Sarah’s Gluten-Free Birthday Cheesecake

As noted in previous posts, my friend Sarah has a love/hate relationship with gluten.  While she loves the sweets that are made with regular flour, she hates the side effects on her body from processing it.  She explains it, “I feel like I’ve been drinking the next day.  I can’t think straight.”  That was only one of the side effects.  Sarah has an infectious laugh, always in good humor and a blessing as a friend.  She needed a birthday cake to be proud of and one she could enjoy.   After making the cake and carting it from one pub to another (we were kicked out of the first, ahem), the huge crew of Sarah-lovers sang to her and we dished out the deliciousness.

In exploring gluten-free recipes, I learned that gluten-free flours are generally a mixture of rice and almond flours (very difficult to be allergic to gluten AND nuts!).  There is normally the additive of “xanatham gum” which is an additive for the binding effect.  Most baking mixes have this included, but if you are using your own “gluten-free” flour, you may have to add a teaspoon or two to achieve the same effect.

Also, the original recipe called for flour which I substituted with corn starch.  Per the corn starch can, it’s a 1 to 2 ratio — for every 2 TB of flour, I used 1 TB of corn starch.  It seemed to do the trick.

DAY   1 The Crust (adapted from Gluten Free Nut Crust Supreme)

  • 2 cups gluten free baking mix
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (I used the food processor)

Line cheesecake pan with parchment paper.  In a food processor, chop pecans.  Add dry ingredients and combine.

Add the butter gradually, pulsing to combine.   The crust will be a little “crumbly” but will hold together once pressed into the pan.  Because I’m too lazy to do it all in one night, I refrigerated the dough for the evening.

DAY 2 For the actual cheesecake, I adapted from a Better Homes and Garden recipe.

  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 4 8-ounce packages reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 -2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel or orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk

1. In a heavy small saucepan melt the white chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, sugar, the corn starch, the lemon or orange peel, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined. With the mixer running, slowly add the melted white chocolate, beating until combined. Add eggs all at once, beating on low speed just until combined (do not overbeat). Stir in milk.

3. Pour filling into prepared springform pan. Place springform pan on a shallow baking pan. Bake about 55 minutes or until center appears nearly set when shaken gently. Cool cheesecake in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Use a small metal spatula to loosen cheesecake from sides of pan; cool 30 minutes. Remove sides of pan; cool cheesecake completely. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.  ** to remove from the pan, I placed the whole cheesecake in the freezer for an hour. Then it was much easier to “pop” it off the springform pan and wrap till the next day and stage of topping.

DAY 3  The Topping

  • 1/3 cup strawberry jelly
  • Fresh strawberries

In a small saucepan heat and stir strawberry jelly over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the jelly over top of the cheesecake. Arrange berries on cheesecake. Cover with plastic wrap; chill up to 4 hours before serving. Makes 16 to 20 servings.

And, a piece to grow on:


One thought on “Sarah’s Gluten-Free Birthday Cheesecake

  1. Mmmm…love the jam finish on top!

    As for refrigerating–all these baking things seem to tell you to refrigerate for 24 hours (at least that’s what it always seems like when you are impatient for goodies). So maybe you should claim that’s why you let it “rest”. (Exactly, of course-that’s really why you did it, right?–but as Julia Child says, who’s to know?)

    On the other hand a lot of the delays are about “resting” the gluten which is sort of irrelevant here. Maybe you need to claim you are resting the xantham gum then.

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