Cheesecake recipes are a dime a dozen on the keto diet. They’re the perfect low carb, high fat food – being comprised primarily of delicious cream cheese – so they’re a common go-to for a keto-friendly dessert. However, most of the cheesecake recipes I’ve tried have seemed a little… off. They had a funky texture or you could taste the fake sugars in them. And let’s not even get started on no-bake or jello cheesecakes… I am a cheesecake connoisseur over here, and if you’re going to take the time to make a cheesecake, it needs to be a big and dense New York-style concoction.
Growing up, I was inundated with desserts in my family. My Gran-Gran, Meemaw, mom, and a veritable slew of aunts and great-aunts can cook almost anything. But the one thing that no one in my family had perfected was cheesecake. So a few years ago, when my Mom asked for one for her birthday, I set out to become the lone cheesecake cook.
Let’s just say we ate a lot of cheesecake in the week leading up to her birthday, and I hadn’t really felt like making it since.
But I had totally perfected it.
And so last week, when I began to think of what I could bake to take to our end-of-the-project bash at work and/or Easter with the family, my thoughts returned to that perfect, New York-style cheesecake. I dug up that original recipe and realized that I could alter it quite easily to fit low carb parameters. But would it taste the same, and would it have that same dense and creamy texture?
Spoiler alert: it does.
Allow me to go ahead and apologize for the pictures. I may have gotten a little… overzealous… with the whipped cream (as my cousin said, “playing Cheesecake Factory is my favorite game!”). It was also dark and dreary and the lighting is meh. But whatever. Just hone in on that sweet, cold and creamy cake paired with those delectable, juicy and ripe red strawberries… and the mountains of whipped cream. But I digress.
For the crust,
- 1/2c almond flour
- 1/2c golden flaxmeal
- 1/2c pecan pieces
- 4T coconut oil
- cinnamon to taste
- Splenda or sweetener to taste
For the filling,
- 4 8oz packages of cream cheese
- 1c sour cream
- 4 eggs
- 1c Splenda, or equivalent sweetener of your choice
- 3/4c heavy cream
- 1/4c coconut flour
- 1T vanilla extract
- 3T sugarfree Torani syrup; this time I used French Vanilla (and next time I’m totally going Salted Caramel)
First things first, let’s talk necessary kitchen equipment. For this cheesecake, you are going to need a springform pan. That’s a pan that has a removable bottom, as pictured above. Think of the springform pan as more of a mold than a traditional cake pan. You cook the cheesecake in it, then remove it from around the cheesecake, hopefully without cracking the top. I like to lay a piece of parchment paper over the bottom part of the pan, then attach the ring around it so the paper peeks out around the sides. Then, when my cheesecake is done, I can transfer it easily to a serving plate while removing the side and bottom for easy cleanup.
Preheat your oven to 400.
Combine your pecan pieces, almond flour, flaxmeal, and coconut oil. Add sweetener and cinnamon to taste. If you add those to the crust, it flavors it like graham crackers, a nice nod to the more traditional cheesecake crust.
You may need to zap this concoction in the microwave if your coconut oil is solidified. The house I live in maintains a temperature roughly equivalent to hell, so I don’t have to worry about that. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the springform pan. If you used parchment paper, you do not need to grease the bottom of the pan. If you didn’t, butter that shit up.
Bake the crust until it turns a golden brown. Mine ranges from 5-8 minutes. I used to like to just use Caveman Keto’s crust, but I decided to try to mix in some flaxmeal and I actually like this version better. It’s more firm and less crumbly, which I prefer. It holds together better.
Oh, and yeah. While that is baking away, mix everything else together in your mixer. Or beat it with a mixer. Somehow incorporate all the ingredients into a flawless, creamy goodness. Then when the crust is done, grease up the sides of the springform pan and pour your mixture into it.
Smooth the filling out as best you can. I like to tap the whole pan lightly on the counter to help it settle and to also help release air bubbles, which are a potential culprit of cracks. For some reason I did NOT tap this pan, and you can definitely tell in the end results. I wish I had pictures of the first cheesecake I made – it was gorgeous and crack-free. Ahh, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
So let’s talk some more about cracks. Cheesecakes are very sensitive, and if you don’t bake them very very carefully, they can develop ugly cracks across the top. It’s unattractive, and it’s the goal of all cheesecake baking enthusiasts to produce a flawless cake. It’s like, your status symbol, or something. The prime culprit for cracks is temperature fluctuations, and there are a few ways to combat this.
- Never bake your cheesecake hotter than 350. Low and slow is the way to go. In fact, since you just baked the crust at 400, leave the oven door open until it cools down. You don’t want to stick it into a too-hot oven.
- Use a water bath. You can literally sit the springform pan in a pan of water. For these cheesecakes, I just placed a cake pan of water on the lower oven rack to steam and keep the oven moist.
- Don’t over-beat the filling, because – as I mentioned before – too much air can cause cracking. I’m not going to lie, I just let my KitchenAid run, so I like to let my filling sit in the springform pan for a good 10 minutes or so to settle some, before I tap it to let out even more air.
- Don’t open the oven door while it’s cooking. The sudden rush of cool air can cause cracks.
- Cut off the cheesecake at 50 minutes, and let it sit in the oven with the door shut for some time. Maybe an hour later, crack the oven door. Then a half hour after that, open it fully. And then remove the cheesecake, and run a knife along the edges of the pan to make sure that it’s not stuck (although it shouldn’t be if you greased it properly). The cheesecake shrinks as it cools, and if it’s glommed onto the side of the pan, it will surely crack as it tries to pull away.
So again, bake your cheesecake at 350 for 50 minutes. If it doesn’t look quite done, it’s probably not – but it will continue to bake residually after you turn off the oven and begin the cooling-down process. It should be nicely browned by that point, though the center may look like it’s not quite set. Trust me, after you get through with waiting for it to cool enough to handle safely, you’ll have a beauty waiting on you.
Or you might have something that looks like that. Yeah, so I didn’t follow my own advice, and cheesecake numero dos – the one I shot for this blog – turned out kind of fugly. Ah, well. It was still delicious. You also have the luxury of disguising the ugliness by whipping up a fruit topping or covering it with a dark chocolate ganache. Since I served this one to my family at Easter, we just sliced it plain and topped it with strawberries.
Oh, and before I forget to tell you – stick this baby in the refrigerator and let it sit for several hours before you eat it. We had a slice of the first one after a few hours, and it was okay. But 12 hours later, it was a rockstar. For this second cake, I just popped it in the fridge overnight and allowed it to set up properly before Easter dinner. Although you’ll want to chow down immediately, try to wait until it gets properly cold :) It’s totally worth it!
And let me tell you, even though Canadian Bacon and I are the only ketopians in the family, the cheesecake was a decisive hit. No one could tell that it was low carb. It didn’t taste funny from the combo of Splenda and Torani. It was flavored throughout with a delicate vanilla, and paired wonderfully with the sweet berries and whipped cream. It was tall and thick and reminiscent of the pieces of plain cheesecake you get at The Cheesecake Factory. Forreals.
My Fitness Pal has changed the way you input recipes, so I can’t post my typical ingredient log picture below. But at 8 servings, this cheesecake has 439 calories, 8g net carbs, 11g protein, and 38g fat per slice. It’s very dense and creamy and filling. Hell, it’s so low carb that my diabetic grandfather’s bloodsugar crashed a couple of hours after eating a piece… seriously!
It’s so good that my cats tried to eat it while I was taking photos of it. You’re not fooling anyone, Storm.
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