a whole lotta cheesecake

brigitte I had a post all ready to go for you about cheesecake, because I made one that was intensely tasty, but then we went to New Orleans for the weekend and by the time I got back from that densely caloric trip, I couldn't bear to think about anything sweet or rich.

Among the things we came home to was this little item:


I snapped that picture on the room-service run to the coop yesterday morning, thinking she (I don't actually know that that the baby chicken is female; I just like to encourage all the chicks to be, well, chicks, as we are overstocked with very vocal roosters) would make a nice poster child for whatever light, healthy, springtime food I was going to write about today.

Except that now she is on my dining room table, wearing a little leg splint and comfrey compress and peeping like a maniac in the cardboard box my daughter set up for her last night when she found her unable to put weight on her right leg.  'Unable to put weight.'  All 3 grams of herself.  And you go ahead and try to splint a leg that is (a) covered in downy little feathers (now partially waxed) and (b) has a toe set-up that basically mimics an umbrella, enabling her to shoot the splint off in two hops if she aims herself correctly.  Go ahead.  I'll wait here while you try.  Also, she squirms.  Also, you must be careful not to crush her like an insect.  Also, the daughter who put her in the cozy box went off to school, where rational thought can unfold without the distraction of mad, frantic peeping.  If her life force will save her, she's well-positioned. She has buckets of the stuff.  Which also probably means she's a rooster.  Where there is medical success, there is generally a rooster.

The fact that I ended up in possession of a lot of sweetened ricotta yesterday is not really related to the little chicken.  I was heating milk to make ricotta in the morning, and then wandered out of the house on the school run, forgetting it was on the stove, and my husband stepped in and decided I must have been making yogurt, and all of this to say: life is still a little wiffly here and guess what?  You get cheesecake after all.  Not the Cardiac Cheesecake, which I am reserving for a few more days until I clear the pralines out of my bloodstream, but a lighter one that travels well, which is useful in this potlucky season.

I made a gluten-free dough (top picture below) as well as the dough called for in the recipe (appearing beneath), and strange to say, the GF version was (this may shock you, as it did me) kind of better, even though harder to handle as dictated by the people who made the pretty ones in the magazine.  I was highly skeptical when I stuck them in the oven, because they looked like someone's cat had swatted them around for a while, but it turns out that everything puffs up and browns nicely as it bakes and looks good enough for company in the end. If I were making them for dessert again, I'd use mini-muffin pans.  Light as they are, it's a lot of food.  But they do make a convincing case for themselves as a breakfast candidate, as they are not very sweet and are full of protein and quite portable.

To make them with wheat flour, just substitute 2 c of it for the weird flours called for in the GF version.



cheesecake to go

adapted from La Cucina Italiana, March/April 2013


  • 1 c almond flour
  • 1 c white rice flour
  • 1/4 c tapioca starch
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2T very good EV olive oil


  • 1/2# ricotta
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2T honey
  • 1t finely grated lemon zest

For the dough, whisk together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mound them up.  Make a well in the center, and add the eggs and oil to that.  Using a fork, gently break the yolks and slowly begin to incorporate the flour from around the well, mixing this way until about hald the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Now knead the dough in the bowl until it is smooth.  Wrap tightly and let it rest for half an hour at room temperature.

Whisk the cheese with the yolks, honey and lemon zest.  Separately beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, and fold them into the cheese mixture in two additions.

Heat the oven to 375, and butter the cups of a muffin pan (8 of them, if you are making a full-size muffin).  Roll the dough out between two lightly floured sheets of waxed paper until it is about 1/4" in thickness, and cut into 8 squarish pieces.  Drape and press them into the prepared cups, patching as needed, and leaving an over-hang.  Divide the filling among the lined cups, and gently fold the corners towards the center.

Bake, rotating the pan once, until puffed and golden, about 25 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature.