Father’s Day was the first time my extended family, small as it may be, gathered together after my return home. When we get together like this, especially on birthdays or holidays, it’s become a hallowed tradition that I make something special for dessert (lest anyone forget the birthday fiasco of 2011, when I waited a while after dinner to surprise my mom with a cake and was subsequently berated for ruining the celebration). I was all set to prepare a sugar-free clafoutis (basically like a dessert omelet with fruit), as both my grandpa and dad have diabetes, when Dad made a special request for cheesecake, made with Splenda sugar substitute to make it “diabetic friendly.”
Here’s the thing about cheesecake — even if you use a sugar substitute, it’s never going to be diabetic friendly. Sorry, Dad. It’s cheesecake. The main ingredients are cream cheese and butter. Embrace the nature of the beast.
Also, because there are so few ingredients in cheesecake, it’s hard to make a lot of diet-friendly substitutions without compromising heavily on taste. It didn’t escape me that Dad picked up full-fat cream cheese and very high quality butter, which were honestly a big part of what made this raspberry chocolate cheesecake a success — I’m a firm believer that the key to good any good meal is good ingredients.
Or at least, that’s a nice excuse for the occasional indulgence.
Very loosely adapted from Annie’s Eats recipe for Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes.
– 1 sleeve graham crackers
– 4 tbsp melted butter
– 3 tbsp sugar
– 6 oz rapberries
– 2 tbsp sugar
– 4 oz dark chocolate (I used unsweetened chocolate)
– 2 lbs (32 oz) cream cheese
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– Pinch of salt
– Splash of vanilla extract
– 4 eggs
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs. Add the melted butter and sugar, then pulse until the mixture obtains the texture of rough sand.
Step 2: Bake the crust for 5-10 minutes, until crust has just set (ie it should feel solid, not like it’s about to crumble).
Step 3: Clean your food processor, then add the raspberries and sugar. Pulse until the mixture is soupy, then push the mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds.
Step 6: Mix cream cheese until it stops being lumpy and starts to become more fluffy. Add sugar and mix until smooth. Add vanilla extract and salt. Beat in eggs one at a time; mix each egg until it becomes incorporated before adding the next one.
Step 7: In a double-boiler, melt chocolate.
Step 8: Assemble the cheesecake! Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust, then dapple with raspberry purée and melted chocolate. With a toothpick, swirl the raspberry and chocolate together (you can also incorporate the raspberry and chocolate into the center of the cheesecake). Be sure to reserve some of the melted chocolate for later!
Step 9: Bake at 375 degrees for 22 minutes, rotating the cake halfway through.
Step 10: Drizzle the remaining melted chocolate over the cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
And here are some of the other things I made for the barbecue. First of all, check out these condiments:
A simple Middle Eastern salad — cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, white vinegar, lime juice, salt, pepper, coriander, and fresh basil:
Grilled onions, zucchini, and eggplant:
Another salad — strawberry, mango, and apple:
And voilà! The cheesecake!