is pretty high up there on my list of favorite desserts, so if I do make it, I’ll make it for a special event where there’ll be opportunities to share (the calories) and feed people baked goods.
I haven’t yet found a more natural cheesecake recipe that satisfies my tastes, so this one’s my default.
I like how it has a simple ingredient list, isn’t too sweet, and only has 1.5 blocks of cream cheese without sacrificing creaminess. I’m calling it a “weekend” recipe because it takes just an hour to make and bake. You can and should make it at least 4 hours in advance to allow time to chill. It’s an ideal make-ahead recipe. As I’m sure many cooks can relate, it’s always also a nice feeling when you get rave reviews for a recipe, just like I always do for this one. 😉
I hope you try this one out and share it with your friends and family! Everything in moderation — don’t feel guilty but just savor the sweet stuff in life every once in a while.
Time: 1 hour + yields 1 9-10″ cheesecake
I make this recipe in a springform pan lined with a circle of parchment paper I like using a graham cracker or cookie crust for added texture. Use 1 1/2 cups crushed cookie crumbs, 3 tablespoons melted butter/Earth Balance, and a little bit of water if it is too dry. Press the crumbs into the pan with your fingers. If there are any leftover slices of cheesecake (though this is highly unlikely), chill and save for breakfast the next day.
12 ounces cream cheese, softened (1.5 blocks. I sometimes swap out half using 1/3 fat Neufchatel cheese)
3/4 cup sugar (can be reduced)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 9″ pie crust/graham cracker crust (chocolate cookies crumb crusts work, too)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in heavy whipping cream, lemon juice, and cornstarch until smooth.
3. Pour the filling into graham cracker cookie crust.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes or until golden. Check middle with a toothpick. Be sure to monitor the cheesecake, as it can change from golden to brown in a matter of minutes.
5. Let cheesecake cool and chill in the refrigerator until serving. Garnish with mint leaves. Serve with fresh fruit.