This post is sponsored by Vitamix. All opinions are my own.
A showstopper cake to crown a festive meal or mark a special occasion: This rich and creamy spiced orange brandy cheesecake is sugar free, low carb and gluten free. Guilt free dessert heaven.
What does Christmas smell like?
No, I am not talking about Santa’s old stockings, filled or not. To me, it’s the scent of fresh pine, of course; and the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen. The warm and spicy notes of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and nutmeg and the fragrant aromatic scent of freshly grated orange zest are just irresistible – add one or more of these to a dessert and you have elevated it from delicious to deliciously festive.
I have a well-known weakness for chocolate (check out my sugar free chocolate feast muffins or this chocolate avocado mousse). When Vitamix asked me to create a dessert for their Vitamix Moments series, where selected UK bloggers have been putting together a festive meal course by course, my first thought was to make this spiced chocolate torte. It is rich, dense, chocolatey and festive and so good you might just want to keep it for yourself. For this Christmas meal though I felt like making something fruitier and fresher, but with a festive kick.
That’s why I settled on a orange brandy cheesecake instead.
A quick word about the Vitamix. It is a beast of a blender, and one of my very favourite kitchen items – right up there with my coffee mug. I’ve been making the smoothest smoothies and the creamiest soups (like this broccoli pistachio soup) and am a little bit in love with its self-cleaning function. Hands up who enjoys cleaning kitchen utensils! See? We all prefer a little help, and even better if we don’t even have to ask for it. A Vitamix does not come cheap, but if you are willing to invest in a really decent and sturdy piece of kit that will make you feel pleased every time you enter your kitchen (mine lives on the counter), you should definitely check it out.
Incidentally, it also makes an amazing orange brandy cheesecake!
Regular cheesecakes often have a crust made out of crushed biscuits, which is certainly easy, but not exactly low carb. I made my crust sugar free by using granulated erythritol to sweeten and gluten free by going for ground almonds and pecans instead. All you need to do then is to mix in a bit of melted butter and add ginger, cinnamon and co to get the festive vibe going.
The instructions for this cake may be longer than for most of my other recipes, but be assured that this cake is really simple to put together and can be adapted easily. If you do not have all of the spices to hand, you can leave one out or sub with a spice mix such as mixed spice. I have chosen pecans and almonds for the base, but other nuts such as walnuts would taste good, too. Even the brandy could be replaced with Grand Marnier or with orange juice, if you’re happy to rename your cake.
There are many recipes out there that recommend to bake a cheesecake in a water bath so it won’t split. The one time I went through the effort of wrapping my springform with aluminium foil and placing it in a tray filled with water, the water soaked through and made my cake base wet and soggy. I’ve since solved this problem by simply placing a bowl of water under the springform, which seems to work just as well. And anyway, so what if your orange brandy cheesecake splits? It’ll look a bit more homemade and will taste just as nice.
One last word about the dried orange slices. They can be made a day or 2 before and taste incredible, including the peel. Trust me! Incidentally, they would make a nice table decoration as well. And they have the most wonderful fragrant scent. I really hope you’ll give them a try.
Happy Christmas, everyone!
- 200 g (1½ cup) pecans
- 100g (1 cup) ground almonds
- 50g (1/4 cup) butter
- 3 tbsp erythritol such as Sukrin Gold
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- pinch of ground cloves
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 3 cardamom seeds, husks removed
- 6 eggs
- 600g cream cheese, full fat (2 packets)
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) double cream
- 2-3 tbsp brandy
- zest of 1½ oranges, finely grated
- 1 tbsp orange essence
- 100g (1/2 cup) granulated erythritol
- fresh orange slices, to decorate
- dried orange slices, to decorate
- Optional: To make the dried orange slices, heat the oven to 90 degrees Celsius. Thinly slice 2 oranges, remove any seeds and lay out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp granulated erythritol such as Sukrin Gold and 1 tbsp cinnamon or mixed spice. Bake for ca 2 hours or until dried out and crisp. This can be done 1-2 days in advance.
- For the cake: Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line the base of a springform tin (20-24 cm diameter) with baking paper and grease the sides.
- Grind the pecans in a food processor. Melt the butter and mix the pecans, ground almonds, butter, 3 tbsp granulated erythritol and spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom seeds). If you do not have those exact spices, try using some pumpkin spice or mixed spice - they normally include ginger and cinnamon. This idea is to get a wintery vibe for the base.
- Press firmly into the base of the springform. This can be done with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Beat the eggs until creamy and fluffy. Add the cream cheese, double cream, brandy, orange essence and orange zest and mix until combined.
- Pour the mixture onto the cake base. Place in the oven over an oven proof bowl filled 2 cm high with just boiled water. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until just set and slightly browned on top.
- Let the cake cool completely in the tin. Remove from the springform and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Before serving, decorate with some more orange zest and the dried orange slices. This way they stay nice and crisp.