Bring a Little Sparkle to Dessert…….
There is just something about the holidays that has to be sparkly. I can tell you after living in Arizona and Texas where there just isn’t a whole lot of “sparkle” during the holidays sometimes you have to bring your own sparkle to the table. Somehow sparkley things enhance the magic of the holiday season for young and old alike.
Twinkling lights, glittery snow, tinsel (does anyone even use that anymore?!)… ok I’ve moved away from Thanksgiving and on to Christmas, but there is nothing that says the sparkle can’t start at Thanksgiving!
In my opinion cranberries are synonymous with both Thanksgiving and Christmas so this dessert can easily be used for either. I will give you fair warning about the cranberries. I think they are amazing, they have a sugary outer crust and they pop when you bite into them leading to the tart juice inside. My husband thought they were awful, but he isn’t a sweet-tart combo kind of guy, so don’t let that detour you from trying this. The longer you let the cranberries sit, the crunchier they will be so you can make them days ahead if you would like. I tried doing them in sugar-free simple syrup hoping that I would be wrong about the coating factor and it was like soaking them in water. So, I made simple syrup out of sugar…. Nope. What I found to work best is after rinsing and draining the cranberries sprinkle them with sugar until they are coated, then the coating will melt.
(I don’t have exact amounts because it depends on the amount of cranberries you are using.) About 30 minutes later sprinkle some more sugar. You will see it turning into syrup around the cranberries. An hour later sprinkle with some more sugar and shake the strainer they are in to cover them and this sugar shouldn’t melt, if it does, wait a little longer, sprinkle some more.
Then just let them sit and dry, they will get crunchy. (Those are best for garnish.) The ones that are sparkly, but haven’t quite hardened are best to top the cheesecake with.
While the cranberries are coated in sugar the cheesecake filling is sugar free. I’ve had a lot of people ask why anyone would bother making a dessert that is only partially sugar-free. I will tell you why, because every calorie counts! Plain and simple.
There isn’t any reason we shouldn’t be able to indulge and enjoy desserts, but if you can make it taste just as good, and save a few calories, why not?! (Plus, then you can probably justify eating a little bit more. 😉 )
Most mini cheesecakes can start around 200 calories and increase from there. And a regular size PLAIN piece of cheese cake can run 260 calories or more. These little babies are only 157 calories each (I didn’t add a count for the cranberries because it depends on how many sugar coatings you do, and how many cranberries you use. Probably 20-30 extra calories depending.) Place these sparkly little gems next to your other festive recipes and you will wow your company. (You can even use the sparkling cranberries as garnish on plates for other desserts.) But in the end remember to sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Sparkling Cranberry Cheesecake Minis
By Angie Gouchenour
6 cheese cake minis
A handful of fresh cranberries (I froze mine and then thawed them)
8 ounces cream cheese softened
2 Tablespoons egg whites
2 Tablespoons Truvia zero calorie sweetener
2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring or extract
1 Tablespoon light butter
2 sheets of graham crackers (5 Tablespoons and 1 teaspoon crushed)
Rinse cranberries and allow to drain, leave in colander (I used a flat one)
Sprinkle with sugar to create a gel (Shake colander to coat berries) (probably about 1 Tablespoon of sugar)
30 minutes later sprinkle with a little more sugar
An hour later sprinkle with enough to coat the cranberries (Gently shake)
Allow to sit. The longer they sit the crunchier the coating will get
Combine cream cheese, egg whites, Truvia, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer, set aside
Pre heat oven to 350’f
Melt butter in the microwave
Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs
Combine graham crackers with melted butter
Press mixture firmly into the bottom of 6 cupcake paper lined tins
Place in pre heated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes
Remove crusts from the oven and fill ¾ full with cream cheese filling
Cook at 350’f for 20 minutes (They will be soft)
Allow to cool, remove papers, place on a serving tray, or individual dishes, top with sparkling cranberries, and serve
157 calories per mini (Add 20-30 calories for cranberries.)