Pumpkin Cheesecake for Everyone

This might actually make my top 5 list of things I have ever made.

I am particularly pleased with the fact that this came out SO creamy and SO decadent despite the fact that I didn't use any sugar at all.

Whoa, like, hold your horses.  None?

You may recall that I have been working on some low-carb baking lately, simultaneously resulting in some lovely gluten-free recipes, and that I have been trying to get around the new taste of calorie-free sweeteners.

Well here I am, getting around it!

In the past, I would usually only venture as far as to replace half the sugar with something like Stevia, knowing that the bitter aftertaste was too much for me.  But friends, I have found out some magical things since then.  

1) It's possible to adapt your tastes!  

2) Good whey protein powders... have no aftertaste!  And a good whey protein powder usually has very few carbs per scoop... hence, adding the magnificent, blendable stuff for enhanced flavor, sweetness and - you guessed it - protein!


So perhaps you can see why I am so pleased... 

Well, of course, because its PUMPKIN.  And CHEESECAKE.  And did I mention, really good?! I mean, what else could be better?

Okay, I also like that it's pretty darn diet friendly!  I have been able to nom on a slice or two of this when I'm after something sweet, even during my bikini prep.  The low calories in a totally satisfying square easily fit into my day, and the low carbs are keeping my fat loss program hummin' along like a Junebug.

Of course, you can totally make this with whatever sweetener you like.  Try making it with Swerve, like Carolyn of AllDayIDreamAboutFood.com.  Make it with unicorn smiles and butterfly kisses.  Actually, that sounds weird, but go ahead tell me how it comes out...  Even regular sugar would substitute right in for my Stevia without a hitch.  Or go halvsies, like I started out doing.  

But if you're interested in making a change for your health, or baking for someone you know who is sugar-free and/or gluten-free... I think this crazy-good Pumpkin Cheesecake will turn your world upside-down!

Pumpkin Cheesecake (GF + LC)

Makes 16 decadent squares or slices per pie 
Nutrition for each: 88 calories, 6.5 g fat, 4.6 g carbs, 1.4 g fiber (= 3.2 net carbs), 0.8 g sugar, 3.2 g protein, + bonus...38.6% DV Vitamin A!

3/4 c. almond flour
3/4 c. flaxseed meal
4 T. unsalted butter
1/8 tsp. salt

Cheesecake mix:
4 oz regular cream cheese
4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
3 whole eggs
2 T. liquid egg whites, or 2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. tapioca flour (or arrowroot powder or cornstarch)
6 oz container of low carb yogurt - I used CARBsmart brand in Caramel Spice Cake flavor - they also have Cinnamon Bun flavor that I plan to use next time. Only 4 carbs per container!
1/2 c. sweetener of choice - I used 1/2 c. Stevia powder and thought it was sweet without being overly sweet.  You can add more to taste!

Pumpkin Pie Mix:
2 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. of low-calorie premade vanilla shake mix - I used 8 oz of 100-calorie Designer Whey vanilla shake found in the health-foods aisle, BUT you could also try blending about 25 g or so of your favorite vanilla protein powder with 1 c. water!
3 T. tapioca flour (or arrowroot powder or cornstarch)
3 T. vanilla protein powder 
1/2-2/3 c. sweetener of choice 
10 drops liquid Stevia, if available.  Otherwise, you can try using more of the powder.
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4-1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray or grease two 8x8" square baking sheets or two 8 or 9" round pie pans.
In a food processor or mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all ingredients for the crust, making a thick meal that holds together when pressed.  Press down into a thin layer on both pie pans.  It really will be a thin layer - you could always double the recipe - but I prefer the dainty crust myself!

Bake the crust for 6-8 minutes, or until it seems done without drying out or cracking.
Blend together in a food processor or mixer everything in the cheesecake filling recipe and set aside.  Do the same for everything in the pumpkin pie filling recipe.  NOTE: Blending the ingredients is much easier and comes out smoother if the temperature of all the ingredients is the same.  This is why many recipes ask for your eggs and cream cheese to be at room temperature!  Also, cold cream cheese is realllly hard to blend with anything!

Distibute the entire contents of the cheesecake filling evenly between the two pie crusts.  Do the same with the pumpkin pie filling, using a spoon to scoop it into different places throughout the cheesecake filling.  Use a knife to gently swirl the cheesecake and the pumpkin pie filling together without disturbing the crust or mixing too thoroughly together.

Bake the cheesecakes on the center rack for about 50 minutes.  Check 5 minutes before the time is up, and leave in up to 10 minutes longer if it doesn't seem set.  The cheesecake should be moist but not wet when it's done!

Chill 1-2 hours before enjoying!