About a year ago I discovered that I have a sensitivity to gluten. That day my world changed. At first it seemed that it had changed for the worse. I could not imagine not enjoying a crusty piece of french bread, buttery pasta, or even a simple peanut butter and honey sandwich. These were among the things I counted as real pleasures in my life.
As I waded into this new gluten-free world I began to discover that gluten is hidden in the most unlikely places. Just about any processed food can contain gluten and it is not as simple as finding what type of food is likely to contain gluten, you must also check each brand. I found this out one night after we had just finished eating. My husband had done the grocery shopping and fixed dinner, I really am lucky in that way. Then came the headache and soon after the other discomforts that I have now learned to recognize as my body’s reaction to gluten.
I couldn’t figure it out. We had eaten nothing that had caused a reaction before. Later that night, I was taking out the trash and noticed that the empty can of green enchilada sauce used in our chicken dish was a different brand than what I usually buy. I pulled it out to take a look at the list of ingredients and there it was, gluten. Oops.
However, I must say that this story demonstrates just how much my world has actually improved even without my favorite breads, pastas, and my this and thats. I feel so much better now, most days I don’t miss them, at least not too much.
Having said that, you can just imagine that having a baked dessert can present a challenge. So a year later, I am so thrilled to discover a recipe for cheesecake that has a gluten-free crust and does not use flour as a thickener in the filling. I share it here for all of you who have gluten-sensitivity or children who benefit from eliminating gluten from their diets. This is so good that everyone in the family can enjoy it, even those who do not need to restrict gluten.
One word of caution. When using oats, some people with gluten sensitivities can have a reaction if the oats are processed in a facility that also processes wheat. There are gluten-free oats (labeled) available or you may want to just use the almonds and some almond meal in place of the oats.
Just a heads up, there were two things that I did not have handy that you will need for this recipe, cheesecloth and the wider heavy weight sheet of foil wrap.
Also, flavor and texture is best if cheesecake is refrigerated overnight.
1 1/2 cup Oats (gluten-free oats)
1/2 cup Chopped almonds
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup Butter – melted (5 1/2 Tbls)
Heat oven to 350°.
Grease 9″ spring form pan.
Combine all ingredients, mix well. press firmly on bottom and 1 1/2 inches on the sides. Bake 18 minutes. Cool in refrigerator.
While crust is cooling make the filling.
20 ozs. Whole milk ricotta cheese, drained (2 1/2 cup)
1 – 8 oz Cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 cup Sugar
1 Tbls Cornstarch
4 Large eggs, at room temperature
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 1/2 tsp Pure vanilla extract
To drain ricotta cheese:
Place ricotta cheese in strainer lined with cheesecloth and suspend over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
To make filling:
In large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth, add ricotta cheese and sugar, beat until smooth. Beat in cornstarch, add eggs one at a time beating about 30 seconds after each egg is added. Beat in lemon zest and vanilla.
Pour filling into cooled crust. Use large sheet of foil wrap to wrap the outside of the spring form pan to protect the cheesecake in the water bath.
Place spring form pan in large roasting pan and pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about half way up the side of the spring form pan.
Bake for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes or until the top of the cheesecake is nicely browned and the center of cake moves slightly when the pan is gently giggled.
Remove from water bath and cool on a wire rack. After cooling about an hour remove from spring form pan. Cool in refrigerator 6-8 hours or overnight.