Monday, May 10, 2010

A stellar spring dessert

A recipe for no-bake cheesecake came through my Twitter feed this week. I hardly ever make cheesecake because every recipe I've come across seems to be so complicated and expensive. This particular recipe, however, is nice and small, calling for only one 250-gram block of cream cheese and yielding 4 individual-sized cheesecakes.

You will need a hand-mixer to whip the cream cheese and cream. The whipped cream adds lightness to the mixture, and a dash of lemon juice adds a bright note. Once properly chilled, the resulting cheesecake is sweet-tart, with a full, rich bite.

The original recipe suggested blueberries for the topping, but you can use any fruit you like. I thought I'd use strawberries. I was at my friendly neighbourhood Asian market and actually had a container of strawberries in my hand when I spotted this beauty: the star fruit.

Not only is this fruit good-looking and exotic, it is also rich in vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and flavonoids. Eat it (minus the cheesecake) if you want to lose weight. Or eat it with the cheesecake but with a little less guilt, because each whole fruit contains only 30 calories.

If you want an extra shot of sweetness, glaze the star fruit slices with a little sugar syrup, or drizzle the tops of the cheesecakes with honey or balsamic vinegar syrup before serving.

As for the crust, I added ground-up macadamia nuts and wildflower honey to the usual graham cracker crumbs, to make this an extra-special dessert from top to bottom. (You could also use almonds or hazelnuts.)

For the crust:

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup ground nuts
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons honey

Mix in a small bowl with a fork until evenly moist and sticky. Press evenly into the bottoms of four small, clear dessert cups.

For the cheesecake:

1 250-g block of cream cheese
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Whip together until smooth, then fold in:
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

Scoop the cream cheese mixture into the dessert cups, pressing down lightly to ensure there are no air pockets.

Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Decorate tops with slices of star fruit (or your fruit of choice) before serving.


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