OMG, I can eat this? aims to reconstruct your favorite No Go meals and turn them into delights you can chow down on without feeling terribly afterward.
I’m not going to justify this one with a long-winded post about how much I love cheesecake and the Golden Girls. Oh, wait. Yes, I am.
Cheesecakes were one of those incredible desserts that I loved eating as a kid because it hit all of my fat-kid-loves-cake categories: creamy, sweet, dense and tangy. Anyone who has eaten cake with me knows that I’m not into fluffy cakes. They just feel like a waste of time. If I’m going to eat a dessert, I’m going to bloody eat a brick of a dessert.
A slice of New York-style cheesecake at a restaurant was one of the reasons I romanticized moving to this city all those years ago. It was this exotic, glamorous idea that made me wonder how everyone in those movies were so skinny when they all ate these slabs of sweetened cheese.
Sara Lee frozen cheesecakes were the first at-home experience that we had with cheesecakes. While they weren’t exactly the same, they were close enough to my 8-year-old palate and it was magic that, from out of an aluminium pie tray, came this still-slightly-frozen-in-the-center magic that transported me to this magical city that I had never been to. I imagined my glamorous life as I strutted down Fifth Avenue in my heavy coat (which, to an Australian, is as foreign as Emperor Nasi Goreng building the Great Wall to keep the rabbits out (a little bit of early 2000s Australian cultural insensitivity/hilarious advertising, depending on how you view the world…)), only because the major reference I had was Home Alone 2, which was set in winter. After a day of fabulous shopping, I’d settle down at a glamorous cafe, be served cheesecake and hot chocolate by my glamorous waitress and bask in the glory that was my life.
Ironically, I’m sitting in a cafe in New York right now, sitting an almond milk latte, listening to classical music, wearing my sunglasses and writing out a food blog on a sunny Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend. Life hasn’t turned out too far out from imitating art (in this case, the cinematic brilliance of my mind).
Wow, I’m way off course.
Anyway, I was introduced to the Golden Girls by Husband when I was about 25. Never was there a more romanticized 90s version of cheesecake than Rose, Blanche and Dorothy sitting around their too-small dining table and working out their problems late at night. We always joke that Husband is going to become Sophia, one day. He has a filter problem. Sometimes, the spirit of the Sicilian-Brooklynite spews forth from his mouth and I can do nothing except shake my head. Oh, it’s happening, people.
AAAAAANYYYYWAAAAYYYY. I tell you all of this to qualify my experience as a cheesecake expert. I didn’t grow up in New York, I’m not Italian and I didn’t grow up making this dessert. What I did do is bloody enjoy this on a constant basis.
Now that I’m grown, I need a fix, every now and then. The fat-kid-loves-cake phase of my life is over, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t indulge, every now and then. When I’m not eating a full-on version at a glamorous cafe in New York, I’m making a version that I can savor but not feel guilty about at home.
This version is gluten-free, sugar-free and combines the decadence of a cheesecake with the melty sweetness of my banana bread recipe. My genius hack here is that I use the natural sweetness of the banana bread to offset the fact that I don’t add sugar to the cheesecake mixture, thus creating the magical, mythical healthy dessert.
Thank me in person. I take cash.
Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with Banana Bread Crust
Prep time: 40 mins
Cooking time: 1 hr 30 mins
Makes 10 serves
- Banana Bread recipe prepared in round springform pan
- 2 blocks of cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup of pure cocoa powder
- Optional: 2-3 dates, soaked and blitzed or 1-2 tablespoons of stevia
Method (and a touch of madness)
- Heat oven to 325F/160C.
- Grease all sides of a springform pan and prepare and bake the banana bread according to this recipe.
- With a hand mixer (or by hand, if you want the workout), mix the cream cheese until it’s fluffy. Mix in the eggs, vanilla extract, Greek yogurt and dates/stevia (if using).
- Pour half the mix on top of the banana bread in the springform pan.
- Mix in the cocoa powder into the other half of the mixture and then, using a large spoon, dollop randomly on top of the plain mixture. Swirl slightly using the spoon.
- Bake for 1 hour, checking to ensure it’s set before removing from the oven. Optional: wrap the springform pan in aluminium foil, place in a larger pot or pan and add boiling water to the larger vessel to cook in a water bath.
- Allow to cook, then serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Guide for the ‘arians:
- Flexitarian – good
- Pescetarian – good
- Vegetarian – good
- Omnivore – good
- Vegan – use egg replacement
- Gluten free – good
- Lactose free – good