SECRET INGREDIENTS THAT WOWED ME
BY CAL OREY
Recently, I ran a contest searching for the best chocolate cheesecake. I was looking for something creative, something different, something natural. And I found it--with the surprise of orange and cocoa...
Rewind. Days ago, at our local supermarket the friendly baker (she knows me as the obsessive health nut) told me their cheesecake ingredients were not all natural and high in fat. In the frozen food department the cheesecakes contained lists of too many ingredients with names I couldn't pronounce. I did find a gourmet one for $15 but again, too much stuff inside that didn't seem right to me. Back home, I went online and found a company that bakes all-natural cheesecakes and sent an email. They have temporarily stopped making the gems.
So, after a phone call and cookbook check, I am ready to announce that the chocolate cheesecake champion is one of my very favorite bakers--Gemma Sciabica. (Her biscotti is truly fine and truly addicting.) To me, her Orange Cheesecake recipe is a genuine standout because it's what I wanted--and more--but couldn't find anywhere.
True, I told her the other day that I was going to start baking and cooking--trying out some of her recipes. But it's so much work, and so little time. Read: I have The Healing Powers of Chocolate galley coming to my doorstep and am trying to get my house in order before I go back to work and proof it. So while I want to eat a winning slice of cheesecake, who in the writing world has the time to whip it up?
Again, it's shortcut time. Instead of using Gemma's original Chocolate Crust which includes olive oil and cocoa, I am going to cheat and use one of those ready-made chocolate pie crusts you can buy at the store. But I will make the Filling and use the secret ingredients--and know what I'm getting.
2 1/2 cups cottage cheese (non fat)
1 cup cream cheese (low fat)
1 1/2 cups ricotta (low fat)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
grated peel of 1 orange
4 eggs (or 2 eggs & 4 egg whites)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon maraschino syrup
In food processor container puree cottage cheese and remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined. Pour filling into prepared pan (9 inch spring form pan). Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool on rack.
Courtesy of Gemma Sciabica, Baking with California Olive Oil: Dolci and Biscotti Recipes, page 163
As soon as I purchase a food processor and the right pan (or maybe mini spring form pans), I'm going to bake this Orange Cheesecake using Gemma's Chocolate Crust recipe. (It includes almonds or hazelnuts ground.) For now, it's the shortcut route--quickie pie crust and I will use my trusty blender and make do. To top it off, however, I will use quality dark chocolate shavings to help put my personal signature on this champion cheesecake. That will make me feel like I'm on the right track, sort of.