Love is a four-letter word. And like life, soul, fate or luck, it sits light on the tongue but can be heavy on the heart. Somewhat like whipped cream. Love and patisserie are all fluffy pastry and clouds of cream till you get greedy and gulp down more than your share. And in no time the floating pillows of cirrus are transformed into load-bearing cumulonimbus and your stomach feels denser than the monsoon sky.
Now, I’m a fan of both love and patisserie and their soul-satisfying sweet intensity. There are days when I like nothing better than to snuggle in the cosy comforts of l’amour and cheesecake and nest under their weighty warmth. But there are also many days when I’m beckoned by the sky like a helium balloon, eager to sail through space untethered. In fact, as I grow older, I want both love and dessert with a lighter touch. Yes, I still need my dose of sugar in more ways than one but I want it to fuel me rather than weigh me down. Isn’t there a cliché about freeing love so that it comes back? And as a food-obsessed person, I’ll go a step further and say that to be able to keep enjoying desserts without feeling like a pregnant pachyderm at the end, I prefer them sweet but slim. That way, I can have my cake, eat it too and every now and then free fall into that triple chocolate cake and ice cream sundae.
So I’m always looking for featherweight desserts that make no compromises on deliciousness. But I stay true to using wholesome ingredients and stay miles away from chemical-rich, ‘low-fat’ substitutes. This means that I use eggs instead of egg substitute and whole milk rather than weird tasting low fat milk. And I eat fat, it’s delicious ( imagine bacon sans fat!), only I eat it in smaller quantities. That way I don’t miss it. I cook with a healthy dose of common sense rather than follow fads.
Seeking to replicate the yumminess of cheesecake without the calorie-concentrated cream cheese, I found an old recipe for Turkish yoghurt cake from epicurious.com and tweaked it, replacing the flour with ground almonds, the superfine sugar with light brown, unrefined sugar, and making my own orange-honey glaze for the topping. And the experiment worked! The cake was beautifully creamy and since I used both oranges and lemons instead of just lemons indicated in the recipe, the citrus was seductive and heady. In short, more bang (read flavour) for the buck! This recipe is perfect for the cheesecake-phobic and is done before you can say Philadelphia! I would stress on using a non-stick cake tin; this ensures that this delicate dessert unmolds easily and looks as beautiful as it tastes.
- 4 tbsps ground almonds
- 4 large eggs separated
- 1/2 cup light brown or golden sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange, finely grated
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 2/3 cups Greek yoghurt or whole milk yoghurt drained of water
- For the orange-honey glaze
- 3 tbsps honey
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 firm orange peeled and sliced thinly into circles
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and lightly grease a non-stick, 9-inch cake tin.
- Beat together the egg yolks and the sugar till thick and creamy. Mix in the ground almonds followed by the yoghurt, zest and lemon and orange juices.
- In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the yoghurt mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes till lightly golden and puffed (don't worry if the cake subsides when you switch off the oven). Cool the cake and unmold onto a plate.
- To make the glaze, heat the honey with the orange juice on medium heat in a non-stick pan till bubbling. Gently put in the orange slices taking care not to put one on top of the other, and cook them till the liquid becomes syrupy. Now lift the orange slices with tongs and arrange them on the cake. Finally pour the orange-honey glaze over to cover the top of the cake.