Cheesecake is a food that rarely graces my lips – there are choices I make everyday in addition to being sugar-free and gluten-free that help me maintain my weight. I’m not so sure that it’s worse for me than a big bowl of ice cream topped with granola but in my mind, I’m better off without it. I’m married to a cheesecake lover, though, and thought I’d work come up with a recipe we both could be happy with – it had be a little bit healthier for me and still taste close enough to the real thing to make Joe happy.
Quick and simple was another requirement for this recipe. I wanted to minimize oven and kitchen time while still producing a fabulous tasting cheesecake. Five attempts later, I came up with a dessert that fit the bill. I make the graham crackers in a big batch and freeze them so I don’t have to make them every time I want to make a graham cracker crust.
- 3 ½ ounces gluten-free, sugar-free graham crackers
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup milk (I used 1%, it was what I had on hand.)
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 12 ounces (1 ½ packages) light cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ ginger
- ¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare 4 (7 ounce) oven-safe ramekins or mini-soufflé dishes by lightly spraying the bottoms with cooking spray.
- Break graham crackers in half and place in the bowl of a mini food processor. Add ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Process until graham crackers have become fine crumbs. Place in a small bowl. Melt butter in the microwave (about 15 – 20 seconds). Drizzle butter over graham crackers and, using a fork, work butter into the graham crackers.
- Place 2 ½ – 3 tablespoons of graham crackers in each ramekin. Using the back of a spoon, press the graham crackers firmly into the bottom of each ramekin and slightly up the side. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.
- Place milk in a microwave safe container. Sprinkle gelatin on top and stir to mix. Let gelatin soften in milk for 5 minutes.
- Place 3 paper towels on the counter. Spread pumpkin puree onto the paper towels so that it is about ¼ inch thick. Place 3 more paper towels on top. Press lightly, letting the paper towels pull moisture away from the pumpkin. Set aside, leaving paper towels on pumpkin.
- Fit food processor with a steel blade. Add cream cheese, agave, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Remove top layer of paper towels. Use the bottom layer to fold the pumpkin in half. The paper towel will easily peel away from the pumpkin. Lift paper towel up and pumpkin will easily fall into the food processor bowl.
- Pulse several times, then process until smooth scraping bowl as needed. Stir milk and gelatin mixture, then microwave for 20 – 30 seconds until milk is bubbly and gelatin has melted. With food processor running, pour milk mixture into bowl of food processor and process until thoroughly combined.
- If the ramekins are still warm at this point, pop them into the freezer for a few minutes and they’ll cool right down. Using a spring-release ice cream scoop, divide cheesecake batter evenly between the 4 ramekins. If you have a little extra put it in another container and chill it, too.
- Set ramekins on a small tray or a dinner plate, wrap, and chill overnight. Serve cold with homemade whipped cream, if desired.