Prep 1 hr
Cook 15 mins
Fresh papaya rain down from my papaya shrub daily. I simply can't throw away food, so I have created a healthier low-fat (3.8 grams total fat) crustless holiday cheese cake from fresh papaya puree spiced with freshly ground cardamom and topped with pecans. Serve this dessert cold (without a crust) right in the ramekins. If salt is a concern, look for a low-sodium, fat-free ricotta cheese or low-sodium, fat-free cottage cheese to reduce the sodium content. The preparation time can be shortened by using prepared papaya puree and ground cardamom, but flavor is lost and sodium and fat increase.
- 8 ounces fat-free cream cheese or 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese
- 1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese or 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
- 1⁄4 cup powdered sugar
- 1⁄2 cup egg substitute or 2 eggs
- 2 black cardamom pods or 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 cup strained pureed, fresh papaya
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1⁄4 cup whole pecans
- Wash the fresh papaya, remove skin, seeds, a d inner membrane, cut chunks into the large bowl of food processor and process to a fine puree. Although you can make a suitable puree using a food processor, I prefer my old low-tech food mill. It seems to be much quicker ; wash the papaya (no peeling, seeding, or membrane removal) cut in chunks and process through the food mill.
- Lightly crush the cardamom pods and place in a small heavy duty sauce pan with 1/4 cup water and papaya puree. Bring to simmer, cover and simmer about 10 minutes, until the cardamom pods release their scent. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Push the papaya puree mixture through a fine mesh sieve using the back of a flexible rubber spatula. When the pulp and liquid have been strained, discard the solids left after straining. Pour the mixture into a cheese cloth bag and allow it to drain while preparing the remaining ingredients.
- Dry toast the pecans by placing them in a small non-stick skillet on a medium high heat. Stir the pecans constantly until they give up their aroma and become a light golden color. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Lightly grease or use thin coat of olive oil spray inside 6 small ramekins (1/2 cup size).
- In the large bowl of a food processor, put the cheeses, powdered sugar, and egg substitute. Process until smooth and silky. Add the contents of the cheese cloth bag to the cheese mixture and continue to process until mixture is silky smooth.
- Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins. Place an equal number of pecan halves on top of each individual cheesecake in a decorative way. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
- These will keep about 4 days uncovered in the refrigerator or sealed in an airtight zipper-lock freezer bag for about 2 months.
- Serve these cheese cakes cold in their own dishes. Possible toppings include whipped cream (or some kind of whipped substitute such as whipped skim milk, or a commercial product like Cool Whip).
- If you don't have powdered sugar on hand, mix 1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch and grind in a blender (not food processor) until it is a fine powder, or substitute 3 Tablespoons agave nectar for the powdered sugar.
- You can vary the flavors of the cheese cakes by changing the dominate spice or flavoring and by adding finely grated fruit zest (lime is a good choice), finely chopped nuts, dried fruits, or even chocolate nibs.
- Substitute other fruit or vegetable purees for the papaya, keeping the amount of moisture and the amount of puree the same. Try pumpkin or squash puree or another tropical fruit.