So today this came up for the third time in about two weeks, and since it did (and since everyone loves when I make some variation of this, or a variety of them) I figured it was time to share, and QUICKLY, to save a gal-pal from falling off the wagon and into a huge vat of cream cheese-coated despair.
Guiltless, because we’ve taken out all the fat and can pull out almost all the sugar as well (see ingredients); Effortless, because the prep takes under 10 minutes, and you have a table-ready dessert after not much more resting and chilling time; and Ovenless because — let’s hear a collective “Duh!” folks… YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO BAKE THE FUCKER.
Now traditionally I have used real sugar in this; I give you your choice. And you CAN make it with full-fat cream cheese if you so desire, but why bother? And you CAN make it into a pie with a pre-made or homemade graham cracker crust (I’ve done it from Spring-form pan down to mini-muffin bites, and every size in between) but you don’t need a crust. When you’re looking to STAY ON A CALORIE-RESTRICTED DIET as well as HAVE SOMETHING REALLY TASTY AND SATISFYING, you make concessions.
Yes, two weeks in Hawaii would be lovely in the presidential suite of a beach-front luxury hotel. But when you have only 2 days and a few hundred bucks, a cheapie weekend cruise to nowhere is better than sticking your feet in a festering kiddie pool in the alley next to your un-air-conditioned apartment, no?
Try it. Vary it. Enjoy it. And report your own personal touches back to the Food Daddy.
1 Envelop Knox unflavored gelatin
1/2 Cup sugar (OR… 12 packets of EQUAL sugar-free sweetener; OR… 1/3 Cup Xylitol or Erythritol) *
3/4 Cup water
16 oz. Fat-free cream cheese
1 tsp. Vanilla extract (or lemon, orange, or almond)
Optional: Ritz Crackers, ‘Nilla Wafers or Ginger Snap Cookies.
Line 12 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. If you so choose, drop a cracker or cookie into each (an additional 30 calories per serving if you use Ginger Snaps, 15 calories for the Ritz and Nilla Wafer options).
Bring water to a boil. Mix gelatin and sugar in a small bowl. If you are using sugar substitute, do NOT mix it in, but wait until later, as directed below. As soon as water boils, pour gelatin (and sugar, if using) into water, taking it off the flame and whisking it until completely dissolved; set aside to cool slightly.
Beat cream cheese and vanilla in a separate mixing bowl. Slowly beat in the gelatin mixture until whip until smooth, about an additional two minutes. If using sugar subtitute, add it in now before the final whipping.
Immediately divide the cream cheese mix among the prepared muffin cups. Tap the pan down on the counter top a few times to loosen any air bubbles, and refrigerate until set to your desired firmness. After a few hours it will be really good and solid.
NUTRITIONAL IMPACT: ONE (1) serving is 1/12th of this recipe. So one Mini Cheesecake. If you prepare it with sugar, each Mini has 70 calories (mostly from sugar) and about 6 gms. of protein. IF YOU PREPARE IT with the sugar substitute, you’re looking at even LESS guilt (so Italians, Jews, I’m sorry: this dessert is NOT for us) with only 42 calories, 80% of which come from the protein. Huzzah! Take THAT, cellulite! You’ve met your match — and it tastes like cheesecake…
* Check out this guide to substituting some popular artificial sweeteners in baking.