When I initially set out to write this post, it had a very different title, one that more accurately described its ingredients, but might also turn off the average reader. It had certainly turned me off. When Dylan first came across this Cottage Cheesecake (there, I’ve said it!) in Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe, excitedly saying that he HAD to make it this weekend, along with the coffee cake on the adjoining page (a man of excess? nah…), I was dubious. If one of the blogs I regularly read had a post entitled “cottage cheesecake”, you can be quite certain that I would read no further. And this is coming from a big cottage cheese fan- but as a cake? Sorry, that just sounded too ascetic for my taste.
BUT with that disclaimer, that I share your skepticism, that I would never have thought I’d like it, let alone want to write about it, I sincerely hope you’re still reading. Because this uber-healthy “cheesecake” was surprisingly good. Now before you run off to the supermarket picturing recreating an evening at the Cheesecake Factory recreated from a mere tub of lowfat cottage cheese, I may have to burst your bubble just a touch. There is no way an entire cake made of nothing more than cottage cheese, 3 eggs, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of flour, some vanilla extract, and some lemon is going to rival one of the most notoriously decadent desserts around. How I wish it were so…
No, the way you should envision this cake as very healthy alternative to cheesecake, when you want something in the same vein, but aren’t willing to fully indulge that sweet tooth. At our house, that might mean a little something sweet to have after dinner on a weeknight without feeling a lick of guilt. It also works well when hosting particularly health-conscious guests who usually turn down dessert or just eat itsy-bitsy portions to be polite. Heck, it was intended as a brunch “cake”, so it’ll work well for those sorts of occasions as well.
With all of that said, there’s no crust and virtually no sugar, so the cake alone needed a little sprucing up, in our opinion. In fact, it was fairly calling out for a light fruity topping to complement its creaminess. Dylan used a couple of nectarines we had on hand (see recipe at very bottom), but you could use whatever fruit strikes your fancy. You don’t need to add tons of topping, just a light glaze to make the cheesecake a little more fun and lively. It even works with just a little jam on top, if that’s all you have on hand.
Have you made it this far? Bravo. In that case, grab the recipe and go out to get your cottage cheese pronto- after all, this cheesecake is so healthy you can eat it anytime with no guilt whatsoever.
Cottage cheese cake (serves up to 10)
4 cups (2 lbs) cottage cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
up to 2 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.
2. Place the cottage cheese in a food processor and process until very smooth. (Stop several times to scrape down the work bowl with a spatula, then continue.) Add the eggs, and continue to process until they are completely incorporated.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, and continue to process until smooth, scraping the sides of the work bowl as needed.
4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Put the pan on a baking tray and bake it in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch. Cool to room temperature, then cover pan very tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
5. Remove the rim of the pan shortly before serving and serve cake cold, cut into wedges.
(For a raspberry version of the cake, increase the sugar to 1/2 cup. At the end of step 3, add 1 cups of raspberries (fresh or frozen, undefrosted. If using frozen berries, be sure to break any clumps into managable piece with your fingers or a knife. Pulse the motor on and off to distribute the berries through the batter, but don’t actually puree them. Bake the cake for 50 minutes. )
Fruit syrup (enough to top one cake lightly)
2 nectarines, cut into thin slices with bitter flesh right around pit removed (or substitute other fruit of your choosing)
~1/3 cup sugar, enough to coat fruit
juice of one lemon
1. While cake is baking, toss slices of fruit in bowl with sugar until well coated. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
2. Put fruit (including all sugary syrup from bowl) into a small sauce pan, along with the lemon juice. Bring up to a simmer and remove from heat. Pour several slices of fruit and a little syrup over each slice of cake when serving.