When working with my clients with food allergies or food sensitivities, I am always looking for ways to help them find alternatives to their favorite foods that will fit into their dietary restrictions. For my gluten free clients, desserts are always a big one. I hear so often from my clients that gluten free (GF) desserts can be dry, tasteless and totally unsatisfying. Which is how this gluten free cheesecake came to be! It is smooth, silky and there are two secret ingredients in this recipe that make a little different than the traditional cheesecake. The best part? This cheesecake will impress those who follow a gluten free and gluten full diet alike! Which makes it excellent for entertaining (because I am sure you have other things to worry about besides making two different desserts). The even better part? You can make it the night before, which leaves less prep on the day of. The blackberry topping comes together in a flash, and you can certainly use any other fruit that may be in season.
Let’s Back up a Minute, What is Gluten?
You may have heard the word a lot, but what exactly is it and what does it do? Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat products. It is what helps give food it’s shape, and acts like a glue to hold things together. So why does taking gluten out matter? If you are baking bread or pizza crusts, gluten is what gives elasticity to your dough i.e. it makes it chewy and delicious. When you take gluten out of the equation, you need to add other things in to get the same level of elasticity to your dough and bread, usually Xantham or Guar gum. Gluten can also help hold onto moisture in a product, which is why gluten free products tend to dry out much faster than traditional baked goods, and therefore need to be frozen. That is why you find a lot of gluten free breads in the freezer section of your grocery store!
So, How about this Gluten Free Cheesecake?
Now back to the cheesecake. In a traditional cheesecake, you would normally use a graham cracker, which has gluten! So in this gluten free cheesecake recipe, I simply used GF graham crackers to get the same effect, but I also used some almonds to get a nice crunch! Once you mix the crust all together, you bake it in a springform pan before adding in the cake batter.
For the cake part, I wanted to try something different. Instead of doing all cream cheese as the base of this cake, I used two other secret ingredients. Are you ready? Drum roll please…..I used Greek yogurt and cottage cheese!
Before you say “Um, Klara! Cottage cheese in a dessert? Are you insane?” Hear me out for a minute. When making this recipe, you puree the cottage cheese before you mix it in with the cream cheese, so all those little curds you are worried about? They are all gone! Cottage cheese is high in protein, and once it is pureed, it is smooth and blends right in with the cream cheese and greek yogurt. Don’t believe me? Make this recipe, but don’t tell anyone the ingredient list, and see what they say! They wont be able to tell a difference. Look how silky smooth that batter is!
This cake does need to cool completely before eating, but can be made a day or two in advance! The blackberry compote comes together really easily, so you could make it right before serving (because who doesn’t love that hot/cold dessert combo). But, if you are short on time the day off, you can definitely do it ahead of time and store in the fridge. You can also use other berries of your choice, or any fruit that maybe in season
Cheesecake with Blackberry Compote
- 1 cup almonds
- 2/3 cup graham crackers Gluten Free (about 4 sheets)
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp butter melted
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 16 oz cottage cheese 1% milk
- 16 oz Greek yogurt plain, 2% milk
- 16 oz cream cheese low fat, softened
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour gluten-free
- 4 egg
Blackberry Compote Topping
- 2 pints blackberries
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp corn starch
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Place almonds in food processor. Pulse until almonds are finely ground. Add graham crackers and pulse until those are finely ground up.
- Add sugar and butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Press almond mixture into the bottom of a springform pan (not up the sides). Bake in the oven until crust is just set, about 12 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F.
- Clean out the bowl of the food processor. Add lemon juice, vanilla, cottage cheese and 1 cup of Greek yogurt to the food processor. Process for 2 minutes or until smooth.
- In a large bowl, use hand mixer or stand mixer to beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add in remaining Greek yogurt. Add in flour and pureed cottage cheese mixture, mix well.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beat at low speed until combined. Pour into prepared crust.
- Place springform pan in a large baking pan. Create a water bath by adding hot water to the large baking pan, until it comes about half way up the side of the springform pan.
- Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the center of the cheesecake is just set, and the top appears dull. Remove springform from the water bath, cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cool in the fridge overnight.
- Add blackberries, cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice and 2 Tbsp of water to a pot. Cook for 5 minutes until berries have released their juices.
- Mix 1 tsp cornstarch with 2 tsp water. Add to berry mixture and cook for 1 minute until thickened. When ready to serve cheesecake, top with blackberry compote and whipped cream if desired.
Click here for the recipe.
Whether you are a novice in the kitchen, or a seasoned chef, Dietitian Klara will work with you to help you reach your nutrition goals. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating, Cooking with Diabetes and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Guide.