Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lactose-Free, Dairy-Full Cheesecake

So, remember the lactose-free cream cheese I found out existed last winter? I finally got around to making cheesecake again. I actually tried a sour cream cheesecake recipe last spring (from Bon Appétit, actually, though I can’t find it online), but I was not pleased at all with the results. I had to bake the cake a full hour longer (!) than the recipe called for, because it was way too jiggly in the middle. Granted, I’m rusty because it had been a very long time (maybe ten years) since I had baked a cheesecake, but I trusted the description in the instructions and I know “too jiggly” when I see it. As a result, the cake was overbaked and dry and tasted of bitter disappointment – it was possibly the worse I’d made. But just recently, I tried a recipe by Green Valley Organics (who actually make the lactose-free cream cheese and sour cream necessary for all this) for a roasted peach cheesecake. This time, it was perfect. The instructions and baking time yielded the perfect doneness, I got an amazing consistency with the filling, and ohmigod it was so good! I mean, it’s actual cheesecake, with all the tang and richness of dairy, except it won’t make me sick. It was light and not too sweet, which I liked (I think the Engineer would have preferred more sugar or more flavor; the Little Prince, however, liked it enough to add “cheesecake” to his vocabulary). I was actually disappointed only by the roasted peaches which, even though I roasted them for a shorter time than called for, came out almost burnt and falling apart. Honestly, I would leave them out altogether and just use this recipe as a base, so that’s what I’m writing down below. You could add some lemon or orange zest to the filling if you wish, or use vanilla bean paste instead of the vanilla extract. This would be great with a cherry or strawberry sauce, but my next one will probably be chocolate. Note that it’s very rich, so it probably serves about 12 people, but it freezes very well in individual slices (just let them thaw in the fridge for a day before eating).

[Again, for the record, I’m not at all affiliated with Green Valley Organics. I happen to like their ethics, and I LOVE their lactose-free dairy products.]

For the crust
2 ¼ cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 12 sheets or 9.5 oz. crackers; use GF if necessary)
½ cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)

For the filling
4 8-oz. tubs lactose-free cream cheese (Green Valley Organics is the only brand of which I know)
5 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 cup lactose-free sour cream (Green Valley Organics is the only brand of which I know)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar (optional, for garnish)

For the crust
Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Line the bottom of a 10” springform pan with parchment paper. Wrap the outside in thick tin foil; place on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a food processor, blend graham cracker crumbs and oil until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press the crumbs firmly into the pan (I pressed to create a bottom and some very low sides, but the bottom is really the important part here). Bake until crust is fragrant and begins to browns, about 7-8 minutes.

For the filling
In a large bowl, gently combine cream cheese and sugar with a hand mixer on lowest setting. (As you can see in the picture below, I used my stand mixer.) Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until just combined. Add sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla; mix until just combined. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.

Bake for 1 hour, until the edges are golden brown and the middle is just set. Turn oven off and leave cheesecake in there, with the door closed, for another 45 minutes. Remove from oven (at this point, I ran a knife along the outer edge to loosen the sides and prevent cracking), let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Before serving, remove cake from pan and carefully transfer to platter. Decorate the top with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, if desired.


whitecap41 said...

Looks delicious.

Hope I'm not straying too far off-topic, but I saw your comment on another forum about using lactase to make lactose-free dairy products, and it occurred to me to wonder if you've experimented with powered lactase. I came across some at CVS, styled "dairy relief powder." Apparently, it's the kind of lactase that's active at lower temperatures, because the label suggests sprinkling it directly on ice cream. It recites that one teaspoon contains "9000 FCC Lactase Units" (whatever that means.) Unfortunately, it offers no guidance on how (apart from 'sprinkling') one might use it.

Amélie said...

I've seen powdered lactase like that before (here's the CVS product if anyone wants more info: http://www.cvs.com/shop/health-medicine/digestive-health/lactose-intolerance/cvs-dairy-relief-powder-fast-acting-25ds-skuid-996498). As far as I can tell, this acts at cold temperatures (or at least, not too hot), BUT I'm pretty sure it's the equivalent of grinding a lactase tablet. The description does say that it should be sprinkled on food right before eating, but you should take another dose if eating more lactose after 30-45 minutes, just like regular tablets. I can't imagine that it breaks down all the lactose in the food before you eat it (after all, sprinkling the powder on top of ice cream means that the powder wouldn't even touch all the ice cream before you eat it). So my guess is that this is the same as taking a Lactaid (or other brand) tablet with the food. Personally, if I'm going to use lactase at all, I prefer taking a tablet right before the food instead of sprinkling all my food with powder. Either way, dosing is imprecise and I'd rather steer clear of lactose altogether, hence this cheesecake. :)

whitecap41 said...

I'm assuming the "break down" takes place in the tummy, and points south. A companion tablet carries the warning that it works only in a warm environment, so I surmise the powdered version is the type that tolerates cool temps. I just can't obtain locally the lactase "drops" (apparently available on Amazon) others claim to have success with. Such a product might be very useful in making, say, ranch dressing or ice cream. Even my local Whole Foods doesn't carry the preferred lactose-free ingredients.

whitecap41 said...

The "break down," of course, would ideally occur in the dairy product, prior to ingestion. The claim is made for lactase "drops" that one can add them to the product, and give them a day or two to work their magic, before use. I hope to get similar results with dissolved powder.

Amélie said...

The break-down indeed happens in the product itself with lactase drops, but as far as I can tell from reading the label, it's different for the powder. It seems that for the powder, the break-down would perhaps start directly on the food at a cold temperature, and would carry on in the stomach for a while (after which point, because of the body temperature and the pH of the digestive tract, it would stop). I don't think it can all be done before ingestion, because a) the time frame is too short and b) it's not in contact will all the food. The directions on the powder do say that it is no longer effective after 30-45 minutes, after which point you would need to sprinkle more, so it's not the same as the lactase drops.

Note that I have, on occasion, had trouble with the lactase drops, because they wouldn't mix properly with thick liquids such as cream. I therefore stick to lactase tablets that I ingest just before the food.

To give you an example for ice cream: In Quebec, they sell both lactose-free cream (so that I could make my own lactose-free dairy ice cream over there if I had my ice cream maker) as well as half-a-dozen flavors of lactose-free dairy ice cream in the freezer section of well-stocked grocery stores. So I have options even without the lactase drops. In the United States, there is currently no such thing as lactose-free cream, and since the lactase drops haven't worked for me with cream, I just make (or buy) non-dairy ice creams. I can replace the cream with coconut milk, for example. I find it hard to dose lactase tablets for ingesting ice cream, so I tend to avoid that option.

That's too bad about your Whole Foods not carrying the right products... If you are in the United States, I suggest talking to the manager of the store and asking for specific brands/products (I know that Green Valley Organics is something they would not object to carrying because it conforms to their standards, so it would just be a matter of getting it to the store). Sometimes, store managers are willing to take a chance and try a new product if it is requested by a customer, and will keep carrying it if it sells well.

whitecap41 said...

For however little it may be worth, I had no problem dissolving the powdered lactase in a little cool water, prior to adding it to the ice cream mix. The result, in my little Cuisinart no-ice, no-salt, countertop ice cream maker, initially, was quite delectable. Left in the freezer overnight, though, it became hard as a rock. So that explains one little mystery: why so many recipes call for the addition of a shot or two of vodka. This, of course, lowers the freezing temperature, resulting in a more freezer-stable product. But since 80 proof vodka contains only 40% alcohol, I wonder if more satisfactory results might not be obtained with grain alcohol? I see that the addition of guar gum is also recommended.

No signs of gastric distress yet (knock on wood.)