Healthy Breakfast “Cheesecake”

As a general rule, a handshake is so much more than just a handshake, right? It’s a critical assessment that transpires in a split second. Delivery says volumes– cordial greeting,  disinterested brush-off,  hearty expression of goodwill or loyalty. Depending on the participants and observers, it can awkward or historic. Then again, there are those average mundane moments when a handshake truly is a handshake and no more, but even that state of being says something.

I’m not sure why I’m thinking about the custom of shaking hands today, and why specifically I’m stubbornly relating it to this delicious breakfast “cheesecake”, but I am.  I suppose the best explanation I have is that dessert is never just dessert. It marks celebration, and is powder-sugar dusted with sentiment. We package it with emotions, from the brilliant to the wayward, dark unhealthy ones, smear it with yearning and inadequacy, self-indulgence and greed. It’s beautiful and at times despicable. Others can ruin yours just by abstaining from theirs.

Notwithstanding, I love dessert, including the beauty, the puns and word play around it, the sense of *special* it conveys. That said, I’m really particular about my desserts, including the what, when, who made, and how often consumed. Snacking, that’s a different story. Dessert is personal.

The reason I’m expounding on this whole dessert thread is, I can’t confidently call this “cheesecake” dessert, although I  think it is so scrumptious. Dessert is far too loaded a word, and the way this particular recipe is received is highly dependent on the background information provided prior to the introduction. Besides, anything that requires the word “cake” to be in quotes is not likely to attain the requisite standard of elegance, even if it is luscious with a surprising, tingly twist of lemon detectable in its smooth creaminess.

This recipe came about primarily because while hiking Bierstadt this summer, my friend Dave and I were talking about breakfast pie, and how it was time to experiment with some new recipes. Also, I’ve wanted to try a healthy recipe for a blackberry cheesecake from The Lowfat Cook’s Companion, a beautiful book I got in England but has been sitting idly in the cupboard, for awhile. I altered the basic “cake” recipe a bit, but not too much, adding more and different berries, a little bit of honey, and also added an oat crust.

To me, this cottage cheese and yogurt “cake”, which contains only a quarter cup of honey and brims with berries, is lovely, with just the right hint of sweetness and a slight, pleasantly surprising tang. The oat crust only contains a quarter cup of olive oil in place of butter or shortening, a tablespoon of orange juice, and a little optional sugar if you like. You can bulk it up if you want to with some nuts (walnuts, almonds or pecans all work great, about 1/3 cup), and also include whole wheat flour if you wish (reduce the oat mixture to 1 cup, and add 3/4 cup of wholemeal flour). Very suitable for breakfast, I think. And, while breakfast itself has numerous connotations, it is so varied and colorful as to be not nearly so loaded a word.

My preferred plan of introduction to this tasty breakfast pie is to clearly state the healthy factor. Don’t confuse this plan for a setting-the-bar-low tactic, however. I merely mean to avoid false advertising that could be subliminally achieved due to how easy it is to gussy and beautify with berries. Of course, once the message gets through, it doesn’t matter if you treat this like dessert, whatever that means to you. Because, really, while it’s definitively “cheesecake” and not cheesecake , the smooth taste really is sublime.

 Healthy Breakfast Berry “Cheesecake”

For the crust

  • 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar, if desired
  • dash teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cold orange juice
  • Cooking spray

For the filling

  •  3/4 cup plain cottage cheese (I used lowfat)
  • 2/3 cup plain lowfat yogurt (I didn’t have Greek, but I bet this would have been even better)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat or gluten free baking flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups fresh berries (blueberries or a mix)
  • Strawberries or other berries for garnish, about 1 1/2 cups, sliced or as desired

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. To prepare the crust, place oats, sugar (if using), salt and oil in a food processor, and process to combine/grind oats, about 30 seconds. Add orange juice, and pulse until combined, forming a crumbly but stiff mixture. Press oat mixture into the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
  2. To prepare the filling, process cottage cheese and yogurt until smooth and creamy. Add the flour, honey, egg, and egg white and mix. Stir in lemon juice, zest, and berries.
  3. When the crust has cooled, poor the filling in and bake at 350 F for 35 minutes, until just set. Then turn off the oven and let sit a further 30 minutes. Decorate the cake with sliced strawberries or berries of choice. Serve warm or chilled.
  1. Mary
    August 1, 2012

    Mmm what a great idea. My favorite parts of this post are your description of the deeper meanings of dessert (spot on, though who would have thought to put this into words?) and your very-English “whole meal” flour. I can’t wait to try this!

    • Wendy McMillan
      August 1, 2012

      You’re the best, Mary. I love how we’re weird in such compatible ways. : )

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