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Healthier Cheesecake Recipe: Baked Farmer Cheese Snack with Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks

I’ve been adding in recipes that originally appeared on The Evolved Foodie. This was one of my all-time most popular recipes/posts:

Healthier Snacking:

Way before Oprah put her stamp of approval (and ownership) on Weight Watchers, I remember my mother baking up Farmer Cheese “desserts” that were on her plan. My mom is pretty much the best cook I know, but the jury is still out on those Farmer Cheese snacks from days gone by. I’m not sure they were particularly delicious, but I know they satisfied mom’s sweet tooth and approved dessert cravings.

The Chocolate Cheese Knish Evolved:

If you grew up in or around NYC, you’ll have noticed the somewhat curious tradition if not downright reverence for the [is it dessert or is it a snack] chocolate cheese knish. While most knishes — a snack with roots in Central and Eastern Europe that consists of filling covered with dough and baked or deep fried– tend to be savory, some are more of the dessert variety. In this case, I was hankering for a chocolate cheese knish without the doughy part. I think I succeeded. Probably a bit too well since my official tasters polished it off in a matter of minutes.

This is what it looked like straight out of the oven….

Two notes added after the post:

  1. Over the years I’ve realized that while Farmer Cheese is very popular and usually easily available in the tri-state area (and really easily available in Brooklyn), it isn’t a thing everywhere else. Farmer Cheese has a harder texture and more solid consistency than Cottage Cheese or Ricotta Cheese and processed into small bricks and sold as such, with Friendship being the all time best. You can probably try whipped cottage cheese, but it won’t have the same texture or density. (Thanks Jenny Fink for bringing this up!)
  2. Recipes like this one have always amused me because when people try to compare things that have nothing in common, they’ll often liken chalk to cheese or say it’s as compatible as chocolate and cheese. In my experience, chocolate and cheese can be incredibly compatible!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages 7.5 oz Farmer Cheese or or 1 16 oz. package (I always, always look for Friendship Farmer Cheese. None of the other brands compare in taste, texture or holding up while baking).
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
  • Two eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp almond flour (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chunks or chocolate chips. Go for the darkest you can take- the contrast and payoff is worth it!

Instructions:

  • Add the Farmer Cheese, heavy cream and eggs to blender bowl. Process until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
  • Add almond flour, honey and vanilla extract. Process again for a few seconds.
  • Fold in chocolate chunks or simply add them in as you scrape out mixture to baking dish.
  • Spray baking dish with non-stick spray, and spoon mixture into dish. I used a 6.5″ round and slightly deep baking tin, but you can experiment with different sizes and shapes depending on your desired taste and texture.
  • Bake for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees.
  • If you’re not a frequent cheesecake baker (is anyone, really?) checking for doneness should never be done with a fork. Instead, the edges should be slightly browned and seem set while the center still jiggles. If the entire thing jiggles, put it back in the oven for slightly longer.
  • You can cool a cheesecake by leaving the oven shelf extended slightly (after oven is turned off) which allows air to circulate around the pan. Or, if you remove it completely from the oven, use some sort of utensil to prop up the underside of the pan very slightly so that air can circulate underneath.

Notes:

  • This one is delicious served warm and gooey and slightly messy, or if you leave it to cool. Please note that because it was blended, the Farmer Cheese won’t break or split the way it usually does when baked.
  • If you’re not a fan of chocolate- go for the lemony version. Add 1/2 tsp of fresh lemon zest and about 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice to the mix, add a bit more sweetener and skip the chips.