The High-Protein Cheesecake I Can’t Stop Baking
Last month, I was introduced to the restaurant Undici in Rumson by my clients Hari and Lisa. My favorite part was dessert – the delicious cannoli cheesecake with pistachio, candied orange, and chocolate chips. Right up my alley!
I left with an idea, though. I had never had a ricotta-based cheesecake, although I have been making savory ricotta pies for years (you can find my Herbed Ricotta pie in the Fit Smart Fast Cookbook, for example!).
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But it had never occurred to me to cook it as a cheesecake with a little flour.
I got out my springform pan, and got to work.
For weeks, I had the delicious task of perfecting the recipe.
In the end, I developed a cheesecake recipe that:
- Contains 10-20 grams of protein goodness per serving*
- Only has 10 grams or less of sugar per serving*
- Is healthy and filling enough to eat for breakfast
- … Yet tastes good enough to compete as a dessert!
*Do you notice an overlap with last week’s post?
… Does this sound too good to be true?
I can reassure you that it is possible, because my kitchen is living proof. I have had a veritable parade of test cheesecakes floating through my home for weeks now – chocolate, peanut butter swirl, and now finally cannoli! They’re incredibly tasty but because they’re so light and so rich in protein, they’re not going to hold anyone back from their physique goals!
In fact, the week of my photo shoot a few weeks ago, I had the chocolate cheesecake pretty much every single day leading up to the shoot!
I seriously can’t stop making them – now I have lemon zest in my sights, as well as a vision of a pumpkin cheesecake with a Torani chocolate sauce spider web drawn on top for Halloween!
So what’s the recipe? How do they turn out so tantalizing, yet so guilt-free? Here is the methodology that I’ve developed…
The High-Protein Cheesecake Base Ingredients
You can pick whatever you want to put into the cheesecake. But you have to start with the base – the ricotta, egg, flour, and sweetness combination. Here’s what I use to achieve 200-calorie (or less) servings:
- 2 pounds fat-free ricotta
- 1 dozen egg whites
- 1/4 cup brown rice flour (I use “Bob’s Red Mill”)
- Stevia, liquid or powdered, to taste
But before I continue, one very important note: drain the ricotta first. Any way you can do it, get that moisture out, preferably overnight. I used a large, fine strainer and thick paper towels, and weighed it down with a gallon of milk.
Combine the drained ricotta, flour, and stevia first, and then whip the egg whites into a frenzy separately before combining.
This base, when split into eight servings, is 125 calories per serving and 16 grams of protein.
Next, let’s play “Choose Your Own Adventure” with flavors.
The Flavor Choices
Then, you get to pick your flavors.
So far, I’ve made chocolate, peanut butter swirl, and cannoli. Here’s how you do it:
High-Protein Chocolate Cheesecake
Add 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s “Special Dark”). Some nights, I even floated a little raspberries and peanut butter on top.
Peanut Butter Swirl High-Protein Cheesecake
Add 4 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (I use Nestle) and 4 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter (I use Smuckers).
High-Protein Cannoli Cheesecakes (The Mini Edition!)
This one’s the original, inspired by Undici from the beginning.
Add 4 tablespoons of mini chocolate chips, as well as almond extract to taste. When they’re done baking, sprinkle 1/4 cup crushed pistachios over the whole thing!
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F while you’re experimenting with your flavor choice, getting the stevia balance just right and all.
Then, either use a sprayed springform pan (I use coconut oil spray from Trader Joe’s), or bake in muffin cups.
For the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl versions, I stuck with the classic springform pan and made a traditional cheesecake. But when it was time to make the Cannoli edition, Michael wanted to try out making individual servings. And I’m glad he suggested it!
The cannoli mini-cheesecakes came out adorable, and – as an unexpected benefit – are easy to eat on the go, as they’re served cold. I had them for breakfast this morning, in fact!