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A Smaller Cheesecake to Savor Later

September 05, 1996|BEV BENNETT

Forgive the nostalgia, but I do remember a time not so long ago when cooks boasted of the number of eggs and cups of cream that went into their cheesecakes. More eggs and cream made a smoother, more custard-like cake.

That's probably gone the way of marbled steaks.

But just as a meat lover can argue that sliced turkey breast will never taste like juicy, rare beef, we dessert lovers can't find complete satisfaction in a bowl of berries and plain (nonfat, of course) yogurt. And a stripped-down version of the classic, made with nonfat milk and egg whites, isn't the solution either because it doesn't taste like the real thing.

Instead, I recommend making a delicious, luscious recipe that yields a small amount, reducing the tempting leftovers. A reasonable reduction is to halve a standard recipe, baking the cake in a seven-inch pan for a yield of six to eight slices.

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Serve the first two slices as soon as the cake firms up. Revel in the richness. Then wrap the remaining slices in plastic wrap; cover again in foil and freeze. When sugar-free gelatin desserts won't hit the spot, a wedge of strawberry cheesecake might. Frozen cheesecake has better texture if it is not completely thawed. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours, or until just soft enough to cut into.

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE

1 1/2 teaspoons melted butter

1/2 cup crushed orange cracker or graham cracker crumbs

1 cup whole strawberries

2 teaspoons Grand Marnier

2 teaspoons plus 2/3 cup sugar

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

4 large strawberries, halved, optional

Combine melted butter and crumbs in bowl. Pat onto bottom of 7-inch springform pan. This is very thin crust and may barely cover bottom of pan. Cover and chill in freezer while preparing filling.

Puree 1 cup berries in blender or food processor to yield 1/2 cup puree. Combine with Grand Marnier and 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside.

In bowl, beat cream cheese with remaining 2/3 cup sugar until light. Add grated orange peel and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time, until thoroughly combined. Add strawberry mixture, but do not completely beat in. Drizzle and fold in to create marbled effect. Gently pour cream cheese mixture into prepared pan. Place in slightly larger pan with 1 inch warm water.

Bake cake at 300 degrees until cake does not shimmy when shaken gently, 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove pan with water from oven. Set cake aside in larger pan 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake. Cover and chill 6 hours before slicing. Garnish cake with strawberry halves.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Each of 8 servings contains about:

340 calories; 242 mg sodium; 170 mg cholesterol; 24 grams fat; 25 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 0.18 gram fiber.

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