I’m not one for deserts. I’m not keen on chocolate or cream, but absolutely love cheesecake. I have a nostalgic love of plastic frozen black current cheesecake and have been known to eat an entire packet barely defrosted, one slither at a time.
But much better is home made cheesecake.
Whenever I see a cheesecake recipe I’m drawn to try it out, but my way. Some recipes I find too sweet and mouse-like. I much prefer the rich dense claggy style, with an extra thick biscuit base. And the base has to be digestives, not ginger nuts, hob nobs or shortbread. And please no nuts. That’s just not cheesecake! And my favourite would be a plain vanilla or lemon cheesecake rippled through with fruit. I’ve tried chocolate and some of the more exotic flavour variations, but its like cheesecake in embarrassing fancy dress! Get back to basics and tuck in.
I’ve been baking cheesecakes (yes baked ones are far superior to those set with gelatine) for 20+ years. I have been known to get desert inspiration, then invited friends around for an impromptu dinner party, just so I didn’t eat the entire desert in one sitting.
The name Cheesecake Runner, came about from my cheesecake baking and running combined passions. But I’ve not yet managed to run a race with a cheesecake!
I have a cheesecake making secret, that I’d like to share. Shhhh … don’t tell everyone!
Instead of full fat cream cheese or the like, I make all my cheesecakes with quark.
What is quark? Well to those of you who studied science you’ll know that a quark is a very small particle, but for us bakers quark is a German “cream cheese”. You can find it in the continental cheese section of your supermarket, alongside things like ricotta.
The miracle of quark is that it is virtually fat free. The tub I made these pots from claims to be 73kcal and 0.8g fat in 100g and also high in protein. How they make it is a mystery, but its good and Germans love it.
So ever since I’ve been making cheesecake I’ve always substituted the high fat cream cheese with quark and have never had a cheesecake disaster. I’m sure if you did a baking comparison between a quark and full fat cheese versions of the same recipe you could tell the difference, but the quark version is delicious and virtually guilt free.
Yesterday, I was thinking. I’ve de-fatted the cheese part of the cake, but not the biscuit base, so a regular cheesecake is still not great for those watching fat, weight or health. So I thought I’d try something different and came up with cheesecake pots. Individual pots of luscious cheesecake, without the guilt.
And its easy to make!
Heat your oven to 150 C and boil a kettle. Find 8-10 ramekin dishes (I save the dishes from Gu puds!), small tea cups or dishes and lay out in a roasting tin.
In an electric mixer (you can do this by hand) bland 500g quark (that’s 2 pots, I hate waste!), 225g sugar and 30g flour. In a separate bowl beat 4 large eggs. Once the quark mix is smooth, add the eggs plus 400ml crème frache (2 pots again) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix everything until smooth, then ladle into your dishes (in the roasting tin).
Put the tin in the oven and pour the hot water around the pots. This creates a baine marie which will help the cheesecake to gently cook.
The pots will only need 30 mins to cook. After 30 mins they will be firm, but with a slight wobble. Take out the oven and leave to cool, then chill for as long as you can wait, before diving in!
I dropped a few home grown berries into my pots before cooking. You could use any fruit or even chocolate shavings.
I’ve not worked out how many calories in a pot, but its really not that much.
Writing that has made me very hungry. I’m off to raid the fridge for a cheesecake pot saved from yesterday!
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