By Laura Mack
July 7, 2016
These low carb ‘Berries & Cream’ Mini Cheesecakes deliver on the promise of indulgence, while you totally stay “on plan.” They also happen to be perfect for entertaining because the cheesecakes can be made at least a day ahead, and garnished with fresh berries up to an hour before serving. With less than 3 carbs each (not including the berry garnishes), these are quite keto-friendly.
Most traditional cheesecakes can be easily adapted to be low carb and there are many wonderful recipes out there. As a former pastry chef, I’ve made more cheesecakes than I could possibly count. There are few desserts that are more popular than cheesecake. Well-made low-carb versions are no exception and they are nearly indistinguishable from their high-carb relations.
The cheesecake itself (sans berries) is one of my go-to basic vanilla cheesecake recipes. It’s a bit unique because of it’s creamy topping, which is simply some of the batter set aside (before the eggs are added) and used to frost the tops of the baked, chilled cheesecakes before garnishing. The topping adds a lovely creaminess, as well as covering up any visual imperfections on the tops of the cheesecakes. It also helps keep the berries firmly in place.
We are smack in the middle of berry season here in the Pacific Northwest, so I couldn’t resist garnishing these beauties with some of my favorites. I didn’t include the berries in the nutritional information, however, because it will vary depending on the type of berry and quantity used. However, the additional impact on net carbs is quite small. If you are sensitive to even the tiniest amount of fruit, rest assured that they are delicious served “plain” or perhaps with a dollop of my Creamy Low Carb Lemon Curd.
A mini springform pan (12-cavity) with removable bottoms is easy to use and makes simply adorable individual cheesecakes. However, a muffin tin with paper liners will work just as well. While the pans are shaped differently, they hold an identical amount of crust and filling.
The buttery press-in “crumb” crust is made primarily from almond flour with a little coconut flour for sturdiness. A wooden tart tamper is a handy tool for pressing down the crusts, although the bottom of a shot glass would work as well. The proportion of crust to filling is generous, but it adds great textural contrast and makes the mini size easier to handle. The crust is partially baked and cooled before filling, which helps it firm up adequately.
For smooth, lump-free cheesecake, it’s imperative to use softened, room-temperature cream cheese. Beat the cheese on low speed with a paddle until smooth before adding any other ingredients. Try to be patient and stay at low speed to avoid beating excess air into the batter, which would cause the cheesecake to over-inflate, then deflate and contribute to cracks. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice to incorporate any lumps clinging to the bowl. If you find that the lumps are stubborn, your cream cheese may still be a little too cold. Just dip the bottom of the bowl in a pan of hot tap water for 20 seconds to warm and resume mixing. Repeat if necessary until the cheese mixture is smooth before proceeding with the recipe.
Once the cheesecake filling is added to the par-baked crusts, they are baked for about 20 minutes. The best way to tell if they are done is to gently shake the pan. The centers should have no more than a slight jiggle. Most of the surface should look matte, with just a little shine in the very centers. Don’t be alarmed if the batter puffs a little while cooking; that’s normal even when care is taken not to over-mix. It will settle down once cooled.
Speaking of cooling, you’ll want to thoroughly cool the baked cheesecakes at room temperature (about an hour), before lightly covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating until completely chilled. Chill for at least 3 hours, although overnight is safest for easier handling.
After removing the cheesecakes from the pan, I transfer them to a serving platter before I dollop on the topping. When garnishing with berries, I like to wait until no more than an hour before serving so the juices don’t bleed into the topping. The cheesecakes can be made several days ahead (without berry garnishes) and even frozen for up to a month. If freezing, place on a parchment-lined sheet pan and freeze until hard. Transfer to a tightly-covered storage container and freeze for up to one month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before garnishing with berries and serving. Tip: they’re even good frozen, although the berries won’t stick to the top!
In my experience, perfect desserts are those that leave you completely satisfied after a small serving. First, they have to look amazing before you even take a bite, and then wow you when you do. These low carb ‘Berries & Cream’ Mini Cheesecakes totally deliver. Their creamy richness juxtaposed with bright berry tartness and crispy, buttery texture…well, you’ll just have to taste them for yourself. I know you won’t be disappointed!
Low Carb 'Berries & Cream' Mini Cheesecakes
Author: Laura Mack
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 50 mins
These low carb 'Berries & Cream' Mini Cheesecakes deliver on the promise of indulgence, while you totally stay "on plan." They also happen to be perfect for entertaining because the cheesecakes can be made at least a day ahead, and garnished with fresh berries up to an hour before serving. With less than 3 carbs each (not including the berry garnishes), these are quite keto-friendly.
4.2 ounces / 1¼ cup almond flour
1.4 ounces / 3 tablespoons xylitol, powdered in a Nutribullet or clean coffee grinder
1½ tablespoons / 12 grams coconut flour
2 ounces / ¼ cup butter, unsalted, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon liquid stevia
1 pinch fine sea salt
12 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 ounces / ½ cup heavy cream
2 ounces / ¼ cup xylitol
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon liquid stevia
1 pinch fine sea salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest, optional
1 pint fresh berries: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Spray a 12-cavity cheesecake pan lightly with coconut oil. Or, line a 12-cavity muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- For the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, powdered xylitol, and coconut flour. In a separate bowl, melt butter in the microwave and stir in extracts, stevia, and salt, stirring to blend. Add mixture to dry ingredients and mix well with a fork until dough comes together.
- Divide dough into 12 balls, about 1 tbsp each, and press firmly and evenly into 12-cavity mini cheesecake pan (sprayed with coconut oil), or paper-lined muffin tin. Bake for 10-12 minutes until pale golden. Transfer to rack and cool for at least 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 325F.
- For the filling: Beat cream cheese with the paddle attachment on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down once or twice to incorporate any lumps clinging to the bowl. If you find that the lumps are stubborn, your cream cheese may still be a little too cold. Just dip the bottom of the bowl in a pan of hot tap water for 20 seconds to warm and resume mixing. Repeat if necessary until the cheese mixture is smooth before proceeding.
- In a separate 2-cup liquid measure or bowl, whisk together cream, xylitol, vanilla, stevia, and salt, stirring to blend. While the mixer is on low speed, add liquid ingredients slowly to incorporate with cream cheese until well blended. Transfer 6 ounces (3/4 cup) of the mixture to a covered container and refrigerate. This will be used later to top the baked and cooled cheesecakes.
- Add egg and zest (if using) to the remaining batter and beat at low speed until just until blended. Divide filling evenly among the 12 cavities. The batter should fill nearly to the tops. Cheesecakes will puff up a little while baking but sink down after cooling. Bake until centers are almost set and barely jiggle, for 20 to 22 minutes. Cool completely (about 1 hour), cover with plastic film, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
- Remove cheesecakes from pan. To remove the bottom discs, slide a thin knife between the bottoms and the crust. Arrange cheesecakes on a serving platter. Place a tablespoon-size dollop of the reserved cream cheese topping on each cheesecake and spread to the edges. Not more than an hour before serving, arrange berries on top.
- The cheesecakes can be made several days ahead (without berry garnishes) and even frozen for up to a month. If freezing, place on a parchment-lined sheet pan and freeze until hard. Transfer to a tightly-covered storage container and freeze for up to one month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before garnishing with berries and serving.
Nutritional info* per serving (not including berry garnish: 254 cal, 22.7 g total fat (84%), 3.8 g total carbs, 1.4 g fiber, 2.4 g net carbs, and 5.2 g protein. Please note that I do not count the sugar alcohols from xylitol in the total carbs or net carbs.
*I use Living Cookbook 2015, along with package information and data from www.nutritiondata.self.com, to calculate the nutritional information for my recipes. Thus, I can make no guarantees as to the accuracy.