There is something relaxing and therapeutic about spending a weekend afternoon testing out a new recipe that takes hours and stages to prepare. This is exactly what I did a couple of Saturdays ago after quite a few weeks of weekend travel. My experiment this time was cheesecake, which was something that had previously seemed to be too intimidating to attempt. However, after perusing through Food & Wine, Southern Living, Cooking Light, and a few other magazines, I felt inspired, and set out on my quest to create a lemon, poppy, and chevre cheesecake with steusel and a raspberry and strawberry compote. As most recipes I make, I found a great recipe that incorporated seasonal items and tweaked it to fit my tastes, be slightly healthier, and become a my creation. I also loved that this recipe makes individual portions in ramekins (everything is cuter in mini sizes!), which was perfect for just the two of us, and would make a great treat to take to a small dinner party.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine
- 1/4 cup, plus more for coating the ramekins
- 8 ounces fat free cream cheese, at room temperature
- 6 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup fat free sour cream
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Strawberry & Raspberry Compote
- 8 ounces strawberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon St.-Germain liqueur
- 1 pint raspberries
- Juice from half of a lemon
- Juice from half of an orange
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from 1 sleeve)
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
I. Make the cheesecakes:
- Preheat the oven to 325°.
- Spray eight 4- to 6-ounce ramekins with vegetable oil spray and dust with sugar; tap out the excess. Set the ramekins in a large roasting pan.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, goat cheese and the 1/4 cup of sugar until smooth.
- Split the vanilla bean in half and slice to remove the beans.
- Beat in the zest, lemon juice, vanilla beans and pure vanilla extract, and salt. I doubled up on the vanilla here, because I like a strong vanilla taste in cheesecake.
- Beat in the sour cream.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
- Beat in the poppy seeds.
- Divide the mixture between the ramekins and set the pan in the oven. Carefully add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheesecakes are just set.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the water bath for 1 hour. Refrigerate the cheesecakes until cooled completely, 3 hours.
II. While the cheesecakes are cooking, make the compote:
- Cut your strawberries into fourths and slice down one side of your vanilla bean.
- In a medium sauce pan, add your strawberries, raspberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, St. Germain, vanilla bean, and salt.
- Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the berries are breaking down and the excess juice cooks off, and the liquid is slightly thickened (to a syrup like consistence).
- Transfer the compote to a bowl and let cool. Discard the vanilla bean.
III. Make the streusel:
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and lemon juice until fluffy.
- Beat in the graham cracker crumbs, flour, salt and cinnamon.
- Pat the streusel flat onto the baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.
- Bake the streusel for about 20 minutes, until fragrant, golden and firm.
- Let cool completely, then crumble the streusel.
IV. Get ready to eat!
- Place the streusel crumbs on the plate (put enough to cover the size of the bottom of your ramekins).
- Run a thin knife around the cheesecakes and invert them onto plates.
- Spoon the compote on top, and serve right away!
Since I substituted some fat free ingredients making the cheesecake come in at only 221 calories, I didn’t feel quite as bad indulging in second one the next night.
Hope you enjoy these light, fluffy, refreshingly lemony cheesecakes at your next summer dinner!