This past week has been a doozy for my boyfriend. My birthday AND Valentines Day in the span of 4 days. I’m happy to report that he did marvelously. Both days were really special; I’m so lucky. The thing I really have to brag about though, is the cheesecake that he made for me. It was like eating a little piece of heaven and it was lactose-free.
The process of making a lactose-free cheesecake starts several days before – it was a 3 day process for him. The first day, he treated the cream cheese with Lactaid drops. 2 containers of spreadable cream cheese with over 20 drops of Lactaid was mixed on low-speed for a long, long time in a stand mixer. There were a few reasons for doing it this way. The last time he tried to make cheesecake for me, he used brick cream cheese and less Lactaid drops. The cream cheese didn’t mix as well, and the Lactaid didn’t get through all the mixture – we think. I didn’t feel so well after eating it, so we didn’t call it a success. This time, he tried spreadable cream cheese and mixed it for a really long time to make sure that the Lactaid did make it all the way through the cream cheese mixture – just to be safe. (He says next time he’ll go back to brick cream cheese for a better cake texture, but he wanted to try it this way once.)
Once the cream cheese was mixed with the Lactaid, it had to sit for at least 24 hours to do its thing. Lactaid drops are an enzyme called lactase, and it works by spreading through the dairy (it’s called diffusion – I was a science teacher for a year once (but still had to phone the Science teacher to ask her for the correct term – thanks Laura)), causing a chemical reaction that breaks the 2 strand sugar in milk into 1 strand. Imagine high school chemistry pictures here (that’s what I do when trying to make sense of what’s happening) – the ones with the little ball attached to sticks to symbolize the structure of say, H20 (you’d have 3 balls, 1 oxygen, 2 hydrogen and 2 sticks attaching them) – except that in the case of milk you would have 2 sugar balls with one stick in between. The lactase breaks that bond, and you then have little single sugar balls floating around. These are easier for a person with lactose-intolerance to digest. A “normal” person could do that science inside them while eating dairy. I don’t have normal amounts of lactase in me, so I can’t break these sugars down myself. The Lactaid drops come in and help me to be able to do that before I ever eat the food with dairy in it.
After the waiting period, we tested to see how I felt after eating some of the cream cheese. The good news is that I was fine, so the science experiment was a success. He mixed in all the other ingredients to make cheesecake out of cream cheese, then baked the cake. He topped it with homemade cherry sauce. It was ah-mazing. Really, it was perfect. I’m so lucky that someone thinks enough of me to make such a time-consuming, labour-intensive treat! You should make it now, or a loved-one for you. Either way, cheesecake is awesome and you should be able enjoy this normally off-limits (for lactose-intolerants) treat.
For Valentine’s Day, we ate the left-over birthday cheesecake and topped it with strawberry topping instead of cherry.
Lactose-Free Cherry Cheesecake
Yield: 1 very tall 9″ cheesecake, or 1 less tall 12″ cheesecake
Prep Time: 25 hours | Bake Time: 2 hours
2 cups (200 grams) of graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (114 grams) lactose-free butter, melted (or vegan margarine)
32 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
3 tbsp flour
5 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup lactose-free heavy whipping cream (treated with Lactaid drops)
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cherry Topping (Recipe follows below)
1. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add as many Lactaid drops as you feel necessary (Lactaid recommends 5 – 15 drops per 1L of milk – in my research and testing, I need more than this in order for it to be effective).
2. Mix on the lowest speed until you feel the ingredients are fully mixed (3 – 5 minutes), pausing to scrape down the sides every once in a while.
3. Put this mixture in an airtight container, and allow to refrigerate for 24 hours.
4. Grease, or spray with a 9 inch springform pan. Place the springform pan on a larger baking pan to catch any leakage while the cheesecake is baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in center of oven.
5. In a bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) up the sides of the springform pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.
6. In bowl of your electric mixer place the Lactaid-treated cream cheese, sugar, and flour. Beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes), scraping down the bowl as needed.
7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrap down the sides of the bowl.
8. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest, vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
9. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling. Place the cheesecake pan on a larger baking pan and place in the oven.
10. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F and then lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Continue to bake for about another 90 minutes or until firm and only the center of the cheesecake looks a little wet and wobbly. (This took way longer than 60 – 90 minutes for me – probably closer to 2 1/2 hours)
11. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.
12. Carefully run a knife or spatula around the inside edge of pan to loosen the cheesecake (this helps prevent the surface from cracking as it cools).
13. Let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours.
Yield: 1 cup topping
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cooking Time: 15 minutes
1 cup fresh cherries
1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp water
1. Pit cherries (halve cherries and pull out the pit. Or use a cherry pitter if you have one).
2. Place cherries, vanilla sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan and turn to medium heat. Lightly mash the cherries to help break them down
3. When boiling (a few minutes), reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until cherries have softened (about 10 minutes).
4. While cherries are cooking, create a cornstarch slurry. Mix the cornstarch with 1/2 tsp water.
5. When cherries have reached the consistency that you like, add the cornstarch slurry. Stir.
6. Bring back to a boil and cook until the sauce has thickened.
7. Serve on top of cheesecake. Enjoy!
(Adapted from NY Cheese Cake Recipe by Joy of Baking at http://www.joyofbaking.com/Cheesecake.html)