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Food Processor

Dieters' Featherweight Cheesecake

January 28, 1988|JANE S. FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

One problem with going, and staying, on a diet is that from time to time you crave something sweet, like ice cream, candy or maybe even a slice of cheesecake. For me, it is usually cheesecake, so I began working on a recipe that would satisfy my yearning for that sweet creamy flavor without all the calories and fat.

Here is a featherweight cake with a creamy but very airy texture--almost like a cross between a cheesecake and a pudding--made partially with sugar (to add flavor) and partially with sugar substitute. What the cake lacks in heft and sweetness is offset by the calorie count: about 178 per serving. It is quick and easy to make and if you stretch it to serve 10, you also can subtract 34 calories per slice.

Grated orange peel is the principal flavoring in the cake. The peel is ground to grated consistency with the sugar called for in the recipe. Since the metal blade is used, the technique is called "grinding to grate." Sugar acts as an abrasive that helps to break up the thin strips of peel; and provided it is not time to replace the metal blade, the peel should be finely ground in 30 seconds to 1 minute of processing. Remaining ingredients--except egg whites--are simply processed into the peel mixture.

Egg whites are beaten to firm peaks with a rotary beater or whisk and folded into the cake batter. When baked, the mixture is lightly browned on top, but still very soft and delicate, even when the cake has cooled to room temperature.

For best results, run the blade of a sharp, thin knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the crust from the side of the pan. Unmold the cake when cool, then refrigerate it unwrapped. It will be easier to slice the cake after it has been chilled for several hours in the refrigerator.

FEATHERWEIGHT CHEESECAKE

3 graham crackers

Oil

Peel of 1 medium orange

1/3 cup sugar

6 (.35 ounce) packages powdered sugar substitute

2 pounds ricotta cheese, kneaded in towel to remove moisture

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

Insert metal blade in dry processor. Break up graham crackers and process to crumbs. Brush oil on inside of 8-inch springform pan. Add crumbs and turn to coat pan completely, then tap out excess crumbs. Line outside of pan with double thickness of foil and set pan aside.

Strip off orange rind with vegetable peeler allowing strips to fall into food processor and taking care not to strip deeply into bitter white pith. Add sugar and process until rind is finely minced. Add sugar substitute, cheese, flour and vanilla. Process until smooth.

Separate 3 eggs. Set egg whites aside and gently beat yolks together with remaining whole egg. Add eggs to processor and pulse until thoroughly mixed into cheese. In dry bowl, use whisk or electric beaters to whip egg whites to firm peaks. Fold beaten egg whites thoroughly into cheese mixture.

Pour cheese mixture into springform pan. Place pan in roasting pan and add enough hot tap water to come halfway up outside of springform pan. Bake on lowest oven rack at 375 degrees 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until top is lightly browned. Remove pan carefully from water bath and cool cake to room temperature on rack. Remove pan side and refrigerate cake 4 hours, or until thoroughly chilled before slicing. Makes 10 servings.

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