Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dairy-free mini cheesecakes with bacon-apple topping

I recently learned that one can go to Sonic and buy an order of three cheesecake bites. Just three little cubes of cheesecake, rolled in cereal crumbs and deep-fried. I love the idea of being able to just get a little something sweet, and I especially love cheesecake, so I set out to make a healthier version.

There are lots of recipes for Greek yogurt cheesecake. They are light and fluffy, and while I love a rich, dense slab of cheesecake, I thought that a less heavy base would be nice for this use. Most of the dairy-free cheesecake recipes I've seen use a base of cashews and/or coconut butter, but given the wide availability of coconut yogurt, I decided to go ahead with that. I also kept it crustless to lower calories and keep preparation simple. 

Normally I like cheesecake with fresh raw berries, but since they are out of season I picked up a Honeycrisp apple. I'm not a fan of gloppy cooked-to-death fruit so I sauteed it simply with a bit of bacon and some chopped hazelnuts. 

Stuff I did that was annoying and I'm not sure if it actually benefitted the recipe:
  1. Since Greek yogurt is just regular yogurt with some of the whey drained out, I got the idea from this recipe to try to drain the coconut yogurt myself. I let it sit in a sieve lined with a coffee filter for about 24 hours and I didn't think that it made too much of a difference in the texture. I just added some extra coconut flour to thicken it and it worked fine. So, you may be able to omit this step and just use a 6 oz container of regular yogurt. By the way, I used So Delicious plain coconut yogurt, but it does have some funky ingredients including added cane juice so if you prefer, you can make your own in a crock pot!
  2. I put the muffin tin in a water bath while baking, but I'm not sure if that actually matters. 
So it's up to you if you want to take those steps or just throw caution to the wind.

Makes a dozen minis

For the cheesecake:
  • 3/4 cup homemade coconut Greek yogurt (see item #1 in the above list) or regular dairy Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs coconut flour (omit if using dairy Greek yogurt)
  • 1 Tbs arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Tiny pinch salt
  • Sweetener to taste* 
For the apple topping:
  • 1 strip bacon, chopped into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 apple (preferably Honeycrisp), diced small
  • 1 Tbs chopped toasted hazelnuts (you can substitute any nut you'd like, I use hazelnuts because of the favorable fatty acid profile. Or use coconut flakes to make it nut-free.)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch salt (I used bacon salt!)
 *The So Delicious brand yogurt already had some sweetener so it didn't need much. I used one packet of stevia; alternately, a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup would complement the apple topping nicely. If your yogurt is completely unsweetened, you'll want sweetener equivalent of about 1/3 cup sugar (guide).

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine all of the cheesecake ingredients in a food processor and puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as necessary.
  3. Line 12 mini-muffin cups and distribute the cheesecake batter among them, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way full.
  4. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until firm. Chill very thoroughly before serving, at least an hour.
  5. While the cheesecakes are baking, make the topping. Cook the chopped bacon in a skillet over medium-low heat. Remove the bacon with a fork or slotted spoon, then saute the apples with cinnamon and salt in the bacon grease until golden and tender. Stir in the hazelnuts and let the mixture cool thoroughly in a bowl off heat. Spoon it over the cheesecakes before serving.


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