A Delicious Low Carb Cheesecake
My mom always made cheesecake for us on holidays. It was one of her “signature” desserts. With all those memories, it’s been hard to avoid making this cheesecake since I switched to a low-carb diet, but with this low carb cheesecake recipe, now I can!
Mom always called it a “New-York” cheesecake, but I found out recently that that’s not correct. It’s actually “Japanese Style” cheesecake. When I ordered New York Cheesecake at restaurants, I was always disappointed by the gelatinous, thick, cloyingly sweet dessert I would get.
Now I know why – I was expecting “Japanese style”, because my mom got the name wrong! This style seems to be the latest rave, but I’ve been happily eating it since childhood. To me, it’s still the “ultimate” cheesecake. It’s light, fluffy, and not overly sweet.
I’ve taken over the recipe, modernized it, and used my understanding of food science to make a delicious low carb version. Even my in-laws have loved it (though they claim to hate low-carb foods).
Remember, I’ve been on a low carb diet for a long time, so my taste buds have adjusted to perceiving sweetness quite strongly. You might have to adjust the recipe for your own preference. Both the sweeteners I recommend are about 70% as sweet as sugar.
I do not recommend using artificial sweeteners (not even my preferred natural zero-carb sweeteners) more often than once per month, but during my once-a-month indulgence, I love this recipe.
Why have I chosen these particular sweeteners? Because they are the least harmful options – they may even be beneficial. I also recommend always having some carbohydrates when consuming anything sweet. I think that low-carb is better than no-carb for anything that tastes sweet. For a detailed analysis, see my other post on artificial sweeteners.
Low Carb Japanese Cheesecake
- Springform Pan
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1-2 sheets graham crackers 'Nilla wafers or cinnamon graham crackers are great too!
- 19 oz cream cheese
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1 cup erythritol or xylitol
- ½ cup Just Like Sugar for Baking
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Bowl 2 – Fats
- 6 egg yolks
- 16 oz sour cream regular, full fat only
Bowl 3 – Copper Mixing Bowl
- 6 egg whites
- 3 tbsp sugar These provide most of the carbs, but it also stabilizes the egg white foam
- 1 Roasting Pan Big enough to comfortably contain the springform pan
- 1-2 Liters Hot Water Enough to create water bath – see instructions
- Rub bottom but NOT the sides of a 9" springform pan generously with butter.
- Crush 1 or 2 graham cracker sheets in your hands or in food processor until the texture of crushed whole black pepper and then toss in the springform pan until a thin layer has adhered to the butter. When no more will adhere, empty the remaining cracker powder to the trash.
- Wrap the exterior of the bottom of the pan in 3 large sheets of aluminum foil, and pinch along the bottom of the pan, to create a waterproof seal.
- Prepare roasting pan (or any oven-safe container large enough to contain the springform pan) by filling with 1-2 inches of hot water. This is your water bath, so make sure it won't overflow when you put the springform pan into it.
Bowl 1 – Large
- Cream together cream cheese with sifted flour, erythritol and "Just Like Sugar".
Use Mixer on Slow Speed
- Add vanilla extract, all while continuing to cream until smooth.
- Mix together Sour Cream and Egg Yolks
- Mix Bowl 2 into Bowl 1
Bowl 3 – Copper Mixing Bowl
- Clean the beaters and the bowl thoroughly before using. Even a tiny amount of fat from bowl 1 or detergent residue will ruin the foam.
I use a copper mixing bowl to stabilize the foam, but if you don't have one, you can also use cream of tartar (⅛ tsp per egg white). Lemon juice also works.Beat egg whites. Start mixer on low to avoid splashes, advance to high speed as soon as possible.
- Once the foam has started to form (at the stage of very soft peaks), SLOWLY start adding sugar to egg whites while continuing to beat on high until all sugar has been added. Only add a little sugar at a time.
Adding the sugar too early or too fast will prevent the foam from forming.
- Continue to beat on high until firm/stiff peaks form.
You know they're stiff when they hold their shape after the beater is turned off, even if you tap the beater gently on the counter.
- Fold (do not stir or beat) ⅕ (roughly) of egg whites from Bowl 3 rapidly into Bowl 1
- Gently but swiftly fold in the remaining egg whites from Bowl 3 into Bowl 1.
Continue folding briefly until mostly combined. Do not combine until smooth or uniform – allow some lumpiness and streaking to remain.
- Pour the batter from Bowl 1 into springform pan until it's a little more than ⅔ full.
The batter will expand while baking and if you put too much, it will overflow.
- Place the springform pan into the water bath, and then bake at 300° for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Do not open the oven.
- Turn off oven but DO NOT remove the cake (do not open the oven door). Allow to sit in the cooling oven for 2 hours.
- Crack open oven door and allow to cool for 1 hour.
- Cover and Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Slice into 8 slices, garnish with mint, whipped cream and/or fruit.
- Erythritol and “Just Like Sugar” are my recommended low-carb sweeteners. I’ve written a post about why.
- “Just Like Sugar for Baking” is the same as the “table” product, just ground more finely so it incorporates better into batter.
- Foaming the egg whites is the key to the cake’s final texture – I’ve compiled a post detailing the process.
- The foamed egg whites lose volume over time and with agitation. Fold them into the batter quickly to avoid loss of volume, but not so quickly that you destroy the foam yourself by being overly aggressive. See a video here – the key is combining gentleness with swiftness. Check out these folding tips and tricks to get the method nailed down.