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Pop-Pop Cheesecake

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Project of the day: Birthday Dessert

Today is brother #4’s 10th birthday and his namesake Pop-Pop’s 68th birthday.

In my family, no excuse for cake escapes cakeless.

Daddy is the official birthday-cake-baker in our house, so he made brother #4 a nice yellow cake with chocolate frosting. But Pop-Pop is on the Atkins and carb-less cakes are not in Daddy’s repertoire.

We used to always just make him sugar free jello, but when everyone else is eating homemade cake, cannoli, cookies, brownies, or pie, I feel bad for Pop-Pop and his jello. So I started experimenting. Making Pop-Pop friendly desserts is always a challenge, because nothing bakes like sugar. I’ve had some pretty interesting results, including a cake that separated and boiled in the oven. A recent success is my Pop-Pop cheesecake.

Its based off an old family old recipe from the Italian (My father’s mother’s) side, replacing all the sugar with splenda, the graham cracker crust with a chocolate shell, and the topping with sugar free jello. I usually make this as six mini cheesecakes in a muffin pan, but I used a pie plate this time to maintain the birthday cake image.

Cross-section of deliciousness

His verdict? Decadent.

Pop-Pop (low carb) Cheesecake

4oz nice baking chocolate
1 tsp granulated Splenda (4 packets)

1 egg
1/3 cup granulated Splenda (or 8 packets)
8oz cream cheese, softened
8oz sour cream
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
zest of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ tablespoon melted butter

1 package of sugar free jello (any flavor you might top a cheesecake with- I used raspberry)
1 cup heavy cream

Note: The chocolate base works far better in the mini cheesecakes. If I do this again I will pour the melted chocolate over the cooled cheesecake and let it set before I add the jello.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and the splenda together (I did this directly in the pie plate over a sauce pan) and mix until smooth.
Swirl to coat bottom and sides of a deep pie plate.
Allow to come to room temperature, swirling occasionally, then put in the fridge until set.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the egg and splenda together.
Mix in cream cheese, sour cream, and lemon juice.
Add lemon zest and vanilla; beat until smooth.
Fold in melted butter.
Pour mixture over hardened chocolate, smooth the top with a spatula or knife.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until edges are set and center is still jiggly but not liquid.
Let cool.

Whip the heavy cream. If you’re not using an electric mixer, i recommed putting the bowl and whisk you’ll be using in the freezer for 15-30 minutes first, and don’t take the cream out of the fridge until you’re ready to go.

Dissolve the jello in 3/4 cup boiling water, then add ice water to make 1 & 1/4 cups.
Reserve 1/2 cup.
Mix a little whipped cream into the other 3/4 cup, then fold in the rest.
Spread in an even layer over the cheesecake.
Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes, until set (optional*).
Gently pour reserved jello on top, using the back of a spoon to help dissipate the stream if you need. (If your jello has set too much to spread, microwave it for ten seconds)

Refrigerate until jello has set, about 2-3 hours.

Top with whipped cream, if you like.

Serves 3-6, or one grandfather.

*You can pour the jello immediately, however, the clear layer will end up under the creamy layer. If you would like the clear layer on top, let the creamy layer set first.

For mini cheesecakes, make in a parchment or cupcake paper lined muffin wells. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The chocolate can be painted inside the paper, as above. Alternately, unmold the cheesecakes after the jello has set, upend them and drizzle the melted chocolate over the bases.


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