If you love cooking, a “bring a plate” event at work is basically a live episode of Masterchef (in your mind).
Last week, I went to a ladies lunch for a friend from work who is about to head off on maternity leave. Everyone was charged with bringing a plate, and the unusual step was taken to start an email chain to make sure we didn’t double up or bring too many sweets (personally, I am fine with having five different types of cake for lunch).
As usual, I was last to get organised and respond, by which stage everyone had (surprisingly) picked a savoury option. Clearly, it was my call of duty to provide something sweet. I could nearly taste the chocolate ripple cake already.
Literally the day before the lunch, one of my coworkers mentioned that the mum-to-be had just found out she has gestational diabetes and is on a restricted diet. I immediately felt like a bad human being for locking myself into something sweet. Mum-to-be would not be able to eat anything sugary!
I frantically searched Google for diabetes friendly recipe sites. Unsurprisingly, most of these sites don’t have a dessert section. Eventually, I stumbled across a grain free, sugar free and low carb cheesecake recipe. Perfect!
I went down to my local organic/health food store in search of ingredients. When I got there, I couldn’t find almond flour. I remembered another pregnant friend, also suffering from gestational diabetes, saying that she could eat coconut flour because it has a lower GI than regular flour. So I bought that instead.
When I got to the stevia section, I had no idea. Pellets or drops? The recipe calls for liquid stevia, but with several different concentrations available, how do I know which one to buy? I was a bit panicked. I don’t even like stevia (that weird aftertaste.. ew) and I’ve never used it before. What if I stuff it up and have to serve up something funky tasting to all the ladies I work with? So I decided on the pellets, because at least the packaging made it look like something edible and not something that belongs in a chemistry lab.
In the end, the idea of one of my colleagues biting into half of an un-crushed pellet of a substance that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar got the better of me, and I decided to substitute the stevia for brown sugar. Which meant having to come to terms to the fact that, after trawling the internet and making a special (expensive) trip to the organic shop, I am actually a terrible person who would bring something to a lunch for someone knowing they can’t eat it!
What made my day was when Mum-to-be risked it and ate about 3/4 of one. Fortunately for me (and her!), she checked her blood glucose later and had a great reading. Phew. Cue tears of happiness and Masterchef group hugs.
(Note: this does not mean this recipe is diabetes friendly. It just wasn’t diabetes unfriendly for this particular lady! Refer back to the link earlier in the post for the original diabetes friendly recipe).
A few notes about the recipe:
- I used these Coles Baking Cups which worked out perfectly. Not only do they look a bit fancy, the wrapper can be peeled off easily and the cheesecakes can be popped out of the base. The final product wouldn’t have looked as nice with the corrugated edges of a patty pan.
- Cream cheese straight out the fridge is very firm stuff. My stand mixer couldn’t get through it, so I had to get it started with a knife and then use a hand beater. If you are lucky enough to have an awesome stand mixer, this might not be an issue.
- I like a bit of texture and crunch to the base of a cheesecake, so I chopped the nuts roughly. I kept adding melted butter until the mix looked like a biscuit crumb. Don’t be shy with the butter – keep adding as much as you need (slowly) until you get the consistency you want to avoid a dry, floury base.
- You could make this into a full size cheesecake. Use a lined springform tin and bake for 40-50 minutes.
1 1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
100g salted butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 x 250g blocks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, left to soften for half an hour
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 vanilla bean pods
3 large eggs
Strawberries and toasted coconut, to garnish
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
- Mix all crust ingredients in bowl. Portion into cupcake holders. Half fill, and then compress firmly with a sauce bottle. Bases should be about 1cm thick when compressed. Set aside.
- Get cream cheese started by mixing with a knife until broken up into smaller pieces, and add sour cream and sugar. Mix with hand beaters until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
- Add one egg and beat well until thoroughly combined. Slice vanilla pods lengthways and scrape seeds into mix (use a teaspoon and your fingers to squeeze the seeds out). Add remaining two eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
- Using a large spoon (or 1/2 cup measuring cup) pour cheesecake mix into cupcake holders until full.
- Place mini cheesecakes onto a baking tray and bake for 25 min, or until done. Test for doneness by taking one out and jiggling – you should see a very slight jiggle in the middle, but none around the sides (err on the side of undercooking: if there is no jiggle, the cheesecakes have dried out too much and may crack as they set if they haven’t already).
- When done, remove from oven and set aside to cool. Put in fridge overnight as the cheesecakes need to continue to set.
- When ready to serve, top with strawberries & toasted coconut.
- Revel in the praise you receive for your delicious, mini masterpieces.